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

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

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Moses, and thank you for not requiring me to tell you that your time for priority statements has expired. Next I have Mr. Robert C. McLeod, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Mr. McLeod. Mr. Robert C. McLeod’s Speech

Mr. Robert C. Mcleod’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I look forward to the opportunity to be part of the 18th Legislative Assembly. With the balance of returning Members and a lot of the energy that the new Members bring, I think we’re well set up, well positioned to tackle some of the priorities in the 18th Assembly that we’re setting today.

I’ve made a list of the four or five priorities that I would see, and I believe they’re all connected somehow. One of the big priorities I believe is the completion of the Mackenzie Valley Highway, the construction of the Mackenzie Valley Highway. This has a trickle-down effect. It will create some jobs and training opportunities for a lot of our young people. It will help address the high cost of living up and down the valley. It will connect all of the NWT. It will increase tourism. There will be a lot of training opportunities that I’ve stated for youth.

We’ve seen some of the benefits of work like this that goes on with the construction of the Inuvik-Tuk Highway, and some of the numbers we got back, I think… I believe our income support numbers were down because people were working. Our rental revenue for housing was up because people were working. People want to work; we just have to give them the opportunity to work.

One of the other priorities I see is we need to work to settle the land claims. It does give certainty on the ownership of land. It gives certainty to potential investors, and we need to tap into that and move forward with that.

We have a great opportunity here to work with the new federal government. I listened closely to a lot of the campaign, I wouldn’t call them promises, but a lot of the campaign material that they had. They had talked about huge infrastructure investment, and we have to make sure that we’re in a position to receive some of that money because we do need it up here, and I think they’ll recognize that. The fact that we have a sitting MP that’s part of the government body I think would work in our favour. We need to tap into that and utilize that.

The declining CMHC funding, there’s a common theme I’ve heard so far about the houses and housing and the lack of housing. One of the challenges that we’ve faced in the last number of years was the declining CMHC funding. Again, here’s an opportunity to have dialogue with the federal government and see if there’s a way that they recognize our unique situation in all three territories and the challenges that we face providing housing. If they were to put a freeze on the declining CMHC funding, then we might be in a position where we can add new public housing units. Because it’s a lot of the Members that are coming back and if you’ve listened to the proceedings in the House, you’ll notice we talk a lot about replacement public housing units, and that’s because the challenge we face with the declining CMHC funding. We’ve been very fortunate in the last, I think in the life of the 17th Assembly. I believe there was $6 million that this government put towards the provision of housing across the Northwest Territories to help offset some of the money that we were losing with the declining CMHC funding. Again, here’s an opportunity to work with a new federal government that seems to have a new attitude, and we’re looking forward to that opportunity.

Municipal funding. We heard it this weekend, and we did the formula funding review at the end of the last Assembly because we wanted to be sure that we were in a position to seek any additional funds if the opportunity was available. We heard this weekend that they feel that they need $40 million to address their community needs, and we recognize that, and we will have to identify that funding and work to get that funding to pass it on to the communities. Again, there is a trickle-down effect, because if communities get more funding, then they may be able to pass that on to their residents in their community by making some jobs available and improving the infrastructure they have there. We have been very fortunate in the last few years through the investments and federal government that we were able to pass some of the infrastructure money on to the communities, but we hear from the communities that that’s just not quite enough, and they’re challenged to maintain a lot of the infrastructure that they’re receiving. So, we need to work with them to try and find ways that we can address the funding needs.

Finally, Mr. Chair, our most valuable resources – and it’s been stated before – across the Northwest Territories are our youth and our seniors and the people of the Northwest Territories. With the seniors, we heard about the concerns with the senior housing. Again, that can go back to the declining CMHC funding, and if they were to put a freeze on that funding, then we may be able to invest more into the provision of funding for seniors to keep them in their own homes. So, all the priorities that I’ve listed I believe are all connected.

Our youth. Having worked with our youth for the last number of years and interacting with them, I’m really positive about the future of the NWT. We’re developing a lot of really good leaders amongst the youth, and I believe in a few years there’ll be 19 of them sitting in here and looking after the needs of the Northwest Territories.

So, Mr. Chair, I didn’t take up very much time, but I do want to close by quoting a couple of lines from our Members’ conduct guidelines, and we need to take these to heart. I believe we’re going to sign these and they are going to be tabled so the public can have access to them. The one line I’d like to quote is: “To the public, I owe responsibility to work for the well-being of all residents of the Northwest Territories; and to my colleagues, I owe fairness and respect for our differences and the duty to work together for the good will of the common good.” Mr. Chair, in this case the common good are the people of the Northwest Territories and the Northwest Territories itself. So, I thank you very much.

Mr. Robert C. Mcleod’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. I think we’ll try and do one more and then we’ll take a break. Thank you, Mr. McLeod. We’ll do one more, and I’ll call upon Mr. Kieron Testart, the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Kam Lake. Mr. Testart. Mr. Kieron Testart’s Speech

Mr. Kieron Testart’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Chair, today I speak on behalf of my constituents who elected me to bring their concerns to our next government. These priorities, along with those from across the Northwest Territories, will shape the direction of the 18th Assembly.

The mandate I have received is based on the commitments I have made to the people of Kam Lake and to Northerners everywhere. The result of this historic election was motivated by a strong desire for change from the people whom we serve. This change was not for different government but, rather, for a better government that puts the needs of Northerners first and remains accountable to the public. No matter what priorities are decided upon by this Assembly, improvements to our consensus government must be made, and we must all endeavour to ensure that our doors remain open and Northerners have a clear understanding of how and why decisions are made. Our highest priority must be a functional and effective government whose Members work together in trust for the betterment of our society. We’ve already taken the first steps towards greater transparency in our leadership and priority-setting processes, and I’m encouraged by the strong level of engagement I’ve seen taking place in our democracy as Northerners raise their voices to be heard.

Mr. Chair, what I heard during this election and in the many months that preceded it, was that Northerners are struggling with the high cost of living, limited opportunities for employment and education, the dramatic changes to our environment caused by climate change, and a lack of progress towards indigenous self-government and finalizing modern treaties. I understand those concerns very well, as until only very recently I experienced them firsthand as a northern resident unhappy with the efforts of our government to bring meaningful solutions to these issues.

I sought to represent the people of Kam Lake so that I could make a difference. I developed a detailed plan so that I could take action right away. Implementing that plan starts today as I work with other Members of the 18th Assembly to develop a common set of priorities that are shared by all Northerners. It is time to make tackling our high cost of living in the Northwest Territories a critical priority for our next government. Costs of living represent the single greatest barrier to increasing our population, expanding northern businesses and, most importantly, putting more money into the pockets of hardworking Northerners and their families.

Targeted infrastructure investment is needed in housing, transportation systems, energy production and transmission, and in municipal infrastructure. These investments will create jobs and growth, while making our communities more affordable. Northerners care about a healthy natural environment and want to ensure its protection while still recognizing the need for still more affordable power. Our government has an opportunity to realize new investments in clean energy generation that will satisfy both of these needs and the goal of a sustainable energy future for the Northwest Territories.

While the government’s fiscal outlook is poor, we cannot afford to stand idle as our economy slips into further decline. We must be ready to spend our resources wisely to provide stimulus and get our economy back on track. Now is not the time for restraint when jobs are being lost to the South and our cost of living is high. Waiting until commodity prices rebound is not a sound economic strategy. We need to invest in our economy today by expanding the private sector and supporting non-renewable resource exploration. We must also learn from this experience and invest in a stronger Heritage Fund that keeps our economy ahead of the boom and bust cycle of commodity markets.

Northern-owned and -operated businesses form the backbone of our economy. Real economic growth must be measured in private sector growth and not public sector spending. Our government has an obligation to support hardworking northern entrepreneurs with expanded programs, lower taxes, and policies that make sense and allow businesses to grow. Creating a positive environment for resource sector development must also be a priority by working in partnership with all levels of government to create and promote a regulatory system that protects our environment and is a benefit to exploration, not a deterrent.

Our government’s relationship with indigenous peoples is a key to this effort and begins by affirming that the starting point for all future negotiations and interactions is in a nation-to-nation relationship that starts on the basis of rights, rather than on government policy. Indigenous peoples have used the land since time immemorial and must be considered full partners in building a prosperous and healthy future for the Northwest Territories.

Our government must also embrace reconciliation as a guiding principle and commit to implementing all the Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendations. Only by settling outstanding claims and negotiating modern treaties can certainty be established and the benefits of resource extraction be enjoyed by all Northerners.

There must also be a focus to realize real opportunities for education and wellness in our communities. Northerners are rightfully concerned by the high rates of addictions and mental health issues affecting their communities. Our government has an obligation to act and create local residential treatment programs and facilities that Northerners can access from home. Many of those who seek treatment are unwilling or unable to leave their homes for southern treatment facilities, and those who do, often return home lacking supports to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Our government must consider this need for local treatment options and take action with a plan that builds local capacity for wellness in our communities.

Homelessness continues to challenge the resources of our communities. Little coordinated effort has taken place to create a meaningful solution. Our government can and must do better to address homelessness and work in partnership with all levels of government to develop an effective territorial housing strategy that addresses the needs for all our communities equally.

Early childhood education, culturally appropriate schooling and education renewal must continue to be priorities. Apprenticeship programs must be expanded and enhanced, and post-secondary education opportunities cannot be ignored any longer. Northerners must be given enhanced opportunities for higher learning here in the Northwest Territories.

Aurora College represents an unrealized opportunity to support our labour market and the aspirations of our people as they seek opportunities for training and career development. Our government must be responsive to the needs of greater post-secondary education that allows Northerners to stay and learn here in the Northwest Territories. We need a new plan for Aurora College along with recognizing northern academic institutions such as Dechinta University and College Nordique and providing them with appropriate levels of funding.

The most important resource of the Northwest Territories is our people. Our diversity is the source of our strength and is the heart of a rich culture that is unique in Canada and the world. Our government must work to protect and promote our culture with a new emphasis on the arts and programs that preserve indigenous languages and traditional knowledge. This will enrich our communities and expand on tourism opportunities for visitors to our home. Tourism continues to grow, and showcasing our unique northern heritage will further our role as a world-class destination for those seeking a distinctly northern experience.

I’m humbled by the trust that my constituents have placed in me to be their voice in this esteemed House. It is a profound privilege and honour to represent the people of Kam Lake. I will work to ensure their needs are reflected in the priorities of the next government and that real progress is made towards achieving results that make a difference in the lives of Northerners.

I also want to recognize my colleagues, who I know are working just as hard for their constituents. I will listen to their experiences, hear their concerns, and work together for the common good of all Northerners. Thank you.

Mr. Kieron Testart’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Testart. We are just about at 10:30, so we will now take a 15-minute break. We will reconvene at 10:45. Thank you, Members. We are recessed.

---SHORT RECESS

Mr. Kieron Testart’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Welcome back, Members. We will reconvene the round table discussion on priorities. I will turn the floor over to Mr. Frederick Blake Jr., Member of the Legislative Assembly for Mackenzie Delta. Mr. Blake. Mr. Frederick Blake’s Speech

Mr. Frederick Blake’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Before I begin, I would just like to take this opportunity to thank my constituents of the Mackenzie Delta for the opportunity to represent them for the next four years. I would also like to take this opportunity to wish them a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I won’t have an opportunity for the rest of the week to say that. I will be seeing them throughout the holidays in the communities.

Mr. Chair, to begin with, I’d like to say we have a number of challenges up ahead over the next four years, as we all know, especially in our economy. With the downfall in our economy, it’s known that we have to focus on infrastructure spending, projects like the Mackenzie Valley Highway and also the extension of the Fibre Optic Link from Inuvik to the Yukon.

Over the last few years, now that we have cell service and Internet within communities, we’ve had outages through the last couple of years with the disconnection of Fibre Optic Links, whether it’s in the Yukon or further south. As we have investors investing in our territory in Inuvik with the satellite stations, we need to ensure that we have no interruptions in the years to come. Having this extension of the Fibre Optic Link to the Yukon will ensure that there is no disruption. So, in order to have more people investing in our territory, we need to ensure we do not have any disruption.

We also have to work with our communities through the Building Canada Plan, and I thank the federal government for this program which gives the communities the opportunity to identify projects within the community to upgrade our infrastructure in the communities. Moving forward, we do have a commitment that this program will continue and we need to ensure, as a government, that we also provide the communities proper O and M funding and not cut back on our small communities.

Throughout the campaign, the cost of living was a major issue in my riding and throughout the Northwest Territories. I will use my riding as an example. The cost of gasoline in Aklavik at the moment is $1.99 per litre. Yet in Whitehorse, Yukon, at this very moment it’s 98 to 99 cents per litre. That’s a huge challenge we are facing throughout the territory. We need to come together and come up with solutions to this problem.

As one of our leaders said this weekend, we have to take a closer look at the food basket, the cost of essential food products in our small communities. We always talk about healthy living, eating healthy, yet the vegetables and day-to-day essentials that we need are the highest costs in our small communities. We need to work with our communities to ensure we bring down the cost of living. I know it was one of our priorities in the 17th Assembly, but with all the other priorities we had, we didn’t focus too much on this. I think this needs to be one of our number one priorities moving forward.

Also our languages, Mr. Chair. I know nobody has mentioned it yet today, but I strongly believe our languages need to be a top priority. Throughout our territory we have many languages that are struggling. I will just use the languages in my riding as an example, Gwich’in and Inuvialuit. Gwich’in is one of the languages that throughout our territory is somewhat endangered. Our schools – and I would like to thank them – are doing a great job in teaching the language to our youth, but we also need to think of programs for the middle-aged. We don’t have anything set up right now in Aurora College. I think that that needs to be started right away.

We need to think outside the box. We have different opportunities that we always see every day. For example, Rosetta Stone. Everybody today uses electronic devices and I believe this is a great opportunity to put our Aboriginal languages in the Northwest Territories through that sort of program and have it available to our residents.

Also what has been brought up a number of times over the last four years, and I have brought it up, as well, is in our small communities we have an employment rate of 35 percent. That’s almost 27 communities throughout the Northwest Territories. We need to set a target of at least 60 percent and ensure we meet that target over the next four years. My colleague Mr. McLeod brought this up earlier. Projects like the Mackenzie Valley Highway would create so much employment throughout our territory. Many of our communities that are cut off in the Sahtu would benefit, and also throughout the territory. With the closure of one of our mines, we have over 100 people who are going to need employment, even here in the capital and throughout the territory adding to this 35 percent.

We also have a lot of our employees who are ready to retire. In our last term it was set at about 40 to 60 percent. We need to ensure that our residents are prepared to fill those positions, and also offer more trades training in our smaller communities is what my constituents want to see.

Housing is a major priority that we need to focus on. There is a huge demand. In two of my communities, for example, we have a waiting list of up to three years. I have said a number of times throughout the last four years that the department is doing a great job replacing units, but over the next four years we need to work with the federal government and secure funding so that we can add more units in our communities throughout the territory.

Staff housing is also an issue in many of my small communities, especially for our teachers. Many of our teachers don’t stay in our communities because of housing. We need to fix this problem.

Also, long-term care for our elders. In the 16th Assembly our government made the decision to take long-term care out of our smaller communities and move it to the regional centres. Many of our elders want to live in the community they lived in all their life and we need to accommodate them.

Adequate funding for schools. Recently we have taken on junior kindergarten within our current funding level. Many of our schools in the smaller communities were struggling even before this initiative. So, we need to take a step back and provide proper funding to our schools in order to ensure that our students are receiving the proper education.

Mr. Chair, I just outlined a few of our priorities moving forward. As you can tell from everybody who has spoken, there are a number of issues on our plate for this government to ensure that we fulfill. Those are the priorities that I would like to see moving forward. There are a lot of issues we have in our communities, but we will be bringing those up over the next four years. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Frederick Blake’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Next we have Mr. Jackson Lafferty, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Monfwi. Mr. Lafferty. Mr. Jackson Lafferty’s Speech

Mr. Jackson Lafferty’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Chair. [Translation] We have to work on all the things that they have asked us to when we were elected. We also met with a lot of other leaders in the last little while. We’ve had many discussions about different issues that we were concerned about, but we have gone to all the communities and talked to the people. We know exactly what their concerns are and we have to look at those issues. I have been here now for how many terms? We have to look at what our priorities are. We have to look at them, and a lot of people here have expressed their concerns too. Also with the RCMP, some communities don’t have any RCMP in their communities. Also, the housing shortages in the community, I would like to talk about that, and then language and culture. When you look at our languages in the Northwest Territories, we are losing a lot of our languages right now and I would like to speak on that too. But now that we’re all here in the Chamber, I would like to say thank you very much, and I hope that in the future we will have a good working relationship and I know that we can make a lot of changes. [Translation ends]

…each and every one of you here today on being elected; and to newcomers, 11 of the new Members, welcome. I’d like to say a huge mahsi cho to the Tlicho constituents for having confidence in me and allowing me to serve for another four years.

We saw changes at the federal level during the election process and it had a ripple effect here in the NWT elections. The North called for a change and we have 11 new Members. This is unprecedented and it’s very exciting.

We have to start doing things differently in the 18th Assembly government. We need to be innovative, very strategic when it comes to decision-making, policy changes and program delivery. One of the areas that needs focus in the 18th Assembly government is the infrastructure in the communities and, in particular, all-weather roads to the communities. A lot of our communities do not have road access to the outside world. The only way to travel is by air, winter road, or boat. There are safety hazards and issues when travelling the winter roads. Climate change is affecting us each year and it’s becoming more challenging to building winter roads due to a warmer climate and ice that is not thick enough to travel on. When the roads do open up, there is only a limited time to travel or have community supplies delivered. At times not all supplies are delivered on time due to short winter road operations, thus creating high costs of fuel, groceries and household goods in the communities. A Whati all-weather road has been in the works for the last 20 to 30 years, and finally the GNWT has a proposal into the federal government as part of the community infrastructure projects. This was part of the GNWT infrastructure priorities in the 17

th

Legislative Assembly, along with the Mackenzie Valley road, which is also before the federal government for consideration. We need to expedite these two major files at the federal level and move forward for the construction phase in the 18th Assembly government.

The safety of our communities is another priority. Preventing crimes should be another priority of this government. We currently have 12 out of 33 communities that do not have RCMP detachments. The partnership between GNWT and the federal government states that we pay 70 percent and they pay 30 percent of the costs of RCMP and the detachment in the community. An RCMP presence in the community is a preventative measure which will reduce the crime rates in the community. It will be a challenge to have RCMP detachments in all communities; we’re fully aware of that. At the same time, we have to look for solutions. One of the solutions the federal government has been very receptive to is adding our RCMP manpower to an existing regional RCMP detachment to allow them to serve a community that does not have officers. Arrangements have been made between a community and RCMP to have an officer, at least on a part-time basis. Mr. Chair, using this model, Fort Simpson has added an officer to serve the community of Wrigley. Fort McPherson serves Tsiigehtchic, and the community of Behchoko serves the community of Gameti as well. It has worked for these communities. We need to scale up this model to reach out to those communities that badly need these services.

Another priority that I feel needs to be addressed is the caribou management in the NWT. We need a plan comparable to the Yukon Porcupine Caribou Management Plan, which has been very successful to date. The caribou population in the Yukon is ever increasing. We need to establish a similar plan in the NWT using the best practices already in existence in our neighbouring territory. Our caribou population in the NWT is declining rapidly. The Bathurst herd, Bluenose-East, Bluenose-West, the Ahiak herd is stable at present in Nunavut, but we have to work with the new government and Inuit government to establish and also devolve a similar co-management plan in place for future generations. The caribou has been integral to our culture and way of life in the NWT and has a huge impact on each and every one of us.

One of the concerns we hear over and over in our communities as well as at our community meetings is the housing issue. There is an outcry to overhaul the NWT Housing policies and programming so they better meet the needs of our communities. We need to re-examine our way of delivering the housing programs at the community level. There isn’t enough housing in some of the communities. Where there is housing, these houses are not always accessible to those most in need. The current policies and procedures of the NWT Housing Corporation appear to be either directly or indirectly creating barriers for community members to qualify for these vacant units. They either make too much money or they simply do not make enough money. They all tend to fall through the cracks. Too many of them, in my view, Mr. Chair.

Furthermore, in some communities we have some professionals such as nurses, social workers, teachers, and others that are also on the search for new units to live in, to be part of the community. In Behchoko there are over 30 professionals who work in the community but cannot live in the community. They are commuting from Yellowknife to Behchoko every day. Aside from the obvious safety concerns that arise from that hour’s travel, lack of housing prevents these professionals from becoming true members of our community. We all know how important it is to have these service providers connected to our communities. I understand these policies were in place to regulate housing; however, the fact remains that these policies are preventing people from accessing life’s necessities and preventing necessary services and resources to our communities. It is time we review and change these policies.

Another issue, the one that is dear to my heart, is the state of our Aboriginal languages in the NWT. I was listening intently to our two Premier candidates’ speeches. Language and culture were not part of their platforms or given a priority. We would be remiss if we do not include Aboriginal language and culture in the 18th Assembly government. Our language is our identity. Aboriginal languages not only define those of us who are of Aboriginal decent, they define all Northerners. It is through our language that we express our culture, our history, our traditional ways of knowing. It is this traditional way of knowing and being at the core of what we are in the North. Traditional ways and language are consensus government. Traditional ways and language will guide us in economic and environmental sustainability. Traditional ways and language will guide us on how we deal with our children, how we deal with caribou populations and how we deal with all NWT priorities. Traditional ways and language is what will keep our North strong. We are on the verge of losing some of the languages such as Gwich’in, Inuinnaqtun and Cree, just to name a few. If we do not do anything to preserve these languages in the 18th Assembly government, they will be lost and forgotten along with the knowledge that has kept our culture strong since the beginning of time.

If we are serious about saving and preserving our language and culture, I would like to propose creating a portfolio, a department of language and culture. It should have the same attention and focus as any other department such as the Department of Transportation, Department of Education, Department of Health, Municipal and Community Affairs, et cetera. I would like to see a newly created portfolio on language and culture with operating funds. This, in my view, is the only way to save in the Northwest Territories.

[Translation] Today when you look at it, when you look at your language and culture, we identify our language by our culture and language. My grandparents, my great forefathers’ language, it’s their language and it’s their culture and my culture. That is what I think we identify with. We have to take our language and our culture in the front and we can support one another. We can be strong in the North with our language and culture. I am very happy to have spoken my language and in the next four years I want to speak in my language more. [Translation ends]

GNWT needs a government that thinks outside the box. It needs to be a government that looks at all the needs and priorities mentioned by my colleagues around the table here who spoke previously, including infrastructure, housing, policing, caribou and, at the heart of it all, our language and culture. Mahsi cho, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Jackson Lafferty’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Next I have Mr. Shane Thompson, the Member of the Legislative Assembly for Nahendeh. Mr. Thompson. Mr. Shane Thompson’s Speech

Mr. Shane Thompson’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

December 14th, 2015

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning, colleagues. I would like to thank you for the opportunity to share with you today the priorities of the Nahendeh region and how they fit into our 18th Assembly’s priorities.

As I was working on my speech over the past three days, I started thinking of how and what I was going to present here today. When thinking about the priorities, I kept going back to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Maslow states that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one’s needs are fulfilled, the person seeks to fulfill the next one, and so on and so on. The five stages, or stage model, is divided in basic and growth needs. Every person is capable and has desire to move up the hierarchy towards a level of self-actualization. Unfortunately, process is often disrupted by failure to meet lower level needs. Life experiences, including divorce and loss of jobs, may cause an individual to fluctuate between levels of hierarchy.

The five levels are: biological and physiological needs, safety needs, love and belonging needs, esteemed needs, and self-actualization needs. I will not break down each point here today as I only have 15 minutes to articulate what I envision for the 18th Assembly, but I would like to encourage you to Google Maslow’s hierarchy of needs when you have the chance.

When I decided to run five months ago to become an MLA for the Nahendeh riding, I was told by a wise person to listen to the people and write things down before developing a platform. This is what my team and I did, and here is what we heard.

Our health. Investment in preventive and proactive health care, enhance and focus on collective healing in the communities for prenatal, mental health and addiction programs. Address our health facilities’ deficiencies in small communities and expand our MOUs with other provincial governments to meet the needs of our residents. I believe that we should be leaders in this country by focusing on preventive and proactive health care in the communities.

One of the avenues is to increase funding for quality physical literacy programs and active recreation programs. Yes, you’ve heard it here first. Be creative and start focusing on prevention, not treatment.

Focus on a collective healing on all people in the communities. We need enhancements to prenatal programs and care. Be creative to bring mental health and addiction programs closer to home. Do not take people away. Bring it to the people.

Investigate options with other provincial governments to access their health needs and services to help us, our people.

Our education, provide the necessary funding to provide quality early childhood education, enhance opportunities for all residents to gain skills and qualifications to contribute to their and NWT’s future. Establish a community, regional and territorial centre for learning excellence dedicated to advance student achievements.

Increase partnerships with business communities to develop entrepreneurial skills or trades skills. Early childhood programs, such as Junior Kindergarten programs and Head Start programs, are critical to our children’s well-being, and to ensure that they are given the best start in education, they need to be funded differently than the student/teacher ratio we presently use.

Trades and access programs need to be offered in communities that have Aurora College programs for students wishing to succeed to go down south. Let’s give them the success they need at home first.

We need physical literacy and education programs in schools in the Northwest Territories. Healthy mind, healthy body, makes healthy people.

Storefront to encourage community residents to continue their education. Education doesn’t stop when you finish school; it’s ongoing and we need to be able to offer that to our residents. We need to partner with business to expand students’ knowledge and opportunity for success. Support to students and teachers so teachers can teach, so they can actually teach in the classroom for the benefit of our students. That means more SNAs and mental health workers in the schools. Reduce student/teacher ratios so they are in line with Canada. We have a number of challenges in the Northwest Territories and they need to be addressed. By having higher student/teacher ratios, it does not help.

Our youth, increased community funding for youth, team social programs, develop or enhance programs that focus on self-leadership development for youth. Increase physical literacy and leadership opportunities. Emphasis on programs that engage both youth and elders together. Bridge that gap. Enhance education for mental health, addiction, physical health education, and develop programs that create opportunities for life skills education.

This is important to me and the residents of Nahendeh and the Northwest Territories. Politicians talk about how important youth are and we need to do something about it. Unfortunately, this is not the reality of past governments. We only invest $1 million in this area with a $1.6 billion budget. Shame on us. They are our future and should be treated as such. We need to increase funding by at least four or five times as much as we have in there right now.

Our homes, address housing needs that will enhance housing programs and support for youth ownership. Deal with homelessness. It is sad across the Territories. Focus on quality housing construction for sustainable infrastructure and local job opportunities. Ensure quality and safe elder housing in every community. We need to find a way to get young people into housing units with opportunity to purchase them. As you heard from some of my other colleagues today, you either make too much money or not enough to get into these homes. Shame on us.

We have youth returning from home being successful in school, listening to us and following their dream, but we do not allow them to follow their dreams in their communities because we do not have adequate housing. I’m not blaming it on the housing association, but I am blaming it on us, the government, because we have not found a way to get them in homes.

We need to help them get their feet under them. We need to develop senior complexes and homes in smaller communities so elders can stay in their community. Why do they need to move to another community? Where is the respect in that?

Our roads, enhance funding necessary to repair and maintain existing highways. Enhance year-round access to communities in the North Slave, Deh Cho and Sahtu for the benefit of residents and visitors. Enhance job creation, training opportunities, while ensuring safety on roads and by building and maintaining emergency shelters. Somebody needs to address that. We blame each other. It’s not Transportation; it’s not ITI. Well, it’s the government; we should be dealing with it. The transportation system needs to be addressed. Communities’ voices need to be heard and listened to. They cannot be told they do not need something. The roads in the regions need to be funded better for the safety of the residents and tourists alike. The ferry hours need to be increased and potentially looked at better locations to increase service and potential reduction of some operation costs. There are answers out there. We need to look at them.

As well, departments must understand and make decisions for the whole territory. Looking at the issues for potential community driver restrictions is an example. That needs to be addressed. The smaller communities don’t benefit from it.

Our economy, students who return from university and college need to be guaranteed opportunities to get a job. Encourage partnership with northern companies and First Nations to provide the necessary services and work that is required. North first. Strengthen and diversify the economy, invest in the Mackenzie Valley Highway, all-weather roads for the communities in the Nahendeh, the Sahtu and the North Slave that do not have existing roads right now.

Bring back the Hire North process. It worked. You look and talk to the people out there who took the program, they were successful. We give them the skills, it helps industry as well. We’ve heard about our communities. We’ve heard about the shortfall in funding to our communities. We need to fund our communities like we do education and health. The Department of Municipal Affairs and Community Affairs and NWTAC have developed a report and showed the shortfall, and funding has not increased in that department. It’s our communities, ladies and gentlemen. We need to address that.

Our treaties, we need clarity and certainty to move forward in the 18th Assembly. To do this we need to expand on one of the 17th Assembly’s priorities of building a strong and sustainable future. We need the Government of the Northwest Territories to truly negotiate with the outstanding Aboriginal groups so they can implement all final agreements in this, the 18th Assembly. In the Nahendeh riding we have two agreements – the Dehcho First Nation and Acho Dene Koe – and they are very close to being ratified. I believe that both parties negotiate cooperatively and in good faith. We will celebrate in the next two years the closing of their agreement and the signing.

Certainty for public servants. I believe we need to work with all our public servants to come up with creative solutions to address our difficult financial situation. I’m not just talking about the senior bureaucracy; I am talking about all civil servants. Cutting filled positions to save money isn’t necessarily the option when we are a small territory. People will leave and populations will decline. We need to remember, we are a unique part of Canada and we should be modelling innovative thinking.

You’ve heard from my other colleagues about language and high cost of living, and I will not speak of them today. I think everyone here articulated it well, and I believe the other eight will be speaking on that behalf.

In closing, we need to work together. I always felt that Members of the Legislative Assembly should be individuals who are willing to listen to the people, identify the issues, seek all the facts, and ultimately work towards solutions. In some situations it may be necessary to work harder to find alternative ways to get things done. We need to be working hard to be creative to address difficult situations. For me, it’s always about working for the people in the communities of the Northwest Territories to meet common needs and goals. Mahsi cho, koana, thank you.

Mr. Shane Thompson’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. Next we have Mr. Herb Nakimayak, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Nunakput. Mr. Nakimayak. Mr. Herbert Nakimayak’s Speech

Mr. Herbert Nakimayak’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Good morning to all my colleagues here. It’s nice to listen that a lot of our initiatives and issues in our regions across the territory are very similar. Housing seems to be a big one. I’m going to start off with that.

Housing in Nunakput in some of the smaller communities, the situation that some people face is a reality that there are a lot of homeless people. A lot of these homeless people are in their twenties and early thirties. That generation group is suffering from mental well-being; in fact, so much so that they cannot focus on their children’s lives, their education, a lot of them are not graduating from high school, and so this group of young people are not being employed on projects around the region. In fact it gets worse than that; a lot of them recycle in and out of jail and this is a huge issue. To house someone in jail is very costly, but to set out programs and initiatives would alleviate that and would bring more sense of pride to the community.

There are many homeless people and there is a lot of overcrowding, and that means not just the grandparents, there are three generations of people in one house and that is a lot. We’ve seen single dwellings, multi-dwellings, initiatives and programs, but we need to think outside the box, as many of you say, and put more money into housing and put more homes in our communities. We have a lot of work ahead of us, but to restructure that gives us an opportunity. There are so many bright people in this room and this gives us a fair chance. I look at this as one big project. Every project is finite, there is a beginning and an end, so we have four years to make sure that these programs run as best they can, and with the capacity in this room I think we can give it a really good shot and start off with the right foot.

Education and employment is another big one in our communities. Starting from preschool, a lot of kids going into kindergarten, I wouldn’t say a lot, but a small percentage do know their ABCs, and to children who don’t know their ABCs and are catching up to the rest are not going to have a good start in school and are going to struggle all the way through. We need to focus on early childhood development. It costs money, but in the end you are doing preventive maintenance; you are ensuring that the kids get the quality education that they deserve going up through high school. As well, from K-12 we need to focus on the culture. Like Jackson says, we need to focus on a cultural-based education as well. If our children are having identity loss issues, then they are not going to focus so much on their education, they are not going to be included in the projects that they should be included in for their age groups, so we need to focus on having culture, having more harvesting camps and cultural practices within our schools. My region is predominantly Inuvialuit, so we are focusing on travel to some of the communities. I see in Ulukhaktok there is a very strong education system there, and I think we need to utilize that as setting standards for our education system in the North in the smaller communities. I would encourage all the new Cabinet to travel up to our communities and see the differences between the worst possible case and the best system that is working, then you will know what to do coming back in this next Legislative Assembly. For me that is very important, so as soon as we form Cabinet, I am going to invite the Ministers up to my region to do a tour and work closely with the people and see the situation right from the housing, education and employment, as well as the impacts of climate change.

Back to education and employment. Now that we have people graduating from high school, people going into university or college, we need to support them in more ways than one. I have some complaints of some residents who have gone away to attend school and they have lost their home coming back. So, coming back, they come back to nothing. They start from zero again and we cannot put our residents through this any longer. We will need to look at the processes of that for housing and education. All of these departments align and work together, so we need to focus on that, we need to be accommodating to college students. By accommodating them, we will retain as many students and prospective employees with the GNWT. No matter what they have trained in, the goal is to retain as many as possible. I saw the last report. There was a lot of money being spent on training and education, and we need to focus on retaining the expertise in the territory. Although you cannot tell people where to go and what to do,, people simply make life choices, and we need to understand that and focus on that as well. So, to draw the line, there’s a very fine line. Sometimes we don’t know if we’re walking on the other side, but we need to promote education, culture and employment, and very, very much so.

Also, moving forward to employment, I see there are a lot of Aboriginal people working within the GNWT. We need to mentor more Aboriginal educated people into positions of deputy ministers. I see a lot of MLAs here that are Aboriginal people. Kudos to you, but we need to focus on mentoring programs, as well, to retain our employees and bring back a sense of pride to the communities that they come from.

Climate change. Talking about climate change, I was in Tuktoyaktuk and I’ve seen some of the effects of it, the shoreline erosion along the coast on the west side of the community. We’re going to have to develop a plan very, very soon. The plans that they have in place need to be looked at, reassessed and implemented as soon as we can. There are some homes that will probably hit the shore in the next couple of years. That being said, the shoreline erosion is happening more and more. The permafrost melting, that community is being affected the most. The cost of the infrastructure due to climate change is going to be really, really big.

We are the thermostat of everything that’s going on due to climate change. A lot of my colleagues were in Paris for the COP21 coming back with an action plan. We need to utilize that as well as all the federal government initiatives that are coming out. We need to be proactive and look at these opportunities for our regions. That means a lot of work and building your team. Thursday we’ll have a team and we know where to start. I think it’s important for us to work together no matter what, no matter where. If we disagree, climate change is going to have a huge impact on all of our communities.

Moving forward to food security. Food security in the coastal communities is at the forefront of the changes. In recent years food security has increasingly become a topic of a conversation that is gaining more and more attention worldwide. What does food security mean to those that call the Arctic home? Food security is more than calories, more than nutrients; it’s the entire Arctic eco-system and the relationships between all components within. It’s about how our cultures teach us when, where, how to obtain, process, store and consume the food that we harvest on the land. We need to focus on that as well as including our indigenous knowledge and how it will aid in eliminating these changes we are facing on climate change. Climate change for me is a big issue. I see it in my community. It definitely has an impact on how we harvest.

Moving forward from there, we need to focus on our hunters and trappers that hunt and trap in the Northwest Territories. We need to tie this into cultural education as well. Our hunters’ hunting and trapping system is the best in the world. We need to promote that more and more, showcase it. It gives our families and our communities a sense of pride, and that’s the easiest program to manage moving forward. The resources are not always just underground, they’re walking on the land. The hunting and trapping aspects along the coast, we need to look at that as an industry itself, too, and harvesting on Banks Island. There are thousands and thousands of muskox we can look at, too, as a source of food and a source of an economy for the North during these hard times.

A lot of colleagues mentioned the Mackenzie Valley Highway. Starting the process on that will help with the struggling economy with the closure of mines. Down the road there will be more mines that close, so we’re going to face more and more hardships in the time to come. So, I think we need to focus on the aspect of that. The Inuvik-Tuk Highway is a good example. There are a lot of Aboriginal people from all over Canada working on that project, and we need to learn from the mistakes and also improve our strong points on that project to hire and educate our people from our region. We need to utilize more resources into that project from the Northwest Territories.

Moving forward, I want to talk about the leadership that we have coming into this new Legislature. This is for a lot of us our first time, and I believe that we have the capacity to make a lot of changes to this government for the betterment of our communities and our territory. Once we start to put our teams together and work on projects, we need to keep in mind that we are only people and we are only here for four years. I look forward to working with everybody in our region, my communities, the four communities. It doesn’t mean I just represent those four; I am working with the whole Northwest Territories.

In closing, I am happy to be of assistance to anyone and everyone in this room and beyond on the projects that we are looking forward to over the next four years. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Herbert Nakimayak’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

Thank you, Mr. Nakimayak. Next we have Ms. Caroline Cochrane, Member of the Legislative Assembly for Range Lake. Ms. Cochrane. Ms. Caroline Cochrane’s Speech

Ms. Caroline Cochrane’s Speech
Round Table Speeches by Members

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. During my campaigning process to become the MLA for Range Lake, I promised to solicit, listen and act on the concerns and the solution provided by my neighbours. In fulfilling this promise, I spent the last few days compiling every note that was taken, every comment, every solution that they provided, and doing some grouping to define the priorities that I’m going to put forward. They are not in order; they are just as they came.

The first priority that I will talk about is addressing the high cost of living for northern residents. Residents are struggling to maintain their homes and enjoy a comparable quality of life similar to communities in the South. To address this, the GNWT needs to review areas affecting cost of living including the high utility costs, increasing child care supplements for families, addressing the freight costs that are impacting food costs to the communities and supplies, initiate local food production incentives, reinstate the provision of retrofit programs to lower the energy costs, and negotiate the northern tax allowance benefit from the federal government.

The next priority that I’ve taken from the comments of the constituents is to ensure the government services are provided in a transparent, accountable manner. The residents of the North have been really loud in their request for more transparency and accountability. In order to accommodate this, the GNWT needs to ensure public input whenever possible. We need to provide increased opportunities for public awareness of major government issues and initiatives. We need to work in true partnerships with applicable stakeholders to define and evaluate major decisions and initiatives. We also need to review all government departments, including resource allocations and program deliveries. We need to ensure that our budget allocations are approved within a financially sustainable manner with the goal of limited to no borrowing.

The third priority that I have identified is to ensure a sustainable and prosperous economy. As many Members have stated, the low commodity pricing has caused low investments within the North, so we are really in danger of losing our current mining and mineral exploration investments, which will affect many businesses and families within our communities. To address this, the GNWT needs to review the legislation governing regulatory boards and the policies regarding subcontracting, the BIP process. We need to promote mining and exploration opportunities with a northern hire focus. We need to strengthen the northern hire policies and practices, as we seem to be losing a lot of jobs to the South. We need to look at diversifying the economy so that mining and exploration is not the only business that we support in the North. Through that, we need to promote local businesses and we need to invest in renewable resources. We also need to develop the infrastructure to accommodate potential economic opportunities. We need to review the devolution revenue agreement with the federal government and we need to develop and adhere to a long-term strategic plan to ensure economic growth and stability within our territory.

The next group of concerns brings the priority in developing nation-to-nation partnerships to ensure the successful completion of land claims and self-governance agreements. The completion of land claims and self-governance agreements is critical to ensuring easier negotiations for private industries that are interested in investing in the Territories. It’s also really critical to address the healing process that we need for indigenous people within the North. Indigenous people represent 50 percent of our population and they need to be able to define their own future. The GNWT needs to continue negotiations with indigenous groups to complete land claim agreements satisfactory to both the GNWT and the individual groups.

One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is we also need to work with the indigenous groups to start preparing for the assuming of programs applicable for self-government agreements. It’s one thing to give an agreement, it’s another to provide the tools so they can succeed.

Another priority identified is to ensure affirmative action legislation, policies and procedures reflect the needs of all applicable populations. The GNWT Affirmative Action Policy has been implemented for a reason. I’m not going to go over them again. We must ensure that they are implemented as intended. We need a complete review of all policies and procedures to strengthen the recruitment and retention of affirmative action candidates. Those include gender, disabilities and indigenous people.

Another priority – I have a lot of priorities – is to address the issue of climate change and sustainable environment. The fact that climate change is affecting the North at a factor rather than other countries and the devastating impact of climate change makes this a critical priority that we can’t ignore. The GNWT needs to focus on water monitoring, alternative energy, public consultation on land issues that are critical, such as fracking, preservation of wildlife such as the caribou, negotiating acceptable land preservation with economic development stakeholders, public education to our population and staying on top of the best practice research on climate change.

We also need to increase northern-based educational resources. So, ensuring that transferrable skills are critical to ensuring a strong North and making sure that we are prepared when the economy does pick up, because it will pick up. In doing that, the GNWT needs to increase our funding to education. We need to ensure, as another Member stated, that the funding for junior kindergarten is available for a program that has already been implemented in the Territories. We also need to ensure funding for classroom supports is maintained. We can’t take from one vulnerable population to give to another vulnerable population. We need to expand our transferable post-secondary opportunities, integrate post-secondary opportunities into the communities and community services such as utilizing the hospital as a community agency to offer programs. We need to expand our apprenticeship opportunities and we need to increase partnerships with accredited universities throughout Canada.

As well, we need to ensure that cultural awareness is provided to all community professionals, provide English classes to all people wishing this support. A lot of people who are new to Canada are saying they are limited to who can obtain English classes, and that is not acceptable. We need to expand our French education opportunities.

Another priority identified by my neighbours is to increase the population of the NWT in a strategic manner. The GNWT receives revenue for each resident of the NWT. However, we must ensure that we have the infrastructure to accommodate these people. We must develop a strategic population growth plan that addresses the need to entice more people to move to the North and considers all infrastructure needs to address the influx of people.

We also need to increase the health support available within the NWT. As stated, Northerners complain about the lack of health care in the North and the disruption to their lives when having to access health care in southern cities. The GNWT needs to increase their professional recruitment and retention practices. We need to increase community health support utilizing local people whenever possible. We need to increase health education opportunities. We need to review the financial limitations on accessing health care. We need to increase the use of health supports such as doulas and alternative health options. We need to increase long-term care support to address the growing seniors population. We need to review indigenous health supports available to residents throughout the NWT. We need to develop a long-term strategic plan to develop additional health support within the Territories.

Another priority identified was to ensure the vulnerable populations are cared for within a comprehensive, supportive manner. The NWT is only as strong as its weakest members. Within the North we are seriously lacking support for marginalized populations including homeless people, seniors, people living with disabilities, low income families, those suffering with addictions and those with mental health concerns.

The federal government has promised investment in social supports and we need to ensure that as Northerners we access this opportunity. We also need to conduct a comprehensive review of the current programs to ensure we are investing our monies in areas of greatest need.

As well, affordable housing. We need to increase affordable housing within the NWT. Affordable housing is a serious issue in the North with single and low-income families struggling to survive with high priced markets and multiple families living in community housing. To address this, the GNWT needs to ensure that the federal government keeps its promise to invest in housing infrastructure.

The last priority identified by my neighbours is strengthening family supports. In an effort to entice and retain people within the North, we need to ensure that the people have the supports necessary to survive and thrive. The GNWT needs to strengthen early childhood development supports and increase support for children, youth, parents and families.

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I look forward to working with the MLAs in actualizing the priorities identified.