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Legislative Assembly Briefs
Stanton Hospital too crowded: MLA

Elizabeth McMillan
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 10, 2010

SOMBA K'E/YELLOWKNIFE - Stanton Territorial hospital is in urgent need of space and the territorial government isn't moving fast enough with plans to expand it, Weledeh MLA Bob Bromley told the legislative assembly on Feb. 8.

He said he recently took a tour of the facility and was appalled at how crowded it was, particularly in the emergency room, the intensive care unit and the medical daycare.

"Offices have medical record files piled to the ceilings. The hallways are full of freight. There isn't room for one more sardine in that can," he said.

Bromley brought his concerns up with Health and Social Services Minister Sandy Lee, who said consultations are ongoing. She estimated the master development plan will be completed in two years. Bromley said that wasn't good enough.

"At the rate we're going, the pace the minister is setting, we will be talking a decade or longer," he said. "We're spending close to $200 million on a bridge. It's nice that it will be easier to drive to Edmonton for medical treatment but we have to look closer at how we spend our capital priorities."

At 25 years old, Stanton isn't the facility with the most pressing need for upgrades said Lee, citing older facilities such as the health centre in Norman Wells, which is more than 40 years old, and the H.H. Williams Memorial Hospital in Hay River, which was built in 1966.

Home owners shouldn't be at the mercy of contractors

Robert Hawkins, MLA for Yellowknife Centre, is urging the territorial government to create legislation to insure homeowners in the event their builder or contractor backs out or doesn't do the job they were paid to do.

Citing home warranty programs in Alberta, Hawkins said the NWT needs legislation to protect homeowners.

"I am not suggesting that we create a whole new Crown corporation and bureaucracy to oversee this homeowner legislation, but (what) I see is a huge gap about clear responsibility to protect the new home buyer," he said.

Hawkins said if the Mackenzie Valley pipeline goes ahead, Yellowknife will experience a boom that could result in uncertified people offering their services to build homes in a strained market.

"What will happen here is potentially unqualified people will call themselves builders and they will be out building houses as quick as possible to make their quick sale. But who will be left holding the bag? That new purchaser of that home," said Hawkins.

Robert McLeod, minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, said it would be an expensive process to enact legislation similar to those in provinces like Alberta and British Columbia.

"The best advice that I can give is if the homeowner is entering into a contract with a builder, first of all make sure they are a legitimate builder and do the research on that and always make sure that you have a warranty built into the contract," he said.

Fewer children smoking

Fewer children and young teens are smoking in the NWT, according to a new report released by the Department of Health and Social Services.

The report summarizes finding from surveys conducted every five years on students in Grades 5 to 9 from 1982 until 2006.

The number of daily smokers declined by more than half, from 23.5 per cent in 1982, to 11.7 per cent in 2006.

The survey also found aboriginal youth were five times more likely to smoke than non-aboriginal youth. The percentage of smokers also decreased in smaller communities.

It found the number of smokers between the ages of 10 and 14 declined by 19 per cent.

Health Minister Sandy Lee attributed the drop in part to anti-smoking programs, like the "Don't be a Butt-head" campaign.

Almost all respondents said they'd participated in anti-smoking programs. More than 2,700 students completed the survey.

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