Transcript of meeting #1 for Midterm Review Committee in the 18th Assembly. (The original version is on the Legislative Assembly's site.) The winning word was work.

The winning word was work.

On the agenda

MLAs speaking

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. As my colleague had mentioned, we do have these bilateral meetings with all Indigenous organizations. Usually, out of those bilateral meetings through the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, we set up more face-to-face direct meetings where you get down to the issues of educational challenges within a community or within a region. We have started those. I know on the community tours, we do get a lot of questions as well and sometimes we work on looking at setting up another meeting with the community groups to address the issues. We are working very hard to build that strength and that collaboration of work. One other thing we do through our department is through official languages. We do fund directly Indigenous governments so that they can take on the ownership and responsibility, the strength in our official languages throughout the Northwest Territories, as well as some of the residential school training that we offer, and we usually get leadership to participate in that. I know through our bilateral meetings, community tours, that's already strengthening the relationships and the trust-building with our Indigenous governments, and continue to look forward to it over the next two years to build on that strength. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Minister Abernethy.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Chair. There's a couple of different ways that we do this. From a system point of view, we have gone to a single authority here in the Northwest Territories with the exception of the TCSA and Hay River. There are members on the regional wellness council from all over the Northwest Territories, and the chairs of those wellness councils have the ability to provide regional and community-based input at a territorial level which has never existed before. It is pretty exciting, and we are starting to get some good results. Of course, there are growing pains with any new transformation, but we are starting to see some positive results.

From a Cabinet point of view, Members have already talked about our bilateral meetings which we hold on a regular basis. From a ministry point of view, from Health and Social Services, I've tried to do something a little different than it's been done before. It has never been done to my knowledge, but I've called together a meeting of Indigenous leaders on an annual basis to talk about shared priorities and areas where we can work together to benefit their people, but also the people of the Northwest Territories. There are a lot of areas where we could work together, whether it's wellness initiatives or suicide prevention initiatives or other initiatives. Those partnerships at the community but also with the Aboriginal governments, is vital to making things happen. I've called these leadership meetings on an annual basis. We’ve had some good results. One of the things that came out of that, that I am particularly proud of, is the Indigenous Knowledge Advisory Group. That was really interesting because the actual members of the Indigenous leaders that we pulled together, they all identified staff who had worked with the department to develop a terms of reference. That terms of reference is done, and we're getting nominations from the different Aboriginal leaders, and we're putting this group in place which is going to provide some real great information on how to move forward with traditional knowledge, traditional healing, but also battling and trying to break down the barriers we're experiencing with systemic racism in our system. It is those relationships with those leaders that I think has really given us some headway in these areas. Thank you.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Sebert.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Chair. As has been mentioned, this government, this Cabinet, often has bilateral meetings with Aboriginal organizations, and those are very important so that we can deal with them in a government-to-government way, and hear their concerns, and hopefully allay their concerns. Apart from that, the Department of Lands as I mentioned earlier when we are dealing with frameworks, leasing frameworks, Yellowknife periphery area management plans, of course, we do consult with the Aboriginal groups, which is quite appropriate. Apart from visiting the individual communities as I mentioned, the Cabinet often goes out to communities to meet on a bilateral basis with Aboriginal governments. I am expecting that to continue and I am hoping that we will have continued success. Thank you.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Robert C. McLeod.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I think of all the departments within the government, the one that has pretty well the closest ties with the Aboriginal people and the Aboriginal governments would be Environment and Natural Resources. A lot of work we do, we rely on their traditional knowledge, and with the initiatives and LPs that we bring out, we use to consult with the Aboriginal governments, receive their feedback amongst other people in the Northwest Territories. We have membership on a lot of the land and water boards, the wildlife boards, and we work with the Aboriginal governments. On the finance side of it, since devolution with the resource revenue sharing, the Aboriginal governments that have signed on to devolution have been able to receive some money as part of the agreement with the Aboriginal governments that have signed on. That goes back to an earlier question that I was asked before, and I replied, there were some missed opportunities there. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Nakimayak's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Questions to Ministers. Next on my list: Member Thompson.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I thank the Ministers and the Premier for their speeches and that, and they talked about working together and the importance of working together. I truly believe in that. They talked about consensus government, and I do have a difference of opinion with Cabinet on what consensus government I believe is, and sometimes we miss out on it. As you are aware, I represent six communities, especially the small communities. Again, when I sit there and I try to work with Cabinet, there's been some challenges, pushback or whatever. I would have to comment positively on how they developed the committee on rural and remote communities. I think that's a great step, but it's two years in. We're two years in, so we're coming down to it. I thought about this, and I looked at this, and I am going to be asking the same question to all Ministers here.

Mr. Chair, besides the Mandate documents, can each Minister explain what they and their department have done to make residents of smaller communities a better place to live and reduce their cost of living? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Moses.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. One of the things that we've implemented, Mr. Chair, we actually piloted in a lot of the communities in Nahendeh, was around early childhood funding and the changes that we made to early childhood subsidies. We funded a lot of the daycares. That helps out families but also gives the child the greatest chance from the start. We've also funded them through languages programs, small community employment program funding over the years, especially with the influx of the $3 million. Two communities in Nahendeh had access to those fundings as well. We are also looking at creating distance learning education to help some of the small communities in Nahendeh to be able to take academic courses that they weren't previously able to take. I think the big one moving forward, though, in looking forward to working with the rural and remote communities is in the small community employment program. I know we're two years in and the committee just got started, but I think that committee can make a lot of positive impacts for job creation, skill development, and training for our residents in small communities which the Member has a few in his riding, and look forward to working with the Member, and the rural and remote communities, as well as the leadership in Nahendeh to address job creation in small communities. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Schumann.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Great question. My department, in particular ITI, has a number of initiatives that we work on this. Agriculture is the first one that comes to mind that would help to bring the cost of living down in the small communities. We have the Small Scale Foods Program that we have done in all 33 communities. We have the community gardens that we have done in all 33 communities. These sorts of things are definitely directly related to helping do that. We are working with the federal government to develop a national food policy which we hope is going to clearly support bringing down the cost of food and subsidies in the area of small communities, so we are working greatly with the federal government on that. As I mentioned earlier today, the CAP program is another one, I think, that is directly related to economic development to help and create employment and economic opportunities within the program that is delivered out of the Department of Infrastructure. That one is well taken up. It is always expended completely every year. We have $1 million that is directly invested into that. The traditional economy: we work along with ENR to try to facilitate that with the fur buying program to help support the hunters and trappers in all small communities in the Northwest Territories in particular. That is one of the best programs I think that we have in the government to help support people in the small communities. You know, as far as how we are trying to diversify our economy, the Great Slave Lake Fishery initiative. We want to expand that into small communities. We had an opportunity this year to go to Tsiigehtchic to help residents understand how they can get into the commercial fishery, and we are open to do that to all regions in the Northwest Territories. There's a number of initiatives that we have within the Department of ITI that help supports these types of things. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

The Chair Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister Robert C. McLeod.

Mr. Thompson's Question
Members' Questions for Ministers

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, as the previous speaker had mentioned, there was a fur harvesters program which through ENR and ITI is a great program for supporting small communities. On the finance side, I think that putting this government in a position where we are able to make infrastructure investments or match federal dollars for infrastructure investments. We've seen firsthand the contribution it has to small communities and small community employment. Also, I would like to mention that this summer, we had 347, I believe, summer students that were hired across the Northwest Territories. One of the challenges I put to the department is to ensure that we have all 33 communities in the Northwest Territories with summer students next year. Thank you, Mr. Chair.