This is page numbers 73 - 92 of the Hansard for the 13th Assembly, 8th 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 assembly.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Jim Antoine, Honourable Charles Dent, Mr. Erasmus, Honourable Sam Gargan, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Henry, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Morin, Mr. Ootes, Mr. Rabesca, 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 73

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Good morning. Before we get underway this morning, I would ask the Members' indulgence in allowing me to say a few words. Being Speaker of the 13th Assembly was a privilege and an honour. The role of Speaker is at times challenging and rewarding, not to mention confusing and exasperating. Sometimes I felt that I was nothing more than a well paid daycare worker.

--Laughter

I seriously doubt that some of you would have ever played well together.

As Speaker, I have had limited opportunity to comment on the goings-on in this building, with the end of this Assembly and being a Friday, I would like to offer up some humorous comments on you my colleagues, and I hope, my friends.

The honourable Member from Hay River, Mrs. Jane Groenewegen, was one of two women to serve the residents of the Northwest Territories during the life of this Assembly. She may never be a member of the so-called old boys club by virtue of her gender, however she sure made a dent on the clubhouse door.

--Laughter

I have always envied that she does not have to wear a tie.

The Honourable, hello to the wife and family back in Inuvik, Floyd Roland, has survived his first term, and he is right, it is a growing process, although he is now somewhat grey, he still has the same enthusiasm as he did four years ago. For Mr. Roland, two words, Grecian Formula.

--Laughter

I have been a Member of this Assembly with the Honourable Stephen Kakfwi longer than either of us care to admit. I have seen him crack more jokes and smile in this Assembly than all of the others we have served in.

--Laughter

I no longer think of striking a match off him as I walk by.

You see, Mr. Erasmus, you can get away with things when you are subtle. It probably helps that I am still Speaker and would not think of ruling myself out of order. I would ask the Members to join with me to congratulate our colleague from Yellowknife North on his successful acquisition of a multitude of wardrobes over the last four years. I am sure that the late Mr. Jim Evoy would have been proud of you.

--Laughter

In regard to the Member from Mackenzie Delta. What can we say in regard to David Krutko.

--Laughter

What can we say about David Krutko in this Assembly? He is probably the only MLA in the history of the British Parliamentary system to stop proceedings by virtue of his choice of ties. Keep on trucking, David. And David, I apologize for some of the "Mickey Mouse" rules around here.

--Laughter

My oldest and dearest friend, the honourable Member for Nahendeh, Jim Antoine. Imagine the Premier for the Northwest Territories coming from the Deh Cho. Some might argue its like making Lucien Bouchard Prime Minister.

--Laughter

Work hard and have fun in Japan, we need more tourists. And you are right, the Northern Lights are better in the Deh Cho.

Mr. Henry, the honourable Member from Yellowknife South. It would be very easy to stick in a Dairy Queen joke here. However, I hate standing in lines.

--Laughter

Two scoops for a job well done. You have been a calming influence in this Assembly when tempers ran short. I thank you.

The Honourable Vince Steen, you scared us with that little heart attack you had. I knew, however that you were just too ornery to let a little thing like that set you back.

--Applause

It seemed like two weeks later you did become a Cabinet Minister. Amazing. I thank you for your wisdom, common sense and selective hearing;

--Laughter

we needed them around here.

The honourable Member from Thebacha, Michael Miltenberger, is finally breathing the rarified air of Cabinet and eating all the shrimp rings his heart desires.

--Laughter

All's well that ends well. I might suggest a flak jacket before you return for the election in Fort Smith. Do not forget the back way out of this building.

The Member from Yellowknife Frame Lake has got his wish and is now in charge of all the marbles. The Honourable Charles Dent as Minister of Finance will work hard to ensure the future of the Northwest Territories fiscal health. He will make the hard choices. No politician down south would have the guts to increase the price of booze three months before an election.

--Applause

A tireless promoter of northern solutions for northern problems, Donnie Morin, worked hard for the people of the Northwest Territories. Tough choices were made and implemented under his stewardship and he deserves our thanks. The teflon Don will be back, I hope, and the North will be better off because of it.

The Member from Yellowknife Centre, or as I like to call him the master of the indignant sound bite, Jake Ootes,

--Laughter

certainly showed the rest of us what a bit of media savvy could do. Vince McMahon and the WWF could use a man like you. Fight the good fight, Jake. Do not eat all the grayling.

The Member from the North Slave, James Rabesca, was another calming influence around here. The only thing phoney about James is his plastic hip. Best wishes always, James.

In closing, I will need a couple of volunteers to help me carry my cowboy boots out to my vehicle, please see me after Session. I thank the Members for their patience and allowing me to thank you and to have some fun.

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

Minister's Statement 12-13(8): Year 2000 Compliance Status
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 74

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Good morning. I appreciate your comments this morning, although I must say I was hoping that nobody would notice the rise in liquor prices. I am sorry that you highlighted that.

--Laughter

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the 9th day of the 9th month of the 99th year, was a date identified as a potential Year 2000 related risk. I am pleased to say that the Government of the Northwest Territories experienced no disruption of its programs or services to residents. This is a good indication that the hard work and diligence of GNWT employees is producing results. We can be confident that the programs and services our residents depend on are not disrupted as we welcome the new millennium.

Mr. Speaker, work continues as departments begin the final phases of their Year 2000 initiatives. To date, 63 percent of the critical systems are completely Y2K compliant. Final testing on another 11 percent of the systems should be done by the end of this month. All critical systems are on schedule to be fully compliant before December 31 of this year. In addition, 87 percent of the microcomputers and 91 percent of the local area networks, to which they are connected, are also fully compliant.

The GNWT could, however, be affected by Year 2000 implications outside of our own systems and facilities. This threat has not been ignored. Major business partners, service providers, contractors, and suppliers have been contacted and, so far, reported a strong confidence that no disruptions will result.

Mr. Speaker, with the success of the Government of the Northwest Territories Y2K initiative, many may think that the government's Y2K work is complete, this is incorrect. The Y2K bug is a unique challenge, extremely broad in scope, and there is no guarantee that disruptions will not occur. This government is preparing contingency plans to ensure the uninterrupted delivery of programs and services to the people of the Northwest Territories in the unlikely event that a system failure does occur. These contingency plans will be implemented in the case of any infrastructure failure affecting the delivery of government programs or services, regardless of the cause.

In addition to our own plans, the territorial government is also a participant in the Territorial Emergency Response Committee. Residents of the Northwest Territories can be assured that the territorial government is well prepared for the Year 2000. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 12-13(8): Year 2000 Compliance Status
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 74

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you, Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 13-13(8): Supporting Employment In The Fort Liard Area
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

September 10th, 1999

Page 74

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the current oil and gas activity in Fort Liard provides excellent opportunities for Northerners to be trained and employed. I would like to highlight some of the work that the Department of Education, Culture and Employment is doing to make sure the employment benefits for Northerners are maximized.

On a recent trip to Fort Liard, senior management of the department had confirmation that Beaver Enterprises, which is part of the local Development Corporation, has over 200 employees working on projects primarily related to oil and gas development. Their challenge is to continue finding enough workers to meet the demand of industry.

The department has extended an offer to the Development Corporation to help them with this problem. The department is prepared to support an employment officer located in Fort Liard and officials are working with the Development Corporation to finalize details of the arrangement. This officer would help connect interested individuals in the region with the Development Corporation and the available jobs.

Mr. Speaker, the department is also actively involved through the Careers Centre in Fort Simpson. The centre is providing career development services to familiarize regional residents with the variety of work opportunities in Fort Liard. This work includes career guidance and support services.

In addition, departmental staff are working closely with industry representatives and communities to ensure that the needs of industry are clear and an appropriate training plan is in place.

Oil and gas development provides exciting opportunities for Northerners in a variety of jobs. If we are to ensure that Northerners get these jobs, they must have suitable training. People also have to understand and accept the challenges and opportunities of working in the industry including the realities of working in camps and on rotation.

It is important to have close cooperation between communities, industry and Aurora College to plan training to meet the requirements of the industry, in the exploration, development and operational phases. Senior officials at the college have been briefed on the situation and the college will be working with the department and industry to meet the training needs for oil and gas jobs in the Liard area.

The school can also be involved in the efforts in Fort Liard. The current activities in the area means there are plenty of jobs for young people. The school will be working with the employers to find ways to let students work part-time while continuing to complete their high school education. The Education Act provides the flexibility for schools to make arrangements which meet the needs of the senior students in Fort Liard and keep them in school. Through school programs such as the Schools North Apprentice Program and the Career and Technology Studies Program, we are linking school and jobs for these students.

Mr. Speaker, the efforts of the department support the full range of exploration, development and operational jobs in the oil and gas sector. If predictions prove to be true and other development continues to occur in the Liard Valley, there will be more opportunities for people to use the skills they are acquiring now for some time to come. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 13-13(8): Supporting Employment In The Fort Liard Area
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 75

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Dent.

Minister's Statement 14-13(8): 1999 Labour Force Survey
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 75

Charles Dent Yellowknife Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to announce that the Government of the Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics released today the report on the 1999 Labour Force Survey. This survey is designed to reliably estimate employment and unemployment by communities across the NWT. I will table the report later today at the appropriate time.

Mr. Speaker, this is the fourth labour force survey by the Bureau of Statistics. Previous surveys were done in 1984, 1989 and 1994. The results from these, along with the national census results, give us important information on trends and changes in our labour market. The information can be used by government, communities, business, and industry to develop employment and training programs, or for general economic and community planning.

Other data collected in the survey provides information on the types of jobs people have, whether people who are not working need training, work activity during the previous year, and participation in harvesting activities.

Information was also collected on education, language use, and participation in volunteer and community organizations. Mr. Speaker, the survey was completed in all NWT communities between January and March of this year. Over 6,400 persons living in about 3,000 households responded.

The report is also available on the bureau's Web site which can be accessed through the GNWT's Web site. Mr. Speaker, this report is an excellent example of the information we need in order to plan, to improve program design and delivery, and ultimately, to invest our resources where they will deliver the most effective results.

My colleague, the Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, will be commenting on the results of the survey also. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 14-13(8): 1999 Labour Force Survey
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 75

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 15-13(8): Employment Results In The Labour Force Survey
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 75

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over the past four years, one of the areas of emphasis for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment has been the important connection between education and employment. We have made this connection in a number of ways.

Career development and planning have become an important part of high school students' course work. As well, the Income Support Program changes in 1995 have supported many Northerners in making productive choices which have improved their ability to find work. Through increased access to Aurora College programs, more Northerners are able to take the training they need for the available jobs.

It is always helpful, Mr. Speaker, to have concrete evidence of whether efforts are making a positive difference. The 1999 Labour Force Survey, which the Minister of Finance will be releasing, seems to suggest that the work of the department, in cooperation with Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development and employers, has started to make a difference.

One of the most positive findings from the survey is that the growth in the number of jobs in the NWT has kept pace in the last few years with the growth in population. As well, there has also been a significant improvement in the level of employment among aboriginal people. The employment rate has increased by more then 6 percent to almost 49 percent which is very promising.

The Labour Force Survey also highlights the areas where we need to find better solutions. In particular, youth unemployment continues to be very high at 25.7 percent. We must continue to focus our activities on improving access to northern employment opportunities for our youth.

Mr. Speaker, Education, Culture and Employment will continue to support the efforts of northern residents to obtain the education and training they need to participate in the labour force. We will use the information in the Labour Force Survey to help us provide programs which address the needs of all Northerners. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

--Applause

Minister's Statement 15-13(8): Employment Results In The Labour Force Survey
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 76

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

Thank you. Ministers' statements. Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 16-13(8): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 76

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members of this House that the Honourable Floyd Roland will be absent from the House today to attend the Official Opening of the Natural Gas Conversion Project in Inuvik. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 16-13(8): Minister Absent From The House
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 76

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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

Member's Statement 19-13(8): Appreciation Of Constituents, Colleagues And Staff
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 76

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank you for your wonderful comments this morning, they were certainly very enjoyable. More importantly I would like to thank you for serving in the role that you have for the past four years. My own feelings have been you have been very impartial and ruled with a good hand in the Chair and I think you should be complimented for that role.

--Applause

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few moments to briefly reflect on our four years here and the opportunity I have had to be a representative in this House. It certainly was a very challenging time for us in the first couple of years. We had to deal with the deficit situation, which I think we dealt with. We had to deal with the division issue and finally the other big issue that was on the table was the constitutional difficulties which we were not able to resolve, but hopefully in the next legislature we can make good progress in that end. As I said, it was at times very difficult in here, we did have our problems in achieving our consensus at times, but it is a system that seems to be working and seems to be working very well. I know from personal experience now there are many attributes to that system. Naturally there are attributes to a party system as well, but we seem to have functioned and done things in a proper fashion through our four years.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank a number of people. First of all I would like to thank the staff of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Schauerte, Mr. Inch, and, of course, the research staff and the library staff, the financial staff and all the people that work in this building. They have been a tremendous asset to us and without them we would have been lost and I mean that in the true sense. I would like to also, of course, recognize the media. While I appreciate the comment made about me, but the reality of life for anywhere today is that without the media we are not going to have good communication systems. The people will have difficulty to know what we are doing. They should be complimented and certainly patted on the back for those who attend here, day in, day out and we sit here, Mr. Speaker, because while we drone on about many things as perhaps I am now. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Member's Statement 19-13(8): Appreciation Of Constituents, Colleagues And Staff
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 76

The Speaker Samuel Gargan

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