This is page numbers 2863 - 2918 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 income.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Hon. Tom Beaulieu, Ms. Bisaro, Mr. Blake, Mr. Bouchard, Mr. Bromley, Mr. Dolynny, Mr. Hawkins, Hon. Jackie Jacobson, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. Menicoche, Hon. Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Moses, Mr. Nadli, Hon. David Ramsay, Mr. Yakeleya

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Speaker's Ruling
Prayer

Page 2863

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Before we get started today, I will provide my ruling on the point of order raised by Mr. Abernethy yesterday, June 5, 2013, regarding comments made by Mr. Dolynny which were perceived to impute false or hidden motives and were viewed as allegations against Mr. Abernethy. As Members are aware, a point of order must be raised at the earliest opportunity and I find that Mr. Abernethy did, in fact, raise the point of order at the earliest opportunity.

I have now had the opportunity to review the unedited transcripts from yesterday and wish to bring focus to the remarks which gave rise to the point of order.

Mr. Dolynny, in speaking about the new downtown Yellowknife office building, expressed concerns about responses he had received from the Minister's office to requests for information pertaining to the terms and conditions of the construction contract. Mr. Dolynny indicated his ‘shock' at finding, “the department wanted to charge me $1,477.75 to photocopy a whopping 1,992 pages of documents.” He then went on to describe this as, “nothing more than a document dump and a ridiculous charge to ward off a Member of this government the right to get answers to simple questions and to protect the public purse.” He also coloured this response as a “recurrent theme” which he sees “all too often.” He went on to state: “It almost appears that this government has a history of document dumping and fee shock to scare off would-be inquiries,” and, “now appears to be the tactics used on an elected Member of this House.” It was shortly after these remarks that Mr. Abernethy rose on his point of order.

Mr. Abernethy's point was that Mr. Dolynny, by questioning the responses received from the department, was directly questioning his motives with regard to the capital project under discussion

and the process to be adhered to in requesting information relative to the project. I will quote Mr. Abernethy in stating his point of order found on page 13 of the unedited Hansard for Wednesday, June 5, 2013: “...the Member for Range Lake has suggested that we are impeding his ability to get detailed information to do his job.” He went on to say: “...the Member is suggesting that we are intentionally trying to keep information from him, which is not the case.”

In reviewing these comments, I examined closely the rules cited by Mr. Abernethy in his point of order, and in doing so, I considered the following questions: Did Mr. Dolynny make an allegation against Mr. Abernethy? Did he impute false or hidden motives to him?

I find the answers to both of these questions is, clearly, no. Mr. Dolynny made no direct allegations against Mr. Abernethy. I also fail to see where the comments imputed a false or hidden motive to him. I do not find that Mr. Dolynny's remarks were directed specifically at Mr. Abernethy, nor do I find they questioned Mr. Abernethy's personal integrity, honesty or character. Therefore, I find there is no point of order.

I wish to thank all Members who offered their views on the point of order. I particularly appreciate the respectful and balanced tone of the discussion. Thank you, Members.

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The honourable Minister responsible for social programs.

Minister's Statement 70-17(4): Anti-poverty Strategic Framework
Ministers' Statements

Page 2863

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to this Assembly's goal of helping our residents become and stay healthy, educated people free from poverty. A strong territory needs a strong society. All residents of the NWT should have the chance to enjoy the benefits of living in a prosperous, well-governed territory and to participate fully in a healthy, just society.

This is why the Premier committed last year to the development of an Anti-Poverty Strategy. At the appropriate time today, I will table the Strategic Framework towards the Elimination of Poverty in the NWT. This framework has been developed in partnership with the No Place for Poverty Coalition, representatives from the business sector, as well as Aboriginal and community governments.

I want to acknowledge the efforts of the many partners on the steering committee who devoted countless hours over the past year to this important work. Not only is the framework an excellent document and a roadmap for the future, it is also a testament to what we can achieve by working in collaboration.

Mr. Speaker, poverty is complex, and to tackle this issue requires action on many fronts. Our government's priorities all work together to address poverty. A thriving economy gives residents the chance to support themselves and their families. Healthy, educated people are better able to take advantage of economic opportunities.

The framework reflects this complexity and targets five priority areas for tackling poverty in the NWT. These include a focus on children and families, healthy living, safe and affordable housing, sustainable communities and better integration of services. Our government is already taking action in many of these areas. In this session alone we have heard about our commitments to renew the Early Childhood Development Framework, develop an Economic Opportunities Strategy, improve our relationships with Aboriginal governments, and address mental health and addictions in our communities. This work has a common thread. It is all part of our work to achieve our vision of a poverty-free NWT.

Now that the strategic framework is complete, it's time to focus on actions.

Over the summer Ministers will work together to develop action plans to coordinate responses to this and the other frameworks and strategies that have recently been tabled. I will encourage other stakeholder organizations to do the same. As plans are developed, I will host a symposium in the fall so we can all talk about what we want to do and how we might work together.

There is a role for everyone in our efforts to create a poverty-free NWT, and I look forward to new partnerships that will have long-term benefits for all of our people. By working together, we can make progress on our shared priorities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 70-17(4): Anti-poverty Strategic Framework
Ministers' Statements

Page 2863

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. The honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 71-17(4): Corridors For Canada Iii: Building For Prosperity
Ministers' Statements

Page 2864

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, achieving our government's vision of a strong, prosperous territory requires that adequate supporting infrastructure, such as the transportation system, is in place to effectively link communities to opportunities for social growth and economic prosperity.

The Department of Transportation has made significant improvements to the transportation system over the last 10 years through partnerships with the federal government under the Canada Strategic Infrastructure Fund and the Building Canada Plan. Through these partnership agreements, the GNWT and federal government have invested more than $330 million in transportation infrastructure. These investments were guided by two funding proposals, Corridors for Canada I and Corridors for Canada II, submitted to the federal government under each of these federal funding programs.

Mr. Speaker, in March 2013, Canada announced details of its new infrastructure investment strategy under Canada's Economic Action Plan. This new federal funding program includes a new Building Canada Fund, with $14 billion investments allocated over the next 10 years.

This new fund will provide our territory with an opportunity to continue the transportation system improvements accomplished through the previous infrastructure funding programs that are now coming to a close.

Mr. Speaker, later today, at the appropriate time, I will be pleased to table the Corridors for Canada III - Building for Prosperity, the Department of Transportation's strategic funding proposal that will be submitted for consideration under the new Building Canada Fund. The proposal includes a $600 million investment over 10 years to improve our winter roads, highways, bridges, marine and airport infrastructure.

Corridors for Canada III is an action plan that addresses transportation infrastructure needs across all regions of the Northwest Territories.

These investments are proposed under the two separate components of the new Building Canada Fund: the $10 billion Provincial-Territorial Infrastructure Fund and the $4 billion National Infrastructure Fund.

We are proposing to invest $415 million over 10 years under the provincial-territorial base funding program. Investment is proposed for reconstruction, grade and safety improvements on all of our eight public highways and the Detah access road, bridge rehabilitation and replacement, a new air terminal building in Inuvik, and upgrades to our ferry landings.

We are also proposing an investment of $185 million over 10 years under the second component of the Building Canada Fund, called the National Infrastructure Fund, a merit-based investment program that targets projects of national significance. Projects proposed under this fund address the next steps to advance the Mackenzie Valley Highway, enable economic development and help the transportation system adapt to climate change.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada recognizes the Mackenzie Valley Highway as a project of national significance that will improve industry access to energy resources and lead to prosperity and economic benefits spread across the country. The future completion of an all-weather Mackenzie Valley Highway is also a priority of this government.

The Mackenzie Valley Highway investments proposed include completing the highway's environmental assessment, constructing bridges including the Bear River Bridge, and a new segment of winter road linking Fort Good Hope to the Dempster Highway. Grade improvements along the existing alignment will also bring us closer to the future completion of the all-weather highway.

This government is taking a balanced approach that will help us grow our economy, support our people and manage our environment responsibly. Corridors for Canada III is an important part of that approach. The objective of our infrastructure funding proposal is to continue working with Canada to address our transportation infrastructure priorities that lead to jobs, economic growth, and prosperous communities in the Northwest Territories. We will promote this proposal to the federal government this summer, and I will report back on our success during the fall session. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 71-17(4): Corridors For Canada Iii: Building For Prosperity
Ministers' Statements

Page 2864

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Honourable Premier, Mr. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 72-17(4): Update On The Government Of The Northwest Territories Land Use And Sustainability Framework
Ministers' Statements

Page 2864

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update the people of the Northwest Territories about the Government of the Northwest Territories Land Use and Sustainability Framework.

A healthy, well-managed environment sustains all of our people and is the foundation for a healthy life. The land nourishes us and is the driving force of our economy. Following our historic debate and vote on the devolution motion yesterday, we will have enhanced decision-making power to manage land, develop the economy, and protect the environment. A Land Use and Sustainability Framework will guide the Government of the Northwest Territories in making land management decisions and it will provide transparency and consistency to the interests that we bring when working with Aboriginal governments and other land partners.

Over the past year we have been discussing land management with residents and stakeholders. Last July we distributed Land is Life, a discussion paper that laid out our vision, interests and principles for making land management decisions on behalf of residents of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will table What We Heard About...Land is Life. We heard that people are comfortable with our vision and principles for land use. We heard about the need to balance conservation and economic development and we heard about the need to work together.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is one partner in an integrated land management system. The Devolution Agreement contains provisions for intergovernmental coordination and collaboration on lands and resources management. The land is our life and the source of our wealth and well-being.

Healthy people depend on a healthy environment, and our natural resources have the potential to transform our economy, creating jobs and opportunities for all.

While the operating environment is still unfolding and the framework is not yet finalized, we have been hard at work. Sustainability is much broader than the physical landscape, it must consider water, wildlife, land, energy, renewable and non-renewable resources. We have completed a Water Stewardship Strategy. We have undertaken significant discussion and engagement on energy planning, economic opportunities and mineral development in the Northwest Territories, and standing committee consultations are currently underway on a proposed new Wildlife Act.

All of these are connected under the broad vision of the Land Use and Sustainability Framework. The values and operating principles of the framework build on our Sustainability Development Policy and provide guidance to other strategies that will affect how our land and resources are used. All of these are critical in achieving the vision of the 17th Assembly. Working together, we will responsibly and sustainably manage the lands, waters and natural resources of the Northwest Territories for the benefit of current and future generations.

We have reached consensus on a Devolution Final Agreement with an effective date of April 1, 2014. The Government of the Northwest Territories needs to be well prepared for that change and is setting out an appropriate land management framework that will encourage and support northern leadership over northern lands. Making the right decisions on the use of land and its resources is one of our greatest responsibilities, and we want to get it right. I look forward to bringing the final Land Use and Sustainability Framework to this House during our fall session. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 72-17(4): Update On The Government Of The Northwest Territories Land Use And Sustainability Framework
Ministers' Statements

Page 2865

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 73-17(4): Sahtu Challenges And Opportunities Report
Ministers' Statements

Page 2865

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, the oil and gas activity in the Sahtu Region has the potential to grow and diversify the Northwest Territories economy, a key priority of this government. In the last few years, this potential has created many opportunities and challenges for the people, businesses, and industry working in the area.

We want to make sure development continues in a timely yet environmentally sustainable way, and that local residents and businesses benefit. Later today, at the appropriate time, I will be tabling the Resource Exploration in the Sahtu Settlement Area: Opportunities and Challenges, wherein these issues are addressed.

Our natural resources are the source of our prosperity, and after devolution, they will provide additional revenues to support investments in our people, our environment and our economy.

The report takes a closer look at projections for exploration activity in the Sahtu over the next five years, the potential for opportunities and challenges related to the level of activity, and how the GNWT can prepare to respond.

It includes a number of recommendations, highlighting areas that must be addressed to maximize benefits for NWT residents, businesses, and communities.

These include:

  • the need for an approved land use plan for the Sahtu;
  • the need for improved training opportunities;
  • the need to develop comprehensive environmental baseline information for the proposed exploration areas; and
  • the need for improved information-gathering procedures to better understand the opportunities and impacts related to hydrocarbon development.

Mr. Speaker, petroleum exploration and development is important to the Sahtu region. After the busy winter work season, many residents have had training and job opportunities, and NWT businesses have profited from company spending.

However, we as a government have always adhered to the principles of sustainable development. This prosperity will not come at the expense of those who live and work in the region. Investments in managing our land and environment help us use our resources wisely and sustainably while continuing to protect the health of our land and our people.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has been working closely with a number of other GNWT departments to address any issues related to development.

We want to ensure the services and resources needed in the region are readily available, and that those resources are being used effectively.

Just last week, representatives from the GNWT, industry, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, Canadian Economic Development Agency, National Energy Board, Sahtu Land and Water Board, Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, Sahtu Renewable Resource Board and other groups came together in Norman Wells to identify common actions to support the ongoing exploration activity in the region.

Mr. Speaker, by being proactive and taking steps to identify challenges early, these impacts can be managed efficiently and effectively.

We are continuously building relationships and identifying the needs for partnerships.

By continuing to maintain a consistent dialogue between industry, all levels of government, between GNWT departments, Aboriginal organizations, and NWT residents and businesses, we will be better prepared to address any social, environmental and economic issues related to this activity and will ensure resource development continues to be part of our diversified economy that provides all communities and regions with opportunities and choices. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 73-17(4): Sahtu Challenges And Opportunities Report
Ministers' Statements

Page 2866

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable Minister responsible for NTPC.

Minister's Statement 74-17(4): Liquefied Natural Gas Supply For Inuvik
Ministers' Statements

Page 2866

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, on May 31, 2013, in response to questions from Mr. Alfred Moses, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, I addressed aspects of this government's plan to provide relief for the residents of Inuvik by introducing liquefied natural gas, or LNG, to the community. I would like to clarify one point about LNG storage plans.

Northwest Territories Power Corporation plans to store just under a weeks' supply of LNG on site for the electricity project. A full year's supply of backup diesel is already on hand in Inuvik. Once the pilot year is completed, an evaluation of storage requirements will determine what the optimal storage requirements will be and that may be as much as 30 days.

While providing lower cost electricity to NTPC customers is certainly a central objective of this initiative, it may not be the only way that Inuvik residents will be able to enjoy the benefits of LNG. Provided that the LNG pilot year for electricity proves successful, the community may wish to consider the merits of LNG as part of the heating solution for the town as they may receive some economies of scale by exploring an LNG solution alongside NTPC.

The seasonal heating requirements for the town will require a higher level of storage - in the order of 30 days' worth of storage. The optimum level of storage and the overall viability of LNG for heating supply will have to be evaluated after the LNG pilot year is operational and the impact of extended ferry service has been assessed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 74-17(4): Liquefied Natural Gas Supply For Inuvik
Ministers' Statements

Page 2866

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members' statements. The honourable Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Member's Statement On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Members' Statements

Page 2866

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Elders make a difference in our communities every day. Elders are deeply involved in our communities and their contributions benefit NWT residents of all ages. I'm really pleased to see so many MLAs wearing purple here today to raise awareness of elder abuse.

June 15th is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and I'm going to do my part today to raise the awareness of elder abuse. Elder abuse is a significant threat to the older residents of our NWT communities, as Members well know, and it is a problem in both small communities and larger centres.

For many years elder abuse remained a private matter, hidden from view and not talked about. Thankfully, in the last 30 years or so, elder abuse has become increasingly more important to our society and it's now seen as a public problem that needs attention.

The World Health Organization report called Missing Voices stated that abuse, neglect and financial exploitation of elders are much more common than societies admit. The same report demonstrates clear links between elder abuse and disempowerment and discrimination of elders.

Elder abuse is defined as any kind of physical, sexual, psychological or economic abuse, as well as neglect. Perhaps surprisingly, male elders are almost at the same risk of abuse as female elders. Elders are taken advantage of because they are physically frail or have diminished mental capacity. Family members extort money from their elders or force them to sign over property. It's very unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, but elders are an easy target.

Elder abuse does not discriminate. It happens in institutions as well as private homes and to elders of all races. Our elders should be respected and honoured. They hold the wisdom, the history and the knowledge of our communities and our territory. We must not ignore elder abuse, and understanding it gives us the power to fight it. Society has recognized that elder abuse and neglect is occurring and must raise awareness of the problem. We need to inform health and social service practitioners and the general public about elder abuse, ensure that they can identify the signs of elder abuse and know where to find the help to combat it. We need to use the media to change attitudes and reduce stereotyping of the elders, and we need to educate our elders as well.

All of these actions bring the problem of elder abuse out into the open, encourage acknowledgement that it's a problem, and we can start to eradicate it. Next Saturday, June 15th, wear purple again, find an elder, show them the respect they deserve, and let them know you care.

Member's Statement On World Elder Abuse Awareness Day
Members' Statements

Page 2867

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.