This is page numbers 6757 – 6826 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

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Hon. Tom Beaulieu, Ms. Bisaro, Mr. Blake, Mr. Bouchard, Mr. Bromley, Mr. Dolynny, Mrs. Groenewegen, Mr. Hawkins, Hon. Jackie Jacobson, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. Menicoche, Hon. Michael Miltenberger, Mr. Moses, Mr. Nadli, Hon. David Ramsay, Mr. Yakeleya

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. Minister of Human Resources, Mr. Beaulieu.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mr. Speaker, throughout the term of the 17th Legislative Assembly and guided by 20/20: A Brilliant North, the NWT Public Service Strategic Plan, this government has made it a priority to ensure that the public service is prepared to meet the needs of Northerners now and in the future.

Residents of the NWT want to share in the benefits of an economically stable, well-governed territory. They want a healthy, educated population able to participate fully in a diversified, sustainable economy. They want an independent North built on partnerships and responsible stewardship that will sustain present and future generations. The GNWT is committed to helping our residents achieve these aspirations for themselves, their families and their communities by providing the right support, programs and services to the public.

Northerners are now exercising devolved authorities and responsibilities for public lands, water and resources. A public service with the capacity to meet our growing role in our own development is more important now than ever before.

Later today, at the appropriate time, I will table the 2014 Public Service Annual Report. This report, the last during the term of the 17th Assembly, provides information on the management, composition and development of the public service and highlights some significant achievements of the 2014 calendar year.

It was an important year in the political development of the NWT. The GNWT underwent considerable reorganization as we assumed new authorities and responsibilities for the management of public lands, water and resources, and the public service was engaged to meet the challenges. We also saw the

successful completion of initiatives to standardize GNWT transactional processes improving consistency and efficiency.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to focus on the recruitment, retention and development of an effective, responsive workforce representative of the people it serves. Human resource management accountability is taking on an increasingly important role as we seek to align personnel management with service outcomes and modern global best practices.

We are developing a home-grown labour force to support our economic development. Through the Regional Recruitment Program, 16 residents have been appointed to trainee positions throughout the NWT in the communities of Inuvik, Fort Simpson, Fort Liard, Fort Providence and Fort Smith.

We are also preparing the next generation of employees by supporting northern youth in their transition from school to the workplace and the beginning of their professional careers. The GNWT had another successful Summer Student Employment Program with departments and agencies hiring 341 students in 2015. Of the 341 summer students hired, 55 percent were indigenous Aboriginal and 44 percent were indigenous non-Aboriginal. We have also hired 22 northern graduates as interns.

The continued development and prosperity of the NWT depends on educated youth, and our hopes that they return home to the North when their studies are complete to meet our current and future occupational shortages and to become role models for future generations.

Mr. Speaker, we reaffirm learning and development of our employees as an ongoing priority. We work to ensure occupational health and safety in our workplaces. We promote understanding and awareness of diversity and an appreciation of the rich cultures upon which our territory is founded and which inform our programs and services.

The GNWT’s efforts towards an inclusive and representative workplace and our strong support for youth employment led to our repeat national recognition as one of Canada’s Best Diversity Employers and Canada’s Top Employers for Young People for 2015.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a busy and productive four years. The members of the public service, who work so hard to support the priorities of this House, have constantly impressed me. There is still much work to do but I know that, with a stable, engaged public service dedicated to the people of the NWT, future Assemblies will be just as successful. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, later today I will be tabling the Skills 4 Success 10-Year Strategic Framework. This framework capitalizes on the skills, knowledge and talents of the people of the Northwest Territories, the number one resource behind our economy and sustainable communities.

Over the past year, we engaged with many stakeholders for input and feedback on the development of the framework. We met with business, industry, Aboriginal governments, the federal government, non-governmental organizations, youth, job seekers, communities and education partners. Their collective knowledge helped identify new strategic directions for adult and post-secondary education programs, supports and pathways in the NWT.

In the spring we held the first Skills 4 Success symposium. Nearly 170 labour market, education and training partners attended. We heard a collective call for change and the need to build a strong culture of education and employment. It was extremely productive, with robust discussions, feedback, shared experiences and a commitment to demonstrate leadership for change. A full results report from the symposium is available online.

Mr. Speaker, this government also partnered with the Conference Board of Canada to examine the NWT’s forecasted labour demands over the coming years. We have learned that over the next 15 years, approximately 75 percent of job opportunities will require college, apprenticeship or university education. Job opportunities open to people with less than a high school education is forecasted to be less than 10 percent.

This is a challenge for the NWT, as some residents require training and further education to be considered for an available job. The demand for skilled labour will only intensify in the coming years when more people retire from the labour market.

Skill development starts at the earliest ages. The GNWT is making progress with comprehensive early childhood development initiatives and improvements to the K to 12 education system. The Skills 4 Success Framework will build on these efforts and drive change to improve student transitions and pathways to advanced education and careers aligning with labour market demands and opportunities.

The four goals of the framework provide a solid foundation for what we have to do: increase skill levels through relevant education and training; bridge education and employment gaps through targeted supports; grow the NWT workforce through partnerships; and improve decision-making with relevant labour market information. Placing priority on skill development and closing education and employment gaps will help drive positive social and economic outcomes across the North.

Mr. Speaker, making generational change will require strong leadership at all levels. The framework is the first step in a 10-year process. Leading into the 18th Legislative Assembly, we will develop concrete actions on how we plan to achieve our vision, goals and priorities.

We want everyone to have opportunities to succeed in life, whether it is advancing their education, gaining employment, or seizing a business opportunity. Providing these opportunities through partnership, comprehensive information and strategically developed programs is critical to our overall success as a territory, and we are acting on the call to create those opportunities. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, or NTPC, continues to adapt and manage its resources to meet the needs of the ever-changing environment of power generation in the North.

For the second year in a row, NTPC is addressing low water on the Snare hydro system; however, extremely low water at Bluefish this year has added to the challenge. While NTPC is effectively managing the use of water and diesel to ensure a stable power supply to the North Slave, this government, with the support of the Legislative Assembly, contributed $20 million to ensure that additional diesel costs were not incurred by the customer.

Mr. Speaker, looking to develop long-term solutions, NTPC is issuing an expression of interest, for both solar and wind installations, possibly at the Snare Lake hydro facility in the North Slave to determine if there is the possibility of economically adding these alternative energy sources to the generation mix to help offset some of the diesel, should this drought persist.

The 2015 Energy Charrette provided direction, and NTPC continues to make decisions and move forward with initiatives that are aligned with the charrette’s outcomes. Specifically, a power purchase agreement has been signed with the community of

Lutselk’e to purchase the power from a community-owned solar installation and surplus power generated at the Taltson hydro plant is being used to supply interruptible heat to community-owned buildings. NTPC continues to partner with the newly formed Department of Public Works and Services along with the Arctic Energy Alliance to promote the PowerWise conservation campaign acting in the best interest of the customer by helping them lower their power bills, ultimately lowering the cost of living in the territory.

Mr. Speaker, Colville Lake had phase one of its solar array installed in 2014, which peaked in May 2015 at 54 kilowatts of solar energy. The completion of the second array occurred in June 2015. These two installations, in conjunction with the new Colville Lake power plant, including battery energy storage, will provide the community with a higher level of reliable power and is an innovative project that has drawn considerable attention from power generation experts outside the territory.

Introducing additional alternative renewables into the thermal communities includes the research of two potential wind sites in the Beaufort-Delta region. At this time, research continues to determine which of the two sites – Storm Hills or High Point – has the best business case based on amount of wind recorded and the distance of the site from town; the further away from the community, the more expensive to transmit.

Mr. Speaker, NTPC will also complete the conversion from high pressure sodium, or HPS, to LED streetlights in all thermal communities by the end of this fiscal year. LED streetlights cost, on average, $40 per month per light, less than HPS, which will result in a significant savings for community governments.

Mr. Speaker, in the first 14 months of the Inuvik liquid natural gas, or LNG, plant operation, $1.1 million was saved as compared to the diesel-only alternative and the use of LNG displaced 2,300 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions in the community. With a showing this strong, NTPC and the Department of Public Works and Services are completing a business case and design feasibility for a new LNG storage and generation facility in the town of Fort Simpson. However, to ensure it is the best solution for that community, the business case will include a comparison against other alternatives such as biomass combined heat and power solutions.

Mr. Speaker, to assist the GNWT, Natural Resources Canada and Arctic Energy Alliance to track energy consumption of their commercial buildings in Jean Marie River, NTPC is piloting an Advanced Metering System, or AMS, in that community before the end of this fiscal year. All 42 customers will have new AMS meters installed that provide usage at various intervals for tracking purposes. However, there are other beyond-the-meter benefits that can be used in the future to provide customers with two-way meter communications to manage other household appliances and alarms.

Continuing to look for ways to lower the cost of living and the cost of power, NTPC bid on the Town of Hay River’s power distribution request for proposals and will continue to work with the community to look at lowering its costs. Hay River is looking for an asset valuation before they make a decision.

Under normal circumstances, I would be tabling the fiscal 2015 annual reports for NT Hydro and NTPC during this session of the Legislative Assembly. However, this year NT Hydro and NTPC are converting to the Public Sector Accounting Standard, and as a result of the additional work required to report under this new standard, the year-end audit is taking longer than previous years. For fiscal 2015 and going forward, NT Hydro will now be consolidated within the GNWT public accounts on a line-by-line basis, increasing the disclosure related to this Crown corporation.

NTPC will continue to operate as efficiently as possible, concentrating on providing safe, affordable and reliable power generation. NTPC will also continue to support the GNWT energy and solar strategy by working together with the Department of Public Works and Services energy division to incorporate more renewables into the Territories’ power generation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Minister of Transportation, Mr. Beaulieu.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mr. Speaker, in June 2015 the Department of Transportation tabled our multi-modal Transportation Strategy, entitled “Connecting Us.” The strategy defines the challenges and opportunities related to improving road, air, marine and rail services for residents, communities and businesses across the NWT over the next 25 years. I am pleased to report that the department is implementing the updated Transportation Strategy and making substantial progress under the three key strategic initiatives: strengthening connections, capturing opportunities, and embracing innovation.

The department is strengthening connections by rehabilitating sections of the existing highway system and improving air infrastructure. This work to rehabilitate highway embankments, road surfaces and drainage structures will increase the reliability and safety of our highway system, create employment, training and business opportunities for Northerners, and will reduce long-term maintenance costs. We have also delivered several improvements to our community airport assets, including runway repairs, installation of new runway lighting systems, and improvements to several air terminal buildings and passenger shelters.

Work continues to capture new sustainable economic opportunities for the Territories by advancing planning work and building strong business cases for three potential new all-weather highway corridors: the Mackenzie Valley Highway from Wrigley to Norman Wells; an all-season road into the Tlicho region; and improving road access into the Slave Geological Province.

Should these new corridors advance, they will substantially improve mobility and employment opportunities for Northerners and enable public and Aboriginal governments to capture new revenues associated with sustainable economic development across the NWT. This will be a critical investment when resource activity is predicted to decline. Extension of our all-weather highway system will also increase reliability over our current public winter road system, which is challenged by the effects of climate change.

The department continues to embrace innovation by testing new adaptation strategies for construction and maintenance of our highways and winter roads, improving our online services to residents, and seeking innovative public and private sector partnerships to improve road, air, marine and rail services in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the department has made significant progress since its inception 25 years ago. Despite these successes, we still have substantial work to do to support our residents, businesses and visitors. By measuring our progress, we can set new and greater goals to bring our transportation system to the next level. At the appropriate time today, I will table the 2015 Transportation Report Card. This document is directly linked to Connecting Us and provides up-to-date metrics and performance measures for each mode of transportation in the NWT. This will be followed by a four-year action plan tabled during the first session of each new Legislative Assembly such as the one anticipated to be held in February 2016.

I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the success of the Department of Transportation over the past 25 years. I especially want to acknowledge the dedicated work of our employees, contractors, our policing partners, federal regulators and transportation service providers who work night and day to ensure transportation services are provided across the NWT.

The next 25 years hold significant opportunity for our territory and for the Department of Transportation to continue connecting Northerners to opportunities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Item 3, Members’ statements. Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When we discussed the NWT Housing Corporation during the capital budget deliberations last week, I expressed concern about the number of public housing units available in the NWT, especially in Yellowknife. Not only do we need public housing but there’s a well-documented need for transition housing, seniors housing and disabled persons housing.

Last year the YWCA in Yellowknife, a provider of transition housing in Yellowknife, reported a lengthy waiting list for their units. This year, in spite of an addition of 18 new units at Lynn’s Place and 55 places moved from Education, Culture and Employment to the NWT Housing Corporation public housing, there’s been little change in those long waiting lists.

As we heard yesterday from Mr. Bromley, the Y’s Rockhill Family Housing Facility has 100 families on their waiting list. That’s families, Mr. Speaker, not people. Lynn’s Place has 50 people on their waiting list and Yellowknife Housing Authority has a list of 152 singles or families looking to get into a public housing unit.

It’s not just individuals and families who need housing help. The need for seniors housing in Yellowknife and the NWT is well known and acknowledged by both the Yellowknife NGO Avens and the GNWT Health and Social Services. The government is taking some action to alleviate the need for seniors housing outside of Yellowknife, but as we’ve heard many times over the last year, it’s not enough.

The number of homeless people in Yellowknife is estimated at 150 and I have no idea of the extent of the problem in other communities, but I know that it’s there. As we heard yesterday many times, the housing needs of NWT disabled persons are urgent.

If we want productive, effective, contributing NWT residents, we need to ensure that housing is available, affordable and accessible to all. Increasing the accessibility of housing to all NWT residents is a huge need in our territory. It must be made a priority for the 18th Assembly as it was for the 17th. We have made some progress in this Assembly in meeting housing needs, but not nearly enough. We need a coordinated across-government strategy to deal with housing needs across the continuum of housing. I hope Members here returning in the 18th Assembly will see that that happens. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to recognize a Hay River constituent, Bruce Green. He has been chosen as the recipient of the 2015 Order of the Northwest Territories. It is the highest honour of the Northwest Territories and takes precedence over all the orders, decorations and medals conferred by the government and the Legislative Assembly of the NWT.

A member of the Order is entitled to wear the insignia of the Order as a decoration and to use ONWT after his/her name, and membership is for life.

Bruce Green has devoted his life to teaching. He began teaching in 1967 and took up teaching in Hay River in 1974 with his wife, Marilyn. Bruce has a wealth of knowledge and experience in many fields, but most people know him as a northern science guy. His passion is science. He has shared his expertise in northern biology and archeology, and he was involved in promoting the Northern Tundra Science Camp offered to Grade 11 students from across the NWT.

Bruce has represented the Territorial Farmers’ Association and the GNWT at the 5th Circumpolar Conference in Sweden where he did a presentation on cold weather composting. Bruce provided his expertise in providing the Resource Manual of Practical Ideas, developed to include traditional and cultural learning in science curriculum at the primary level.

Through the years, Bruce has been a mentor, coach and active member of several clubs and associations, such as Biathlon Canada, the NWT Biathlon Association, NWT Wrestling, the Hay River Ski Club, the Territorial Farmers’ Association and the NWT Literacy Council.

Bruce has twice received the Hilroy Scholarship Award for Innovative Teaching and Programs. He has received Sport North awards for instructing and coaching wrestling and has been recognized as Hay River’s Citizen of the Year. Most recently, Bruce was inducted into the NWT Education Hall of Fame for his dedication to teaching in the Northwest Territories.

Bruce remains involved in the community and is instrumental in volunteering and planning programs, such as the Christmas Bird Count, beaver watching, owling, search for fossils, and many other educational, interesting meetings. Bruce also has musical talents and is often seen to be playing the organ in the Catholic Church.

Bruce and his wife, Marilyn, who is also a teacher, have lived in Hay River for over 38 years, raised their six children in a loving, caring and educational home. Bruce is also the proud parent of Olympic athlete, Brendan Green. We are thankful that Bruce and his family have decided to stay in the North, where I’m sure he will continue to contribute to the well-being of our community.

I’m pleased today to congratulate Bruce Green on this honourable recognition. On behalf of Hay River, thank you, Bruce, for all that you do for others and for Hay River and for the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. During my penultimate day in the House, I note that governments all over the world are facing huge challenges. Some are responding responsibly, others not. I believe this government is failing our people and our land at a critical time when we can ill afford to be led down the wrong path.

Eight years ago, during my first Member’s statement, I read from the 2000 Earth Charter that says, “We stand at a critical moment in the Earth’s history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward, we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms, we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice and a culture of peace.”

I went on to note that I was excited about the possibilities and the promise that’s offered in the solutions to these challenges, but that it would take new thinking and new ways of doing things. But instead, we are frantically trying to do the same old things in the same old ways and are rather insanely expecting other results.

I noted then that how we do things can be a big part of the solution, benefitting all our residents and our northern and global environments, but where decisive action was required, we’ve taken only timid steps. While we could do the usual government things in new beneficial ways, we haven’t. Is it us? Is it consensus government, under which decisive action is unlikely? Is it our Premier, federally trained and with 30 years as a bureaucrat under his belt, unable to change course when evidence demands it? Possibly. Leadership is important. But under our model of government, every MLA plays a key role in helping us move forward or holding us back.

To me the biggest bottleneck is the lack of evidence-based decision-making, the degree to which an uninformed statement made with supreme confidence can undermine decisions that could and should be based on solid evidence is astounding.

We leave many great challenges for the 18th Assembly to wrestle with. We leave huge costs of living in an economy which favours a few. We remain unprepared for soaring climate change impacts. We leave burgeoning debt and dwindling revenues.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Yet, while some costs are unavoidable, it is possible to address these issues in progressive ways that can benefit our people and our land if we choose. I wish this 18th Assembly the very best for finding the best path forward.

Later today I will speak about opportunities they may wish to consider. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Over the last four years, I’ve brought up growing concerns of the services in Tsiigehtchic, whether it be nursing, or RCMP. At this time of year, the residents feel a little better because we have a nurse on hand in the community, and with the growing number of elders we have in the community and the needs, people feel much safer.

With the RCMP, we had the department committing to having an RCMP overnighting in the community of Tsiigehtchic this summer and in place by this fall. But yet today there is still no action on this.

With all the technology today, whether it be campers, that’s all the department needs to have to offer this service in the community. You know, whether they have to pitch the tents, I mean, we have to find some solution here to provide these services in our communities, especially when we have commitments.

I’ll be asking the Minister questions later today. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we’ve come to the last couple days of this session, I thought I’d make a statement here. I’d like to speak on consensus government.

I support consensus government. As a new MLA here, I was able to get involved in the budget process, involved in committee, involved in everything in the government right from the get-go. I support consensus government. I know we need to improve it, but I’ve been part of the Transition Committee this summer on ways that we can improve consensus government, the way we can make it better for the public, for the Regular Members and for the Cabinet.

In consensus government I don’t have to tow a party line. It’s easy. My mandate is Hay River. I represent Hay River on a number of issues. Whenever I have a question, I just need to go home; I’ll get my mandate again. I just need to talk to people, have a constituency meeting and put it out to the people as a question. Whether that topic is dredging, fishing industry, northern manufacturing, Mental Health Act changes, whether it’s a school swap, that’s an example, Mr. Speaker. We had a discussion about school swap. We went home. Both groups told us no, we don’t want a school swap. That’s an example of consensus government. We’re given back our mandate; don’t accept that. We didn’t accept it. We’re dealing with the issue going forward.

We do need to improve consensus government and I think the key to that is communication. We need the government to communicate with Regular Members how things are being done and when things are being done, not just on the minimum amount of time but through the whole process.

Communication is a two-way street. Regular Members here need to be trusted with that information. We’re given that information early, so we need to rebuild that trust. We need to rebuild the trust that Regular Members get that information and it’s not going to end up on social media; it’s not going to end up on some press release right after it’s given.

For some reason, like I said, when I first got here, people talked about how the hallways had mikes in them, because as soon as we had a conversation, everybody seemed to know about it in the building. So, in order to improve consensus government, we need to improve our communication. We need to improve trust.

Consensus works for us in a small jurisdiction. It’s easy. If we had party politics, eventually somewhere down the line some community may be left out. If my community isn’t represented by the government, then I’m going to be left out in the cold. Consensus government works in the Northwest Territories and is strong and is alive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, Mr. Moses.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. October 4th to 10th is Mental Illness Awareness Week, and the theme for this year is I am Stigma Free. It’s an opportunity to learn about and educate others on mental illness, but more importantly, it’s an opportunity to take action on mental health issues.

Taking action is exactly what this government has done. The Standing Committee on Social Programs, in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services, over the course of the summer and this fall did a very strong review and consultations with people of the Northwest Territories. We travelled to nine communities and had about 17 written submissions. We had consulted with a lot of professional organizations on updating our Mental Health Act, which was outdated for about 30 years.

The families across the Northwest Territories, residents of the Northwest Territories told us how they felt, told us about experiences that they’ve been dealing with in terms of issues that they’ve been dealing with and the Mental Health Act, let us know what the gaps in services were and what was needed.

It was a great opportunity, and later today committee will be reading in a report from all those findings. I hope people in the Northwest Territories who gave information, who gave us direction to update this Mental Health Act will be listening in and will be seeing what we have to offer and what we have to bring to the table.

With that said, I just wanted to take this opportunity. We have two days left in the House. The Mental Health Act and addictions has been strong on my agenda. I’m really glad to see that the Mental Health Act has had its due course, has had its respect in this House and is getting updated for the first time in about 30 years.

I just want to thank everybody who contributed to what we are going to be passing here later on today in Committee of the Whole, and also who attended the meetings in the communities. I’d like to thank the Members whose communities we visited for setting up those meetings. We’d like to thank all the front-line staff as well as family and friends who have been affected by mental health illness, coming out and showing us your support, if not giving us information.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

I just want to take one final opportunity here to thank all members of the Standing Committee on Social Programs, who had a lot of late nights going through the reports, doing the follow-up; the staff who helped us along the way as well as getting up early mornings, putting on all those kilometres to ensure that we listened to as many residents as possible to update this Mental Health Act.

I just want to also let family, friends and people who have been affected know that today we represent all those who have been affected by mental illness, whether it’s acute to severe, or tragic or fatal, that it’s not going to happen again and that this government is taking the first steps to make sure that, in fact, is true. We’re going to start fighting to support, to get the services in your communities, to get the services for the front-line workers and the staff so that we can help people who are affected by mental illness.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. The Member for the Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our North is rich in resources, and yet we have yet to fully untap the potential of our people, our youth. We have potential in our lands. The trick to any government is to connect that potential with each other. That’s the trick of any leadership, any people. How do we untap the potential of our young people, the ones who are going to school, with the opportunities that are rich in our lands? Through imagination, through initiatives.

The Sahtu sits in the midst of amazing wealth and resources, but we have not yet realized how we have access to this wealth and these resources. It’s sitting there waiting for us. The closest we have come was in the 1930s and ’40s, first with the uranium mine and Great Bear Lake, tapping that resource, and then the Canol pipeline in the ‘40s. The key part of these two projects were done without any input or tapping the knowledge from the Aboriginal people, the owners of the land. Today in the Sahtu this is not the case. We have a land claim that was negotiated and settled. It has the highest constitutional protection in Canada. This is the highest law in Canada.

The Sahtu is rich in its economic opportunities. We have a way to realize we have a way to participate with this government in developing the region. We have a labour force that wants to work. It does not want to be dependent on government handouts. We have resources that need to be untapped.

I will ask further questions of the Minister of ITI at the appropriate time. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. The Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to speak about the mental health services in the Nahendeh region. It’s often hard to talk about, but there’s never any shortage of tragic and painful things going on in our communities.

Addictions-related problems keep surfacing in part because of things that the residential school legacy left behind. Residents need more help if they’re going to recover from things like drug and alcohol abuse. People need to heal from the painful things that happened.

I understand that the report on the new Mental Health Act will be tabled today. There’s certainly been a lot of talk about it on the this side of the House. One of the things that the standing committee found is how many front-line positions are vacant across the Northwest Territories. That’s a concern in my region where residents of Fort Simpson, Fort Providence and Fort Liard have gone for long stretches of time without access to mental health workers. In Nahanni Butte, Trout Lake and Wrigley, help is even thinner on the ground.

Limited funding is a concern. A $10,000 program for Trout Lake gets 50 percent of it used for air travel alone. This must also be reviewed and addressed.

We’re all hoping for a brighter future with a new Mental Health Act. Later, during the session in Committee of the Whole, we will hear about how the updated act will benefit the people of the Northwest Territories, and I look forward to those discussions. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. The Member for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Ministerial Travel Claims
Members’ Statements

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Eight weeks ago today I wrote an e-mail to the Minister of Finance because of complaints I received from the public about Minister Ramsay’s most recent travel claim to a luxury hotel in Quebec and using a luxury car. In my e-mail I had asked a number of questions about the luxury rental vehicle, luxury hotel, government paying for Ministers going to weddings and many more questions along the lines of Minister’s signing off their own travel claims, but one of the concerns I raised was how long has this been going on. So I specifically asked the Minister of Finance to have an independent review of Minister Ramsay’s travel claims for the past year. I know this can happen because it does happen regularly. So I asked for an independent review because I think it falls well within the realms of the ability.

I often hear that government bean counters go months after travel claims have been filed and they audit them for clarification and confirmation of expenses. If an error has been processed in good faith, I’m prepared to accept that for what it is. Small administrative errors happen. We’re all human. It’s easy to tick a box off accidentally and sometimes even unknowingly. However, if an error is habitual, then we do have some problems. An example of that could be claiming dinners repeatedly as your per diems, but the conference or meetings all seem to provide them. That would be wrong.

I know this Minister has flown friends and family around and didn’t offer to pay for them at first, until I complained to the Comptroller General, who, once reviewed the situation, found my point correct and the Minister did pay the money back. What I find interesting is I sent the e-mail and it was received by the Finance Minister on Wednesday, August 12th, but it took him two days after my e-mail was sent to reply that Minister Ramsay has called for a review on his own self.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but when you look at Friday’s newspaper of that week when it hit the streets of Yellowknife and me making a statement saying this needs to be done, coincidence starts to add up. Two days to be able to call the reviewers on their own self starts to make you wonder. The Minister has justified his expenses in Monday’s paper, stood by them very strongly, but then all of a sudden, wait a minute, he changes his mind.

The fact remains that the reasonable request is outstanding. If a simple error has been made, I still stand by that point; accidents happen. But if it’s habitual, we need to be asking ourselves, how do we correct this?

I brought this point up again to the Minister of Finance when we were out at the Caucus retreat over a month ago, that he didn’t answer all my requests in the e-mail. The point is, this review is still outstanding and it’s reasonable to be done. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

Ministerial Travel Claims
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Since 2012 over 100 countries around the world have recognized this coming Saturday, October 10th, as a World Homeless Day. This is to draw attention to homeless people’s needs locally and provide opportunities for the community to get involved in responding to homelessness.

In recognition of World Homeless Day, I want to take a moment to voice my concerns about the impact of homelessness in small communities, like those in my Deh Cho riding.

Homelessness is one of the most chronic and damaging social problems in the NWT. Adequate housing provides a foundation for physical and mental health, economic well-being and strong communities. Chronic housing shortages, on the other hand, are linked to family violence, addictions, low graduation rates, suicide and severe respiratory infections and other communicable diseases in children. As we know, the North experiences all of these problems at higher rates than elsewhere in Canada.

Here are some other facts listeners may not be aware of: According to the 2006 Census, homeownership in the NWT is 25 percent lower than in Alberta. For many, social housing is the main if not only option. Many of the homeless are not eligible for public housing. According to Dr. Nick Falvo, director of research at the Calgary Homeless Foundation, social housing in the NWT is prioritized for persons who are physically disabled or over 60. As a result, says Mr. Falvo, “When a vacancy occurs for a bachelor or a one-bedroom unit, a homeless person without dependants, who does not meet one of the above criteria, has never, and will never, access a unit under the current system. Many of these people leave their home communities for Yellowknife and other regional centres. An evaluation of Yellowknife’s Day Shelter done in 2011, found out just one-third of the people using it were actually from Yellowknife. Almost half were from other NWT communities.

According to the NWT Housing Corporation’s own website, “Homelessness in smaller communities often takes a different form than what it seems in larger communities. These are residents that are unable to access social housing because of past behaviour, arrears or other tenant issues, or residents in situations where the availability of housing has limited their options.”

Mr. Speaker, I’m bothered to learn that even though applications were received from every region, not a single community in my riding received funding from the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Not a single community in my riding received funding from the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation in 2014-15 under the Small Community Homelessness Fund. Homelessness is a debilitating social problem in every community in the NWT. Given their very limited options for affected residents of small communities, I believe the Northwest Housing Corporation has an obligation to ensure that homelessness funding is fairly shared amongst all regions.

Later today I will have questions for the Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. Member for Tu Nedhe, Mr. Beaulieu.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker. [English translation not provided.]

[Translation] …died in the hospital here today or a few days ago. So, I’m going to talk to him in English.

Over the last weekend, [Translation ends] Jonas Beaulieu passed away at the age of 93, surrounded by his family. Jonas passed peacefully with his family and caregivers all around him for his last days

Jonas was born September 7, 1922, to Louison and Marie Beaulieu. He married Violet on January 12, 1953, in Fort Resolution, where they raised a family of nine, four sons and five daughters.

Jonas attended mission school until he completed Grade 7. He later obtained a certificate in diesel mechanics while in the hospital with tuberculosis. He loved working and creating with his hands. From building many things for his family, like boats, furniture and fixing anything that had a motor, he was given the nickname “Papa Fix” as a result.

Jonas was a proud man who didn’t believe in asking for help. Violet and he saved their money and, in 1964, built a large, loving home to raise their family in. His strong faith and a love for playing music led him to play the organ in church and he continued to do so for 29 years. Jonas was a devoted husband, role model and inspiration to all Metis people in Fort Resolution.

Jonas was predeceased by three sons, Stephen, Maurice and Gregory. He is survived by his wife, Violet, and six children, Mildred McQuinn (David), Gladys Morin (Don), Lucille Harrington (Paul Jr.), Brenda McKay (Melvin), Larry Beaulieu, and Myra Beaulieu (Marc). He had 14 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.

I personally have known Jonas since I was a small child. I was good friends with his late son, Maurice. When we were children I didn’t know how to ride a bike and everybody else who was six rode a bike. I was a slow learner. Jonas made a tricycle with a chain that could keep up to bicycles. It had 20-inch wheels and so on, so I could learn how to ride a bike and also keep up to everybody else. He made that for Morris, and Morris quickly learned how to ride a bike.

He was an inventor of sorts. Many years ago I went to Jonas’s house with my dad and he showed us how he converted a hot water heater from electrical to fuel. I think that was the first time I saw a fuel-fired hot water tank. I didn’t understand the significance of that. I was just a little boy.

Jonas was truly a lovely man. He is somebody who will be missed by his family, friends and his community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Member for Thebacha, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to take a few moments of the House time to acknowledge, recognize and pay tribute to the award recently bestowed on Sonny McDonald, Order of the NWT.

Sonny McDonald was a long-term employee of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. For 17 years he held the fort on the Mackenzie River Basin Board, as we slowly got our thinking clear, and left just before we finally negotiated an agreement with Alberta, an issue that he always brought up to me as something that was undone and needed to get busy on.

He’s also very well-known internationally as a carver. As you can see today, he’s not in the best of health, but he’s still a presence, and the carving to your left, Mr. Speaker, is a Sonny McDonald carving.

I would just like to congratulate him and take that opportunity. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Honourable Premier, Mr. McLeod.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to recognize my wife, Melody McLeod, and Auntie Germaine Michel. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Mr. Abernethy.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Glen Abernethy

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize students from the Aurora College Social Work and Nursing programs who are visiting the Legislature today. They are accompanied by their instructors, Vanessa Rankin and Jodi Brennan. I am going to attempt to pronounce these names, and if I get any wrong, please don’t hold it against me.

Within social work we have Michelle Bourke, Diana Bui, Jessika Claros, Jordon Moffitt, Amanda Pike, Romy Quackenbush, Sade Sada and Alice Thrasher.

The nursing students we have are Laila Nesbitt, Sarah Pope, Constance Afoakwah, Adoma Akua, Beth Thompson, Sasha Stanton, Lisa Balmer, Reigem Sabalboro – I apologize. That isn’t even fair. – Kellyann Whitehead-Smith and Kristan Marion.

I’d also like to recognize Great Slave constituent Kieron Testart. Thank you all for being in the gallery today.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. I hope they get the spelling right in Hansard. Mr. Beaulieu.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I chose today to recognize the two Pages from Fort Resolution. There’s Amy Ann Mercredi – her last name is “Wednesday” in English – and also Kayleigh Hunter. She’s also been working here for us this week.

I’d also like to recognize my interpreter, Tom Unka. He has been coming into the Legislative Assembly almost every second sitting for the last eight years. Tom Unka does both the translation for anything that needs translation and also the interpreting for myself in the House, so I’d like to recognize him.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Mr. Bouchard.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize Germaine Michel, a Hay River resident; and former resident Lisa Balmer, who’s here doing schooling. I’m sure we’re going to get her back in Hay River in our new health centre, get her and Ben back in Hay River.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. Mrs. Groenewegen.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize Hay River South constituent Germaine Michel, who is here today with my friend Melody McLeod. It’s hard to believe that they’re auntie and niece. They look like sisters.

Also, yes, our former constituent Lisa Buckmaster-Balmer, who is in the Nursing Program here and, yes, wouldn’t it be great to have these gals come home?

I thought I heard Sarah Pope as well. I don’t know if she’s there today or not, but if she is, I’d like to recognize her.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Mr. Menicoche.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I’d just wanted to take pride in our Page Program that allows us to bring students who are younger and from smaller communities like Fort Simpson. Today I wanted to recognize two Pages from Fort Simpson. First of all, my nephew Allan Menicoche, and Aaron Antoine. They’re both here in the gallery. I just want to say that you guys represent well.

Also, thanks to my chaperone, Ms. Jasmine Hardisty, for taking care of them this week.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. I’d like to welcome here, too, Ms. Alice Thrasher and Ms. Melody McLeod. Welcome to the House.

I’d like to welcome all visitors here today. Thank you for taking an interest in our proceedings and all the best in your classes.

Item 6, acknowledgements. Mr. Bromley.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Today I rise to acknowledge and congratulate my constituent Mr. Gino Pin on his being inducted into the Order of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Pin is an architect of considerable renown, who has been living, designing and building in Canada’s North for more than 35 years. In fact, this House is a sterling example of his fine work.

Mr. Pin has received many design awards and was named “Northerner of the Year” by UpHere Magazine in 1992. Mr. Pin has made significant contributions to both the quality of life and the esthetic environment of the Northwest Territories. He is considered by his peers to be the pre-eminent architect north of 60. He has also been an outstanding mentor to upcoming architects and has embarked on a dedicated effort to address the fate of our homeless here in Yellowknife.

He is truly deserving of the highest honour this government can bestow, and I invite all Members to join me in congratulating Mr. Pin for his many achievements and for his recognition received today. Mahsi.

---Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Mr. Moses.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to acknowledge Mr. Gerald W. Kisoun, known to most as Gerry, on being recognized as a recipient of the 2015 Governor General’s Polar Medal Award. Mr. Kisoun was recognized for his outstanding contribution to promoting Canada’s North and its people.

His mother, Bertha Allen, received the Governor General’s Northern Medal in 2008 for her support of equality for Aboriginal and northern women, particularly their inclusion as government decision-makers.

Mr. Kisoun is a true role model for his family, his friends, the community of Inuvik and all Northerners.

I would like to congratulate and acknowledge Mr. Kisoun for all of his hard work, commitment and dedication to the people of the North. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. Item 7, oral questions. The Member for Sahtu, Mr. Yakeleya.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of ITI. I talked about the potential in the Sahtu region with our human resources, our people and with the resources in our lands.

I want to ask the Minister, has he had an opportunity to look at the opportunities of the economic potential in the Sahtu region with our people in our lands? Does he have a quick snapshot picture of what’s there?

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. The Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We’ve got a great idea of what’s in the Member’s riding in the Sahtu. Over the past four years, we’ve spent $8.5 million in funding in the region. We’ve got the greatest potential, of course, with oil and gas and the resource assessment that was done in the central Mackenzie Valley, indicating that there’s close to 200 billion barrels of oil and the benefits, and the development of that could mean potential business opportunities and employment opportunities for residents in the Sahtu.

We also had seen a great advance in agriculture in the Member’s riding. I know Mr. Whiteman is back at potato farming this year and there’s a number of others in communities in the Sahtu who are getting into agriculture.

We’ve also seen an advancement on the traditional economy. Harvesting furs continues to be a source of income in the Member’s riding. I believe in the Sahtu we’ve got close to 100 trappers in the area and they harvest some of the best fur in the Northwest Territories.

We also have to look at tourism and the opportunities tourism is going to provide. The federal government is going to be moving forward with the cleanup of the Canol Trail. Some of that work has started. As the Member knows, earlier this year we had 18 local residents employed on the cleanup. The $800,000, or close to $800,000 flowed through the Department of ITI and we’re happy to see that work start. The federal government indicates it’s going to take up to five years to clean up the Canol in advance of us fulfilling a commitment in the Sahtu Agreement to turn that into a park, and we fully intend on doing that as soon as that trail is remediated. Thank you.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you. The Minister clearly laid out the amazing potential we have in the Sahtu. I want to ask the Minister, has he and his officials looked at one area that he hadn’t mentioned today, which is the Selwyn-Chihong Mine that’s at the Yukon/Northwest Territories border? I understand this mine is going to go into production. There’s close to $1 billion worth of work there, potentially with 850 workers during the construction phase and around 450 permanent workers to operate that mine.

Has the Minister looked at how we can match the young potential workers in the Sahtu with this upcoming mine that is close to $1 billion worth of operation?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

The Selwyn-Chihong Project, which straddles the Yukon-Northwest Territories border, holds great promise and great potential not only for the Sahtu, but for the Northwest Territories and the Yukon. It is a world-class lead-zinc deposit, as the Member indicated, with somewhere around 800 to 850 permanent jobs. I know the company has been into a number of communities in the Sahtu. They’ve been talking to the leadership in the Sahtu about potential IBAs and other opportunities for the Sahtu when it comes to the development of that project. We’re very excited. Initial mine plans had the company looking at mining on the Yukon side at first, but it looks as though the company is going to be mining potentially on both sides of the border, which bodes well for the Northwest Territories and this is a great opportunity for us.

Also in the area of mining, we’ve had some great results from our NWT Geological Survey that would indicate that there’s gold and tungsten in a number of the stream sampling programs that we had conducted last summer. So there’s great potential in the Sahtu for mining. Thank you.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Certainly, that raises our hopes in the region. I want to ask the Minister, has he been working with his other colleagues with regards to bringing in some much needed skill development, trade development, in regards to, for example, the Selwyn-Chihong Mine operations, bringing in some type of trades program with the Mine Training Society to look at how do we tap into these young resources of workers in the Sahtu region to increase our viability to be in the mine and not have situations where we see where we fly in miners to take the jobs from our Sahtu people, our northern people?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Because of the exploration and the little bit of drilling that happened in the Sahtu a couple of years ago, there are folks there that are trained. But the Member’s correct. I mean, we have to be ensuring that the young people are ready for the jobs that are coming, whether they’re in oil and gas or whether they’re in the mining sector. We continue to work closely with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. I know the Minister had a statement earlier, Skills 4 Success. We’ve got the Mine Training Society of the Northwest Territories, as well, and we have to do everything we can as a government to ensure that our folks are ready to take these opportunities and run with them. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Yakeleya.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to just ask the Minister about the traditional economy. Now, that’s the backbone of our people. It was a way of life until we started to look at the European value of exchange. The economy is still strong. Colville Lake and Fort Good Hope have the best fur harvesters in the Northwest Territories.

I want to ask the Minister, is his department working with the trappers in the region, specifically around Fort Good Hope and Colville Lake, in regards to seeing that this tradition is continued to be passed on to the younger generation? The best furs, I may say humbly, come from the Sahtu region, specifically in the Gahcho area.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

We continue to work with ENR on the traditional economy on the area of trapping. As I mentioned to the Member, there are currently approximately 100 trappers in the Sahtu. We actively support the marketing of the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur Program. Over the past four years, they’ve averaged about $370,000 per year in fur sales and an additional $84,000 in fur bonus and grubstake payments to trappers. Over the four years, the total for Sahtu trappers is nearly $2 million, so it’s a tremendous opportunity. This money goes directly back into trappers’ pockets and back into local economies in the Sahtu.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Mr. Yakeleya.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, can I seek unanimous consent of yourself and the Members to return to item 5?

---Unanimous consent granted

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery (Reversion)
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery (Reversion)

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

I am honoured to stand here today to congratulate and recognize Mr. and Mrs. Wilfred and Lucy Jackson. Mrs. Lucy Jackson was the recipient of the first Order of the Northwest Territories, and accompanying her is her good, full-time, wonderful husband, Wilfred Jackson. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery (Reversion)
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery (Reversion)

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. Item 7, oral questions, Mr. Blake.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In follow-up to my Member’s statement on policing in Tsiigehtchic, we had a strong presence of RCMP in Tsiigehtchic in the early 1900s, yet here we are today, 2015, with a core presence in the community. We’re going backwards, Mr. Speaker. We should have a detachment in the community at this time. We had one in the early 1900s, as I mentioned, 1920, in Tsiigehtchic. We had special constables in every community, Fort McPherson, Aklavik, Tsiigehtchic, the list goes on. Yet today there’s not one special constable in any of those communities. More needs to be done in this area. You know, it’s Aboriginal policing. We need to start encouraging our youth to join the force and have detachments in our communities. So I have questions for the Minister here today.

How many times have the RCMP spent the night or even overnight in Tsiigehtchic over the summer? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Minister of Justice, Mr. Ramsay.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the Member for raising the concern about policing in Tsiigehtchic once again on the floor of the House today. The number of patrols that we saw into the community of Tsiigehtchic between January and July 2015 from the RCMP detachment in Fort McPherson were 37 patrols, and I want to thank the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. We’re moving forward with plans to have an increased police presence in the community of Tsiigehtchic. We’re going to be sending officers in there to spend two days and one night a week, which means that for up to eight days per month they will be in the community of Tsiigehtchic. Suitable accommodations have been identified, again through the Housing Corporation and we thank them for their help in that. This will begin in December of this year. The community will see this increased level of service by the RCMP. Thank you.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

That actually answered my second question here, but my third question is: What are we going to do in the meantime? You know, we have freeze-up underway here. We have about three to four inches of snow in Tsiigehtchic at the moment.

What is the detachment going to do during freeze-up? Thank you.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Operationally it would be as usual. Again, we are looking forward to December when we can increase the level of service to the community of Tsiigehtchic. I should mention, as well, that between January 1, 2015, and up until the end of July 2015, there were 40 calls for service during that period of time in the community of Tsiigehtchic. Thank you.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

I would like to ask the Minister, when will they start encouraging our youth to join the force, whether it be through special constable that was practiced in the early 1900s. It seems they’ve done away with that here today. This is a great opportunity. I recall even in the mid-1990s many… I believe even you were a special constable, Mr. Speaker, at one point. We need to start encouraging this practice once again. Will the Minister ensure that that happens? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

I’m very glad that the Member has brought this up today. We need to be encouraging if you know young people in the community who are interested in a career in policing, they can identify themselves to the detachment or to the RCMP here in the Northwest Territories, to “G” Division. We would certainly like to hear from them.

We’ve had trouble in the past getting interested persons to take the training. We continue to work with the RCMP in identifying young people who can take the training and become members of the RCMP. I’d encourage all Members, again, if you know young people in your community, it’s a great career and I’d encourage them to approach the RCMP. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Member for Nahendeh, Mr. Menicoche.

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation some questions with regard to working with municipalities and street lighting on the highway system.

I would like to ask the Minister: What type of program does the Department of Transportation currently have to assist with the street lighting on our NWT highways and close to municipalities? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. Minister of Transportation, Mr. Beaulieu.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It would be generally a maintenance program. Safety is a priority for the department, and there were issues with some corners that were dark and we were able to put up some lights. I know the Member is concerned about a road that runs off the main road that’s been maintained by the department that doesn’t have adequate street lighting. So we are going to be working with, most likely, the Power Corporation for poles and lighting on that access road the Member had asked me about earlier. Thank you.

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

To be specific, yes I’ve been asking the Minister about installing some street lighting on the access road that goes from our 6 kilometre, the Wild Rose subdivision, down onto the Four Mile subdivision, and that’s been a safety concern raised by the residents, most particularly in the last couple of years, with more and more bears being in the community and it being very dark at night.

I’d just like to ask the Minister, has he been contacted by the Village of Fort Simpson with regard to identifying exactly where street lighting should go? Thank you.

Tome Beaulieu

I personally have not been in contact with the municipality, but the information was passed on to the department and it’s possible the department has initiated some discussion with the municipality on this issue. Thank you.

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

It’s probably correct that the Village of Fort Simpson contacted the department officials to identify certain locations and I’m up here in the House today to ensure that we move forward with those. I think there are about three sites there, so if the Minister can confirm that the department is working with the Village of Fort Simpson to install at least three new LED street lightings on that access road. Thank you.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Certainly the department will not be ignoring the request from the community, so I think it’s just a matter of having the department regional staff from DOT get in touch with the community at a time convenient for both of them to be able to work together to resolve the issue. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Menicoche.

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Certainly the priority areas for this access road have some residential houses, but the longer access towards the Four Mile subdivision, maybe they can look at that as well, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Certainly the people down by the riverbank at Four Mile have been there for many, many years, so it would be nice to be able to light up the roadway, as well, going down to Four Mile. So we’ll have the department look at that area as well. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We only need to listen to the media these days and we hear that there is a great deal of interest in the public in how people in elected office spend the taxpayers’ money when it comes to claims for travel and other expenses. We’re very fortunate in this Assembly that we have very good staff who take some time and due diligence to ensure that the claims that are being made are correct, and when they are not, as we’ve heard today, these things are remedied very quickly.

I’d like to ask the Minister of Finance; today my colleague spoke about the monitoring of expense claims and travel claims on behalf of Ministers, and I think that when the public looks at us they see all of us as one group, as government. I also think that there are probably committee chairs and some Regular MLAs who travel just about as much as Ministers do, so I would just like to know, in fairness to the public and to this effort for transparency, I’d like to ask Minister Miltenberger if it would be the government’s intention to also monitor closely the expenses of Regular Members.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. The Minister of Finance, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

We do have a policy. We quite rigorously police ourselves. As was raised in the House earlier, the issue with Minister Ramsay has been dealt with and the file is closed for a very, very small discrepancy. Things have been tightened up. Yes, we believe that we should have an even hand when we apply overdue travel claims since there are cases where MLAs accompany Ministers on foreign travel. There are some outstanding claims and we are encouraging those outstanding claims to be completed.

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

I’d ask the Minister, then, if the same rigorous and strenuous monitoring and checking of expense claims for the Ministers that Minister Miltenberger has spoken of, if that would also apply to Regular Members, because, as I said, I think the public is very interested in being assured of that and knowing that that is the case.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Our specific involvement comes when MLAs travel with Ministers on trips, usually abroad, and there have been a number of those and there are outstanding claims that we’re still waiting for from an MLA that we hope will get cleared off so that we can end this session and the mandate of the 17th Assembly on a clear note.

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

That raises another interesting question. Why would there be a delay in the filing of expense claims when a Member would travel with a Cabinet Minister or the Premier, whether it be to a federal, provincial, territorial or on foreign travel or as a committee member of a committee designated member or a committee chair? Why would there be a delay in the filing of those expense claims?

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

What I can indicate is that we have been pursuing and made repeated requests to in fact have all the necessary travel claims submitted so that we can in fact close the file on the various trips. We have been using the power of persuasion. We don’t have a lot of direct authority over MLAs. They have travelled with us and we’re trying to make sure that we close the books, and we’re going to continue to pursue that and hopefully conclude it.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final, short supplementary, Mrs. Groenewegen.

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have watched government for a long time and I know that there have been instances in the quite far past now of Ministers that were travelling with Regular Members and that there became a question after the fact about whether the people who were sponsored with taxpayers’ dollars to go to some of these events actually ever did attend them. Do we have any mechanism in place to ensure that when people do travel on government business that they do indeed attend the functions that they are travelling for?

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

We tend to travel on the honour system but there is an implicit understanding that MLAs would be reporting back, because they’re usually there representing a committee that they would be reporting back to the events that they attended, the meetings they attended, and the important affairs that they dealt with and discussed while on those travels. At this point, that’s basically the extent in terms of compliance or reporting back as to exactly what events were attended. The Ministers, of course, have more accountability and are prepared and will disclose all the meetings they’ve had and all the functions they have attended and have their expense claims, I can assure you, scrupulously reviewed by a whole number of folks to make sure that everything is appropriate.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday I was speaking of business and some of the issues that I have had with the GNWT over the last four years. My questions today are for the Minister of ITI. I’m dealing with a client for the Business Incentive Policy and getting them BIP’d, and it’s specific to the plow trucks that Transportation continues to buy and we’ve tried to get King Manufacturing BIP’d for that project.

Can the Minister indicate to me why the application for King Manufacturing for plow trucks was denied this year?

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. Mr. Ramsay.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is in everyone’s best interest that we see the benefit accrue to northern businesses when we do look at procuring, whether it’s plow trucks or anything else the government buys, that if it can be manufactured here in the Northwest Territories it’s purchased by our government. That’s why we have a manufactured products list. Of the eight items that King Manufacturing has wished for us to put on that list, we have approved six of those items. There are two other items that I know the Members had denied. They’re under review and we want to continue to work with King Manufacturing and the manufacturing community here in the Northwest Territories to ensure that products that can be manufactured here in the Northwest Territories get on that approved list for procurement.

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

I understand that’s coming from the Department of ITI. I’m just wondering how the department works with Transportation and Public Works and Services who does the procurement of these assets. I guess I’m having difficulty and with the fact that I’m having to deal with three different departments to deal with one issue on plow trucks.

How can we simplify this process? Can the Minister indicate to me whether Public Works and Services shared services and BIP should be merged together?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Obviously, with a day and a half left of this sitting and a couple weeks left in the life of this government, that is a decision that the 18th Legislative Assembly would have to take into consideration. I can say that we do continuously discuss these types of items with Public Works and Services. We need to all be on the same page when it comes to advancing manufacturing here in the Northwest Territories and ensuring that the government dollars that are used on procuring products are spent here in the Northwest Territories wherever possible.

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

We’re not being unreasonable here. We know there are several companies that supply trucks to the Northwest Territories. We have no problem with other companies bidding truck versus truck, but we need that work done in the Northwest Territories. Currently, some of the bids that are going forward are 51 percent over a $200,000 project; 51 percent is labour, construction, welding in the Northwest Territories, with the one contractor. With the other contractor, that work is being done in Ontario and in Quebec.

Is the Minister committed to making companies required to do the work in the North?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Currently, plow trucks are not included as manufactured products under the northern manufacturing directive. Unlike fuel trucks, there are no major components of plow trucks manufactured in the Northwest Territories. We have gone back to King Manufacturing. We’re waiting to get some more information from them. Again, this has not been denied. It is under review and we’ll have to see where that review takes us and the discussion about where it all falls out will lie with the 18th Legislative Assembly. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Bouchard.

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Like I indicated, it seems like we’re trying to find ways to support southern businesses. We need to find, and my question is, how can a company provide 51 percent labour welding services and still not be BIP’d. Why is that BIP being delayed? Thank you.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you. Under the current rules of BIP, it’s being applied fairly by all vendors, and on the current tender, as it hasn’t been awarded yet, I couldn’t speak to that. All I can say is that we are ready, willing and able to continue to work with the manufacturing sector here in the Northwest Territories to ensure that products that can be manufactured here in the Northwest Territories are on the approved list of manufactured products. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I have questions on a report that was tabled in our spring sitting, the feasibility study of the universal affordable daycare in the Northwest Territories. Coincidentally it was tabled on June 4, 2015, which is also the last sitting of our spring session. So, very little debate on it, even though it was something that was highly sought after by committee members as well as residents of the Northwest Territories.

In the report itself there are a lot of recommendations and I’d like to ask the Minister responsible, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, obviously we can’t go through all the recommendations and he did mention earlier in the week that this report will be addressed by the 18th Assembly. However, one of the things that stood out to me in terms of program funding, the program contribution grant is the major source of public funding paying a regional base per diem according to attendance. However, the amounts have not changed since 2007.

I’d like to ask the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment whether a review will be done in the life of the rest of this government on this program contribution grant and whether or not it will increase, because since 2007 we have had a lot more private and public daycares in the Northwest Territories. I’d like to ask him, will that be reviewed and will an increase be forthcoming before the 18th Assembly? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. The Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Lafferty.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. The universal affordable daycare feasibility study that’s been requested by this House has been undertaken and has been tabled in May-June 2015. The Member is correct on that. There is a lot of information as part of the package. It’s a comprehensive review of the analysis of universal child care.

With any changes that are forthcoming, recommendations that have been brought forward, obviously the 18th Assembly government will have to deal with it. We only have another day of session.

This is an area that has been brought to our attention, the cost factor, the ripple effects across the Northwest Territories, whether it comes to infrastructure or the program accessibility and the contribution agreement that the Member is just alluding to. So those are the discussions that will probably be had with the 18th Assembly government once they’re in full force. Mahsi.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you. I did have a series of questions here, but in response to the Minister’s statement, he mentioned that the issue was raised in the tabled document. However, I know Members on this side of the House, prior to us putting the motion forward, have raised concerns and issues on the amounts for this contribution grant to the regional centres on more than one occasion.

Why is he saying now that we can’t do it before this government is done when even before today it’s been raised by Members almost every year? Can the Minister, as he’s still in his role as Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, now see it in a document and make those changes before the 18th Assembly? He still has that option. Thank you.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi. With any changes that we make to contribution agreements, obviously it increases the cost factor as well. So that needs to be seriously taken into consideration. We’ve gone through the capital infrastructure just last week and this week and now we’re at the final stages of our session. Again, the recommendations fall to our attention. They will be laid out for the 18th Assembly government. They will be a full force government for the next four years. They’ll decide what to do if there are going to be any changes to the contribution agreement or moving forward on this affordable universal child care programming. Mahsi.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

I know we always have discussions in this House about the cost of social programs, our high costs within governments and we go and look into our debt, this is a great investment and by all more places to have child care facilities and more people to access them, it’s only going to benefit us. I think the same goes for every dollar invested in child care or early childhood development is a $7 return. I mean why do we have to wait until the 18th Assembly to recognize that? It’s kind of concerning to me.

Another question I had in regard to the report as I’m discussing this is income assistant child care benefit funding. I’d like to ask the Minister whether or not he’ll be looking at aligning the child care benefit payments with the actual costs of daycare and if he can look at trying to do that also as his term of Minister, six weeks left, if he would be looking into putting that forward as aligning the child care benefits with the actual cost of daycare. It would allow more people, especially in social assistance programs, to access daycare so that the single parents can actually go out and possibly find some work. Thank you.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi. I believe in early investment. That’s why we’ve invested tremendously in early childhood development over the years and we’ll continue to do so. When it comes to the child care benefits versus the daycare, the subsidy that we currently provide has been working over a number of years. There’s always room for improvement as well. These are discussions that obviously we need to have with the child care operators, with the organizations that we work with across the Northwest Territories and also interdepartmental. The Income Support Program obviously provides those subsidies and we’ve made some drastic changes since 2007, 2011, 2015 as well. So we’ll continue to make those improvements. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Moses.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, the feasibility study was made in 2015 and it addressed the child care benefit. So, even though the improvements were made, it’s still an issue and needs to be dealt with. In a CBC report that was talked about, the study itself had mentioned that about 250 workers need to be trained and hired to address some of the offsets for this study.

I’d like to ask the Minister what steps is he taking to create an early childhood education certificate program and whether or not that certificate program can be put in one of our three Aurora College campuses. Thank you.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi. The Member alluded to the universal affordable daycare, the feasibility study that we’ve initiated, and obviously some of the obstacles and the challenges in a way where in order to meet the demands of the NWT we need to double the size of our manpower, the resource people that we have. So we’re working with the college to identify those needs in the communities. So the college does provide those opportunities and we’ll continue to push that forward.

Again, we have to work with organizations on what their demands are, what their needs are and provide that information. Now we’re working with the college to make that happen. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. The Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Today I have questions for the Minister of Environmental and Natural Resources. I’d like to ask questions about the Greenhouse Gas Strategy 2011. Our 2011 Greenhouse Gas Strategy noted the substantial warming temperatures in the NWT compared to globally and the rapid loss and thinning of sea ice and glaciers in the Arctic. The document noted that in 60 years Inuvik might have a climate similar to Peace River, Alberta.

Can the Minister update the House on what the updated trends are for temperature, sea ice extent and thickness, and permafrost melting? Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. From everything I’ve read, and I would recommend in this House, I read a book called, “Future Arctic” by Ed Struzik. It was very, very compelling reading. But the trends are still on the rise in terms of temperatures going up and the resulting impacts on permafrost, sea ice, with resulting impacts again on the type of weather, the reaction of the ocean, types of storms, the rising sea levels and those types of things. Thank you.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

That’s in line with the things I’m hearing. Thanks to the Minister for that.

Eight years ago Natural Resources Canada concluded 40 to 75 percent of the Inuvik buildings alone will suffer $60 million in foundation damage during the building’s lifetime from permafrost loss. Shortly after that we wrote off a $14 million brand new young offenders facility in Inuvik. Today, estimates of costs to public and NWT infrastructure are coming in at billions of dollars over the next 15 years with similar costs expected for private, commercial and institutional infrastructure.

I’m wondering – I’m recognizing that this is already happening more each year – how is the government planning to mitigate this threat to our infrastructure and our economy? Mahsi.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

With this big, pressing issue there are two things we need to do, of course. The mitigation that we’ve talked about in terms of reducing our greenhouse gases, our carbon footprint, switching to alternative energies, will have some immediate impact in terms of costs and effect of costs of living, but the longer term goal would be do our share, as global citizens, to reduce our carbon emissions and help mitigate the increasing temperatures. In the meantime, we also have to adapt, and as the Member has pointed out, we have had some structural failures. We’ve had pile replacements. This Highway No. 3 is very intensive, looks like a semi-permanent kind of undertaking to try to keep smoothing out the road. We have challenges across the land.

If I may use the Speaker’s community as an example, they’re under enormous pressure from the climate, the approaching water and the rising water levels, severe weather that is exacerbating shore erosion. So, we are trying to do both those at the same time. Thank you.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

It is a bizarre response that the Minister knows we need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions when the strategy he produced in 2011 for a five-year period said we would greatly increase our greenhouse gas. That was our goal, to increase our greenhouse gas production in the Northwest Territories. But I’m glad to hear him say that recognition, even if it’s against the policy he’s put in place.

The 2011 Greenhouse Gas Strategy recognized the necessity of transforming our economy from one based on fossil fuels to one based on renewable energy. That’s almost a quote. With the right policy, industry could play a supportive role, or alternatively, it could continue to drag us down without defining policy in legislation.

Is the Minister finally convinced that we need to establish renewable energy standards and requirements for industrial development in the Northwest Territories? Mahsi.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

It’s not a question of being finally convinced, it’s being in a position to start making those changes. We’re now post-devolution. We now have an excellent corporate example of the savings that have been experienced by Diavik Mines, and they deserve, once again, full marks for their efforts of putting in that wind power on time and on budget in the most remotely challenging place, probably, where wind power exists. We know that we can now make the case post-devolution, with our regulations and policies, to have that discussion on all projects going forward. The same as we are converting all our own buildings to biomass. The same as we’re putting money into rebate programs for individuals to switch to solar and all these other energy-saving appliances and lower energy costs in all the communities. So, we are on the move to do those types of things. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Bromley.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Diavik did a great job there and put them at a competitive advantage, as well, so they’re saving money.

In 2011 we adopted the useless strategy of allowing a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions to 2005 levels rather than a decrease to 1990 levels as the science that Minister Miltenberger subscribes to says is required. What a waste of opportunity leading to added costs to our people. The strategy ends by committing to a new strategy in 2015. We certainly won’t do it, and the 18th won’t meet that deadline.

What has the Minister done to develop a new strategy and how will it actually help us reduce our greenhouse gas emissions as the science calls for and the Minister recognizes is required?

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

This is a journey of some duration we started back in 2005. We’ve made set targets and most of them were inward looking as a government, trying to put our own house in order. We are going to be putting out a new document, a renewal, but it’s not a Greenhouse Gas Strategy anymore. It’s going to be a Climate Change Strategy. That document is expected to be ready in the next couple weeks.

We are gearing up to be able to go to COP 21 in Paris, which I think, contrary to COP 12 or 15 that I attended in Copenhagen, which was supposed to be a seminal event, this one actually will be with the president of the United States and the president of China there, and all the world leaders where they finally may ink some substantive deal. We have been on that path. We have been investing tens upon tens of millions of dollars in energy savings, in climate change initiatives, in alternate energy that is reducing our carbon footprint. We were one of the leaders in the country on biomass. On a per capita basis, we have some of the most solar installations in the country with more coming.

The Member speaks in very denigrating absolutes when in actual fact I am very pleased and happy that everywhere I go around the country people talk about what we’re doing in the Northwest Territories, and we are one of the most carbon intensive parts of the country and we’ve been slowly pushing ourselves to cut back and bring our carbon footprint down.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The Member for Frame Lake, Ms. Bisaro.

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m not quite sure where to address my questions today. I want to follow up on some of the questions I asked on Monday about the North American Tungsten and the Cantung Mine and some of the liabilities and securities. I’m confused whether I should be dealing with the Department of Lands or the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

I talked to the Lands Minister on Monday and I’m going to try and talk to the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources today to see if I can get some clarification on who does what with regard to these liabilities.

It would seem, in talking with the Minister of Lands the other day, that we have taken responsibility for the development at the Cantung Mine, that we’ve taken responsibility for that development without any idea of the liability that we are accepting. In June the securities required, I gather, was up to $19 million, but we only hold $11.6 million, apparently.

My first question would be to the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. If we have required the mine to provide securities of $19 million, how does that compare with what the actual liabilities for cleanup of that mine will be?

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. The Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What is currently there is just a shade over $11 million, I believe. The revised amount that was being pursued prior to the fiscal issues was to increase that to about $30 million.

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

If I could presume, and I will ask the Minister to confirm, would we expect that it will cost about $30 million to reclaim and to clean up that mine?

I’d like to try and understand from the Minister, about a year ago there was an announcement that we were establishing a new division in lands, a liabilities and financial assurances division. That was about a year ago, last November. I’m trying to understand the difference between who does assessments for mines of the liabilities of a mine or any other development, and who actually handles the securities. My understanding is that Lands handles the securities but I think maybe ENR does the assessments. I’d like to get some clarification on that.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

This is a shared responsibility under the water licences and environmental assessments. The majority of the money is handled by and flows through ENR through that process. We are looking at, as a government, how do we best structure ourselves to better provide oversight for all these outstanding securities across the land. We recognized very clearly after devolution that the federal government wasn’t paying anywhere near the attention they should have to this matter, and we’re currently at work internally still sorting out what’s the best way to structure ourselves to do that.

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

That kind of helps. With regard to all the developments and the potential liabilities that we have, I know that there is a listing of those, because through devolution there was a listing of everything in the territory, what the GNWT would take over and what would remain with the feds.

I’d like to know, at this point, have we done assessments on the majority of the developments that we are responsible for or that we hold? One of the examples that comes to mind for me is the Ptarmigan Mine out on the Ingraham Trail. It’s been sitting there for a very long time and nothing has been done with it. It needs to be cleaned up. Do we have an assessment of what that would cost, for instance, and do we have an assessment of all the developments in the Northwest Territories?

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

We do have what we inherited assessments. We have also, like Cantung, we’re looking at increasing the amount of securities, and that process is going to require time. There are some discrepancies, as the Member has pointed out, and we are very conscious about making sure that we have the proper securities. In the case with the Cantung Mine, we’re in discussion. The federal government is still part of this process and if that mine fails then there will be discussions with the site reverting to a federal site.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final, short supplementary, Ms. Bisaro.

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thanks to the Minister. It is gratifying to know that we may be able to offload this, since I don’t think it’s our responsibility if push comes to shove.

I’m trying to determine for assessments, in general, where we’re at in terms of assessments for all the developments for which GNWT is now responsible. Have they been done, and if they are not done, when do we expect that we will have an assessment of the liabilities that we are responsible for?

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

We have about $570 million that we hold in securities. That number has gone up from initially it was about $500 million. As we are getting into this business, there are constant reviews being done and if there are discrepancies then we work through the regulatory process to address those.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Mr. Dolynny.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Standing Committee on Government Operations did an extensive review on Bill 24, An Act to Amend the Liquor Act, and committee submitted additional recommendations during the review and received a response from Minister Miltenberger on September 5, 2014. The GNWT responses were finally granted approval from the department to be tabled in this House on October 2, 2015, and as we heard today, I’d like to address some of these outstanding recommendations with the Minister of Finance. We only have a day and a half.

In some provinces the proceeds of crime are used to pay for policing. It was felt then and now that using proceeds from crime to fund community initiatives such as a community safety strategy would deal with our territory’s bootlegging issues. The Minister did not concur.

Has the Minister had any second thoughts in his early response and is he willing to at least consider such an option?

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. The Minister of Finance, Mr. Miltenberger.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Of course, we’re always prepared to revisit decisions. This is not an issue where there is one clear answer and it’s right or wrong. It’s the best way to do things. So we’re always interested in having that discussion.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

The reporting of bootlegging in communities is very problematic for many reasons. Sometimes not knowing the number…(inaudible)… elders, sometimes there’s little access to phones and computers and, in most cases, just plain fear. Because of the lack of police services in many of our communities, committee suggested a need for better reporting other than Crime Stoppers, suggesting a more local anonymous tip program or a government services officer who can lodge a complaint on behalf of a resident or elder. Again, the Minister did not concur.

Has the Minister reconsidered and improved the better ways to keep safety and anonymity in mind? Thank you.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you. The major concern was, of course, if a complaint was raised with a government service officer who would then file, then they would become party to an action that they may not in fact know that much about or may be caught up in an illegal proceedings that would make their job very, very difficult. So, are there ways to better be able to report? I think with new technologies, for example, coming down the valley if we have every community on fibre optic links and there’s better communications that people can phone. We had Safer Neighbourhoods legislation two Assemblies ago and there was an enormous debate over these anonymous lines, rat lines they were called and how they would work and how would you respond and how do you get people in and how do you deal with all the related issues tied to that type of approach.

So, is there need for further discussion? Clearly. We haven’t bent the curve on bootlegging and alcohol abuse, but we have to consider some of those other factors too. Thank you.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you. Committee heard loud and clear that the single biggest points of access for alcohol in entering the small communities would be non-screening at our northern airports. Committee did not accept the GNWT’s response that nothing could be done and strongly encourage our DOT, Finance and Justice to work together with our federal partners to develop such authority for search and seizure of illegal alcohol transported in our communities.

Has the Minister made any progress on this action? Thank you.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you. We continue to work with communities in terms of controlling the alcohol and the alcohol abuse. In some of the larger communities it becomes a very consuming part of the occupation of policing, but we do not have any people that police airports on a regular basis that have that authority to search and seize other than the RCMP if they’re there and are doing it through part of their regular business. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Final, short supplementary, Mr. Dolynny.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Committee proposed to the Minister to allocate a percentage of government liquor profits from the Liquor Revolving Fund to addictions and awareness treatment. This action was equally supported by the chief coroner. As was put by committee, the perception of people is that the GNWT puts liquor profits ahead of concerns with public welfare.

Again, has the Minister rethought his approach to supporting targeted funding? Thank you.

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you. This is a long-standing issue as well. The health budget is the largest budget in the territorial government and it’s the fastest growing. We put in millions, tens of millions of dollars a year in dealing with a lot of the damages caused by alcohol and alcohol abuse. So from a political optics point of view, I know the discussion has been there that we should take the money from liquor proceedings, fines and those types of things, to put them towards a special fund. That discussion is going to be ongoing, but at this point the money goes into consolidated general revenue and we continue to spend, as this House will know from the number of supplementary appropriations we do for health, significant amounts of our money on health care, most of it tied or a good chunk of it tied to the issues related to alcohol abuse. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. The Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Just following up on my Member’s statement on homelessness in the NWT communities, my questions are for the Minister of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Shelter is a critical need in the hierarchy of needs of people for them to lead productive lives. At the community level we are confronted with some realities. One of them, of course, is homelessness, and in some communities there are program initiatives to provide lunch and trying to help out people as best as we can.

So the question I have is: Is there any funding under the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation homelessness support program provided to any communities in the Deh Cho to combat homelessness in 2014-15? What about for the 2015-16? Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. The Minister responsible for the NWT Housing Corporation, Mr. McLeod.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would have to confirm if there were any applications received from the Member’s constituency and I will do that and I will share those with the Member. Just offhand I do know that we have helped, we have given money to a lot of those that have applied from across the Northwest Territories. As for the specific breakdown, I don’t have those with me right now, but I will get those and share them with the Member. Thank you.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Recently the community of Fort Providence, the leader had recognized that there needs to be something done with homelessness. So he had proposed to the Minister’s office, the department, of seeking assistance in terms of purchasing woodstoves and, at the same time, lumber to establish tent frames and I wanted to see if the Minister could explain to the community why that proposal was rejected. Mahsi.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you. When you talk about homelessness in the community, we have 2,400 public housing units across the Northwest Territories. All we ask people to do is honour the commitment that they’ve made to pay their rent and they won’t be evicted. In some cases we do have people who are evicted and they’re looking for other opportunities to try and house themselves.

As far as the Member’s specific, I don’t recall seeing a request for lumber. I do know that I replied to a letter from the chief of Fort Providence. As far as a request for the lumber goes, I’m not sure if it came from his original correspondence to us, but again, I will follow up on that and see if there was a specific request for lumber and, again, through many of the programs we offered, I’m not sure if there are opportunities there for lumber to be supplied to the community. Thank you.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

One of the dilemmas that we have is that when it comes to providing housing to homeless people, usually a person that’s a bachelor that doesn’t have any children is perhaps 60 years old. Another person who likely has children equally gets the priority and in some instances in communities we have people that are basically fending for themselves and couch surfing.

How can the department assist those people in finding housing or shelter, especially those who are falling between the cracks and sometimes are basically left homeless? Mahsi.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Again, we operate a number of public housing units across the Northwest Territories. People get evicted for different reasons and they have to work out an agreement to repay their arrears, if there are any, to get back into public housing, and if they honour that then they would get on the waiting list and possibly back into public housing. However, in some cases where there are folks out in the Territories who don’t meet those commitments that they’ve made, we do have a pilot project that we’re starting, called Northern Pathways to Housing, and it’s four communities we’re piloting the project in right now. We will provide a unit in that particular community or smaller communities across the Northwest Territories. We will work with a local group, local government, local group to watch over the unit for us and we’ll enter into an agreement with them. We’re early in it. Right now we do have four communities that are getting this program off the ground. Depending on the success of this program, there’s a possibility that it could be expanded to include more communities in the Northwest Territories because we are hearing that in many of the communities, those that have been evicted from public housing are having a difficult time finding places to sleep. So this is one of the ways that we are going to try and address that challenge. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Time for oral questions has expired. Mr. Hawkins.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to return to item 7, oral questions, so I can have an oral question. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent denied

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Item 8, written questions. Item 9, returns to written questions. Item 10, replies to opening address. Mr. Bromley.

Mr. Bromley’s Reply
Replies to Opening Address

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the sessional statement, the Premier asked three questions: Do we have the right vision? Can it be improved? What else can we do to make it a reality?

Those are big questions. I’d like to address at least some material around those. As far as the vision goes, the problem is it’s typically generic and can be interpreted in so many ways. Many say that this government lacks vision and though we have a brief vision statement that I don’t disagree with at all, I have to agree that we seem somehow to lack vision.

We talk about the need for inspiration and motivation here. For me, it’s something along the lines of I see our vision as healthy families and communities with a fully restored and healthy land with each of our residents supported in their pursuit of meaningful lives and achieving their full potential.

We face many challenges, indeed: poverty, lack of services, accelerating climate change, benefits of resource extraction going only to a few, unemployment and the need for local employment opportunities so people don’t have to leave their home communities, social measures, we know about mental health and addictions, diabetes and so on, the chronic diseases, physical activity levels, suicide and criminal activity and so on. The last time I looked, the income gap here in the Northwest Territories was the largest in the country – the poorest 20 percent, the richest 20 percent – and no indication that we are addressing that.

Our housing waiting lists grow longer and longer and our cost of living increases steadily. If not for millions of dollars in subsidies, our energy costs alone for families and homeowners would be even more unaffordable than they are, but ongoing, ever-increasing subsidies are really doing in our fiscal health and ability to efficiently provide services.

Certainly jobs in our small communities are scarce. We need an opportunity for people to find jobs in their home communities. This government continues to build very expensive roads for industry under the auspices of economic development. This is wrong and a misdirection of scarce financial resources. It is done with the hope that it works and is motivated politically through federal influence, rather than based on any real analysis, and again, such an approach is not serving us well.

Our subsidies to multi-nationals through crude infrastructure is wrong-headed and puts us into the hole financially with very little return and often more cost without the means to support them. Large costly infrastructure to support dreams and megaprojects just benefits shareholders far away and does little to the people of the North other than short-term, temporary jobs and part-time work. “Better than nothing” some people say, but is that the approach we want? Are we satisfied with crumbs rather than an intelligent locally appropriate and capacity-building investment in localized economic development that provides for meaningful and long-term jobs for people in their community rather than far away?

The Inuvik-Tuk Highway is a good example. Part-time seasonal jobs for a few years for a piece of infrastructure that industry has expressed no interest in that is hugely expensive, that is posted as economic development, a clear farce and possibly the opposite because it will be a very expensive piece of infrastructure to maintain, if not impossible in the face of climate change.

In contrast, think of the extraordinary benefits of a similar scale investment in moving the community of Tuk to safe ground, those willing to. I understand, Mr. Speaker, that that is a sad reality for people to face and perhaps it will not be done.

As an example, building wind generation in the Storm Hills for Inuvik, done with largely local resources, or addressing the billions of dollars in infrastructure damage anticipated over the next decade with permafrost thaw.

Continuing to support fossil fuel extraction when the science says it will only contribute to threatening human civilization from climate change is also a misuse of scarce government dollars and capacity. We say we agree with the science. It is leaving stranded assets and exacerbating our fiscal status by again wasting significant dollars, moving around the globe making promises to anybody about free access to these damaging resources. When we have dug ourselves into a deep hole, the first step is always stop digging and then figure out how to get out of it.

Our Greenhouse Gas Strategy recognizes the science and explicitly acknowledges that we must transform our economy so it is no longer dependent on fossil fuels. Along with the decision to act consistent with this requirement comes many opportunities for local economic development in every community. We must start requiring the use and development of renewable energy by territorial industry which, as in the case of Diavik Diamond Mine, as the Minister mentioned in the past, will place them at a competitive advantage.

Education, our Aboriginal graduation rates seem to be stuck mired in the 50 to 55 percent range and this is totally unacceptable to everybody in the House I know. Our kids in small communities are entering school with delayed development issues, again something that is really intolerable. We are doing some good work with a new emphasis on self-regulation, but the single biggest opportunity we have, as I just heard my colleague mention, is early childhood development, the first three years of life when the brain is growing and life-long capacities are being established. Those capacities enable multi-language development, life-long health, life-long avoidance of crime and addictions and they say investment in early childhood development is actually the greatest single economic development investment that we can make.

I’m not saying we have been inactive, Mr. Speaker. We have an Anti-Poverty Action Plan, wellness court in Yellowknife, a minimum wage increase and GNWT energy management. We have worked on education infrastructure and other infrastructure, worked on catching up on our maintenance deficit, mental health legislation, energy efficiency and government operations and so on. Now, albeit belatedly, we are looking at expressions of interest for 10 megawatts of renewable energy. We are finally starting to get there. There are many others that I’m not able to mention here. Yet there remains a huge opportunity for improvement in almost every area.

As I have probably mentioned before, we need to consider how we do things as much as what we actually do. We can be confident that we have non-renewable resources like minerals and plenty of them and there will always be interest in developing them when global economic conditions are strong. What would be a comprehensive response to our extreme income disparity and poverty, our serious environmental issues, our low population and migrant workers from afar, a high and persistent need for housing support, our multi-generational social issues of addictions, cultural loss and so on?

Here I shift from building into these challenges – we all understand them – and seeing what a new approach could be. The first aspect of that is we need a holistic shift in our thinking and focus. We need to focus on triple bottom line, full-cost accounting, prevention first, dealing with the basics that enables our potential in all of these areas. We need to shift away from the megaprojects and multinational stakeholders and towards serving the local needs and establishing strong local economies as foundations on which to build capacity, self-sufficiency and entrepreneurship, and on which communities can then seek out the non-renewable resource development that they want to see.

This can be done in a practical way by simply serving the immediate needs of Northerners. That is the basic needs: jobs, food, shelter, health, art and entertainment, all of which can be, to some degree, and often largely, derived from local and largely renewable sources. We need to localize our economies to provide the economic foundation on which communities can choose to participate in resource protection and the management of our land.

Our huge subsidy budget, and we’re talking hundreds of millions of dollars, used to support people through income assistance and so on, and communities through income support, energy and housing subsidies and so on can be used much more effectively to contribute to this transformation in ways that resolve issues rather than simply maintain people in a depressed economic and social state.

In such an approach, early returns and achievements can be found through emphasizing, first of all:

• Local food production and processing. We still await our agriculture strategy after my modest eight years in politics.

• Local energy production, and there are lots of examples of that. Again, we need the policies that enable that.

• Sourcing local building materials for local projects to the extent doable.

• Breaking down territorial infrastructure projects to allow local contractors to take on certain aspects of the projects, something, again, we’ve talked about but we don’t seem to get on with.

• Local political employment and decision-making.

• Fostering a sense of community cooperation and collaboration amongst residents and communities.

How would we deal with some of the specific issues under this approach? Let’s start with housing. We know that’s a big one.

Housing units can be very modest in size. They can be small, and they can be in multi-unit buildings, as we are now doing, with common spaces to promote community benefits to residents, and these, I’m thinking of entertainment spaces and even kitchen spaces, communal kitchen spaces, super insulated and energy efficient, locally built, locally built even if time to build them needs to be relaxed from our normal expectations of a fast schedule, a one-season schedule, and initial costs may be a bit higher, but the benefits are improved local skills, local knowledge, and improved local knowledge for efficient and effective maintenance of those same structures, and of course, Housing First needs to be implemented so that people can start with a roof over their head, and again, we need to complement that with community pairings of families and Housing First clients to help provide such supports.

What about the issues of income? What are some alternatives to income assistance? Again, a number of us have made statements on consideration of basic income guarantees. I think it offers some real benefits through reduced administrative costs and complaints and much more reliability in the system. In fact, studies have shown that whenever they’ve tested these things, the benefits have been dramatic and very long lasting. We need to determine community living wage with known standardized processes, and that’s becoming well established now, and promote the living wage programs amongst employers who are able to adopt that policy, and perhaps recognize the need for youth wages for those who are just entering the market. For able-bodied, unemployed housing clients, we need to provide a range of opportunities to work and require some participation having given them a selection of opportunities. It might be 10 hours of work in the community garden, providing a cord of wood a week to the distributed energy facility in the community, perhaps some time doing housing maintenance work or whatever. This, of course, would not only be productive work, it would instill a sense of pride, hone skills and, indeed, likely sponsor a spirit of entrepreneurship when people recognize these skills are important and valued.

Governance. We have some real opportunities in strengthening our community governments and local decision-making. We have a start through some of our MACA program, but again, we need to increase our work to raise capacity but also shift to a collaborative, cooperative, sustainable community theme that involves community members more with obvious returns. At the territorial level, politicians need to listen to people, share decision-making and improve transparency, and perhaps we’ll hear more about that.

Education. Again, our single biggest opportunity is significantly enhanced effort on early childhood development needs to be NWT wide and start with small communities. The universal child care is a program that if well-conceived and implemented would be an important opportunity for improvement. It requires well-trained early childhood educators, and we need to bring our Aurora College programs up to standard for that. Understanding of play-based learning and quality spaces for program delivery. Again, this has been recognized as the biggest opportunity to invest in economic development.

The resolution of trauma. Because of our history of residential schools and high crime rates and suicide and so on, our people face many serious realities and experienced trauma that affects them throughout their lives. Along with early childhood development, there are amazing advances happening in the resolution of trauma that people carry often unconsciously but often also very obvious. There is much history to this and it has resulted in debilitation and also multi-generation impacts. The first approach, of course, is to prevent to the extent possible, and I think early childhood development, the extension of our health family programs through communities and so on are going to help with that. But again, the major advancements in treatment and resolution of trauma issues is something this government needs to get on top of and progressively go after. Again, results freeing up our potential, dealing with our issues in a holistic way and always with prevention at the forefront.

We are indeed showing interest in these approaches and we’re playing around the edges of them, but we seem to have unbounded tolerance for spending big bucks with little return and we have little will to really commit and shift resources toward these new approaches so that we can really progress and advance and realize the opportunities that we have. Again, these are real with real potential, and I remain an optimist that our government will get in gear and move on these progressive actions, starting with the 18th Assembly, and recognition that the old ways are not working. We know that our biggest resource, as my colleague from the Sahtu has mentioned here, is our people, and I remain convinced that that’s true, but we need to provide the support and enabling structures to make sure that they can realize their full potential and contribute to these holistic solutions.

On that, I will finish.

Mr. Bromley’s Reply
Replies to Opening Address

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Ms. Bisaro.

Ms. Bisaro’s Reply
Replies to Opening Address

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s my next to last opportunity to address this House. My almost last chance to say what I want, how I want, with no worries of repercussions. Parliamentarians are so lucky to have the privilege we do in regard to speaking in the House. It seems a bit strange that I will not be back in this Chamber after tomorrow except as a visitor, but you should all know I am quite comfortable with that. I’ve made no secret that I am looking forward to retirement, and I will definitely not miss the 14-hour session days.

So I want to subject you all to a look back to my perspective on the good, the bad and the ugly from my time as an MLA, well maybe not the ugly. But where to start on my retrospective? There have been many positive moments and events, but I’d be lying if I did not also say that there have been times when this job and all that it entails has had a negative impact on me and on the Assembly.

I find it interesting that four years ago as the 16th Assembly was closing, I said this, “It’s been an interesting four years to say the least. I came to start this new job full of optimism and hope. I thoroughly enjoyed the strategic planning session and came away from that feeling positive, ready to tackle all the problems of the NWT and government. There certainly have been ups and downs during this Assembly’s life and I may not be so optimistic and positive today, but in general it’s been an enjoyable experience.” It’s very interesting to me that I feel much the same today after eight years.

I’d like to think that I’ve made a difference in my time here, whether it’s been small or large depends on the observer. So, what are the things I would change if I could? What are the negatives that I mentioned? Foremost and top of mind has to be the different understandings of consensus government by the executive and Regular Members. Not long ago I was frustrated enough to write an e-mail to the Premier, entitled “Are we still a consensus government?” Many decisions by Cabinet are made and publicized without any or adequate opportunity for Regular Members to provide input. Admittedly, we elect Cabinet Members to manage and oversee the work of government, but Regular Members deserve to be consulted enough in advance so that any input will actually have some impact.

An example: a brief comment in committee one day from a Minister that Cabinet would be considering a large subsidy for NTPC due to low water to a press release the next day advising it was a done deal. Not my idea of consensus.

As I wrote to the Premier last month, “Cabinet may not consider these omissions a big deal, but it clearly demonstrates the lack of respect for Regular Members that they feel. It clearly demonstrates the low regard Cabinet has for us as we go about our jobs. It says to me, “don’t worry, boys and girls, the government is in good hands, you don’t have to worry about a thing, we’ll take care of everything for you.” That’s a bit caustic perhaps. I was a little frustrated at the time, as you can imagine, but it conveys the message that if Cabinet wants to live the true spirit of consensus, they need to work harder at it. Consensus government is only as good as the actions of the people using it. Over the last year and a half, I’ve come to feel that Cabinet has little interest in real consultation.

Another negative: in regard to legislation, two things: At the start of this and the 16th Assembly, Regular Members were asked to provide our priorities for legislative change and then all input seems to be ignored. I’ve also been disappointed with the glacial pace of government for amending of old and implementing of new legislation. There have been a couple of major pieces of legislation in government over four years, but in my mind, other than that, most bills that have come forward have been fixes, small bits, when I feel that there is so much real work on legislation that’s been left undone.

Talking of pace, the amount of time required to get a response on an inquiry from an MLA to a Minister could definitely be better. True, it’s as good as the Minister and his or her staff, but in general it takes far too long to get an answer on an inquiry on a constituent’s behalf and it’s often when the matter is seen as urgent by the constituent and doesn’t seem to be seen that way by the Minister.

Many times, committees and Members have asked the government to review all policies for conflicts between departments. The impacts that the conflicting policies have on our residents are huge, but we have yet to see any real change which will have an impact on the day-to-day lives of NWT residents. It is imperative that the government do that government-wide analysis on policies and amend policies accordingly.

On a personal note, there have been a number of issues that I have personally pursued or supported during my time here, issues that I did not see finished or accomplished either wholly or in part, and issues, which other Members championed, which I supported, but did not come to fruition. 911. I fully hoped that in the 17th Assembly, now it’s going to be the 18th, but I fully hoped in the 17th Assembly that we would see the establishment of 911 in the NWT and it’s been rather frustrating for me that we continue to see I guess it’s foot dragging or putting up of blocks on the part of the government to the establishment of 911. It should have happened in Yellowknife by now.

Access to information and protection of privacy legislation for municipalities is something else which should have happened by now. It has been called for by the Information and Privacy Commissioner for probably 10 years now, and yet, again, the government does not seem to want to move forward on it. We’ve done investigations, we’ve consulted I think probably several times now, and nothing. Again, I have to say that it is something that should have happened over the last eight years and yet it has not.

A standalone campus for Yellowknife for Aurora College. This is something which is desperately needed. It is something which all Yellowknife Members have spoken of in the last eight years and certainly well before that, but it is something which has yet to make its way to the capital budget. It doesn’t seem to be an urgent matter for anybody on the Executive because they’re the ones who present us with the capital budget and I sincerely regret that we weren’t able to get that project into the budget to get it at least on its way.

Homelessness. I pushed homelessness quite a bit for a period of time and I thank Mr. Nadli for speaking about homelessness today because it is an issue and it is increasing in communities outside Yellowknife. It’s definitely an issue here in my home community, but it’s an issue in other communities, as well, and I don’t think that there is enough of a focus from government on dealing with homelessness. It’s a housing issue; it’s an income support issue; it’s a health issue; it basically cuts across all departments because people are homeless for any number of reasons. It is something that needs to be addressed.

An ombudsman. I am sincerely sorry that we did not get an ombudsman act legislation put forward in this 17th Assembly. It is something which I firmly believe is necessary. I know the government says that there are lots of appeal boards, there are lots of opportunities for somebody to appeal, that you can go to court. I’ve said many times that’s not enough. We need to establish legislation for an ombudsman office and we need to get it established soon. I hope the provision of a draft Ombudsman Act to the Minister of Justice will enable the Minister of Justice in the 18th Assembly to bring forward that legislation as the first piece of legislation in that Assembly.

This is not something that’s reared its ugly head too much in the 17th Assembly, but in the 16th Assembly we had a huge, huge fight over supplementary health benefits and in the end not much changed, but we still have no supplementary health benefit coverage for some of our residents. They’ve been referenced as the working poor, a term that I hate, but we do not have all of our residents eligible for supplementary health benefits.

A hotel tax. That’s something else which I thought was fairly simple to establish. It didn’t have to be a change to legislation even. It could be something that could be set up or it could be a simple legislation to just apply to municipalities that wanted it. Again, we’ve investigated that I think to the nth degree and it has yet to come to fruition. It doesn’t have to be mandated for all communities, but for those communities that want it. Yellowknife wants to advance their tourism industry. Yellowknife wants to use the funding from a hotel tax to advance their tourism, to advance their conference industry and the opportunity has not been given to them.

A fairer policy on student housing for Aurora College. I think all of us, as Members, have probably heard from somebody at Aurora College, particularly here in Yellowknife, who have had difficulties with student housing. I pushed to get a policy amended. The policy was evaluated by the college and they came back and said that everything was okay, and I really regret that we could not have established a fairer policy for student housing for students in Yellowknife going to Aurora College.

A lack of greater provisions of housing for seniors and residents in transition from homelessness to their own home. We definitely need, in these two areas, as I spoke in my statement today, we need housing in a number of areas and we need housing in general across all of the Territories. Here in Yellowknife, the seniors’ housing situation is pretty desperate. Here in Yellowknife the transition housing situation is pretty desperate and I regret that we weren’t able to put the infrastructure in place or to put something in place to allow these people to go from homelessness to transition housing to get themselves established and then from transition housing to get into their own home, or seniors who need to go from their own home to supported living or to independent living or perhaps to extended care. It is something which has been talked about a long time but we haven’t, unfortunately, seen the advances we should, particularly here in my home community.

I am very regretful that we did not end up with a better formula for funding for inclusive schooling. There was a review, albeit I have to grant the department kudos for holding a review. After all the work that was done, after all the input that they got, they said, “No, we’re going to stay with what we have,” and it unfortunately does not fund education boards as it should in terms of students that are being inclusive schooled. Particularly the magnet communities, and Yellowknife is a magnet community. We have services here that don’t exist in other communities, so people with disabled students or students who are intellectually challenged bring their children here and we have people moving to this city to take advantage of the services here and to take advantage of the schools here and yet the magnet schools and magnet communities are funded to the same level as any school anywhere in the territory and it’s unfair. It’s something which I’m really regretful we weren’t able to change.

The amount of action we’ve had on renewable energy projects, in my mind, is regrettable. In eight years I expected we would have a major energy project, something like a community biomass heat and electrical system somewhere in one of our communities in the territory. I think it was seven years ago we had a delegation that went over to Europe and came back and said, “These things are all over Europe,” and I thought, oh great. Yes, we can do it here. No, it hasn’t happened and we are still talking about projects. I admit, yes, there’s a little bit of progress, but by now we should have had a major energy project. We all know the cost of our power is pretty horrendous and it has a huge impact on our cost of living.

I need to talk about land claims. There’s an absolute need to settle our land claims and I don’t imagine anybody in this House would disagree, but it is beginning to impact our economy. It’s beginning to impact our governance and it’s something which definitely needs to be done sooner rather than later. A tough job, but it needs to be done.

I must also comment on climate change and the lack of action that we’ve taken on climate change in recognizing that climate change is an issue and recognizing that we need to put money into it and in recognizing it is a policy issue that we have to take everything we do and look at it in the light of climate change. We’re not doing that, I don’t believe.

So, some of those things are big, some of them are little, and I regret that they didn’t get accomplished, but I hope somebody in the 18th Assembly will take up each and every one of those and as, Mr. Speaker, you would say, “get ‘er done.”

Mr. Speaker, I have deplored the lack of effectiveness of Regular Members of Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning in this 17th Assembly. We can accomplish so much through cohesiveness and support of each other, but it was not to be in this Assembly. But, being the optimist that I am, I hope that the 18th Assembly Priorities and Planning committee can wield the power that they have in an effective manner and for the betterment of our residents and our territory.

A few words of advice to the next Assembly: please take more time when setting up standing committees. The division of committee work amongst Regular Members was not evenly done in the 17th and some Members felt the strain of that. I know it impacted my work and my attitude of my colleagues.

But enough of the negative; it’s not been all bad. There were a number of issues that I pursued and I have a good sense of accomplishment about those. First and foremost for me is the Donation of Food Act. It was a private member’s bill that I brought forward in the 16th. I really had no idea what I was doing. I was really new at the game, but with the help of staff and with the help of my colleagues, we established the Donation of Food Act which was pretty much the “let’s get going” for the Food Rescue Program which operates here in Yellowknife and it had a huge impact on them. I have no idea now how many hundreds of thousands of tons of food we’ve saved from the landfill, but it’s a lot.

The NEBS legislation was another positive for me. In 2007 when I was campaigning, I stopped at the door of Mr. Dennis Adams and sort of said, you know, the usual, “Well, I’m campaigning and have you got any issues and what can I do for you and I want your vote,” and he said, “Yes, there is something you can do for me.” He, at that time, was the executive director for NEBS. “You can get legislation for us that’s going to take us out of the situation that we’re in.” I said, “Oh sure, fine. I’ll work on that.” Well, it took us until – where are we, 2015 – from 2007 to 2015, but it’s done, Mr. Speaker, and it is an excellent piece of legislation and I want to thank the members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations for the work they did. The same for the committee in Nunavut who did the same work and it ended up being a very long process but I think we came out with a very good piece of legislation.

I’m quite proud of the fact that I pushed the 16th Assembly to establish Caucus Protocols and Conventions. They have shaped how we work, how we govern ourselves, how Caucus works and how consensus kind of works. Consensus is a very strange animal. It helps that we have these guidelines to move us along. They are guidelines, right, so we don’t always obey them. But consensus, our consensus, is a work in progress and I hope that it continues to develop protocols and conventions as things crop up.

I’m very happy that we finally, and we’ve now just had a second set of amendments to the Motor Vehicles Act with respect to distracted driving. I feel extremely strongly that we have a major portion of our population who don’t yet realize the dangers in driving and texting, and I urge all Members, if you ever see anybody texting and driving, pull them over and tell them to stop. They are accidents waiting to happen and we are lucky we haven’t had anybody killed because of it – yet. So I’m very pleased that we were able to get… Initially the act was changed to put in fines and then just recently we’ve increased those fines and added suspensions, as well, so that’s awesome. I’m very glad for that.

I’m pleased that I was able to take a small part in establishing the Anti-Poverty Action Plan. The Anti-Poverty Coalition enlisted me to present their petition to the Premier in the 16th Assembly. I would have been happier if we had had anti-poverty legislation, but the fact that we have an Anti-Poverty Action Plan and that we’re getting updates on that, I’m very pleased with that. We’re started down the right road. I would hope that legislation would be the next step.

The Child and Family Services Act: that consultation when we reviewed that act and the consultation for the Mental Health Act. Both those consultations were probably highlights in terms of bills and reports that I was involved in. They were both extremely involved. They were both really quite emotionally draining because we were talking about people’s lives, but I’m very pleased that we were able to get excellent recommendations to the Child and Family Services Act, some of which have happened. Lots more needs to be done, but we’ve had some take place, and the Mental Health Act, which we’re going to be discussing later, is going to be a huge improvement on the Mental Health Act that we have at the moment. So I was very happy to be part of those.

The establishment of the Order of the NWT… It was a great ceremony today and we had great recipients today and, for me, I was pushed by a constituent to bring that forward and I was pushed, probably three or four times; every three or four months I’d get this e-mail or question, “Where’s it at, where’s it at?” So I took it to Caucus, and Caucus, in their wisdom, decided this was a good thing that we should do. It has now been established and it is an excellent addition to the awards that we have within our territory.

Devolution, how could I forget devolution? That we have devolution is an excellent accomplishment and I supported it and I have to give kudos to the Premier and his staff who managed to get everybody on board to get devolution to happen.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, it’s been my honour to represent the constituents of Frame Lake these past eight years. The constituents’ concerns that regularly came to my office fall into four categories and I’m sure it’s pretty much the same for all of us: their health, social services, housing, and income support, and being able to help people with those kinds of problems is very gratifying. I very much enjoyed that part of being an MLA. I very much enjoy being able to help people to fix their problems, sometimes. We run up against roadblocks quite often and it goes back to the policies which inhibit us from helping people as opposed to assisting us to help them.

Mr. Speaker, I like watching people – and goodness knows there’s lots to watch here – in committees and hearings, in the House. The relationships that develop here, or don’t, are quite fascinating. I appreciate the friendships and relationships I’ve made during my time here. I appreciate the opportunities I’ve had to travel our beautiful territory to get to know it better and to meet many of our people, as Mr. Yakeleya would say.

I wish each of you in this House success in your upcoming job interview. You need to know that I will be watching with interest on election night to see how you do. Thank you to the people of the NWT for letting me have such a great last job before I retire. Thank you to the Members of this and the 16th Assemblies for your support, your counsel and your friendship. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Ms. Bisaro’s Reply
Replies to Opening Address

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. Mr. Moses.

Mr. Moses’ Reply
Replies to Opening Address

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I understand, you can take as much time as you want to speak to anything you want to. I will reply to the opening address. I know this is the final day in the 17th Assembly. I just want to take this opportunity to recognize two Members in the 17th Legislative Assembly who made my time as a first-time Member very enjoyable, in most cases, I guess you could say, and help me become a better Member throughout the four years, and they are Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro.

Over the four years they have definitely been educators, not only to myself but to all Members of this Legislative Assembly. They have been role models, mentors and definitely leaders in this House and committee rooms, in Caucus. I thank them for asking the tough questions. I know sometimes it is a pretty daunting task on some late nights asking the tough questions, but those are tough questions Members need to know so we better understand creating legislation, putting programs, initiatives and action plans together for the people of the Northwest Territories.

All of these educators, mentors and role models have demonstrated this through their dedication, commitment and hard work to the work that is done in the walls of this legislative building, Mr. Speaker.

I would also like to say that they have been excellent ambassadors for the people that they serve and also the people of the Northwest Territories. Ms. Bisaro just mentioned action plans and initiatives that she has been very happy to be part of. I have helped with implementation and creation of these action plans, along with our government. I just have to say it was an honour to be able to work with Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro as it was my first term. I learned a lot. I learned about the hard work and dedication to make change and make things happen. I know they have been part of that. I know Ms. Bisaro, in her opening comments, asked a question about whether or not she did anything for the government. I can say to both Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro, you have made positive changes during the life of this government. I know outside of this government you will continue to do good work for people of the Northwest Territories. You helped me understand, as I said, hard work and dedication can actually make changes for the people that we serve in the Northwest Territories.

This is a special thank you for their hard work and commitment to the formation of the Mental Health Act, the Anti-Poverty Strategy and early childhood development. All of these things that came through during the life of the 17th Assembly. Without both of them being part of the equation, we wouldn’t see the end product that is definitely going to benefit the residents.

With that, I just wanted to use my reply to opening address to address two of our hard-working colleagues who will be retiring and having a good life after this government is done. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. Thank you, Mr. Bromley.

---Applause

Mr. Moses’ Reply
Replies to Opening Address

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. Item 11, petitions. Item 12, reports of standing and special committees. Mr. Dolynny.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to present to the Assembly, Committee Report 22-17(5), Standing Committee on Government Operations Report on the Review of the Office of the Northwest Territories Languages Commissioner Annual Reports for 2011-2012, 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Frame Lake, that Committee Report 22-17(5) be deemed read and printed in Hansard in its entirety. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Some Hon. Members

Question.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Question has been called. Motion is carried.

---Carried

It is the mandate of the Standing Committee on Government Operations to meet annually with the statutory officers of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories to publicly review the annual reports of the statutory officers.

The Northwest Territories Languages Commissioner’s Annual Report for 2011-2012

was prepared when Ms. Sarah Jerome was the Languages Commissioner for the Northwest Territories. Although the report was signed off on October 1, 2012, it was not tabled until June 4, 2014 [TD 106-17(5)], after Ms. Jerome’s term was completed on May 10, 2013. This prevented the Standing Committee on Government Operations from meeting with Ms. Jerome to discuss her report.

There was a vacancy in the office from May 10 to December 1, 2013, when Ms. Snookie Catholique’s term as the new Northwest Territories Languages Commissioner took effect. The annual report for 2012-2013, prepared in the absence of a Languages Commissioner, constitutes a summary review of the operational budget for the office.

The Office of the Northwest Territories Official Languages Commissioner Annual Report, 2013-2014 was signed off by Ms. Catholique on October 1, 2014, and tabled on November 5, 2014 [TD 181-17(5)]. The departure of the Languages Commissioner from office, coupled with logistical challenges presented by the demands on the standing committee’s schedule, rendered it impossible for the standing committee to meet with the Languages Commissioner to discuss the 2013-2014 report.

Owing to the unusual circumstances surrounding the production and tabling of these three reports, the standing committee opted not to conduct public reviews. The standing committee is confident that, with the appointment of a new Languages Commissioner, routine reviews of the annual reports of that office will resume during the 18th Legislative Assembly.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Mr. Dolynny.