Bruce Valpy, managing editor, then publisher of Northern News Services since 1995, has been a cornerstone in community journalism in Canada’s North.
As he prepares to enter NWT politics, he brings a legacy of documenting Northerners’ lives and stories. Careful investment and responsive consultation with community leaders and Indigenous governments can put us on track to create a new NWT economy less dependant on government.
Yellowknife faces an array of challenges as the NWT’s population dwindles. Current approaches to addiction treatment are ineffective, requiring localized, on-the-land healing methods with other more intensive treatment options.
A lack of affordable, available daycare, hurts local families. Government in-sourcing drains local businesses, contradicting its economic pledges. High wages in public sectors increase turnover in the private sector, stunting economic growth. Housing and essential services are compromised by scarcity of Northern tradespeople.
The ripple effects touch all corners of society, from household economics to healthcare. Acknowledging these challenges is a first step for a government that aims to better serve its people.
We in Yellowknife don’t really know anything about addictions in the small communities and we figure the best thing is to put people on an airplane and send them south to get fixed up and then we bring them back to the same place they left.
In 2013, MLA Tom Beaulieu, from the small community of Fort Resolution, as health minister said: Why don’t we ask the people what they want so we can tackle these problems. The people listed some of the things they wanted but the mainly said let’s begin with On-The-land healing! No On-The-Land healing happened.
If we follow through with the recommendations of Beaulieu’s forum, we will be providing healing options in the communities which will take the pressure off Yellowknife’s streets, our emergency rooms, and hospital wards, not to mention police, courts and correctional institutions.
Making daycares more affordable, as the federal government has done, is a good thing.
Lower fees make it easier for the families that presently have daycare. It also gives more families the option for one or both to work contributing to the economy.
But such benefits are greatly reduced if the GNWT isn’t able to match the affordable with accessibility to daycare space and the people to work in them. That’s where it falls apart.
Too often BIG government hurts the people and economy it aims to serve. I witnessed this as a business person in the marketing business in Yellowknife.
Yellowknife once had a robust advertising and graphic arts industry, with four or five robust agencies employing dozens of people. The decision was made to do the designing and marketing in-house, which led to the government hiring those same people. So the GNWT grew at the expense of those local businesses which reduced the private sector and services offered for hire in the city.
GNWT wages and benefits are the envy of workers in the private sector. Turnover is high. What can be done about that? A good starting point is acknowledging it’s a problem for a government pledging to help grow the economy.
The cost of building a home in Yellowknife is scary enough. Even scarier is having your furnace stop working in -40 on a Friday night of a long weekend.
Getting tradespeople in the North is little different than attracting doctors and nurses. Tradespeople are in short supply but are just as necessary. Our local plumbing, heating, and construction companies are always going flat out. They provide good service but they have difficulty finding and retaining staff like every other business. We risk burning them out. One day we may make that call at -40 and find no one answers.
What can a government do? Produce apprentices. Aurora College has a range of trades training but are we getting any results?
A decision to sell 50-50 lot for $1 clear sign of a failing economy So why did it happen Yellowknife City Council was forced to sell a lot
Daycare is one of those make-or-break issues that can force families to make hard choices – leave or give up a job. I know this personally, having raised five children
Indigenous governments, organizations and academics are at work researching, funding, designing and building On-The-Land Healing facilities across the NWT. Here is a list of a few. Please let me know
While the GNWT steams ahead with its unworkable Polytechnic University scheme featuring a gleaming campus atop Tin Can Hill, there is another plan unnoticed by the media and MLAs that