Transcript of meeting #1 for Caucus Round Table in the 18th Assembly. (The original version is on the Legislative Assembly's site.) The winning word was need.

The winning word was need.

On the agenda

MLAs speaking

Members Present

Mr. Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Ms. Cochrane, Ms. Green, Mr. Lafferty, Mr. Bob McLeod, Mr. Robert McLeod, Mr. McNeely, Mr. Moses, Mr. Nadli, Mr. Nakimayak, Mr. O’Reilly, Mr. Schumann, Mr. Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne

Call to Order
Call to Order

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Good morning, Members. I will ask that you rise and join us in prayer with Mr. Lafferty leading the prayer.

Prayer
Prayer

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

---Prayer

Opening Remarks by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly
Opening Remarks by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Welcome again to all Members of the 18th Legislative Assembly.

Today is the commencement of your priority-setting exercise. It’s a real change in focus and work that you’ve been doing for the last two weeks in setting priorities for the 18th Legislative Assembly on a go-forward basis.

The priorities that you discuss in this House today will form the basis of a priority statement that will be tabled in the Legislature this coming Thursday. Once that priority statement is agreed upon, Members of the Executive Council, who are scheduled to be appointed later this week, will take those priorities and use them to draft a mandate, which will then be brought back to Caucus one or more times to set a very specific governing and focused document for the governance of the 18th Legislative Assembly.

This is the first time this meeting has been held in public and we will go around the table in alphabetical order by constituency name. Firstly, I wish to advise Members that these proceedings are being broadcast on the Legislative Assembly’s television network throughout the Northwest Territories as well as being live web-streamed on the Legislative Assembly’s Internet website. The proceedings are being recorded by Hansard and will be provided to Members later this evening and tomorrow for their reference and use.

My name is Tim Mercer. I’m the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly. I will be presiding over your proceedings today.

Just a few comments before we get started in terms of the rules of today’s meetings, which you have agreed to. As I mentioned earlier, we will go around the table in alphabetical order by constituency name. Each Member will be provided up to 15 minutes to make a statement on their priorities for the 18th Legislative Assembly. I will ask you to remain seated while you speak. Parts of today’s proceedings will be interpreted in the Tlicho language. When you require interpretation in that language, please turn your headsets to channel 1.

We will take a break at approximately 10:30 a.m. this morning and again at noon for a lunch break. We will reconvene at 1:00 p.m. this afternoon, and depending on how much progress we’re making, we will take a break before we conclude the proceedings at the end of the day today.

There will be Pages joining us and have just joined us in the Legislative Assembly Chamber this morning. If you require the assistance of a Page, either for water or to transmit a message to one of your colleagues, please raise your hand and the Page will come to your desk and assist you.

As normal, you do not need to activate the mics in the Chamber today. The mics will be activated automatically for you when you are recognized by the chair.

Before I turn the floor over to Mr. Nadli, the Member for Deh Cho, I will ask all Members and members of the public to please turn your cell phones to silent. That being said, are there any questions from the floor in terms of process before we begin today? Seeing none, I will turn the floor over to Michael Nadli, Member for Deh Cho. Mr. Nadli.

Mr. Michael Nadli’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Good morning, colleagues. My name is Michael Nadli, Member for Deh Cho. I am from Fort Providence where I was raised and continue to make it my home. I am the father of two children and soon to be a grandfather for the first time.

As the Deh Cho MLA, I represent the communities of the Hay River Reserve, Enterprise, Kakisa and Fort Providence. I was first elected in 2011 and this is my second term. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents for their support. I can only state that I will do my best to serve you in the 18th Assembly.

I would like to take a few moments to speak in my language and then in English to highlight what I’ve heard during this recent campaign and what I believe are the priorities for the Deh Cho riding for the upcoming four years, providing some reflection upon the 17th Assembly and then offer some closing remarks.

What I heard during the campaign, in no particular order, was elderly care. Elders need to be respected and taken care of. Housing maintenance is a concern. People need assistance and service in their heating and electrical systems in their homes to run in an energy-efficient manner. Land tenure and taxes, the First Nations people are paying land taxes in spite of promises made in treaties. Working relationships between community health centres and district offices need to be improved in delivering health care. Decentralization should not be limited to district centres only, but small communities as well. The need for infrastructure, new schools for primary grades and high schools, improved telecommunications for public safety and convenience, water treatment facilities, youth centres, trade centres, Slavey immersion schools, the need to maintain winter roads and make improvements to those existing roads.

The Deh Cho riding residents – some of them are qualified workers – cannot get work in the mines. Forestry is cutting back on forestry towers. Wild morel mushrooms should be categorized like harvesting assistance programs. Experienced forest fire workers are being forced out of work because of territorial and national physical exams. Regional land claims are taking too long. There is a need for economic development to create jobs and business opportunities. There are concerns about fracking and its potential negative impacts to the environment. There are concerns about water and its quality. More needs to be done for youth. We need to work with them for them to learn traditional skills. There is concern about Aboriginal languages, their status and efforts to enhance and revitalize them.

Obviously, this is not a complete list of concerns and issues of the Deh Cho. I will work over the next four years to ensure the concerns and issues of our constituents are raised, given opportunities in the House.

I want to congratulate all my fellow MLAs who were elected. I look forward to working with all of you, as colleagues and friends, to make the NWT the best place to live. I also want to thank all of the candidates who put their names forward, making it a key public democratic progress of public discussion and debate and providing choices for residents in selecting their representatives.

I also acknowledge the commitment of past MLAs who were not elected or chose not to run. To them I say you left us big shoes to fill and that your trails are still blazing. Choosing to work as an MLA, sometimes you are chosen and you need to commit yourself to be the public face and voice of your people. We want to make a difference in the lives of our people, families, communities and the NWT.

I recall thinking of a leader’s position when I was told to sit down on the spruce boughs and listen. As leaders, we will be reminded if we get too far ahead of our people, we have to listen, not only with our ears but with our hearts. A humbling experience it was when I was told to listen. I remain deeply honoured to have worked with many elders, some of them who have passed on and some who remain.

Looking back to the 17th Legislative Assembly, I feel the heavy lifting was commendable and accomplishments were made. Devolution is one example. I voted against devolution, and despite that, it has gone forward. We have also developed legislation for the following: the Wildlife Act; the Northern Employee Benefits System; the Liquor Act for the Sahtu; the Mental Health Act, to name a few of our achievements made through public consultations in the principles of the consensus process.

We listen to everyone and we consider all sides. Being hard on the issues and soft on the people is our challenge and we must continue that path.

In terms of constituent matters from the 17th Assembly, most particularly in my riding, relate to the concerns of the quality and effectiveness of health care, the lack of services and support for disabled persons, income support programs in relation to public relations treating people with respect, concerns of housing and the public housing rental system, the care of the elderly, child care services to ensure all children are loved and cared for, and the need to enhance public communications for public safety and information.

In looking forward to the 18th Assembly, I put forth the following priorities for the Deh Cho riding. I want to work to address those priorities with the rest of the people of the NWT.

The completion of the outstanding land claims. Treaty 8 and 11 of 1899 and 1921 remain as historic and contentious agreements, depending on what side you are on. For Dene, it is about honouring the words of our forefathers, to uphold peace and friendship as long as the river flows and the grass grows. There are about a dozen negotiating tables that need to be concluded to final agreements. We can focus on the negotiating process itself or the parties involved. Through the increased responsibilities for public lands and resources, my hope is that the increased authority will not entrench power and wield a big stick in order for progress to be made.

I would like the 18th Assembly, Regular MLAs and Cabinet, to revisit the negotiations mandate that we give GNWT negotiators to ensure fair and amicable agreements are reached. I firmly believe that focusing on the big picture serves a purpose and that we all need to reaffirm the common interests we have.

In the environment and areas of renewable and non-renewable resource development, we need to ensure we have objective criteria, such as land use plans, and consider thresholds in terms of aging footprints that sometimes could be at an industrial scale or none at all.

The people. Our greatest resource is our people, individuals and families who make up the NWT. The basic needs of food, shelter and a sense of belonging are in some cases a matter of survival. We must ensure that the quality of life of our people is our biggest priority. We need to respect and take care of our elders and youth, so that the teachings of the past can help the hope of our future.

We need to keep focusing on improving the housing system; create jobs and business opportunities; provide assistance for homelessness; admit, not deny, the need for addiction centres and programs that run culturally appropriate teachings for healing and wellness, including on-the-land programs; address the crime and unemployment rate; examine closely the home care programs in light of the increasing senior-aged population; and improve facilities and programs for the disabled.

The economy. Our reliance on the mining industry is good, but as we recently learned of the closure of Snap Lake Mine, we can’t put all of our eggs in one basket. We need to diversify the economy so that sectors such as tourism and a traditional economy are supported. Equally, we must consider alternative energy sources, including the continuation of the biomass initiatives.

The environment. It is essential that we balance the need for economic development while maintaining the integrity of the environment for future generations. The picture is clear; there needs to be an integration of land use plans across the NWT so that values are considered when considering development on the land and on the water.

Communities. Coming from a small community, it is essential that local governments have proper resources to manage programs and services such as recreation and municipal services, to list a few. The lack of economic activities and infrastructure projects such as building of roads and bridges or facilities provide badly needed jobs and business opportunities for small communities. Therefore, it is essential that our communities are in a position to participate in the capital planning process effectively. Working within fiscal constraints, more planning and working together would be essential in determining whether communities construct new buildings or operate existing ones. We need to not forget the promise of devolution, and also promised decentralization of jobs to not only district centres but communities.

The high cost of living. The price of goods is higher because of the remoteness of the NWT and the communities. The GNWT must continue insisting federal initiatives continue in supplementing cost of transportation of bringing goods into remote communities, as one example. Further, that this government puts stronger efforts in the expansion of traditional harvesting such as trapping and fishing. The simple solution in terms of the high costs of living is addressing the domestic production of food. Therefore, it is imperative that the establishment in support of agricultural development is continued.

Finally, I look forward to the ongoing work in the following areas: the establishment of an ombudsman, the updating of the Forest Management Act, the move towards ground ambulance for communities and highways, the Path to Wellness approach, the Education Renewal, Junior Kindergarten, Agricultural Strategy, Tourism 2020, and expanding the single-window service centres.

In closing, I will commit myself to working with all four communities that I represent and their leaders. To that end, I plan to meet with leaders annually to ensure communication and cooperation. I look forward to the new Liberal government’s response to the Truth and Reconciliation report in addressing the generations of residential schools and the impact it’s had on the indigenous peoples. My hope is that the GNWT will actively continue its role in implementing change with the TRC, such as the work on the missing and murdered women inquiry.

On a personal note, I acknowledge that I had an incident that caused pain and hurt to my family. I have taken full responsibility for my actions. I made a mistake. I was wrong. I am taking steps to ensure that such an incident does not happen again and I’m taking steps to better myself. I am going forward on a path to healing and wellness. I am not ignoring the incident. The NWT has the highest rate of domestic violence in Canada. Domestic violence has to stop. Men must stop hurting their families. As our elders would say…[English translation not provided]…slow down and listen. Mahsi.

Mr. Michael Nadli’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you very much, Mr. Nadli. Next we have Mr. Kevin O’Reilly, Member for Frame Lake. Mr. O’Reilly. Mr. Kevin O’Reilly’s Speech

Mr. Kevin O’Reilly’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I’d like to start with an outline of my statement on priorities. I’d like to talk a little bit about how I set the priorities that I’m going to talk about shortly. I’ll present some high-level priorities with some actions that I hope can help meet them. I want to talk a little bit about how we work together, and then I have a few closing remarks.

In terms of how I set the priorities that I’m about to talk about, these obviously came up during the election campaign. We’ve had extensive briefings from GNWT departments over the last week. We had a meeting on Saturday with northern leaders, and I’ve been listening carefully to what the other MLAs have been saying. So, I’ve identified three high-level priorities that I believe are appropriate for the 18th Assembly.

The first one – and I heard a lot about this during the campaign – was reducing the cost of living. I believe we need to focus on systemic changes that will reduce our cost of living by building more self-sufficient communities. This will also help diversify our economy and can help with climate change. We need to reduce the cost of energy by expanding energy conservation and conversion programs through Arctic Energy Alliance. We can make these programs more accessible to condominiums and lower income families through a revolving fund. Loans are provided to cover capital costs and are paid back over time through savings on energy bills. This may also require working with local governments to give them authority to enter into or administer such programs.

We should also refocus the Northwest Territories Power Corporation towards community energy self-sufficiency, rather than relying on big projects in big grids.

We should build stronger food security to help lower our cost of living by promoting more local food production through community gardens, commercial market gardening and rejuvenation of local fisheries.

Finally, we need to work with the Yukon and Nunavut to ensure that the federal government increases and indexes the northern residents tax deductions, including setting and publicizing a fair value for lowest return airfares, instead of making us guess and then get audited.

We also need to work together on Nutrition North.

My second priority, getting a resource management house in order, or the evolve part of devolve and evolve.

We need to develop and put in place a systematic review of all the 26 pieces of mirrored legislation that were passed in a frenzy in March 2014 to facilitate devolution with virtually no public review. A systematic review could be done as a joint committee with Regular MLAs and Cabinet in collaboration with the Intergovernmental Council on Lands and Resource Management.

We did not get devolution to replicate the systems put in place by the federal government. We need a roadmap and set of principles to guide us in how we want to manage our own resources. For example, we need to ensure there is a fair return to the public purse from our resources. In 2015-16, GNWT will raise more money from taxes on alcohol and tobacco - $37 million – than we will get to keep from resource revenues, less than $30 million. This does not seem right to me. We should be managing our oil and gas resources using an independent body modelled after the co-management boards where Aboriginal governments are partners, rather than house this authority with the same GNWT Minister who promotes resource development.

We also need to protect the public from further liabilities from resource development through mandatory financial security, rather than the discretionary disjointed system that is currently in place.

We need to ensure that our Heritage Fund has a legislated and defined revenue stream with clear objectives and strong public governance to share some of the benefits with future generations from our non-renewable resources.

Another necessary part of this getting our resource management house in order will be to complete land rights agreements with the Dehcho, Akaitcho, the Northwest Territories Metis Nation and other Aboriginal governments. I look forward to a new approach from GNWT and stronger oversight by the Regular MLAs.

My third main priority is healthy communities. This is a complex set of inter-related issues that includes homelessness and the need for better housing, early childhood development, affordable and accessible daycare, improved education including post-secondary opportunities, continued work on the Anti-Poverty Strategy, promotion or our official languages and cultures, expanded addiction prevention and treatment programs, stronger investment in our youth and seniors, and last, but certainly not least, building a more equitable society to ensure that women take their rightful place.

I met with many advocates on these issues during the campaign and attempted to answer many questionnaires and surveys, like my fellow MLAs, and I want to continue to work on these issues.

My focus within this broad set of issues will be on children and housing. We should increase funding for early childhood development programs and services as we all want to get our children off on the right foot. This is simply one of the best investments we can make as a government with tremendous cost savings down the road. This necessary work on children also includes the universal child care system for which we already have a feasibility study. We can learn from other communities’ successes on homelessness and affordable housing. The Housing First approach will lead to improved health and education outcomes. Without safe shelter, progress in other issues, it’s difficult at best.

I look forward to working with all the other MLAs and Cabinet on this important suite of issues under the theme of healthy communities.

Now I would like to talk a little bit about how we work together. Change was certainly a major theme and outcome in the recent election campaign. We have started that change by separating the nomination and voting for the Premier, and I will be working towards more improvements in transparency and accountability. In retrospect, this round table where individual MLAs put forward their priorities as equals should have been done before the nomination process for Premier and Cabinet.

I want to pick up on some of the good work done by the last Frame Lake MLA, Ms. Wendy Bisaro, to legislate and implement an ombudsman for the Northwest Territories, and I look forward to support, and I have heard support, from other MLAs. The process whereby Cabinet will prepare a mandate in consultation with the Regular MLAs and have it passed in this House is a good one. To ensure good progress and performance, it is essential that there is a rigorous and public mid-term review of not just that mandate but of the Ministers themselves. I have a strong sense that we all have come prepared to do our homework and to do our best for the Northwest Territories. I look forward to serving on strong and potentially realigned committees that conduct as much of their business in public as possible.

A few closing remarks, if I may. I would like to thank the 17th Assembly for its work on transition and our staff and the public service for the helpful briefings over the last week and my fellow MLAs for listening to me today. I will listen to you carefully and look forward to the opportunities and challenges of working together.

Lastly, I wish to assure everyone that my own priorities and our collective priorities are subject to updating and change, based on new events and what we hear. Even if an issue was not raised in this round table today, it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to work on it. But, at the end of the day, we cannot possibly do everything and we will have to make choices. We all come to this government with different backgrounds, education and experience. While I may be knowledgeable on resource management matters, I will be relying on other MLAs for their knowledge and wisdom on social issues, youth, and more. We should take advantage of this diversity to help us build a better Northwest Territories. Mr. Chair, that concludes my statement.

Mr. Kevin O’Reilly’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. O’Reilly. Next we have Mr. Glen Abernethy, the Member for Great Slave. Mr. Abernethy. Mr. Glen Abernethy’s Speech

Mr. Glen Abernethy’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Between October 26 and November 23, I knocked on 1,384 doors within the Great Slave riding. During these visits I asked many of the residents what they thought the priorities should be for the 18th Legislative Assembly. The priorities that were repeated the most often were the economy, youth, housing and cost of living.

With respect to the economy, the reality is the NWT faces significant economic challenges both today and into the future. Small businesses are struggling to survive in the Northwest Territories, and large, non-renewable resource extraction businesses are slow to start. These challenges are compounded by the fact that the NWT diamond mines, our largest economic contributors, are approaching the end of their lifecycles.

The majority of the people I talked to recognize that the GNWT must continue to pursue environmentally and socially responsible resource extraction opportunities within our territories as they are the most significant contributor to our territorial GDP. At the end of the day, there are no sectors that can bring this type of money and opportunity as the diamond mines and other mines.

Constituents have told me, and I agree, that we need to help restore confidence to potential investors that our Northwest Territories is in fact a good place to do business. To help improve confidence, constituents have told me that the GNWT must work with Aboriginal governments to move land claims and self-government negotiations forward throughout the Northwest Territories. Interim land withdrawals and decades of negotiations cause uncertainty to potential exploration companies and investors. Land claims and self-government negotiations are critical. In addition to recognizing that all people, Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal, of the Northwest Territories can share lands, resources, power, and hope for the future, while at the same time respecting our similarities and differences, completing these land claims and self-government negotiations will help restore confidence in the Northwest Territories as a place to invest and do business.

Further, the 18th Legislative Assembly must consider strategic infrastructure investments that can extend mine life and help reduce exploration costs for future mining interests; infrastructure such as roads into the North Slave Geological Province, Whati, and up the Mackenzie Valley. For any improvements in the mining sector to be successful, the GNWT and the 18th Legislative Assembly must work closely with the NWT Chamber of Mines to set measurable and meaningful priorities.

Non-renewable resource extraction was not the only economic priority identified by my constituents. Constituents told me that the GNWT must also focus on supporting a sustainable and diversified economy. I agree with many of the ideas that you’ll hear today and that we heard out in the public, ideas such as investing in green energy, farming, fishing, forestry, biomass production, tourism, culture, arts and film.

The GNWT must do more to enhance all of these areas. They allow residents to circulate money coming in from sources like mining throughout the Northwest Territories, rather than leaving directly for the south. These economic opportunities may not be huge revenue generators by themselves, but they do help improve the quality of life, cost of living, and can support sustainability through the peaks and valleys of non-renewable resource extraction. They are incentive for people to stay, enjoy and become part of all of our communities.

For any of these initiatives to be successful, the GNWT must work closely with small business owners and operators and find a way to enhance the support for entrepreneurs here in the Northwest Territories. In addition, the GNWT needs to work closely with the chambers of commerce throughout the Northwest Territories, to create real opportunity and sustainability for northern business.

As I’ve already indicated, supporting and improving our economic opportunities in the Northwest Territories will require some strategic infrastructure investment. As a Legislative Assembly, we must be open to taking some risk and utilizing some of our short-term borrowing capacity while the borrowing costs are low, to support economic development and create future opportunities, revenue generation and cost controls.

Another priority area raised by the constituents was our youth. Constituents were clear that to maximize benefits of economic development and activity, we have to support a robust education system that provides options to meet the needs of learners of all ages. This will ensure that Northerners can take advantage of opportunities that are available to them. Unfortunately, our graduation rates remain lower than the rest of Canada. This is especially true in our smaller and remote communities. We constantly hear that when our young people do graduate in our smaller communities that they don’t have the academic credentials to get into colleges or universities. Together, all together, we must stop this trend, we must turn it around, and it must start before kindergarten.

I’ve heard from constituents that the GNWT needs to do more to support early childhood development throughout the Northwest Territories. It must build upon the work started in the 17th Legislative Assembly, but must continue to do more with an enhanced focus on zero to three and the support to daycare providers and parents.

Free play-based education for four-year-old children was another hot topic. Everyone agrees that it must be a priority, but there was also clear indication that one model does not fit all in all situations. The daycare providers, Aboriginal Head Start and parents must be included in the development of programs and identification of alternative solutions in this area. Education Renewal has support; however, I heard that it needs to move quicker and that it must be done in a collaborative way. To be successful in this initiative, the GNWT must engage and work with parents, school boards and other stakeholders to improve the education system in the Northwest Territories, and this is pre-kindergarten to Grade 12.

It was also clear that constituents want more done to support youth who are struggling with mental illness. Helping youth with mental health early and helping them transition out of the school into adulthood, rather than stopping the support at graduation as we often do now, will help these individuals lead healthier and more productive lives. The GNWT must develop and adequately resource a youth mental health strategy.

With respect to post-secondary studies, I’ve heard that more options must be available to our residents at a territorial, regional and community level. There are a large number of young people 18 to 24 who don’t consider themselves part of the workforce. They aren’t looking for work and don’t believe that there are opportunities for them should they decide to work. Our existing models for post-secondary studies or technical training doesn’t seem to be engaging these individuals. The GNWT must be open to creative alternatives that can provide training and education where people are, in their communities and regions.

The third most common area raised by constituents was homelessness and cost of living. Homelessness continues to be a significant problem in the Northwest Territories. There are a number of initiatives that are currently underway, and unfortunately, and too often, the different groups are working in isolation from each other with the same goal in mind. This seems like a wasted effort and a challenge to success. The GNWT must engage all of the stakeholders, municipalities, Aboriginal governments, industry, in order to support the delivery of collaborative and meaningful Homeless First programming throughout the Northwest Territories.

Constituents also told me that the GNWT must consider a mental health transition facility based on the Home First model, likely in Yellowknife as a starting point. This facility could provide a safe place for individuals suffering from mental illness or addictions to live, where they can receive outpatient programs – things like addictions, trauma and/or mental health counselling, to name just a few – as they transition through their illness into a more stable and healthy life. Nunavut recently opened a facility based on this model in Iqaluit. They have already seen significant success and a direct impact on reducing some of their challenges with respect to homelessness in their community.

There are a number of high quality housing programs being offered by the GNWT through the NWT Housing Corporation to help our residents get into homes. Unfortunately, during the election I heard that people either don’t understand the programs that exist, aren’t aware that they exist, or that they aren’t flexible enough to recognize the realities that many of our individuals are facing. Through the NWT Housing Corp, we must engage stakeholders and users of the programs at a community level to seek ways to improve communication and delivery of housing programs. There are answers, Mr. Clerk, in the communities, and as a government we must listen.

With respect to the cost of living, all residents have a personal responsibility to live within their means. Just like the GNWT, residents must spend responsibly and not take on unmanageable debt or spend beyond their individual earning capacity. Unfortunately, many individuals who are managing their individual finances responsibly have indicated that they are struggling to make ends meet. The GNWT can’t do everything to address an individual’s cost of living, but there are ways the GNWT can help residents. These include controlling costs of power through investment in infrastructure, solar, wind, biomass, et cetera. We need to avoid extreme price fluctuations resulting from uncontrollable challenges like low water levels here in the North Slave.

Working with stakeholders to increase daycare options and affordability for NWT residents. Universal daycare may not be affordable in the immediate term, but more can definitely be done to support families in this area. We need to have a long-term plan moving us towards universal daycare, while at the same time, we need to identify and implement some short-term strategies that fit GNWT’s fiscal reality.

Enhancing and streamlining rebate programs to install wood stoves, more efficient furnaces, solar panels, better insulation for commercial and residential users, increasing the number of long-term care beds available to seniors throughout the Northwest Territories, working with the federal government to ensure they live up to their commitment to update the northern residents tax deduction, working with the federal government to help improve the Nutrition North Program for our isolated communities here in the Northwest Territories, enhancing support for community gardens and other food production opportunities. There are definitely some actions the GNWT can take to help residents control the cost of living in the Northwest Territories.

In addition to the three priority areas I have described, another theme appeared. During many discussions with constituents, they described programs and services that they believed should exist within the Government of the Northwest Territories. In many cases these programs or services they described already exist. This suggests, at least to me, that the GNWT is not particularly good at getting program information to the clients who need the support or will benefit from the programs. This is both unfortunate and unacceptable. The GNWT must review its communication protocols and work closely with end users of the GNWT programs to ensure that potential clients get the program information they need when they need it.

There are a couple areas that I want to mention before my time is up. They didn’t come up at the doors, but they are issues that I believe the 18th Legislative Assembly must address. First, the TRC recommendations. As a government, we must take these recommendations seriously and commit to addressing them as a priority of the 18th Legislative Assembly, both indirectly and directly. Supporting the recommendations from the TRC will help positively impact the priority areas that I have described today, the economy, youth, homelessness and cost of living.

Second, community funding. NWT community governments are struggling to survive an annual funding shortfall of almost $40 million per year for operating costs, infrastructure, water and sewage. The GNWT must make addressing this shortfall a priority moving forward. It will require hard choices, but a way forward must be found.

Third, climate change. This one I was honestly surprised that it didn’t come up at more doors. Weird. However, yesterday at COP21 an agreement was made and Canada is a signatory. Some of the highlights of that deal are signatories must peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible and achieve a balance between sources and sinks of greenhouse gases in the second half of this century. Signatories must work to keep global temperatures increase well below two degrees Celsius and to pursue efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius. Our Prime Minister has indicated that he will work with the provinces and territories to implement actions to help Canada meet these targets. The GNWT will be required and expected to do its part to help Canada meet these targets. I know many of the residents of the Northwest Territories expect us to do just that.

Mr. Clerk, these are just some of the priorities I’ve heard from my constituents over the last couple of months. There’s no question that the next Legislative Assembly faces a number of important challenges, a tight fiscal outlook for the GNWT, limited economic activity and an increasing cost of living. By engaging our stakeholders and working together here in this room and down the halls, I’m confident that we can make progress in all of these areas. Thank you, Mr. Clerk.

Mr. Glen Abernethy’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. Next, Mr. R.J. Simpson, the Member for Hay River North. Mr. R. J. Simpson’s Speech

Mr. R. J. Simpson’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am honoured to have the opportunity today to speak to the Assembly and to the people of the Northwest Territories. I look forward to hearing from all of the Members and working with them as we set the priorities of the 18th Assembly.

When considering our priorities, I look to the future. As the recent Snap Lake announcement has reminded us, the diamond mines will not be here forever. We must take steps now to foster an economy that will be able to provide for our children, our grandchildren and generations beyond. This includes investments in infrastructure, supporting small businesses and emerging industries, encouraging responsible resource exploration and creating a business climate that is attractive to investors.

An essential component to a successful economy is a skilled workforce. We need to do a better job of educating, training and retaining Northerners and attracting skilled workers from other jurisdictions.

While looking to the future, we must not neglect the pressing issues of today. The cost of living affects every one of us on a daily basis and is an impediment to attracting investors and retaining residents. Housing is a concern in every region of the territory. Whether it is a lack of housing units for seniors or chronic homelessness, it is an area that demands our attention.

We must also continue to work on improving mental health and addiction services. We cannot be a prosperous society unless we are a healthy society. Doing a better job of protecting and supporting the victimized, marginalized and vulnerable among us must also be at the forefront of our priority-setting discussion.

My discussion of some very important issues will be brief, and because of time constraints, there is so much I will not mention at all. However, after getting to know the Members of the 18th Assembly over the past few weeks and learning about their varying strengths and backgrounds, I am confident that all of the important issues will be well represented and we can create a set of priorities that are in the best interests of the current and future citizens of the Northwest Territories.

The territory is facing tough economic times. The diamond mines, the main drivers of our economy, are all scheduled to close in the next 15 years, and there are as of yet no projects to replace them. This situation necessitates two responses: We must create a climate that encourages investment and resource exploration, and we must diversify our economy so that we are more resilient against global factors that affect commodity prices.

Despite declining revenues, this government needs to invest in projects that lower the cost of doing business in the Northwest Territories. The resource sector is cyclical, so even though we are on a downturn now, we must position ourselves for the future. This includes investment in projects such as the Slave Geological Province and the development of a regulatory regime that encourages exploration and attracts investment.

In addition to lowering business costs, projects like the Mackenzie Valley Highway will reduce the costs of goods in communities and open up a vast part of the territory for tourism. We must also partner with industry and the federal government to pursue dredging around Hay River and up the Mackenzie, to lower the cost and decrease the liability of shipping.

In addition to large-scale investments, communities must be provided with the funding they need to ensure that they can provide, improve and maintain their infrastructure. We have to develop a funding formula for communities that is fair and based on needs.

To help insulate ourselves from global factors that are out of our control, we need to focus efforts on developing and growing local industries. Stable economies are built from the ground up. We need to support entrepreneurs and northern companies that have already made investments in our communities. We should be supporting entrepreneurs with increased and more flexible seed funding and a stronger Business Incentive Program.

The new pellet plant scheduled to open in Enterprise is proof that there is opportunity for new industries. Manufacturing has grown 26 percent annually between 2009 and 2014. This sector not only creates jobs, it builds capacity by creating opportunities for apprenticeships. Farming and agriculture are other emerging industries that we need to foster, both because of their growth potential and because of the food security they provide to the North. Likewise for commercial fishing.

In addition to the ample North American market, cargo flights from Edmonton to China mean that we can now provide fresh fish to the Chinese market. We have made investments in these areas and we need to continue to do so.

We must also continue efforts to decentralize government jobs from Yellowknife to regional centres and communities. While our economy can’t be built on government jobs alone, they can provide much needed employment outside Yellowknife and bring money into the communities.

Priority must also be given to improving the GNWT’s relationship with Aboriginal governments, settling outstanding claims and implementing settled claims. As we heard at the Northern Leaders’ Meeting this weekend, we have to do a better job in all of these areas. While respect and fair dealing are reasons enough to do this, improvement in these areas will also create a more attractive business environment by providing clarity to companies who wish to invest in the North.

All the talk about building an economy is meaningless if we do not have an educated and skilled workforce to maintain it. Earlier I spoke of investing in infrastructure and entrepreneurs. Nothing provides a better return on investment than education. We need to put more teachers in the classroom, especially in earlier grades. The NWT had one of the worst student/teacher ratios in the country, and we are setting ourselves up for failure unless we do something about it. Our graduation rate is low, and many of those who do graduate lack the skills needed to succeed in university. It’s not fair to them and it’s a missed opportunity for all of us.

We must also do a better job of retaining those students who do go south and receive a university education. We need to communicate with them while they’re in school, create opportunities for them in the North, such as summer positions and internships, and offer a more generous loan forgiveness regime. We are concerned with attracting new residents to the North, but we should not forget about the ones who already have roots here.

There also needs to be a renewed focus on apprenticeships. SNAP is a program that gives high school students a head start on getting a trade. It’s a solid program but we need to make better use of it. When a journeyman takes on an apprentice, he or she is doing a service for the entire territory. We need to support and encourage that with better incentives and programs. We must also work to make schooling more accessible for apprentices both in terms of when and where it is offered. If we are truly concerned about the future of the Northwest Territories, we must make education a top priority.

During the campaign I heard a lot of concerns about the state of the economy. I heard equally as many concerns about the availability of safe and affordable housing. From speaking with the other Members, I know that these concerns are common in every region.

The lack of seniors housing is becoming an increasingly urgent problem because of our aging population. We need to look at ways to keep seniors in their homes longer, such as greater investments in home care, and increasing the number of people who qualify for the Seniors Home Heating Subsidy.

In some communities there are just not enough houses, period. The result is that some people find themselves homeless. With the wealth we have in this territory, I find that unacceptable. Ensuring that everyone has access to safe, affordable housing should be a priority of the next Assembly.

There are many important issues which I haven’t touched on, including, but not limited to, social issues that badly need our attention. I know some of my colleagues will touch on these, and I look forward to working with them to ensure that those issues are also made a priority of this Assembly.

We face many challenges over the next year and we have tough decisions to make; however, given the talent and skills of the people of the Northwest Territories and my fellow Members, I am optimistic, hopeful and excited about what the future holds. Thank you, Mr. Clerk.

Mr. R. J. Simpson’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Simpson. Next we have Mr. Wally Schumann, the Member for Hay River South. Mr. Schumann. Mr. Wally Schumann’s Speech

Mr. Wally Schumann’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Clerk. On election day, residents of the Northwest Territories spoke loud and clear. It’s time for change. It’s time to create a brighter future for all NWT residents, and I want to congratulate everyone here.

We have all been entrusted with a huge responsibility. Creating meaningful progress in the Northwest Territories isn’t going to be easy. The days of the status quo are over. It’s going to take courage, collaboration, innovation. The priorities we put forward here today are critical first steps in that direction. Let’s be honest; our families, businesses and communities are struggling to get ahead, and for most it’s not getting any better. It’s something I’ve seen and heard not just in my community but across the territory. The time has come to ensure our communities and its residents can get back on the road to prosperity. The priorities I bring here today will help us reach this goal.

It’s no surprise that some of our biggest challenges are the result of the economic downturn. It’s something that has been raised in the recommendations of the 17th Legislative Assembly and it’s something that will be critical to address the mandate of the 18th Assembly. Frankly, our economic outlook is grim. The closing dates of several mines are rapidly approaching and there are no new resource development projects lined up. It’s time to get the Northwest Territories back in business. There are a lot of low-hanging fruits that could give our economy the boost it desperately needs. We need to help support our small and local business prosper with investment and growth opportunities.

Tourism provides an excellent opportunity for our territory. The more visitors to the NWT, the more money is spent here and the more attractive it is for investors. At the same time, we can encourage even more outside investment by getting some big obstacles out of the way.

Completing land claims will free up land for development and provide future certainty for business and investment. There are also regulatory processes related to land use that need to be revisited and streamlined. This will facilitate and expedite growth. By supporting our businesses and removing obstacles to outside investment, we’re not only jump starting our economy, we’re also creating new jobs, new training opportunities for NWT residents.

I don’t need to tell anyone in this room that our high cost of living hurts every single person and business in the Northwest Territories. Every day it contributes to the economic downturn we are experiencing. It’s time for us to realize that band-aid fixes simply do not work. We need to invest in long-term solutions.

One of the most important things we can do is address the high cost of energy. Alternative energy sources such as solar, biomass and wind may be part of the solution and they should be investigated, but we need to think long term.

We also have to look at immediate ways to help keep more hard-earned dollars in the pockets of our residents. Refunding the 2 percent payroll tax to every employee is one way we can do this. Addressing food security, which is one of the most vital issues facing our communities, is absolutely critical. Creating an all-season Mackenzie Highway would be a big step in that direction. This road would help ensure our communities have a reliable and affordable access to food and essential supplies. It would also benefit local businesses and open up even more opportunities for resource development. Again, we need more than band-aid solutions to lower the cost of living. The solutions we need to find to help not just the residents of the NWT today but their children and their grandchildren.

One of the hard realities of both economic downturn and high cost of living is their impact on health and social programs available to our residents. When our businesses are hurting, so are our families, our seniors, our youth and our most vulnerable. Our most important services are constantly being challenged to do more with less money. In my opinion, that simply doesn’t make sense. We need to look at the health and social programs in place to see what’s working and what’s not. How can we better invest our dollars to get the biggest bang for our buck, the only feasible way we can increase support for programs that have real impact on the health and well-being of our residents and free up cash to address the gaps.

The need for a drug and alcohol treatment facility within the Northwest Territories, for instance, would require this type of approach. We need to examine the current system, find out why previous ones have failed, and decide what is the best way to move forward that will have the best health outcome for lasting rehabilitation. After all, a healthy workforce is an attractive workforce for investment.

We also need to ensure our programs are relevant. Seniors are one of the fastest growing segments to our population and some of the biggest clients of our health and social programs. Having a seniors advocate would help ensure we are appropriately addressing not only their needs but those of the families who assist their care. By taking a hard look at our health and social service programs to see what’s working and what’s not and whether they are relevant, we can start to make better use of their limited dollars to improve the health and well-being of all residents of the Northwest Territories.

Finally, one of the most important priorities we need to address is education. Education is an investment in the future that will pay out dividends. It affects our economy; it affects the health of our communities; and it affects the future of the Northwest Territories. Our youth will be taking the reins of our communities and we need to set them up for success. We need to improve the attendance, graduation rates and academic success levels to better prepare our youth for post-secondary education and careers. At the same time, we need to respect and support our diverse cultural needs and promote education in all our official languages.

We also need to increase support for inclusive classrooms, to make sure every single student in the Northwest Territories gets the best education possible. But we can’t just invest in the Foundations for Success. We need to follow through with those investments by promoting apprenticeships, career training, internship and opportunities within our communities. By giving our future leaders the best possible education and training that include cultural and language diversity, we’re creating a valuable workforce who will be inspired to grow their careers and families right here in the Northwest Territories.

There’s been a lot of talk about transparency here in the last few weeks, and I think this is very important. As MLAs, we have been held more accountable to what our residents have voted for. But we need to take this a step further. The key to addressing all our priorities in a quick and effective manner will be collaboration. Every single one of us needs to find a way to better collaborate with federal, municipal and Aboriginal governments, organizations and stakeholders within our communities. By doing this, we can work faster and smarter to build a more robust economy, to find sustainable solutions that lower the cost of living, to improve the health and social services of all communities and give the best possible education to every single student in the Northwest Territories. Collaboration in these priorities is the only way we can address the urgent need to get the Northwest Territories and all the residents back on the road to prosperity. Thank you, Mr. Clerk.

Mr. Wally Schumann’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Schumann. Next I have Mr. Alfred Moses, the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Inuvik Boot Lake.

Mr. Alfred Moses’ Speech

Mr. Wally Schumann’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Clerk, and thank you, colleagues. I just want to make note that it’s great listening to all the optimism, the energy in this 18th Assembly and the work that everyone is looking at focusing on. Being through, I guess you could say, the wringer for one term already, and really understanding some of the realities that we’re facing in this government moving forward and some of the challenges that we have, that we’re still looking to do the best for the people who put us in this seat. Throughout the campaign I heard a lot of really meaningful concerns, some that were strictly related to Inuvik, to the region, and then some that were territorially needed to be pushed. I just want to highlight a few and then I’ll get into more details around legislation, around strategies and action plans that have been done and that are made public; accountability and how do we move on that – we’ve heard some of that here today already – the environment; the economy; health and well-being; as well as education.

Some of the things that I did here when I was going door to door and having some of my meetings and meet-and-greets in Inuvik were the high costs of living, and you’ve heard that already on numerous occasions. Heating and electricity costs, there’s a big disparity between the rural and remote communities and what we see down in southern parts of the Northwest Territories. I had some really good discussions with some of our leaders up in the Beaufort-Delta region. How do we address that for all Northerners? Child care was a big one. Support for small business. Homelessness and housing. We do also have some collective bargaining agreements coming up this term, that’s going to be a priority for our public workforce, and also jobs was a big one, and education, and more specifically, how do we use some of our facilities that we have in Inuvik right now, such as the Aurora College facility, and get that more up and used?

In the 17th Legislative Assembly, when we went through our discussions and went through our orientations, like we did over the last couple of weeks here, what was a big note for me, and has always stayed as a priority for me, was mental health and addictions. It’s the biggest cost-driver for this government. If we want to reduce costs and put more money into other programs and services that we’ve heard here today, we’ve got to tackle the mental health issues and the addictions that we see in the Northwest Territories. It has always been a big priority for me, and in the 17th Legislative Assembly with the Mental Health Act, and you’ve heard it here today, as well as the child and youth mental health strategy that we need to develop in this government. We’re the only jurisdiction in Canada that doesn’t have one, and I think that’s going to be a big priority not only on the health system but also in the education system, so that they, the teachers and the families, have the supports in place so that each child has the right to get education, and I think that is hopefully one of our big priorities moving into the 18th.

Moving a little bit further in terms of legislation, a lot of good work was done in the 17th Legislative Assembly and I hope it will continue with the strong momentum and energy that we see here with the new Members and with the experience and knowledge that is coming with Members returning from the 17th.

The Mental Health Act was a big one. Child and Family Services Act needed supports and I think that is another one that needs to be opened up again and looked at. Not during the campaign trail but ongoing during the consultations with the Child and Family Services Act, kinship care came up many times, and that is something that is missing in the Child and Family Services Act. We have to support the grandparents. We have to support the families that are taking care of their family’s children. It is a big hardship on our small communities and I think that needs to be addressed. If that means opening up the Child and Family Services Act again to get it amended so that we have kinship care in there, it is going to make a lot of families a lot healthier.

A big one, which I have also mentioned, is the Hospital Insurance Health and Social Services Administration Act, the governance act. We are putting all the health authorities into the one territorial health and social services authority that will better give services to all residents of the Northwest Territories and will cut down on some of the duplicated costs of ordering supplies as well as competing for doctors, competing for nurses. I think it is going to make a big stride moving forward. Also, just the other ones like the Health Information Act and the Pharmacy Act, which is going to have a big impact on people’s lives when we start monitoring some of the pharmaceuticals that we are giving to some of our residents.

Moving forward into some of the other areas like the strategies and action plans that we need to continue to support to have an impact and have an effect on a lot of concerns that were mentioned here today by some of our other Members, the Economic Opportunities Strategy, creating jobs, helping small businesses, Oil and Gas Strategy. Even though we are in a downturn with the oil and gas, we can’t let Canada, we can’t let the world know that we are not still interested in resource extraction and resource development in the regions that do have the resources.

Leading up into that, it goes right into the Transportation Strategy. We are seeing the benefits up in Inuvik with the Inuvik-Tuk Highway and we want to see those benefits in the Sahtu; we want to see those benefits in the Deh Cho; we want to see those benefits here in Yellowknife and in the Tlicho region to make sure that they get the benefits of jobs and creating those highways to reduce the cost of living, but also creating jobs for people in the Northwest Territories.

Another one is the Anti-Poverty Strategy. A lot of work went into that. Collaborative work went into that, I must say, with NGOs, with municipal governments, between departments, Education, Health, Justice, all working together to try to make the territory with focus on our people. We always said in the last government, healthy, educated people free from poverty, and I think that is what we have to continue to focus on.

Early childhood development was big, as mentioned over the weekend as well. There was a document that was tabled on June 4th, Universal Affordable Child Daycare. That needs to be something we need to address within our government, because what that is going to do is get families being able to be double-income families where child care will be affordable so both people in the house can go do work, have double income and help with the reduced costs of living.

We heard education as a priority. I heard it in the community of Inuvik. With the Education Renewal and Innovation Strategy coming out, I think we need to continue to support that, so that we do support not only our students but our teachers and those in the workforce.

I have always said that our greatest resource in the Northwest Territories is our people. Once we put that effort into making them healthy and educated, it will pay tenfold in terms of having them ready to do the jobs when the economy picks back up, but it will also cut down on health care costs and hopefully cut down on some of the costs we see with income assistance and in housing.

I mentioned earlier about the Transportation Strategy. One thing that I think this next government should do is have a better monitoring system for the Business Incentive Policy. Every year we get a report that says contracts over $5,000, and how many of them were negotiated, how many of them came back for change orders, and we’re talking millions of millions of dollars.

We’re not the only place in Canada that’s having an effect with the economy. All jurisdictions across Canada are looking for jobs and they’re looking in other places and looking into the North, and when they come to work in the North, they don’t know the cost of doing business in the North. As a result, they underbid the people who really know how to do the job; and when they underbid, then they get change orders which come back and effect the government. So, we need a better monitoring system to support our local businesses and have a good understanding of what it costs to do business in the Northwest Territories.

There are many other strategies that I can continue to mention, the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan that we need to continue to follow. One plan, however, that was not done in the 17th but I feel that it needs to be brought forward in the 18th Assembly is the Energy Plan. Two energy charrettes in the last government, no plan came out of them. Recommendations that came out of them were not addressed. One recommendation that came out of that is the NWT energy efficient act. Still no work has been done on it to date, and I think early on in the 18th that is something that we need to address and we really need to focus.

Also, we’re going through a low economic downturn in oil and gas. We’ve heard today about the diamond mines and their closing. We’ve got to look at where else we can focus, the traditional economy, Tourism Strategy, Film Strategy, arts, a biomass strategy, other areas that we can put our efforts in that will give us a good return moving forward. Caribou management is a big one, as well, as a priority moving forward.

I’m not going to get through everything that I want to say here today.

I’ll talk a little bit about accountability. Every year we get the Auditor General reports. They need to continue to be a priority of this government. That is going to make us do our jobs a lot better and more efficiently moving forward. The public accounts practice that was started in the 17th Legislative Assembly really needs to continue, because that’s keeping our government accountable, keeping people who we work with – organizations, health authorities, education authorities, Aurora College – accountable with how they spend the dollars that we provide to them and making sure that it’s being spent in the best possible way, as well as those reports that are coming from departments. The Housing First initiative was another big one that I think is doing really well here in Yellowknife, but you look at some of the regional centres, Inuvik, Hay River, even the small communities, the couch surfers, they really need a Housing First initiative to the communities that will address some of the overcrowding which leads to some of our health and wellness issues.

You heard it earlier here today, and I too want to give recognition to Ms. Bisaro who did a lot of work, and she did table a document on the ombudsman in the last government. I think we have to resurrect that document and look at it. That will give us an independent review of the programs and services that we have in this government.

Land and resource management is also a big one. You’ve heard it also here today with looking at land claims, looking at self-government, how we need to have a better Aboriginal engagement practice and not a strategy. All these strategies and action plans that I’m talking about, they can’t just be strategies. They’ve got to be action plans and we’ve got to put action to what we’re saying and not just putting them in documents or in words.

On top of that, settling these land claims and self-government. We’ve got to have a better federal engagement strategy. The last government did a great job, and I think this year having our MP in the government is going to give us a lot of leverage and a lot of momentum to get things done here in the Northwest Territories.

You heard people mention this earlier, but earlier this year we passed a $1.6 billion operations budget for 44,000 people here in the Northwest Territories. This government can’t sustain that. We’ve got to have a balance of both doing the work, providing the programs and also balancing getting the resources out of the ground and shipped to markets. One concern, and I know it’s going to be a priority and it was an election issue, was the horizontal hydraulic fracturing. With devolution, we have taken over a lot of those decision-making powers and I think we need to continue moving to create some type of strong regulations so that if that practice goes through, we’re protecting the environment, we’re protecting the people, but we’re getting revenues to offset some of these high costs for our operations and continue with projects that we currently have: the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Link; the Inuvik-Tuk Highway, complete that project; and then start working on the Mackenzie Valley Highway. Like I said, we want to create jobs in all the regions for people in the Northwest Territories.

One other thing that was done in the 17th that I think we need to continue moving forward is the Midwifery Program here in Yellowknife, and also do a better job in terms of chronic disease management such as cancer and diabetes. A Cancer Strategy, a Cancer Action Plan was tabled just in the last government. I think we need to bring that up because we are seeing high rates of cancer in some of the communities.

Personally, another one that I brought forth in the last government that I’d like to see some work on is the Domestic Violence Death Review Committee. We had an unfortunate incident up in our region, and I think something brought forth like this where we get independent bodies that work closely in this relationship, giving us recommendations on what we need to do, will move forward in creating healthier communities and healthier relationships and healthier families.

As I mentioned, I didn’t get to everything that I wanted to talk about, but I like the energy in the room. I like the educated, well-thought-out priorities of every Member, and I look forward to working in the 18th the next four years with everybody, moving some of these action items forward, addressing the health care costs, education. With that, thank you, Mr. Clerk.