This is page numbers 4135 – 4182 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.

Topics

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. Item 3, Members’ statements.

Birthday Wishes For Mary Kendi
Members’ Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure today to wish one of the most respected elders in the Mackenzie Delta a very happy 99th birthday.

Gwich’in elder Mrs. Mary Kendi, from Aklavik, is to be commended for reaching a milestone on living a healthy lifestyle. Mary has singlehandedly raised her children and provided a safe home for them.

Mary, in her life, has hunted, trapped and even owned her own dog team. In her 99 years of living, I wish to acknowledge Mary for promoting the Gwich’in culture and for speaking the Gwich’in language to many of us who know her.

Mary Kendi has a huge extended family who is celebrating with her today. Friends and family are gathering in Inuvik to have dinner and wish her well. Mrs. Kendi’s livelihood, act of living and positive outlook on life and family has given her the opportunity today to spend precious time with her family at 99 years young.

Mr. Speaker and Members of the Assembly, please join me in celebrating Mrs. Mary Kendi on her birthday today. I will also be celebrating on Saturday with the community as well. Thank you.

Birthday Wishes For Mary Kendi
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Best wishes go out to the Kendi family and Mary on her birthday.

The honourable Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Reduction Of Regulatory Burdens And Red Tape
Members’ Statements

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I hope I live to be 99 years old.

Within the next 30 days, the Northwest Territories takes on the responsibility for land and resource management. We have never had a better opportunity or a greater need to cut the amount of red tape related to doing business in the North.

Every year the Canadian Federation of Independent Business grades provinces and territories on their efforts to reduce red tape through political leadership, public measurement and constraints on regulators, legislative commitment, and progress on action to reduce regulatory burdens. The Northwest Territories, unfortunately, was on the bottom of the list. We even dropped a grade from when the federation conducted its evaluation last year.

Places that scored the lowest lacked leadership on action to create a better environment for doing business in their environment or territory and forward momentum on policy initiatives aimed at decreasing the amount of permitting, licensing, taxes, bylaws, registrations, regulations, penalties and wait times for private enterprise.

BC scored the highest, surpassing the federal government and all other jurisdictions for its proactive approach for lifting the regulatory load and limiting in the future. The province has successfully reduced its regulatory requirement for business by 42 percent since 2001. Any proposed new regulation must be evaluated through a small business lens.

Other jurisdictions that earned top marks demonstrated commitment to regulatory accountability and public reporting, engaging all departments and agencies in finding ways to reduce red tape, implementing a one-window approach and on-line service delivery and moving forward on initiatives to streamline systems and increase efficiencies.

Failing grades should be taken as a warning. As the government prepares to take on responsibility for our land and resources, the time has never been better to improve our score. Successful regulatory

reform is about public accountability. It needs our commitment, as legislators, to make the Northwest Territories a better place to live and do business.

I am very confident going forward with our new proposed, assumed responsibilities that this score will be much better the next time it’s reported. Thank you.

Reduction Of Regulatory Burdens And Red Tape
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Mental Health Services In Fort Liard
Members’ Statements

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Residents of Fort Liard would like consistent mental health service delivery. Fort Liard has long been asking for help with the mental health and addictions of the residents. Having a full-time dedicated mental health worker would help. People need to build trust and it’s hard to do that when there’s always someone new to see.

Residents of Fort Liard care about their relatives and friends who have addictions as this not only affects the families but the community as a whole. We want this government to build a stronger and steadier northern workforce and there is no greater urgency than the area of long-term mental health and addictions professionals.

I’ll have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you very much.

Mental Health Services In Fort Liard
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Appreciation To The “odd Squad” For Combating High Risk Behaviours
Members’ Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today’s youth face difficult choices, enormous peer pressure and more readily available and potential mind-altering drugs than any other time in history.

I’m very proud to say that in my previous careers that I’ve had, I had the opportunity to work with a group called the Odd Squad. The Odd Squad is a group out of Vancouver who does a lot of trips throughout the Northwest Territories and to other Aboriginal communities across Canada to educate the public about devastating effects of high risk behaviour and the impact it has on members of our communities.

This is a group that’s out of Vancouver and may partner here with the Tree of Peace and other organizations, in some cases oil companies and diamond mines, to educate the youth about the drugs coming up to the Northwest Territories. Some Members here might be familiar with some of the

work and productions they’ve done such as the video called Through a Blue Lens, as well as Tears for April and more up to date is a TV show called The Beat, where they walk the streets of Vancouver and they educate people about drugs and introduce you to people who have had a hard time battling their addictions.

Today we still continue to see that problem in the Northwest Territories of all these mind-altering and very potent drugs that take people’s lives, that ruin families and ruin communities.

I just wanted to take this opportunity to thank the Odd Squad for the hard work and effort they do coming to the Northwest Territories and educating our youth, educating our people and, more importantly, educating our leaders that we need to support all these educational components to stop these kinds of addictions happening in our communities.

I’d just like to thank the Odd Squad and all their partners for helping educate, stop crime, as well as help people not partake in drug use in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Appreciation To The “odd Squad” For Combating High Risk Behaviours
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. The honourable Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

Tobacco Tax Collection And Reporting
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have spoken on more than one occasion about this government’s loophole policy with its manual self-reporting remittance portion of the GNWT tobacco tax. As I have stated clearly, this government’s open-door reporting process, which has the potential for exploitation by out-of-province wholesalers and local retailers, begs to put into doubt this government’s ability for accountability and public trust.

So, why once again does this Member feel the need to bring this issue before the House? One only needs to look at the recently tabled public accounts for 2012-2013 to clearly see we continue to have a serious concern on this tax collection. On page 34, section 2 of the non-consolidated schedule of revenues by source, it indicates the actual tobacco tax collection for 2012 to be $17.1 million and that we were forecasted for a slight increase in 2013 Main Estimates for $17.3 million. Without prejudice, the actual tobacco tax came in lower than expected. In fact, it was off by 11.2 percent at $15.5 million.

So, to the question: Why the approximate $2 million loss in tobacco tax revenues? Did we have 11.2 percent fewer smokers that year? Did the daily smoking rate decrease by the same percentage proportionally? We really don’t know.

What we do know, according to the recently tabled Department of Health Annual Report 2012-2013, smokers made up 37.3 percent of the population and it indicated, even with a marked improvement in the percent of smokers in the NWT, we were still higher when compared to the 2012 Canadian rate at 20.7 percent. So, okay, this has to be accurate, so why wouldn’t we accept this information as being truthful, right?

However, what is mindboggling is when you look up Statistics Canada for the percentage of residents who smoke in the NWT, in 2011 it says 34.9 percent, and in 2012 a slight increase at 35.8 percent. So do we assume that our Health department’s recently tabled 37.3 percent of our population who smoke to be an increase from 2012 or is this an error? We’re not quite sure. But what we are sure, and reminded by the Minister of Finance, is that we have fewer smokers year after year.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Tobacco Tax Collection And Reporting
Members’ Statements

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

These statistics don’t match, and clearly, the tobacco tax revenue shortfall makes even less sense.

Let’s take a moment to summarize all this information today. First of all, when it comes to the data of smoking, Stats Canada reports different numbers than the GNWT. Why? Our Department of Health reports very little data on smoking and so much is left to the imagination. Why? Our actual tobacco tax collection, according to public accounts, is way off in the 2013 Main Estimates. Why? Finally, the smoking gun question I ask every session: Why does our Finance Minister continue to ignore the issue of the tobacco tax self-reporting loophole, especially from southern wholesale distributors?

The only one who can shine light on this mystery is our Minister of Finance, and I’ll have questions for him later today. Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling supporting documents as well. Thank you.

Tobacco Tax Collection And Reporting
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Protection Of Land And Water In The Sahtu Region
Members’ Statements

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was said by our Premier that land is life and it is so true in the Northwest Territories. Because of our issues in the Sahtu, land is life and certainly our elderly people know that this is so true. From the land we get power, a way of life, we put food on our tables and we build our homes. Everything comes from the land. When we think about it and listen to our elders, even when we go outside to do our work,

they always tell us to make it protocol to go out there and thank the land and the water. Before you do anything, remember where you come from.

It’s so ingrained in us that it’s a struggle sometimes with today’s economy and the way of life we have, but we need to come together and talk about the changes that are happening in our lives today.

We have a controversial issue, such as the economic development that’s happening in the Sahtu region. People are wondering what type of mechanisms, what type of assurances we’ll have to protect our land and our water and our air and our animals. Yet at the same time, we know changes are happening as we speak today and people are also wondering: what are the older people, the elders, saying about this? We should be able to get together with our elders and talk about our land and our water and our air with the young people and see how we can work things out in the North, up in the Sahtu region, and look at what land is going to be doing for us.

I will have questions for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources on the land and water in the North. Thank you.