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Candidates say yes to poverty strategy

Galit Rodan
Northern News Services
Published Friday, September 30, 2011

Of 47 candidates running in the territorial election, 34 have promised that, if elected, they will prioritize the creation of an anti-poverty strategy for the NWT.

A survey composed by Alternatives North and the YWCA asked, "If elected, will you start to work immediately with business, community groups and others on an NWT anti-poverty strategy?"

Aggie Brockman of Alternatives North said that 12 candidates failed to respond, including Yellowknife candidates Bryan Sutherland, Norman Smith and Bernard Leblanc. Despite the wording of the question, Grant Gowans, running for Inuvik Boot Lake, said he could not commit to the creation of an anti-poverty strategy because he had not yet been elected.

In spite of the prevalence of poverty in the NWT, there is currently no anti-poverty strategy, said Brockman.

In Feb. 2010, the legislative assembly passed a motion calling on the government to develop a comprehensive anti-poverty strategy for the Northwest Territories. But Brockman said the promise by former premier Floyd Roland amounted to the development of a discussion paper rather than a strategy.

"The government did do some consultation," she said. "It was kind of an invitation-only ... it wasn't highly publicized, but we have seen nothing. Nothing has been provided to the public ... and that was one reason why we thought we really needed to make this an election issue."

Brockman said that one key failing is the lack of a statistical analysis of poverty and the establishment of a poverty line for the NWT.

"We don't measure poverty in the NWT ... That's part of it, is to develop a measurement so that we can tell if what we're doing is successful."

Voters are being informed of the survey results this week through newspaper advertisements and mailers sent to all postal addresses in small communities, according a joint press release issued by Alternatives North and the YWCA.

Brockman said the results were "very encouraging" and that the survey responses would help hold MLAs accountable once elected.

"Everyone has the right to housing, food and dignity," said Brockman. "We're looking to MLAs to keep their pledge and go to work quickly to get results."

The following candidates failed to respond to the survey:

  • Eddie T. Dillon (Nunakput)
  • Bernard Leblanc (Frame Lake)
  • Jeannie Marie-Jewell (Thebacha)
  • Glenna Hansen (MacKenzie Delta)
  • Peter Martselos (Thebacha)
  • Michael McLeod (Deh Cho)
  • Robert C. McLeod (Inuvik Twin Lakes)
  • Bertha Norwegian (Nahendeh)
  • Rocky E. Norwegian (Sahtu)
  • Norman Smith (Range Lake)
  • Bryan Sutherland (Kam Lake)
  • Paul Voudrach (Inuvik Boot Lake)

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