This is page numbers 4891 – 4922 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 health.

Topics

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Before we begin today, I’d like to take this opportunity to extend the condolences of this Legislative Assembly, our Members and our staff, to the families of all those affected by the ongoing and tragic events in our nation’s capital earlier today. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time.

Colleagues, I want to draw your attention to the presence at the Table today of the Honourary Clerk of the House, former Speaker, Minister, Commissioner, Sergeant-at-Arms and Honourary Captain, Anthony W.J. Whitford.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Transportation, Mr. Beaulieu.

Minister's Statement 100-17(5): Road Safety
Ministers’ Statements

Tu Nedhe

Tom Beaulieu Minister of Transportation

Mr. Speaker, the safety of Northerners is a goal shared by Members of this Assembly and the Department of Transportation as we strive to build safe communities and a safe transportation system, in all modes, for the benefit of our residents.

Mr. Speaker, Parachute Canada is a national organization dedicated to preventing injuries and saving lives. Parachute has declared this week to be National Teen Driver Safety Week. Although young people only make up 13 percent of licenced drivers nationally, they account for 24 percent of road fatalities. Additionally, 40 percent of speeding drivers in fatal crashes are between the ages of 16 and 24. These shocking statistics have to change.

Learning to drive and earning a driver’s licence marks a key milestone in life, and new drivers across the Northwest Territories are benefiting from our graduated licensing program. New drivers are required to earn experience before receiving the privilege of a full driver’s licence. Our objective is to

ensure new drivers have experience and comfort behind the wheel, making NWT highways safer.

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators is the steward of the National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims, which takes place on Wednesday, November 19, 2014. We must never forget the victims of motor vehicle accidents and to continue all efforts to make our highways, winter roads and community roads as safe as possible.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation has several road safety initiatives including the new Alcohol Ignition Interlock Program that prevents drivers from starting their vehicles if their blood alcohol level is above a pre-set limit. This keeps impaired drivers away from the wheel and leads to greater safety for all road users.

Highway transport officers work closely with the RCMP to patrol all of our highways to keep drivers safe. But changing behaviour takes time and persistence. I am pleased to see partnerships with community groups and industry that remind people that we can all do more to reduce injuries and fatalities on our highways.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to publicly acknowledge the ongoing efforts of SADD, Students Against Impaired and Distracted Driving. This student organization is an important partner in encouraging youth to make healthy choices that help to keep our highways safe. I offer my best wishes for success to SADD as they take part in events planned this month to encourage their peers to make positive choices.

Distracted driving is an issue the Department of Transportation takes seriously. In Canada, distracted driving contributes to more serious injuries than impaired driving and speeding. Research has shown that a texting driver is 23 times more likely to crash than a non-texting driver.

Since passing legislation in 2012 to discourage the use of hand-held electronic devices, 673 drivers have been convicted for using a hand-held electronic device while driving. We have also nearly tripled the fine for distracted driving from $115 to $322. The department will continue to impress on drivers that distracted driving is just as dangerous as impaired driving.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation holds public safety as a high priority. When it comes to road safety, the best tips are obvious: don’t drink and drive; don’t speed; don’t text and drive; and always buckle up. We can all do our part to make our roads and trails safe. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 100-17(5): Road Safety
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. The honourable Member of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 101-17(5): GNWT First Ever Call Cycle – Oil And Gas
Ministers’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, now that the Government of the Northwest Territories is responsible for administering the territory’s onshore petroleum resources, we are looking ahead to effectively plan and manage the NWT’s world-class oil and gas potential for the benefit of all residents.

To encourage future exploration and responsible development of oil and gas reserves in the territory, the Department of Industry, Tourism and investment is preparing for its first ever call cycle for oil and gas exploration rights.

Mr. Speaker, at this stage, the petroleum rights issuance process is moving forward with the call for nominations, which may then be followed by a call for bids. During the call for nominations phase, interested parties have four weeks to recommend parcels of land to the GNWT that should be made available for oil and gas exploration. Once the results of these submissions have been assessed, the government will decide which parcels will be made available to prospective bidders in a call for bids. The Petroleum Resources Act requires that the call for bids must remain open for a minimum of 120 days.

I want to emphasize that receiving a nomination for a particular parcel does not automatically mean that the GNWT will offer it up for future oil and gas exploration or a call for bids. Nominations are a first step in a broader call cycle process, which can take up to a year for the entire process to be completed, including the issuance of exploration licences. The process allows our government to manage the pace and scale of oil and gas development in our territory in a clear and consistent way that reflects northern priorities. At the same time, the certainty provided by clear processes helps promote the territory’s competitive position and improves business and investor confidence.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT is careful to consider the views of the public, stakeholders and Aboriginal governments in its decisions on oil and gas development. With the NWT’s unique interests, ITI has engaged with Aboriginal governments and organizations that may be directly affected by new

exploration projects. During the month of September, officials from the GNWT met with representatives of the Tulita, Deline and K’asho Got’ine district land corporations, the Gwich’in Tribal Council and the Inuvialuit Game Council to seek their views on the issuance of petroleum exploration land in their respective areas. This is one of the more important and critical parts of preparing the call for nominations. The consultation and engagement process gave us a better understanding of what lands must not be opened up for development. We will continue to engage with Aboriginal governments and organizations in our decision-making, reflecting the crucial role they play in the future of the NWT.

In going through the consultation and community engagement and the call for nominations process, our government also learns more about the suitability of our lands for petroleum development and our level of attractiveness as a jurisdiction for industry investment that will help inform future plans and decisions.

The information gathered during the call cycle is also valuable as we proceed with the development of an NWT Oil and Gas Strategy, as recommended in the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy. The Oil and Gas Strategy will serve as the blueprint for oil and gas development in the territory for the next 20 years and is a key component of this government’s vision to build a strong and prosperous territory that provides opportunity to our regions.

Mr. Speaker, devolution was a major step for this government, one which could not have been completed without great effort and collaboration with our partners. The call cycle builds on these partnerships with a collaborative process that demonstrates this government’s ability to move forward and foster a supportive environment for responsible, sustainable development. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 101-17(5): GNWT First Ever Call Cycle – Oil And Gas
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Fuel Prices In The NWT
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday in my Member’s statement, I talked about the cost of living in the Northwest Territories. As we watch the news, we can see the price of crude oil has dropped 25 percent in the very last weeks and months. I would challenge the retailers of these petroleum products in the Northwest Territories, to ask them why the prices for our home

heating oil and our fuel at the pump has not gone down accordingly.

They used to say that it was inventory in their tanks and they only got it in every so often, so although the price of crude may change or the price per barrel of oil may change, that it was a long delay before we’d see the change in the price. But, Mr. Speaker, now we have the Deh Cho Bridge. They can bring the fuel in every day if they want to.

I would like to ask questions later on today about what our government is doing. At the beginning of the 17th Assembly, I posed a question to the

Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, as the consumer affairs Minister, and asked him what our government was going to do to protect consumers of the Northwest Territories from unfair prices, price setting, prices that are not reflective of what world prices are. At that time the Minister committed to begin tracking within his department the correlation between the price of crude oil and the price that we were paying as consumers at the pump and at the truck when they deliver home heating oil to our homes. I would like to ask the Minister later today how he’s doing with that correlation and that report. I’d like to see what it looks like.

I also raised, at that time, that in the Atlantic provinces of Canada, they actually have price regulation. I think these are things we have to think about. When we talk about the cost of living, the Government of the Northwest Territories has intervened to shield consumers of the cost of the anticipated increase in the cost of power with a $20 million injection so that consumers wouldn’t have to bear that. Yet we have a seemingly essential commodity like petroleum products which people can put any price they want on it with literally no restraint, no monitoring and no regulation by this government whatsoever.

As I said, later today I’m going to be asking the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, in his role as protector of consumer rights, what this government has thought of doing, because we are not seeing the decrease in the price that we are seeing on the news and this is a big issue. Winter is upon us. We need cheaper fuel. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Fuel Prices In The NWT
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

Targeted Investment For Economic Development
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our territory has experienced very limited economic growth in recent years and our maturing diamond mines have reached their end of life cycle. Coupled with the decline in mining, oil and gas exploration, we have seen the NWT decline in investment

spending in the last six years. In fact, since our peak of investment spending in 2007, we are down by 27 percent. As a result, our NWT gross domestic product, that is our GDP, has fallen to pre-2002 numbers.

Another way to look at this decline is to look at our mineral exploration, which has fallen from 6.8 percent of the total Canadian mining output in 2007 to a whopping low of 2.2 percent in 2011, and we are only slated to be at 3.3 percent of the Canadian total this year. In the end, it’s abundantly clear, the NWT has been slower to recover than all three northern territories and we should ask ourselves why.

The public has been led to believe the new Mineral Development Strategy and a new Economic Development Strategy are expected to ensure sustainable growth and balanced benefits across the NWT, yet we are left to imagine on how this will happen. Strategies don’t secure success, but targeting investing does. So I ask, even with yesterday’s tabling of the Mineral Development Strategy Implementation Plan, where are these strategic and meaningful investments in the current budget. I can assure the residents of the NWT, there are very few.

The current budget reflects very little in new spending in support of ensuring our economic freedom, to promote NWT as a place of business, to create jobs and, of course, prosperity. In fact, the oversubscribed Mining Incentive Program, which was touted yesterday as being overwhelmingly popular, is in reality the only economic stimulus of sort this government has done for some time.

Ironically, Cabinet’s claim of wanting to implement even more to achieve this Assembly’s vision of a prosperous territory is plagued with a huge problem. The issue – and if you’re not aware by now – is that we are riddled with debt, both short-term and long-term, with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Clearly, spending ourselves into a corner with an out-of-date fiscal and macroeconomic policy is in no way garnishing our vision of a prosperous economic territory. In fact, it’s doing the exact opposite.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Targeted Investment For Economic Development
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, if mining is truly the pillar of the NWT economy and it represents the largest private sector contributor to the NWT economy, then let’s stop the current piecemeal approach and let’s stand together with measured, meaningful and strategic financial solutions to secure a more robust mineral-based future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Targeted Investment For Economic Development
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Avens Renovation And Expansion Project
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We have an increasingly urgent need for seniors housing in the NWT. My community, Yellowknife, is blessed with a visionary, committed organization whose reason for being is care for seniors. I speak of Avens – A Community for Seniors.

Avens is unique in the NWT’s health system as it is the only independent organization that runs a health care facility in the NWT. The Aven Campus has four facilities which house seniors across the continuum of care. Aven Manor, the oldest and the original Avens facility, will soon be declared unfit without a major retrofit.

To prepare for the retrofit or the upgrade, Avens engaged in more than 25 formal conversations with stakeholders, to gauge the needs of seniors across the NWT. Three messages were heard.

First, the needs of seniors have increased and Avens is integral to ensuring that infrastructure and programs exist to serve our seniors.

Second, investment into the existing infrastructure at the Aven Campus is important to keep employees and residents safe from harm.

Thirdly, they heard that Avens needs to ensure that their vision aligns with the current realities of our health care system.

More and more every day, Avens gets calls from NWT seniors and their families, asking about options for either affordable housing or extended professional care here in the North. Many of these calls are desperate, a family with an immediate and pressing need, but there are very few options available to our seniors. Avens is full and has no room for any more residents, whether they are local people or from other parts of the territory.

The results of several studies undertaken lately, and some by the GNWT, on seniors demographics and their continuing care needs shows numbers that are frightening. By 2026 the seniors population in the NWT will have doubled. In Yellowknife it will almost triple what it was in 2011.

The current infrastructure plan of the Health and Social Services department will not provide the needed facilities in any sort of reasonable time frame so that the increasing number of elders in the NWT can be properly accommodated. Health and Social Services and, by extension, the government, seems to be placing emphasis and our scarce dollars on an Aging in Place Strategy and not on the development of facilities to house seniors who can no longer live on their own.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Avens Renovation And Expansion Project
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

I’m very concerned that the badly needed Avens expansion and renovations will not get the government support it needs to begin construction in earnest next year.

The government needs to find a way to support the Avens project. It’s imperative that they assist them to find the necessary funding so that Avens can advance their vision for seniors and their expansion project. Thank you.

Avens Renovation And Expansion Project
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.