Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last year when it appeared clear that the Government had already determined the fate of the “A New Day” program, the Minister of Justice kept assuring us that the third party evaluation report on the program would determine A New Day’s ultimate fate. The forty-thousand dollar report was completed last November. It’s actually quite interesting, and I encourage someone at the Department of Justice to read it – preferably whoever is designing the new program.
I’m making a lot of assumptions about the new program because details are sparse, to say the least. The RFP does tell us that program facilitators must strictly adhere to the curriculum as set out by the Department. This requirement ignores the evaluation report’s recommendation that consideration should be given to the fact that a program is more than a curriculum, and community outreach should be considered a part of any future program. The community outreach includes workshops at the North Slave Correctional Centre, in Adult Education Centres, for the YK DFN, at the Salvation Army, Baily House and more, as well as training sessions delivered to nurses in Stanton’s psychiatric unit. Unfortunately, the Department apparently sees no value in any of these activities.
The evaluation report also states that some men are not well suited for group counseling sessions, and future programs should include provisions for individual counseling based on A New Day’s curriculum. However, Mr. Speaker, according to the new RFP there are no provisions for individual sessions, and men who aren’t suited for group sessions are to be referred to outside counseling services.
The report also indicated that a lack of administrative support burdened the program providers with paperwork, and other tasks not directly related to providing counseling. The Minister mentioned that the GNWT Coordinator position was created to alleviate that burden. Mr. Speaker, the current providers asked many times to be funded for an administrative assistant but were denied. Instead of this simple solution, the Department’s solution was to bring the entire program in-house.
However, Mr. Speaker. The saddest thing about this whole situation is that this is the only men’s healing program in the Territory, and even though it’s successful, we have to fight tooth and nail to keep it, instead of figuring out how to expand it.
On the bright side, after my questions yesterday I’m happy to report that the Department updated the RFP to include the missing Schedule A. It adds little in way of details, but at least someone at the Department is listening. I’ll have questions for the Minister, again, at the appropriate time.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Further to my statement today, and my questions and statement yesterday, I have more questions for the Minister of Justice about the A New Day program. As I mentioned, the RFP is quite sparse on details, and that is raising all the concerns and questions, so I am just trying to get at this, and get some more information out there.
My first question is that, the Coalition Against Family Violence was integral in developing the original A New Day Program, and it is a network with considerable corporate knowledge and experience. My question is: how will the new program integrate the coalition and tap into these resources? Thank you, Mr. Speaker?
SPEAKER: Masi. Minister of Justice.
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: Mr. Speaker, a careful evaluation was made of the program which was referenced by the Member opposite in his statement earlier. Naturally, they will be going out, and have gone out to all parties who were interested in the program seeking advice. Hopefully, that good advice is reflected in the request for proposals that is presently out. Thank you.
MR. SIMPSON: I believe the Minister said that they went out seeking advice from the coalition which went into this RFP. I have heard otherwise, but that still does not answer the question. Will there be a role for the coalition in the formal program that roles out from this RFP?
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: I am not certain, Mr. Speaker, whether there will be a formal role. I have not examined the RFP in detail. I do know that those interested in bidding, there will be a meeting put on so that those interested in making a submission will be able to meet with the Department of Justice. That meeting will be held on the 14th. If there is additional information required by possible bidders, they could perhaps obtain it at that time.
MR. SIMPSON: The RFP indicates that all clients must self-refer to the program. When I asked the Minister yesterday if the program would accept referrals from outside organizations like probation services, he said it was his impression that it would but he would get back to me with that information. I would like to find out if the Minister has found out that information and would like to share it with me?
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: A New Day is a voluntary program based largely on self-referrals. Men have never needed a referral from an outside agency to access the program. During the pilot, which has taken place over a period of I think five years, community agencies such as probation would often make recommendations to their clients to take the program.
MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am aware of what has happened in the past. That is why I am asking questions about the future. Going back again, I asked the Minister yesterday if he would make the details of the new program public because, as I mentioned, the RFP is quite vague. Even the appendix referred to was a blank page in the RFP. It has since been updated, and it contains — actually, the PowerPoint presentation was given to the standing committee. It does not even make sense in the context of the RFP because — it is going to take me all day to discuss, so I will just cut it short here. There are just too many problems here.
The Minister responded that he had not had an opportunity to view the RFP, but he was confident that it contained what is required of potential contractors. I would ask the Minister again if he will release the program detail, not so that the potential contractors know what they are applying for, but for the sake of the Members of this Assembly who have spent countless hours discussing this program and fighting for this program, and for the members of the public who deserve at least one successful and efficient men’s healing program? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: Mr. Speaker, there was a very comprehensive report prepared on the New Day Program. Building on that, an RFP has been issued. Those that are interested in bidding on that can go to the meeting on Tuesday and obtain additional information should they require.
Questions, part 2
MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’ve been up here for six weeks in Yellowknife and asking questions for six weeks. The only thing I’ve gotten is a couple of signs put up by the Minister in his own riding. I just ask the Minister of Justice for his details of the program that has been one of the major issues of this assembly that nearly every Regular Member has spoken in defense of. The Minister just told me, if I want those details or if anyone wants those details, they can go to a meeting on Tuesday. Clearly, the info was public. Clearly, there’s an appetite from the public for these details. Will the Minister respond to us for openness and transparency? Make these details public so we can see what this program is all about. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
SPEAKER: Masi. Member responsible for Public Engagement and Transparency.
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: Mr. Speaker, a very extensive report was done about the A New Day healing program which was filed and tabled in this House. I think all of the details about the program are contained within this report. I’m not certain what additional information the Member is requesting. Thank you.
MR. SIMPSON: I’ll give a copy of my statements from the last two days to the Minister because I know about A New Day program as it stands now. We’re talking about a RFP that is for A New Day program that looks like a substantially different program. That’s the details I’m looking for. If the Minister heard my statement today, the new program isn’t based on the report. I’ve pointed out various aspects of it that doesn’t fly in the face of the report. Why can’t the Minister release these details that are going to be released at the meeting on Tuesday?
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: The RFP, of course, is based on the findings in the A New Day healing program evaluation report. The suggestions in these report, many of them or perhaps most of them, were incorporated into the RFP. The RFP is available to possible bidders. Additional information can be obtained on Tuesday. I don’t have that additional information in front of me because I’m not certain what questions might possibly be asked.
MR. SIMPSON: Other than what is in the RFP, then, is there an actual program designed? Because I’m starting to think that they don’t have a program to release publicly.
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: The new program is building on the old program, of course; incorporating in the RFP the suggestions contained within the evaluation report. Information that bidders are requesting is in the RFP. On that basis, they can make bids. If they wish to have additional information, they can attend the meeting on Tuesday, which will assist them in making their bids should they wish to bid on aspects of the program.
MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’ll try this: can I get the Minister to commit to either reading the old and new RFP or getting a briefing on the new and old RFP so I can have an educated discussion with him about this at some point in the future? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
HON. LOUIS SEBERT: Mr. Speaker, I understand that a briefing will be provided to the Member opposite should he wish to avail himself of that on Monday.