This is page numbers 2821 - 2866 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 3rd 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 agreed.

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Bill 8: Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009
First Reading of Bills

March 5th, 2009

Thebacha

Michael Miltenberger Minister of Finance

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Range Lake, that Bill 8, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009, be read for the first time. Thank you.

Bill 8: Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009
First Reading of Bills

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Bill 8, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009, has had first reading.

---Carried

Item 19, second reading of bills. The honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Miltenberger.

Bill 8: Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009
Second Reading of Bills

Thebacha

Michael Miltenberger Minister of Finance

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Range Lake, that Bill 8, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009, be read for the second time.

Mr. Speaker, this bill makes supplementary appropriations for the Government of the Northwest Territories for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 8: Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009
Second Reading of Bills

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Bill 8, Supplementary Appropriation Act, No. 3, 2008-2009, has had second reading.

---Carried

Item 20, consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters: Tabled Document 7-16(3), Ministerial Benefits Policy; Tabled Document 11-16(3), NWT Main Estimates 2009-2010; Committee Report 2-16(3), Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on Matters Referred to the Committee; Bill 1, An Act to Amend the Historical Resources Act; Bill 3, International Interest in Mobile Aircraft Equipment Act; Bill 4, Public Library Act; Bill 5, Professional Corporations Act; and Bill 7, An Act to Amend the Student Financial Assistance Act. By the authority given me as Speaker by Motion 10-16(3), I hereby authorize the House to sit beyond the daily hour of adjournment to consider the business before the House, with Mr. Krutko in the chair.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

I’d like to call Committee of the Whole to order. Consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters: Tabled Document 7-16(3), Tabled Document 11-16(3), Committee Report 2-16(3), Bills 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7. What’s the wish of the committee? Mrs. Groenewegen.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Today we would like to deal with the Legislative Assembly, the Department of Finance and then, time permitting, the Executive offices.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Is committee agreed?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

With that, we will take a short break and begin with the Legislative Assembly.

---SHORT RECESS

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

I’d like to call Committee of the Whole to order. Prior to the break, we agreed that we’ll begin with regard to the Legislative Assembly. At this time, I would like to call on the Speaker and see if he has any opening remarks for the main estimates for the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Speaker.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Paul Delorey Hay River North

Yes, I do. Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am pleased to present the 2009-10 main estimates for the Legislative Assembly. Mr. Chairman, this year marks the second year of the Assembly’s expenditure reduction exercise. The Board of Management has approved an operating budget of $15.65 million for the Assembly this year.

This represents an expenditure increase of 1.8 percent over last year’s budget.

Mr. Chairman, in addition to fully implementing the Board of Management’s two-year target expenditure reductions, the 2009-10 main estimates includes a number of important new initiatives. These include funding for the work of the independent commission to review compensation and benefits which must be established in the upcoming fiscal year.

Funding is also included to host the Canadian Regional Commonwealth Parliamentary Seminar in October. This seminar will be attended by Legislatures from across Canada who will have a rare opportunity to visit the North and learn how our unique system of consensus government works.

Mr. Chairman, the main estimates before you include $14 million to support the work of the Assembly’s various statutory officers. Of note is the additional funding required to implement amendments to the Human Rights Act approved by this Assembly. These amendments will see a clearer distinction drawn between the activities of the various agencies established under the act. Mr. Chair, as was the case last year, all our statutory officers were given the opportunity to appear before the Board of Management to substantiate and defend their operating budget requirements. Their valued input is reflected in the Assembly’s estimates.

While not included in the current operating budget, I wish to advise Members that planning is well underway to repair the Legislative Assembly roadway system and increase its parking capacity.

---Applause

A budget request will be put before the Assembly this fall, with work being scheduled for completion during the 2010 construction season.

Mr. Chair, the global economic slowdown and its resulting impact on capital markets have had serious implications for private and public sector pension plans throughout the world. As Members know, the Board of Management manages over $38 million in assets held in the Legislative Assembly’s two pension plans. While these investments have not been immune to capital market downturns, I am pleased to report that both plans continue to hold healthy surplus positions and will not require the infusion of any public funds for the foreseeable future. I want to thank my colleagues on the Board of Management in both this and the last Assembly for the prudence and foresight they have demonstrated in protecting the interests of past, current and future plan beneficiaries.

Mr. Chair, I want to take a few moments to advise the House and the public of a number of initiatives my office is undertaking to show leadership in environmental and personal responsibilities. First, I am pleased to advise the House that the Board of Management has approved the installation of a wood pellet boiler at the Legislative Assembly during the upcoming fiscal year.

---Applause

This system will reduce the Assembly’s greenhouse gas emissions by over 90 percent and reduce its annual heating costs by 18 percent. The system will work in tandem with the building’s existing boiler, which will still operate to handle peak loads and provide emergency redundancy.

It should come as no surprise to any of you when I say that this institution is addicted to paper. If we were to take all the paper that we use in this building in a year and stack it in piles, it would reach the top of this Chamber more than six times. Placed end to end, this paper would stretch from Yellowknife to Fort Providence. Maybe it’s one way we could use to fill all the holes between here and Enterprise.

The Assembly’s recent decision to allow the use of laptop computers in Committee of the Whole and standing committees provides a key opportunity to change our processes and reduce this waste. While information technology will unquestionably provide convenience and efficiency to the activities of Members while in the Chamber and committees, the greatest benefit will be in using this opportunity to change the way we do business, to reduce our dependency on paper and help the environment.

I have set an ambitious target of reducing our paper consumption by 80 percent in the next year and I look forward to the cooperation of all Members in assisting with this transition.

More than one Member has expressed an interest to me in finding ways to make their activities carbon neutral. I am pleased to advise Members that I will introduce regulatory amendments early in the new fiscal year to allow Members to use their constituency budgets to purchase carbon offsets from institutions meeting the Gold Standard. This will enable any Member to use their budgets to promote a carbon neutral approach to representing their constituents.

Finally, the Legislative Assembly has in recent years lead by example with respect to social and personal responsibility. In these halls we need to both talk the talk and walk the walk in this spirit. I want to advise Members that the Legislative Assembly is going to Drop the Pop and ditch the disposable water bottles effective June 1st of this

year. I have directed the Assembly’s catering contractor to discontinue the sale or distribution of soft drinks and bottled water in the Legislative Assembly, including at private meetings and functions.

The Legislative Assembly is the most important public institution in the Northwest Territories. As lawmakers, role models and politicians, we must each practice the habits that we want people to emulate. I know you will all cooperate as we make these important changes.

Before I conclude, I want to take advantage of this rare opportunity at the mike to recognize some outstanding work at the Legislative Assembly this year. For the past year the Government Operations committee has been conducting an exhaustive review of the implementations of the NWT Official Languages Act. The committee, under the leadership of MLA Kevin Menicoche, has travelled extensively throughout the NWT, hearing and documenting the concerns of our language speakers and communities. The report of this committee will be tabled in the House during this session. I have seen some early drafts of this report and I want to state how impressed I am with the work that has been done on this important file. This is the bread and butter work of legislators. Our committee has done work here that we can all take great pride in. I hope all Members and the public pay close attention to this report when it is made public in the days ahead. I want to make special mention of the work of the committee staff who assisted with this review; particularly the research and drafting that Regina Pfeifer has done in support of this committee’s work, which rivals that of the highest paid consultants we too often rely upon for advice and expertise.

---Applause

Advice and expertise that is usually available to us in house. Congratulations to all the committee members and staff on this excellent piece of work.

This concludes my opening comments. I would be pleased to answer any questions Members may have.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At this time I would ask if you will be bringing in any witnesses.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Paul Delorey Hay River North

Yes, I would, Mr. Chairman.

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair David Krutko

Is the committee agreed to allow the Speaker to bring in his witnesses?

Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.