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SOBERING CENTRE: Caroline Wawzonek MLA candidate Yellowknife South answers Yellowknifer question

A sales tax would raise the cost of living for NWT residents and go against the GNWT efforts to grow the economy, said Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek. file photo

(PUBLISHER’S NOTE: All the MLA candidates were asked to comment on the best way forward for the sobering centre in Yellowknife. Go here to see the full question and context.)

I think we need political leadership to acknowledge that many social issues are connected. For example, addictions can result in housing insecurity just as homelessness can impact addiction. I think we also need leaders to be realistic that many of these issues do not have just one solution and that we need to look to the “front end” of social problems before people end up on the streets. For example, I think we should support higher-risk families with young children and support mental health in young adults so that more young people do not end up on the streets. I think it is important for decision makers to acknowledge the connections between these problems so they can come up with meaningful long-term solutions and prioritize cooperation both across departments and between governments.

Front line service providers often know the best, easiest and most efficient improvements for service delivery. I would encourage regular meetings between different providers of social programs including both from inside government as well as the many non-profit organizations working in the community. For example, semi-annual meetings for Income Assistance service officers, their supervisors and managers with their counterparts in Housing and Child and Family Services along with the community advocates who work with people accessing all of these programs. Also, the existing Integrated Case Management pilot program appears to be a successful way for people to access government programs and services. Expanding the intake to non-profit organizations could reach more people who need these supports.

I support a combination of solutions to better support addiction recovery in the NWT. An NWT-based treatment centre could be part of the solution but whether in the NWT or in southern Canada, there needs to be a post-treatment plan in place for individuals to continue their recovery and build healthy relationships.

My priorities:

  • Post-treatment after care that includes culturally-appropriate, individualized relapse prevention plans.
  • Community support networks: resume efforts for a mobile team that can travel between communities regularly to shore-up local networks.
  • Invest in community partnerships with organizations already doing amazing work like the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation.
  • Address the spectrum of housing needs so people have safe, healthy places to live.
  • For all programs, maintain follow up statistics for continuous program evaluation and improvement.