This is page numbers 579 - 604 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 chairperson.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Honourable Michael Miltenberger, 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 579

Speaker

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Good afternoon. Honourable Members, I wish to advise that I have received a message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories which states:

Dear Mr. Speaker:

I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, the passage of Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 1, 1999-2000, during the Seventh Session of the 13th Legislative Assembly.

Yours truly, Dan Marion, Commissioner.

As Members are aware, next week the Legislative Assembly will host our first NWT-wide Youth Parliament. One student from each of your constituencies will be participating in this event. The students will assume the same role that you play in the Legislative Assembly and I am sure it will be interesting for us to see how these youths handle themselves in the Legislature and the issues that they feel are important. I am advised that they have been watching the sessions on TVNC and I hope they do not pick up any of our bad habits.

The students selected are:

-Melanie Kimiksana, Holman

-Jill Chinna and Louis de Klerk (he will be the Clerk), Inuvik

-Terry Simba, Kakisa Lake Territorial School

-Clinton Unka, Hay River

-Jackie Pascal, Fort McPherson

-Lana Nahanni, Fort Simpson

-Roxanne Mantla and Kristen Tanche, Rae Lakes

-Shelly Lemon, Fort Smith

-Terrence Kelly, Fort Good Hope

-Leanne Boucher, Fort Resolution

-Eddie Peart, Andrea Tam, Dawn Smith and Jeff Babyn, Yellowknife

The students have already started work on statements, questions and petitions based on concerns of the constituency. Your student may have already contacted you looking for some assistance and guidance. I am sure that each of you agrees that this is a very worthwhile project. The Youth Parliament will help us promote a better understanding of how the Assembly works and how bills become laws. I am sure we will learn from our youths as they have a lot to teach us.

I invite each of you to attend the events scheduled next week. One to mark on your calendar is the soccer challenge scheduled for Tuesday night at Sir John Franklin High School where the students and MLAs north of the lake will take on those students and MLAs from south of the lake. I regret that a number of the Ministers will not be with us and I hope that the soccer event did not send you off to other parts.

At this time I would like to thank the Legislative Assembly staff and particularly Ronna Bremer, Laurell Graf and Ben Nind, who have been working very hard to pull this event together. I would also like to thank the staff at the schools who have helped the students prepare for the Youth Parliament.

The northern businesses who have offered their support also deserve our thanks. These businesses include Canadian North, First Air, Air Tindi, Northwestern Air Lease, Raven Tours, Pizza Hut, Polar Bowl, Inkit, Northern Fancy Meats, Pido Productions, Office Compliments, Javaroma and the Mayor and city of Yellowknife. Without the support of these businesses this event would not be possible, and I would ask all Members to join me in thanking them.

--Applause

The actual Youth Parliament will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Thursday, May 20, and will be rebroadcast on TVNC at a later date so people in the NWT will be able to watch the Youth Parliament and hear the views of some of our young people. Good luck to all students involved in the Youth Parliament. Mahsi Cho.

--Applause

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

Minister's Statement 65-13(7): Bargaining Agent For Employees Of The NWT Power Corporation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 579

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide the Members with some information regarding documents that were recently tabled in this House. Some employees of the NWT Power Corporation had petitioned me to, apparently, request that their bargaining agent no longer be the Union of Northern Workers. I received further correspondence which suggests that this may not be what is

being requested but, rather, the employees would like the NWT Public Service Act to be amended to allow them to have the ability to select their bargaining agent. I am seeking clarification on this correspondence from the author and will provide the Members with further information when I receive it.

One statement that was made in the correspondence I received was that the Public Service Act violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it does not allow employees to select their bargaining agent. This is not an accurate statement. The Public Service Act sets out the bargaining units within the public service and the bargaining agents that represent employees in the collective bargaining process. There is a specific Supreme Court of Canada decision on this issue. This is known as the Professional Institute of the Public Service of Canada or PIPSC decision. This case is the authority on this matter. It clearly states that the NWT Public Service Act does not violate the freedom of association provisions contained in the Charter. This decision states that while the Charter guarantees freedom of association this does not extend to guaranteeing how bargaining agents are to be selected.

As I stated earlier, I will update the Members when I have clarification on this matter. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 65-13(7): Bargaining Agent For Employees Of The NWT Power Corporation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 580

Speaker

Ministers' statements. Mr. Steen.

Minister's Statement 66-13(7): Speed Limits On Highways 1 And 3
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 580

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Member for Yellowknife South has, on several occasions, expressed his disappointment in this House that the Department of Transportation was not moving fast enough to increase the posted speed limits following the enactment of his private Member's bill to amend the Public Highways Act.

As the act stands amended, it is now within the discretion of the Minister of Transportation to set speed limits in excess of 90 kilometres per hour. As the Minister, Mr. Speaker, I do not take my new responsibilities lightly. There are already too many single vehicle accidents on our highways resulting in deaths and serious injuries. The cause of single-vehicle accidents is usually attributed to excessive speed. The Department has been rightly concerned about the message higher speed limits might send the public. Speed, after all, does kill.

This spring, once the snow was gone, the department has taken a careful look at the newly reconstructed and paved corridor from the Alberta border on Highway 1 to Edzo and Highway 3. The Department has recommended, and I agree, that the first 84 kilometres of Highway 1 from the Alberta border to Enterprise is not wide enough and has too many curves for a posted speed limit of 100 kilometres an hour. The speed limit on this section of Highway 1 will remain as it is at 90 kilometres an hour.

Mr. Speaker, the next 350 kilometres of Highways 1 and 3 have been built to a higher standard. The highway is wider, curves have been straightened out and sight distances improved. The department has recommended, and I agree, that the speed limit on the paved surface between Enterprise on Highway 1 and Edzo on Highway 3 should be raised to 100 kilometres an hour.

I have asked the department to put up the new speed signs as soon as possible. They will be changed over the next four to six weeks. Mr. Speaker, I would remind the public that the posted speed limits are maximums. Whatever the posted limit, the weather, traffic and road conditions are always changing and people must take care to drive accordingly. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 66-13(7): Speed Limits On Highways 1 And 3
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 580

Speaker

Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 67-13(7): Resignation Of Chair, NWT Power Corporation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 580

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to inform Members that the chair of the NWT Power Corporation will be resigning to take on a new and important role in southern Canada. I learned yesterday that Mr. Pierre Alvarez has accepted the position of president with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. As a result, he and his family will be relocating to Calgary in the near future. Mr. Alvarez was first appointed as a director and chair of the Power Corporation in 1995. Many Northerners also know Mr. Alvarez through his work over the years with various boards and agencies, through private business, through earlier roles with the Department of Executive and the Department of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources or in his capacity as a director of the NWT Scouts Council.

Probably one of his most significant lasting contributions to the corporation is the development of a strong senior management team. I should mention that shortly after appointing Mr. Alvarez as chair, I asked him to also take on the responsibilities of chief executive officer. This dual role meant considerable additional responsibility. His leadership and emphasis on staff development meant that soon he was able to remove himself from the day-to-day operation of the corporation. He took the same approach with the other senior management positions, promoting development of staff to take on more responsibility. As a result, today we have an experienced and competent senior management team. This means we can count on stability and strong leadership under even the most difficult challenges.

Finally, I would like to mention one of Mr. Alvarez's significant contributions during his career with the Government of the Northwest Territories. He was key in planning and preparing for this government's transition to two new territories. His leadership and direction helped to ensure that programs and services for residents continued uninterrupted during this time of historic change to the map of Canada. Mr. Alvarez should be proud of his lasting contributions to the North. I hope all Members join me in congratulating him and in wishing him and his family all the best as they begin their new life in Calgary. Thank you.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 67-13(7): Resignation Of Chair, NWT Power Corporation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 580

Speaker

Thank you. Minister's statement, Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 68-13(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 581

Floyd Roland Inuvik

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Jim Antoine will be absent from the House today to attend the Akaitcho Treaty 8 chiefs meeting in Rocher River. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 68-13(7): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 581

Speaker

Thank you. Minister's statements. Item 3, Member's statements. Mr. Krutko.

Member's Statement 168-13(7): Resurfacing The Dempster Highway With Calcium Chloride
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 581

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have made statements in this House about maintaining our highways in the Northwest Territories, and I have made reference to the calcium program. Mr. Speaker, I say this in regard to the possible savings, that this project will be not only beneficial to myself in my riding, but beneficial to the North as a whole in saving money in the long term for this government. The savings, Mr. Speaker, would be in the reduced cost of blading the highways and maintaining roads at the present time. It will also improve the costs that are associated with the purchase of gravel which is put on the road and most times is blown off the road because of it being loose. Any traffic going down the road will remove that gravel and it will be put the ditch. Also, there is a question of public safety. Mr. Speaker, I have made statements concerning the question of saving lives. The cost of accidents that occur on our highways because of the loose gravel is also going to be a savings to this government. The other question that I really never mentioned, but we have to take into consideration, is the wear and tear on people's vehicles, the cost of replacing windshields and tires and also damages to peoples' trailers, boats and snowmobiles that may be towed at the back of a vehicle.

The calcium road treatment, Mr. Speaker, has to be considered in regard to the savings to this government. It will reduce the cost of blading. It will reduce the cost of purchasing gravel. It will also reduce the incidents of accidents on our highways, and it will reduce the cost of wear and tear on vehicles. One thing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make Members aware of is, there are also the economic benefits that come with improving our highway systems in the Northwest Territories. That is, Mr. Speaker, it will increase the number of tourists because of the better road conditions and also improve the cost of moving goods and services to the clients and the residents of the Mackenzie Delta from the south.

Another thing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make Members aware, that only 13 percent of the Dempster Highway is presently being resurfaced or calcium is being applied to it. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask for unanimous consent to complete my statement.

Member's Statement 168-13(7): Resurfacing The Dempster Highway With Calcium Chloride
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 581

Speaker

The Member for Mackenzie Delta is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Do we have any nays? There are no nays. Mr. Krutko, you have unanimous consent.

Member's Statement 168-13(7): Resurfacing The Dempster Highway With Calcium Chloride
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 581

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. I was stating, Mr. Speaker, 13 percent of the Dempster Highway is presently being calciumed, but yet Mr. Speaker, 54 percent of the Liard Highway is calciumed, 100 percent of the Ingraham Trail past Prosperous Lake is presently calciumed. The Fort Resolution section of the highway from Hay River is 100 percent calciumed and the section to Fort Smith is 100 percent calciumed. Again, Mr. Speaker, 13 percent of the Dempster Highway is the least amount of calcium that is applied to our highway system in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I say this in regard to the possible savings to this government, in considering the pros and the cons, and how this might be one way that we can find money to put into education and other programs. It is a savings that we can bring from this government by making changes such as the calcium project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Member's Statement 168-13(7): Resurfacing The Dempster Highway With Calcium Chloride
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 581

Speaker

Member's statements, Mrs. Groenewegen.