This is page numbers 391 - 424 of the Hansard for the 14th Assembly, 2nd 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.

Members Present

Honourable Roger Allen, Mr. Bell, Mr. Braden, Mr. Dent, Honourable Jane Groenewegen, Honourable Joe Handley, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Lee, Mr. McLeod, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Nitah, Honourable Jake Ootes, Mr. Roland, Honourable Vince Steen, Honourable Tony Whitford.

-- Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Ootes. Good afternoon. The House will come to order. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Krutko for sitting in for me yesterday. After reviewing the comments he made during question period yesterday, we will be sure to hold him to those comments as well. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for the Department of Transportation, Mr. Steen.

Vince Steen

Vince Steen Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to advise the House that the Mackenzie River ice bridge on Highway No. 3 to Fort Providence, Rae-Edzo and Yellowknife is deteriorating at a rate faster than in recent years. Residents and businesses north of the Mackenzie River have benefited, in recent years, from the ice bridge remaining open until mid-April. The earliest recorded closure was on April 12, 1996.

Mr. Speaker, this year, warm temperatures and rain showers at the crossing will likely force a closure, as soon as this weekend. I regret to say that when Mother Nature brings warmer weather, there are no practical, cost-effective means of keeping the ice bridge open. If weather conditions change and the temperature falls, the Department of Transportation will keep the ice bridge open as long as safely possible.

Mr. Speaker, the department encourages highway travelers to contact the toll-free highway information line to confirm conditions before they begin their trip. The information line is updated as conditions change. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Steen. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Roland.

Notification Of Inuvik Capital Project Deferrals
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Floyd Roland

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to address a very serious issue that I was informed of yesterday. It ties in to what I said last Friday on information and how we receive it. Mr. Speaker, at the start of the 14th Legislative Assembly, we were told that this government would be more open and transparent, and that we would be able to win the respect of the people in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, what I have been finding during the interim appropriations is in fact, almost the opposite. The only time I have found out about the restrictions or the reductions that are happening in my community and region of Inuvik, is in this arena, on the floor in committee of the whole. Mr. Speaker, that is unacceptable.

The previous practice of Assemblies was to inform Members before notice was given in such a matter. I was speaking to the mayor in Inuvik, Mr. George Roach, and he said he was on the phone with the honourable Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment the other day for about 15 minutes, and this topic did not come across the lines.

Notification Of Inuvik Capital Project Deferrals
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Some Hon. Members

Shameful.

Notification Of Inuvik Capital Project Deferrals
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Floyd Roland

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

Instead, we wait until we are in the House, trying to pass a budget, and at that time, only after questions, does it become apparent that is happening. Not only is it the Aurora Campus that I am concerned about, it is every project that was in the Education, Culture and Employment's capital plan for Inuvik that has been deferred.

Mr. Speaker, I intend to pursue this and I will be questioning the Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment on what kind of consultation he had with any of the residents from my community. Thank you.

Notification Of Inuvik Capital Project Deferrals
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger.

GNWT No-layoff Policy
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about the no-layoff policy that is currently in effect that is a carry over from the 13th Assembly. It was put in place for a specific period and for a specific purpose. As we await the direction from the new Cabinet on how they want to deal with this particular issue, I wanted to take this opportunity to make some comments.

During my campaign, Mr. Speaker, I was clearly on record as saying no more job cuts. What I think we need is not a no-layoff policy, we need a redeployment policy. I know, under the old policy, there are dozens of positions sitting in government in what would otherwise be redundant positions.

The current policy, I believe, ties the hands of managers. As these positions would have been redundant in otherwise normal circumstances, the Northwest Territories, the government, is left with expensive resources tied up while there are desperate needs in other areas in the communities.

Under the policy of the 13th Assembly, these positions have been retained with no opportunity to have them do anything but sit there. Mr. Speaker, clearly this is not fair to the departments, it is not fair to the employees, and it is not fair to the people of the Northwest Territories. It leaves employees stuck in limbo without the benefit of layoff options or a clear career path left for them.

Mr. Speaker, I am not suggesting that layoffs will be an answer. They are a final option when all other opportunities have been explored. What we need is an effective redeployment service that can help employees move to areas of government where they are needed. We have to provide training and support for them to make the adjustment, and in some cases, the most appropriate move for employees in the department will be layoffs. The employees should have that option in exceptional circumstances.

Mr. Speaker, this is just one piece of the bigger issue of effective use of our very, very important human resources. Priorities change over time. Some programs need less time and attention than others did before. What we have to do is have a coordinated policy and a coordinated way to move employees from areas of lower priority to those of higher priority, and not necessarily in the same community. We have to be able to move our very valuable human resources to where they are most needed. As we have demonstrated in this House, the need is there. Thank you.

GNWT No-layoff Policy
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am still very discouraged about an incident that occurred during the committee of the whole while we were reviewing the interim appropriation for the Department of Transportation. I seriously considered rising on a point of privilege. However, Mr. Speaker, I have calmed down a bit since then and will contain myself.

With a few clarifying remarks today, when we are reviewing documents provided by the Department of Transportation to the committee of the whole, explaining the differences between the 1999-2000 capital plans and the 2000-2001 capital plans, I noted that the department made reference to remarks that I made in a meeting with the Standing Committee on Governance and Economic Development.

Mr. Speaker, that would have been the basis for my point of privilege. Remarks and procedures of committee meetings are the property of the committee. I was concerned, Mr. Speaker, that in the two pages of explanations on the differences between the 1999-2000 capital plans, and the 2000-2001 capital plans, that I was the only MLA mentioned by name. In fact, Mr. Speaker, every other explanation was dealing with a technical matter.

Mr. Speaker, I was concerned until I realized, in a way, the department actually had given me a backhanded compliment for doing such a great job in committee of the whole. I want to assure the constituents of the Mackenzie Delta, Aklavik, and Tsiigehtchic that I will continue to fight for every capital dollar for my constituency, the Mackenzie Delta. I will continue to examine every line item that is in, on, or about this interim appropriation and capital items, to ensure the needs and aspirations of all Northerners are met. I will fight to ensure that the needs of rural communities are not forgotten.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

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

David Krutko

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, if I have to make what they call a big deal about any item in this House, I definitely will. With that, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much.

-- Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

Northern Manufacturers Association
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Sandy Lee

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier today in the Great Hall, the Northern Manufacturers' Association, in partnership with the Government of the Northwest Territories Regulatory Reform Secretariat helped launch the Canadian Standards Strategy. I would like to take this opportunity to speak a little about this Association and highlight the good work it is doing.

The Northern Manufacturers' Association was formed in 1997, Mr. Speaker, to improve the competitiveness of territorial manufacturers and to develop a strong and vibrant northern manufacturing industry. It also serves as a voice for the northern manufacturers. Its membership has grown from nine original members to over 40 members in just over a year. It currently represents communities all over the North, including Nunavut.

Mr. Speaker, northern manufacturers produce a wide range of products, everything from clothing, accessories, furniture, windows, log homes, fiberglass, steel tanks and paper products, to name a few. In this House, Mr. Speaker, we often speak about the need to diversify our economy. I strongly believe that the manufacturing industry is a key to our diversification potential.

The northern manufacturing businesses contribute to our economy in a very strong and direct way. They create a wide array of jobs and foster a strong community sprit in the process. More manufacturing in the North means less imported goods. It also means enhancing our northern economy by exporting our goods to the markets world over.

Already, Mr. Speaker, our manufacturers export our products not only to the rest of Canada but to international markets such as Russia, the Far East, Japan and Alaska. Most importantly Mr. Speaker, northern manufacturers are homegrown. They live and work in the North. They know the consumers, and they know how to produce products that meet the standards necessary for the rigors of the northern climate and conditions.

Mr. Speaker, may I close this statement by saying the association deserves our support and northern businesses need our commitment to do everything we can to help them grow and prosper. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Northern Manufacturers Association
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Ms. Lee. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for North Slave, Mr. Lafferty.

Positive Events In Rae Lakes
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Leon Lafferty North Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to announce two positive events which have occurred in the community of Rae Lakes. The first is that on March 21st, the Department of Transportation, in partnership with Nav Canada opened a Community Aerodrome Radio Station, also known as CARS in Rae Lakes. The CARS will provide weather and communication service to aircraft operating around the Rae Lakes airport. The goal of CARS is to provide both employment and service to local people.

The second event which I would like to recognize is that two residents of Rae Lakes have just graduated from the Observer Communication Program in Fort Smith. In this nine week course, Nancy Zoe and Priscilla Wetrade learned weather observation skills and radio communication procedures. I would like to congratulate Nancy and Priscilla for completing the training needed to work at the CARS. It is great to see local people taking the initiative to get the training they need for local jobs. It makes us stronger as a region. I wish these women every success in finding employment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Positive Events In Rae Lakes
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Deh Cho, Mr. McLeod.

Addressing Small Community Housing Needs
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 393

Michael McLeod

Michael McLeod Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to focus my Member's statement on the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation's need for a new approach to meeting the housing needs in our smaller communities.

My colleagues have heard me speak of the Extended Downpayment Assistance Program as being essentially useless to the communities I represent. The gap between who the corporation will support and what the banks will offer in the way of mortgages means that there are viable, potential homeowners who cannot realize their dreams.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, the decision to withdraw social housing funding by the federal government is patently unfair to the North. The decision that the aboriginal residents of the Northwest Territories are not eligible for any of the millions of dollars that the CMHC and DIAND make available for on-reserve housing is also unfair to northern aboriginals.

It is time, Mr. Speaker, time to change the policies of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation to meet the fiscal and political realities that we face in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, community control over the programs offered in the community is paramount. Who is the corporation to dictate to a community what kind of housing is appropriate to the community, or how the funding should be spent? Communities must be able to decide whether they should continue to build one or two stick-built houses each year, or use that same money to build a four-plex, or four or five modular homes.

Mr. Speaker, there are many barriers to meeting the housing needs in the smaller communities. Some of the barriers are economic, some are political and some are the fault of the policies and practices of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Policies that state that modular homes and trailers cannot be used to provide social housing may no longer be realistic. I cannot stand by and watch two or three generations live in the same overcrowded stick-built house, when I know that it is going to be four or five years before the situation can be alleviated.

That is the reality in the communities without a viable housing market. I no longer believe that the economic gains and the short-term jobs are worth it, given the overcrowding and desperate core need. If the community decides that trailers would better meet their core social housing needs, so be it.

The Minister responsible for the Housing Corporation has already committed to looking to aboriginal development corporations to build social housing and leaseback to the Housing Corporation. This is a good idea and should be followed up on. I will be asking questions on this issue today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

-- Applause

Addressing Small Community Housing Needs
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Nitah.

Funding To Participate In Super Soccer Tournament
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Steven Nitah Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring up the issue of a lack of funding for Super Soccer, which is just one small example of the tremendous problems faced by youths and other interest groups in all of the small communities. Mr. Speaker, the way Super Soccer is structured is limiting and constrictive. I am not certain that the structure is serving the needs of the soccer-playing community. Smaller communities are at a disadvantage. Soccer could be further developed so that more individuals can take advantage of the training. Often, smaller communities have difficulty developing competitive individuals and teams compared to the larger centres.

There are several problems, Mr. Speaker. The first is that smaller communities have to come up with their own up-front funding to send sports teams by air to Yellowknife for Super Soccer. While there are some ways to recover partial travel costs, it is largely after the fact -- and only for a percentage of travel.

Another problem is with the huge costs of obtaining a bingo licence. Often sports groups have to fund raise, competing with other interest groups, just to get the very scarce money in small communities together to pay for a bingo licence. There does not seem to be a manageable separate rate for non-profit groups. The Super Soccer tournament is coming up this May in Yellowknife. Soccer teams in Fort Resolution have been holding bake sales, penny and bottle drives, and holding lunches at the school. They are scratching the bottom of the barrel, trying to come up with the funds they need to send the number of teams they want to.

If Super Soccer were held in March, many teams would not have to fly into Yellowknife, they could drive. That way, more teams would be able to compete. They would also save on the amount of money in the car to make the trip. The problem with all of these concerns is that many individuals and teams are missing out. Communities, such as Fort Resolution, can only afford to send so many players by air. Many more students would be participating if they did not have to fly or worry about funding.

It has been suggested that since Super Soccer is aimed at school children and takes place in the schools, that it also be funded by the divisional boards of education through the Department of Education. Soccer is a universal sport, requiring little equipment. All you need is a ball and a good pair of shoes.

Funding To Participate In Super Soccer Tournament
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mr. Nitah, your time has expired.

Funding To Participate In Super Soccer Tournament
Item 3: Members' Statements

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Steven Nitah Tu Nedhe

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Funding To Participate In Super Soccer Tournament
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker

The Speaker Tony Whitford

The Member for Tu Nedhe is seeking unanimous consent to conclude his statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays. You may conclude your statement, Mr. Nitah.