This is page numbers 61 - 86 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 standing.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Roger Allen, Honourable Jim Antoine, Mr. Bell, Mr. Braden, Mr. Delorey, Mr. Dent, Mrs. Groenewegen, Honourable Joe Handley, 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

February 14th, 2003

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Bonjour, mes ami. Happy Valentine's Day. Before we proceed to the business of the day, I would like to take this opportunity in recognition of tomorrow being National Flag of Canada Day. All across Canada, people will be celebrating the 38th anniversary of our national flag. Along with the national anthem, the flag is the most important symbol of our country. The flat represents not only the country's land and its people, but also its values. I would like to take this moment to tell you a little bit about the history of our flag.

Some of you may remember back to the events that took place some 38 years ago. The official ceremony initiating the new Canadian flag was held on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on February 15, 1965 with the Governor General Georges Vanier, Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson and Members of the Cabinet and thousands of Canadians in attendance. The Canadian flag bearing the Union Jack and the shield of the Royal Arms of Canada was lowered and then on the stroke of noon, our new maple leaf was raised. The crowd sang the national anthem, O Canada, followed by the royal anthem of God Save the Queen. The following words were spoken on that momentous day by the Speaker of the Senate, adding further symbolic meaning to our flag. He said, and I quote: "The flag is a symbol of our nation's unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion."

The NWT Celebrate Canada Committee and I would like to invite you to celebrate the 28th anniversary of the national flag of Canada on Saturday, that's tomorrow, February 15th, outside by the flag stand and later in the Great Hall of the Legislative Assembly at noon where there will be some celebrations taking place. Thank you.

---Applause

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

Minister's Statement 8-14(6): Diand Announcement Regarding Federal Pipeline Commitment
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Jim Antoine Nahendeh

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories commends yesterday's announcement by the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs to create a pipeline readiness office in Yellowknife. This is an important first step in the federal government's commitment to support the construction of a natural gas pipeline in the Northwest Territories.

DIAND announced $10 million towards the creation of the pipeline readiness office in DIAND's NWT regional office in Yellowknife. It will enhance its capacity to deal with industry, coordinate with other government organizations and work with Northerners. It is our understanding that the pipeline readiness office will have a staff of approximately seven people when up and running.

Minister Nault also announced an additional $6 million for northern boards that will be conducting regulatory reviews for a pipeline application. These funds will assist them in meeting their growing demands, which include increased pipeline planning, environmental assessment and regulatory reviews. In June 2002, these northern boards, along with the National Energy Board, undertook the development of a cooperation plan to coordinate the regulatory reviews of a pipeline application. It is our understanding that a secretariat will be created to provide support services to all signatories of the cooperation plan.

We were also pleased to hear Minister Nault's statement that market forces must decide when and where a pipeline is built, and that he will take that message to Washington. This has been the position of our government for some time.

Mr. Speaker, we were encouraged that the federal Minister made mention of future contributions that will be made by DIAND as well as other government agencies. These funds will assist in the development of our northern resources. To date, our government has been disappointed by the federal government's lack of financial support. We hope that the Minister's statement yesterday indicates a new willingness by the federal government to contribute its fair share. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 8-14(6): Diand Announcement Regarding Federal Pipeline Commitment
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mahsi, Mr. Antoine. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Handley.

Minister's Statement 9-14(6): Formula-based Funding To Community Governments
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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Joe Handley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to clarify how this government determines program, community and capital funding levels.

The overwhelming majority of our funding is allocated to programs, communities and capital investments based on need, not on per capita formulas. Programs such as health care, education and housing are provided to our residents based on relative need, irrespective of what this costs on a per capita basis. Capital investments are also based on need, not per capita. Municipal funding provided through the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is one of these very few areas where population is considered in funding allocations. In this case, community entitlements are adjusted for the different costs incurred by each community in delivering municipal services to their residents.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that we provide funding on a needs basis is illustrated well in the geographic tracking of expenditures report we issue each year. This report shows that the government's spending on a per capita basis varies widely among communities because relative needs are taken into account as well as each community's ability to raise their own revenues.

For example, in fiscal year 1989-99 we spent $11,687 per capita for services to the residents of Fort Simpson, $6,040 per capita Yellowknife, $17,476 per capita in Lutselk'e and $14,961 per capita in Tulita. Clearly, relative needs drive these numbers, not equal per capita allocations.

Mr. Speaker, our capital funding allocations are also based on need. For example, taking the last ten years of capital spending into account, the average capital investment by community has ranged from $14,000 per capita in Fort Resolution, to $6,000 per capita in Hay River, $23,000 per capita in Tulita and $3,000 per capita in Yellowknife. These numbers are different because we do not determine allocations on the basis of per capita entitlements, rather we use relative need.

Mr. Speaker, the per capita methodology that the federal government was proposing to use to determine the territories' share of health care funding does not resemble in any way the approach that our government uses to allocate the vast majority of our program, community and capital funding. Thank you.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 9-14(6): Formula-based Funding To Community Governments
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Pretty boisterous bunch today. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

Legislative Compliance With Land Claim Agreements
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 62

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am appalled that the Wildlife Act amendments will not be coming forth in the term of this Assembly. Mr. Speaker, it has been almost 10 years since the Gwich'in have signed a comprehensive land claim agreement. It has been a little over nine years since the Sahtu Dene-Metis signed a claim.

Mr. Speaker, the last time any major amendments took place in this House was in 1994, in regards to the Wildlife Act amendments, to allow for an Inuvialuit land claims comprehensive claim, to allow for the amendments to enact that legislation and their agreements. Mr. Speaker, the Minister at the time, who is now the Premier, Minister Kakfwi, presented the introduction to legislation on Bill 12, recognizing the implantations provisions in the Inuvialuit final agreement and giving effect to the western claim settlement agreement. Bill 12 was developed to consult the representation ensuring the Inuvialuit continue to clarify and carry out the provisions of the wildlife agreement.

Mr. Speaker, it's interesting to note that, at that time, the standing committee of the Legislative Assembly, which was chaired by Mr. Gargan who was the previous Speaker of the House, stated: "In review of Bill 12, An Act To Amend The Wildlife Act, this bill amends the act to recognize the provisions of Inuvialuit Final Agreement as they pertain to wildlife harvesting and management. The bill further provides the commissioner authority to develop regulations regarding implementation and recognition of existing and future land claims."

The Inuvialuit Final Agreement was signed in 1984, 10 years ago. In the Northwest Territories, there has been three more land claims being signed by, in particular, the Gwich'in, the Sahtu and Inuvialuit. The committee is concerned with the length of time that it takes the government to introduce legislation concerning claims groups and the land claims regions.

Further Mr. Speaker, the committee is disappointed that the government has not taken the opportunity to introduce further amendments to enact the existing land claim agreements. Mr. Speaker, many concerns have been voiced in the 10 years previous. Mr. Speaker, why is it that it takes this government that length of time to act on land claims legislation, Mr. Speaker?

Legislative Compliance With Land Claim Agreements
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 62

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. The honourable Member's time for Members' statements has expired. He is seeking unanimous consent to conclude. Are there any nays? There are no nays. Mr. Krutko, you may conclude your statement.

Legislative Compliance With Land Claim Agreements
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 62

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, at that time, the committee recognized that it has taken over 10 years to implement the Inuvialuit land claim agreement. Yet, Mr. Speaker, today we are here again 10 years later, after the Gwich'in land claim has been settled, signed, and yet, Mr. Speaker, this government is not carrying out its obligation to implement those land claim agreements to enact legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I have to commend my colleague, Mr. Dent, for taking the initiative to come forth with a private Member's bill to look at amending the wildlife agreement.

---Applause

Yet, Mr. Speaker, is that the route that we will have to take to enact legislation that this government is responsible for by way of the wildlife legislation? So, Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time, I will be having questions for the Minister responsible for the Wildlife Act. Thank you.

Legislative Compliance With Land Claim Agreements
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 62

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Krutko. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Great Slave, Mr. Braden.

Petition On Affordable Housing
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 62

Bill Braden Great Slave

Merci, Mr. Speaker. In the last few weeks, I have had the opportunity to join two Yellowknifers in running a petition to get more affordable rental housing legislation in the NWT. To date, Barry Newman, Mark Zimmer and I have collected more than 300 signatures. I will be bringing this petition into the House in early March, Mr. Speaker, so there is still time for people to sign it and show their support for this critical need.

But you know, besides this show of support, I have been very pleased with the amount of discussion and debate that this petition has helped create in the midst of a very, very tight housing market in Yellowknife.

One of the recent commentaries was an editorial in that fine newspaper, The Yellowknifer. The paper clearly supported one of the petition's objectives, which is to urge government to help the construction of more affordable rental housing in the communities, not just in Yellowknife.

But the paper took the wrong direction, Mr. Speaker, with its hasty and mistaken conclusion that the legislation we are looking for amounts to rent controls. This is a simplistic view and it is simply wrong.

What we are seeking, Mr. Speaker, is a better way for our rentals office to be able to help landlords and tenants to iron out disputes concerning rent hikes that are too darn high and come too darn often for people to cope with.

When I was in one of the shopping malls collecting signatures, Mr. Speaker, I spoke with an elderly gentlemen who has his grandchildren, who are now young adults, staying in his apartment because they can't afford to be on their own.

I spoke with a young couple about to start a family who are now paying $1,430.00 for their three bedroom unit. Two years ago, Mr. Speaker, they were paying $905.00.

I spoke with a woman who has been living in Yellowknife for two years but says she just doesn't feel established as a resident because she can't get a place that she is ready to call home.

Mr. Speaker, these are the messages that I am getting and I know other MLAs are getting these messages, too. I know there are better ways to deal with rental issues than our 15-year-old act and I hope our petition will help us get there. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Petition On Affordable Housing
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 63

The Speaker Tony Whitford

Thank you, Mr. Braden. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Hay River North, Mr. Delorey.

Hay River District Education Authority
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 63

Paul Delorey Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I sat in this Chamber yesterday and listened to the Honourable Joe Handley deliver an address to the people of the Northwest Territories and, on the surface, it painted a very rosy picture as to where we started from three years ago, where we are today and where we are going.

Mr. Speaker, the financial picture at a quick glance, depicts success stories on every front as to the great job we have done on spending the limited resources. Mr. Speaker, the finance Minster spoke of building partnerships, strong partnerships and all we have been able to achieve through those partnerships.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, not everyone would agree with our success stories and that all our partnerships operate in harmonious bliss.

For example, Mr. Speaker, I have on a number of occasions raised concerns about the dysfunctional partnership which exists within the South Slave District Education Council. This partnership has been referred to, Mr. Speaker, as "one born in hell" and indications are that things are not showing signs of improvement. To the contrary.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister boasted about increased spending in education of over $46 million dollars from 1999/2000 to 2002/2003 and another $8 million dollars added to Education Culture and Employment's budget this year to maintain this government's commitment to education.

Mr. Speaker, this represents a total budget of $210 million dollars for 2003/2004. Yet, Mr. Speaker, the Hay River DEA is forced to cut its already under funded budget by some six percent.

The Hay River DEA represents about 50 percent of students in the entire South Slave region, over 900 students. Yet, Mr. Speaker, they carry the same voting power as the smallest DEA with less than 100 students.

Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, February 8, Fort Resolution, Lutselk'e and Hay River Reserve outvoted Hay River and Fort Smith for the redistribution of some $190,000. To do this on the backs of Hay River students is deplorable and totally unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, I have stood in this House on many occasions and advocated for a separate district education council for Hay River to protect the interests of Hay River students and the largest student population in the South Slave. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Education....

Hay River District Education Authority
Item 3: Members' Statements

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The Speaker Tony Whitford

Mr. Delorey, your time for Members' statements is up. Mr. Delorey.