This is page numbers 4577 - 4596 of the Hansard for the 16th Assembly, 5th 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 need.

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Question 16-16(5): Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Program
Oral Questions

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Mr. Speaker, what a scathing comment to our public that is. If there is one possible kernel I could pick out of that it is that the Minister has finally produced initial baseline research that can get intelligent discussion in the public, but it’s initial.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, will the Minister recognize the need, duty and opportunity for meaningful public engagement in the Supplementary Health Benefits Program by extending consultation through the fall with an implementation target in 2011? Mahsi.

Question 16-16(5): Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Program
Oral Questions

Range Lake

Sandy Lee Minister of Health and Social Services

Mr. Speaker, the Members across often advise us that we should be open and transparent in what we do. As far as I’m concerned, I blew the door open. We are open. We want to hear from the people. We are not going to predetermine. The Member often tells us about the need for an Anti-Poverty Strategy.

Mr. Speaker, this one, we should be concerned that there are a group of people right now who don’t get benefits of supplementary health, even though they cannot afford it. I think the Member and everybody in the House owes it to us to make sure that we look at this, and we make sure that this program is fair and equitable. We’re going to go to the public and we are getting lots of interest from people. We’re going to have a very thorough, comprehensive, intelligent, two-way dialogue, and we’re going to improve this program for generations to come. We’re not going to wait for 10 more years to make this fair and equitable. We’re going to get it done. We’re not going to consult to consult. We’re not going to analyze to death. We’re going to ask the people, and people are going to answer. Thank you.

Question 16-16(5): Proposed Changes To Supplementary Health Benefits Program
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

March 2nd, 2010

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have questions today for the Minister of ITI and it gets back to my Member’s statement where I was speaking about the government’s involvement in the secondary industry. Mr. Speaker, what started out with some very good intentions on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories in a secondary industry established here in the Northwest Territories over the last number of years has been nothing but a train wreck.

I’d like to begin by asking the Minister of ITI what is taking so long to get a new policy established so that people here in the Northwest Territories involved in the secondary industry know what the

rules of engagement are going to be going forward. Thank you.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Bob McLeod.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The mining industry, and particularly diamonds are the most important part of the economy of the Northwest Territories. So I think the Member has his facts wrong or he didn’t check the facts, but the Northwest Territories was the first jurisdiction that provided for an allocation of rough diamonds from the diamond mines in order to provide for a secondary diamond industry. Plus, secondly, with the downturn in the economy, the largest market for diamond purchases is in the United States, and purchases dropped off by 75 percent. To suggest that we could operate outside of that environment is a bit of a stretch.

Secondly, we have been directed to revive the secondary diamond industry on a business basis only so that there will be no government funds involved. We are working on a policy. The Member knows that it’s very important to get the policy right. We have to make sure we got all the t’s crossed and i’s dotted, because it’s very important to get the process right, and we’re fully involving the committees. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, I’ve talked about this before. I mean, we need to pursue opportunities with the vigor and aggression that I think… You know, if we do not do this, other jurisdictions now across this country are going to pursue those opportunities when they present themselves. As I said earlier, we have investors here who are waiting for this new policy to be developed and to be out there. So, again, I’d like to ask the Minister, when does the Minister believe that we will have a workable policy in front of the committee so that we can get this out there to the public. Thank you.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

We have undertaken consultation with the industry stakeholders and we have requested that they respond to us by the end of February. We now have all of the diamond mines responses. We’re developing a draft government response to proposed changes and we will be back to committee. Our expectation is probably April/May. If everybody concurs, then we’ll look at implementation shortly after. Thank you.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

In my Member’s statement I also talked about Botswana, the world’s leading producer of diamonds, and the fact that they understand and appreciate that mining is not going to be forever in Botswana. The Government of the Northwest Territories, I think, could take a page out of Botswana’s book and develop something like the Diamond Trading Company Northwest Territories. In Botswana it’s called Diamond Trading Company Botswana, where they mix, sort and trade

diamonds in Botswana. I’d like to ask the Minister if that’s part of the new policy framework that the department’s looking at. Thank you.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

I should point out also that in Botswana they shut all their mines down for a period of about two or three months during the downturn in the economy. But I can assure the Member that his suggestion, we are looking, it’s part of our policy, but I don’t want to pre-assume what the recommendations will be or the responses that we would receive through our consultation process. Thank you.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Your final, short supplementary, Mr. Ramsay.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, like I said, as well, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that access to rough and having control of the rough trade means you have a captive audience. I’d like to ask the Minister, I think we should be pursuing with vigor and with aggression the possibility of the Government of the Northwest Territories, under some secretariat or scheme or however we can work that out, we take control of the 10 percent allocation of rough and we control that rough, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to ask the Minister if he could, again, pursue that with some aggression. Thank you.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Certainly it’s very important to make sure that all of the rough allocation is taken up and utilized here in the Northwest Territories, and cut and polished here in the Northwest Territories. We are examining every option and it’s certainly something that we’ve got some very strong recommendations on. I look forward to when I can share the conclusions of our consultations with the Member and his committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 17-16(5): Secondary Diamond Industry
Oral Questions

The Speaker Paul Delorey

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

Question 18-16(5): Core Housing Needs In Tu Nedhe
Oral Questions

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today in the House I talked about the need for the NWT Housing Corporation to do repairs on seniors housing in Tu Nedhe. I have questions for the Minister of Housing.

Mr. Speaker, last year when I asked the Minister if there was a strategy to address communities with the high core need, his response was as soon as the need survey is done, we can look at something. The survey is complete now. I would like to ask the Minister what the plans are for addressing communities with the highest core need across the Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.