This is page numbers 3977 – 4034 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 going.


The House met at 1:31 p.m.



The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 41-17(5): Post-Devolution Resource Development Regulation
Ministers’ Statements

Kam Lake

David Ramsay Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes that our future prosperity is heavily dependent on the responsible development of our abundant natural resources. On April 1, 2014, our government will be assuming new responsibilities for the administration of public lands, resources and rights in respect of waters. This means changes for the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, which will now administer mineral exploration and development activities and regulate onshore petroleum activities in the Northwest Territories, except in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

Having the authority to make decisions related to mineral and petroleum resource exploration and development on public lands will ensure the Government of the Northwest Territories can manage these non-renewable resources effectively and efficiently to the benefit of all residents of our territory. These new responsibilities will allow us to decide just how our future will play out, on our terms.

Our government is committed to the responsible management and development of Northwest Territories mineral and petroleum resources to create sustainable benefits for our people and fuel economic diversification and foster more robust growth over the long term. Our decisions will be guided by a legislative and policy framework that includes the federal legislation and regulations we have agreed to mirror in the Devolution Agreement

and existing Government of the Northwest Territories policies and strategies.

Responsibilities for mineral development will include planning and policy development as well as issuing the licences and permits required for prospecting and mining and recording mineral claims. The administrative authority that will allow us to further develop our onshore oil and gas resources also includes the regulatory responsibilities of ensuring public health and safety, conserving petroleum resources and protecting the environment.

As Premier McLeod announced earlier this week, the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment has been designated by Executive Council as the regulator of oil and gas activities for Northwest Territories onshore areas, outside of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, effective on the devolution implementation date of April 1, 2014. I will be guided in this role by an integrated resource management approach to ensure fair and equitable decision-making. It should be noted that many decisions of the regulator will not be taken directly by the Minister. Where it makes sense, responsibility for decision-making will be delegated to independent, expert staff in the Department of ITI. This is consistent with the conventions supporting ministerial governance applicable in the Northwest Territories, in Canada generally, and in the family of nations descended from the British parliamentary tradition.

Oil and gas regulation in the Northwest Territories was previously carried out by the National Energy Board, an independent federal agency. The National Energy Board will remain the regulator in the NWT’s offshore areas, which remains Canada’s jurisdiction, and in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, but under territorial legislation. This will ensure the consistent regulation of resources that straddle the onshore/offshore.

In all other regions of the Mackenzie Valley, the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment will serve as the regulator. Initially the regulator will apply the policies and practices inherited from the National Energy Board, but it will be open to the Northwest Territories to make prudent adjustments to those policies and practices as we move forward, consistent with the “devolve and then evolve strategy” we have adopted.

Oil and gas regulation are serious responsibilities. Cabinet carefully reviewed and considered a number of possible options. This approach to regulation is similar to that of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, which have successfully regulated oil and gas activity for years, and in Yukon, which received its own devolution of oil and gas regulatory authority in 1998.

Our government considers this model to be the most economical, efficient and accountable way to ensure that regulatory practices reflect NWT priorities, ensure public health and safety, protect the environment and also meet the needs of industry. Our government is committed to ensuring the northern environment will sustain present and future generations, and to diversifying our economy to increase employment opportunities where they are most needed.

To provide support, a new office of the regulator of oil and gas operations is being integrated into the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. This office will include the roles of chief conservation officer and chief safety officer, as established under the proposed mirror Oil and Gas Operation Act, which applies to the exploration and drilling for, and the production, conservation, processing and transportation of oil and gas within the NWT. Funding for this office will be drawn from the reserve fund established for unanticipated devolution-related costs. The decision to establish this office was not made in time to include it in the 2014-15 Main Estimates, but any future year funding will be requested through the regular business planning process.

The chief conservation officer will be responsible for environmental and conservation monitoring compliance and the chief safety officer is empowered to order a stop of operations for safety reasons.

Post-devolution organizational design was guided by the idea that regulatory functions should reside with the department with the legislative responsibility. This is the model currently employed in other departments. For example, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is responsible for both the approval of licences and permits and inspecting for compliance with the conditions applicable to those same licences or permits.

Decisions related to oil and gas regulation, such as approvals to drill a well or operations’ authorizations, require in-depth technical analysis. To assist during the transition period, and to ensure that decisions related to health, safety and conservation requirements are informed ones, our government is establishing two-year service agreements with experienced regulators for other jurisdictions – the National Energy Board and the

Alberta Energy Regulator – to provide advisory and technical services.

The agreement with the National Energy Board establishes a framework for collaboration as neighbouring regulators that will ensure business continuity following the transfer. The Alberta Energy Regulator, which will provide technical advisory services, is a 75-year-old organization with extensive experience in onshore drilling.

These technical services will assist with the decision-making process, but ultimately, the decision will be made by the NWT regulator, consistent with NWT legislation and regulations and guided by an Integrated Resource Management Framework built on existing policies, strategies and frameworks such as the Land Use and Sustainability Framework, Water Stewardship Strategy and Sustainable Development Policy.

As is currently the NEB’s practice, many regulatory functions will be delegated to the chief conservation officer and chief safety officer, who will be responsible for ensuring that regulatory activities and decisions reflect and advance NWT priorities.

These agreements with established regulators will also help us achieve our long-term goal, which is to recruit and develop expertise in the territory. Collaboration with established regulators will help the Government of the Northwest Territories to build capacity in this area as we begin to exercise our new authorities following transfer.

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to the sustainable development of the territory’s resources. Responsible development will provide important job and business opportunities and generate significant revenues that can improve quality of life for our residents. We are equally committed to upholding the highest standards of public health and safety and will uphold our commitment to protect the environment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 41-17(5): Post-Devolution Resource Development Regulation
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. The honourable R.C. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 42-17(5): Department Of Lands’ Role In The New Regulatory Regime Post-Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today on the Department of Lands’ role in the new regulatory regime in the Northwest Territories post-devolution. The NWT Devolution of Lands and Resources Agreement will bring significant changes to the Northwest Territories. The Department of Lands has a key role in ensuring that the sustainable use of public land reflects the priorities and values of Northerners.

The Department of Lands will support, manage, protect and administer the sustainable use of public land in the Northwest Territories. It will assume land management responsibilities being transferred from

the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and the federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Legislation called for in the Devolution Agreement, which the department will administer, has already been introduced in the Assembly and is a major step in the final preparations to assume new responsibilities for public land on April 1st .

The proposed Northwest Territories Lands Act is a mirror of the federal Territorial Lands Act, which will no longer apply to Territorial lands on April 1, 2014. The Northwest Territories Lands Act is intended to provide the GNWT with the authority to manage all surface lands dispositions, such as sales and leasing, on Territorial lands.

The Department of Lands will also be responsible for inspections, enforcement and policy development for these lands.

The Department of Lands will also be responsible for administering the Government of the Northwest Territories’ new authorities under the proposed Surface Rights Board Act. This act will establish a Surface Rights Board that will resolve disputes related to land access and related compensation when a negotiated agreement cannot be reached.

The Northwest Territories Lands Act and the Surface Rights Board Act will form part of an integrated regulatory system in the Northwest Territories along with the delegations in the federal Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. Delegated authorities under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act will include designation of inspectors, and managing, administering and holding securities related to land use permits in the Mackenzie Valley as well as powers, duties, functions and coordination of project assessment.

The Department of Lands will be responsible for coordinating and conducting project assessments on public lands in the Northwest Territories, functioning as a “single window” for development applications.

As the Government of the Northwest Territories assumes its land management responsibilities after devolution, we will be guided by a critical policy foundation: the GNWT Land Use and Sustainability Framework. Mr. Speaker, as Members heard when the Land Use and Sustainability Framework was tabled on Monday, February 24th , the principles set

out in the framework will guide this government in making responsible and responsive decisions about land use and land management. Our decisions will be balanced and sustainable, considering ecological, social, cultural and economic values.

The framework recognizes that the GNWT is only one partner in an integrated land management system and provides for decision-making that is respectful of Aboriginal and treaty rights as well as third-party land interests and legal rights.

The Land Use and Sustainability Framework is one part of a broader legislative and policy framework to ensure that we are ready to manage our new authorities and responsibilities.

We are undergoing final preparations to assume new responsibilities for public lands on April 1st .

This is an exciting time, Mr. Speaker. I look forward to working together to manage the lands in the Northwest Territories for the benefit of current and future generations. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 42-17(5): Department Of Lands’ Role In The New Regulatory Regime Post-Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The honourable Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 43-17(5): Environment And Natural Resources Post-Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, as of April 1st we are finally going to have legislative

authority over water, excluding the offshore, in our territory.

This is major step forward for the people of the Northwest Territories as water binds us together. We share with all NWT residents the desire to safeguard our water resources for current and future generations.

New responsibilities assumed by Environment and Natural Resources under the new NWT Waters Act will enable us to do this.

ENR will approve water licences prepared by the land and water boards and will be responsible for inspections and enforcement of those licences as well as regulating deposit of wastes from activities and developments on, or which impact, public land and waters.

The department will also conduct the analysis to enable boards to set securities for water licences and will then hold those securities.

The Minister of ENR will continue to be the Minister responsible under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and will exercise this authority along with other responsible Ministers from the new Department of Lands and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

A one-window approach will be implemented to ensure that decision-making and regulation of activities involving public land, water and non-renewable resources is coordinated across government.

ENR will continue to provide technical input and advice on water, forests, wildlife and the environment through the environmental impact and assessment process.

The department will also provide technical and expert advice on guidelines and regulation changes

needed for the management of development activities in the NWT.

This includes working cooperatively with other departments and regulatory bodies to further develop a made-in-the-NWT policy framework to help manage and protect the environmental interests of residents while providing economic opportunities, jobs and training for Northerners.

Mr. Speaker, in May 2010, ENR and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada released a Northwest Territories Water Stewardship Strategy for the NWT.

This strategy will continue to guide our actions in conserving this valuable resource.

Progress continues to be made in many areas. This includes maintaining the network of water quality and quantity monitoring sites established by AANDC, increasing and supporting community-based monitoring programs in the Mackenzie River Basin and developing source water protection plans for our communities.

We continue to pursue transboundary water management agreements with Alberta, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and the Yukon.

Mr. Speaker, we will be relying on the continued support and involvement of Aboriginal governments and our partners as we move forward in building capacity and undertaking northern-focused research with a greater emphasis on the biological aspect of water monitoring.

Devolution will expand the role of ENR in cumulative impacts assessment, monitoring and management. The Cumulative Impacts Monitoring Program along with ENR’s work on a Cumulative Effects Assessment and Management Response Framework will improve the way cumulative impacts are assessed, monitored, managed and considered in land and water management decisions.

Mr. Speaker, we also recognize a network of protected and conservation areas has yet to be completed in the NWT.

We are committed to completing this network through the Land Use and Sustainability Framework and the development of an Ecological Representative Network Plan.

Land use and ecological representation planning combined with the use and development of northern tools are key to finishing a protected and conservation areas network.

Mr. Speaker, our unique context and values are rooted in working together with Aboriginal governments for the betterment of our communities and our shared vision of a healthy and prosperous territory.

We will continue to work cooperatively and collaboratively with Aboriginal governments, communities and our partners on the stewardship and management of our forests, wildlife, water and environment.

This will allow us to examine issues from all perspectives – scientific, traditional and local knowledge – in our decision-making.

Mr. Speaker, this approach will help us meet the challenges and opportunities of devolution and set the agenda for our development in the next decade. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 43-17(5): Environment And Natural Resources Post-Devolution
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Honourable Minister of Finance, Mr. Miltenberger.

Minister's Statement 44-17(5): Northern Employee Benefits Services Pension Plan Legislation
Ministers’ Statements


Michael Miltenberger Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, retirement planning is key to all of our residents’ personal financial health. Our government is committed to helping them make the choices that are right for them to build their own strong, sustainable future.

About 1,000 Northwest Territories residents are members of the Northern Employee Benefits Services Pension Plan. This is a defined-benefit pension plan, similar to the one Government of the Northwest Territories employees have, but for public sector and non-profit employees working throughout the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. There are 38 NWT employers now active in the plan, supporting their staff to make retirement plans that will meet their needs.

These NWT residents deserve to have a modern, viable and financially stable pension plan capable of meeting their retirement needs.

Later today I will introduce legislation to establish this pension plan in NWT law, giving it certainty and permanence. The board of directors and pension committee will have a sound regulatory framework that will guide the administration of the pension plan for many years to come.

This legislation is the result of a unique collaboration between officials from this government, the Government of Nunavut and the Northern Employee Benefits Services Pension Plan. It represents the latest developments in pension plan design and administration and it sets the standard for other jurisdictions to follow. The Nunavut government intends to pass mirror legislation that will provide the same degree of certainty in that jurisdiction.

At this time I wanted to acknowledge and thank my Nunavut counterpart, the Honourable Tom Sammurtok, Minister of Community and Government Services, for the excellent contribution

that his staff made to this project. I also wish to recognize that the development of this legislation could not have been accomplished without timely input and sound practical advice received from the plan’s officials.

The pension plan, supported by this new legislation, will continue to provide many of our constituents with increased comfort and financial security for their retirement planning. As legislators, we will be proud to say that the 17th Legislative Assembly was

able to make a contribution towards those important goals by supporting and enacting this pension legislation. At the appropriate time today, I will introduce Bill 12, Northern Employee Benefits Services Pension Plan Act. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 44-17(5): Northern Employee Benefits Services Pension Plan Legislation
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Pink Shirt Day
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. February 26th is Pink Shirt Day. It’s a day when we

take a stand against bullying by wearing a pink shirt or a pink scarf or a pink flower.

This annual day has unlikely beginnings. It started with a simple protest in 2007 following a bullying incident at a rural Nova Scotia high school. A ninth grade male student had been bullied for wearing a pink shirt, and in a gesture of solidarity, two senior high school boys purchased and distributed 50 pink shirts. To the organizers’ surprise, the protest made national headlines. Shortly after, several provincial Premiers designated Pink Shirt Day an official day against bullying.

What’s the symbolism behind a pink shirt? Well, pink is usually associated with femininity and boys who wear it could be in danger of being perceived as weak. On the occasion I just described, two older, stronger boys deliberately broke with convention by wearing pink themselves and getting other boys to do it too. It was an ingenious way of taking a stand with their younger schoolmate and simultaneously shaming the bullies.

Bullying goes beyond this type of gender-based intimidation. It includes any act of aggression, whether it’s swearing, shouting, spreading rumours, engaging in nasty practical jokes, or invading someone’s privacy. The effects of bullying are devastating and can last a lifetime and, in extreme cases, can lead to incidents of suicide.

Through the 2010 Minister’s Forum on Aboriginal Student Achievement and the National Health Survey on School Age Children, we know that NWT students have been severely affected by bullying as

well. There is an urgent need for action. Thankfully, bullying has climbed to a higher place of prominence on the government’s agenda. New territorial legislation was passed in 2013 and a campaign is underway to combat bullying and develop resources for victims, teachers, parents and bystanders.

Bullying can’t be wiped out by a single government, agency or a community group. A collective effort is required. I challenge Members of the Legislative Assembly and residents of the Northwest Territories to wear pink on February 26th and commit to a

compassionate way of life and kind way of interacting with others. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Pink Shirt Day
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Bullying In The Workplace
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As Mrs. Groenewegen has mentioned, there’s a bit of a pink glow in the Chamber today and that’s because it is Pink Shirt Day. It’s Pink Shirt Day here and across Canada. For the third year in a row, NWT MLAs are acknowledging the importance of this initiative to combat bullying, and for the third year in a row we are not alone.

In the last two years, the Anti-Bullying Campaign has gathered momentum across North America and across the NWT. NWT students, educators and education authorities have developed and implemented strategies, awareness and resources to deal with the issue of bullying in our schools. It has become a front of mind issue for both the students and educators.

It’s tempting to put all the responsibility for addressing bullying onto the school and educators, but we must accept that bullying takes place in all kinds of environments and situations, not just schools. Bullying has to be considered in the larger context, the bigger picture. We cannot ignore the importance of addressing bullying in our society as a whole.

As I did last year, I wish to again highlight bullying in the workplace. Four out of 10 employees are affected by workplace bullying. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, “Many places of work, consciously or unconsciously, endorse, perhaps even encourage, bullying behaviour. In fact, workplace bullies frequently get promoted or they are often not dealt with directly as the workplace culture does not know how to address such behaviour.”

We’ve managed to bring bullying to the fore in the education system. We now have to do the same for the workplace and there are three key actions we can take: recognize bullying behaviour; speak out

at the time that you encounter bullying; and stand by those who are being bullied and support them.

The GNWT needs to take the lead, work with industry partners and develop some strategies to highlight, educate and profile bullying in the workplace. I was really pleased to see the GNWT messenger service on Monday highlight Pink Shirt Day and the GNWT Harassment Free and Respectful Workplace Policy. The Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission has a lovely, very pink ad in today’s Yellowknifer. Both of these actions show a start towards highlighting bullying in the workplace. If we continue with these actions, the GNWT can lead by example and in doing so we will improve not only our own GNWT workplace but all workplaces in the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

Bullying In The Workplace
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Moses.