This is page numbers 1397 - 1454 of the Hansard for the 14th Assembly, 6th 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 tlicho.

Topics

economic Development
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1400

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

The rapid growth of the NWT economy has provided for many economic opportunities. We have many success stories we could report on.

Mr. Speaker, we began with the creation of the Common Ground Economic Strategy Panel, which undertook a comprehensive review of the NWT economy and recommended actions to foster continued economic growth. The strategy provided a foundation for specific actions in a wide range of areas, including access to capital. We then worked through the Business Program Review Panel to develop a "single window" approach to deliver our government's business development services. Draft legislation and recommended actions have been developed for the next government. We also took into account recommendations from the Bankers' Commission in order to remedy the chronic shortage of capital that hampers economic development in the NWT.

Through our business programs, we have provided the following assistance over the past four years:

- $10.1 million contributed through the business development fund;

- an increase of 33.3 percent in jobs established through subsidiaries or investments made by the Northwest Territories Development Corporation;

- establishment of the NWT opportunities fund, which provides access to additional capital under the new federal immigrant investor program;

- distribution of over 2000 copies of a new booklet on "How to Start a Business in the NWT" through the Canada/NWT Business Service Centre and community futures organizations;

- over $2.28 million provided since 2001 through the private partnership fund to territorial businesses to maximize northern employment in resource development;

- socio-economic agreements with diamond producers to access rough diamonds and business support to approved manufacturers in order to establish a value-added diamond cutting and polishing industry. We set up the world's first polished diamond certification program, and we developed a world-class diamond cutting training program that attracts students from every corner of the globe.

We also want to see aboriginal businesses grow and mature. Two highlights are:

- signing of the Gwich'in memorandum of understanding to give aboriginal businesses in the Gwich'in settlement area greater opportunity to participate in government contracting. To date, our overall contracting goals in this area have been exceeded, with a total of $4.2 million in contracts being awarded to Gwich'in businesses;

- financial and political support for the Aboriginal Pipeline Group, which Mackenzie Delta Gas Producers Group to secure a one-third ownership share of a Mackenzie Valley gas pipeline for aboriginal governments.

We have promoted our tourism industry which has faced severe challenges in recent years. I spoke earlier of our recent actions in this area. As well, an NWT tourism strategy was developed in cooperation with the industry. A comprehensive tourism exit survey and report was conducted last year to create more accurate market data for the industry, and a tourism marketing conversion assessment was completed to provide an accurate and useful analysis of the effectiveness of tourism media advertising campaigns.

conclusion
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

October 10th, 2003

Page 1400

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development has been active and vigilant in conserving and protecting our natural environment, while fostering the prudent and sustainable development of both renewable and non-renewable resources. We have also played an important role in providing meaningful career opportunities for the young people of the Northwest Territories. Mahsi cho.

conclusion
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1400

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mahsi, Mr. Antoine. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Ootes.

Minister's Statement 115-141(6): Departmental Successes
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for your understanding, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, "Towards a Better Tomorrow" states, "Our ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for all people in the NWT." With that goal in mind, I would like to briefly highlight some of the initiatives and accomplishments by the Department of Education, Culture and Employment during the 14th Legislative Assembly.

early Childhood
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

In our early childhood education area, Mr. Speaker, to ensure the youngest members of our population have a positive start in life, we have:

- provided funding for 15 language nests - a program whereby the elders and community language speakers work with preschoolers to develop and encourage aboriginal languages, and

- funded the northern parenting and literacy program in conjunction with the NWT Literacy Council - workshops and community family activities in three communities, including training of 150 family literacy coordinators.

Initiatives such as these have been critical to laying a foundation for our youngest citizens to becoming literate and able to prepare them for school.

kindergarten To Grade 12
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

For all our kindergarten to Grade 12 students, Mr. Speaker, we have completed initiatives that we feel have not only improved students' ability to learn, but have assisted our teachers and administration to better perform their important task of assisting our youth to be the best they can. These initiatives include:

- lowering our pupil to teacher ratio to 16 to 1;

- initiation of the student success initiative to provide funding for school-based projects; and,

- increase of student supports funding.

adult And Post-secondary Education
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Mr. Speaker, a GNWT-wide literacy strategy has been developed during the life of this Assembly to ensure that each and everyone in our communities has the opportunity to learn to read, write and perform basic math skills in any of our eleven official languages. This literacy strategy has provided increased access to basic education for adults across the NWT.

Also during this term, we have introduced significant changes to the student financial assistance program to provide increased levels of funding for post-secondary students to help them meet the increased costs of education.

training And Employment
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Mr. Speaker, through the support of all Members of the 14th Legislative Assembly, we have supported training and employment for Northerners, including:

- the maximizing northern employment initiative to help ensure that the people of the North are employed and actively involved sharing the wealth in the NWT;

- our labour force development plan to assist northern workers to develop the skills and knowledge needed to secure employment;

- NWT mining industrial skills and NWT oil and gas strategy proposals to the federal government for a northern workforce to be employed in each respective industry; and,

- socio-economic agreements to ensure northern participation in major resource sectors.

income Support
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

To ensure that Northerners who require some help in making ends meet, ECE has:

- increased benefits to income assistance clients;

-expanded the provision of childcare subsidies for after school and summer breaks;

- ensured that income support clients are able to clearly understand their entitlements and their responsibilities through the development of informational guides and a Web site, both developed in plain language.

culture, Heritage And Language
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1401

Jake Ootes Yellowknife Centre

Mr. Speaker, our last area of responsibility blankets all other initiatives throughout our department. To help Northerners celebrate and demonstrate our culture and heritage including our languages, we have:

- increased support for creative arts projects and our support for northern performers and initiated, as a result of our arts panel response, the development of an integrated arts strategy;

- implemented the aboriginal languages strategy to set goals, objectives and implementation plans for meeting aboriginal language responsibilities; and,

- spearheaded the work required to form the GNWT Response to the Special Committee's Report on the Review of the Official Languages Act, a response that outlines approaches to supporting all the official languages of the Northwest Territories.

These are accomplishments of the department, Mr. Speaker, but I would like to stress that they would not have been possible without the direction provided by Members. The questions, suggestions, criticisms and general input of Members, whether in the House, or in standing or special committee have been invaluable in moving us towards these accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, this is the last session in which I will have the honour of being the Minister of this department and a Member of this House. I can say unequivocally that I am proud of the many things we have accomplished.

I would like to thank all Members of the 14th Legislative Assembly, my staff who have assisted me throughout my past four years, officials in my department and throughout government, as well as all industry non-government organizations, aboriginal governments and community governments. Together, we have all helped to improve the quality of life for all Northerners. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

culture, Heritage And Language
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1402

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Mr. Dent.

Development Of The NWT Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1402

Charles Dent Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I was happy to hear Minister Antoine's statement on tourism marketing today. The Minister listed the factors that have been having a negative impact on the tourism industry in the Northwest Territories. There's been a great deal of focus on developing our non-renewable resources lately and that's right. It's the thing we need to do because this sector has been the biggest driver of growth in our economy of late.

Mr. Speaker, the tourism industry is also a huge contributor to the NWT economy and a major player in the NWT's GDP. Our hotels, restaurants and other small businesses rely on tourism dollars and, Mr. Speaker, guiding brings dollars into many northern communities. Unfortunately, the industry has struggled for many years for their fair share of government support. We are lucky to have the kind of natural wilderness that attracts tourists from all over the world. As the Minister noted in his statement today, in recent years there's been strong growth in the aurora market attracting Japanese visitors every year. The North's abundant wildlife also attracts many sport hunters and fisherman who pay premium dollars to participate in a true northern adventure.

Mr. Speaker, the continued trend towards eco-tourism and cultural tourism can only be good news for the Northwest Territories. We still have vast areas of unspoiled wilderness and our outfitters are ready and able to bring in visitors to experience the pristine wilderness of the NWT.

The strength and uniqueness of northern culture offers a remarkable experience for visitors to the Northwest Territories and provides employment for people in our smaller communities. Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear the Minister's announcement of the $500,000 campaign to market aurora tourism in Japan, but there needs to be even more support for the industry to survive the current downturn and to expand its product. The economic impact of tourism cannot be underestimated whether it's viewing the northern lights, rafting the Nahanni River or tracking caribou, our tourist visitors leave behind many dollars in our territory.

Mr. Speaker, it would be an important challenge for the 15th Assembly to see whether they can properly support the tourism industry so they can achieve its full potential. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Development Of The NWT Tourism Industry
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1402

The Speaker Tony Whitford

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

Reflections On The 14th Legislative Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1402

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it's been interesting to hear over the last few days the Ministers' remarks on the achievements the departments have made over the life of this government. There are many accomplishments that we can stand up as Members of the 14th Assembly and talk about the work that's been done.

Mr. Speaker, we've also had our dark days in this Assembly but, as we've heard, we've come through it to the end of the days as Members of this 14th Assembly. Something I have always looked at, Mr. Speaker, is when members of my community sent me to work on their behalf, they did so knowing that I stood up and would represent them to the best of my ability on whatever issues would come forward and to respect their wishes and not to put name tags on them or put them in sections or categories of people, but to try to represent them as a whole community. Mr. Speaker, that's important because I stand here in this Assembly as a Member of a public government of the Northwest Territories representing all people in the Northwest Territories, not just one group of people versus another group. That's very important, Mr. Speaker, as we travel down this road that we are on. As the next government is put forward by the people of the Northwest Territories, all those using their democratic right to put an "x" beside an individual's name must do so looking forward to what leadership would be put here and the decisions they would make.

Mr. Speaker, it's important that we continue to work to the benefit of the people in these last days. I think you will see that by the amount of legislation that's been passed. It impacts people across the North. Mr. Speaker, when we stand in this House to represent people, we must remember we represent all people across the Northwest Territories who live in our communities. I would hold that up to all Members as a measure that we use not only for ourselves but for others in this House and other leaders across this land. Thank you.

---Applause

Reflections On The 14th Legislative Assembly
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 1402

The Speaker Tony Whitford

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