Thank you, Mr. Chair. It is a great privilege to sit here today and participate in the developments of the four-year plan for this 18th Assembly, making it a healthy, effective and transparent government.
We have sat here for the last several weeks now, a couple of weeks, and we have heard our priorities during our election campaign, which I will speak to, and I kind of view it as a collective approach in gathering the priorities over the last couple of weeks into a consolidated approach. This is what we are doing to collectively put our list together.
Some of the things that I have heard in my riding, as you know and I have mentioned it earlier, it is probably the most isolated area. Within two years, as mentioned, the other regions will see one or more communities connected by an all-weather road connection and I am glad to hear a lot of Members speaking towards the pursuance of our Mackenzie Valley Highway, a project that has a long history and goes back to the John Diefenbaker days and the creation of the Hire North Program.
Some of the issues and priorities for the Sahtu region include a new school that is needed in the small community of Colville Lake. We have talked on the importance of education and post-secondary education and furthering our youths to gain knowledge prior to entering the workforce, so that is a priority of mine.
Also, another building needed is the health centre in Tulita. It is getting old and the health delivery of services to a healthy community only makes for a productive one. So, that is another priority there, as well as the highway.
Some of the other challenges facing us here is the conclusion of devolution. As you heard from our SSI chair the other day, that was brought to everybody’s attention, and building on government-to-government relationships. One thing is to conclude your land claim. The next thing is to make sure it’s functioning properly with the appropriate management systems, resource systems. Another thing facing this government, and it’s going to be a model for future governments, is the community self-government in Deline. It’s going to be active within this government term, so that will be a role model for other community-based self-government projects or initiatives coming into place, so we’ve got to do it right, we’ve got to do it fair and honourably. Our agreements are only as good as how it’s carried out. That’s another one there.
Caribou management, as other Members mentioned, is a high priority for some of the communities in the eastern side of our Sahtu region. They rely greatly on the management of the herd and the health of the herd, to provide future generations and current generations for food at our dinner table.
Employment is another that’s very common. Most of these issues are all very common in this House here and within all 33 communities. We are also looking at the Sahtu region and having a trades centre. I’m hearing from one of the employees here that it’s a costly one, but let’s have a look at it. If it’s effective, let’s do it. If it’s needed, that much more reason for doing it.
The social housing, the whole issue of housing, these are programs and projects that are carried out by this government in conjunction with the federal government.
Health travel. In the whole area of program delivery, as one of my previous colleagues said, is that we have to see how effective these programs are. If they’re really not effective, how can we make them more effective than their current state, or maybe they are just played out and there’s no need for that program and the funds and resources could be allocated to a more priority point.
Home care and daycare facilities is another one that I heard in my visits, and we’ll be addressing that as we move along. Being a self-sufficient region. The Sahtu region is isolated, as I mentioned earlier. It’s also isolated to the point where it’s reporting and having to report to other areas. Why do we even call it the Sahtu region? I just don’t know. Just to give you an example, our probation officers have to report to Inuvik .Why do they have to report to Inuvik? I don’t know; so I’ll be pursuing that as another priority of independence for our Sahtu region.
Accountability, transparency, prudent spending, effective spending by this government was another hot issue presented to me during my community visits, so I think we can all come to the conclusion that it’s a very needed drive for this 19 Member Assembly to send that message out there that we’re going to be accountable to the people who we represent and to the North and to our riding as well. We’re going to be transparent with the open decision-making process. We’re going to have government-to-government relations and we’re going to execute that by going to the communities. As one of the previous leaders mentioned, within the next 12 months we’re going to have ministerial Cabinet meetings in the regions, so that is evidence to show that we’re trying to be transparent and prudent in watching our tight, tight fiscal position.
Other management skills that are a priority and will be developed are not only the government-to-government relationships there but the internal House of this Assembly to work collectively between our Executive Council and the other Members and moving towards effectiveness doing a mid-term review to see how you are doing. Are you living up to the expectations as promised? As well, that mid-term review should include are we meeting the goals and objectives as set out in our priority transition now? Are we fulfilling the mandate?
Education delivery, gender equality, these are all programs, housing, social issues, child welfare, to me these are all priorities of the programs that will be set. Effective management will say how do you deliver that, as one of my previous colleagues mentioned. I will probably continue to say “previous colleagues,” because we are all very similar in terms of setting our priorities. I have economic initiatives, just like the other speakers. We should do an action plan, a strategic plan to see what the plan is over the next four years. Monitor as we go along, and if we are achieving 10 out of the 20 goals set, let’s take those off the list and move on to the other 10 that aren’t finished.
Investor confidence to support our economy, there are things this government could do to support the economy. Initiation of the Mackenzie Valley Highway is a priority for myself, for my region and for the chair who spoke to it here on Saturday. I look forward to sharing some of my financial options provided to me on the underwriting of this project, so we can see if that financial model is going to work in conjunction with our current government’s fiscal situation.
Investor confidence and certainty taken into account the regulatory reform, there are things that were made to this government by the Neil McCrank report in 2008. Have those recommendations to provide investor confidence been completed? If not, are there parts of that report that we can carry on to this 18th Assembly that will provide investor confidence and carry on to a more prosperous economy now that you’ve got investment coming in?
Money coming into our territory, exploiting our strengths and exercising our potential. Building highways is one. Regulatory certainty is one. There is a wide range of certainties that we can share out there as priorities to build a stronger economy base there from the private sector.
I also know there has been a number of work that was undertaken by the 17th Assembly. Devolution, we are hearing about that. It’s really not concluded. There is some unfinished business there. Let’s finish that and move on. There is the issue of fracking that has high potential for resource development, but that’s an ongoing discussion issue. I look forward to that being a priority so we can all come to an accommodation.
I would like to say in closing, I know we are faced with many challenges under tight, tight fiscal and financial restraints. I think the democratic process of November 23rd has spoken in favour of a good, diverse group that we have here. I think we all have a great wealth of contribution to bring to the driving force and direction that we are going to set for the next four years. I really look forward to working with everybody through a consensus government on implementation. Thank you, Mr. Chair.