Health committee selects chair

by Glen Korstrom
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 16/98) - Ruth Spence may have lost last year's election for mayor, but she's going to have a major role in city affairs after all.

A neutral stance and plenty of spare time earned her unanimous support as the new health and social services committee chair, she said after being chosen Thursday.

The 34-year Yellowknife resident will oversee a 16-member "empowerment committee" for health and social services.

In addition the former Yellowknife alderman, who served three terms on council, has a spot on a five-person panel struck to recommend a consultant to the city.

The city received three consultant proposals for the panel to review during the next week. Spence said a decision will be made with the intent of having the successful consultant attend the committee's next meeting Feb. 5.

Joining Spence on the panel are: Lanny Cooke of the Association for Community Living; Carolyn Mandrusiak, CEO of Health and Social Services; Patty Jocko from the Dene First Nations; and Lyda Fuller from the YWCA.

Spence said the committee's objective is "to make recommendations to council of how health and social services should be run."

She said the territorial government is ready to devolve powers once the city is clear on a proposed structure.

"It could be as long as a year before that happens," said Spence, who ran for mayor in November and was the executive director of the Yellowknife YWCA from 1967 through 1983.

Some of the questions for the committee to consider are whether to create a new board for Yellowknife, whether it will be appointed or elected and if that board will be accountable directly to the city or to the minister of health.

Regardless of the decisions taken, the committee can count on the support of Stanton Regional Hospital CEO Dennis Cleaver.

"Stanton Regional Health Board is supposed to be a second health board in Yellowknife. So whatever solution to this process comes about, the Stanton board would support because that's what the Yellowknife residents support," Cleaver said.