This is page numbers 4101 - 4140 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 4th 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 housing.

Topics

The House met at 1:34 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 Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. Robert McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 67-16(4): Active After School Program
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to provide Members with details on the Active After School Program which is part of the GNWT’s Healthy Choices Framework.

As you know, the Healthy Choices Framework is an interdepartmental initiative that includes the departments of Health and Social Services; Education, Culture and Employment; Justice; Transportation; and MACA.

The government is raising awareness of the direct link between good health and positive lifestyle choices, through the collaboration and the integration of healthy choices programs across these departments.

Through the Healthy Choices Framework and the Active After School Program, the GNWT is working to build our future by promoting healthy and active living among children and youth. Improving the physical and mental well-being of our youth will create healthy, educated Northerners as envisioned in the 16th Assembly’s vision of Northerners

Working Together.

Mr. Speaker, in 2009, Active Healthy Kids Canada reported that 87 percent of children and youth in Canada, including the Northwest Territories, do not meet Canada’s Physical Activity Guide recommendations for daily physical activity and that 90 percent of Canadian children and youth are spending far too much time in front of television, computer and video screens. It has also been found that the most inactive time for youth is the “after school period,“ which is 3:30 to 5:30 p.m.

The benefits of physical activity are widely known. Individuals who are physically active are less likely to be affected by chronic heart diseases, osteoporosis, diabetes and some types of cancer. It is also clear that physical activity programs can positively affect the ability of a student to learn and keep young people occupied during times when they might find other, less desirable activities to be involved in.

Mr. Speaker, the Active After School Program is a collaborative effort between MACA and the NWT Sport and Recreation Council that will provide funding support for 18 after school physical activity pilot programs across the Northwest Territories this winter. The projects will stretch across the Territory and incorporate a broad range of activities, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, Nordic walking, hip hop, floor hockey and badminton.

In some cases, funding is being provided for much needed equipment such as soccer balls and basketballs, or to set up fitness centres with cardio and weight machines, or to provide students with a healthy snack to fuel their play.

Although the programs vary in the types of activities they offer, they all have two key things in common. First, they are trying new ways to encourage more youth to be physically active, particularly those who may not be attracted to our more traditional sport and recreation activities. Second, they are providing physical activity programming for youth in that key after school time period when they might just as easily sit down in front of a TV, video game, or computer screen before their parents are home at the end of their day.

Through the leadership of the NWT Sport and Recreation Council, each of these pilot initiatives will be evaluated to determine their effectiveness and to see if they made a real difference in encouraging our youth to be physically active.

Mr. Speaker, I look forward to providing Members with an update on these important projects later in the year.

Minister’s Statement 67-16(4): Active After School Program
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Premier, Mr. Roland.

Minister’s Statement 68-16(4): Minister Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

Inuvik Boot Lake

Floyd Roland Premier

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Bob McLeod will be absent from the House today to attend promotional events related to the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 68-16(4): Minister Absent From The House
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Roland. Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Krutko.

High Energy Costs In The NWT
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Mr. Speaker, as we heard from several Members in this House regarding electrical rate reviews, I think it’s important to realize that the high cost associated with anyone’s billing, regardless if you are a homeowner, a resident, a business operator or even a community government, is the high cost of energy in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that this government is going in the right direction with regard to electrical rate review and we have to find a way of bringing down those high electrical bills, especially in our smaller communities where we are paying in excess of $2.38 per kilowatt in Colville Lake and in Nahanni Butte I believe it’s $1.60 per kilowatt.

Mr. Speaker, we also have to realize that we have some 30 rate rider systems in place. We have 38 applications that we have to go through every time there’s a rate review. Mr. Speaker, that is a major cost to not only the Government of the Northwest Territories but to the residents of the Northwest Territories who have to pay the cost of those reviews. I believe we have to find a way to reduce those high cost expenditures in small communities. I believe that we should seriously review this in this House, hopefully sooner than later, and find a solution to the high energy costs in our communities and find a system that’s fair to all communities in the Northwest Territories, to ensure that we are able to show that we really care as a government for the communities that are not on hydro and are dependent on diesel transported into their communities and stored in fuel tanks and used to heat their homes.

We don’t have apartments in our communities. We have, in most cases, single dwellings where people have to operate a housing unit, which costs a lot more than in large urban centres where there are apartment blocks with 70 or 80 residents who share the cost to operate the facility. I think it’s appropriate we, as the people responsible for the Legislature, seriously realize the implication that power has, the consumption of power, and the cost to sustain the residences in the small communities.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement

---Unanimous consent granted.

High Energy Costs In The NWT
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

We do have to realize the high cost of energy in our communities and the effect it has on our residents, especially in our small communities. It is right now unaffordable; we have to make it affordable.

As a government we have an obligation to all people in the Northwest Territories to bring down the high cost of energy and also share in that pain throughout the whole Northwest Territories. I look forward to the rate review before this House sooner rather than later. I will be asking questions to the Minister responsible for the review.

High Energy Costs In The NWT
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

High Cost Of Food In Nunakput
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Almost one year ago today several Members’ statements were dedicated to the high cost of foods in small, remote communities across the Territory. In Nunakput the highest cost of food then was the highest cost of food in the NWT. Earlier this week my colleagues were very passionately describing the seriousness of the situation in their communities.

This government calculates northern living allowance based on the location and the cost of living compared to the central communities such as Yellowknife. In addition, they fund various offices and programs based also on comparison. This results in the government paying people more in the Nunakput communities where they cannot afford the standard of living they deserve.

It’s impossible for an average family in Nunakput and the Beaufort-Delta, based on the average income, to practice healthy eating for themselves and their family. I cannot understand why the GNWT can explain two jobs in Yellowknife and one small, remote community doing the exact same thing, requiring the same level of education, and the same income with a difference of only a few thousand dollars.

My region in Nunakput is by far the most expensive region when it comes to eating healthy. The situation being equal, dollar for dollar more people almost have to live in poverty conditions than other regions in the Northwest Territories. This has got to change.

During my travels through Nunakput I see people in the airports putting food they purchased in their bags at the airport in Inuvik, paying $5.77 per kilogram. This means a carton of milk that was purchased in Inuvik for $4.00 becomes well over $10.00 and is still a huge savings. That is wrong.

I think it’s a great shame that many of our elders in our Nunakput communities choose between having to buy food or pay various bills because they get so little. I see a growing trend of empty cupboards and refrigerators for elders with the luxuries that they have. There are no food banks in most of the Nunakput communities.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement

---Unanimous consent granted.

High Cost Of Food In Nunakput
Members’ Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

What I found unfair in this government is not considering is that the Nunakput cost of living is 81 percent higher than it is in Yellowknife. Having our residents access healthy food must be the highest priority for this government and anything less is unacceptable.

High Cost Of Food In Nunakput
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Jacobson. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Affordable Housing In Yellowknife
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Minister for the Housing Corporation spoke yesterday on the release of the 2009 Housing Needs Survey results. I’d like to draw attention to the realities of buying or renting shelter in Yellowknife, and how the City of Yellowknife is working to make housing more affordable.

Our government doesn’t collect housing market data, so we have to rely on CMHC’s 2009 housing report for Yellowknife. If you want to buy an average house in Yellowknife it will cost you $314,000. Only 12 percent of homes go for less than $200,000 and one in five sells for more than $400,000.

The news isn’t much better for renters. An average two-bedroom apartment in Yellowknife cost $1,450 a month last year, with vacancy rates of less than 1 percent. The result: nearly 20 percent of moderate income families -- the households making $40,000 to $100,000 per year -- are overspending on shelter, according to the 30 percent rule for housing costs as a proportion of income. That’s 405 households.

People with household incomes of $100,000 a year in Yellowknife can’t afford to buy a home. Two people making minimum wage would spend more than half their combined income for an average apartment, if they can find one.

The City of Yellowknife is taking ambitious steps to ease this problem through development of an Affordable Housing Strategy. Initial work on the strategy has brought forward the growing concept of non-market housing, a market segment between the public and private markets. The development of non-market housing is an innovative new approach that could break the price bottleneck holding people

back from their first homes. Improving the affordability of first homes will take pressure off the tight and expensive rental market.

The city needs all the support this government can provide. There has already been tremendous support from CMHC and the NWT Housing Corporation to develop the strategy, but we have to follow right on through to implementation. The Housing Corp could continue to help by being a part of the affordable housing committee the city will be creating soon. What we’ll need most of all is the Housing Corporation’s commitment to working with CMHC and the city for the development of non-market housing units.

The 2009 Housing Needs Survey shows we have to use every tool available to improve availability and quality of shelter. When one of our partner governments acts boldly to bring new solutions forward, this government must be there with action and commitment. Mr. Speaker, let’s show up at the table. Mahsi.

Affordable Housing In Yellowknife
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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