This is page numbers 2725 – 2750 of the Hansard for the 17th 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 10:03 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good morning, Members. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. McLeod.

Minister’s Statement 60-17(4): Intergovernmental Relations With Aboriginal Governments
Ministers’ Statements

Yellowknife South

Bob McLeod Premier

Mr. Speaker, last June in this Legislature, I expressed our government’s formal commitment to a set of principles and key actions to strengthen and renew our relationships with our Aboriginal government partners. “Respect, Recognition, Responsibility” is a foundational piece upon which all of our actions and commitments are built.

A cornerstone of our approach is our commitment to work with Aboriginal governments who are interested in formalizing their government-to-government relationship with the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday, May 23, we met with the chiefs of the Akaitcho Territory Dene First Nations in Yellowknife and signed a memorandum of understanding.

The MOU formalizes our relationship with the Akaitcho and allows us to work together on matters of mutual interest. The agreement also describes the way our governments will share information.

After the signing we held our first government-to-government meeting under the terms of this agreement. We talked about the potential to work together to address unauthorized occupancy of land in Akaitcho Territory, and school facility planning.

Mr. Speaker, over the course of the past year, our government has concluded separate but similar intergovernmental agreements with the Tlicho Government, the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Northwest Territory Metis Nation. We have held similar government-to-government meetings twice with the Tlicho Government and once with the

Gwich’in Tribal Council. I believe all governments are pleased with the way that these meetings have been unfolding. We have made progress together on our shared priority issues.

With or without a formalized government-to-government agreement in place, this government continues to meet with all Aboriginal governments in all regions of the Northwest Territories. We continue to work with Dehcho First Nations; senior GNWT officials have been engaged in weekly bilateral meetings with Dehcho officials on governance and land related issues, strengthening our relationship through a better understanding of each other’s aspirations.

Mr. Speaker, strong, effective and efficient governments are essential for helping Northerners achieve their social, environmental and economic goals. Aboriginal governments play a role in this and are important partners with the Government of the Northwest Territories. Formal agreements between us help our governments address issues that matter to our people and work together more effectively. I look forward to continuing to strengthen our relationships with all Aboriginal governments in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 60-17(4): Intergovernmental Relations With Aboriginal Governments
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister’s Statement 61-17(4): Bullying Prevention Legislative Amendment And Safe Schools Plan
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, bullying is a broad societal problem and a very serious issue in our schools that Education, Culture and Employment is dedicated to addressing.

On February 16, 2012, the Legislative Assembly passed an anti-bullying motion, calling on the department to establish a territory-wide campaign to denounce bullying, and review anti-bullying legislation in other jurisdictions and bring forward a bill for consideration by the Assembly within 18 months.

Mr. Speaker, I am happy to announce that later today I will move first reading of a bill to amend the Education Act that will include bullying prevention measures. But legislation alone, as many of you

have told us, will not be enough. In collaboration with an interdisciplinary team, we will finalize our Territorial Safe Schools Action Plan to address bullying and develop regulations, policies and procedures that will create safe learning environments. This is a long-term investment with many partners, including Aboriginal governments, the Northwest Territories Teachers’ Association, school administrators, other government departments, families and communities.

The Safe Schools Team will assist in the development and direction of a Territorial Safe Schools Plan, for use by all schools in the NWT, and will be piloted next school year. This plan includes legislation, tools and resources, an educational training plan, along with new regulations, policies and procedures. It will help district education councils, authorities, and schools to monitor, measure and evaluate bullying-prevention initiatives. We will also continue to research best practices for safe schools, work collaboratively with educational partners, and collect, analyze and use data to support future decisions.

The department is committed to doing its part in addressing this complex issue and we believe that the legislation and action plan will support a safe learning environment for NWT students. This will help us take steps to address all forms of bullying, including cyberbullying. Bullying is a global issue, and we will continue to work with our partners across Canada to ensure we have a strong, collaborative approach to bullying prevention and to safe schools for all students.

A strong, prosperous territory begins with a strong society sustained by a healthy environment. We need to get it right from the start. This is an investment in a future where all of our children grow up to become healthy, educated members of society and can participate in creating sustainable, vibrant communities. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 61-17(4): Bullying Prevention Legislative Amendment And Safe Schools Plan
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister’s Statement 62-17(4): Understanding The Benefits Of Remote Sensing - An Exploratory Visit To Kiruna, Sweden, And Munich, Germany
Ministers’ Statements

Thebacha

Michael Miltenberger Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, this Legislative Assembly has a vision of strong individuals, families and communities sharing the benefits and responsibilities of a unified, environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories. Achieving that vision requires a balanced approach that advances our economic, environmental and social priorities and this government is moving forward on all those fronts.

Supporting economic development for Inuvik, and the whole Northwest Territories, by facilitating the construction of a fibre optic line up the entire length of the Mackenzie Valley to Tuktoyaktuk is one of the priorities of this Assembly and this government. The Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line would allow communities, businesses and residents along its route to benefit from the internet age of the 21st century.

One of the ways that we can help finance this important project, diversify the economy of our territory and the town of Inuvik, and free ourselves from the ups and downs of the resource development sector we have depended on, is to support the growth of new industries, such as the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility.

Mr. Speaker, this facility has the potential to become one of the pre-eminent satellite ground stations for remote sensing not only in North America but the world.

Currently there are two satellite antennas in Inuvik, one owned by the Swedish Space Corporation and the other by the German Space Agency. The Government of Canada, through Natural Resources Canada, will begin construction of their own antenna this summer. At this point, Mr. Speaker, this is likely the maximum number of antennas that we will see in Inuvik without a fibre optic link to southern Canada and the rest of the world.

Mr. Speaker, the limitations of our current communications infrastructure are preventing our government from providing better programs and services to our residents, particularly in the areas of health and education. This lack of infrastructure is also preventing our businesses and residents from accessing non-government services and connecting, in real time, to the rest of the world.

In order to obtain a better understanding of how growing the Inuvik Satellite Facility can help the construction of a fibre optic line up the Mackenzie Valley, I led a delegation to Kiruna, Sweden, where the Swedish Space Corporation operates one of the largest satellite ground stations in the world, and to Munich, Germany, where the German Space Agency is located.

Our delegation was comprised of representatives from Aboriginal governments that are considering partnering with our government to build the fibre optic line and a representative from the Town of Inuvik. Travelling with me were:

• Mr. Daryl Dolynny, MLA, Range Lake,

representing the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning;

• Mr. Denny Rodgers, general manager of the

Inuvialuit Development Corporation;

• Ms. Amy Thompson, board member, Gwich’in

Tribal Council;

• Mr. Danny Yakeleya, Sahtu Secretariat Inc.;

• Mr. Jim MacDonald, deputy mayor of Inuvik;

• Mr. Mike Aumond, deputy minister, Finance;

• Mr. James Tolley, my executive assistant; and

• Mr. Stuart Salter, our invaluable expert

consultant.

Every member of our delegation learned a great deal from our meetings and has a better appreciation how important the fibre optic line up the Mackenzie Valley is.

Specifically, Mr. Speaker, we saw first-hand the significant positive benefits the satellite ground station and remote sensing industry have not only on the economy of Kiruna, but also the important role they play in facilitating advanced learning at the Institute of Space Physics. The potential impact of an expanded satellite ground station in Inuvik on the Aurora Research Centre is significant and could make this facility one of the “the places to be” to conduct space-based Arctic research.

In Munich, the German Space Agency clearly articulated the geographical advantages that make Inuvik an ideal location for remote satellite sensing. They told us that if they decided to further invest in the Inuvik Satellite Facility, they would seriously look at undertaking significant data processing in Inuvik, creating jobs and providing training for local residents.

It is evident that both the Swedish Space Corporation, the German Space Agency, the Government of Canada and others will seriously consider investing to expand the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility and make it a world-class leader in remote sensing if, and only if, they have access to a fibre optic link to provide a real time connection to the rest of the world.

Mr. Speaker, it is time that as many of our communities as possible enjoy the benefits of 21st century communication infrastructure that Yellowknife, Hay River, Fort Smith, Edmonton, Ottawa and most of the world take for granted. We can make this happen with the construction of the Mackenzie Valley fibre optic line. I want to thank the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning for its strong support of our government’s commitment to see this project advanced and completed.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to take productive steps towards implementing the Mackenzie Valley fibre link. We are in the process of finalizing the project description report by the end of June; we undertook a request for expression of interest process in April that demonstrated a strong level of interest in the project; we are currently preparing the request for qualifications for release in June 2013 and planning on starting the request for proposal process later this fall. Based on this schedule, we anticipate

construction will start in winter 2014 to have the fibre operational by the summer of 2016.

This timeline will support the current growth of the Inuvik Satellite Facility, which includes the new antenna I had mentioned earlier and provide the confidence needed to support future anticipated growth to a total of five antennas by 2016 and 10 antennas by 2020.

Mr. Speaker, I will table a detailed report on our visit to Sweden and Germany in upcoming October session. Thank you.

Minister’s Statement 62-17(4): Understanding The Benefits Of Remote Sensing - An Exploratory Visit To Kiruna, Sweden, And Munich, Germany
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Inuvik East Three School
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Recently, the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning had an opportunity to have a retreat in Inuvik – and I hadn’t been up to Inuvik for a while, not since the new school was built – and it was our opportunity while we were in Inuvik to tour some new facilities that were built there. Sitting here in the Legislature, I had heard a lot about the new super-school in Inuvik. I expected to be amazed. Now I can tell you the only thing that amazes me about that school is the price tag.

I hate to rain on anybody’s parade, but right from the outside of that school, it has an exterior very similar to this Legislative Assembly. It has some kind of metal cladding. It is a very cold looking building. It could be mistaken for, I want to say a penitentiary, but something like that.

When you go in the door, you go in and there are long, grey, cold hallways. Maybe there is more work to be done, I don’t know. But it clearly told me that Public Works and Services needed to come up with standardized things that are required in schools.

We saw the children’s indoor shoes in clothes baskets inside the door of the classrooms because there were no shelves built into the program to store their shoes. Now, everybody knows we are living in the North; it’s cold weather. Kids are going to wear their boots to school and they are going to have indoor shoes. No cabinetry, no millwork, nothing for children’s shoes inside the classroom.

No bulletin boards in the classrooms, Mr. Speaker. Twenty-five pages, eight and a half by eleven like this, pinned up on a drywalled wall with pushpins. You walk in there and it kind of leaves you feeling… Like, we all like to have nice homes that are well decorated and well-appointed and you go in there and you see that. It doesn’t make for a nice environment.

So many things. Janitorial equipment in the hallways. We asked about it – no janitor’s room. One whole end of the school and no janitor’s room. Great big floor cleaning pieces of equipment sitting in the hallway.

We went into the library. It’s a beautiful library, but I don’t know how this could meet any kind of energy code or energy efficiency code. The windows in the library are so massive – and I am not making this up – the librarian has to wear sunglasses and they are about to spend $60,000 on new blinds to cover up the windows, because they wanted to put so many windows in this new facility. It’s a challenge for them operating in there. The teachers told us that they can’t see their computer screens for all the glass that they wanted to build into this school. I’m sure they will work out all these kinks, but for $126 million, I have to say I am rather disappointed with the thought that went into this. We need standards for things like shoes, bulletin boards, the janitor’s room.

I would like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Inuvik East Three School
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Like I said, I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade on this, but we did spend a lot of money on this. We heard about all the consultation that went into the school. I just don’t know how such basic things that a school needs could have possibly been overlooked in this school.

On the same tour we saw the Children’s First facility, which I must say was amazing and lots of thought went into that. That was a Cadillac of early childhood development centres, but I have to say I’m disappointed with the school. They’ve got lots of things to work out, so I hope Public Works will get on that. Thank you.

Inuvik East Three School
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Moses.

Graduations In Inuvik
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Regardless of the conditions of the school and environment this weekend, I would like to focus my Member’s statement on celebrations and successes of the graduation celebrations that will be going on in Inuvik this year.

Regardless of how cold the halls may be and how dismal the school may look, I’m very pleased to say that the East Three School is going to have 34 graduates this year, which is historical and also one of the highest graduating classes that came out of Inuvik. You can’t put a price on education. You can’t put a price on the future of our students and our communities. I’m very glad to see the great

accomplishments that the students that are graduating from East Three High School have made.

As we all know, graduating from high school is a big moment in any of our lives. Probably one of the biggest moments that we ever experience is graduating from high school. I’d like to offer my congratulations to the 34 students, and thank all the teachers and staff for all their hard work and efforts, and making that transition from the old school to the new school, and being able to be successful in graduating these 34 students.

At the same time, the Aurora College will be having a completion ceremony. This completion ceremony will be graduating young adults as well as adults who have decided to make a change in their lives and also take that step in developing and educating themselves to high standards, become educated and become better members of society. I would like to congratulate each and every one of the students that will be graduating from this completion ceremony in the learning centre in Inuvik with the Aurora College centre and the great program that they do. It is a big moment in their lives and shows that this government is putting in the efforts, the resources, and making sure that our people that are out of the school system have that opportunity to thrive and succeed in life and we have those opportunities. In Inuvik we’re lucky that we do have the facility to do so.

I know that there have been a lot of challenges over the last year within the high school and in Inuvik with the economy, and to be able to overcome those challenges and to get to this day of completion and graduation, that’s a big accomplishment, and I’d like to congratulate all the graduates this weekend in Inuvik.

Graduations In Inuvik
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. The Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Economic Opportunities Strategy
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Economic Opportunities Panel report is affirmation of our citizens’ grassroots priorities for economic development. My thanks to all those who took time to contribute and share their views.

In reading the report, it often seemed I was reading my files of correspondence from people across the NWT or, indeed, in entreaties from this side of the House.

A few highlights:

• widespread interest in more agriculture,

recognizing the importance of small subsidies and empowerment of local capacity;

• strong support for development of commercial

fisheries, recognizing unused capacity and marketing this special world-class resource;

• increased development of our forestry potential

and an end to importing biofuel;

• expansion of tourism with training and

marketing help for small operators and consideration of a Yellowknife runway extension to accept international traffic;

• even greater emphasis on the grassroots arts

and craft industry with action to improve the supply of materials so we don’t lose traditional skills;

• take advantage of unused capacity for hydro

energy to cut the burden of energy costs on our businesses and families and grow a greener economy;

• greater emphasis on training and employment

development and cutting back the fly-in, fly-out workers commuting from afar;

• emphasis first and last on made-in-the-NWT to

stop exporting our dollars and nail them down in our local economies;

• there’s a critical need to integrate labour

development with economic development and get government back onto effective socio-economic benefits agreements;

• from government services people want strong

action on import substitution and an effective Business Incentive Policy with tightening up of support programs to eliminate confusion.

• I would also push for a long overdue renewable

resource forum in parallel to the Geoscience Forum.

People did not emphasize megaprojects and big developments. Those players are well resourced to further their projects, but the need for considerable focus to actually benefit widely from such development was clear. The largely local common sense folks contributing their views knew what they wanted for ensuring healthy families and healthy communities, a strong emphasis on small local businesses and use of local resources to meet basic needs and build local economies.

Our citizens are optimistic and confident in our ability to control our economic destiny and grow a sustainable economy. I look forward to the government’s next steps in giving life to this direction. Mahsi.