QUESTION 280-17(3): INCOME ASSISTANCE PROGRAM [excerpted from]
NWT HANSARD UNEDITED TRANSCRIPT
THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2012 YELLOWKNIFE, NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
INCOME ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
MR. NADLI: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier today I spoke about the value of income assistance programs in the Northwest Territories. My question is to the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.
In terms of where people are at, in terms of trying to get the income assistance, asking for help is a big decision for people to make and whatever people might have is to try and maintain their pride. My question is: How does the department ensure that its employees treat income assistance clients with respect and consideration?
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Nadli. The Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.
HON. JACKSON LAFFERTY: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to thank the Member for that particular question, because it has been addressed to my attention as the Minister responsible for the income security framework how the clients are treated by income security officers, client service officers. Due to that fact, we've initiated training for client services officers. I believe that's coming up either this month or early next month on how to professionally deal with the clientele. We are very serious about our satisfaction of how we service those individuals, the clients, and we'll make every effort to deal with that matter. If there are any issues from the clientele, please inform our department. We are following through with that. I am glad the Member is raising that issue. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.
MR. NADLI: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister for giving me reassurance that people will be respected and dealt with at least in a respectful manner. Not every community has large industrial-type resource development projects. How does the department ensure the local economy and culture are taken into account in the delivery of income assistance? Mahsi.
HON. JACKSON LAFFERTY: Mr. Speaker, we are fully aware, especially in those small, isolated communities that there is not much of an economy in the community, whether it would be a wage economy or business contracts. Those are areas that we have regional representatives, also client service officers focusing on the productive choices. The Labour Market Agreement that we have in place is for those individuals that do not qualify for EI and that require training in specific areas, as well as the Small Community Employment Program that we initiated onto the communities. Those are just some of the program areas that offset the cost of those individuals that want to be trained so they can enter the workforce or labour market. We want to prepare them. Those are just some of the areas that we continue to invest in. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. NADLI: It's encouraging to see that the department is very responsive in terms of meeting the needs of people. This is my last question. It's just a difference between wage economy and also traditional economies of communities and trying to distinguish the difference between the circumstances of communities.
Do productive choices have to involve training for the wage economy or can the program support people's choices to hunt and trap? Mahsi.
HON. JACKSON LAFFERTY: Mr. Speaker, it is a mixture where productive choices consist of the wage economy and also we are moving into more of a traditional economy as well. We have individuals that go out trapping. We have assisted them over the two or three months while they are in the bush. We have done so. We will continue to do that, even those individuals that may be on the land hunting and other sources to bring in some harvesting, as well, for the family and netting fish as well. Those are areas that we are embarking on. I for one like to pursue that even further, how we can engage those clientele so they can make those productive choices. Those are areas that we continue to explore. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Mr. Lafferty.