This is page numbers 431 - 469 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 7th Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was chairman.

Topics

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 446

Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would be pleased to do so. The mandate of the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development is to promote economic self-sufficiency through the sustainable development of natural resources and to enhance the creation of sustainable opportunities in the traditional and wage economies.

The Standing Committee on Resource Management and Infrastructure reviewed the 1999-2002 business plan for the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development on November 20, 1998. The department identified challenges and possible solutions such as promoting long-term employment and economic development opportunities by targeting public and private sector investment in the northern economy.

Secondly, the department noted the migration of skills from smaller to larger communities as another challenge, and added that it will support the strengths of both large and small communities by administering flexibility in the distribution of grants and contributions to the regions.

Thirdly, the department discussed the uncertain regulatory structure in the western territory. The committee has identified this as a concern throughout its term and has strongly supported the devolution of provincial-like powers to the Government of the Northwest Territories and aboriginal governments. Further challenges identified by the department are the development of standards for sustainable development and environmental protection, and reduced resources.

The committee reviewed the 1999-2000 Main Estimates presented by the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development on March 20, 1999. The committee noted an overall decrease of $976,000 from the figures presented in the 1999-2000 departmental business plan. The department focused on each major program area with the goals set out in the business plan as a framework.

The Northern Accord is an economic agreement that will allow the Government of the Northwest Territories and, pending future agreements between aboriginal groups and Canada, aboriginal claimant groups and future aboriginal governments the ability to raise revenues from oil, gas and mineral development. However, due to uncertainties surrounding self-government, unsettled land claims and unresolved aboriginal and treaty rights, the Government of the Northwest Territories has been unable to table a GNWT Northern Accord proposal. The committee Members would like this government to resurrect and prioritize this proposal before the new millennium. Members note that the uncertainties listed above have clouded previous negotiations and suggest that the government examine developments in other jurisdictions, such as the Yukon, and the experience of First Nations governments that have procured oil and gas rights.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has been seeking the transfer of provincial-type powers for land, water and non-renewable resources from the federal government since the mid-1980's. During the business plan review, the committee expressed concern over the unresponsive role of the GNWT in promoting the fiscal benefits from resource development in the North to their federal counterparts. The department provided updated briefings on the status of the Northern Accord during the draft Main Estimates review and the committee Members expressed concern about the Northern Accord issue remaining stagnant. The department noted that until there is an agreement in place with the aboriginal organizations, there will be no movement on this initiative. Mr. Chairman, the committee recommends that the Government of the Northwest Territories resurrect and priorize the Northern Accord proposal before the new millennium.

The Liard/Alaska Highway junction development. Following the business plan review, the committee recommended that the Liard/Alaska Highway junction development project for the year 2000-2001 be removed from the 1999-2002 business plans. Members felt that this capital could be better spent in areas such as the completion of Highway 3. The department agreed with this recommendation and the item has been removed from the Main Estimates.

Business Credit Corporation and the NWT Development Corporation. During the business plan review, Members had requested background information on the current status of the Business Credit Corporation and also the number of people who have received loans within the last two fiscal years. The committee is concerned that the BCC may be providing certain regions in the Western Territory with more funding than others and would like to ensure fairness and equality is being practised. Members had asked repeatedly for a briefing on the status of each of these corporations. In January 1999, the department held a workshop for committee Members to get feedback from the committee on the general direction to operate these corporations after division. The committee appreciates the efforts of the Minister and his officials and the opportunity to provide input.

During the workshop, the committee questioned when the auditor general's report for the last two fiscal years for the NWT Development Corporation will be made available to the public. The department gave no specific timeline, suggesting that it would be approximately May or June, 1999, before a final report is completed. During the draft main estimates review, the department noted that the NWT Development Corporation has not completed their corporate business plan. Therefore, once the consultant they hired to examine the NWT Development Corporation's fiscal situation completes his work, the budget allocation of $4.1 million may be changed. Members assume that any changes will be reflected in the final main estimates. Committee Members would like a copy of the consultant's report, once completed, and a meeting with the consultant for a more detailed analysis of the NWT Development Corporation.

Forest Management. The forest management division comprises the largest allocation of the department's operations and maintenance funding with a budget allocation of $28.3 million. The committee asked the department to provide a specific breakdown of how these funds are allocated in each of the four program areas. Committee Members would like a specific breakdown of the proposed budget allocation of $16.7 million for operations and maintenance under the program management area in forest management.

Work done on behalf of others. Committee Members note concern about two agreements under the details of work done on behalf of others. Committee Members would like to see copies of the contracts of services provided to Nunavut by the department and a cost breakdown of the $2.8 million allocation for Inuvialuit participation costs. Members have also requested a breakdown of funding provided by the federal government for implementation of land claim agreements with detail as to how this allocation is spent.

Under the Canada/NWT Economic Development Agreement, during the business plan review, the department discussed the proposed implementation of the new Economic Development Agreement that will coincide with the sunsetting of the Northern Employment Strategy. According to the department, the new EDA can therefore be carried out within the department with a minimum of additional resources.

There have been delays in talks between the federal and the territorial government regarding the program proposal the GNWT put forward for the negotiation of the new Economic Development Agreement. Committee Members feel this delay is due, for the most part, to the work on the Economic Development Strategy. Members note the department stated that talks with their federal counterparts regarding the EDA were put on hold until the Economic Development Strategy was completed. However, the committee understands that talks have resumed with the federal government.

Following the review of the business plans, the committee reported concerns regarding the Economic Development Strategy to the Department. The work to develop an economic strategy for the new Western Territory had been placed under the direction of Cabinet, and Members were concerned that it should have been under the direction of this department. Since the business plan review, responsibility for the strategy has been transferred to the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development.

The draft Economic Development Strategy report was to be completed by early fall and has been delayed until later in the spring of 1999. Members feel this strategy may have been more appropriately handled if it had been under the direction of the department from conception. The committee feels that this government has a history of promoting many economic strategies and studies outside of the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development. In the committee's view, the funding for these strategies could be better administered using existing manpower and resources within the department. Mr. Chairman, that concludes the report on the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development by the committee. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

The Chair Jake Ootes

Thank you, Mr. Henry.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. With your indulgence, I will propose a motion that the committee wishes to put forward.

Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

The Chair Jake Ootes

Please proceed, Mr. Henry.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

April 29th, 1999

Page 447

Seamus Henry Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I move that this committee recommends that the Government of the Northwest Territories resurrect and priorize a Northern Accord proposal before the new millennium. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

The Chair Jake Ootes

Thank you, Mr. Henry. We have a motion on the floor. The motion is in order. To the motion. Question has been called. We do not seem to have a quorum, so I will ring the bells to ensure we have a quorum. We now have a quorum. We have a motion on the floor. The motion is in order. The question has been called. To the motion. All those in favour? All those opposed. Motion is carried. Thank you. I will now ask the Minister if he would like to bring in his witnesses.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

The Chair Jake Ootes

Would the Minister be permitted to bring in his witnesses? Agreed?

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

The Chair Jake Ootes

Mr. Sergeant-at-Arms, would you please escort the witnesses to the witness table. Mr. Kakfwi, would you introduce your witnesses, please.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Mr. Chairman, on my left, the Deputy Minister of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development, Mr. Joe Handley, and on my right, the new president of the NWT Development Corporation, Mr. Fred Koe.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

The Chair Jake Ootes

Thank you, Mr. Minister. Are there any general comments or questions? Mr. Erasmus.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

Roy Erasmus Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I do not really have that many general comments, but I do have several questions that come to me from the opening comments, as well as the committee's report, that type of thing. In the Minister's opening comments, he had indicated that they had completed a Protected Areas Strategy. Could the Minister indicate who was involved in developing that strategy?

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

The Chair Jake Ootes

Mr. Minister.

Committee Motion 25-13(7): Resurrecting And Priorizing The Northern Accord Proposal
Item 19: Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 447

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. We started a conference at the beginning of last year where we invited the aboriginal leaders from every major aboriginal organization in the western Arctic to Inuvik. They agreed, in discussions with us, on a process that we would use to develop a Protected Areas Strategy. We also had agreement from these First Nation leaders or aboriginal leaders to invite stakeholders such as the NWT Chamber of Commerce, NWT Chamber of Mines, I believe, the World Wildlife Fund, Ecology North. There

is a list of all the participants at the conference as well as on the working group that we can provide to the Member. We will just get one of the staff to bring it over. Thank you.