This is page numbers 4179 - 4230 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 community.

Topics

The House met at 1:35 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Good afternoon, colleagues. Welcome back to the Chamber. Before we begin today, I would like to draw your attention to the Canadian flags that are on your desk marking National Flag of Canada Day. February 15th was

declared National Flag of Canada Day in 1996. It marks the day in 1965 when our red and white maple leaf flag was first raised over Parliament Hill in Ottawa and, indeed, hundreds of communities across Canada.

The red and white maple leaf flag has become a powerful and predominant symbol of Canada. It is recognized all over the world as the flag of the people who cherish the ideals of democracy, freedom, justice, diversity and equality. It is a particularly fitting day to celebrate our flag and this beautiful country in which we live. It is also fitting to see so many red maple leafs welcoming the world to the 2010 Winter Olympics. The maple leaf is even more predominant now that Canada has won its first Olympic gold medal on Canadian soil.

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Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister’s Statement 70-16(4): Waste Reduction And Recovery Program Expansion
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, reducing our consumption, reusing materials and recycling waste products are ways that we can all help reduce our impact on the environment. When we do this, we use fewer natural resources and less energy, which reduces greenhouse gas emissions and saves money.

Given the opportunity, NWT residents willingly reduce consumption and participate in recycling programs. This is evident in our highly successful Beverage Container Program, with over 100 million

containers returned to date. While we have had some successes, residents are looking to the Government of the Northwest Territories to play a leadership role in expanding this popular program.

In 2008, ENR consulted NWT residents, aboriginal organizations, environmental organizations and government to prioritize products for inclusion in the Waste Reduction and Recovery Program. Items under review included paper products, milk containers, e-waste, lead acid batteries, plastic grocery bags, fuel drums and tires. Residents identified paper and cardboard as the number one waste item for recovery or recycling. Recommendations also included the addition of milk containers as the next logical step for recycling in the NWT. Concerns about the number of plastic bags around communities, on the land, and going into our landfills were also received.

Mr. Speaker, it is a known fact that paper-based materials make up the largest portion of the waste stream. Some communities collect paper-based materials for shipment to southern Canada for recycling. However, current methods of transportation are energy-intensive and expensive; decreasing the environmental and economic benefits of recycling when these bulky materials are shipped long distances.

As a result, ENR continues to look for ways to reuse or recycle waste paper and cardboard right here in the North. A three-year initiative providing financial assistance to NWT-based municipalities, organizations, businesses and individuals to initiate and develop alternate ways to reuse paper and cardboard destined for landfills began last spring. This is the second year that financial assistance is being made available for the development of innovative, alternative and progressive methods of recycling paper products.

Through our Single-use Retail Bag Program that began on January 15, 2010, NWT grocery stores now charge a 25 cent environmental fee for every paper and/or plastic bag that they distribute. This environmental fee will help reduce our use of these products and extend the life of our community landfills. This initiative is part of a larger, two-year plan to phase out all paper and plastic bags in the NWT, eliminating an estimated nine million single-use retail bags from our landfills each and every year.

Mr. Speaker, I’m pleased to announce that beginning today, milk containers are included as part of the NWT Beverage Container Program. All milk and liquid milk products, including milk jugs and milk substitute cartons, yogurt drink bottles, condensed and evaporated milk cans, UHT boxes and creamer bottles will be accepted at all NWT bottle depots. Residents will receive a 25 cent return on clean and rinsed milk containers of two or more litres and a 10 cent return on milk containers of one litre or less. The addition of milk containers in the Beverage Container Program will further reduce the volume of waste that goes to landfills and litter in our communities.

Money raised through the Beverage Container Program and the Bag Fee Program goes into the Environment Fund. This fund is used to cover program expenses and improve waste reduction and recovery programs, including our planned expansion into e-waste.

Mr. Speaker, it is clear that waste reduction and recycling is important to the people of the Northwest Territories. Expanding the Waste Reduction and Recovery Program will maintain and improve the quality of our environment as well as significantly extend the lives of local landfills. Mahsi cho.

Minister’s Statement 70-16(4): Waste Reduction And Recovery Program Expansion
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

The honourable Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 71-16(4): Aboriginal Student Achievement
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment is pleased to share news about the Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative that we implemented to increase aboriginal students’ success across the Northwest Territories.

The department is working with superintendents, teachers and other departments and aboriginal organizations on a plan to close the gap in aboriginal student achievement. This school term we began work to increase student attendance because aboriginal students have a high rate of absenteeism overall. By the time they reach Grade 10, the average aboriginal student misses the equivalent of two years of school. We are supporting pilot projects in every school division in the Northwest Territories to address the need to increase student attendance.

An example of one of these projects is in Colville Lake school where students who attend school regularly and those with perfect attendance, participate in special activities like pizza and movie nights and computer nights in the school. There has been a marked improvement in the number of students with perfect attendance. Parents are

making a more concerted effort to send their children to school in Colville Lake.

Another attendance project is in the K’alemi Dene School where staff initiated the Creative Trails Program to encourage students to attend school, to build relationships with the students and to increase knowledge and develop skills in northern arts and crafts. Every Wednesday after school, community elders, community artisans and teachers provide instruction to the students. The students continue with the projects on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. A lot of learning, laughter and relationship building is happening. Students have participated in doing Dene beading and are learning moose hair tufting, quilling, working with furs and making moccasins.

In addition to attendance projects, department staff are working with the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association and superintendents of divisional education councils to develop a culturally appropriate orientation for all new and beginning teachers. This will assist both teachers and parents to bridge the communication gap between home and school.

To get the message out in the community, we’ve launched a public advertising campaign. Communications materials talk about the importance of regularly attending school and explain the education system. To include youth in the campaign, the department has teamed up with CKLB Radio to have students in the community schools act as community reporters for CKLB Radio. Later this month, Mr. Speaker, we hope to have our youths’ voices hitting the airwaves sharing stories from communities across our Territory.

Mr. Speaker, the longer term goal of the Aboriginal Student Achievement Working Group is to develop and implement a territorial plan to help eliminate the achievement gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal students.

I am pleased to let you know the department is meeting with its aboriginal student achievement partners on February 23rd to 24th in Yellowknife to

do further work on the territorial plan on aboriginal education. The Aboriginal Student Achievement Working Group will submit a plan to me by April this year.

Mr. Speaker, this year we are diligently working to ensure we see healthy successful aboriginal students, with informed and involved parents and community education partners. I will keep the Members informed of the progress of the Aboriginal Student Achievement Initiative. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 71-16(4): Aboriginal Student Achievement
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Provision Of Fort Mcpherson Tents To Aid Haitian Relief Efforts
Members’ Statements

David Krutko Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over one month ago an earthquake hit Haiti. Mr. Speaker, to date, there are over a million people without shelter. With the rainy season coming, there is an urgent need to provide shelter to the people of Haiti.

There are over 160 tents right now sitting in inventory in Fort McPherson at the Tent and Canvas Shop. The craftspeople at the Fort McPherson canvas shop can sew one to two tents each day per individual. If it is required, the Tent and Canvas Shop in Fort McPherson can go on a full-time operational basis and provide the emergency shelter that is going to be needed to the people in Haiti.

I think it’s important that this government does everything it can to help the people in Haiti. We need to realize that we do have a way and means of providing emergency shelter to the people of Haiti who require it as soon as possible with the rainy season coming. This government has to find some alternatives and options to help the people in Haiti.

Like I stated earlier, we have over 160 tents in inventory sitting in Fort McPherson. I think this government, along with the Government of Canada and NGOs, could possibly find a way to move those tents from Fort McPherson to Haiti through the Canadian Military to the Canadian External Affairs department who are also working with the country of Haiti. I believe that we as a government and we as the people of the Northwest Territories must do everything we can to provide the emergency shelter that is required for the people of Haiti.

At the appropriate time I will be asking the Minister responsible for the Fort McPherson canvas shop if the government has considered this as an option moving forward.

Provision Of Fort Mcpherson Tents To Aid Haitian Relief Efforts
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Nahendeh Core Need Housing Requirements
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I’m going to speak about housing problems in Nahendeh. I have to tell you that I get no joy in finding that I have been right about the dire straits of housing in my constituency.

The 2009 NWT Community Survey of Housing confirms that the number of households in the NWT that are considered to be in core need has

increased from 16 percent in 2004 to 19 percent in 2009. Core need refers to households with incomes before the core need income and whose housing costs are more than 30 percent of the household income or housing without running water and indoor plumbing or housing in major need of repairs.

While 19 percent of the households in the NWT are in core need, Nahendeh tops all the regions at the highest rate with a full 36 percent of dwellings in core need. The sad reality is that every region has seen a downward spiral in adequate housing but Nahendeh has experienced the worst.

I have spoken in the House many times about housing; how timelines for completion of repairs in Nahanni Butte and other locations have not been met, how there was a case where an elder had to wait more than a year before moving back into his home, and how families have been forced to move in with relatives, leading to overcrowding. We know that students who live in adequate housing are successful at school. We know that proper housing supports better health, which leads to reduced costs to our health care system.

I call on the NWT Housing Corporation to plan for and make sure work projects in communities are properly planned, scheduled, and completed. I also call on the GNWT to turn this trend of deteriorating housing around and make it a goal that the next core needs survey is a positive one.

Nahendeh Core Need Housing Requirements
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Deh Cho Bridge Project
Members’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I’d like to continue trying to make some sense of the mess that is the Deh Cho Bridge Project. It was interesting to hear the Transportation Minister state in a media interview on Friday with CBC that finally the government admits in some fashion that it went ahead with the project despite a cost-benefit analysis that clearly indicated that the government could expect a $53 million negative benefit from the bridge at $165 million. Throw in at least another $15 million and you have a project that will have a negative cost to this government and Territory of $70 million. Not to mention that we are spending this nearly $200 million on a bridge that will undoubtedly increase the cost of living in Yellowknife, Ndilo, Dettah, the Tlicho communities, and every other community serviced by air from Yellowknife.

There are many more questions about this project that have to be asked. Right now the project is almost half done. Up until this week or late last week the Minister and government gave us every assurance that the new design would save money and be less expensive to construct.

During a briefing last week I just about fell off my chair when the Minister said they’re negotiating the deal with what amounts to be one company. Mr. Speaker, I don’t understand for one second why we would not go to tender on the remaining work. Does the Minister not understand that the contractor we’re negotiating with has the government squarely over a barrel? Does the Minister and government not owe it to the people of the Northwest Territories and Members of this House to get the best price that they possibly can for the remainder of this work?

Mr. Speaker, our pants are on the ground and we sure look like a bunch of fools, that’s for sure. Haven’t we been taken advantage of enough, Mr. Speaker? Mr. Speaker, we are being asked to approve $15 million more for this project when there’s not been a full accounting of where the dollars have gone, where and how much is charged and to who, and exactly where is the design in all of this. How can you negotiate a sole-source deal without a firm design? If we sign a deal without the completion of this design, aren’t we just setting ourselves up to potential changes and cost overruns? Mr. Speaker, I’ll have questions for the Minister of Transportation at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Deh Cho Bridge Project
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Deh Cho Bridge Project
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as we listened to the large amount of media coverage this morning on the Deh Cho Bridge on CBC Radio this morning, Mr. Ramsay was in for an interview, we heard the Minister’s comments in the media scrum after the House session on Friday, and I’ve been struggling and thinking, you know, what can we do to bring some more, I guess, transparency and accountability to this whole issue of the Deh Cho Bridge.

As my husband and I listened to the news this morning, Rick, who’s not known to be the politician in the family, suggested, he said, isn’t this the first time you’ve actually had to vote money on this project, and I said, yeah, it is. Since we passed that Deh Cho Bridge Corporation Act in the 14th Assembly, this is the first time that we’ve actually been called upon to vote on money related to this bridge project in the form of what will be a supplementary appropriation request for $15 million to address the cost overruns because of the many changes. He said this is the opportunity, this is your chance to get the government to provide very precise and accurate accounting about some of the things we’ve wondered about for a long time. When we agreed to the loan guarantees -- and that’s what

they were, they were not expenditures, they were guarantees at the time for getting this project planning done and underway -- each time when we would try to inquire about where the money was being expended, for what went up to be loan guarantees in the neighbourhood of $9 million, we were always told, of course, that the money was being spent by the proponent, which was the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation, not by our government. So the normal level of financial reporting was not there out of respect for the proprietors who are the Deh Cho Bridge Corporation.

So here as we, Mr. Speaker, have an opportunity coming up where, in fact, we do have to vote money to cover these overruns, I think it would be really good for the government to get very busy trying to account to us how much has been spent on this project. I’m particularly interested in the workers within the Department of Transportation themselves, how much of their time, energy and effort has gone to work on this particular file. So that’s what I will be seeking. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Deh Cho Bridge Project
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The honourable Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Beaulieu.