This is page numbers 551 - 577 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

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Hounourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Morin, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Rabesca, Honourable Floyd Roland, Honourable Vince Steen.

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 551

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 62-13(7): Ministerial Compensation And Benefits
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, a number of questions have been asked in the Legislative Assembly this week with respect to the compensation and benefits that are available to Ministers of this government. Mr. Speaker, the Cabinet for the new Northwest Territories considered this matter at its first planning meeting at Cli Lake on April 7th and 8th, 1999. Since that time, Cabinet has begun a comprehensive review of all aspects of the ministerial compensation package, the Ministerial Policy Manual and the recommendations of the Commission on MLA Compensation.

As a result of our initial review of these matters, work has begun on the development of recommendations to rationalize the compensation and benefits available to Ministers. We expect to consider these recommendations within the next several weeks. Mr. Speaker, these recommendations will deal with all aspects of the ministerial compensation package including: ministerial salaries, expense reimbursements, annual and sick leave, furniture allowance, relocation assistance, furniture disposal, headquarters accommodation reimbursement and home travel. In addition, Mr. Speaker, we will be considering recommendations on the transition allowances available to outgoing Cabinet Ministers. This is to ensure consistency and transparency in the availability of these allowances.

Mr. Speaker, Cabinet is committed to the implementation of a fair, simple, easy to understand and transparent system of compensation and benefits for Cabinet Ministers. As I stated earlier, substantial progress has been made on the development of recommendations to change the current system of compensation for Ministers since the current Members of Cabinet first met in April. We will provide all relevant details of these changes to the Members of this House during the summer sitting of the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Speaker, it is important to note that our review and resulting changes will be limited to the compensation and benefits available to Ministers. Any changes with respect to MLA compensation are issues that can only be determined by all Members of the Legislative Assembly and must be left to another forum. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 62-13(7): Ministerial Compensation And Benefits
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement: 63-13(7): Surviving Spouse Benefits
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to give an update today on the issue of surviving spouse benefits in the Workers' Compensation Act. At the present time, the surviving spouse of a worker killed in the course of his or her employment is entitled to workers' compensation benefits. However, these benefits are terminated if the surviving spouse remarries.

Similar provisions have existed, at one time or another, in all jurisdictions in Canada. Since the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was passed, questions have been raised about the constitutional validity of these provisions. Governments and workers' compensation boards across Canada, and here in the Northwest Territories, have been struggling with appropriate responses to these concerns.

Mr. Speaker, although there have been concerns, there has never been a decided court case on the issue of whether such provisions are constitutional. Since the question of surviving spouse benefits has been raised by a widow from the Northwest Territories, the Board of Directors of the WCB has decided to obtain a court ruling on the constitutional question. This will then help clarify the need for legislative amendments to deal with the issue. The WCB will be seeking a declaratory judgment on all issues related to the constitutionality of these provisions, Mr. Speaker. In order to get a full hearing of the issues, the WCB will fund all reasonable legal costs and disbursements for one party to argue in favour of the constitutionality of the provisions and another party to argue against their constitutionality.

Once the Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories and the Nunavut Courts of Justice have ruled on the matter, the WCB Minister for Nunavut and I will be asking the WCB to provide recommendations on what, if any, legislative amendments are necessary. This appears to be the quickest route for resolving the question of surviving spouse benefits on remarriage. Mr. Speaker, it is the intention of the WCB to be fair to workers and their families. I look forward to the results of this court hearing and to a resolution of this issue, hopefully by the fall. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement: 63-13(7): Surviving Spouse Benefits
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr.

Roland.

Minister's Statement 64-13(7): Alaskans Agree To Buy Made In The North Housing Packages
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and announce that the Inupiat Development Corporation, of Alaska's North Slope, has agreed to buy six housing packages from the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. These six homes will contain elements manufactured in the Northwest Territories. Materials will be bought through NWT suppliers and shipped to Alaska down the Mackenzie River on the barges of the Northern Transportation Company Limited. All of these activities create jobs for our constituents. It is expected that contracts for these six housing packages will be signed in the near future following final design changes. The packages should hit the beach at Barrow this July with construction carried out by local labour.

The sale is the direct result of the Corporation's efforts to open new markets for NWT products, designs and services. This is work that has been ongoing for more than a year. Mr. Speaker, when I was an Ordinary Member, I accompanied representatives of the Housing Corporation on a trade mission to Alaska and the Russian Far East. This trade mission was followed by several visits to Alaska by representatives of the Housing Corporation. At that time they presented to the Alaskans, the high level of design and logistics expertise developed over the years by the corporation. To put it simply, Mr. Speaker, the Housing Corporation showed the Alaskans that it could provide homes for a lower cost than their suppliers in the lower 48 states.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 64-13(7): Alaskans Agree To Buy Made In The North Housing Packages
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Mr. Ootes.

Member's Statement 162-13(7): Economic Development Strategy Report
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in early February, this government released the much anticipated Economic Strategy Report. We know from discussions of last summer that the contract to develop the strategy had a hefty price tag, some half million dollar figure was bandied about. It was initiated and was to be directed by the former Finance Minister, Mr. Todd.

When the strategy was released, the document was handed over from the Finance Minister to the Minister of RWED, Mr. Kakfwi. Mr. Kakfwi has made it clear that after he had received the document, that as far as he was concerned the document was only a discussion paper. Although this economic strategy was to cover Nunavut as well, we found out that Nunavut was not waiting for the document and had in fact gone ahead with a process of developing its own economic strategy.

In March of this year, I asked a number of knowledgeable constituents and business people to provide me with feedback on the economic strategy document. They came back with comments that referenced what we started with and where we ended up. In the original request for proposal several specific terms of reference were outlined:

-that two strategies were to be developed, one for the east and one for the west;

-that specific priorities for investment be outlined;

-that measurable goals and ways for measuring performance be detailed;

-that roles for all stakeholders be clearly defined;

-that the strategy document be developed with and supported by key stakeholders;

-that a communications plan for each strategy be included.

These were just some of the key requirements the contractor was to deliver in the final product of the economic strategy. The report does not provide us with all of these things and it gives us a discussion paper rather than a strategy. The economic paper is full of economic policy declarations and much repetition. There seems to be no guidance in the paper on how to achieve the policy ideas, but this is exactly why an Economic strategy contract was awarded by this government, to provide us with directives that can be implemented and measured. The people that replied to me tell me the document is difficult to read. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Member's Statement 162-13(7): Economic Development Strategy Report
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

The Member for Yellowknife Centre is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do I have any nays? There are no nays. Mr. Ootes, you have unanimous consent.

Member's Statement 162-13(7): Economic Development Strategy Report
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The people that replied to me tell me that the document is difficult to read. They also stated that it is full of jargon, run-on sentences and convoluted ideals. Minister Kakfwi has said that the document will serve as a basis of discussion and he has emphasized that. He has also stated that he feels it is now essential that this document must go out and he must meet with aboriginal leaders, federal government representatives and business organizations to find out if they can buy into the idea of creating an Economic strategy and to get feedback on the report. It sounds to me like we are back to square one and asking, do we need an Economic strategy? Mr. Speaker, that should have been the first step last summer before the Economic strategy contract was even awarded. It was also in the terms of reference of the Economic strategy contract. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 162-13(7): Economic Development Strategy Report
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Members' statements. Mr. Rabesca.

Member's Statement 163-13(7): Super Soccer Tournament
Item 3: Members' Statements

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James Rabesca North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A little over a week ago Yellowknife was host to the annual major soccer event of the year, Super Soccer. As has been the case over the past few years, many teams from across both our NWT and Nunavut were in attendance. From the people I have talked to, the event was a success and everyone had a very good time. Normally the teams from Rae-Edzo are the ones to beat and as always this was the case again this year. However, we did not have the full contingent we usually have, but the teams that did go did very well and were able to take the championship for the 14 and under boys' category. They played very hard and the community is very proud of the boys as well as all the other teams that represented Rae-Edzo. I would like to congratulate the teams from Rae-Edzo for the fine job they did as well as congratulate the organizers for the excellent work they did again this year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 163-13(7): Super Soccer Tournament
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Members' statements. Mr. Henry.