This is page numbers 4863 - 4888 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 plate.

Topics

The House met at 10:07 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Deputy Speaker David Krutko

Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of ITI, Mr. Bob McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 27-16(5): Electricity And Northwest Territories Power Corporation Review Response
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, the people of the Northwest Territories have been telling their elected leaders for some time that changes needed to be made to our electricity system so that it was more efficient, more affordable and more equitable for all Northwest Territories residents.

Today that change has come to our Territory, with the tabling later today of the Government of the Northwest Territories response to both the electricity review and the Northwest Territories Power Corporation review, entitled: Efficient, Affordable and Equitable: Creating a Brighter Future for the Northwest Territories Electricity System.

This document is a significant achievement. Through the actions the Government of the Northwest Territories will undertake, we will dramatically lower the cost of electricity for most Northwest Territories communities at no additional cost to any other community.

---Applause

And lowering the cost of electricity is a big step towards fulfilling one of the 16th Legislative

Assembly’s five strategic initiatives in the Northerners Working Together plan: reducing the cost of living.

The Government of the Northwest Territories response to the two reviews will also go a long way toward meeting some of the goals of the 16th Legislative Assembly set out in that plan. Lowering electricity costs will help our communities be more

competitive and remove barriers to economic development. This, in turn, will lead to sustainable, vibrant communities and a diversified economy that provides all regions and communities with opportunities and choices as envisioned by this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, other governments and legislative assemblies have tried to make changes to our electricity system. We have built on this work and have developed a response that the 16th Legislative

Assembly can be proud of. This response represents real action and real change that will improve the lives of all of our residents.

Most of our communities have very high electricity rates and nine communities in the Northwest Territories currently pay over $1 per kilowatt hour. Electricity rates of 49 cents per kilowatt hour and an enhanced subsidy program will reduce the electricity bills for families in these communities.

Businesses in communities such as Tuktoyaktuk, Fort McPherson, Fort Simpson, Tulita, and Deline will see their bills reduced by 30 to 40 percent.

Businesses in communities such as Sachs Harbour, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, Wrigley and Gameti will see their bills reduced in the range of 70 to 80 percent.

I would like to note that the Government of the Northwest Territories intends to monitor the impact of this substantial change on the prices of goods and services in these communities. This response is a significant achievement for the Government of the Northwest Territories and the system-wide improvements we are making to our electricity system will help stabilize costs for all Northwest Territories residents and protect us against unexpected price increases in the future.

At this time I would like to acknowledge that the Government of the Northwest Territories did not arrive at its response in isolation. We have carefully considered the recommendations of both review teams and the input we received from communities, businesses and organizations throughout the Northwest Territories. We have worked closely with the Members of this House on the response through the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning. I believe this process has been a fine

example of consensus government at work and I thank the Members for the input they have provided us.

The changes this government is making to our electricity system will have a significant impact on our Territory for years to come. The impact will be a positive one. I think we can all agree that electricity is an essential service and that this service must be efficient, affordable and equitable to all. Today we have taken a major step towards achieving this important goal. We have made a change and it is a change for the better.

Minister’s Statement 27-16(5): Electricity And Northwest Territories Power Corporation Review Response
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister responsible for Municipal and Community Affairs, Mr. Robert McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 28-16(5): NWT Outstanding Volunteer Awards Program
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The role of volunteers in our communities is critical. Every day countless volunteers contribute to local schools, health centres, recreation programs, fire departments and cultural projects. In addition to formal volunteer roles, many individuals also help a sick neighbour, counsel a troubled youth, or share and pass on important cultural knowledge to others. Most of these volunteers work away quietly, knowing that their only compensation, if they think of compensation at all, will be a heartfelt thank you and the personal knowledge that they have helped make things a little better for their community.

Each year the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs recognizes the important work carried out by volunteers through the Northwest Territories Outstanding Volunteer Awards Program. Now in its 20th year, the program has received

nominations for nearly 700 individuals and groups since it was first launched in 1991. While we all know that these individuals and groups nominated represent only a small portion of the many thousands who contribute, the awards program is still an important way of bringing attention to volunteers.

It gives me great pleasure to announce that the 2010 NWT Outstanding Volunteer Award winners are:

Ms. Cheryl Hval of Fort Smith in the Individual Category;

Ms. Ruby Trudel of Yellowknife in the Elder Category;

Mr. Brian Nitsiza of Whati in the Youth

Category; and

Victim Services Volunteers of Yellowknife in the Group Category.

These award winners are being recognized at a special luncheon during the Northwest Territories Association of Communities Annual General Meeting in Hay River on May 14th . Each one of the

volunteer award recipients contribute in a significant way to their communities and to the North as a whole.

On behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories I want to thank them and all volunteers for their contributions, for the role they play in making our communities strong, healthy and sustainable.

Minister’s Statement 28-16(5): NWT Outstanding Volunteer Awards Program
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Minister’s Statement 29-16(5): Congratulations To Graduates
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Throughout our Territory, graduation and convocation ceremonies are taking place to acknowledge the great and many achievements of our talented and gifted students.

We have over 8,600 students enrolled in grades kindergarten to 12 in 49 schools across the North. As each student progresses to each new grade level, they bring with them many lessons and skills to further build on and develop. We congratulate these students for their hard work and recognize their efforts in successfully completing an important educational milestone.

At the post-secondary level, 2009-2010 saw 102 Aurora College graduates in two degree programs, seven diploma programs and four certificate programs. Of these, I’m proud to say that 68 percent are aboriginal graduates. Four of the aboriginal graduates are from Behchoko. They are distinguished gradates of the Behchoko community-based Teacher Education Program. We intend to welcome these individuals into our schools next fall as teachers and hope others will follow their example.

In addition to our graduates, each year there are hundreds of people participating in other education and training programs. I want to congratulate students from the Adult Literacy and Basic Education programs and Apprenticeship and Occupational Certification programs on their achievements.

Mr. Speaker, this June everyone is welcome to attend the Aboriginal Honour Ceremony at the Weledeh River, hosted by the Yellowknife Campus. As we continue our focus on aboriginal student achievement, I am confident we will see more and

more aboriginal students celebrating graduations and pursuing further education.

In closing, I would like to recognize and thank all the educators, the tutors and the classroom assistants committed to helping our students find success in achieving their goals. From kindergarten to post-secondary, the achievements of our students are yours to share. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 29-16(5): Congratulations To Graduates
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Importance Of Education
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to start today with a quote: “Education is the greatest weapon. With education you are the white man’s equal, without education you are his victim and so shall remain all of your lives. Study, learn, help one another always. Remember there is only poverty and misery in idleness and dreams - but in work there is self-respect and independence.” So said Chief Plenty Coups.

I have in front of me, as I speak, a picture of a proud friend and ally of the white people. He understood the future and he spoke passionately about it. He had the best interests of his people at heart.

In the past, aboriginal people either had to learn the ways of the land and hunted and trapped or you went hungry. Today, for the past couple of decades, we go to school. Education is vital for our aboriginal today; indeed, all people. Education is the way we take ownership of our destiny.

We learn how to use the old weapons, to keep them clean, respect them and use them, all for the survival of our families, and we didn’t fool with them. So we must take the same serious action and conviction in our educational institutions today. They are our modern weapons. We need to use them well for the survival of our families in the modern world. It has often been said the pen is mightier than the sword. That is so true. We need to keep our pens sharp and learn how to use them well.

Remember that education has always been a big part of the aboriginal way of life. In the olden days the education was one-on-one with our parents and elders, and our university was a live-in university on the land. That is why our elders are so wise and knowledgeable. Then we got sent to residential schools. So many of our people suffered there and continue to suffer today. However, we know that healing is possible and that it is no surprise that

aboriginal people are the fastest nation of people to adapt to circumstances around them.

We need to cherish and support our educational institutions and the process of getting an education in both classrooms and on our land. When we say education is the future, I wonder if we not only talk the talk but actually walk the walk and agree that this is so. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Importance Of Education
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Local Food Production And Food Security
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to begin today by marking the passing of a great Northerner: Archie Buckley. Many of us enjoyed the rich bounty of our fishery as a staple of our diets thanks to Archie. He was the personification of hard work and respectful, sustainable resource use. Archie Buckley lived what we talk about when we say local food for local people.

The spirit demonstrated by Archie Buckley is being carried on in the cooperative work of this community. I recently attended an event sponsored by Ecology North, the Northern Nutrition Association and the Yellowknife Community Gardens Collective celebrating the diversity and sustainability of local production. While these people grow their own food, they also grow the future self-sufficiency and health of this community.

Another example is the Food Security Advisory Group comprised of members from the Yellowknives Dene First Nation, Community Services, City of Yellowknife, Yellowknife Health and Social Services Authority, Health and Social Services, GNWT, and Nunavut Public Health Association. The groups came together to undertake a food system assessment and community action plan for Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah. This initiative responds to findings and Championing Well-being in the City of Yellowknife’s social plan and aims to strengthen program and policy action in the area of food security and chronic disease.

The Yellowknife, Ndilo and Dettah Food System Assessment and Community Food Action Plan has been produced and is attracting attention. There are at least two more NWT communities interested in undertaking their own community food action plans. I recommend its contents and approach to all Members. As the contents of the action plan show, we have great territorial strength to draw on in such areas as local food production, community commitment and support services, but there are great challenges in such areas as the capacity of NGOs to meet demand for food and sustain their

operations, our high food costs and gaps in policy and economic development support.

Promoting healthy choices and lifestyles is a priority of the 16th Legislative Assembly. Food security

exists when all people at all times have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, regionally produced and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. That requires a complete and collaborative government approach to meet our citizens’ core needs.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Local Food Production And Food Security
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

It is everything from progressive taxation to agricultural land use plans, wise wildlife stewardship and land availability, from support to local food production enterprises and our school and early childhood development programs. Our local food producers’, our community gardeners’ and advocacy groups’ work demonstrate that much can be done to strengthen food security for all through partnership, building capacity, economic development and policy renewal. I congratulate this excellent work and look forward to full support from this government. Mahsi.

Local Food Production And Food Security
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Paul Delorey

The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

New NWT Licence Plate
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am going to wade into the debate on our redesigned licence plates today. I cannot express strongly enough how glad I am that we kept the polar bear shape. Judging by what I heard from my constituents, I suspect that there might have been a revolt amongst our residents if the shape had been changed.

I can accept that there was a need to modernize and update the slogan, so that change is spectacular. But I am having difficulty with the new design, the added colour and the silhouette. I have to wonder if in the dead of winter in the dark and the snow, the plate won’t look anything more than a dirty white blob.

Mr. Speaker, I am most offended by the minimal -- to quote the Minister -- fee that the residents must pay for this new improved plate. Generally when there is an initiative from the government, it is paid for by the government, but not so in this case. The government is telling us that they have a new, improved, wonderful item for us and, oh, by the way, you have to buy one. We already pay a healthy fee to register our vehicles annually, $82.60 for a car. Why are we paying these fees? I believe,

as do a number of residents, that the cost of these new plates should be covered by our annual vehicle registration fee and/or the government’s O and M budget. It is not much money, Mr. Speaker, but with this new cost, the government is nickel and diming our residents.

Another aspect of this change which is increasingly annoying for me is that we are being forced to spend the extra $10. There is no option to refuse, no option to keep the old plate until it needs to be replaced. I hate waste, Mr. Speaker, and I have great difficulty throwing out something which is still in perfectly good working order. So I wonder why we can’t keep the old plate until it actually isn’t in good working order. My colleague Mr. Menicoche asked the question yesterday of the Minister and I didn’t hear an answer.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve heard from constituents that the consultation was lacking. Where was the public’s chance to provide input into the new design? If the Department of Transportation had at least posted three or four new designs on their website and then asked residents to vote for their favourite, that would have sufficed. The department certainly consulted with industry partners and some user groups, but any input from the general public was sadly lacking.

Mr. Speaker, change is always difficult and I know the government is trying to be efficient with our dollars, but I have to disagree with their approach in this case. We should be allowed to keep the old plate until it’s necessary for a new one and the government should cover the cost of the new plates from vehicle registration fees. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.