This is page numbers 4589 – 4648 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 services.

Topics

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. The honourable Premier, Mr. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 76-17(5): Expansion Of Single-Window Service Centres
Prayer

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to creating prosperity for all our citizens, and we recognize that residents of rural and remote communities have unique needs. We recognize that it can be difficult to communicate with government departments when people do not know who to contact or if they are not able to access online services.

I am pleased to announce that with the support of this Legislative Assembly, three new single-window service centres will soon open in Fort McPherson, Deline and Behchoko. These centres will help connect residents with the information and services they need, right at home in their own communities.

As Members know, these offices not only provide access to government programs and information, they also increase employment opportunities where they are most needed. These new single-window service centres will be staffed by trained half-time government service officers, recruited right from the communities they serve.

Our government service officers serve as a bridge between the government and citizens in small communities. They are true system navigators, helping residents access the services they need, Mr. Speaker. With the addition of these three new centres, we now have a total of 18 across the Northwest Territories. Since the program was launched in 2010, staff have helped residents in small communities with over 15,000 requests for assistance accessing Government of the Northwest Territories and federal government programs and services.

It is important to note, Mr. Speaker, that most of our government service officers provide direct services in their Aboriginal language. They make home visits

to help elders and other people who cannot come to the office.

Mr. Speaker, supporting all communities and regions is a priority for our government. Our commitment to them is demonstrated in programs like our single-window service centres, decentralization and regional recruitment and capacity building initiatives. We are doing our part to create sustainable, vibrant, safe communities as we work towards the vision of this Assembly.

The single-window service centres and government service officers program proves that we can provide more efficient services by creating positions in smaller communities to help residents connect with the programs and services they need. I want to thank Members for their continued support for this initiative. It is truly making a difference. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 76-17(5): Expansion Of Single-Window Service Centres
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. The Minister of the NWT Housing Corporation, Mr. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 77-17(5): Update On Investments In Housing Infrastructure
Prayer

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, addressing housing needs is a priority of the 17th Legislative Assembly and the NWT Housing Corporation. This year is the first year of a multi-year plan that will see considerable investments in housing infrastructure that will have significant impacts on housing in our communities.

Overall, the NWT Housing Corporation expects to spend approximately $48 million on housing infrastructure during 2014-15 and, Mr. Speaker, today I wanted to provide an update on this work.

A significant aspect of our investment plan includes the new seniors facilities in the communities of Fort Good Hope, Fort Liard, Fort McPherson and Whati and the replacement of the Joe Greenland Centre in Aklavik. The work on the Joe Greenland Centre has started and we expect the tenders for construction of the facilities in Fort Liard and Fort McPherson to be out shortly for completion during 2014-15. Theother two communities will be completed next year.

The NWT Housing Corporation’s plan for 2014-15 also includes adding new public housing units in Jean Marie River, Wekweeti and Colville Lake. These new units will add important housing stock in communities that have been under-served by the Public Housing Program in the past.

Overall for our NWTHC units, the 2014-15 plan includes replacing or building 63 new public housing units and completing retrofits on 165 other units. Our three-year plan, which includes retrofits on close to 600 NWTHC units and over 100 new or replacement units, will build on the work planned for 2014-15. These investments are part the NWT Housing Corporation’s continuing effort to ensure that good quality public housing stock is available for our tenants.

Mr. Speaker as Members know, this government is also investing over $22 million during the next three years to add about 100 market rental units in NWT smaller communities to support devolution, decentralization and service delivery. A request for proposals was issued for 30 of these units that will be delivered in 2014-15. The plans for this year will see 12 of these units located in the Beaufort-Delta district, four in the Sahtu district, five in the Nahendeh district, four in the South Slave district and five in the North Slave district.

Finally, based on previous years, we expect to spend about $7.1 million to support about 325 eligible low and modest homeowners in 2014-15 with major and emergency repairs and preventative maintenance activities.

Mr. Speaker, the $48 million that the NWT Housing Corporation will invest in 2014-15 not only supports the GNWT’s overall mandate and priorities related to housing but it is also an important part of the economy. The NWT Housing Corporation counts on northern contractors and businesses to complete this work. The 2014-15 investment, when compared with planned capital spending of $26 million in 2013-14, means there are considerable opportunities within the housing sector for northern businesses. The NWT Housing Corporation looks forward to continuing to work with our contractors to ensure the successful delivery of our plan.

Mr. Speaker, ensuring the quality of the NWTHC housing stock and supporting low and modest homeowners to complete repairs on their homes are a critical part of the 17th Legislature’s vision and

goals and I look forward to continuing to work with Members on these initiatives. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 77-17(5): Update On Investments In Housing Infrastructure
Prayer

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to the presence in the gallery of Her Excellency Marie-Anne Coninsx, Ambassador of the European Union to Canada, and Ms. Terri-Ann S. Priel, Advisor, Political and Public Affairs, who have traveled here

from their embassy in Ottawa. Welcome to the Northwest Territories.

---Applause

Members, I’d also like to draw your attention to the gallery to former Nunakput MLA Mr. Ernie Bernhardt. It’s always good to see Ernie.

---Applause

Item 3, Members’ statements. The honourable Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Generating Local Hydro Power
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Based on this government’s adventures in hydro power plant and transmission line building over the last 15 years, an unfortunate pattern is emerging. It starts with a modest community proposal to generate local hydro power. It could be Deline with their run-of-river proposal on the Bear River, Lutselk’e with their proposal for the Snowdrift, Whati on the La Martre River, or even Fort Smith’s desire to make use of wasted power on the Taltson system.

These proposals were all able to show long-term savings for both the community and this government that spends many millions subsidizing the cost of producing power with diesel generators.

Rather than listening to what the community wants, our leaders instead dream up a glorious mega project. They look at their maps and dream of power lines criss-crossing the NWT. Perhaps they look at maps of the provinces and wish they could have a power grid just like them.

Rather than face realities, they come up with a low-ball price and then proceed to spend millions of dollars on studies. A few years later, they quietly announce that the project has been shelved because it costs too much.

In Deline, the run-of-river project was transformed into 100 megawatt power for the pipeline project which went nowhere. In Lutselk’e and Fort Smith, we have Taltson hydro for the diamond mines. After investing tens of millions, the project was cancelled.

Just recently, the government announced that the Whati transmission line, which started as a modest, small hydro proposal, is cancelled because after a decade of consideration they concluded it will cost $20 million more than the original proposal. For the fourth time in Whati, we are back to square one.

Meanwhile, we have spent literally hundreds of millions of dollars subsidizing diesel power. Had we built these small hydro plants when the communities asked for them 10 or 15 years ago, we would be well on our way to having paid them off

and residents and businesses would be enjoying stable or reduced power costs.

Rather than learning from this experience, we just dream bigger. We are currently spending millions studying a transmission line from Yellowknife to Saskatchewan that is estimated at $800 million, four times the cost of the Deh Cho Bridge.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT is a vast, sparsely populated territory. We need to be innovative. We need power solutions that are scaled to our communities and our geography.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Generating Local Hydro Power
Members’ Statements

Bob Bromley Weledeh

We need to be innovative and recognize our vast territory and we need power solutions that are scaled to our communities and our geography. Our communities should be adopting the cutting edge in efficient technology and renewable power production. Above all, though, both politicians and senior staff need to focus their thinking, get some hardhats, safety shoes and shovels and concentrate on building actual projects in our communities. Mahsi.

Generating Local Hydro Power
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Wek’eezhii Land And Water Board
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On March 21st of this year, Premier McLeod announced the

recipient of the 2014 Council of the Federation Excellence in Water Stewardship Award for the Northwest Territories as the Wek’eezhii Land and Water Board.

The award recognizes outstanding achievement and innovative practice and leadership in the area of the water stewardship and is presented to organizations, partnerships, businesses, institutions and communities in each province and territory.

In a press release that day, Premier McLeod stated that the Wek’eezhii Land and Water Board recognition “is an excellent example of how innovative, locally focused and action-oriented programs delivered through a regional board can educate communities in water conservation and water quality protection at the local level.” High praise and well deserved, I say.

The Wek’eezhii Land and Water Board works with Tlicho communities to initiate training for chief and council members, employees, land officers and other community members, to meet the monitoring requirements of water licences for sewage discharge and solid waste facilities. The training, which includes sampling procedures and interpretation of results, has led to an increased understanding of water quality issues and other aspects of water management.

There’s more than a hint of irony about this situation. While Premier McLeod sang the praises of a hardworking, successful regional land and water board, he was well aware that a mere two weeks later, on April 1st , the effect of the

implementation of the federal Bill C-15 would mean the eradication of all regional land and water boards in the NWT. Replacing them would be one board, a super-board, a move condemned by First Nations across the territory, including the Tlicho, but tacitly supported by Premier and Cabinet.

The irony is this: On the one hand the GNWT has recognized and praised the excellent work of a regional board, all the while passively accepting its imminent demise.

If the Premier and Cabinet really believe the Wek’eezhii Land and Water Board deserves the Council of the Federation award, why are they not fighting to keep the board up and running, to keep it alive so they can continue the excellent work they do at the regional level? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Wek’eezhii Land And Water Board
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

2014 Canadian Disability Awareness Week
Members’ Statements

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. June 2nd to

8th is Disability Awareness Week in Canada. It

continues the tradition of National Access Awareness Week, established in 1988, to promote better community access for people with disabilities.

The impetus behind these national campaigns was Rick Hanson’s Man in Motion world tour. A Canadian icon, Rick Hanson dreamt of creating an accessible and inclusive world and finding a cure for spinal cord injury. For 26 months he wheeled over 40,000 kilometres through 34 countries. He averaged 30,000 strokes a day, through tough terrain, harsh weather, illness and injury. Through his breathtaking achievement, he defied dominant perceptions about disabled people.

The disabilities umbrella includes a diverse list of conditions: blindness, deafness, brain and spinal cord injuries, speech disorders, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, FASD and Autism Spectrum Disorder, and the list goes on.

Hundreds of my constituents are disabled in some way or another. At least four require intense, highly specialized care. As their MLA, I represent them to the best of my ability.

I am supporter of the NWT Disabilities Council that has been visibly preparing for this week’s events, including Thursday’s high tea with the Minister responsible for Persons with Disabilities and Saturday’s Grand Prix event on School Draw Avenue, a full day of races and family fun.

This organization’s mandate is to swing open the doors of access and promote full citizenship through equality, inclusion and participation. This organization performs a range of extremely valuable services, yet it’s chronically underfunded. In fact, despite a widespread perception that the GNWT delivers effective public programs for disabled persons, that isn’t the reality.

Comparatively little government spending is allocated for the needs of disabled persons. I believe it’s time for a designated territorial facility for disabled persons. Ideally, such a facility would serve as a resource hub and provide state-of-the-art rehabilitation services. It would also be warm and inviting, a place that feels like a home.

I will have questions later for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

2014 Canadian Disability Awareness Week
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. The Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

Transportation Services For Seniors And Persons With Disabilities
Members’ Statements

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On the heels of Mr. Nadli’s speech about disabilities, I have to bring forward an issue that’s in the community of Hay River. It has to do with the handi-van services that have been provided by the Hay River Council for People with Disabilities and the fact that the last few years they’ve been striving to get private funding to operate this service. This service is being used by seniors and people with disabilities to get around the community, to get to job interviews, to get groceries and to actually get to medical appointments. Because of the increased costs, the council has had difficulty and had to basically eliminate all the transportation that the handi-van currently is providing. They continue to provide some services to some of their members that are in schooling, but they’ve eliminated that to seniors and to people with disabilities.

It’s a vital part of our community. It’s a vital need that’s in our community, and we’ve had lots of constituents that have come forward to us not only in Hay River but in other ridings such as Enterprise and K’atlodeeche that have used this service in the past to get around and to have for people that are seniors that need a facility or a vehicle that actually has wheelchair accessibility, that is easy to get into and use. We’ve also asked the Minister of Health for information on funding, and he has also indicated to us that it would be the municipality’s issue. The difficulty is that this is an issue that has to do with specific individuals, seniors and people with disabilities. It’s not public transportation. It’s specific to a group of people that need it mainly because of their medical condition.

I will have questions for the Minister of Health and the GNWT, I guess. I am going to specify my questions to Health because I think that’s where the dollars should be coming from, but it is GNWT-wide. There may be a couple of departments that have that issue, but I need the GNWT to get together and find a solution to assist and fund the handi-van services in Hay River.