In The Legislative Assembly

November 8, 2002

Detox centre to be built in have-not community

Nunavut’s proposed detoxification facility will be located in a non-decentralized community that has yet to be determined, Health Minister Ed Picco said in the legislative assembly in Pangnirtung last week.

Premier Paul Okalik first mentioned the creation of a detox centre during a speech at an alcohol and drug addictions conference in Montreal in September.

Picco clarified the plan in the House on Oct. 29. It will be a "limited detox centre" aided by community wellness programs aimed at treating alcohol and drug abuse with a "holistic approach," he said.

In putting together the program, the department is focusing on creating an "IQ for detoxification," he said.


November 8, 2002

Tootoo opposes pension funding

MLAs approved funds last week to pay for the supplementary pension plan passed in March and the GN’s portion of settlements for the Ed Horne and pay equity disputes.

Of the total $24.2-million operations and maintenance appropriation for 2001-2, $2.3 million was earmarked for the enriched pension plan. The amount represents the additional $700,000 a year, or $35,000 per member, the plan will cost, retroactive to April 1999.

The three Iqaluit MLAs, Hunter Tootoo, Ed Picco and Paul Okalik, as well as Quttiktuq MLA Rebekah Williams, opted out of the plan. During a committee of the whole session last week to debate the supplementary appropriation, Tootoo reminded MLAs of his position.

"It’s no secret that this fund is something I didn’t agree with and still don’t agree with," he said. "I can think of $2.3 million ways that this money could be more properly spent."

Tootoo presented a motion to have the amount deleted, which, if passed, would have overturned the assembly’s earlier approval of the pension plan.

"This was already approved by the legislative assembly in Iqaluit," committee chair David Iqaqrialu said.

Iqaqrialu ordered the motion to be presented in writing, then objected when Tootoo’s hastily handwritten motion was presented to him only in English.

"What I have here is written in English. I might as well throw it in the garbage because I can’t read it," he said.

During a 10-minute break, the motion was translated and order was restored.

MLAs showed their displeasure for the motion.

"We already voted on it in the budget session so it’s a little late talk about it again," said Rankin Inlet North MLA Jack Anawak.

"I just think it’s political grandstanding right now," said Baker Lake MLA Glenn McLean.

"It’s not grandstanding," Tootoo said later in an interview. "There’s no crowd of people here and it’s not going to be on TV. No one’s going to know about it unless they read Hansard."

Tootoo called for a recorded vote, which requires MLAs to stand and state their position. He was the only one to stand in favour of the motion. Okalik, Picco and Williams were absent for the vote. All other MLAs voted to reject the motion.

The $9.4 million MLAs approved to pay last month’s settlement for Ed Horne victims represents the end of the government’s 15-year involvement in the case.

The GN’s portion of the pay equity dispute amounted to $12,800.


November 8, 2002

The $180,000 parking lot

Members of the assembly approved $2.4 million for furniture and equipment for three regional health facilities, even though construction of the facilities has not yet begun.

The money, part of supplementary appropriations to the 2002-3 capital budget, allocates $1.1 million to equipment for the Kitikmeot and Kivalliq heath centres and $200,000 for the proposed Qikiqtani General Hospital.

Finance Minister Kelvin Ng clarified that the furniture and equipment must be purchased in advance so the design can accommodate it.

A special warrant for $3.5 million was issued on Oct. 9 to fund design, development and construction of the Kivalliq Health Centre.

The capital appropriation, which totalled $27.2 million, also included $180,000 transferred to the legislative assembly’s capital budget from its O&M budget to pave the parking lot of the assembly building in Iqaluit.


November 8, 2002

Okalik to announce changes to minimum wage

Premier Paul Okalik, the minister of justice, said last Thursday that he plans to announce changes to the minimum wage this month when the House resumes sitting in Iqaluit.

He made the comments after Baker Lake MLA Glenn McLean asked him if there would be increases to the minimum wage.

Okalik said the matter was discussed during a spring consultation.

MLAs resume sitting in Iqaluit on Nov. 19.


November 8, 2002

Picco takes on energy portfolio

Premier Paul Okalik created a new energy portfolio last week, which will be held by Health Minister Ed Picco, who is also the minister responsible for the Nunavut Power Corporation.

The new portfolio will encompass both NPC and the government’s petroleum products division, which was previously part of the department of public works.

The petroleum products division was the centre of the bad gas controversy this year and caused a major public relations nightmare for Public Works Minister Peter Kattuk.

However, Okalik said the reassignment of duties had nothing to do with Kattuk’s handling of the bad gas situation.

Next spring, the government will introduce legislation to create a new body called the Qulliq Energy Corporation. It will be run by the board of NPC and will have two major subsidiaries: NPC and the proposed Qulliq Fuel Corporation, a new Crown corporation that will take over the duties of the petroleum products division.

NPC would no longer be involved in fuel purchasing, storage and transportation. Those responsibilities would be transferred to Qulliq Fuel.

The amalgamation was one of the recommendations of the Ikuma II report, which was tabled in the assembly this past spring.

"Anything you touch on gas is always controversial," Okalik said.

However, Picco says he is ready for any potential controversies. "I have weathered many storms in health," he said.