This is page numbers 1441 - 1471 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 know.

Topics

Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Michael Ballantyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Finance. Mr. Speaker, I think all Members and most of the public are aware of the problems that this Legislative Assembly and this government have had to grapple with because of cutbacks in areas such as housing, official languages and health care. I think up to this time, we've done a pretty good job to stay the course. But as I said in my Member's statement, I do have serious concerns about the future. I wonder if the Minister of Finance could share with us his views about the medium and long-term hope for us, financially, between now and 1999. Thank you.

Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 1444

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Minister of Finance, Mr. Pollard.

Return To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 1444

John Pollard Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. In the short term, Mr. Speaker, it is not a very good scenario. Mr. Ballantyne, in his Member's statement today, mentioned the cutbacks the federal government is making. I think we have to be realistic and realize there may be more of those cuts coming ahead. We're still going to be wrestling with the fact that we're going to have to cut next year in order to balance our budget. So, in the short term, it doesn't look very good.

If you factor into that some of the other issues that Mr. Ballantyne raised in his Member's statement with regard to division, the federal government has yet to agree that they will pay the incremental costs of division. Maybe there have been some hints on the capital side, of course there is some disagreement on the costs of that capital, but much more on the O and M side, which is funded through the grant from Canada, we have been unsuccessful in getting the federal government to admit that it is going to cost more money to run two territories than it is to run one. Therefore, that unknown is hanging out there.

When you start looking at the medium term, Mr. Speaker, if we can resolve those particular issues with Canada and encourage the federal government to resolve the issue of self-government -- which is another issue that may come on the table and cost this government financially, as the federal government would presumably take from us and give to a region of this territory to run their own affairs -- if we can get through those things and realize that perhaps we should be working together instead of trying to work against each other, as Mr. Ballantyne was saying, if Mr. Todd is successful in getting his northern accord -- and I want to say that's extremely important to the Finance department, Mr. Speaker, simply because we can then see some new revenues coming into the Northwest Territories that are going to be desperately required in the medium term -- then things will look brighter.

I think the answer is the short-term is the roughest part, that's where we have to make some decisions. If we can make those decisions, agree to work cooperatively and get into the medium term and get developments going, in the long term I see a successful story for the Northwest Territories.

Sorry to have been so long, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Return To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Supplementary, Mr. Ballantyne.

Supplementary To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Michael Ballantyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the Minister for that response. Mr. Speaker, the issue of division has been with us for many, many years and the expectations in Nunavut are gigantic. My fear is, if the federal government doesn't live up to it's commitments for incremental funding or, when it comes right down to it, if they cut the base by 20 per cent and give us one per cent incremental funding, we still have a huge problem. Does the Minister of Finance see a strategy whereby this government can start a process with the federal government so we don't end up with a major battle between the eastern part of the Northwest Territories and the western part over diminished resources?

Supplementary To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Pollard.

Further Return To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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John Pollard Hay River

Mr. Speaker, we've already had some initial discussions with the federal government with regard to this particular issue. We tried, at the urging of the Standing Committee on Finance, to get that into the formula financing agreement that we're negotiating right now. The federal government was not keen on getting into the detail. One of the reasons was that they didn't have any numbers and they had not even put it into their projects; and they weren't out that far, as Mr. Martin said.

They were amenable to amending the formula financing agreement to put a clause in there that recognized that this agreement may have to go shorter or longer, depending on what happens with division. That's as far as we've gotten.

I think it's going to take some time for all the federal departments to catch up to the fact that there is going to be division in 1999, and I think the strategy has to be that we have to impress upon them in all of the departments that there's going to be a substantial change. My suggestions are going to be left in the transition document that the Premier is collating for the next government; but I will be saying to the next government and the next Finance Minister, that he or she should be immediately putting those things on the table and start negotiating a new formula financing agreement that will come into effect in 1999 as soon as possible in the next year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Further Return To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Supplementary, Mr. Ballantyne.

Supplementary To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Michael Ballantyne Yellowknife North

I thank the Minister of Finance. Mr. Speaker, another area where the expectations are very, very high is the area of self-government. The Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs has made a number of promises to aboriginal leaders in the western Arctic, and they have, I think, every right to expect some movement in the whole area of self-government. But, Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs has been caught, the same way that Mr. Axworthy has been caught, where the major priority of the federal government now seems to be deficit reduction. What is it that our government and the Legislative Assembly can do to get these self-government talks going again, so that again we don't start having problems amongst ourselves here in the west? We all have to stay on the same team, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Supplementary To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 1445

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Pollard.

Further Return To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 1445

John Pollard Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think Mr. Kakfwi has addressed this issue a number of times, and I think what really needs to happen is for the federal government to just define what aboriginal self-government is and how far they're prepared to go. If we did have that definition, at least we would have a document to be working from, the aboriginal groups would have documents to be working from, and we would be able to start attaching some costs to those particular things that aboriginal groups may be allowed to do within the confines of that self-government agreement. That's really what we don't know right now: how far is it going to go?

I would say we need to get the federal government to define that, we need to get aboriginal groups to agree to that, then we can start defining what the costs are going to be, and that may change some people's minds when they see how three or four groups doing the same thing is going to be probably more expensive than the territorial government trying to deliver. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Further Return To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Final supplementary, Mr. Ballantyne.

Supplementary To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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Michael Ballantyne Yellowknife North

In the west, flawed though it may be, we really only have one process where many of the groups, either as full participants or observers, are working together; that's the CDSC process. Without that, we have a major vacuum. I know there's a lot of frustration now. Mr. Koe, as the chair, Mr. Kakfwi and this government have approached the federal government. I wonder what more we can do as a Legislative Assembly or a government to impress upon Mr. Irwin the importance of funding this process. Because without it, we have a vacuum; without it, we don't have any mechanism where we all work together. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Supplementary To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

Page 1446

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Mr. Pollard.

Further Return To Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Question 657-12(7): GNWT Financial Projections To 1999
Item 6: Oral Questions

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John Pollard Hay River

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Irwin has told me that he reads the pertinent parts of the debates and questions and answers that occur in this Legislative Assembly, so I would suggest to the Member that he's made his point. Mr. Irwin will read it and perhaps understand the importance of this particular issue. Thank you.