This is page numbers 3387 – 3412 of the Hansard for the 17th 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 education.

Topics

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. Minister responsible of the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 2-17(5): Report On The Northwest Territories Power Corporation
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation is working to provide residents, communities and businesses of the Northwest Territories with a safe and reliable source of electricity that is both cost effective and environmentally sustainable.

NTPC’s renewed strategic plan is aligned with a number of this Assembly’s key strategies, from the Greenhouse Gas Strategy, the Biomass Energy Strategy and the Solar Strategy, to the Energy Plan and Power System Plan that will soon be tabled in the Legislature.

NTPC plays a critical role in our government’s plan to move the territory’s energy supply away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy sources which are cleaner and less vulnerable to price fluctuations. We are starting to see real success in this area at the community level.

Take the 100 kilowatt Fort Simpson Solar Energy Project, the largest solar installation in the North. The project demonstrated that solar technology can work in the North, and delivered on the objectives of the NWT’s Solar Strategy. The energy output is equivalent to powering 17 houses in the community and removing more than 76 tonnes of CO

2

from the

air. It also strengthens the case for NTPC’s net metering program which provides the tools for customers to benefit from supplying surplus solar power into the grid. NTPC is also working with communities to explore other renewable energy sources, including small hydro. Over the past year we have installed a water monitoring station on the

Kakisa River which will help to define the hydro potential that could one day power the community.

In Colville Lake we are now in the design phase of a project that will see a solar/diesel/battery system that will shut down the diesel plant for extended periods in the summer. It is anticipated this hybrid energy solution could significantly reduce diesel use and related emissions by supplying most of the community’s energy requirements during the summer. This initiative is of interest to communities in the NWT and is being watched closely by utilities in other jurisdictions such as Alaska.

In addition to advancing renewable energy projects, NTPC continues to transition towards environmentally-sound and cost-effective energy choices. A territory-wide program to replace traditional streetlights with LEDs will convert one or two communities per year and cut operating costs of the lights in half. Those savings will be shared with customers. Gameti was the first community to benefit earlier this year. Lutselk’e and Jean Marie River are next on the list.

Mr. Speaker, as we build momentum with these community-based power generation and conservation initiatives, more communities and customers will start to see how they can help improve the energy future of the NWT.

The storage facility for liquefied natural gas, or LNG, is nearing completion in Inuvik. Construction commenced in the late summer, with tanks and equipment arriving in September. The facility will be operational by the end of November.

LNG is cleaner with more than a 25 percent reduction in emissions and a lower-cost fuel that will displace diesel in Inuvik. LNG shows promise for reducing emissions and lowering costs in our road-connected diesel communities. Since 1964, LNG has maintained the best safety record of any fossil fuel. It is safer to transport and store than diesel and it leaves no trace in the event of a spill.

We are hopeful that following a successful transition to LNG in Inuvik, we will be able to expand use of LNG to other road-connected communities like Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Fort McPherson and possibly Jean Marie River. Feasibility of winter road communities – Deline, Tulita, Norman Wells, Fort Good Hope, Tsiigehtchic and Tuktoyaktuk – will also be explored. Despite its

exceptional safety record, Mr. Speaker, we must recognize that LNG is new to the NWT and that communities will need more information and dialogue in order to feel confident about its potential.

In Yellowknife the key issue remains reliability. NTPC is committed to making improvements and has pledged to achieve a 70 percent reduction in the frequency of power interruptions over the next three years. This would bring the average number of NTPC interruptions down to five or less per year in Yellowknife. This fall the corporation reported significant progress, with 47 percent fewer outages than last year. While there is still much work to be done in comparison with the national average of 2.5 outages per year, I have confidence that the 15-point plan developed by NTPC will result in ongoing and noticeable improvements.

Mr. Speaker, NTPC is also keeping the big picture in mind. The corporation is actively investigating the potential for a transmission grid project that could transform the electricity industry in the Northwest Territories, stabilize and reduce the cost of power and significantly improve the conditions for economic development.

The vision is to build an integrated power transmission grid between the North Slave and South Slave hydro systems that attracts industrial customers and connects to the Canadian grid.

Mr. Speaker, this represents a big undertaking, with big potential benefits for the NWT and for Canada. Securing our energy future by providing much needed infrastructure would allow us to dramatically reduce reliance on diesel generation, including industrial loads. It would also mean we could provide residents and businesses with power at a lower cost, which would in turn stimulate economic activity.

Such a system would provide an energy highway for us to move existing hydro power around the territory in response to demand and to import electricity from the South when northern demand exceeds supply. In the future this would also position the NWT to expand our hydro potential to better meet our domestic needs while moving our cost of electricity more in line with the rest of Canada over time.

We have initiated discussions with the federal government to remove financial barriers and invest in energy infrastructure to make this project a reality. We are in preliminary discussions with Saskatchewan and Alberta with respect to connecting to their grid. I am looking forward to seeing where these discussions lead.

Mr. Speaker, NTPC is also striving to keep power affordable for all its customers. The general rate application process is winding down, and while no one welcomes the resulting rate increases, I can

assure you that we have worked to lessen the impact on customers, by avoiding large increases and spreading smaller increases out over time.

As an employer, NTPC continues to make the development of a northern workforce its key human resource priority. This year NTPC hired four local apprentices: an apprentice power lineperson and an apprentice diesel mechanic in Fort Simpson, an apprentice electrician in Fort Smith and an apprentice power lineperson located in Inuvik. The corporation has also recently recruited an apprentice electrician in Fort Simpson, has an offer pending to an apprentice diesel mechanic in Yellowknife and competitions closing for apprentice power linepersons in Fort Smith and Inuvik.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge the overall level of collaboration I am seeing between our government and NTPC. This has resulted in better alignment between GNWT and NTPC goals and objectives.

NTPC will continue to work in partnership with government, communities, industry and its customers. Given the critical role power plays in the future prosperity of the NWT, this type of collaboration can only strengthen the position of our territory today and in the years to come. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 2-17(5): Report On The Northwest Territories Power Corporation
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Colleagues, before we go on today, I’d like to welcome to the House our Clerk of the Assembly. It’s Take Our Kids to Work Day. Ms. Hannah Schauerte is with her father here today, Doug Schauerte, who is our Clerk.

---Applause

Welcome to the Assembly, Hannah. Minister of Public Work and Services, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 3-17(5): 2013 Project Management Conference
Ministers’ Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, effective and efficient government is one of this Assembly’s goals. One of the ways that the Department of Public Works and Services will be helping to support this goal is by hosting the 14th Project Management Conference from December 3rd to 5th . This conference draws together project

management experts to share their experiences and discuss best practices and innovative approaches to managing infrastructure projects more efficiently and effectively. Every two years representatives of the North’s project management community gather for this conference. Over three days, 250 to 300 delegates from community governments, the construction and consulting industries, and other professionals from the private and public sector will come together to share their project management knowledge.

This year’s conference theme is “Helping Northerners Prepare for Tomorrow.” An impressive team of national and northern experts will share their experiences and best practices, from hands-on project-based advice on managing risk and construction tendering, to expert advice on adapting projects to climate change.

The range of topics and quality of presenters provides capacity building and professional development opportunities for design consultants, contractors and project management professionals from all sectors of the industry and all areas of the North.

Mr. Speaker, one of the most important opportunities that the conference offers participants is the ability to network and strengthen the North’s project management community. This focus on networking and capacity building makes the conference a great option for those in our communities who might be thinking about attending, and I would certainly encourage them to do so.

As in past years, Public Works and Services will be partnering with the NWT and Nunavut Construction Association who will be sponsoring the Northern Construction Trade Fair.

It allows consultants, suppliers and manufacturers to connect directly with the project management community. This networking opportunity strengthens the community and supports the expansion of highly skilled and professional sectors. The GNWT relies on these sectors to deliver the projects our residents need. They are our partners and I look forward to meeting with them next month at the conference.

Mr. Speaker, we face unique challenges when it comes to building in the North. We have to deal with a short building season and remote construction sites. Climate change has meant we’ve had to change our approach to planning, and building and taught us unique lessons. This conference will be an opportunity to recognize and share the expertise of our northern professionals and increase public and private sector capacity. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 3-17(5): 2013 Project Management Conference
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Item 3, Members’ statements. Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association 60th Anniversary
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On October 17th the Northwest Territories

Teachers’ Association celebrated 60 years of service to northern educators. The NWTTA, as it is

commonly called, had its humble beginnings in 1963 when it was founded by 63 teachers who attended the first NWT Teachers’ Convention in Fort Smith. For six decades this association has served as the professional voice for teachers across the Northwest Territories.

To put the significance of this achievement into perspective, consider this: dedicated teachers in the NWT were advocating for a professional development of teachers for a full 14 years before the seat of government for the Northwest Territories moved from Ottawa to Yellowknife. This is a remarkable achievement by any standard.

Today the NWTTA continues the strong tradition of leading and serving northern educators through professional development, partnership and communication. The association represents over 800 members, including teachers, school administrators and educational assistants, delivering programs in 49 schools to more than 8,300 students with diverse educational needs. It represents teachers in the collective bargaining process for three different employers, participates with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment in the NWT Teacher Qualification Service program and promotes teacher excellence through initiatives such as the Thank You for Making a Difference Initiative, which has collected and delivered over 20,000 messages of thanks from our children to their teachers.

The NWTTA represents over 50 hardworking educators who make Hay River home and whose hard work makes our schools, Diamond Jenness Secondary, Harry Camsell, Princess Alexandra and Ecole Boreale, places that are safe and enriching environments for our children to learn. I want to take this opportunity to personally thank each and every one of these for their dedication to the growth and development of the children of Hay River.

I hope that all my colleagues in this Legislature will join me in congratulating Ms. Gayla Meredith, president of the NWTTA, and all teachers that make up the membership of this important association for the work that they do daily on behalf of all students across the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association 60th Anniversary
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Education Renewal Consultation And Leadership
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. On behalf of hundreds of concerned parents in my constituency, I’m delighted to see the government moving forward with the Education Renewal, but I have two tough-minded messages for the department that’s heading up the overhaul.

The first message is that parents want to be involved. The majority of NWT schools are in small communities and the Department of Education needs to be listening to parents in these places. Their hearts are broken when they see their children’s poor results.

Their grief is deep when they discover their child’s high school diploma is not adequate for entrance into university or college. Their frustration is beyond measure when they discover courses offered in small community high schools are not academically rigorous.

Their desire is to do everything in their power to maximize their young child’s readiness for kindergarten.

To be sure, it is commendable that the department consulted with numerous groups, including district education councils, Aboriginal governments and community organizations. That demonstrates a real openness to hearing what needs to be fixed and ideas for moving forward.

But more has to be done to reach out to parents for advice. Parents want to be treated as vital partners in the renewal effort.

The second message is that we need decisive leadership. It’s the only way to turn the ship around. We need to show true leadership in education renewal, make some real changes for real results.

It is a travesty when top students in our small communities aren’t passing the departmental exams.

The situation is abysmal when only 11 percent of Grade 9 students in small community schools meet the standard of excellence on the Alberta achievement test. This 11 percent figure compares to 77 percent of similarly aged students in Alberta.

The document tabled last week certainly contains valuable material, but some of the language is woolly and vague. We need to do more than support initiatives and provide opportunity and enhance programs and ensure better supports are in place.

Enough is enough. We need to fix the education system. I implore the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to get connected to parents in our small communities and show decisive leadership that will bring real and lasting results.

Education Renewal Consultation And Leadership
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

School Attendance And Truancy Impacts
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Like many of my colleagues today speaking on the

recently tabled report, Education Renewal and Innovation Framework: Directions for Change, it is abundantly clear that our education system is in need of a shakeup. Of course, with any initiative report of this magnitude, we are hoping that this truly serves the department needs for the next 10 years and that the report does not collect dust on a shelf.

Although I don’t want to overshadow some of our successes, it may appear our failure rates as leaders, educators and society pales in comparison to our students’ low test scores and literacy rates. Change starts with the right framework and is measured by the right investment. The recent Auditor General of Canada report reminds us of that. The cliché “you can’t measure what you can’t count” may be surprisingly more appropriate for a Wildlife Act debate but, unfortunately, equally holds true in education.

In my first couple of days in office almost two years ago, I stumbled over a statistic that was alarming, and it remains an issue echoed in this ERI Framework. I would like to draw your attention to page 11 of this framework document, “by Grade 4 the average NWT student has already missed half a year of school, or two full years by Grade 10.”

What this statistic is saying is that the most we could aspire for a large number of our NWT students is that they have no higher than a potential Grade 10 upon graduation. One can maybe now comprehend why our Grade 12 Alberta test scores are so low. You can’t be academically at Grade 12 levels if you miss two years of school.

To the question of truancy, which is clearly one of the most serious barriers to our education system and I’m glad it was mentioned in this framework; however, this is just one page dedicated to this issue and it clearly does not give the statistic justice.

Let me be blatantly clear: School attendance is not the problem; it’s the end result of other issues. We need to understand why a large majority of our students stay away from school before we can affect positive change. Regrettably, this framework fails to realize these opportunities or even provide meaningful solutions.

In order for the Education department to break the socio-economic divide between small community and urban students, we need to address this barrier immediately and get them to attend school daily. Clearly, this framework report points out a serious red herring in our education system and yet offers little in the way of potential initiatives to address this.

I will have questions later today for the Minister of Education.

School Attendance And Truancy Impacts
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Regional High Schools As Centres Of Excellence
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our education system may be performing poorly, according to the recent reports. We are the ones who can do something with our education system. Clearly, education in the Northwest Territories is not up to par and we need to get it back on track. There is a big problem that requires bold solutions and decisive actions.

It is our children’s future that is at stake, and the stakes couldn’t be any higher. If we want our children to succeed, then we need to create a learning environment for them that encourages success. The standard wisdom holds that graduation rates are increasing because we are offering high school in smaller communities, but if our children are graduating and their performance is poor, what are we really achieving? If they get their diploma but can’t get a job or enter into college or university right after, what sort of success is that?

I have given this problem a great deal of thought. I have spoken to my constituents in the Sahtu, who, like all parents, simply want their children to have the very best opportunities that life can offer. I believe we need to challenge the conventional wisdom and reconsider the possibility of a regional high school in the Sahtu. If we look at some of today’s brightest northern leaders from the Sahtu, people like Stephen Kakfwi, Paul Andrew, Ethel Blondin-Andrew, George Cleary, Danny Gaudet, Sarah Baker, or Dora Duncan, and there are many others, one of the things they have in common is their acquired education. Today’s leaders are educated together in a learning environment where they can challenge one another to think, to be motivated, to inspire and to grow.

Obviously, I’m not suggesting in any way a return to the old residential school system, but I’m saying that with devolution, decentralization and resource development, companies are looking for educated professionals in the regions and we need to do everything we can to prepare our children to answer that call.

This includes encouraging them to attend a regional high school where we can focus our education dollars on a centre of excellence, with a focus on math and science with many other programs aimed at getting our children ready for post-secondary learning or in a trades institution.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Regional High Schools As Centres Of Excellence
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

As we hear more from the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment about this summer’s concentration on education

reform, I hope we hear bold and creative solutions aimed to drastically improve the education in the Northwest Territories. As we consider this, I challenge all Members of this House to think outside the box and to legislate seriously to turn this situation around and get education moving in the right direction. It’s what you do with education that counts, Mr. Speaker.