This is page numbers 3449 – 3474 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 income.


The House met at 1:32 p.m.



The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. As this is the first time in 2014 that we have met in this Chamber, I would like to offer my belated but most sincere wishes to you and to all the residents of the Northwest Territories for a happy and healthy New Year.

Two thousand fourteen is a special year in many ways for our Assembly. Last August the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission approved a joint submission from the Legislative Assemblies of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, requesting mandatory distribution of Assembly proceedings. Today marks the first time that our proceedings will be carried through direct-to-home satellite providers, Bell Express Vu and Shaw Direct, giving Northerners and Canadians another option to view the proceedings of our Legislature. Our Assembly will share these dedicated channels with the Nunavut Legislative Assembly. I look forward to broadcasting not only the formal proceedings of the House but rebroadcasts in our Aboriginal languages, public meetings of our committees, special Assembly events, such as the 20th anniversary celebration,

and archival materials.

One advantage of a six-week sitting, colleagues, is that we will have the opportunity to meet young people from 11 of our communities who are participating in our Page Program. We will have Pages from Yellowknife, Tuktoyaktuk, Behchoko, Fort Good Hope, Fort Smith, Inuvik, Hay River Reserve, Aklavik, Hay River, Wrigley and Fort Resolution. I look forward to meeting these young people, and I extend the thanks of the House to the parents, the chaperones, the schools, and our Assembly staff who organize this excellent program.

I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate and cheer on our Northwest Territories Olympians, Michael Gilday, Brendan Green and Jesse Cockney, as they head to the 22nd Olympic

Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. Your accomplishments have already made this territory

proud. Travel safely with the very best wishes of this House to accompany you.

Members, I would also like to warmly welcome Mr. Michael Ball, our new Principal Clerk of Committees and Public Affairs. Mr. Ball joined the Clerk’s staff in December, and today he is with his colleagues at the table for the first time. Welcome to the Legislative Assembly, Mr. Ball.


On a much sadder note, colleagues, our condolences go out to those families and communities who have lost loved ones in recent weeks. My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Fritz Fiechtinger and Doug McLeod, a good friend I grew up with in Tuktoyaktuk.

As the date for the implementation of the Devolution Agreement with the Government of Canada approaches, I know there is a great deal of work to be done and it will be a busy sitting. I remind Members that we work for the benefit of all Northerners. May I also remind you that our work here must be carried out with dignity and respect, the cornerstone of consensus government. My duty, as always, is to assist you in your important work and to safeguard the dignity and decorum of the Chamber, and I pledge to continue to do that.

It is now my duty to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. It reads:

“Dear Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise that I recommend to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories, the passage of

• Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), 2014-2015;

• Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 4, 2012-2013;

• Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 4, 2013-2014;

• Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 4, 2013-2014;

• Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 2, 2014-2015

during the Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly.

Yours truly, George, L. Tuccaro, Commissioner.”

Thank you, colleagues. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 6-17(5): Sessional Statement
Ministers’ Statements

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker. I would like to welcome Members back to the continuation of the Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly.

This is our final sitting before the transfer of responsibility for public land, water and resources from the Government of Canada on April 1, 2014. The next time we meet, the Legislative Assembly and its Members will have substantial new powers to make decisions on behalf of the people who elected us.

During this sitting, Members will be asked to consider and pass the 2014-15 budget. The budget will position the Government of the Northwest Territories to smoothly take on new responsibilities being transferred through devolution, while continuing our commitment to fiscal discipline and strategic infrastructure investments to grow our economy.

You will also hear during this sitting how the government will implement and pay for many of the plans and strategies that we have developed in response to the priorities of the Legislative Assembly.

These include plans for supporting our people by addressing poverty and mental health challenges, including addictions. We will invest in the long-term health and success of our children through a focus on early childhood development and education reform. We will support sustainable communities by continuing with decentralization and new recruitment initiatives. We will invest in the health of our environment by continuing to develop alternatives to diesel, implement the Water Stewardship Strategy and manage wildlife. You will also hear how we will continue our efforts to grow a strong, diversified economy and create a prosperous future for all our residents.

Passing the legislation required for devolution will be a significant achievement for this House. Devolution legislation makes up the bulk of our legislative agenda at this sitting and may be the most ambitious legislative project this government has undertaken since division. I would like to thank Members for their continued commitment and

cooperation in moving this legislation forward in a timely manner.

Devolution is a goal we have pursued for many years now. On April 1st , NWT residents will have a

greater voice in decisions about how land, water and resources are managed, how the economy is developed and the environment protected. It will be the first transfer of federal programs to the Government of the Northwest Territories that will generate substantial revenue for the territory.

Devolution will provide for more coordinated land stewardship in the Northwest Territories in partnership with Aboriginal governments. It will provide for more responsive resource management from a smaller, more efficient government closer to the people affected by its decisions. It will create new jobs and business opportunities as the Northwest Territories economy grows under the management of our government.

Supported by an efficient, effective and integrated regulatory regime, devolution will give Northerners the necessary tools and authorities to responsibly develop the territory's significant natural resource potential, promote investment and economic development, and manage the land and environment sustainably.

We could not have reached this point without the support of this Assembly and our Aboriginal government partners, Mr. Speaker. I would like to thank Members for that support and thank our partners – the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Northwest Territories Metis Nation, Gwich’in Tribal Council, Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated and Tlicho Government – for their commitment and dedication to this goal. Their assistance in negotiating a deal that is in the best interests of the people of the Northwest Territories has been invaluable, and their ongoing participation will be critical to the successful implementation of devolution.

Devolution is about creating a strong Northwest Territories, Mr. Speaker, and we are stronger when we join together. I am pleased that so many Aboriginal governments have decided to join their strength with ours. We have been in discussions with the Acho Dene Koe First Nation for some time and they have been waiting patiently to sign on to devolution. Last week our partnership grew with the announcement that the Deninu Kue First Nation had voted in favour of signing on to devolution.

We continue our discussions with the Dehcho First Nations and the Akaitcho Territory Dene First Nations. There is a seat for each of them waiting at the table, and I remain hopeful that we will see all regional Aboriginal governments agreeing to participate in and enjoying the benefits of devolution.

Devolution will complete a process that began in 1967 and saw the people of this territory and their

elected government take on responsibility for many former federal programs, including health, education, social services, airports, and forestry management.

Come April 1st , the Government of the Northwest

Territories will assume responsibility for 26 federal acts and regulations governing the management of land, water and resources in our territory. The Legislative Assembly and its elected Members will gain new powers to make legislation that was formerly reserved for the Parliament of Canada. For the first time ever, Members will be debating their own legislation governing oil and gas operations, petroleum resources, water management, and regulation of activities on Commissioner’s land during this sitting.

New powers and responsibilities for environmental management and regulation will be delegated to our government under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. These will be added to the responsibilities we have already been exercising under the MVRMA for years.

The MVRMA will continue to be federal legislation for the time being, but this reflects its unique nature. The MVRMA is required by the land claims and provides for integrated environmental regulation on all lands in the Mackenzie Valley, including federal and territorial lands, settlement lands and private lands. Its continuation as federal law for the next five years reflects that, and we are satisfied with the provisions in the Devolution Agreement to review the status and potential transfer of these delegated powers to our government within five years. I’d also like to note that there is nothing to prevent us from initiating those discussions earlier.

We have been working closely with the Government of Canada and our Aboriginal partners to ensure that there will be a seamless transition on April 1, 2014. We have worked out our organizational design, identifying exactly which new responsibilities and programs our departments – including a new Department of Lands under Minister Robert C. McLeod – will be assuming on the effective date. We have made decisions about how we will manage project approvals, including a single-window approach to help support responsible and coordinated development in our territory.

We are putting our senior management teams into place and have already filled key positions. One hundred thirty-two job offers have been accepted by federal employees currently delivering the transferring programs in the Northwest Territories. That represents almost 100 percent acceptance, and I look forward to welcoming them to the Government of the Northwest Territories. With this level of continuity and experience, we will be more than ready to hit the ground running come April 1st .

Most critically, we have been working hard to clarify our thinking about our new authorities and what they mean in terms of our plans and priorities. Clear rules and expectations around environmental protection and resource management are critical for responsible resource development. Industry needs to know what the rules are, and our people need to know that their government is committed to managing and protecting the environment according to northern priorities and values.

Shortly, our government will be releasing its Land Use and Sustainability Framework. This framework will be a critical policy piece for us, establishing the foundation for all our departments as they take on new responsibilities for land use, resource development and environmental management. It will outline the principles and approach we will follow as we engage in decision-making around land in the Northwest Territories. Having a clear, consistent approach to how we make land use decisions will help ensure there are no surprises when it comes to dealing with our government and ensure we make sound decisions that are in the public interest as we begin to exercise our new authorities for land resources and water.

The Land Use and Sustainability Framework has been in development for several years and is grounded in our ongoing work and discussions with Aboriginal governments and other stakeholders. We have also benefited from the participation of the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning and its development, and I thank Members for their involvement. Like much of the work this government has been doing, the framework will both position us to succeed after devolution and respond to the priorities of this Assembly.

The vision and priorities we established at the beginning of this term have helped us to be strategic and focus our efforts on those areas most important to us and the people of the Northwest Territories. That kind of focus and discipline will be necessary for the remainder of our term as we implement the plans we have worked so hard to develop in the first half of our term.

We are continuing this Assembly’s focus on building a strong, prosperous territory with a diversified economy, aided by new responsibilities acquired through devolution. We have a new Mineral Development Strategy that will guide our government as it works to support the responsible development of our mineral resources. We have an Economic Opportunities Strategy which takes a broader view to strategically growing a strong, diversified economy for our territory. We’ll continue to support and prepare for the responsible development of the Northwest Territories’ oil and gas potential. This potential is significant in both the Beaufort-Delta and in the Sahtu where we are seeing a world-class oil and gas play. Work has

already begun with the federal government and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to commence negotiations for a management agreement, respective oil and gas resources and the offshore portion of our territory.

We continue to address the high cost of energy by investing in alternatives to expensive diesel fuel, supporting sustainable communities and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. We have a new Northwest Territories Power System Plan released late last year. We know that access to affordable, reliable energy is a significant factor affecting resource and economic development. This plan looks at how we can make best use of the Northwest Territories’ hydro resources and expand and extend the hydro transmission network to better serve consumers and industry. The companion Energy Plan, also released last December, will guide our government’s long-term approach to energy in the territory.

We continue to focus on strategic infrastructure investments that will help us support economic growth and development in the Northwest Territories. That includes projects like the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk highway, the first step towards completing the Mackenzie Valley Highway. I was pleased to join Prime Minister Harper in Inuvik last month, along with most of Cabinet and the Member for Yellowknife Centre, for a groundbreaking ceremony. Prime Minister Harper continues to make the North a priority for his government, and I thank him for his commitment and leadership.

We know that people need to be healthy and educated if they are to benefit from and participate in a strong, diversified economy. We have plans for investing in our people, including the Early Childhood Development Plan, Anti-Poverty Strategy and Mental Health and Addictions Plan so our people have the support they need to take advantage of current and future opportunities.

Focusing on decentralization and a representative workforce will continue to be a priority for us. This reflects our commitment to Aboriginal people and small communities, while ensuring that all residents of the territory have an opportunity to share in the benefits of a strong, thriving economy.

We will continue to build our relationships and foster the partnerships we need to achieve our full potential as a territory, including with Canada, business and industry and Aboriginal governments. I am proud of the intergovernmental agreements we have signed with the Gwich’in, Tlicho, Northwest Territory Metis Nation and Akaitcho Territory Dene First Nation. With the establishment of the Intergovernmental Council called for by the Devolution Agreement, we will be more directly linked to Aboriginal governments, providing new opportunities for us to work together more closely to

achieve the shared interests of all the people of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, 50 years ago few would have imagined a Northwest Territories with a fully-elected Legislative Assembly exercising province-like powers. Our resources and potential were largely unknown and mostly inaccessible. Today we are increasingly being recognized across Canada and around the world as a potential engine of economic growth and prosperity. We now stand poised to take the most significant step in our political evolution in decades. We have made great advances in little more than a single generation.

I have said before that the 21st Century belongs to

the North, and we can make that a reality here. This is the session where all our preparations come together. We have laid the groundwork, developed the plans and secured the political and legislative authority we need. Now is the time to join together and create the strong, prosperous, environmentally sustainable territory we outlined in our vision. Thank you.

Minister's Statement 6-17(5): Sessional Statement
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister’s Statement 7-17(5): Notice Of Budget Address
Ministers’ Statements


Michael Miltenberger Minister of Finance

Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will deliver the budget address on Thursday, February 6, 2014. Thank you.

Minister’s Statement 7-17(5): Notice Of Budget Address
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 3, Members’ statements. The Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

Sessional Agenda
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is great to be back here, and I welcome all my colleagues back to the Legislative Assembly. We have a long six weeks ahead of us, and going into this type of thing there is anticipation, there is excitement, but there is also concern. It is just like getting together with your family. We know that we are going to have a long session together, and we know sometimes with that type of length we are going to get into some arguments and some debates, so I apologize for anything I say to them over the next six weeks.

I would also like to mention that you opened up this session talking about the fact that we’re going to be on national TV, Bell channel 513 and Shaw channel 289 or 489, depending on the type of system you have. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff who worked over the last couple of years to get us on this national platform, so it’s great for our Legislative Assembly.

In the next six weeks, devolution will definitely be a big factor in our discussions. We have a lot of work to do. There is a big question of how we are going to go forward and how the new budget is going to be affected by this session, by this devolution, what we are going to do with our Heritage Fund with those revenue resources that we have. I would also mention the fact that we’re going to be discussing electoral boundaries, the future of the Northwest Territories and how those electoral boundaries will be divided up and what the future of the Northwest Territories will look like.

I look forward over the next six weeks to looking at and getting updates on the Tuk to Inuvik highway, education renewal, decentralization in the GNWT and our regions, mining strategy, the Energy Plan and how that will save the people of the Northwest Territories money and make the cost of living reduced here in the Northwest Territories.

This is an exciting time for the Northwest Territories, and I look forward to the next six weeks. Thank you very much.

Sessional Agenda
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. The Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.

Mackenzie Delta Constituency Concerns
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Colleagues, staff, I’d like to welcome you all back to the Fifth Session of the 17th Legislative Assembly. I want to

begin at this time by saying that moving forward in 2014, I look forward to making significant changes for the Mackenzie Delta. I have relayed this message to my constituents that in order for the Mackenzie-Delta to gain a brighter future, we must make positive changes.

My mandate is to work with all local organizations, companies and community governments in my riding to explore possible solutions and come up with ideas to better our communities.

At this time I want to send my condolences to the families in the Mackenzie Delta and throughout the North who have recently lost loved ones. Far too many times our people suffer with the tragic loss of friends and relatives, either through accidents or illness, and we are there to help them. We continue to offer support in various ways. Mr. Speaker, please send your prayers to those who are grieving at this time. Thank you.

Mackenzie Delta Constituency Concerns
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you Mr. Blake. Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Addressing The Northwest Territories Population Decline
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, it is good to be back in this House and we have a good long stretch ahead of us here where we will get a chance to air all of our concerns and all of our issues. We have been away for a while, so I have a few of them that have built up, I guess, over the time that we have been away and I have a lot of things that I want to talk about in the next six weeks.

The Premier has delivered his address today for the opening of session, and it paints a very promising picture of our future here in the North, and I want to be the first one to applaud the efforts of this government on all that they have accomplished and where we are.

But it’s our job here in this House, and as Members too, to sometimes report not just the good news but some of the concerns. One concern I have, very seriously, is that no matter how bright our future is, we have to address the issue of our declining population.

If we do all of these wonderful things that we are talking about doing, who’s benefit are we doing them for if not for our own people who have built the North, who reside in the North? The fact is that the population of the Northwest Territories is declining. This affects us in many ways. It affects our capacity. It affects our transfer payment from the federal government. I think it’s up to now about $25,000 per person. So, over the next several days – I can’t squeeze it into two and a half minutes – I want to talk about some ideas I have for how we can stop the hole in the bucket, so to speak, of the loss of people, of resources, of capacity, of talent that seems to be going southward, which is not very good.

Just to touch on a few things that may be affecting people’s desire to stay in the North, I’m just going to list off a few of them: the cost of living, how we treat our seniors and keep them here in the Northwest Territories when they retire, the employment of our own people. We try and we have lots of policies, but there are lots of gaps, and I could tell many stories of how we have failed to employ our own people. We also do need to reach out to newcomers, and I know the government has had job fairs and Make Your Mark and so on.

We do have to knock on the doors of people we don’t know, but we need to pay attention to those who could be working in this territory at this time. Maybe we need to get creative, like we expect our diamond mines and large industry to offer inducements, incentives to bring people to live in the North. We need to bring a lot of people home. We’ve had people born, raised, educated – we’ve even contributed to their education – and they are

currently not here because there have been gaps in the system. Thank you.

Addressing The Northwest Territories Population Decline
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Contributions Of Ted Grant To Deh Cho Tourism
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to provide this statement regarding Mr. Ted Grant’s contribution to NWT Tourism. Mr. Grant is a Fort Simpson businessman and bush pilot. He has spent 30 years promoting and developing the NWT tourism industry.

During my tenure as MLA for Nahendeh, I’ve had the pleasure of travelling with him and marvelled at his love for the Northwest Territories while marketing our vast potential in our territory. He has received many rewards to recognize his work, most recently the Mike Stilwell Lifetime Achievement Award from NWT Tourism. Other notable awards are the Northwest Territories Tourism Operator of the Year in 2006 and the prestigious Tourism Industry Association of Canada’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2009.

He is well travelled and spends much of his own time and efforts at trade shows throughout Canada and internationally. He specifically notes that he has been to China several times, championing the Northwest Territories.

While promoting the NWT, his prime focus is the Nahanni National Park Reserve in Fort Simpson’s own backyard.

Recently, the National Geographic – a famous scientific and educational magazine – listed the Nahanni National Park Reserve as one of the top 10 parks to see in Canada. I would credit Mr. Grant’s countless hours in promoting the park that has led to their interest in the park. “I think he sort of singlehandedly has been the biggest promoter of the Nahanni National Park,” said His Worship Sean Whelly of Fort Simpson. As MLA, I too am proud to have this gem in my constituency.

Mr. Grant has sponsored and worked with George Fischer, a well-known photographer, on projects that showcase the Nahanni National Park Reserve and the Northwest Territories. He has asked me to present to our Premier, Mr. Bob McLeod, and the Minister of ITI, Mr. Dave Ramsay, with copies of Mr. Fischer’s recent book “Canada in Colour,” which I will do later. This book contains many beautiful pictures of the Northwest Territories.

In closing, I must add that Mr. Ted Grant is a very strong advocate of Highway No. 7.


In fact, he encourages the chipsealing of the whole of Highway No. 7. He has raised this issue with Prime Minister Harper on a couple of occasions. Like the Inuvik-Tuk road project, the Prime Minister is well aware of Highway No. 7 and the integral part it plays in tourism in the NWT as it is a gateway to the North.

We have a great champion and ambassador for NWT tourism with Mr. Ted Grant. Well done, Ted Grant. Keep up the great work. Mahsi.

Contributions Of Ted Grant To Deh Cho Tourism
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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