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Legislative Assembly briefs
Mackenzie Delta MLA wants Joe Greenland Centre re-opened

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Monday, February 13, 2012

Nearly a year after the GNWT shut down the Joe Greenland Centre, a seniors' home in Aklavik, MLA Frederick Blake Jr. asked Health Minister Tom Beaulieu to reverse his department's decision.

Blake told the legislative assembly Thursday he was "not convinced that the Inuvik facility can handle all the elders who need care." He added he was "not convinced that sending the elders to Inuvik from their communities is the best way to care for them."

Blake questioned Beaulieu about how the centre's closure fit with the GNWT's stated priority of fostering healthy and independent communities.

Beaulieu did not commit to reviewing the decision to close the centre but said his department has increased its support for elders in Aklavik, for example by adding a licensed practical nurse and a home care nurse.

Mass evictions possible

The government's moratorium on evicting tenants in arrears "is not going as well as we would have liked, " said Housing Corporation Minister Robert C. McLeod on Thursday. McLeod said 20 of 36 tenants previously facing eviction still have not entered into repayment plans and could face eviction April 1.

In response to concerns raised by Inuvik Boot Lake MLA Alfred Moses, McLeod said housing officers were "more than willing" to work with clients with language barriers or mobility issues but that many of the tenants do not face such issues and "the onus is on them to come into the (local housing organizations) and try and work out repayment."

Elimination of wellness worker was 'unfortunate'

The elimination of a full-time wellness worker in Tsiigehtchic was an "unfortunate circumstance," said Health Minister Tom Beaulieu.

Beaulieu added the position expired before a review of Health and Social Services positions in the Beaufort Delta was complete.

Mackenzie Delta MLA Frederick Blake Jr. said the position was especially important in Tsiigehtchic, which lacks a nurse and where "the lack of health care and service is acute." Blake Jr. urged Beaulieu to reinstate the position.

"This government has an obligation to deliver quality health services to its citizens, "said Blake Jr. "We have to meet the basic standard in all our communities."

Beaulieu admitted that the elimination of the position was not consistent with the GNWT's priority of promoting healthy and independent lifestyles.

He said any new positions would likely be created once the department's review of the Beaufort Delta Health and Social Services Authority has been completed.

Nahendeh MLA wary of federal Old Age Security reform talks

The state of uncertainty over the future of the Canadian Old Age Security Program has territorial politicians concerned. The federal government has said it is considering raising the age of eligibility for benefits to 67 from 65 due to the strain of an aging population on the system.

In January, the Yellowknife Association of Concerned Citizens for Seniors reported the results of a study it had commissioned indicating that the percentage of senior citizens in Yellowknife was expected to double by 2025.

"Elders will be poorer and there will be pressure on our government to provide benefits or income support (will be needed) for two more years until Old Age Security finally kicks in," Nahendeh MLA Kevin Menicoche said.

"It appears to be yet another example of the federal government planning to devolve costs to the Government of the Northwest Territories."

Menicoche was especially concerned about the effect the decision could have on seniors in small communities, many of whom already lack options for employment.

Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty said the GNWT would "most definitely" be voicing its concerns to the federal government. However, Lafferty admitted that, despite the need to be prepared for the decision, "We haven't really figured out the repercussions or the impacts in the Northwest Territories."

Sahtu MLA wants travel policy

The government should institute a compassionate policy to finance the travel of family members accompanying dying loved ones for medical travel, said Sahtu MLA Norman Yakeleya.

The policy already in place requires potential escorts to " argue with the administrative medical travel to see if they fit the requirements," said Yakeleya. Health Minister Tom Beaulieu indicated that his department was already looking at formulating a compassionate travel policy.

"We've looked at a policy that was once developed but never signed by a particular health authority and we are looking at that to develop a policy for the sick, dying and also in the area of compassion," he said.

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