This is page numbers 369 - 399 of the Hansard for the 12th Assembly, 7th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was chairman.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Allooloo, Mr. Antoine, Hon. Silas Arngna'naaq, Mr. Ballantyne, Hon. Nellie Cournoyea, Mr. Dent, Hon. Samuel Gargan, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Koe, Mr. Lewis, Mrs. Marie-Jewell, Ms. Mike, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Richard Nerysoo, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ningark, Mr. Patterson, Hon. John Pollard, Mr. Pudlat, Mr. Pudluk, Hon. John Todd, Mr. Whitford, Mr. Zoe

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 369

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Good afternoon. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Pudlat.

New Rent Scale
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 369

Kenoayoak Pudlat Baffin South

(Translation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My statement will be fairly lengthy. Mr. Speaker, I wish to talk about the increase in rents. My constituents have an ongoing concern regarding the new rent scale. It has been discussed by many and people are interested in finding out exactly what the reasons are for implementing the increases. Many people are interested in finding out this information prior to April 1st.

Housing is a necessity in our communities. Perhaps the new rent scale might not be as great an issue to those who are outside of the communities, but people who live in the north and who are experiencing these increases need to express their concerns. Mr. Speaker, people have to be employed in these households but the fact is, very few people are actually employed. This will cause great stress for people who are the only income providers. The people who are employed will have to carry a bigger burden.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to finish my statement.

New Rent Scale
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 369

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The honourable Member for Baffin South is seeking unanimous consent. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Please proceed, Mr. Pudlat.

New Rent Scale
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 369

Kenoayoak Pudlat Baffin South

(Translation) Thank you, Mr. Speaker and honourable Members. Because of the things that are happening, people both unemployed and employed, are bound to face more hardship, especially those who are working. Now, Mr. Speaker, we have a growing number of students who are leaving their communities to attend school. We have people entering the workforce. We understand there will be a 30 per cent increase and this is phase I. While this is being discussed, we're also aware across Canada that people are interested in home ownership and it is very difficult to buy your own property.

The rent increases are set to begin April 1st, with a rent increase to 30 per cent. In the following year, this will be increased to 60 per cent and in the third year, it will change to 90 per cent. Mr. Speaker, my last comment is that it will eventually become 100 per cent. With these things happening, people are thinking about the deadline of April 1st. Is there no other solution you can come up with before implementing this on that date? This is a concern for our constituents and we also heard on the news that there was some discussion on TVNC about it. People talked about how many people will have to start looking into buying or moving into other units as long as they have a steady income.

Elders will be paying $2.00 a month for their rent. While that might be the case, people in the workforce still have to deal with the paperwork and deal with a 30 per cent increase on top of everyday utilities such as telephones and oil. This will take a big chip out of people's incomes. On behalf of my constituents, I want to express the need to look for other solutions before you implement the rental increase as of April 1st.

Mr. Speaker, we are not simply against this idea. It is not that we just want to stop the implementation. We need more time to be able to look at other possible options. For those of us who have a good income and who can obtain our own housing, it is not too much of a problem but there are many people who are actually considering quitting their employment to remain in their own housing, to avoid the higher costs. I speak on behalf of the people who rent these units from the housing association. Be reminded that we do not just plan to put an end to this, we want to have some time to look at other options. Mr. Speaker, please give us more time for the people who are renting to see if we cannot look at other options. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

New Rent Scale
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 369

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Pudlat. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Lewis.

Excessive Regulation Of The Mining Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 369

Brian Lewis Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, March 1st, is the national day for the country that I came from many, many years ago, so I always celebrate it. Today I would like to read into the record, Mr. Speaker, a letter from a fellow Welshman who has been involved with mineral exploration and mining in the Northwest Territories for close to 30 years. He is the president of Aber Resources, his name is Grenville Thomas; this is what he says in his recent letter to Mr. Lovell, the mayor of Yellowknife: "Thank you very much for your call this morning in regard to Aber's closure of its Yellowknife office. I can assure you that it has nothing to do with any concern we have with the city of Yellowknife or the services supplied.

"I am enclosing a letter I wrote to Nellie Cournoyea a year ago expressing my concerns with over-regulation. This is a big problem in the Northwest Territories and in Canada as a whole. However, in addition to this you have devolution, division, land claims, native self-government, environmentalist and all manner of self-interest groups to cope with, in an Alice in Wonderland scenario. Great for Alice, but not for the mining companies striving to discover and develop northern deposits.

"The amount of hot air generated and the paper required to record it all is staggering for a population of 60,000 people. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, never has so much paper been generated by so many for so few. For example, Aber is currently prevented from working on Victoria Island land because of a dispute over jurisdiction between the federal government and the Inuvialuit. Bear in mind that Inuvialuit settlement was made in 1987. The north desperately needs someone to pull this desperate group together by emphasizing their common interest as northerners, not their differences."

The letter is signed by Mr. Thomas and at the bottom he has a PS that says "I'm going to Argentina in late February; just to look around you understand." Because things are obviously not going very well for his company even though they are still active in the Northwest Territories.

People are attracted to overseas, Mr. Speaker, because of greater security of tenure, reduced taxes and royalties, tax periods, greater possibility of owning things and also access to high-level mineral resources. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, my time is now up.

Excessive Regulation Of The Mining Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 370

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Whitford.

Funding Cuts To Cbc
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 370

Tony Whitford Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the resignation of Tony Manera, the president of CBC, is a very upsetting sign. In my opinion, red flags should go up and sound an alarm about the future of Canada's national broadcasting system. Mr. Speaker, most northerners I know grew up with the CBC, when CBC was the only medium in the Northwest Territories, before the era of private radio stations. I recall as a boy putting together a crystal set and tuning into the CBC either from Winnipeg or from Sackville, New Brunswick; you could always get the best reception after dark. At that time, the CBC provided the only link to the south during the long winter months. Along with the news, they broadcast special features, sports stories, drama and a broad spectrum of music; especially Canadian musicians, Don Messer being one of them.

Northerners will recall that up until the early 1960s, the CBC provided the northern messenger service, a program dedicated to providing messages to people in the most remote and isolated communities of the high Arctic and on to the trap lines of the northern provinces and here to the Northwest Territories.

In recent times we can still enjoy, in nearly every community, a television receiver and the CBC on either am or fm frequencies. We produce our own radio programs in Iqaluit, Inuvik and Yellowknife as well as television in Iqaluit and Yellowknife. It has kept people in Tuktoyaktuk informed about what is happening in Iqaluit and help southerners understand our northern points of view.

Many aboriginal people have received quality training from the CBC and are now producers, technicians and broadcasters. Any cuts to the CBC funding will adversely effect them and a large part of our heritage as well. If these cuts take place and we lose any more of the current broadcasting or if we lose it all, I believe our lives will be much poorer for it.

The federal budget cuts to the CBC reflect a false cost-saving measure. It is true we will save a few bucks in the short term, but in the long run we will lose more valuable things. We will lose a large part of our heritage and of our culture.

At one time the railroad linked the country from coast to coast, but our national broadcaster has always linked Canada from coast to coast to coast. Thank you.

Funding Cuts To Cbc
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 370

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Whitford. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Zoe.

Clarification On Statement Re Ultimate Removal Package
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 370

Henry Zoe North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I want to add some clarification to a statement that I made in this House on Monday, February 20th. The statement I made concerned an ultimate removal package in the collective agreement our government has with the public service. Mr. Speaker, as more and more of the aboriginal population becomes better educated and skilled, there will be more opportunities to work with the territorial public service. This government should be doing everything in its power to promote this. This includes, Mr. Speaker, providing certain financial incentives to northerners such as the ultimate removal package.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think I was as clear as I could have been on this point in my February 20th statement. I support the government's proposed change to this entitlement, making it available after only 10 years of service. However, Mr. Speaker, this change should only be targeted at those public service employees who were hired from the south and are returning there.

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear on this point, this should not effect northerners hired in the north and remain in the north after they retire or leave the public service. This entitlement should remain as is for northerners after serving four years of service. Mr. Speaker, the ultimate removal provision should only change as proposed for southern hires. Mahsi.

---Applause

Clarification On Statement Re Ultimate Removal Package
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 370

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Zoe. Item 3, Members' statement. Mr. Patterson.

Increase To Gasoline Tax
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 370

Dennis Patterson Iqaluit

Mr. Speaker, the gasoline tax was increased by the recent federal government, at least the federal portion on the gasoline tax, by 1.5 cents a litre. With the addition of the GST, this should have raised the price of gas by 1.61 cents a litre.

Mr. Speaker, I object to the federal tax increase apparently being used as an excuse to extract an additional 1.19 cents from my constituents who are solely dependent on this retailer. I object to being told that the new price of 77 cents a litre is based on the increased federal tax plus GST when it is quite apparently a federal tax increase, plus GST, plus a price increase. The product is delivered and purchased on an annual basis. The dealer has a monopoly and a lot of people in my community depend on that gasoline, including people who live on the land.

I'm going to explore what remedies might be available to deal with this situation and I'm glad for the chance to report to this House on this problem. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Increase To Gasoline Tax
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 371

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Patterson. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Koe.