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Justice minister grilled on A New Day, a pilot counselling program for men who use violence against loved ones

Justice Minister Louis Sebert was questioned May 26 about the future of A New Day, a healing program for men who have used violence in relationships. NNSL file photo

The justice minister says he has “no idea” why there were no bidders to run A New Day, although he hopes to have good news about the men's healing program in coming weeks.

“We are dealing with an NGO that has expressed an interest,” said Louis Sebert, although he didn't say which organization he was talking about. “I want to see how the negotiations with that NGO or another NGO work out over the next few weeks. If that does not work out, we will have to reconsider.”

MLAs grilled Sebert on Friday about A New Day, a pilot counselling program for men who use violence against loved ones. The Tree of Peace Friendship Centre currently administers the program and its contract is up at the end of June.

Many people have expressed frustration with changes the government made to the program in a recent request for proposals to run it, with Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green saying the government decided to “dismantle” it.

Sebert has a different view.

“We have made some minor changes – I regard them as minor – to the program,” he said.

But Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne said that would be “putting it lightly.”

“Obviously the changes don’t reflect it being more successful because there was no uptake on the RFP,” replied Vanthuyne.

Sebert maintained his optimism that the program will find a contractor by July 1.

$500,000 for junior kindergarten buses

Buses for junior kindergarten students could cost $500,000 next year between the city’s Catholic and public school boards.

That’s according to Yellowknife Centre MLA Julie Green, who said she received the estimate from the boards.

Green dropped the figure Thursday as she pressed Education, Culture and Employment Minister Alfred Moses to explain whether his department will pay for the expense as part of what has been called a fully funded program.

She worried low income families will be “barred” from the program if buses aren’t covered.

“It is at the discretion of the education authorities and councils to decide if they are going to reallocate (GNWT funding) for busing,” said the minister. “It is not mandatory for any grades at this point.”

Moses said his department needs final junior kindergarten enrolment numbers before it can find a solution to the busing problem but seem to change course on the subject by concluding he’d cover the expense.

“We will be committed to covering the cost when we get those exact (enrolment) figures,” Moses said.

Guardrails suggested for Ingraham Trail

Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne raised concerns Monday about the need for guardrails along the Ingraham Trail after 30-year-old Karen Lafferty was killed in an accident over the May long weekend.

“The Ingraham Trail is a far busier road than it used to be, with many more residents living there, tourists, and truck traffic,” Vanthuyne said. “Last ice-road season alone, there were seven truck rollovers and three cab fires.”

He added he had an accident several years ago on the same corner of the highway where Lafferty was killed.

“Re-engineering certain corners and the addition of guardrails would go a long way to improving safety and making Highway No. 4 more accessible to all users,” said the MLA.
Infrastructure Minister Wally Schumann said his department is investing $8 million into the road between 2015 and 2019.

Guardrails are being installed in some places along the highway over the next two years, Schumann said, although he couldn’t say where.

“Any time there is an accident on the highway, we have all our engineers go there and review the critical incident that happened and see if there are improvements that could be made,” added Schumann.

Details still murky on carbon pricing question

Frame Lake MLA Kevin O’Reilly was on the premier’s back for more detail about carbon pricing on Monday, but the premier gave little away.

O’Reilly wanted to know cabinet’s position on the issue.

“We will be doing what the people of the Northwest Territories tell us to do,” said Premier Bob McLeod, adding the government is still working on a report that highlights residents’ feedback.

A discussion paper on an NWT carbon tax is also expected to be released in June, he said, so the GNWT “will have another round of consultation with the people of the Northwest Territories.”

McLeod said he expects the paper will look at different forms of carbon tax and revenues.

But O’Reilly was concerned MLAs still haven’t received carbon modelling and pricing reports that he said the premier promised in March.

“We have been doing modelling on the various implications of carbon pricing. (O'Reilly) quoted two cents per litre, 18 cents per litre over five years,” McLeod said. “I can tell you that it is higher than that … I will check in to see where that report is at.”