This is page numbers 1615 - 1642 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 4th 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.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Goo Arlooktoo, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Enuaraq, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Miltenberger, Honourable Don Morin, Honourable Kelvin Ng, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Picco, Mr. Rabesca, Mr. Roland, Mr. Steen, Honourable Manitok Thompson, Honourable John Todd.

Oh, God, may your spirit and guidance be in us as we work for the benefit of all our people, for peace and justice in our land and for the constant recognition of the dignity and aspirations of those whom we serve. Amen.

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1615

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Good afternoon. I would like to recognize in the gallery today, the Honourable Lawrence MacAuley, the federal Minister of Labour. I would also like to welcome the Honourable Ethel Blondin-Andrew, the Member of Parliament for the Western Arctic and the Secretary of State for Youth. Welcome to the Assembly. I would also like to inform the House that I have received the following message from Her Honour, the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories.

Dear Mr. Speaker: I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage on Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 2, 1997-98 during the Fourth Session of the 13th Legislative Assembly. Yours truly, Helen Maksagak, Commissioner

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Kakfwi.

Stephen Kakfwi

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am please to inform the Assembly that following extensive consultation with interested parties in the Northwest Territories, I have recently signed off a regulatory amendment package that would substantially change the Wildlife Business Regulations. These regulations which are enacted under the NWT Wildlife Act, administer the licensing of all wildlife related businesses including big game outfitters, fur dealers, tanners, game farms and fur farms. Until recently, the regulations called for ten different licences, each with its own application form, requirements and fee schedule.

This government made a commitment to streamline processes and eliminate unnecessary regulations. I am pleased to advise that we have addressed this issue by simplifying many aspects of the Wildlife Business Regulations. Several types of licences have been amalgamated into one, while application forms and basic criteria for all businesses have been standardized. Part of this standardization includes adjustments to the licence fee schedule. Licences which previously cost $25 to $50 annually will now cost $100 on first application and $50 thereafter. Considering this is the first fee increase in 20 years, I believe the increase is justified and a small price to pay to access a significant natural resource.

In order for businesses to operate on a sound footing, we have also extended the evergreen clause to include all outfitting businesses in the Northwest Territories. The evergreen clause entitles licence holders to an annual licence for ten years from the date of issue. This provides outfitting businesses with a secure base on which to develop long range marketing plans and relations with suppliers and financial institutions.

While this government has made a commitment to reducing paperwork, we have not forgotten our responsibility for the protection and maintenance of our natural resources, in particular our wildlife. As of October 1, the date these new regulations come into force, courts in the Northwest Territories are able to assess fines of up to $500,000 for infractions under the Wildlife Business Regulations. This is a far cry from the previous limits under the Act of a maximum of $1,000 per offence.

The people of the Northwest Territories have entrusted this government to ensure proper management of our natural resources. I believe these actions clearly demonstrate this government's commitment to the people.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the recent amendments to the Wildlife Business Regulations are one more step towards creating a business climate which is free from unnecessary government regulation. It emphasizes our ongoing commitment to protection of the north's natural resources, while supporting northern business.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Kakfwi. Ministers' statements. Ms. Thompson.

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Thank you Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker last May I tabled a document titled, Empowerment Through Community Legislation, a discussion paper on proposed changes to community government legislation. This document was the basis for our consultations on phase 2 of the Municipal Legislation Review.

I am pleased to report to the Members of this Assembly that the consultation that took place over the summer was a success. We have generated a great deal of discussion, interest and support among our community leaders. Communities have told us what kind of legislation they need to be more effective and more empowered. In the near future, I will be proposing to Cabinet that a new community act be drafted and introduced in this Assembly.

The new act will be a cornerstone of community empowerment. It will take away the barriers that frustrate communities when they try to find local solutions to local problems. The act will get rid of unnecessary controls and restrictions. Community governments will be better able to focus on their accountability to their residents.

Mr. Speaker, a consensus has emerged from our community consultations that we need a new community government act in time for 1999. Communities have a critical role to play in the creation of two new territories. Flexible and modern legislation will give them the tools they need to be even more effective community governments.

Mr. Speaker, with the Northwest Territories Association of Municipalities and the support of the Members of this House, we have already succeeded in making important changes to municipal legislation this year. I would like to thank the Members and the communities and ask for their continued support in this important initiative. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Ms. Thompson. Ministers' statements. Mr. Todd.

Minister's Statement 124-13(4): Transition Action Plan
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1616

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to address the concern raised by a number of Members in this Assembly. Several honourable Members were concerned that a news report yesterday on CBC radio cast doubts on the federal government's commitment to discuss costs related to division identified in its Transition Action Plan that I tabled last week.

Mr. Speaker, based on these concerns I asked my officials to contact the office of the Minster of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, the Honourable Jane Stewart, to clarify the commitment that was made last week. I am pleased to advise that Ms. Stewart has confirmed her commitment to a table to allow all parties to assess the transition costs identified by this government. In fact, a preliminary meeting of all parties to discuss this issue and to review the Transition Action Plan has already taken place.

Mr. Speaker, while I am pleased that these discussions are going ahead, it is important to clarify the issues raised by the report on CBC yesterday. The Transition Action Plan was prepared by this government in a spirit of cooperation and partnership and in an attempt to further the division process in both the west and the Nunavut. It is not, as reported yesterday on the CBC, a request for additional funding. The plan is an alert to all parties that we believe that there are significant transition costs associated with creating two territories.

It is our view that the plan identifies a number of fundamental issues with respect to costing and implementation that have not been discussed previously and, as such, is a good starting point for all parties to assess these issues. We are looking forward to our discussion with the federal government and other parties on these issues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 124-13(4): Transition Action Plan
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1616

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

: Thank you, Mr. Todd. Ministers' statements. Ms. Thompson.

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Mr. Speaker, the southern areas of the Baffin and Keewatin regions continue to be experiencing severe weather conditions, with freezing rains and winds up to 120 kilometres per hour as an Arctic hurricane moves through the regions. This is a very severe condition which seems to occur on a ten-year cycle. The effect of the storm has been felt in communities as far north as Hall Beach and to Sanikiluaq in the south. The communities of Cape Dorset and Rankin Inlet have been experiencing such severe conditions that a state of local emergency was declared for a 24-hour period for the safety of the public. We are still receiving reports on other communities but information is a bit slow.

The community of Arviat has a number of houses without power. The community is alternating generators between the homes to keep them from freezing up. Most of the people on the land have been accounted for in the Keewatin region. Local radios, CBs and HF radios are keeping citizens from a number of communities informed of weather, closures and emergency numbers. Although not a complete listing, the preliminary damage caused by the storm includes: Cape Dorset, 5 boats damaged; Hall Beach, 6 power poles between the community and the airport have been blown down; Kimmirut, damage to three boats; Whale Cove, 12 power poles down, resulting in 14 houses without power; Rankin Inlet, damage to two trailers and two mobile homes which were blown over and the roof of the Northern Store was lifted by winds gusting to 135 kilometres per hour.

The estimates of damage excluding large businesses is close to $50,000. The Emergency Measures Organization has now made contact with Rankin Inlet via the recently installed satellite telephone MSAT units and is now receiving regular updates. The community of Rankin Inlet has lost long-distance telephone communication since late Tuesday afternoon. Contact with Hall Beach continues to be by radio out of Winnipeg. In both regions, the regional emergency response plans are in effect and the volunteer committees are monitoring community situations as the storm progresses. The full extent of the damage is not yet known.

The role of the Emergency Measures Organization throughout this process is as advisor to the regions, if and when required to the communities themselves. All effected communities have emergency response plans which give guidelines for the community's response to emergency incidents such as what is occurring presently. Community representatives have been trained in emergency response, especially those involving a stand-alone response where outside resources cannot be delivered to the effected community due to extreme weather conditions.

The Arctic hurricane is predicted to move out of the region over the next day, but only time will tell. The Emergency Measures Organization, through its regional contacts, will continue to monitor the situation. In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the efforts and hard work of all community emergency teams in the Keewatin and Baffin as well as the Emergency Measures Organization. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Ms. Thompson. Ministers' statements. Mr. Morin.

Don Morin Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to advise that later today I will be tabling the Official Languages Policy and Guidelines. These policies and guidelines, which were developed in close consultation with community groups, outline the standards for the provision of government services in official languages. These documents are important, as they define the basic requirements when offering official language services. These documents again illustrate this government's commitment to the official languages of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Developing these documents was not an easy task. A number of factors had to be kept in mind such as the number of official languages, the number of speakers and their geographic distribution. Because of the complexity of this task, it was necessary to undertake extensive consultation with community groups and with government departments. The end product reflects the reality of the north, but also addresses language needs in an efficient and effective manner.

The tabling of this document does not complete this task. The next step is the development of implementation plans. This will include monitoring mechanisms, evaluation criteria and reassessment of approaches. The policy is issued under the authority of the Executive Council and I, as the Premier, am accountable for its implementation. Ministers are responsible for the delivery of programs and services in accordance with the policy and guidelines, and I will ensure compliance with the policy and guidelines.

Having both of these documents in place, Mr. Speaker, will enable the Government of the Northwest Territories to more efficiently and effectively offer services in the official languages of the Northwest Territories. This is an essential part of supporting our languages and respecting all citizens of the Northwest Territories by providing language services. In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the individuals who worked so hard on the development of the policy and the guidelines. Mahsi.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Morin. Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Charles Dent

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good afternoon. Mr. Speaker, later today I will table a report on progress the Department of Education, Culture and Employment has made toward achieving the goals set out in its strategic plan. Four years ago, the department set out to work more closely with communities to help them develop quality, community-based Education, Culture and Employment programs throughout the Northwest Territories. The first step was to consult with a broad cross-section of stakeholders, including community district education authorities, community governments, Arctic College as it was known at the time, and aboriginal organizations.

The information gathered during the consultation was used to develop the plan called People: Our Focus for the Future, A Strategy to 2010. The strategy describes the vision we developed with our various partners as well as a plan for achieving that vision. That vision is built on seven strategic points: to improve support to communities to achieve their culture, heritage and language goals; to provide people in all communities with access to public information networks; to build a comprehensive early childhood learning system; to improve student achievement; to improve access for adults to learning and work; to develop a flexible, comprehensive Northwest Territories system of post-secondary learning; and to ensure a lasting impact from learning and human resource development.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this Assembly that the department and our partners have already made significant progress towards these goals. But the report also shows that there is still much work to be done. When the Strategic Plan was being developed, we recognized that the world would be a different place by the year 2010. The creation of two territories, self-government and community empowerment have the potential to change many of the current programs. The evolution of information technology will also continue to change how we do our work. The strategy was therefore designed to be flexible enough to accommodate the changes northerners will face, yet enable us to achieve the goals we set ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, the key to reaching these goals will be the continued cooperation of all stakeholders as we work to help northerners develop the skills and knowledge they will need to meet the challenges of the next century. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Dent. Ministers' statements. Mr. Todd.

Minister's Statement 128-13(4): WCB 1996 Annual Report
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1617

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to seek unanimous consent to waive Rule 34(6) so that all Ministers' statements filed with the Clerk can be delivered today.

Minister's Statement 128-13(4): WCB 1996 Annual Report
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1617

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

The Member for Keewatin Central is seeking unanimous consent to waive Rule 34(6). Do we have any nays?

There are no nays. Mr. Todd, you have unanimous consent.

Minister's Statement 128-13(4): WCB 1996 Annual Report
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1618

John Todd Keewatin Central

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you colleagues. Mr. Speaker, in accordance with the Financial Administration Act, the Northwest Territories Workers' Compensation Board is required to submit to this Assembly, an annual report of its activities. I am pleased to table this document for the period January 1 to December 31, 1996 today. This report is an accounting of the boards financial affairs including audited financial statements and an actuarial opinion regarding the adequacy of its liability reserves. It is not often I am stuck for words Mr. Speaker. Beyond that, Mr. Speaker, this document reports on the programs and activities undertaken by the board in the interest of its stakeholders.

In 1996, assessment revenue from the Northwest Territories' employers totalled $23 million while the boards' investment income totalled almost $15 million. Meanwhile, the Workers' Compensation Board paid or set aside $26.6 million in benefits to injured workers. Over and above its liabilities, Mr. Speaker, the board has nearly $28 million and in its operating catastrophe reserves, an increase of over $9 million in 1995.

In response to this strong financial position, the average employer assessment rate was reduced by 10 percent in 1996 and, in July, this year's maximum insurable remuneration (YMIR) was increased for benefit purposes to $49,000.

Mr. Speaker, fully funded status is the general measure of an effective compensation system. It means that the Workers' Compensation Board has adequate assets to meet all the present and future commitments to injured workers by maintaining this balance. The Workers' Compensation Board can ensure that assessment rates continue at their lowest and most cost-effective level.

Last year our government entrusted the responsibility for Occupational Health and Safety to the Northwest Territories Workers' Compensation Board. In spite of the additional costs, the board not only maintained its fully funded position, Mr. Speaker, but improved it by five percent. More than ever before, the focus of the Workers' Compensation Board is now accident prevention. In 1996, the Workers' Compensation Board addressed this new mandate with a balanced approach to education and enforcement. Workers' Compensation Board safety advisors provided safety training to over 1,000 workers and employers in 15 communities. An additional 375 individuals, many of them young workers, receive training made possible by the Workers' Compensation Board materials.

The Workers' Compensation Board Industrial Safety Unit made 55 community visits last year, completing 1,047 inspections. At the same time, the Workers' Compensation Board Mine Safety Unit conducted 100 mine inspections, an extensive mine safety audit and considerable maintenance testing and monitoring. The safety incentive and rate reduction program was implemented in 1996, 52 employers were targeted with additional assessments and safety training. Revenue collection from this program will support safety education activities in the future.

Mr. Speaker, while the accident prevention was and will continue to be a major focus of the Northwest Territories Workers' Compensation Board, it will not detract from the primary responsibility for compensating injured workers. In 1996, the Workers' Compensation Board began a concerted effort to improve and evaluate its existing compensation programs. A new program policy manual was developed along with operational procedures to support the manual. Ongoing training was provided to the staff and education programs were delivered to service providers, workers and employers. A performance review of the WCB service providers was completed, as was an evaluation of the WCB's early intervention program. A client satisfaction survey was distributed to hundreds of employers and claimants.

Mr. Speaker, while balancing its role as educator, regulator and compensator, the NWT Workers' Compensation Board, like other organizations, must prepare for division. Options are being researched for the delivery of compensation following division. A legislative review of the board's four acts was also undertaken to identify amendments that may be required as a result of division. I plan to introduce these amendments early next year. Mr. Speaker, the 1996 annual report of the Workers' Compensation Board contains a financial, statistical and philosophical overview of the work performed by the WCB last year. It confirms the WCB's accountability to me, as the Minister responsible to this Assembly, and it reaffirms its commitment to the workers and employers of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 128-13(4): WCB 1996 Annual Report
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1618

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Mr. Todd. Ministers' statements. Mr. Arlooktoo.

Goo Arlooktoo Baffin South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to report to the House today on a positive approach we are taking to improve the flexibility and the economy of fuel resupply in the Keewatin region. I say we because this improvement is a direct result of the partnership between MLAs and Ministers working together on Keewatin resupply.

The infrastructure in several Keewatin communities was designed only for barge deliveries of the annual fuel resupply. This restricted our ability to look for the most cost-effective fuel and delivery. I am announcing today that Public Works and Services will be issuing a request for proposals in November for the private sector to construct fuel delivery pipelines in Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Arviat and Rankin Inlet. Consultation with the affected communities is still under way, so that we can decide on the right locations for the pipelines.

When the construction is completed, the government will lease back the pipelines for a five-year period, at which point they will be owned outright by the Nunavut government.

Mr. Speaker, there are great savings to be made from direct fuel tanker delivery rather than barges. We project savings of $65 million to $100 million over the 20-year useful life of the pipelines. These savings are more than enough to fund the lease costs of the new pipelines.

Following the issuing of the proposal call for fuel pipeline, Public Works and Services will be issuing another proposal call for petroleum products resupply for the entire eastern Arctic to replace the current contracts with NTCL, which expires at the end of the 1998 resupply season. As part of that request for proposals, companies will be asked to bid on the supply of dry cargo for the Keewatin region. By assuring this coordinated proposal call, Mr. Speaker, for both petroleum products and dry cargo, we will continue the current linkages between the two types of cargo to make resupply economical for all.

The residents of the Keewatin can look forward to some savings during the period when the new pipelines are being paid for. However, they will see a significant reduction in fuel prices after the five-year buy back period, and this should have a major impact on the Keewatin standard of living.

I think that all Members of the Assembly can be very proud of this achievement of the Keewatin Resupply Committee. It shows what we can do when we work together.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mr. Arlooktoo. Ministers' statements. Ms. Thompson.

Minister's Statement 130-13(4): Max Melnyk
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1619

Manitok Thompson Aivilik

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to say a few words about a long term northerner, a former senior manager with the GNWT and a community leader upon his retirement from public life. Mr. Speaker, I am speaking about Mayor Max Melnyk of the town of Norman Wells. Mr. Melnyk, born in Saskatchewan, joined the Navy and came to the north in the early 1960s. In 1962 he married Agnes Mercredi in Inuvik and started a family. I congratulate Max and Agnes for their many years of marriage.

Mr. Melnyk's position in the military took him to postings in the north and in the south. After leaving the Armed Forces, Mr. Melnyk returned to the north, where he has been an active community member both in Inuvik and Norman Wells. In recognition of his dedication to community service, in 1994, Mr. Melnyk was the recipient of the Northwest Territories Outstanding Volunteer Service Award. This is the highest honour the Department of the Municipal and Community Affairs can bestow on an individual.

Mr. Melnyk has been an active member of the Royal Canadian Legion and one of the founding members of the Inuvik branch. As a public servant, Mr. Melnyk held the senior GNWT position in Norman Wells as the area director for the Sahtu. As the mayor of Norman Wells, he has worked hard to improve the quality of life for the residents of his community. Over the years, Mayor Melnyk has worked closely with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs on all the changes that have taken place within the GNWT and our relationship with community councils. Mr. Speaker, please join me in wishing Mayor Melnyk and wife Agnes all the best in their retirement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 130-13(4): Max Melnyk
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1619

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Ms. Thompson. Ministers' statements. (Translation) I have in the gallery several elders from Fort Providence who have come to see how their MLA works, where he works, and what he does. I have always felt that it is important to maintain contact between these wise people and myself. The elders have always told me and made sure I never forget, that to be a successful leader, you have to be a leader with the people, not a leader of the people. I have always tried to follow this advice and found it to be true. Now I am proud to introduce these elders and the others in their group. Thank you all for visiting. Thank you.(Translation ends) Item 3, Members' statements. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today, October 16th is the anniversary of the election of the Members of the 13th Assembly. Two years ago today we anxiously waited as the results of the polls came in. The lucky 13th Assembly, as I often refer to us, has been consumed with the three D's, deficit, downsizing and division.

Twenty-four, for the most part, strangers to each other came together to undertake the task of governing with the leadership of a few more experienced Members that we elected as the Ministers to our Cabinet. After two years, I can categorically state, that there is little that could adequately prepare you for the barrage of personal and professional adjustments required to fit into this role. There is no shortcut to learning the rules, becoming comfortable with the setting, gaining confidence, and forming the relationships necessary to perform this job. Varying agendas and styles surface as the issues come and go. Some Members engage in the collegial goings on in the halls, offices and meeting rooms of the Legislature, while others spent time strengthening their connection to their constituents by phone, fax, e-mail and, in the case of Mr. Picco, even the Internet. It is truly a balancing act.

I have appreciated the advice and encouragement of some of the veterans who have been around for a while, while we grapple where to focus our energies. One such piece of advice came early on and I think of it often. During an adjustment phase, in the momentary spell of feeling sorry for myself and pining for my former life when I enjoyed a degree of comfort, respect and knowledge of what the heck I was doing, this rather unsympathetic, experienced colleague bluntly informed me, "the Government of the Northwest Territories is not about you".

You know, this is so true. The Government of the Northwest Territories is all about our constituents, the people of the Northwest Territories and specifically about the people who sent us here to represent them. When we forget that, we have lost it. How we effect the financial resources, programs, services and policies of this government in a way which most positively effects our communities and constituents, is exactly the benchmark of leadership.

Although some days I wish I had a magic wand to change things, to hurry things along, to make other Members see priorities from my perspective; as I said earlier, there are no shortcuts. We bring what we can to the discussion. Regardless of future elections or the challenges ahead, for the next two years; I will do my best to represent the interests of my constituents and the people of the Northwest Territories, and I will proudly extend my hand and say, my name is Jane Groenewegen and I am the MLA for Hay River. Thank you.

--Applause

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Members' statements. Mr. Krutko.