This is page numbers 151 - 177 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 3rd 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 community.


Members Present

Hon. Jim Antoine, Hon. Goo Arlooktoo, Mr. Barnabas, Hon. Charles Dent, Mr. Enuaraq, Mr. Erasmus, Mr. Evaloarjuk, Hon. Samuel

Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Hon. Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, Hon. Don Morin, Hon. Kelvin Ng, Mr.

Ningark, Mr. O'Brien, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Picco, Mr. Rabesca, Mr. Roland, Mr. Steen, Hon. Manitok Thompson, Hon. John Todd

--- Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 151

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Roland. The House will come to order. Good afternoon. Orders of the day, item 2, Budget Address. Minister of Finance, Mr. Todd.

Item 2: Budget Address
Item 2: Budget Address

Page 151

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. For some reason, I am nervous. Mr. Speaker, today it is my pleasure to present the first budget of the 1 3th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

This is not a "business-as-usual" budget but these are not "business-as-usual times." It is no secret that our revenues are declining. This year alone, federal transfer payments will fall by almost $90 million.

This government's ability to raise revenues through taxation is limited. We must reduce our expenditures. But let there be no mistake about the reason for these reductions, it is because of reduced transfer payments from the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, we have had to reconsider all government operations in light of these reductions to our transfer payments. In doing so, we have decided against making across-the-board cuts.

The budget reductions we have implemented are fair and equitably distributed, so all residents of the Northwest Territories share in the necessary changes. These changes will be far reaching. No one will be exempt and no one will be singled out.

Mr. Speaker, this is the bad news side of the budget and, as they say, "bad news travels fast."


But today, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about opportunities. About how government funds will be invested to convert opportunities to jobs, about our plans to better utilize government revenues and about a better life for all the people of the Northwest Territories.

This $1.2 billion budget contains a great deal of good news which supports a new direction for government as we move toward the year 2000. This budget addresses expansion of the Northwest Territories economy, preparation of our people to meet this expansion and continuing provision of essential programs and services that government is mandated to deliver.

This budget addresses investment opportunities and working in creative partnerships with communities, with aboriginal organizations and with business to provide jobs and build a brighter future for our residents.

Since the Government of the Northwest Territories first moved north 30 years ago, we have spent billions of dollars providing our residents with basic services and facilities. Our focus was on the development of infrastructure and services. Over the past three decades, we have established community governments, sophisticated education and health systems and community infrastructure; from airports to arenas, to roads, to housing and to water and sewer systems.

Government funds have supported the development of small business, resource harvesting, tourism and territorial and community organizations. This government and this Legislative Assembly have developed programs that ensure a basic standard of living for all northern residents.

For the past 30 years, the principal engine of economic growth in the North was government spending and this spending sustained our economy. As a result, we now have much of the required infrastructure. Our communities have schools and services. Our system of airports, linking communities, is second to none in the world. However, there is still much room for improvement. We will always need more facilities to keep up with our growth, but most of the basics are now in place.

Today, the Northwest Territories is poised for change. Many land claims have been settled and this has made it possible for aboriginal northerners to invest in growth opportunities to participate fully in the economy. There are economic opportunities in non-renewable resources. The mining industry has never been more active in the North. There is a resurgence of activity in the oil and gas sector. There are opportunities in the renewable resource sector. Fur prices have levelled off and are beginning to show some improvement. There is potential in forestry, fisheries and in tourism.

Mr. Speaker, today this government faces a new and critical challenge. Government must assume a new role in the development of our northern economy. As I said earlier, government, by itself, can no longer sustain economic growth. The onus for future economic growth must be shifted to the private sector, to aboriginal organizations and to communities, where it belongs.

But we can't stop spending on services. This government must and will continue to provide essential services to our people. Our first priority is the health of our communities. We must recognize that "a healthy society is a working society. "

Mr. Speaker, this government will concentrate on building a sustainable economy. Working people and profitable companies pay taxes and if we have more working people and more profitable companies in the Northwest Territories, we will generate more revenue; revenue required to deliver essential services and programs to our people.


Mr. Speaker, we will be building this sustainable economy in a time of change; technological change, social change, economic change and, perhaps more importantly, political change. With change comes opportunity but we must manage the change process well. Division of the Northwest Territories is the major political change we will be facing during the term of this government.

We are committed to taking the actions necessary to ensure that the new governments of both Nunavut and the Western Territory will be in place and functional by April 1, 1999. Considerable effort has been made toward this goal. Many outstanding issues remain, however, including organizational structure, training programs and additional infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, division will happen. The Nunavut Implementation Commission, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, every Nunavut community and this government are committed to division. However, Mr. Speaker, the federal government must live up to its financial obligations in this matter. It must assist in the creation of two new financially-healthy, viable territories. We intend to continue to press this matter with the federal government.

In the Western Arctic, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the Honourable Jim Antoine, has scheduled regular meetings of the Aboriginal Summit and is working on protocol agreements between government and aboriginal organizations.

Aboriginal organizations must be our partners. Together we have to convince Ottawa to do what is right. This means the federal government must come clean on where it stands on aboriginal self-government. The political aspirations of the people in both new territories cannot and should not be denied.

Creative Partnerships

Mr. Speaker, this budget offers the means for northerners to take advantage of the opportunities that change brings. It has its focus on the potential for our children and grandchildren. These opportunities are found not only in larger centres across the North, but in smaller communities,

where unemployment is high and dependence on government is greatest.

How will we accomplish this, when we are faced with higher costs to operate this government and fewer dollars to spend? One answer provided in this budget is what we term "creative partnerships": individuals; businesses; aboriginal organizations; and, all levels of government pooling resources to stimulate economic growth and job creation.

This government is committed to successfully initiating creative partnerships. Partnerships are already forming in some regions of the Northwest Territories. These alliances meet the needs of our people in a more efficient manner and, as a result, will reduce government expenditures.

Last month, the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi announced the creation of such a partnership in Keewatin. The Kivalliq partners program coordinates economic development programs and services delivered by an aboriginal development corporation, a business development program and our own Department of Economic Development and Tourism and creates a one-stop shop for economic development programs in the region. This program illustrates how we can utilize our financial resources more effectively.

Mr. Speaker, this government will move aggressively to initiate new, far-reaching partnerships in sectors such as mining, telecommunications, utilities and financial services. These types of partnerships give us more 'bang for the buck" while holding the line on territorial government spending.

Private Sector Investment

Bringing new dollars into the economy will also be a main objective of this government. We will be encouraging investment from industry, from the financial community, from the federal government and from our own residents. We plan to aggressively market the Northwest Territories as a developing, but stable environment for both small and large-scale investment.


We would like to make it clear to the mining industry that the Northwest Territories is open for business. We want and need sustainable mineral development. We want to be partners in building this industry. Mining has the potential to generate wealth in the Northwest Territories. Mining can provide badly needed jobs, in mines and in businesses throughout the economy. Our mineral potential stretches from the Mackenzie Mountains near Fort Simpson to the northern reaches of Baffin Island. Our mineral resources are world class.

Mining follows exploration. Without the work of many of the junior exploration companies, there would be no diamond discovery in the Lac de Gras area, no gold finds across the Precambrian Shield and no base metal finds in the Arctic.

Exploration is expensive. The 1995 exploration expenditures in the Northwest Territories were the highest in Canada. In 1996, we expect exploration expenditures to exceed $200 million.

Recently, northerners and northern businesses have begun to participate in exploration. But exploration is only worth the financial risk if companies can profitably develop what they discover. At the Nunavut Mining Symposium last month, Bob Hickman of BHP Minerals said, "Mining companies go where they are welcome."

Mr. Speaker, mining companies are welcome here, if they are prepared to create jobs for northerners, use northern companies to supply goods and services and safeguard our environment. Mining companies go where tax and regulatory regimes are stable, competitive and fair. We have the lowest personal and corporate tax rates in Canada and we plan to use this advantage to encourage the orderly development of our mineral industry. Mr. Speaker, in this budget, we are not proposing any new taxes on the mining industry.

--- Applause

Since the cost of doing business is already higher in the North than almost anywhere else in the world, this government intends to work with industry to develop incentive programs that give us a competitive edge, programs that would reward companies that make genuine efforts to contribute to our economy, form real and lasting partnerships with northern and aboriginal companies, and create jobs for our people.

We are prepared to sit down with industry and discuss the whole area of taxation, incentives and investment in infrastructure that will quicken the pace and expand the scope of mining development and provide incremental benefits to the people of the Northwest Territories.

Mining can be the anchor of our economy for decades to come. It is clear from any objective analysis that the responsible development of our mineral resources represents the single most important opportunity that we have for sustainable economic growth.

Oil And Gas Industry

We will also pursue continuing investment from the oil and gas industry. Oil and gas activity is increasing in the Western Arctic, particularly near Fort Liard. The exploration dollars flowing into this corner of the Northwest Territories are putting people to work, supporting the local economy and giving new hope for prosperity. Further north in the Sahtu, oil and gas exploration is also putting people to work.

Business Investment Strategy

New investment in the Northwest Territories will not be limited to mining and oil and gas. The Government of the Northwest Territories will launch a new business investment strategy designed to bring money and jobs into the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance has established an investment office, whose sole purpose is to attract new business investment to the Northwest Territories. This office will identify investment opportunities and potential investors. Residency in the North offers major tax advantages for private individuals and businesses. We intend to capitalize on this by actively marketing the Northwest Territories as a business environment offering a variety of opportunities, an eager workforce and high potential returns.

This investment office will rely on the assistance of industry leaders from across Canada, people who know how the investment community works and how to use our strengths to attract investment dollars to the Northwest Territories. The investment office will work cooperatively with the Economic Advisory Panel announced by the Premier earlier this year.

Mr. Speaker, government alone can no longer meet the growing demands for services of our rapidly increasing population. We must build investor confidence in the Northwest Territories so that business will share in the risks and benefits of our growth. This government must lead the way. We must adjust our perspective where necessary, seek partners who will share our goals and look outward to the private sector for the investment we need to sustain and improve our standard of living.

We project that new investment in the Northwest Territories from all sources, including government, will be $425 million this year. It is our goal to greatly increase this level of investment by the year 1999, investment that will lead directly to increase revenues for the government and jobs for our residents.

Government Investments

Although this government must continue to control spending and reduce its deficit, it cannot stop building for the future. Our aim, therefore, is to allocate part of our spending in this budget to investments and initiatives that will bring sustainable benefits now and for the future.

Community Economic Development

Mr. Speaker, although I have concentrated on large-scale investment, this government will not overlook the smaller sectors that make a substantial contribution to our economy. The Minister responsible for the amalgamation of the departments of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, Economic Development and Tourism and Renewable Resources, the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, will lead our investment in the economic growth of our communities.

To foster community economic development and small business growth, Mr. Kakfwi will be introducing a community initiatives program worth $5 million. With the expiration of the economic development agreement, this program is critical to the development of viable economies in our communities.

The objectives of the program are to diversify regional and local economies to improve the competitive position of economic sectors and to strengthen technical, entrepreneurial business management and marketing skills through training. The results will be both short and longterm employment in our smaller communities. Every cent of this program, Mr. Speaker, will be invested in our communities.

Mr. Speaker, we will also continue to invest in the hunting and trapping industry. In the past few months, we have seen an increase in fur prices. The price of beaver pelts, for example, has increased more than 30 per cent between February and April of this year. There has been a small resurgence in the market for sealskins. At a recent auction, more than 1,000 pelts were sold, averaging almost $23 per pelt. This price is well above the low point reached in the 1980s of $8 per pelt.

This government will continue to support efforts to establish new markets for our furs. In addition to our efforts in Europe, we will be looking to open new doors in the rapidly expanding Asian market. We aim to return our fur industry to the status it once had, as an essential sector of our economy.

Education And Jobs

Mr. Speaker, the creation of jobs is a priority of this government. I have already spoken of new jobs in the mining industry, and in the oil and gas industry. To ensure these jobs, keep them and advance in these and other fields, our labour force must be well trained and prepared for the employment opportunities of the coming decades. We want northerners to be trained and ready to assume more management positions as our economy grows.

Under the leadership of the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, the Honourable Charles Dent, we plan to reinvest $6.2 million this fiscal year in a series of initiatives to develop a skilled workforce. These initiatives include Investing in People, labour force planning and development, technology investment, improving student achievement and increasing accessibility to secondary education.

Mortgage And Loan Company

Mr. Speaker, to make mortgage financing more accessible to northerners living in communities where there are presently no real estate markets, the government proposes to establish a Mortgage and Loan Company. This organization will actively seek opportunities to provide financing to prospective home owners and housing developers, particularly in our smaller northern communities, where traditional bank financing may be more difficult to secure.

The government will make an initial equity investment in this Mortgage and Loan Company of up to $5 million. Private investors will be sought to supplement the equity base of the company. As the company will be structured to qualify as a mortgage investment company, the government's and other investors' equity can be used to lever up to five times as many dollars to help meet our ongoing demand for housing across the North.

Accessible mortgage funds will increase home ownership across the North and help alleviate this government's heavy fiscal responsibility for providing housing. Stimulation of the housing sector, particularly in the smaller communities. will also create needed jobs in the construction industry.

In brief, a one-time investment of $5 million now in a mortgage and loan fund, can save the government much more in years to come.

Digital Telecommunications Network

Northerners now want and need to be connected to the world. The Nunavut Implementation Commission, in Footprints in New Snow, has said: "The pathways of the future will be travelled electronically."

Today, technology exists that would allow a nurse in Clyde River to take X-rays that a doctor in Iqaluit or Montreal could view within minutes. It would be possible for students in Deline to see and work with teachers in Fort Simpson or Tokyo without leaving the classroom.

This technology is now available. We have undertaken studies to see how we can use the new technology in our own operations. By implementing this technology, the departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Health and Social Services will become more efficient in their operations and will improve the delivery of their services. We are confident that many other cost-effective uses will be found, both in government and the private sector.

In the past, transportation was our main connection to opportunities. Today, many of our communities are connected by roads, and most are connected by regular air service, by telephones and fax machines.

Now we need faster connections to the people and businesses in northern, national and international markets. To take advantage of marketing, business, educational and health-related opportunities, we will have to connect to the information highway. We must look outward and open this window on the world.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is proposing a partnership to support the development of a comprehensive digital communications network to link all communities in the Northwest Territories. Portions of this new network will be operational in early 1997 and it will be completed by the end of 1998.

This technology will be available to our government and to businesses and individuals on a cost-shared basis. It is important to emphasize that a guiding principle of this initiative is that all communities will be served so that even the smallest or most remote community will have access to the benefits that such a communications network can offer.

People in all of our communities will soon be able to communicate round the world via the Internet and World Wide Web. An elder in the Baffin will be able to talk to a university class in Japan. Trappers will be able to market their furs in Europe and Asia. And our children will be able to tell the world about the North.

Mr. Speaker, this government does not intend to get into the telecommunications business. We do intend to work in partnership with interested firms who want to participate in designing, implementing and operating this northern network.

The government will be issuing a request for proposals this month to obtain offers to deliver this new service. By using the government's communications requirements as a base for this proposal, we expect to generate a multi-million dollar investment by the private sector in the design and construction of a state-of-the-art system. The resulting private sector system will be available to all governments, aboriginal organizations, individuals and businesses in the North.

Northern Accord

Mr. Speaker, another important investment that this government will make is in the negotiation of a northern accord on minerals and oil and gas with the federal government. The Premier, the Honourable Don Morin, has spoken on many occasions of the importance for northerners to gain control over northern resources. We cannot continue to let our land and resources be managed and controlled from Ottawa.

Mr. Morin has just returned from Ottawa where he received a commitment from the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to conclude negotiations quickly on the transfer of this authority. We will be aggressively pursuing a speedy resolution of these negotiations so that northerners can take control of and maximize the benefits from non-renewable resource development.

Regulatory Review

Mr. Speaker, through its regulatory regime, a government safeguards many aspects of the environment, economy and society. Over time, many of these regulations may become cumbersome and outdated or result in costly overlap and duplication with regulatory regimes implemented by other levels of government.

Just recently, the difficulty in registering a new small business was brought to my attention. It seems that between municipal business licences, territorial companies registration and Workers' Compensation Board requirements, we have created a costly maze of red tape for small entrepreneurs.

To substantially reduce the regulatory burden that deters economic development, we will be initiating a comprehensive review of all territorial regulations to streamline and update the regulatory regime in the NWT while, at the same time, ensuring that the public trust is protected.

Business Incentive Policy

Mr. Speaker, in addition to encouraging new investment, we also recognize the importance of maximizing the benefits of government spending on our economy. We have come a long way in our attempts to keep government spending, which helps to create northern jobs, in the North. But there is more work to be done in this area.

The business incentive policy has been in place for many years. Over that period, the number of northern firms in the marketplace and the amount of government spending

reaching these companies and their employees have increased significantly.

However, it is also recognized that this policy is not perfect. We are currently reviewing this policy and are considering revisions that will ensure northern firms and their employees get the greatest benefit from government spending.

Balancing The Budget

Mr. Speaker, I have chosen to outline our opportunities and investment strategy before I present the actual budget figures. As Minister of Finance and the person responsible for the healthy fiscal position of this government, I believe the growth potential of the Northwest Territories deserves as much attention as expenditure reductions. A successful growth strategy will help replace scarce government dollars.

A successful growth strategy will allow the private sector to drive economic expansion. Government's new role is to facilitate, not bankroll, economic development. Did I say bankroll?

Mr. Speaker, although the budget I am presenting today is a deficit budget, I can see a bright future if we work together to realize the economic and social potential of the Northwest Territories.

When this government took office last November, we were projecting a deficit for 1996-97 of over $100 million. Reductions in transfer payments from the federal government and growing expenditure demands led us to this position. One of the major challenges facing the Members of this Legislative Assembly was to restore the Government of the Northwest Territories to a position of fiscal health.

The situation became worse with each new forecast. As revenue projections fell and expenditure needs continue to rise, the deficit forecast grew to $150 million. Without any action on our part to bring the deficit under control, this government would be more than $600 million in debt by April 1, 1999.

Mr. Speaker, this is not an option. It is unfair to our children and to the future governments of Nunavut and the Western Territory.

Mr. Speaker, this Legislative Assembly has taken action. We have made the tough decisions. Together, the measures announced over the last few months, and those announced today, will result in the 1996-97 deficit being reduced from a projected $150 million to $43 million, and will lead to a balanced budget in 1997-98. As the federal Finance Minister stated recently in MacLean's Magazine: 'For years government has been promising more than they can deliver and delivering more than they can afford." That has to end, Mr. Speaker, and we are ending it.

The 1996-97 budget calls for expenditures, including estimated supplementary appropriations and lapses, of $1.211 billion. This is approximately $70 million less than forecast expenditures for the 1995-96 fiscal year. Total revenues for 1996-97 are expected to be $1.168 billion.

The net result for the 1996-97 fiscal year will be a $43 million deficit, which will increase our accumulated deficit to $85 million by the end of this fiscal year. Eliminating the entire projected $150 million deficit in one year would create too much hardship for the residents of the Northwest Territories. We must be serious about deficit reduction, but

This government has developed a realistic and responsible fiscal recovery plan. This plan has the Northwest Territories returning to a balanced budget as early in our government's mandate as possible, while protecting those most in need and supporting our fledgling northern economy. The fiscal recovery plan does not rely on tax increases to solve our problems. Instead, the plan tackles the root problem: that the government spends more than it takes in.

The plan calls for expenditure reductions of over $100 million in 1996-97. Some of these reductions have been reallocated to the initiatives I have already mentioned. The remainder have been used to reduce our anticipated deficit to $43 million.

Next year, Mr. Speaker, further spending reductions will be necessary. Some of these reductions will be reallocated to finance unavoidable growth in statutory expenditures, such as education and health, and the rest will be used to eliminate the remaining budget deficit and start to generate the small surpluses needed to pay down our accumulated deficit.

In our examination of government spending, we concluded that while everyone must share the burden of cost cutting -everybody -- those most vulnerable must bear the smallest burden. We have tried to structure the reductions so that they impact those who can afford them most.

One example of this approach is in the area of wage and benefit reductions. Members of the Legislative Assembly have led by example. We have taken a seven per cent cut in indemnities and a very large reduction in pension benefits. This House has shown that no one is exempt from reductions.

The reductions also affect government employees. We recognize the contribution government employees have made over the years to this government and to the northern economy. However, government wages account for over 35 per cent of our total budget and employees cannot be immune from the reductions that must be implemented to put our financial house in order.

This government has focused on protecting jobs to the extent possible. The number of jobs cut has been kept relatively low, and the number of staff laid off has been kept even lower. Through priority hiring and enhanced severance pay, the impact of budget reductions on staff is further reduced.

Mr. Speaker, the government has looked hard at how it does business. We have moved to eliminate unnecessary administration and duplication. We have consolidated departments to increase the level of program integration. We

have directed that government get out of areas best left to the private sector or to communities.

This government has identified services which could be privatized: management of government real estate assets; provision of computer systems and services; the community resupply; and, in the management of the parks system.

Mr. Speaker, community governments are demanding greater authority and responsibility. A priority of this government will be to identify and eliminate legislative and other barriers to communities taking a more active role in running their own affairs.

Community Empowerment

The primary vehicle to make this happen is the community empowerment initiative. This initiative is being led by the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, the Honourable Manitok Thompson.

Through this initiative, the government is taking a hard look at how it does business. We have a great deal of government for a relatively small population. We spend too much money getting programs and services to our people. We need to better allocate scarce resources to where they do the most good, in our communities.

Communities have told us that they need to plan for their future in an integrated way, they need control over local resources, they need training and support so that local people can run community programs and, most of all, they need the flexibility to utilize funding in a manner that best meets their needs.

We are committed to taking the bold action required to meet these needs through the community empowerment initiative.

Community Wellness

Mr. Speaker, a fundamental cornerstone of community empowerment is community wellness. In order for communities to manage their own affairs, their residents must have control of the resources needed to come to grips with the many social problems that confront northern communities.

The Minister of Health and Social Services, the Honourable Kelvin Ng, will be identifying dedicated, ongoing funding to promote and enhance community wellness. This funding will be used initially to help communities develop their own plans for implementing wellness initiatives.

The Department of Health and Social Services, in conjunction with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and other departments, is developing a plan that will allow communities to take on responsibility for a full range of wellness programs and services currently managed by this government. This framework will be complete by June of this year.

The funding arrangements will provide flexibility, allowing communities to develop their own priorities for service delivery. Ideally, the funding for government programs and services will be managed through a single organization at the community level. This will promote consistency and ensure that services are linked and complementary to each other.

The community wellness strategy will provide the framework for the development and delivery of social programs during the life of this government and leading up to division. By coordinating efforts across government, we can deal with our fiscal realities and actually improve and make more relevant the programs and services required by people in their communities. We need a holistic, integrated approach at every level and on every issue to begin to solve our social problems.

Mr. Speaker, another initiative where our limited resources will be put to good use is in early childhood intervention. The Honourable Charles Dent has identified $1 million to develop and implement a range of integrated early childhood intervention services in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services. These services will ensure that children with potential problems receive the help and support they need to succeed in school. In other jurisdictions where these services are offered, the demonstrated long-term benefits include healthier families, fewer school drop-outs, fewer school failures, decreased social assistance costs and reduced costs for special education support in schools.

Community Justice

Another essential element of community wellness is the fundamental reform of the administration of justice. The way that we currently deliver "justice" in the communities is not working well. We need to develop solutions that ensure that local people are involved in making decisions about local problems. More specifically, we need to build the foundation necessary for ensuring that communities can take a lead role in resolving disputes and in addressing problems that result in community disorder.

Work has already begun to help communities take on an increased role in dispute resolution and restorative justice. We are committed to building on the work already done to ensure that we create effective partnerships between communities, government and all components of the justice system.

In the coming months, the Honourable Kelvin Ng will be providing more details about the proposed approach to moving decision-making and resources out of the Department of Justice and into the hands of community decision-makers. Mr. Speaker, to this end, we will be maintaining funding for community justice initiatives at 1995-96 levels.

The Department of Justice has also targeted $600,000 to develop new approaches to community supervision of offenders. Community supervision is an alternative to incarceration. It allows communities to become more involved in the design and delivery of corrections services and programs. In addition, this approach has the potential to help contain the escalating cost of incarceration.

Mr. Speaker, the bottom line is that we simply cannot afford to do things the way we have in the past. Fortunately, our communities want to see a change in the way we address justice issues. We are optimistic about the prospects for positive reform that will help reduce the strain on our already overburdened justice system and reduce the level of crime. disorder and instability in our communities.

Mr. Speaker, all these programs will create new opportunity for the communities. They will help reduce government overhead and, at the same time, put people at the community level to work in jobs that give them management and budget control. Community leaders will have the opportunity to set priorities for programs and services. Instead of three or four government-assisted organizations in a community, there will be a single, more cost-effective agency that can serve as the centre for community wellness initiatives.


Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, it has often been said that the best form of income support is a job. This simple adage sums up this government's approach to the 1996-97 budget. In this budget we are seeking not only to restore the government's fiscal health, we are outlining a vision and concrete steps for creating economic opportunities, so that northerners can either find jobs or make jobs.

The government does not have the resources to create more employment by increasing the size of our payroll. What we can and will do is create a climate that will encourage investment and job creation by others. Mr. Speaker, this government can and will invest in economic growth, not by more public spending, but by developing partnerships with communities and the private sector to create employment today and sustainable opportunities for our children.

We are proposing new methods of accomplishing the tasks of government: through creative partnerships; through investment in opportunities; and, through levering our limited government resources to build a new economy in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, we will encourage the flow of investment dollars to the Northwest Territories. We will support and participate in creative partnerships that solve northern problems and create wealth for northerners. And we will review and, where necessary, update or change our regulatory and tax regimes, to ensure we obtain maximum benefit from new investments.

Mr. Speaker, thoughts of gloom and doom, and constant self-examination are not productive. We need more revenue, more housing, more jobs and we have to set about creating our own opportunities. Those opportunities will be found by looking outward, by seeking creative new partners, by taking steps to get training and by investing our resources in our own future.

I am convinced that the Northwest Territories offers more opportunities for its citizens than any other place in Canada. Mr. Speaker, it is time to seize those opportunities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--- Applause

Item 2: Budget Address
Item 2: Budget Address

Page 158

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Todd. Item 3, Ministers' statements. Mr. Ng.

Minister's Statement 29-13(3): Community Nursing
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 158

Kelvin Ng Kitikmeot

Mr. Speaker, this week, registered nurse delegates from across the Northwest Territories have gathered in Yellowknife for the annual general meeting and biennial conference of the Northwest Territories Nurses' Association. The conference theme is "nurses and communities in partnership: a community development approach."

I want to recognize the insight of the Northwest Territories Nurses' Association in selecting such a timely focus for their two-day educational session.

Mr. Speaker, as the government strengthens initiatives like community wellness, it is important that we have nurses working in partnership with communities, helping support the development of healthy communities and community-based problem solving.

We must take up the challenge to work together for healthy families in healthy communities. Only through collaboration and partnership do we have an opportunity to meet the current challenges creatively.

Mr. Speaker, the organizers of this conference have developed a partnership with the students and staff at St. Patrick High School. Through working together, both students and nurses have learned more about each other and developed new skills while planning this major educational event. Through such exposure, our young people will come to appreciate more the reward and challenge of nursing and view it as a career choice.

This December, the first class will graduate from the Aurora College northern nursing program. This is the beginning of the development of a northern nursing workforce, important to the sustainability of the North.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage northerners to eagerly pursue nursing and to prepare to work with the people of the Northwest Territories for community wellness. Nurses have lived and worked in communities in the Northwest Territories for over 50 years. They have been vital to the health system; nurses will continue to have a key role to play as members of community services teams.

Mr. Speaker, I ask each of my colleagues in the Legislative Assembly to join me in recognizing the important contributions of nurses to our communities and to the people of the North. Thank you.

--- Applause

Minister's Statement 29-13(3): Community Nursing
Item 3: Ministers' Statements

Page 158

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Ng. Item 3, Ministers' statements. Mrs. Thompson.

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs annually promotes volunteers in the NWT, and awards the NWT Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. This award is given in recognition of the special contribution made by one of these volunteers who, over an extended period of time, has improved the quality of life in the NWT.

This is the sixth year the award has been presented. The previous winners are: Ms. Jan Stirling of Yellowknife, 1991; Mr. Donald Clarke of Rankin Inlet 1992; Mr. Larry Gordon of Inuvik, 1993; Mr. Max MeInyk of Norman Wells, 1994; and, Ms. Helene Usherwood of Yellowknife, 1995.

Mr. Speaker, volunteers are essential to the many groups who provide programs and services for our residents. Without the spirit of our volunteers, most of these groups would not exist and the quality of all our lives would suffer. Volunteers are the single most valuable resource in achieving our priorities for community wellness and community empowerment.

Mr. Speaker, National Volunteer Week was held April 21 to 27, 1996, and many volunteers were recognized during that time. We chose to wait until today to properly honour this year's award winner. At this time, I am pleased to announce the 1996 Outstanding Volunteer Service Award winner: Mr. Peter Flaherty of Grise Fiord.

Mr. Flaherty is being recognized for his dedicated assistance of community residents in need, by helping in any way he can to make the community a better place to live in.

It is my pleasure to invite the Members of the House to join me, members of Peter's family, the MLA for High Arctic, Levi Barnabas, the public and media for a reception in the great hall during our 3:00 p.m. break to honour Mr. Flaherty.

During the reception Mr. Flaherty will receive a number of recognition items, including a framed letter of citation; a commemorative plaque; and, a carving donated by Fort Smith artist, Sonny MacDonald.

Mr. Flaherty's name will be added on the recognition plaque displayed in the foyer of the Legislative Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--- Applause

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Thompson. We will take a 10-minute break.


The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The House will come back to order. We are on item 3, Ministers' statements. Item 4, Members' statements. Mr. Picco.

Edward Picco Iqaluit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to begin by saying that I was very pleased to see Mr. Todd's new traditional Scottish footwear this morning, bringing down his budget; his Scottish golfing shoes.

However, the government still has a $1 billion budget and we do have the will and desire to do government differently. Doing government differently takes time. Mr. Speaker, no one likes change, but change is coming whether we like it or not. We have to be prepared to respond to these changes in a proactive way.

I think many of the suggestions and ideas announced by the Finance Minister today are indicative of this. However, I feel in some areas, such as the reductions in the capital budgets, we didn't go far enough. We have to base this area of government on community needs and not wants.

In other areas such as the elimination of key regional positions and offices, maybe we went too far. Mr. Speaker, this is the balancing act that we will have to participate in, in the life of the 13th Assembly. The recently announced dollar values for Nunavut is a concern. The continued transitional and incremental costs for Nunavut and the new Western Territory will have to be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, although I tabled the report on the Iqaluit Focus Group yesterday in this House, I had presented copies to the Ministers and Members several days before. I am pleased that some of the recommendations from the report have been included in Mr. Todd's address today.

--- Applause

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to debating the budget in the House over the next few weeks. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Todd's new shoes will be used to run from my debate and I appreciate that. Mr. Speaker, I know Mr. Todd will let me catch up to him. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--- Applause

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday I raised some concerns about the election process; in particular, how it was handled in the riding of Thebacha, and what I thought was the fumbling by the Chief Electoral Officer's office in Ottawa.

I am now aware that a letter was received yesterday indicating that the RCMP report has been sent to the Chief Electoral Officer and was received on April 14th. One of the reasons they give for their tardy response is that their work schedule is deterred and deferred by bomb threats. I can only surmise from that that I am not the only individual who has a problem spurring this particular agency to action, even though I don't condone the use of that kind of extreme threat. It would seem that it is an issue with other people in Canada as well.

The letter indicates that hopefully by the middle of May, we should have an answer. I will give them the benefit of that doubt, but I would like to point out that in keeping with the Budget Address and the Premier's comments yesterday, the need to take over control of our own resources and services and to give the Chief Electoral Officer his due. Back in 1991, in his report, he made two recommendations that I think we should act on. Those recommendations are that the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly should take the necessary steps to appoint the Northwest Territories first resident Chief Electoral Officer and that the territorial Cabinet should enter into negotiations with the Government of Canada for the funding of the administration of elections.

I think it is time we acted on that, so that we never have to go through this again and we can deal with issues in the North, without having to go to some distant far-off office, a last vestige of the old-style colonial government. I will be bringing that forward through the appropriate channels to ensure we pursue that. Thank you.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to start off by wishing a happy birthday to my mother, Florence Erasmus.

--- Applause

I would like to tell the House about a constituency meeting that I had on April 10th. There were a lot of concerns expressed. When those concerns were expressed, usually someone else brought up a reason why this situation was in existence. Obviously, there are people who understand the situation.

One of things that were discussed was the name change of the Northwest Territories. Some people thought it was a waste of time and money. Community empowerment was a question mark. What has been done so far? Will it eventually create city states throughout the territories? Is that offloading?

Apparently from the municipalities conference in Inuvik, some people were changing their mind about empowerment after there was a workshop held by a southern consultant. In fact, it might be a good idea for Members to hear those concerns that were brought up by that consultant.

There was also support for community empowerment by some of the people there. It was recognized that people have been wanting community empowerment for years. It was also expressed that there is a need to hear hope and enthusiasm and that the government needs to look for alterative sources of funding. Standards should remain for privatization. I am happy to see that the budget announcement has addressed a lot of these issues and there is a plan in place.

I am also happy to report that there was not one question or concern raised regarding MLAs' salaries or pensions. I am also happy to report that there was not one question regarding the transfer of occupational health and safety to the Workers' Compensation Board, except by the media. Thank you.

--- Applause

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Erasmus. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Ningark.

Outbreak Of Rsv In Pelly Bay
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 160

John Ningark Natilikmiot

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there is a current outbreak of RSV in Pelly Bay, as was the case in Arviat. Mr. Speaker, we have had approximately 20 children flown out of the community of Pelly Bay in the past 10 days or so.

Last night, there was another one medevaced from Pelly Bay. Mr. Speaker, there is a danger of this sickness spreading to other communities within the Territories. At the appropriate time, I will be asking the appropriate Minister what this government is doing to get the outbreak under control. Thank you.

Outbreak Of Rsv In Pelly Bay
Item 4: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Ningark. Item 3, Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Visit By Hon. Kelvin Ng To Hay River
Item 4: Members' Statements

May 1st, 1996

Page 160

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My statement today is with respect to Mr. Ng's attendance in my community on April 20th and 21 st. It was my pleasure to host Mr. Ng. We had a very busy schedule we kept. I will outline a few of the things we did.

We started out with a luncheon with the Hay River hospital board, followed by a tour of the hospital facilities. After that, we had a meeting with the medical doctors in Hay River and discussed the challenges of medical doctor recruitment in the North. Many positive suggestions were made in that regard.

Then we went and had a tour of the medical surgical supply business in Hay River. I might also add that they have since been the recipient of the NWT Business of the Year Award. We then visited with the two chiropractors in Hay River who have valid concerns regarding the chiropractic services being uninsured health services in the Northwest Territories.

Following that, we attended a banquet for Dr. Earle Covert who is retiring from medical practice in Hay River after 32 years. I appreciate the fact that Kelvin didn't know Dr. Covert very well, but sat through a five-hour presentation at the head table and spoke most eloquently at the benefit; we really appreciated that.

On Sunday morning, we met with the mayor and the town manager with respect to the hospital transfer to the town of Hay River. Then he had a tour of Hay River, including the Women's Resource Centre, Woodland Manor Seniors' Home, South Mackenzie Correctional Institution, the young offenders' facility and following that, attended a brunch at my home with the Hay River Seniors' Society with approximately 30 people in attendance. So we had a busy time but, again, I was very pleased that a Minister would take the time to come to my community and in this case, particularly, honour Doctor Covert. Thank you.

--- Applause

Visit By Hon. Kelvin Ng To Hay River
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 160

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Item 4, Members' statements. Mr. Barnabas.

Nwt's Outstanding Volunteer, Mr. Peter Flaherty
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 160

Levi Barnabas High Arctic

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Although we had bad news today, I have good news today. I would like to give very good news. An outstanding citizen of Grise Fiord is being given a high honour today. Mr. Speaker, I know that there are many people like Peter Flaherty who work selflessly for others out of the goodness of their hearts and without concern about being paid.

What we are celebrating today, Mr. Speaker, is not only the honour being given to Peter Flaherty, but also that our government is conveying a high honour on one of the many people who are doing so much to help others every day of their lives in our communities.

The mayor of Grise Fiord, Jarloo Kigutak, wishes me to express the pride of the entire community of Grise Fiord that one of their most-respected citizens is being recognized in this way. Mayor Kigutak tells me that Peter Flaherty is always helping whoever needs help, every day. He'll show up anywhere, the mayor told me, asking if he can help. Even if not asked, Peter will shovel snow off an elder's steps or help someone preparing for a hunt. Even as a teenager, he was always helping out. He is a very generous man who is outgoing and friendly to all. "Peter has a heart," his oldest sister Martha told me.

Mr. Speaker, Peter is described as mentally challenged. I want to recognize that there are many other people like him in our communities who are not always recognized. Many of them make very important contributions to community life. In our Inuit culture, helping without expectation of reward or recognition is a strong part of our tradition.

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

Nwt's Outstanding Volunteer, Mr. Peter Flaherty
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 161

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for High Arctic is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. Conclude your statement. Mr. Barnabas.

Nwt's Outstanding Volunteer, Mr. Peter Flaherty
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 161

Levi Barnabas High Arctic

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Elders have been telling us that young people, especially, should be assisting those who need help. This kind of volunteer work will be even more important in the years to come, when government programs cannot go as far as everyone would like.

Mr. Speaker, Martha Flaherty, who is the president of Pauktuutit, the Inuit women's association, is Peter's sister. She and Peter are the oldest in the family of five girls and four boys. Martha told me that Peter and his family went through a lot of hardship when they were relocated from northern Quebec; in 1955, the same year Peter was born. Martha gives great credit to their father, Josephee, who died in 1984 and their mother, Rynie, for helping the family to survive during those hard times.

Ms. Flaherty also said that as president of Pauktuutit, she believes that it's about time that one of many people who are volunteering to take care of others in our communities are being recognized. She says that many of these volunteers are women who are doing very important work every day helping our government deal with social problems.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage all Members to join me in congratulating these many volunteers and today this outstanding constituent, an excellent role model and good example to all the people of the Northwest Territories: Mr. Peter Flaherty. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--- Applause

Nwt's Outstanding Volunteer, Mr. Peter Flaherty
Item 4: Members' Statements

Page 161

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Item 4, Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.

James Rabesca North Slave

Mr. Speaker, let me start by quoting the mayor of Rae-Edzo, Mayor Dan Marion. I quote: "This is truly a marriage made in heaven.' Approximately five years ago, my friend and the president of the Rae-Edzo Dene Band Development Corporation, Charlie Charlo, had a dream to see our people own and operate a modern fully-equipped grocery store. Unfortunately, Charlie was unable to see the results of this dream, as he passed on almost two years ago. Even so, the corporation continued with this quest, and over time were able to receive funding from CAEDS which allowed the corporation to hire the expertise of my colleague, Seamus Henry. With his assistance, they were able to convince the NWT Development Corporation, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism and the banking community to provide assistance and funding to see this project get off the ground. However, this project still was not able to fly because of the need for professional management, which was not available in my community.

Again, the Band Development Corporation and Seamus went knocking on doors. This time, they went to the Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op. The response was overwhelming, and in a relatively short period of time, the Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op and Rae-Edzo Development Corporation had signed a management agreement to be the general managers of a now store and provide training to our people who would be working there.

This proved to be the final piece of the puzzle required to make this proceed. All the lending institutions were pleased to see this come together. Construction started in November of 1995, as well as the training package which was put together by both Aurora College and Arctic Co-operatives Limited, in training local, unskilled residents to perform duties in the new store.

Mr. Speaker, on April 14, 1996, the doors of the Charlie Charlo Centre and Tli Cho Co-op were opened to the public, and the dream of the late Charlie Charlo has become a reality. Mr. Speaker, however, the story does not end here. Of the original 11 trainees who started the program, 10 graduated and seven currently hold full-time jobs.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my Member's statement.