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.

Topics

The House met at 1:37 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bob McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 52-16(3): Update Of Understanding With Diamond Mines
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, on November 27th of last year, our government began an

expanded partnering approach with the Northwest Territories’ three diamond mines to identify ways to attract skilled workers and their families to the Northwest Territories and to advance training and travel initiatives to allow more Northwest Territories residents to be employed in our mines.

This approach was formalized in a Workforce Initiative Memorandum of Understanding that is now guiding our collective efforts to further the development and retention of a diamond mining workforce in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, our agreement with the diamond mines reflects our goals as the 16th Assembly to

provide all communities and regions with opportunities and choices.

Our work under the memorandum of understanding also supports our stated priority to maximize opportunities from resource development. This includes promoting the Northwest Territories as a place to live and work.

Convincing fly-in/fly-out workers to make our Territory their home is a key step that would service to enhance the sustainability of our Northwest Territories economy and grow the population of the Northwest Territories. We are currently defining and

prioritizing the steps that we will need to take to encourage mine employees to stay and live in our communities.

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories has come a long way since 1996, when our first diamond mine began construction.

Northwest Territories residents have realized 13,000 person years of employment, half of which has been aboriginal employment. Training programs, many in partnership with the mines, have grown to prepare the young and vibrant workforce that exists today.

Innovations like the Mobile Trades Training Lab and the new Underground Miner Training Program ensure that we keep up with the needs of our growing industry and Territory.

The Workforce Initiative Memorandum of Understanding was an important next step. It provides a framework for a strong and positive working relationship that will help government and the mines find more ways to develop the skills and capacities of our residents for industry and attract even more new residents to the Northwest Territories.

One of the key themes that has emerged in our ongoing discussions is the need to find affordable means to expand pick-up points in the Northwest Territories for mine employees. The mines are now looking at ways to remove transportation barriers that will enable expanded employment beyond core recruitment areas and especially from the Northwest Territories northern regions.

In addition, the GNWT and mines will be conducting a survey in late spring with mine employees. This will help identify some of the barriers the Northwest Territories currently faces in retaining these employees in the North. From there, we will be able to work towards addressing the barriers and perceptions that are impacting northern residency.

While our work continues, Mr. Speaker, it is, admittedly, challenged in the short term by the existing economic downturn that we are in. However, in recognizing the cyclical nature of this downturn, it is critical that we work to counter its impacts and, as much as we can, keep building

capacity in our people, business and communities and by doing so, our economy.

We cannot have a healthy and vibrant economy without people. People empower our businesses and provide the market for goods and services that will create more businesses.

This memorandum of understanding is a collaborative investment with our diamond mines to increase northern employment and to attract and retain people to our Territory. Our steering committee will be meeting again in March and I look forward to keeping the Members of this Assembly informed as we move forward with this important initiative. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 52-16(3): Update Of Understanding With Diamond Mines
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Member for Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister’s Statement 53-16(3): Uranium Contamination Soil Removal
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to advise Members that the last bags of uranium-contaminated soil from Tulita were received at a licensed waste disposal facility in the United States earlier this year.

---Applause

The uranium ore was mined at Port Radium from 1942 until 1960. It was transported in bags down the Great Bear River by barge, portaged by truck at the rapids and loaded onto another barge. Tulita was used as a transfer point for the ore because of its location at the confluence of the Mackenzie and Great Bear rivers. During transfer, ore leaked from the bags into the soil at Tulita.

Cleanup of the uranium-contaminated soil began in the 1980s. The soil was placed in a mound in a secure area near the Tulita Airport while the federal government determined a final disposal option. In 2006 the contaminated soil was packaged into water-resistant bulk storage bags for eventual transport to long-term storage or disposal.

Last October the bags were finally loaded onto barges and transported to Hay River for shipment south to Grande View, Idaho.

Mr. Speaker, I’m advised that Mr. Gordon Yakeleya, whose yard was remediated during the cleanup, loaded the last bag of uranium-contaminated soil onto the barge.

It’s taken 15 years to get the contaminated soil removed from the community.

I would like to commend MLA for the Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya, for his work in persuading the federal

government to expedite the removal and disposal of the uranium-contaminated soil.

---Applause

Tulita was not the only contaminated site along the northern transportation route used to ship uranium ore from Port Radium to Waterways, Alberta. Other sites can be found at Sawmill Bay, Great Bear River, Bell Rock, Fort Smith and Fort Fitzgerald.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources officials will continue to work with the federal government to expedite the continued cleanup of the remaining sites along the northern transportation route. Mahsi.

Minister’s Statement 53-16(3): Uranium Contamination Soil Removal
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Import Substitution Policy
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to discuss import substitution today; what it is, the opportunities it presents and the support for it that is available to people and businesses from this government. Import substitution is simply making or finding things we need from local and regional resources instead of shipping them here or importing them from far away. For example, instead of importing beef or pork from southern Canada or Australia, many people get their meat from the land, from moose or caribou, bison, ducks and grouse. Some people heat their homes with firewood they collect themselves or purchase from the local provider instead of importing extremely expensive heating oil from southern Canada. Most people drink local water rather than bottled water from far away.

Substituting imported stuff with locally derived and locally made stuff has many amazing and positive spinoffs. First, the money exchange happens within the community or the region. It’s well known that money spent locally circulates within the community, accelerating its value to the local economy six or seven times. This means, of course, that there are more jobs within the community and options for making a decent living. The resources that are being used, water, forest, wildlife, et cetera, are looked after better because they are being used regularly, monitored by the users and their value is known and recognized. The land and water is healthier and people are healthier. Further, the skills of people using local resources, either collecting them or using them to

make into value-added products increases, and with increased skills there comes an entrepreneurial spirit that further builds economic options for others.

Finally, making and deriving products from local materials draws on all the people of a community, their traditional and non-traditional knowledge and skills, and results in the strengthening of social ties and social health. The cooperative community is a strong one.

People and businesses can take advantage of the opportunities presented by the concept of import substitution by accessing funds to support their work or to start an import substitution business. A good example is the SEED program, or Support for Entrepreneurs in Economic Development, housed in the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. Are you interested marketing fish locally, growing and selling vegetables, cutting your heating and power costs by generating your own heat from firewood or solar panels?

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Import Substitution Policy
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Mr. Speaker, are you interested in these opportunities to use local resources for your own business or your own home? The SEED program and incentives provided by the Arctic Energy Alliance, the Energy Conservation Program in Environment and Natural Resources and other programs exist to help people take advantage of these opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, let’s go further. Rather than shipping crude resources south, let’s start refining products here. Let’s manufacture goods and capture the jobs in our own communities.

Mr. Speaker, straight-on conventional subsidies often support things that are not good for us and that do not promote the multiple goals of this government and our people. Let’s become effective, do the full cost accounting and subsidize things like import substitution to the benefit of our people, our economy and our environment. Mahsi.

Import Substitution Policy
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Dehcho Process
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Dehcho Process is very important to the future of the Dehcho and the future of the NWT. My constituents, as members of the Dehcho First Nations, are becoming increasingly concerned that

this government, by conferring with the federal government, is not helping the Dehcho begin a fair and reasonable negotiation of the Dehcho Process.

Canada has refused to continue talks because the Dehcho First Nations want to complete the land use plan for their territory before moving forward with land selection. Our government, the GNWT, seems satisfied with this delay in talks at the main table. Currently, there is growing pressure for the Mackenzie Gas Project to proceed for the benefit of Canada and, more importantly, for our North.

As you are aware, 40 percent of the pipeline passes through the traditional lands of the Dehcho First Nations. This means that our government must be more supportive in accommodating the Dehcho First Nations if there is a desire to see that pipeline a reality.

I find it shameful that the Government of the Northwest Territories claims to represent the people of the North and that our GNWT claims to care about the environment and waters of the North, yet they are doing everything within its means not to support the people of the Dehcho in their efforts to preserve some of their lands and waters for generations to come.

Mr. Speaker, it is time this government started acting on behalf of the Dehcho. It is in the interest of all Northerners to move the Dehcho Process forward. The fastest way to do this is to ensure that the land use plan is taken seriously by the federal government and ours and completed as stated in the Interim Measures Agreement.

I ask my colleagues on the other side of this House to remember that they have an obligation to the people of the Dehcho. The time has come for this government to actively support the objectives of the Dehcho and to be proactive in accepting that the land use plan is important to the Dehcho Process and the system in conveying this to Ottawa.

Dehcho Process
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The honourable Member for Nunakput, Mr. Jacobson.

Shortage Of Medical Doctors In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

March 5th, 2009

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Unless you live in a small, isolated community such as Sachs Harbour, most people will never know what it’s like to not have regular access to a doctor. In the Nunakput community of Sachs, residents have been without a doctor since October or November. That is five to six months ago. That is a shame on this government.

The Inuvik region has not been able to fill their doctor positions and the shortage has affected all areas and communities. I ask this government during shortages such as these, why it is always the small, remote communities that are left out and not getting their fair share. We all know how fast medical conditions can progress. Even after only one or two months, the situation could mean a matter of life or death. Our community health centre staff and nurses are working very hard in trying to ensure the best medical service that they can provide.

Elders especially have difficulty travelling to regional centres. Elders need to have regular checkups, even when things seem to be going well. Elders need our commitment to provide consistent, continuous, and adequate medical services.

This government needs to get serious about medical services provided all across the Territory and not just the regional centres. This government needs to ensure that the shortages of experience in the small and remote communities aren’t always bearing the brunt of it. This government needs to vote resources to ensure all the problems, such as administrative policies and procedures, are not hindering the medical administrative staff from providing the services that are desperately needed.

I will have more questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services at the appropriate time.

Shortage Of Medical Doctors In Small Communities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Jacobson. The honourable Member for Kam Lake, Mr. Ramsay.

Location Of Federal Government’s Northern Development Agency Jobs
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to speak today about the federal government’s announcement of a Northern Development Agency. It was supposed to consolidate existing northern development activities into one. The federal government has also stated this agency will have funding of $10 million per year with the possibility of millions more for other strategic investments in northern economic development. I would like to know exactly what our government is doing to get this office located in the Northwest Territories.

We have the advantage of being centrally located between our neighbours, Yukon and Nunavut. We are poised to be the economic engine of this country well into the next decade with the possible construction of the Mackenzie Gas Project and the Mackenzie Valley Highway.

I’m very thankful that the federal government is looking positively at northern Canada and is going to be making substantive investment in our three

northern territories. However, I believe that our government should be taking more action to address the other hundreds of jobs located in Ottawa and Gatineau, Quebec, that pertain to northern development. I take issue with the latest job postings looking for five senior policy advisors and five senior analyst positions all located in Gatineau, Quebec. Directly from one of the postings is, “the organization will lead the development and implementation of an integrated Northern Strategy that will focus on strengthening Canada’s sovereignty, protecting our environmental heritage, promoting economic and social development, and approving governance so that Northerners have greater control over their destinies.” These 10 positions are, again, located in Gatineau, Quebec. Not Iqaluit, not Whitehorse, and not Yellowknife.

This is just an example of jobs that should be located north of 60. Almost all of the northern oil and gas activity is located in the Northwest Territories. So why is it that 29 positions dealing with northern oil and gas are again located in Gatineau, Quebec? Why don’t we hear this government making some noise about any of these positions? Just with the 39 positions I’ve spoken about today, with an average family size of 2.5 and a transfer payment of $22,000 per person, that would mean an additional $22 million in transfer payments and an additional $4 million injected into the local economy.

It’s high time we sit down with the federal government and discuss the jobs pertaining to northern development that are located in Ottawa and Gatineau and get them where they belong.