This is page numbers 545 - 573 of the Hansard for the 15th 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 assembly.

Topics

Members Present

Honourable Brendan Bell, Mr. Braden, Honourable Paul Delorey, Honourable Charles Dent, Mrs. Groenewegen, Honourable Joe Handley, Mr. Hawkins, Honourable David Krutko, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Lee, Hon. Michael McLeod, Mr. McLeod, Hon. Kevin Menicoche, Mr. Miltenberger, Mr. Pokiak, Mr. Ramsay, Honourable Floyd Roland, Mr. Villeneuve, Mr. Yakeleya

---Prayer

Item 1: Prayer
Item 1: Prayer

Page 545

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the House. Orders of the day. Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier, Mr. Handley.

Minister's Statement 40-15(6): A Government-wide Approach To Consultation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

August 23rd, 2007

Page 545

Joe Handley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories and across Canada have fought long and hard to have their aboriginal rights recognized. It is important that all governments, including ours, do their part to recognize and uphold these rights. This means the GNWT must consider how decisions we take might infringe upon our asserted or proven aboriginal or treaty rights.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform this House we are formalizing the GNWT's government-wide approach to consultation with aboriginal governments and organizations as an expression of our government's commitment to ensure aboriginal and treaty rights in the Northwest Territories are protected.

We will be implementing a government-wide approach to consultation with aboriginal governments and organizations to ensure the GNWT undertakes consultation in a consistent manner, leading to transparent, accountable and flexible consultation processes for all parties. As part of our work to implement this approach, and because jurisprudence in this area is evolving at a rapid pace, we will develop training materials to ensure our staff have any additional tools and resources they need to keep pace with developments in this area.

This approach will ensure the GNWT upholds the "honour of the Crown" as it fulfills its legal duty, undertaking consultation in a spirit of good faith, ultimately contributing, over the longer-term, to mutually respectful relationships with aboriginal governments and organizations.

This new approach will guide our consultation practices in those instances where the legal duty to consult arises under common law. In addition, it will complement and support the work we are already doing with regard to our consultation obligations contained in land, resources and self-government agreements, interim measures agreements, existing legislation and policy. Although the federal government still has authority over non-renewable resources and Crown land in the Northwest Territories, the government-wide approach will provide for

coordination between the GNWT and the federal government's consultation efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I have written to the leaders of those aboriginal governments and organizations having asserted or proven rights in the Northwest Territories, informing them of our new government-wide approach. I stressed to aboriginal leaders that, in order for consultation to be truly effective, not only does the GNWT have a duty to consult but aboriginal governments and organizations have a reciprocal duty to engage and participate in the consultation process.

Mr. Speaker, I fully expect our new approach to consultation with aboriginal governments and organizations will evolve as case law develops and as we work with aboriginal governments and organizations to develop consultation processes that meet the interests and needs of all parties. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 40-15(6): A Government-wide Approach To Consultation
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 545

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Handley. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Roland.

Minister's Statement 41-15(6): Development Of A Macroeconomic Policy Framework For The Government Of The Northwest Territories
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 545

Floyd Roland Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, since 1999, the NWT has had the fastest growing economy in Canada...

---Applause

...with an average annual growth rate almost three times the national average. This rapid increase has led to higher income levels in the territory and a labour market operating at close to full capacity.

Looking ahead, the NWT will see the completion of the Snap Lake diamond mine later this year, along with additional investment at the Diavik and Ekati mines. A fourth diamond mine is under assessment. These developments will result in continued strong growth in our economy, placing increased pressure on an already tight labour market and on the NWT's industrial and social infrastructure. Other opportunities, like the Mackenzie gas project, will bring significant economic benefits but also increase pressure on the territorial economy.

Even with good news about the NWT economy, there are some important challenges ahead. Fiscal resources are limited and that affects this government's ability to take steps now to ensure the full potential of economic growth across the territory is achieved while managing its impact and preserving the values that are important to northerners.

Since February 2006, the Department of Finance has been working on a macroeconomic policy framework for the NWT. Last fall, I announced a broad consultation process, including a series of roundtable discussions, asking Members of the Legislative Assembly, government departments, the business community, aboriginal and community governments, social and environmental organizations, recognized experts and individual residents for their input into the development of this framework.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the economic roadmap consultations for their valuable contributions. Participants told us that the future economy for the NWT should be balanced, diversified and sustainable, based on multiple industries, building on the traditional economy in the North and involving big and small businesses, large and small communities.

Participants also identified four key priorities for government action and investment:

  • • Education is the key to ensuring NWT residents can benefit directly from the jobs and business opportunities created by development;
  • • Communities -- especially smaller communities -- need the capacity to plan, address issues, and make decisions about economic development;
  • • Improving and expanding infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure, is essential for people to access jobs in other locations, to reduce the costs of living and doing business and to grow economies in smaller communities; and
  • • Protecting the NWT's environment means paying attention to the special features of the NWT, including its natural beauty and diverse ecosystems.

Based on the results of the consultations and on economic studies and analyses undertaken in recent years, the GNWT has completed a macroeconomic policy framework. The framework provides a reference point for the GNWT to evaluate the individual and combined impacts of different policy options, to help coordinate policy development and to guide overall fiscal and other policy decisions. Most important, it will provide a roadmap for achieving the kind of balanced, diversified and sustainable economy people in the NWT want and expect.

This framework is meant to improve the economic impact of government decisions. Based on a vision for a future economy that is balanced, diversified and sustainable, it will be used to guide future decisions about government spending, investment, taxation and borrowing. Putting measures in place to track progress and ensure accountability is an essential part of a policy framework. The document lays out indicators of progress so that the government's policies can be assessed against overall economic results.

Later today, I will be tabling both the final report on the consultations and the macroeconomic policy framework.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 41-15(6): Development Of A Macroeconomic Policy Framework For The Government Of The Northwest Territories
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 546

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Ministers' statements. The honourable Member responsible for the Homeless, Mr. Bell.

Minister's Statement 42-15(6): Progress On Homelessness Initiatives
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 546

Brendan Bell Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that significant progress is being made on homeless initiatives by this government and our community partners. The Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes the need to support communities in finding local solutions to assist the homeless.

The Framework for the GNWT Response to Homelessness was released in January 2007. With the support of Members -- and thank you, Members -- the ongoing funding for homelessness initiatives were included in the 2007-08 Main Estimates. The framework confirms the social program departments are working together to increase homelessness support across the NWT, including emergency housing and a transportation fund.

Mr. Speaker, a small community homelessness fund was developed and proposals sought from local community organizations to begin to address some of the challenges in our smaller communities. Up to $40,000 is available to individual communities to provide emergency shelter options for adults. In addition, up to $10,000 is available for projects aimed at addressing community homelessness issues.

I am very pleased to announce that some excellent proposals were received and program funding will initially be allocated to eight homelessness-related projects.

Mr. Speaker, the proposals received demonstrate strong community partnerships, the mobilization of local resources and the development of creative solutions to address the challenges of homelessness in small communities.

I would also like to report on progress on Bailey House in Yellowknife. Mr. Speaker, construction of Bailey House is proceeding on schedule and the facility is expected to open in January 2008. I would like to thank the Homelessness Coalition, the Salvation Army and Diavik Diamond Mines Incorporated for their ongoing commitment and support to this important project.

Many of you attended the signing ceremony held today to formalize the project funding agreement reached between the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, the Salvation Army and the City of Yellowknife for this important project. The NWT Housing Corporation provided a total of $1.748 million in funding through the affordable housing initiative and the sale of a house. Funding for the affordable housing initiative is matched by the Government of Canada. Beginning in April 2008, the ongoing operations of the Bailey House will be supported by a $200,000 contribution from the Department of Health and Social Services.

Mr. Speaker, the government is making significant progress in addressing homelessness challenges across the NWT. The government looks forward to working with communities and concerned stakeholders, to ensure that disadvantaged residents have access to services and programs that get them back on their feet and that they can move forward to live productive and rewarding lives. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 42-15(6): Progress On Homelessness Initiatives
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 547

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bell. Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 43-15(6): Ground Ambulance And Highway Rescue Services
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 547

Michael McLeod Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to provide my colleagues with an update on the status of the joint work being undertaken by the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and the Department of Health and Social Services on ground ambulance and highway rescue services.

Over the past several years, community governments and other stakeholders have raised concerns about the lack of a comprehensive, coordinated system of ground ambulance and highway rescue services in the Northwest Territories, and about the need for clarity with regard to service levels, responsibility for service delivery and associated funding.

Municipal and Community Affairs and Health and Social Services are working together to address this matter through a two-staged approach. This process will address short and long-term issues. In the short term, the departments are providing funding to address immediate pressures experienced by some community governments in the provision of these services. One-time funding of $200,000 is available on an application basis for communities who provide these services. Six out of seven eligible community governments applied for assistance by the deadline of August 1, 2007.

MACA and Health and Social Services are jointly reviewing the applications received and funding is anticipated to flow to community governments by the end of August 2007.

MACA and Health and Social Services are also in the process of developing a work plan to achieve the long-term goal of a policy framework where the GNWT legislates and delivers ground ambulance and highway rescue service. This work plan includes several aspects including the development of a service levels model that outlines appropriate service levels depending on the community, the development of an appropriate funding framework, and, eventually, programming that is consistent with the regulatory service levels and funding framework.

The departments anticipate that it may take some time to develop the required policy and legislative framework, given the need for data collection and to undertake the required research as well as to gather baseline data. In the interim, MACA and HSS are committed to continuing to consult with effected stakeholders as required, in order to achieve a comprehensive, coordinated system of ground ambulance and highway rescue services in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 43-15(6): Ground Ambulance And Highway Rescue Services
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 547

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier, Mr. Handley.

Minister's Statement 44-15(6): Statement On Passing Of Corporal Jordan Anderson
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 547

Joe Handley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in early July we heard the sad news that a young northerner had lost his life in Afghanistan.

Corporal Jordan Anderson, of the 3rd Battalion, Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry, based in Edmonton, Alberta, was born in Iqaluit, Nunavut, and raised in Tuktoyaktuk and Inuvik, Northwest Territories. He was stationed in Afghanistan where his regiment operated to ensure the safety of local people. On July 4th, a roadside bomb detonated under a vehicle Jordan was riding in and he was killed.

Until that time, the war in Afghanistan seemed a long way away, but it certainly touched the people of the Northwest Territories on July 4th. It is tragic that Jordan's life was cut short, but the life he chose to lead as a soldier had meaning, pride and dignity.

Mr. Speaker, we offer our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Corporal Jordan Anderson. It is because of brave and selfless soldiers like Jordan that the world is a better place. We are proud of him and grieve his loss. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 44-15(6): Statement On Passing Of Corporal Jordan Anderson
Item 2: Ministers' Statements

Page 547

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Handley. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Ms. Lee.

Acknowledgement Of Northern-born Lawyer Jay Bran
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 547

Sandy Lee Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to mark my final Member's statement in the 15th Assembly by honouring the accomplishments of an outstanding young man from a family in my constituency, Mr. Jay Bran. Mr. Speaker, Jay was called to the Bar of the Northwest Territories on August 10, 2007, becoming one of the few but ever growing group of northern grown and aboriginal lawyers from the NWT.

Jay and his family moved to Yellowknife when he was three years old. He attended St. Joseph Elementary School, William MacDonald Junior High School and Sir John Franklin High School. He played professional hockey in a junior league in Alberta and worked as a corrections officer in Yellowknife before pursuing his post-secondary education which eventually led him to obtaining a law degree at the University of Calgary. I have also learned that he even did a summer job stint in this very Assembly as a Deputy Sergeant-at-Arms.

Mr. Speaker, his mother is someone who is very well known to us. Eleanor Bran worked as an aboriginal language interpreter in the Legislative Assembly. She is originally from Fort Simpson and first cousin to Senator Nick Sibbeston. I think Jay may be too young to know this, but I have had the good fortune to work with not only his mother in the Assembly but also his late father, Barry, back in the early 1980s and with his big sister Lisa in the mid-1980s when she and I worked in what is now ITI when it used to be called not RWED but, before that, the Department of Economic Development and Tourism.

Mr. Speaker, Jay also has a brother Derek and another sister Kim. I know if his father were here today, he would show all of us, in his very special way, just how proud he must be of Jay. Mr. Speaker, I am very happy to advise this House that Jay has decided to start his legal career serving his people as a legal aid lawyer in the North specializing in criminal law. He enjoys litigation and, from all accounts, he has established himself as a highly skilled, promising young lawyer already. But I must say I was even more happy to learn that his dear wife, Pam, is a nurse. Pam Baert s a nurse at the OBS unit at the Stanton Territorial Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, given the enormously high demand and value we place in having more northern nurses and legal aid lawyers, this certainly is a power couple indeed. Mr. Speaker, may I seek unanimous consent to finish my statement?

Acknowledgement Of Northern-born Lawyer Jay Bran
Item 3: Members' Statements

Page 548

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Ms. Lee. The Member is seeking unanimous consent to conclude her statement. Are there any nays? There are no nays. You may conclude your statement, Ms. Lee.