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

Members Present

Honourable Roger Allen, Honourable Jim Antoine, Mr. Bell, Mr. Braden, Mr. Delorey, Mr. Dent, Mrs. Groenewegen, Honourable Stephen Kakfwi, Mr. Krutko, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Lee, Mr. McLeod, Honourable Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Nitah, Honourable Jake Ootes, Mr. Roland, Honourable Vince Steen, Honourable Tony Whitford

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 1397

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Good morning, colleagues. Bonjour. Before I begin the Orders of the Day, by the authority given the Speaker by Motion 4-14(6), the House is authorized to sit beyond the hours of daily adjournment today. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for the Sahtu, Mr. Kakfwi.

Minister's Statement 111-14(6): Department Of Executive
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

October 10th, 2003

Page 1397

Stephen Kakfwi Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss in my duties as Premier if I did not take time during this final session of the 14th Legislative Assembly to acknowledge the efforts and achievements of a department that does not receive a great deal of recognition in this House, but one which is nonetheless instrumental in ensuring the overall coordination and management of government -- the Department of Executive.

In my capacity as Minister responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs, and with the unflagging services of the Department of Executive, Cabinet has succeeded in placing the NWT on the national stage, raising our profile with our federal, provincial and territorial counterparts and, most importantly, establishing the linkage between a booming economy and the benefits to the nation. This positioning has helped to influence the growing national recognition that the territorial government must have greater access to revenues generated here, if we are to reach our goal of economic self-sufficiency. Meetings of First Ministers were used to build alliances with provinces and territories and unanimous support for devolution was gained from all.

On the intergovernmental relations front, we also worked hard to establish a solid working relationship with our northern partners. We signed a bilateral MOU with the Yukon, as well as a trilateral MOU amongst the three territories. Strengthening our northern voice has assisted in raising awareness about northern issues and the challenges northern governments face. For example, the unified approach that we northern Premiers took at the First Ministers meeting was critical in ensuring an additional $20 million per territory for health care, as well as convincing Canada that per capita funding for federal programs does not help the territories, where populations are small and program delivery costs are huge.

Our relationships with Premiers across the country has never been stronger and it has resulted in their support for devolution and initiatives such as the national diamond strategy. Furthermore, we will be hosting the 2004 annual Western Premiers conference in Inuvik next July.

One important role played by the Department of Executive is the corporate leadership and government-wide support offered to departments. Managers in the Executive chair interdepartmental committees whose purpose is to ensure that information is shared, to promote excellence in their respective fields and to solidify cross-departmental relationships.

The department assists with the development of the strategic, policy and communications aspects of overall government-wide strategies such as the energy strategy, maximizing northern employment, the social agenda and the development of the national diamond strategy -- a strategy developed by all provinces and territories and spearheaded by the NWT and Quebec.

As well, the Executive provides leadership in communicating about the government's agenda. The Executive produces the monthly Bear Facts newsletter, to keep our public service informed and connected. It manages the GNWT's Web site and visual identity program. As well, it provides an exemplary protocol service for visiting dignitaries from all over the world. In the past four years, we have planned or played host to over 50 protocol events, ranging from the visits of foreign ambassadors, high commissioners and consul generals to those of Canadian foreign service officers, heads of diplomatic missions and Canadian high commissioners, ambassadors and federal Ministers. With each visit comes an opportunity to promote an increased understanding of the NWT, its goals and aspirations and the opportunities we have to offer.

Through its Cabinet Secretariat, the Executive provides quality advice and analysis that is intrinsic to the Cabinet decision-making process. The thorough examination of all matters and issues that were brought before Cabinet is another assurance that sound decision-making, based on solid information and analysis, remains a cornerstone of governmental processes.

The Executive has provided corporate human resource support through the delivery of a number of innovative programs. The management assignment program, designed to help develop skills of existing employees to better prepare them for management and senior management is now underway. We had 101 applications this year. This group was reduced to 29 who are in the final assessment phase. Twenty will join the existing five participants. This innovative program is one means of providing training and career advancement opportunities within our public service.

A new employee recognition program was launched. It updated the long service and retirement programs, added departmental recognition programs and introduced the Premier's Award for Excellence, which celebrates excellence in public service. We have honoured the recent recipients of this award during this session.

Additionally, we have made strides in standardizing GNWT training in both human resources and in general management skills areas such as staffing and writing decision papers. These training opportunities are being delivered in all regional centres on a regular basis.

In terms of building the public service of tomorrow, highly successful student and graduate employment programs have been put in place. The graduate employment program, in place for the past two years, has seen over 200 new graduates of diploma and degree programs find initial employment in the NWT in their fields of study. A good cross-section of communities were represented among the graduates and placements. Over 90 percent of these graduates remained in relevant jobs following their initial placements. On the student side, increased coordination has resulted in over 300 students hired in each of the last two summers, one-third of whom were regional placements.

To support staff retention, we introduced a standard exit interview process for those changing jobs or leaving government. The first year of this new process has been completed and a report released on the results. These results will help the GNWT to become an even better employer and improve the retention of our valuable staff.

We have also done a variety of things to improve coordination and consistency in human resource practices across government. This has resulted in regular sharing of information among human resource officers and managers, regular reporting to deputy ministers and improved guidelines and procedures in a number of areas including a complete overhaul of the staffing procedures.

Mr. Speaker, the staff members of the Department of Executive are a hard-working and dedicated group of employees whose talents help ensure the continued smooth operations of the machinery of government. It has been my pleasure to work with them as Premier and I thank them again for their efforts. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 111-14(6): Department Of Executive
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1398

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Premier. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 112-14(6): Tourism Marketing Campaign
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1398

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mr. Speaker, the tourism industry has worked hard over the past 14 years to promote the Northwest Territories as the premier Aurora viewing destination for Japanese tourists.

Since 1989 when 80 Japanese tourists came to view the aurora borealis, the industry has grown to a peak of just over 13,000 visitors during the winter of 2000-2001, who spent $20 million in the Northwest Territories.

Unfortunately, the growth in this industry came to an abrupt halt with the impact of September 11, 2001. After the tragic events of that day, the number of aurora tourists from Japan dropped dramatically and spending dropped by $11.2 million. The SARS and BSE outbreaks and the war in Iraq have also impacted the Japanese aurora viewing market and resulted in further revenue losses of $2.6 million.

Mr. Speaker, Members of this Assembly have recognized that without intervention by this government and our tourism partners the recovery of the Aurora viewing market would not be assured. Many businesses now depend on Japanese tourism spending, which amounts to about $1600 per visitor. Any further erosion of this delicate tourism market will have severe impacts on many northern businesses. This government is committed to working with our partners to ensure the Japanese people know the Northwest Territories is a safe and healthy place to visit.

For this reason, I am pleased that the Legislative Assembly agreed yesterday to provide a supplementary appropriation of $250,000 for a targeted marketing campaign this winter in Japan promoting the Northwest Territories as a safe tourism destination. This investment will lever additional funding from our partners including the Canadian Tourism Commission and industry, bringing the total budget for the campaign to more than $500,000.

The Northwest Territories Arctic Tourism Association and the Canadian Tourism Commission, in consultation with our major Japanese tour operators, are developing the campaign. The campaign is targeted specifically at the large wholesale tour industry and will include five components: media familiarization tours; travel trade familiarization tours; sales visits; participation at the Japanese tour operators Kanata marketplace; and, print media campaign. The aim is to rekindle interest in Japanese travelers coming to the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that by working together with our tourism industry partners we can bring the aurora viewing tourism industry back to, and even surpass, its previous levels and expand this industry throughout the Northwest Territories. This additional funding is good news for our tourism industry and will be welcomed at the upcoming 2003 Northwest Territories Arctic Tourism Association annual general meeting and tourism conference that will be held in Inuvik on November 6 to 8. Mahsi.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 112-14(6): Tourism Marketing Campaign
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1398

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mahsi, Mr. Minister. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, Mr. Allen.

Minister's Statement 113-14(6): Departmental Achievements
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1398

Roger Allen Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to talk today about some of the achievements of the Department of Justice during the 14th Legislative Assembly.

The department had many significant legislative achievements during the 14th Assembly, including the Human Rights Act and National Aboriginal Day Act. The Human Rights Act is one of the most comprehensive in Canada and everyone in this Assembly shares in this achievement. Other legislative achievements include the Personal Property Security Act, Powers of Attorney Act, raising the minimum wage, and increasing the small claims court limit. These legislative changes support our growing economy and the ability of residents to control their own affairs.

I am pleased that the Protection Against Family Violence Act and Youth Justice Act have been given third reading this final session.

During this Legislative Assembly, the department expanded its community justice program. Working in partnership, we have seen the number of communities involved in justice activities double over the last four years. The community justice program is an alternative to the justice system, encouraging offenders to accept responsibility of their actions and face their community. By next year, all communities will receive funding from the department to hire a part-time justice coordinator.

Mr. Speaker, considerable work has gone into modernizing the corrections system. We have created a corrections system that is safe, secure and focused on community support and reintegration. The department is using wilderness camps, alternative homes and traditional counsellors to help transition offenders back into their communities.

The department assumed responsibility for probation, expanding it into a community corrections program. With community corrections workers in eleven communities, the department is better able to supervise offenders and assist them in returning to their communities.

The third step in modernizing our corrections system has been the construction of new facilities to replace old, outdated centres. These facilities use new supervision techniques and provide an environment more reflective of aboriginal culture and values to support the rehabilitation of offenders.

Mr. Speaker, improvements have been made to other parts of the justice system as well. In the area of family law, the department has brought together all family programs under the supervision of one person. This has resulted in improvements to both legislation and the maintenance enforcement program. It has also resulted in the delivery of positive parenting programs in Inuvik, Yellowknife and Fort Smith, and support for a new collaborative approach to family law.

The department has also worked with the RCMP to improve the level of police services in the Northwest Territories. During the last four years, the department has provided resources for a new restorative justice coordinator in the RCMP, and to add an additional officer to all single-member detachments.

The department worked to prepare for implementation of the federal government's Youth Criminal Justice Act. This act complements the NWT's existing practice of diverting offenders into the community justice system. The department provided training and materials for all justice partners, including communities to prepare them for the larger role they will play in the system.

The final achievement I would like to highlight today relates to the role of the Department of Justice as the government's "in-house law firm," providing legal advice to government departments. The changing political and economic environment of the Northwest Territories has increased demand for legal advice and support from the department. The department's legal team played important roles in self-government, devolution and land claim negotiations over the past four years, and will continue to do so.

Also, Mr. Speaker, the department's legislation division has worked with both the Legislative Assembly and all departments to meet the active legislative agenda of the 14th Assembly while ensuring our laws meet the needs of citizens.

These are just some highlights of the many achievements of the Department of Justice, Mr. Speaker, and I thank you for the opportunity to talk about them.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 113-14(6): Departmental Achievements
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1399

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Minister. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Antoine.

Minister's Statement 114-14(6): Rwed Achievements
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1399

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide the Members of the Legislative Assembly with highlights of the major initiatives that the Department of Resources, Wildlife and Economic Development has undertaken over the past four years.

resources
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1399

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

The management of our renewable resources, which includes wise use, relates directly to the health of our environment and our economy. RWED has worked hard to promote the management and use of fur, forest, agriculture, et cetera. Mr. Speaker, I recently provided an update on our fur program and the results we are achieving.

We have also worked steadily at improving our forest inventories which need constant updating and are the basis for determining sustainable harvest levels. We are involving aboriginal governments through the development of forest management agreements. In addition, over 670,000 tree seedlings were planted through contracts with communities over the past four years to help renew our forests.

To assist our farming sector, Mr. Speaker, our government has signed the national agricultural policy framework agreement for the 21st Century, and a bilateral agricultural accord that will lever funding from the federal government. Members are also aware of the activities we undertook to deal with the recent outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy, BSE.

wildlife
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1399

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

The department is responsible for maintaining healthy wildlife populations. Earlier this year, the department initiated the western NWT biophysical study. This $1 million project will gather baseline data to measure and mitigate the impact of natural gas development on wildlife and wildlife habitat.

We continue to support harvesting of our healthy wildlife populations. Over the past four years, the western NWT harvester assistance program, which promotes community driven, renewable resource harvesting initiatives has committed almost $1.8 million to 23 qualified organizations, who match our contribution as a condition of participation.

As well, we have worked over the past four years to renew our Wildlife Act and develop a Species at Risk Act. Aboriginal governments and the public have been intimately involved in providing advice so that the proposed legislation will be compatible with land claim agreements and address the concerns with the existing legislation.

environment
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1399

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

We have taken a number of measures over the past four years to protect and enhance the quality of our land, air and water. The proposed Waste Reduction and Recovery Act will allow us to establish programs that should reduce materials going to landfills and littering the land. Under the protected areas strategy, communities continue to identify land and processes to protect important areas.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to waive Rule 349(6) so that all Ministers' statements filed with the Clerk can be delivered today.

environment
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1400

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you. The honourable Member is seeking unanimous consent to waive the rules pertaining to the timing of the Ministers' statements, so that they may conclude the remaining ministerial statements for today. There are no nays, Mr. Minister, you may conclude your statement.

environment
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 1400

Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Under the protected areas strategy, communities continue to identify land and processes to protect important areas. Last year, lands were withdrawn for protection in the Edhzhie or Horn Plateau. Currently, nine protected area candidate initiatives are in progress. In addition, the PAS Implementation and Advisory Committee recently approved a five-year management plan in partnership with the federal Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development that will see more than $17 million invested to protect areas of significant value in the Northwest Territories prior to the construction of a pipeline.

Climate change is also of great concern to territorial residents. The department developed both the greenhouse gas strategy and the energy strategy to encourage residents, businesses and governments to conserve energy and develop affordable and sustainable sources of energy. We have taken a leading role on behalf of this government to work with other Canadian governments toward the adoption of the Kyoto Protocol, which will curb the emission of these gasses on a global level. We continue to develop and adopt new standards, under our Environmental Protection Act, to manage air quality.

In the past two years, the department has coordinated our government's participation in eight major environmental assessments relating to proposed tungsten, diamond, forestry and oil and natural gas developments. The environmental assessment unit was formed this year to help coordinate more effective environmental assessment.

In addition, the department negotiated and signed the Yukon-NWT trans-boundary water management agreement in February 2002, to facilitate closer cooperation and more effective management of shared water resources.