This is page numbers 649 - 694 of the Hansard for the 14th Assembly, 5th 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

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The Chair Paul Delorey

Page 3-22, revenues, recoveries and transfer payments.

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

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

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

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The Chair Paul Delorey

We will go back to page 3-7, department summary, Finance, operations expense, total operations expense, $7,766,000.

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

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

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

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The Chair Leon Lafferty

Does the committee agree that this concludes consideration of the main estimates for the Department of Finance?

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

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

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

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The Chair Leon Lafferty

Thank you, Mr. Minister, and your witnesses for appearing. The Chair is going to call a short break before we go into the next department.

-- Break

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

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The Chair Paul Delorey

I will call the committee of the whole back to order. We are here with the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Speaker, do you have any opening comments?

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

March 14th, 2002

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, thank you, colleagues. It is a pleasure to be back here in front of you again. I am very pleased to present the 2002-2003 proposed main estimates for the Legislative Assembly.

We are requesting $14,047,000 for the operating expenses of the Legislative Assembly for the coming fiscal year. Our appropriations also include a capital component of $445,000 for enhancements and upgrading of our security and risk management system, which I will address further along in my statement today.

Mr. Chairman, I think it is important to indicate that the Board of Management, in preparing the business plans and main estimates, is guided by the input of Members and I hope is responsive to your needs. Ultimately, their direction determines the level of financial and human resources necessary to provide services to Members and oversee the day-to-day administration of the Legislative Assembly Offices. The board and the Clerk's office are always looking for ways to improve the quality of its services, and we remain committed to providing those services in a cost-effective, open, transparent and accountable manner, which is what the people of the Northwest Territories deserve and expect of its elected Assembly.

I would like to remind Members that the appropriations of the Legislative Assembly provide funding for the statutory officers of the Assembly. Funding is provided to the Offices of the Languages Commissioner, Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Information and Privacy Commissioner and the Chief Electoral Officer.

The main estimates before you today, Mr. Chairman, contain a number of forced growth items including:

  • • $225,000 for the Office of the Chief Electoral Officer, to gear up for the general election in the fall of 2003;
  • • $145,000 for enhancement to the Members Constituency Assistant Program and our Pages Program;
  • • $96,000 for enhancements to a number of our information systems; and finally,
  • • $36,000 overall increase to Members Constituency budgets, which is now tied to the consumer price index.

Mr. Chairman, new funding has also been identified in the main estimates to assist the Special Committees on the Review of the Official Languages Act and the Implementation of Self-Government and the Sunset Clause in carrying out their mandates. Both committees will complete their respective mandates before the end of our term. I did note with interest that the Minister of Finance, in his Budget Address, recognized the importance of the work of the Special Committee on the Review of the Official Languages Act.

New funding is also being requested to increase and enhance the support provided to the House, standing committees and public information services. A notable amount of this funding will go to the initiative for the development and implementation of a cultural enhancement program for the Legislative Assembly building and Capital Park.

Mr. Chairman, I indicated earlier on that the Legislative Assembly is seeking funding to make improvements to security services within the Legislative Assembly building and grounds. A risk and threat assessment for overall security was undertaken and indicated that improvements are required to adequately address existing and potential threats.

Security is a sensitive matter and it is important to try and achieve a balance between the perceived likelihood of threat with the costs associated with guarding against those threats. In order to achieve that balance, I am prepared to accept a $220,000 reduction to the security proposal contained in the main estimates.

Mr. Chairman and colleagues, when issues arise concerning the cost of running the Legislative Assembly, comments invariably seem to focus on how much our elected MLAs are being paid and little seems to be made of the numerous other initiatives and programs that this Assembly is responsible for. Granted, a large amount of our financial and human resources go to services provided to Members, but equally important are those services that are provided to government departments, employees and the general public. Thousands of people annually, Mr. Chairman, visit the Legislative Assembly building. This does not include individuals that attend as government employees or visitors to Members.

The combined number of daily public tours and summer Capital Park walking tours totals 240 annually. This does not include special tours for the 117 visiting dignitaries from Canada and other countries, or the tours conducted by my office for over 90 members of the public.

Throughout the year, we also host several special events, including the kindergarten Christmas tree decorating, Lights Across Canada and the seniors tea. We are also very proud of our sponsorship of the Youth Parliament. Our third Youth Parliament concluded in February of this year and it is clearly our most successful educational program, bringing in young people from across the Territory.

Events in the Great Hall and our Caucus Room increased dramatically last year, with 81 events being held in the building. These events bring in people from all walks of life from across the Territory and Canada, which serves to enhance our exposure and promote the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Chairman, the legislative and legislative branch libraries also provide an important service to the people of this Territory. The clientele of the legislative library includes Members and their staff, Legislative Assembly staff, government employees throughout the Northwest Territories, researchers, consultants, media and the general public. In order to provide efficient and effective service to GNWT employees and the general public, the legislative branch library is located downtown on the second floor on the Centre Square Tower, where materials and staff assistance are more accessible to employees.

A major part of the services provided to GNWT employees by the branch library include interlibrary loans, whereby library staff locate, request and receive information and documents from other libraries outside of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Chairman, the legislative library continues to take on various new tasks that have a broader Assembly focus such as:

  • • The distribution and preservation of legislative documents, including a project to microfiche legislative documents, dating back to 1951;
  • • Assisting with the production and distribution of Hansard, which also involves the production of a CD-ROM containing Hansard from the 12th, 13th and 14th Assemblies;
  • • Performing the records management function by organizing and storing the records of the Legislative Assembly; and
  • • Responding to questions that are redirected from other departments or received via the government and Legislative Assembly websites.

Mr. Chairman, the broadcasting of our sittings and other significant events on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network continue to be well received by the public across the Northwest Territories and are proving to be an excellent way of keeping our electorate informed about what we are doing. We broadcast approximately 180 hours annually.

Mr. Chairman, in the fast moving world of instant communication, it is interesting to note the growing importance that the Internet is having in our day-to-day work. Our Legislative Assembly website is a perfect example of how we are integrating technology into our day-to-day operations. During the period of December 31, 2000 to December 31, 2001, there were 3,441,262 hits on our website. Our most frequently viewed pages were our home page with 45,111 hits; the Hansard, with 16,919 viewers; and the general Members information page with 12,607 views. Not only, Mr. Chairman, are we able to track the number of visitors to our individual pages, we are also able to track the most commonly downloaded files, and even geographic regions of the globe that are accessing the site.

Mr. Chairman, I am sure that Members would be interested to discover that we have even compiled a top 50 hit list, which shows whose Members sites are visited most frequently. No special awards for those.

Again, Mr. Chairman and colleagues, the Board of Management has made every effort to address the needs of the Legislative Assembly and has endeavoured to secure the level of financial and human resources necessary to meet these demands. However, the Board and my offices, like Members, are ultimately responsible for the decisions we make collectively as elected representatives of the people of the Northwest Territories.

I look forward to the Members' comments and questions. 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

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The Chair Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As there was no standing committee to review the Legislative Assembly, would you care to bring in witnesses, Mr. Speaker?

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

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Yes, if it pleases the Chair, I would ask for our Clerk, Mr. Hamilton.

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

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The Chair Paul Delorey

Does the committee agree?

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

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

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

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The Chair Paul Delorey

Sergeant-at-Arms, please escort the witnesses in. Mr. Speaker, please introduce your witnesses for the record.

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

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It gives me a great deal of pleasure indeed to introduce on my left side, the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly, Mr. David Hamilton; and to my right, Mr. Myles Moreside, director of corporate services. Thank you.