Glen Abernethy: NWT Public Service

Mr. Speaker, National Public Service Week is an opportunity to celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of Public Service employees across Canada.  Here in the Northwest Territories, we have an engaged and highly motivated Public Service that provides quality programs and services for our residents.  Our employees’ commitment to service and dedication to their communities are an important part of what makes the GNWT a great place to work and what makes the NWT a great place to live.

It’s no secret that these are challenging economic times, Mr. Speaker. In the face of these challenges, our entire government has been tasked with examining its spending and identifying opportunities for savings. Despite these challenges, the Department of Human Resources remains committed to sustaining and improving the effectiveness of the Public Service.

We will do this through a responsive workforce that is representative of the people it serves and by providing meaningful learning and development opportunities. We will continue to make strides in our work to ensure the health and safety of our employees. We will remain dedicated to fostering our understanding and awareness of diversity and our appreciation of the rich cultures that define our Territory.

Over the coming year, the Department of Human Resources will also continue its efforts to modernize the Public Service Act, bringing this important piece of legislation into step with current best practices and the priorities of this Assembly. A modernized Act will include provisions for the safe disclosure of wrongdoing without fear of reprisals—an important part of maintaining the commitments to transparency and accountability we have made to the residents of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is undergoing change in response to our current fiscal context while also facing the additional challenge of an ageing population and workforce. In order to ensure our future as a government and as a Territory, it is important to acknowledge that the continued development and prosperity of the NWT depends on our youth.

Now more than ever, we must ensure our youth get the education and experience they need to become the NWT’s next generation of leaders, role models and mentors. One way this is achieved is through student and youth initiatives, such as the Summer Student Employment Program and the Graduate Internship Program.

Each of these programs fosters learning, skill development, and employability that support a stable Public Service that provides quality programs and services to NWT residents. In turn, these programs also provide an opportunity to introduce the next generation to the Public Service. It is an opportunity to learn and develop, but also to serve. Indeed, it is my hope that summer student employment and graduate internship experiences will encourage more northern youth to pursue careers in the service of the public.

Mr. Speaker, the year ahead will present many challenges for our government and our residents; challenges that we are by no means taking lightly.  NWT public servants continue to proudly serve the people of the Northwest Territories and will meet these challenges head on to ensure that our residents are provided with the quality Public Service that they deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I ask the Members of this Assembly to join me in thanking all public servants for their continued contributions. The work of the 18th Legislative Assembly has just begun but with such dedicated public servants supporting our efforts, I am confident we will make great progress in the months and years to come.

Thank you, Mr. Spea