This is page numbers 6827 – 6882 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 work.

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 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, building a strong and sustainable future for the Northwest Territories by strengthening our relationships with Aboriginal governments has been one of the key priorities of the 17th Legislative Assembly. For the past four years, our government has worked to strengthen our partnerships with Aboriginal governments.

That work started even before Cabinet was selected, when all Members met with Aboriginal leadership in Detah at the beginning of our term. Cabinet continued this engagement and made it a priority to reach out to our Aboriginal government partners to look for common ground and identify areas where we could make progress together.

In June 2012, I tabled Respect, Recognition, Responsibility: The Government of the Northwest Territories’ Approach to Engaging with Aboriginal Governments in this House. It is the foundation upon which our government’s actions and commitments to strengthening and renewing our relationships with our Aboriginal government partners have been built.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report that the Northwest Territories continues to lead the way nationally in establishing government-to-government relations with Aboriginal governments. During the life of this Assembly, our government has concluded separate intergovernmental cooperation agreements with the Tlicho Government, the Gwich’in Tribal Council, the Northwest Territory Metis Nation, the Akaitcho Dene First Nations, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Sahtu

Secretariat Incorporated and the Salt River First Nation.

Mr. Speaker, the 17th Assembly’s goal of a strong and sustainable future also depends on the successful conclusion of land, resources and self-government agreements. Our government has been focused on building a solid foundation by working effectively with our federal and Aboriginal partners to finalize Aboriginal rights agreements in all regions of the Northwest Territories.

With several sets of negotiations having reached significant milestones during the life of the 17th Legislative Assembly, we have seen firsthand how partners working together can achieve significant results.

The Deline Final Self-Government Agreement Act

was passed on March 12th of this year. In January 2014, the Acho Dene Koe Agreement-in-Principle on land and resources was signed and final agreement negotiations are well underway. Earlier this year I had the pleasure of signing, on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories, the Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle as well as the Northwest Territory Metis Nation Agreement-in-Principle on Land and Resources.

Mr. Speaker with the devolution of land, water and resource management responsibilities from Canada to the Northwest Territories in 2014, intergovernmental cooperation within the Northwest Territories has never been stronger.

Increased collaboration and engagement with Aboriginal governments continues to be important to government decision-making processes. We have seen this reflected in the two groundbreaking transboundary water agreements we have negotiated with the active participation of the Aboriginal governments during this Assembly. This approach was also used in developing legislation that directly affected Aboriginal Government interests, such as the collaborative approach to drafting the Wildlife Act.

A key aspect of the Devolution Agreement was the establishment of an Intergovernmental Council, which enables the Government of the Northwest Territories and Aboriginal governments who have signed on to devolution to collaborate on matters related to lands and resource management. The council allows Northwest Territories governments to share ideas and discuss common priorities and interests and will greatly benefit the Government of the Northwest Territories as it considers potential changes to lands and resources management in the Northwest Territories. This approach is unique in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, since devolution, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada has shared the resource revenues from public land in the Northwest Territories. This means tens of millions of dollars will stay in the Northwest Territories each year. To ensure that as many people as possible enjoy the benefits of devolution, our government has committed to sharing a portion of those revenues with participating Aboriginal governments.

I am pleased to say that in July of this year, $6.3 million was paid out to all Aboriginal government parties that signed on as part of the Devolution Resource Revenue Sharing Agreement. Nowhere else in Canada have resource revenues from public lands been offered to Aboriginal governments on this level. We are working to have all remaining Aboriginal governments sign on to devolution.

Mr. Speaker, the 17th Legislative Assembly has continually made it a priority to build and maintain respectful government-to-government relationships with Aboriginal governments. I believe that partnership and mutual respect is the key to success for our territory. Strong, effective and efficient governments are essential for helping Northerners achieve their social, environmental and economic goals. The Government of the Northwest Territories has made significant and meaningful partnerships with Aboriginal governments during the 17th Assembly that have resulted in positive outcomes. The foundation for working together has been solidly established by this government and this spirit of cooperation will continue to benefit all Northerners for years to come. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mr. Speaker, transportation infrastructure and services are important to our residents, communities, businesses and our future. I am pleased to provide an update on three key highway corridor initiatives in progress in the NWT.

In June the Department tabled Connecting Us,a 25-year Transportation Strategy focusing on all modes of transportation in the NWT and highlighting our transportation challenges and opportunities.

Three strategic priorities were identified including Capturing Opportunities, which refers to expanding the NWT transportation system. The Department is making significant progress under this new strategic priority with plans to increase and improve access in various parts of the territory by opening up three new all-weather corridors.

A Mackenzie Valley Highway running from Wrigley to the Arctic coast is a long-standing priority of the GNWT. The northernmost section of this project, the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway, continues to advance and will enter its third season of construction this winter.

The department has recently submitted a detailed business case to the Government of Canada for the next section of the Mackenzie Valley Highway, from Wrigley to Norman Wells. With funding approval from the federal government, the department’s next goal would be to begin constructing this section. Significant planning is already underway to prepare for this next step and the route will closely follow the existing winter road alignment where 38 permanent bridges are already in place.

Improved access into the Sahtu presents a significant opportunity to increase mobility and reduce the cost of living for Sahtu residents. By providing reliable access, industry exploration and development costs will be reduced, allowing us to tap into the rich petroleum reserves located in the region.

Both GNWT and the Tlicho Government have established the Tlicho Road Working Group which has been working together on studies related to the development of an all-weather road to Whati since 1999. The road would provide several benefits including eliminating problems experienced in the southern sections of existing winter road and extending access into the region. Increased access to the NICO mine project will increase investor confidence to continue developing the region’s economic potential. Work continues on the project to secure funding and advance environmental approvals for the project.

Mr. Speaker, the potential of improving access into the mineral-rich region of the Slave Geological Province and connecting to a deepwater port in western Nunavut holds significant possibilities for a strengthened, sustainable partnership with industry and our government partners. The region holds world-class deposits of base metals, precious metals, and diamonds and is a significant contributor to the NWT economy. Increased all-weather access would improve industry’s ability to operate successfully in the North.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard about the forecast in resource development activity over the next five to 15 years and its possible effect on the NWT economy. With a flat revenue outlook, the GNWT will be challenged to sustain programs and services or make capital investments in future years. Continuing to make strategic investments in infrastructure to support responsible development is one way our government can promote economic growth and prosperity for all residents.

These road corridors demonstrate NWT preparedness to capture opportunities to develop a sustainable economy and continue to improve access and reduce the cost of living to our residents.

The department is prepared to maintain the momentum on these corridor projects as we prepare for decisions that will be made by the transition to the 18th Legislative Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Michael Miltenberger

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I rise today to advise Members of this Assembly that our government will be signing a transboundary water management agreement with British Columbia for the shared waters of the Liard and Petitot basins.

This agreement, the second one to be signed with an upstream jurisdiction this year, is another step in ensuring the waters of the Northwest Territories remain clean, abundant and productive for all time.

Similar to the one signed with Alberta in March, this bilateral agreement with British Columbia was shaped by the input of Aboriginal governments in the Northwest Territories and incorporates many of the best principles and practices in water management today.

The bilateral agreement with Alberta covers the waters shared between Alberta and the Northwest Territories. British Columbia and Alberta are negotiating a similar bilateral agreement for their shared waters, including the Peace River.

The Northwest Territories - British Columbia Bilateral Water Management Agreement promotes a cooperative approach to the management of our shared water resources and establishes a framework for our governments to jointly maintain the integrity of our shared aquatic ecosystems.

The agreement addresses the concern of future upstream development in British Columbia as well as response to environmental emergencies and their potential effects on water quality, quantity and biological elements of our shared aquatic ecosystems.

Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of great importance to our residents because of our close ties to the land and water and the significant dependency on healthy aquatic systems for food security, travel and economic growth as well as mental, physical, cultural and spiritual well-being.

The agreement will be signed in Vancouver on October 13th.

I want to extend my congratulations and gratitude to the many people who worked so hard to finalize this agreement, including our negotiating team and Aboriginal governments who provided support and input into our objectives and approach to negotiations.

Mr. Speaker, as Members of the 17th Legislative Assembly, we can be proud of our achievements in safeguarding our water resources through the signing of bilateral water management agreements with both Alberta and British Columbia.

It will be up to the 18th Legislative Assembly to keep this momentum going and provide the encouragement and support needed to implement the signed agreements and sign similar agreements with Saskatchewan, Yukon and Nunavut. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Minister of Public Works and Services, Mr. Beaulieu.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Mr. Speaker, the cost of energy is one of the leading contributors to the high cost of living in the Northwest Territories. Wherever possible, our government has been seeking opportunities to pass savings to our residents, and today I can report that the ongoing low wholesale price for heating fuel and gasoline has made it possible for the Department of Public Works and Services to pass on savings to residents in two of our smaller communities.

Sixteen NWT communities receive essential fuel products through the department’s Fuel Services Program. On August 17, 2015, the fuel services division was able to lower the price of Lutselk’e gasoline by seven cents per litre, heating fuel by four cents per litre and diesel fuel by 13 cents a litre. In Tulita, heating fuel was lowered 10 cents a litre and diesel was lowered 18 cents a litre.

The other marine resupplied communities, Sachs Harbour, Paulatuk and Ulukhaktok, have not yet had their final prices calculated, but projections are that there will be price reductions in the range of four to 16 cents for heating fuel, 12 to 24 cents for diesel and two to 14 cents for gasoline by late October.

Our commitment to pass on savings through the Petroleum Products Program is evidenced by the price reductions we have achieved in the past year. In looking at gasoline prices in communities served by Public Works and Services, they have declined as much as 12 percent, with heating fuel prices declining as much as 21 percent compared to the prices this time last year. On average, the price of gasoline has dropped by 7 percent and the price for heating fuel has dropped by 9 percent over the past year.

While lower fuel prices have provided some relief from the high cost of living to residents, the Department of Public Works and Services is committed to improving energy awareness and the adoption of efficient technology and behaviours in support of our government’s vision of an environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories.

The fuel services division is a key function in the newly established energy activity within the Department of Public Works and Services. The energy activity is also actively engaged in identifying renewable and alternative fuels and energy solutions to better support the GNWT’s goals of energy efficiency, sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction.

Mr. Speaker, the fuel services division is committed to passing on cost savings on fuel products it provides wherever possible. We anticipate that with the present stability in the market price for fuel, the department will be able to pass savings on to the other communities that are resupplied by barge this year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Minister of Lands, Mr. R.C. McLeod.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, technology could be a game-changer for Inuvik’s economy. Due to its northern location and the frequent passes of satellites, Inuvik is becoming an attractive area for technological investment.

Inuvik is already home to the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility, with one Canadian-owned and two internationally-owned satellite antennas, and growth expected to increase in the coming years with the completion of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Line. This state-of-the-art telecommunications link will connect the Beaufort-Delta to southern Canada and is expected to attract additional business from around the world to Inuvik.

Inuvik has the potential to become the high-tech hub of the Northwest Territories. This government is committed to investing in infrastructure and building capacity that will lead to new partnerships, economic development and job opportunities. The new Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics is an important part of that investment.

Mr. Speaker, the planning phase for the centre in Inuvik is well underway and we are working with our partners at the Aurora Research Institute to officially open next spring. Last month three new employment opportunities for the centre were advertised and these positions will all be based in Inuvik.

The centre in Inuvik is part of the Information Shared Services Centre in the Department of Lands. Once opened, the centre will increase the level of geomatics support for our programs and services that support land, resource and infrastructure management through remote sensing technologies, as well as economic development initiatives.

For example, satellite imagery can be used to monitor sea ice conditions for shipping channels and off-shore oil and gas exploration. It can show changes in water levels over time, providing critical information into the feasibility of hydroelectric dams. It is useful to help monitor burn severity from forest fires, and that information could help determine future reforestation patterns, including crop predictions for the morel mushroom industry.

Staff at the centre will work with various partners, including Aboriginal and federal governments and researchers, to coordinate remote sensing research in the Arctic and Subarctic and to implement monitoring programs. Staff will also work closely with the Aurora Research Institute to enhance existing education programs and to develop educational opportunities to raise awareness about the technology industry. This is particularly important for youth in the NWT who may be considering future career opportunities and want to learn more about geomatics.

Mr. Speaker, with a flat revenue forecast for coming years and expected slow economic growth, the GNWT needs to be making efforts to contribute to growth and diversification in all communities and regions. Investments in infrastructure that will help make the NWT a more competitive and attractive place to do business is a key part of that.

The Western Arctic Centre for Geomatics is a great example of this government’s commitment to growing other promising sectors of our economy, in addition to the resource sector, through investment in technological infrastructure and partnerships that will help to create prosperity and benefits for NWT residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Minister of ITI, Mr. Ramsay.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, the high cost of living has been identified as a significant concern for Northwest Territories residents. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to addressing the many factors that contribute to this challenge, including the high cost of food in many communities.

One of the ways we are doing that is by supporting the production of local food. I am pleased to report that the Northwest Territories’ agriculture and small-scale foods sector has grown significantly in the last decade. With renewed interest and commitment toward re-establishing Behchoko’s community garden, I can share that all 33 communities in this territory now have established community gardens or greenhouse projects.

With the installation of greenhouses in our northern-most communities of Ulukhaktok, Sachs Harbour and Paulatuk, we have a small-scale food production sector stretching the length and breadth of the NWT.

The governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories have provided tremendous support and leadership for the expansion and support of this sector. This sector has also been championed by individuals and organizations committed to diversifying their own food baskets, increasing the availability of locally grown and produced food, and reducing the cost of healthy, freshly grown food alternatives in their communities.

As we approach the Thanksgiving weekend and the traditional harvest season, I would like to highlight some of the success stories.

Mr. Speaker, every Saturday throughout the summer, the Inuvik greenhouse hosted an arctic market that sold fresh, organic produce. The Inuvik greenhouse was the first community greenhouse in the Beaufort-Delta and remains the hub for agriculture above the Arctic Circle.

Tsiigehtchic, meanwhile, is one of the fastest growing gardening communities in the Beaufort-Delta. Thirty of this community’s 120 residents are currently growing food in raised garden beds outside of their homes.

Mr. Speaker, thanks in large part to the work and dedication of the Whiteman family, Norman Wells has held the unofficial title as the NWT’s potato capital for a number of years. This year, however, there is a challenger in the North Slave.

The community of Whati’s 40-by-70-foot community garden, under the care and guidance of community volunteers like Mr. Jim Stauffer, this summer yielded 1,013 pounds of potatoes. It was a phenomenal harvest that was shared, in the same collective spirit that it was grown, with more than 50 families and individuals in that community.

In Gameti this spring, a pilot project saw the purchase of 38 chicks for harvesting. I would like to recognize Mr. Judo Dominicata for his passion and leadership on this project, even housing the chickens in his own home while infrastructure was being completed at the community farm. Mr. Speaker, healthy, fresh chickens are being processed this fall, at approximately half the cost of a frozen chicken in Gameti. Community residents are looking forward to repeating this project on a larger scale next year and expanding it to include egg-laying chickens.

In August, residents of Fort Simpson enjoyed the second annual arts and crafts workshop and demonstration, and community trade fair, which was hosted by Industry, Tourism and Investment’s Deh Cho regional office. This year’s event also included gardening workshops on composting, animal husbandry and soil fertility.

Mr. Speaker, the Fisherman’s Wharf in Hay River remains a hot spot where residents and visitors can buy fresh northern produce from the likes of Ms. Helen Green and Ms. Jackie Milne. Jackie, of course, is also well-known to northern growers for her work with the Northern Farm Training Institute, envisioned as a vital component for an emerging NWT agriculture sector that will eventually contribute to home-grown products displacing the high volume of imported food into the NWT.

We are currently working with CanNor, the Territorial Farmers’ Association and the Town of Hay River to build a campus for the institute that, through training, will help to establish agricultural employment in farming, greenhouses and livestock, and related employment in value-added areas.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, Industry, Tourism and Investment’s North Slave regional office hosted an Agricultural Awareness and Planning Workshop earlier this week in Yellowknife. It was an opportunity for government program delivery and resource staff in the North Slave region to share their experiences, challenges and success, and to add to their skills and knowledge base to support even greater growth in this sector next year. Furthermore, it afforded us the opportunity to collaborate with the Yellowknife Garden Collective on October 3rd to also share this information and expertise with local gardening enthusiasts in a public event.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy, released in 2013, recognized much of the potential that I am highlighting for Members today. It identified the NWT agricultural sector as one in which investment, economic growth, employment and income opportunities for NWT residents all exist.

This summer, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment led community engagement visits to inform the development of an Agriculture Strategy that will guide future investments and initiatives in this area. At the appropriate time this afternoon, I will be tabling a report of what we learned.

This report will further demonstrate that the NWT’s agriculture and small-scale foods sector is growing and thriving and in a position to be a contributor to the sustainability, health and economic potential of NWT communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Item 3, Members’ statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognitions of visitors in the gallery. Honourable Premier.

Sorry. We have to do Members’ statements. I’m sorry. Anyway, item 3, Members’ statements.

---Laughter

Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, I will be recognizing people, many of whom are in the gallery today. It’s been a huge privilege to represent the people of Weledeh and the people of the Northwest Territories, people who have my utmost respect and good wishes.

I would like to thank you all for the faith you have placed in me to speak on your behalf for the past eight years. Being your MLA has brought me closer to people and their issues and the struggles we all engage in to provide for healthy families and communities.

While I came into this position through concerns for the land, of which I am a student, I was soon engaged in the health, social and economic concern of the people in communities and the relationships between all of these. It is the interconnectedness of all issues that I have tried to emphasize with my colleagues and that I have strived to have recognized in any solution we propose.

I thank all those Ministers and their staff who have helped with so many constituency issues. Their willingness to try to look deeper and seek systemic solutions to those issues that arise all too frequently is much appreciated.

I thank the government and my colleagues for supporting more in-depth looks into policy options that prevent problems and attack underlying issues, rather than just symptoms.

The people we surround ourselves with are critical to achieving our goals. I would like to recognize the amazing Weledeh constituents who I’ve had the pleasure of working with over the past eight years, particularly Mr. Craig Yeo for fully half of my years in office. They have all left their mark and contributed to my work as scribes and sounding boards and to compassionate attention to myriad constituency issues. For those seeking a great CA, by the way, in the 18th, I suggest they give Bob Wilson a call.

My office neighbour, MLA Bisaro, has been a supportive colleague through my eight years and provided a fine example of the high standards we all strive for.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot say enough about the NWT Legislative Assembly’s outstanding Clerk, research, corporate, library and security staff that have supported us in our work. Completely dedicated, patient and thorough, they have been inspirational and enabling, and I thank them for their exceptional service.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

My wife, Marianne, in the audience today, has made many sacrifices and contributions to support my work. It is with the greatest love and appreciation that I say thank you, Marianne. I could not have done this without you.

Mr. Speaker, to you and all my colleagues in this Assembly, I say a big mahsi and onwards.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the words of our deputy clerk, Mr. Schauerte, “day last.” When he starts our meetings he says that. Day last of the 17th Legislative Assembly and day last of 20 years in this Chamber for me.

Mr. Speaker, I’d like to also make some thank yous. To my colleagues first, who are the mosaic and the diversity of the Northwest Territories and who bring that to the work here that we do together in the Legislative Assembly, I’d like to thank them.

To my colleagues who served in the Cabinet during the 17th Legislative Assembly, thank you for the extra hours and time that you’ve put in. It has been a pleasure to work with you and you have been most attentive to concerns we bring to you.

I’d also, especially today, like to mention our Minister of Finance, Minister Miltenberger, who came to this Chamber at the same time as I did in 1995. He does look after the money, but he is also a man with a heart and I have gone to him on numerous occasions with stories of constituents that needed a little extra compassion from this government, and he has responded. He is a get ‘er done kind of guy. I’d like to thank him.

To yourself, Mr. Speaker, serving as your Deputy Speaker, thank you for that opportunity. You must have given me all of five minutes in that chair in the last four years.

To my two colleagues who will not be returning, Mr. Bromley – and I always tell him this in private and I’ll say it in public today – he thinks a little differently than I do and he made me think outside of the box and always brought a different perspective than what I might have normally concluded or gone to. I’d like to thank him.

To Ms. Bisaro, the other half of the women’s caucus – the caucus of two – for her professionalism. I would say without Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro’s contributions in committees, things would have been a lot different. They were extremely diligent. I always tell Ms. Bisaro that when she speaks, she speaks amazingly. She doesn’t have any filler words. It’s just solid material and I enjoyed listening to her speak here in the House.

I would like to thank my colleague Mr. Bouchard from Hay River North. I’ve mentioned this before, but I didn’t know Mr. Bouchard very well before we came to this Chamber together four years ago. It has been indeed a great pleasure to get to know him so well and to work so closely with him. I have particularly enjoyed his wonderful sense of humour.

If I can seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement, I’ll tell you one funny story about that.

---Unanimous consent granted

Jane Groenewegen

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Like I said, sometimes things get a little tense around here, but Mr. Bouchard does have a wonderful sense of humour and I’ll just tell you one little incident. We were co-chairing a constituency meeting and I wanted to say something kind of off the record. I said to the whole audience – there were 100 people there – “So, if I can just take off my MLA hat for one minute,” and he turned to me in front of these 100 people and said, “You cannot take off your MLA hat at your own constituency meeting.” He put me right in my place. Of course, I laughed because, I mean, that’s just the kind of comment that he would make.

To both of my assistants, Orlanda Patterson, who works in my Hay River office, I’d like to thank her for her four years. She’s been an amazing support there. To my other constituency assistant who is here in the visitors gallery today, Wendy Morgan, who has been with me for 17 years. I can say categorically, without any hesitation, that I could not have done my job without Wendy’s support. We are a team and people know us as a team and I cannot thank her enough for everything that she’s done to support me in every way possible.

To my family, my husband, Rick, is here in the visitors gallery today. He is my biggest supporter. On those cold mornings when it’s 40 below and you have to get onto that Buffalo flight and I complain and whine, he goes, “Hey, sweetie, you wanted this job. Get out there.” And once I go through the front doors, I’m fine. Sometimes it’s just getting on that plane and getting here in the morning. But Rick has been an amazing support.

To my daughter, Jillian, who is also in the visitors gallery, who was six years old when I was elected. So maybe she doesn’t have much memory of her mother other than as an MLA. It’s been wonderful to have her here in Yellowknife for the last 14 years and somebody to come here at the other end. I don’t think I could have done this. I would have been lonely without her here.

I also wanted to thank my other two children, Jeffrey and Jordan. Jeffrey stood up at our 35th wedding anniversary and said, “I had an unconventional upbringing. My parents are not sentimental. They never look back and the most interest for them is yet to come.” You know, that is kind of true. We’re always in the moment. We’re always moving forward and that kind of sums up the way we are. I would also say I’m very proud of my son Jordan, who is away, finally, at RCMP depot right now down in Regina and not here to be with us today.

So to all of my colleagues, I wish you all the best. This is a rare, rare opportunity for community service. I hate the word “politician” and I hate the word “power.” We’re all here as servants of the people and it’s not about us, it’s all about them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Hay River North, Mr. Bouchard.

Robert Bouchard

Robert Bouchard Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s been four years since I got up here and I think I was nervous the first time. It’s been a steep learning curve. I’ve been learning lots as a first-time MLA.

I’d like to thank Jane for all the hard work.

Obviously, we like to thank our constituents for all their support, even those ones who challenge us. Those who challenge us make us work harder as MLAs to answer those hard questions, take those hard questions to the floor here, take them to our Cabinet. So, a big thank you to all of them.

I’d like to thank my constituency assistant, as well, Myrtle Graham, back in Hay River.

My other constituency assistant, Wendy Morgan, who is everybody’s help. I think she’s helped everybody here, Mr. Speaker. She puts a lot of work in. She helps a lot of people in the Northwest Territories.

I’d also like to encourage everybody to come out and vote, both in the federal, municipal and territorial elections. The federal and municipal is October 19th and our territorial election is on November 23rd. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Kevin A. Menicoche

Kevin A. Menicoche Nahendeh

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I, too, just want to talk a bit about my past 12 years as the MLA for Nahendeh. I’ve stood up in this House on behalf of them, being the people’s voice and raising their many concerns and those of my six communities. Despite my colleagues saying my favourite two words are Highway 7, but if you go to Hansard, my favourite word is actually “communities,” because I’m the MLA with the most communities. I have six.

It has been an honour and privilege to serve my constituents and I thank them very much for the confidence that they have shown in me during my third term in the 17th Assembly and for the past 12 years. I believe I have carried out my duties as MLA for Nahendeh with energy, commitment and dedication, and that I worked hard to bring their issues to the attention of our Cabinet, our Ministers and to this House and that I responded promptly to their calls for requests for assistance.

This November I will be asking the voters of Nahendeh to use my experience to serve them and ask for their vote for a fourth mandate. I want to assure them that I will continue to be available, reliable and approachable.

We have seen many improvements to our community services and infrastructure. For example, Highway No. 7. The people and our communities are telling me already there is much more to be done: improve health delivery, more housing, lower the cost of living and settling the Dehcho Process.

In closing, once again I want to thank the voters and residents of Nahendeh for allowing me to serve you. With your continued support, I will use my experience to make a difference in the next government.

I want to say happy retirement to my colleagues Bob Bromley and Ms. Wendy Bisaro. Good luck to my colleagues in the upcoming election and all the MLA candidates who will be putting their name forward.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Menicoche. Ms. Bisaro.

18th Assembly Priorities
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday I covered the good, the bad and the ugly. Today I want to take this last opportunity to speak to the House and use the prerogative that comes with my age to provide some advice to the Members of the 18th Assembly.

This Assembly has accomplished a lot, in spite of my negative comments yesterday. Work has been done, reports have been written, action plans developed, and I don’t want that work to get lost, so I will again subject the House to my views about what the 18th Assembly needs to follow up on.

• First – and these are in no order of importance – the promised junior kindergarten review report and the recommendations that may come with it.

• The promise of an energy efficiency act.

• Universal daycare report and actions that should be taken with that.

• The Aurora College report and actions that are contained therein.

• Dechinta and College Nordique requests for inclusion in secondary school legislation.

• Mental Health Act report recommendations and the Mental Health Act regulations.

• Child and Family Services Act review and the recommendations from the Office of the Auditor General regarding the child and family services.

• The Social Issues Committee of Cabinet’s Anti-Poverty Action Plan must not get lost.

• The Our Elders: Our Communities report on seniors’ needs to be followed up on.

• BDIC has had a program review. Were any actions taken on that?

• Hydraulic fracturing regulations consultation. It must continue. It must. There must be consultation.

• Health and Social Services recent quality assurance review and action plan that is apparently coming from that. Make sure it comes.

• The Program Review Office work. Ensure that reviews are received and considered by committee.

• Population Growth Strategy. Monitor the results and keep the government’s feet to the fire on that.

• The Justice Action Plan regarding corrections from the Office of the Auditor General’s report.

• The Education, Renewal and Innovation Strategy and Action Plan.

• The Early Childhood Development Strategy and Action Plan.

• Health and social services authorities amalgamation. Monitor it and make sure it happens correctly.

• The Health Information Act implementation. Monitor it and make sure it happens correctly.

• Ensure there’s a review of royalty regimes and taxation.

• Find a way to get Heritage Fund legislation amendments done.

• ENR and Lands have promised assessments for developments.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. That’s also not unusual.

---Unanimous consent granted

18th Assembly Priorities
Members’ Statements

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thanks again, colleagues.

• ENR and Lands have promised assessments for the developments that we have within the territory to chart the unknowns. Make sure that they’re done.

• ENR and Lands have promised securities for those developments and liabilities to make sure that those happen and that we get the money that is deserved in order to clean up.

• Climate Change Plan. The development of a Climate Change Plan is necessary.

• Health and Social Services has promised us a Pharmaceutical Strategy.

• The Human Rights Commission has done a wonderful review of the Human Rights Act. We need to make sure that amendments are followed through on.

• Justice needs to bring forward legislation for an ombudsman, please.

• Health and Social Services is promising Medical Travel Policy and Program changes. Follow up on those.

• Education infrastructure and schools is lacking and the need to find some solutions to the court case, which has been ongoing forever.

• The Mineral Development Strategy and the Economic Opportunities Strategies. Those are both well developed, but we need to monitor the actions that are going on in them.

Some of these are well developed; some of them just need monitoring; some are in development and need watching to make sure they happen. Some of them need to be developed. It’s a long list and it only covers my personal recollections of what needs to be done.

To the 18th Assembly I say, it’s a lot of work to do it right, but please roll up your sleeves and get ‘er done.

Finally, I’d like to say some thank yous that I didn’t include yesterday at my peril. Thank you very much to the staff of the Assembly. Mr. Bromley said it extremely well. All of the staff here are excellent and they have made our job, my job, our job much easier. To you, Mr. Speaker, thank you for your support. To my CAs, I’ve had three in the course of my eight years here and all three of them have been excellent support and excellent help for the work that I do.

Lastly, although not least, to my family and my friends who have provided support. I don’t have much family here, but I certainly have friends here and some of them are in the gallery and they have been extremely supportive and have made my job a lot easier. So, thank you all.

18th Assembly Priorities
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A team is a group of people linked in a common purpose. Teams normally have members with complementary skills and generate synergy through a coordinated effort, which allows each member to maximize their strengths. Each member helps other members realize their true potential and create an environment that allows everyone to go beyond his or her limits. Nothing could be more true of a team than the members and the staff of the Standing Committee on Social Programs.

I’d like to use my last Member’s statement to acknowledge such a good group, a strong group, a compassionate group of individuals that I’ve had the very honour to work with for the last four years.

Back in 2011, five members and two staff went to Hay River to work on our priorities, work on our transition document from the 17th Legislative Assembly, not knowing where we were going to go, what was going to be laid before us. Five different personalities from different backgrounds coming together.

When we look back on the four years that we’ve been together, we’ve accomplished a lot. I was very fortunate and honoured to chair this committee and I just want to thank each and every one of them and all the staff that have helped us throughout those four years, for their dedication and their commitment not only to the work that we do but to people, the residents of the Northwest Territories.

I just want to let people of the Northwest Territories know that these individuals made a lot of sacrifices. They have family members back home here in Yellowknife and they have a lot of late nights, early mornings. This past year we put on a lot of kilometres on three significant bills to make sure that we have the best bills possible that are going to be reflective of this government, but for the residents of the Northwest Territories. I just want to let residents know that these five individuals sacrificed a lot on your behalf.

Many times, as a chair of the committees, I’ve heard a lot of times we can’t give this report its undue process. We can’t not look at the legislation before us. We need action, we need commitment and we’ve got to keep going. On that note, I’d like to ask to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

On many occasions as I chaired this committee, Members and individual Members said, “We need to keep on going.” A lot of times there were very huge documents, 20, 30 pages, eight o’clock at night, working through the late hours just to make sure that we got the work done for people of the Northwest Territories.

Just to highlight a few: the Anti-Poverty Strategy, the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan, Education Renewal and Innovation. A lot of pressure and effort was put on the Department of Education to work on that. A huge one: Early Childhood Development; and also some very significant acts. Most recently, the Mental Health Act was a lot of commitment on behalf of committee. Child and Family Services Act, which has gone through so many different governments, but this government got ‘er done with the work, and hard work, from committee. As well, the Health Insurance and Health and Social Services Administrations Act. That was a big one that was completed this past year. Although we couldn’t do it all in four years – it would’ve been nice – we did do a lot. I want to let committee know, you guys all did a great job.

Mr. Speaker, four years ago the reason I chose to run for this position was to create a strong voice for the people who I represent. I did that to the best of my ability. What’s stronger than a single voice? Five strong voices, and that’s what I had the opportunity to work with as my first term in the Legislative Assembly and, once again, Standing Committee on Social Programs.

I want to also say the success of that committee, and probably the only committee other than P and P within this government, was we had the two women representatives in this 17th Legislative Assembly working on this committee and I think that’s why we got a lot of work done this session, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

I’d also like to acknowledge all the NGOs, the stakeholders, all the compassionate residents who have offered input into our bills. The work that we’ve done, we couldn’t have done it without the input that they provided us. We can only do so much, but with their input, they just make the bill stronger and the work and the efforts give us motivation to continue.

As usual, it takes two to tango, so I’d like to thank the Executive Council. I know there are Ministers who came before committee on many occasions. I know that sometimes it wasn’t always pleasant, but you know what, we had to ask the tough questions and have some of those debates to make sure we did what was best for people of the Northwest Territories.

I’d also like to thank, one last time, my parents for their support through these four years, as well as some great friends. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. Mr. Dolynny.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I stand before you with my last statement in the House with some bittersweet retrospectives. Before I do, I want to commend my colleagues here today for their reflective and, indeed, moving comments and, sometimes, stories.

It is without question that some sentiments today might invite a certain cynical rejoinder, particularly as one may observe the sometimes cacophony of our oral question period or view the potential toxicity of our political arena. Certainly, and with fondness, I still retain a great respect and a reverence for this institution, which is the centrepiece of democracy and a cradle for our northern way of life.

For the first time ever, I was able to shepherd my way with an arsenal of parliamentary instruments at my disposal, from motions, petitions and oral questions, that have helped me advance the public good. Some of this good took many forms, and here are just a few Mr. Speaker: As a policymaker and legislator, I’m especially proud of convincing a need of the rewrite of the Human Tissue Act and, on the eve of a private member’s bill, I thank Cabinet for bringing it forward themselves. We are anxiously and patiently waiting for the new organ donor program to come online very soon.

Overseeing the resurrection of the responsibility of the public purse in the review of public accounts is a milestone to which all members of the Standing Committee on Government Operations should be proud of. As a chair of that committee now, it is indeed an honour.

Finally, our 11 official languages make us unique in culture and spirit. It is with this reverence that inspired me to speak four of those languages in the House: Tlicho, North Slavey, South Slavey and, of course, French.

There are many more milestones than time would allow and I would like to do them at a later time.

Of course, none of this parliamentary work would have been possible without the commitment and care of those around us.

For Mr. Grant Pryznyk in my constituency office, to the professional and personal legislative personnel from the security detail to the library staff to the technical staff to our Pages to research staff and to House and committee clerks, to all I say thank you very much.

Now a word to my family.

At this time, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Now a word to my family, who are first in my heart and mind. It is with admiration and commitment and care my wife, Cindy, has provided me all these years in my political trenches. She is my rock, Mr. Speaker.

I started this journey with two young boys. Now one of them is in university and the other is about to leave the nest. So to Tanner and Bronson, who might be listening in, you’ve been a source of humbling support and I thank you.

This building is not just a place where I work; it has been my home, where my colleagues have become my family. We are losing two family members who are not seeking re-election. So to Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro, we do wish you well and thank you for your guidance.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, it has been a privilege to serve this Chamber with you and to serve the people of Range Lake. This is not farewell but merely goodbye for now. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

[Translation] Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker. I would like to say a few words in my language as I am trying to pass on some of my thoughts. I’d like to thank each one of my colleagues in the House today. I try to speak as much as I can on behalf of my people within the Mackenzie Delta. I know I haven’t spoken very often; however, I’d like to try to speak as much as I can within the 17th Assembly.

I wish you all the best of luck in the November election. For those who are going to be putting your name back in the hat, I’d like to wish you all good luck. [Translation ends]

Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for allowing me to make this statement in my Gwich’in language. I want to thank my colleagues for making my first term serving the people of the Mackenzie Delta so exciting and quite the learning experience. I have overcome many battles and I have learned so much more, working closely alongside each of you.

As we go our separate ways and end the 17th Legislative Assembly, I wish each of you safe travels and good luck in the November elections.

Thank you again. I look forward to working closely with each of you in the coming years.

In closing, I would like to thank my constituents of the Mackenzie Delta for this honourable opportunity to serve as their Member of the Legislative Assembly.

Also, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Liz Wright, my constituency assistant in Fort McPherson; and also my contact in Aklavik, Michelle Gruben. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Member for Deh Cho, Mr. Nadli.

17th Assembly Buzzwords
Members’ Statements

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to take the opportunity to thank two colleagues who are retiring. It’s been an honour to serve with Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro during this term. I’ve learned a lot from them and it’s been a privilege.

In a statement to their constituencies, I know they’re not seeking re-election, but you’ve placed two very honourable people who have effectively done their work and represented their constituency to the best of their ability. They have been remarkable models, in terms of trying to model my work, and I really thank them. It’s been truly an honour to serve with them.

Also, with the colleagues here, mahsi, and the staff as well. It’s been a growing experience for the past four years.

I just wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the buzz words of the 17th Assembly, so with your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to read my statement.

I have learned a great deal as a Member of the 17th Legislative Assembly. Our verbal jujitsu with Minister Miltenberger and other Members has expanded my vocabulary and given new meaning to words and concepts I thought I understood. I offer a quick piece of this not so brave new world.

I’ll begin with the words yes and no. Simple, eh? Not so fast. It is very common for yes to actually mean no. For example, when Cabinet said yes to Regular Members’ persuasive arguments to boost its health promotion budget ever so slightly, it actually meant okay, but no, we will not spend that money anyway. Was there money available? Yes. Was it put to good use? No. I now pin promises to my desk here with six inch nails from now on.

There’s a fancy term, “fiscal restraint.” That is a close relative of the word no. But the meaning of fiscal restraint has at least 150 shades of grey. In the rare air of the Cabinet room, fiscal restraint is good for a million dollar pop in a supplementary appropriation, normally called extra dollars. Good for, say, five new positions in communications for the Department of Executive right out of the magician’s hat.

Fiscal restraint of an entirely different shade is at work when Members try to get nurses, health workers, alcohol and addictions counsellors, social workers, wellness workers and policing to our small communities. The vacant jobs are the very stuff of fiscal restraint.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

17th Assembly Buzzwords
Members’ Statements

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

There’s money in the budget for some of them, just no bodies in the jobs. So, big savings of a very perverse sort. Big savings that cost our people and our government.

As you can see, fiscal restraint can also mean shameful neglect. Having had some of the boundaries of my comprehension stretched so far, no wonder I came to believe, thanks to my colleague from Nahendeh, that the seven deadly sins were all related to the perpetually pot-holed and pot-marked Highway No. 7, along with many other sins of deadly fiscal omission. So I thank the Member for correcting me with his e-mail the other day. It seems that a handful of the seven deadly sins actually apply to the Inuvik-Tuk Highway.

I cannot leave this topic without a few words about the oft spouted, ever nebulous devolve and evolve. Seductive. Devolve and evolve. Oh yeah, it sounds great. Devolution is going be good because it really means evolution, almost like revolution. The kind it takes to truly recognize Aboriginal rights, including control of our land, and I’ve worked all my life for that.

I thought and thought about these words, devolve and evolve. I’ve dreamt about them at night. Finally, one day, walking down the boardwalk in Zhatie K’oe, it came to me. The meaning of devolve and evolve is just a spin-o-rama of hogwash. It comes out of the machine all neat and dry and sounding sweet. Devolve and evolve. It’s just the same old federal government bunk. It will be up to the Members of the 18th Assembly to recast these words. We have not lived up to the heady promise of devolve and evolve.

Just one more thing. I don’t mean to be harsh. As Members, some of us facing election and some not, we’re all about to devolve and evolve in a more meaningful way. Let us all do it right. Let us stand by our deeds and be measured by them.

I wish you well, colleagues. I’m glad all our judo has been verbal. To my constituents, mahsi, mahsi cho, thank you for helping me. Thank you for standing by me through thick and thin. That has been the real meaning.

17th Assembly Buzzwords
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Nadli. Mr. Yakeleya.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today my Member’s statement is going to be consistent with my Member’s statements in the last 12 years. I’m going to do a Member’s song following the song from the legend George “Awesome” Jones. The title is “I Don’t Need Your Rocking Chair.”

Mr. Speaker, I don’t need your rocking chair, but it would be nice to get medicare, such escorts for our seniors’ care. No questions asked, our health care. I’ve still got politics in my veins. So does Michael and Jane.

---Laughter

This grey hair doesn’t mean a thing. I do my rocking in the hills, mile 222 to Norman Wells. My body is old, but it’s not frail. I ain’t seen you on the Canol Trail. Retirement don’t fit my plans just yet. I’m getting on, but I don’t project. They make rules on how to frack. Sounds good to me, I might just come back.

I don’t need your rocking chair, but it would be nice to get medicare, such as escorts for our seniors’ care. Until we get a road to the Sahtu, I’ll see you and you’ll see me before someone releases it to CBC.

I ain’t ready for retirement yet, and I don’t need unanimous consent. It may take a little longer, but I’ll get there.

One more verse, Mr. Chair.

At the liquor store in Norman Wells, no restrictions on how much they can sell. We wrote a bill and got it through and it’s in the books. Hey, no more dirty looks.

Now, no, I don’t need your rocking chair. It would be nice to get medicare, such as escorts for our seniors’ care. My eyes are good, and so are my ears. I’m coming back for four more years.

---Applause

Mr. Speaker, an Inuit needs a Frigidaire like I need your rocking chair.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank some people, so I would seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

This being the last session of our Assembly, I want to thank the people in the Sahtu for the privilege of serving them for these number of years. I also want to thank the support and staff through my role as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, Ms. Lorraine Bezha, who has been there to support me through thick and thin. I also want to thank Mr. Andrew John Kenny, my confidant and elder who stood by me through some very hard times in my personal life.

Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank my two colleagues who are leaving us and taking on a different role in their lives. Although Mr. Bromley and I at times do not agree on points of issues, I respect the gentleman and I wish him well. After all, we all want the same thing, but we’re just coming from a different process of how to get it. So, I thank him for the opportunity of working with him.

I also want to wish well my colleague Ms. Bisaro for her work and her steady eyes that were not off task. When we’re off task, she gets us back. So, I ask Ms. Bisaro to take care of herself and look after herself. It’s been an honour to sit and work with you.

Also, with our staff that we have before us that guide us through this whole process through our office. Number one, number one people to work in the books. Number one to work with us.

Lastly, to my family, my wife and my son and my family members, I really appreciate what they have done for me so I could do this work here. They made sacrifices, whatever it took them, so I could stand here and work on behalf of my people.

I do want to say to my people in the Sahtu, they have allowed me to be their voice for the last 12 years and it’s a very sacred privilege I hold for them.

I want to wish, as my colleague Mr. Menicoche said, all the other Members around here well in your life. Look after yourself. I got a little tear coming down because when I first became elected – Mr. Speaker, I know I’m running out of time – my mom said, “I never thought in my dreams my little baby boy would become an MLA. Never in my wildest dreams,” she said, “I’ll see my son be in a situation like this.” That’s why I think about her and this is why I wear this coat. She made it along with my aunties, to honour her for the love that she’s given us. With strict discipline, she brought us up to live a good life and sometimes we don’t listen to our parents.

So, I just want to say that to my colleagues here across the table, it’s an honour. We had a lot of work and, you know, you’re like us. I want to say good luck to the people who are going to put their names into this row here. May God bless you. You are called and I wish you well. It’s an honour, Mr. Speaker, to stand here and to say that.

To my wife and to my son Chase, I love you. Like some of the Members said, in my heart you walk with me. I want to say to the elders in the Sahtu, thank you so much for allowing me to carry your voice in the last four years. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. Mr. Ramsay.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It has been an honour and a privilege to continue to serve the constituents of Kam Lake, this House, its Members and the residents of the Northwest Territories. I want to wish everybody good luck and best wishes as the end of the 17th Assembly comes to close, especially my colleagues Ms. Bromley…

---Laughter

Ms. Bisaro and Mr. Bromley.

A bit of a Freudian slip. There’s never been any jokes about that.

But all kidding aside, I wish both of my colleagues all the best in your retirement. It’s been a pleasure to work with you both. I know the constituents in both Weledeh and Frame Lake have been very well-served with both MLAs.

I also want to thank very much my support staff in my office upstairs: Ryan Strain, my executive assistant; Corinne Kruse, my executive secretary; and I want to thank Mrs. Groenewegen for allowing me to share the services of Ms. Wendy Morgan. Wendy’s been a great constituency assistant and I want to thank her very much for her work.

I also want to thank all the staff at the Department of Justice and the Department of ITI, especially deputy ministers Peter Vician and also Sylvia Haener for all the work that they put into supporting my position here as Minister.

Mr. Speaker, others have mentioned it and we wouldn’t be able to do our jobs if it wasn’t for the love and support of our families back home. For me, I just want to say a special thanks to my wife, Michelle, my kids, Malachi, Elijah, Adeline, and now Donavan, and for all the love and support that they give me. Really, I wouldn’t be able to do the job without the support of my wife, so thank you very much, Michelle.

Thank you very much, again, to the constituents of Kam Lake. They put their faith, their trust in me to do the job here at the Legislature on their behalf, and I’m certainly looking forward to getting back out on the election trail and talking to all the constituents in Kam Lake again during the election campaign.

So, with that, Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for your role here in heading up the Legislative Assembly. It’s been a pleasure to work with you. The Board of Management, my Cabinet colleagues and everyone, I wish everybody all the best and Godspeed. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Mr. McLeod.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This being the last day of session for the 17th Assembly, I thought it was a good opportunity to stand up and give some thank yous and some highlights of the last four years. I can’t believe how quickly, I think a couple Members mentioned, the last four years have gone. It seems like we were just getting sworn in and now we’re out the door.

Some highlights for myself personally in the 17th Assembly was being a witness on behalf of the Government of the NWT to the Gwich’in signing on to devolution. Speaking of the induction ceremony for Sharon and Shirley Firth’s induction into the NWT Sport Hall of Fame was also another highlight, and officially opening East Three School. I mean, that was a fantastic and exciting time for myself, for the people and students and Inuvik.

Finally, as a witness on behalf of the government to the Inuvialuit Self-Government Agreement-in-Principle was another fantastic highlight.

I, along with the rest of my colleagues, would like to wish Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro well in their retirement. I’ve had fun working with you, and, Bob, I was just kidding about you being left out in the Delta somewhere.

---Laughter

You will have lots of time to explore the Delta now and I’ll come look for you. Our support staff, as Mr. Ramsay mentioned, make doing our job a lot easier, from the staff here at the Legislative Assembly, who have been mentioned a few times, to the two constituency assistants that I’ve had, Leah Ipana and Krysten Cardinal and executive secretary Daylyn Kakfwi. Mr. Rob Collinson is a great source of advice. I call Robert my Jiminy Cricket. He keeps me on the straight and narrow. Robert said, “We have to let committee know,” and I say, “I don’t want to let committee know.” He says, “No, we have to.” I say, “I know we do. I’m just playing with you.” It gets him going. He’s been a great help in my career as a Minister. I appreciate that.

It’s been said on a number of occasions about our constituents. It’s been an honour to represent the constituents of Inuvik Twin Lakes the last 11 years. We don’t always get the results we wanted, but we continue to work through the issues. I look forward to the opportunity, if they are willing, to represent them again for the next four years.

To my colleagues, again, it’s been…

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

To all my colleagues in the Assembly, we’ve brought issues forward to each other. Again, we haven’t always gotten the results we’ve wanted, but I respect the passion that you’ve brought to your issues. Your constituencies were well-represented.

Most importantly, we aren’t able to do this job, as many Members said, without the support of our families. When I started in 2004, I had my wife, Judy, three children and one future son-in-law. We’re up to 12 now. I’ve got five grandchildren who just wait for Grandpa to come home, especially if he stops by the store on the way home. I’ve appreciated their support. My wife, Judy, has been a huge support and it makes doing what we do a lot easier. We come down here and do what we do, but they’re at home looking after the household and making sure things continue to run along smoothly. So, I appreciate all the support.

I thank Members again for I wouldn’t call them vows, but I thank Members again for the relationship over the last four years and I wish you all well in all that you do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Mr. Hawkins.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I first want to start off saying it’s been an incredible honour to be here for the last 12 years. The journey as being the MLA for Yellowknife Centre has always been an exciting one. Some days have been more fun than others, but I can tell you, all Members of this House can agree it’s a passionate challenge we all do.

Most of my colleagues – except for the two lucky ones here – we will all be putting their case to the constituents once again, hoping for another mandate, if their support thinks I’m worthy.

I have to stress wholeheartedly that I’m grateful for my supportive home. I couldn’t do this job, like my colleagues have said, without my wife and my two sons, McKinley and Hudson. When I was first elected 12 years ago, I had one wife. I didn’t get 12 family members like the Minister just said, but I had one wife and a two-year-old son. We used to come here every day and I’d be tripping over Thomas the Train and little cars and things. It evolved into two sons and we were playing trains on the weekends sometimes, as I’m supposed to be reading my briefing stuff, but we always found family time. That’s what we did and we evolved, not quite how Mr. Nadli described it, but we devolved and evolved our relationship here and I brought my kids into it from the start. It’s interesting, as they continue to be some of my most passionate and greatest supporters.

Like my two colleagues next to me, I do want to talk about some of the reflections and highlights over this last term. I think it’s important to talk about devolution. I will start with devolution. Devolution was certainly an incredible first step on the journey and the aspirations of the people of the Northwest Territories. It was a rough ride, but by all means, as I have described it before, Home Rule was an important step for this territory to take and I’m glad we took it. I’m glad we took it in this Assembly so we can look back and say we finally did it. How many successful Assemblies previous to us tried to get it done? This is the first one that we can actually say we have the key to the cars, the keys to our own destiny and we’re driving forward.

Over the last four years, we’ve continued to see challenges with addictions and it does bother me seriously. I wish our territory could do more. I know, no matter how much money we throw at the problem, it may be challenging. We need to address these problems. I have to admit that I was very glad to see, the other day, that the Mental Health Act has finally gotten through. It will make a difference in people’s lives and saving lives.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

The last four years have seen the troubling brick of the high cost of living weighing down on our northern families, struggling with the power rates or even the cost of fuel. Within this great vice, there is also a huge opportunity. There are the renewable areas such as biomass and solar, which our government hopefully will be looking forward to in the near future. We must not forget, we must look towards population growth.

Everywhere I look around, I’ve seen people struggle trying to get jobs, whether they are summer students, people with disabilities or even seniors. Even the public service jobs that constantly get funded but sit empty is a struggle.

The last few years my favourite people to work with are certainly youth and seniors. To that, I have loved every opportunity to get out to the schools and talk to the kids or even at Avens and visiting. That has brought great enjoyment to my life and sometimes it reminds us how important the work we do here is.

Speaking of which, I was glad to be part of the missing and murdered Aboriginal women and girls motion. I was very excited this House could support that. As a matter of fact, it still stands to the test that this is such an important issue that more work needs to get done. Interestingly enough, no other Legislature, to my knowledge, has passed a similar motion. I think that’s a statement of the type of Legislature we are and the issues we care about. It was an important message and it certainly is an important motion.

The days ahead will see many opportunities for us, and I’m always concerned about the working family. I’m always worried that our government can’t seem to find consumer protection on its agenda. But worrying about our citizens under the context of 911, we finally took the first step this year to say we’re going to do it. I guess, as my colleague said, we’ve devolved and now we will evolve on that issue.

One of the neat things about downtown is the Yellowknife Day Shelter will continue to strive forward. More importantly, I am so excited to see that this term, under Minister Abernethy, they finally heeded some of the goals and concerns of trying to provide proactive programming. I thank him for that. I’m glad. If you could do a little more on the Aurora College file, it would be greatly appreciated.

As I bring this to a close – I know time is running out – I just want to say thank you very much to my wife. If I’m allowed a second or two more, Mr. Speaker, I’m not allowed to hold up props, but in the 12 years I’ve been an MLA, I have always had a picture of my children here as a reminder of why we’re here.

May I leave this thought with each and every one of us: Of course, we are all excited to get on the campaign trail and, obviously, we all hope for the best. But always remind yourself about what’s important. Each day I come here as a Member of the Legislative Assembly, I’ve always had the picture of my two children sit in front of me to remind me about the values we are supposed to represent here. It doesn’t mean we’re perfect. It doesn’t mean we haven’t had troubled days, we’ve moved along, but we always have to ask ourselves what is the touchstone and it always has to have family and friends.

To my constituents, once again, I say thank you; and to my family, it’s always been an honour to have your help and support through this process. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Mr. Beaulieu.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have been sitting here thinking about how everybody is thanking the people they have worked with over the last four years. I thought that perhaps I didn’t do that the first four years I was in here. I have had a lot of help. Lots of people helped me from my constituency. I have a lot of people in the communities of Lutselk'e and Fort Resolution to thank. I’ve worked for them. I’ve travelled often to the communities.

I have had several constituency assistants. I started a constituency assistant initially with Mr. Joe Bailey. We did a lot of good work together. Joe had some experience as a constituency assistant and taught me a lot about writing Member’s statements and getting the point onto the floor of the Assembly. It was interesting because a lot of the stuff that we got we kind of hit the ground running because of the experience he brought working for other veteran MLAs. After that, I had Edith Mack who worked as a constituency assistant. I’d like to thank Edith. She worked for me the longest, for about four years. Now, in the last couple of years I’ve worked with Beverley Catholique from Lutselk'e.

I have community reps, I like to call them, but they end up as constituency assistants anyway, and James Marlowe from Lutselk'e continues to work for me, and the same with Velma Delorme from Fort Resolution. These people work in the background. They don’t do anything other than organize things for me, take calls for me, tell me when I’m coming into the community, who I should go see, what I should be doing and so on while I’m in the community. A lot of the prep work that goes on as I enter the communities, I’d like to say thanks to those people who have been working for me. Thank you very much.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. Mr. Lafferty.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

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

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

I just want to highlight the importance of us being here as representative Members of the Legislative Assembly.

First and foremost, I just want to say thank to the Members. As Members, we serve the public. We have two Members who are leaving us, Mr. Bromley and Ms. Bisaro. I’d just like to say thank you for your time as being part of this Cabinet here for eight years, and I’ve also served two years as a Regular Member. Every time a Member approaches me, obviously, I put my MLA hat on as well to deal with those issues. At the same time, this is an opportunity for us to reach out to our constituencies.

Most of us have stated that, obviously, we want to return because there is a lot of unfinished business ahead of us. At the same time, we have to keep in mind, as I heard around the table, that there is a lot of support staff that we have to recognize. Even with myself, being a Regular Member, all the resource staff that we’ve had, and even sitting here as the executive. Just highlighting my executive assistant, Morven MacPherson has been with me since day one. I’d just like to thank her for all the hard work and keeping me in line, and through secretaries as well. Not only that, the CAs. I’ve gone through plenty of them over the years. I’ve been through eight of them. But at the same time, it’s given me an opportunity to work with different people.

I’ve been through approximately 14 different chiefs and grand chiefs since I became an MLA. I’ve worked with a lot of them with different experiences and different walks of life. I’m very appreciative of all the work experience. My constituents, I’d just like to say thank you to them for giving me the opportunity to serve them over the past 10 years.

Last but not least, obviously, my family. My wife, Diane, and my five beautiful kids. As I’ve been sitting in the House, when we first started, our kids were young. Now I have kids in university, kids working as well. Without them, this would not be possible to stand here to speak to you.

With yourself, Mr. Speaker, I’d just like to say thank you for your support, as well, over the years, and the support staff that we have.

Best of luck to all the Members who are running. Best wishes to Members who are retiring as well. Mahsi cho.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Well, I’m going to do one today. I’d like to start by saying hello to my son Joseph, who’s watching this back home in Tuk – he’s two and a half years old now – he can switch it back to cartoons. I can’t wait to see you, son.

I’d like to start off by thanking my Deputy Speaker, Mrs. Groenewegen, for all the hard work you’ve done with me in the last four years and supporting me and making some crucial decisions during our time and working together. Thank you so much.

To my board of management, thank you so much for all the hard work you’ve done for the benefit of all our Members. It’s been a good time. I really cherish all you guys, and my two friends. Before you, I was there in the middle between Wendy and Bob. Obviously, I was the rose between two thorns. But they taught me so much, just like you, and I respect them so much.

Bob, yesterday Ms. Spence brought up your mother. God rest her soul. She was always here and always giving us encouragement. She was an awesome lady, and I know you have that in you too. You have a good heart and you want the best for the people.

Wendy, I always called you Mother Superior, because you’re always so hard, making sure everything went down. But I really admired you for that and I really thank you because you’ve been helping me, too, along my way as a Member and as a Speaker too.

To all the Cabinet, thank you so much for all the hard work you guys did, and all my Regular Members, every one of you. I could go on for an hour or so if I was allowed to, but I’m not going to do that to you.

Our support, my support staff, I’d like to thank Nina Larsson, my executive assistant; and my CA back home, Donna Bernhardt, who does so much for us, for the people of Nunakput. People don’t see the hard work that you guys do and the hours you put in and I want to thank her.

I want to also thank Wendy Morgan. Wendy has been there for me too. So, I think there’s about four or five of us that share Wendy. Thank you so much for all your work that you’ve done for the people of Nunakput.

Where do I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement?

---Laughter

---Applause

And there are no nays. How about I keep going? To all my constituents back home, thank you for your support and being there for me when I go visit the communities. To my elders, who we cherish so much across our territory, thank you so much. To all the families that are hurting right now with the stuff that’s going on back home, thoughts and prayers are with all the people who are hurting across our great territory today. Thoughts and prayers are with you from this House.

I’d like to thank my clerks, which I have the best clerks in the Northwest Territories and in the Commonwealth of 170 countries.

---Applause

Thank you, Gail; thank you, Tim; and thank you, Doug; and thanks to all your support staff and our security. Like you guys said earlier today – you said it best, Bob – like you said, we have the best.

To my wife, Jenny, who has been the biggest supporter here, and to all my kids, Chelsey, Kristin, Matthew, Mitchell, Mikayla, and my son Joseph, and my grandson, Alexander. I know I’m a young grandfather too.

It’s been really an honour to work with every one of you. Bob, Wendy, I’ll never forget our times together and Sandy always trying to hit me.

But like I said, again, thank you guys so much, every one of you. God bless you and good luck in your future endeavors. We have 17 days left in this government. So I want all my Members to try to finish all of your constituency work in the last 17 days to try to get some help for the constituents and for the people that we serve. So thank you, Members.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. The 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’m very pleased to recognize my wife and to thank her for all her support, Melody McLeod, and her aunt Germaine Michel. I also would like to take this opportunity to recognize Jim Stanton, president of Stanton Associates, who was here earlier, and Paula Walsh, a senior associate with Stanton Associates. They’re both here as keynote speakers at the LGANT Professional Development Conference and they also spoke on how to communicate effectively to manage crisis and they also put on a one-day crisis management conference.

Jim is a former journalist, director of communications with Canada Post. He was an expert on communications and emergency preparedness. Paula has more than 32 years in the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. Thank you.

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 two people in the gallery today. First, Kieran Testart who is a resident of the Great Slave riding. Second, a long-time friend, more like family. He’s a source of wisdom; he’s a source of advice; he’s a creative conveyor of criticism when needed; he presided over my wedding to my amazing wife, Caroline; and he in fact introduced my parents, so you can kind of blame him for me. Mr. Speaker, in the gallery today, Dr. Ian Gilchrist. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Abernethy. Mr. McLeod.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to use this opportunity to recognize my wife Judy and appreciate all the support that she’s given me in the last 36 years. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. 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 my constituent from Hay River South again today, Germaine Michel, and I’m so glad she came to see the Legislature and have a tour here. It’s her first time, and anybody who lives in our territory should come and enjoy this wonderful building. I’d also like to, again, recognize my constituency assistant of 17 years, Wendy Morgan, and thank her for all of her support and all of her help over these years. To my husband, Rick Groenewegen, he is a good man. Just think of how boring his life would have been without me.

---Laughter

To my beautiful daughter, Jillian, it’s so good to have her here in Yellowknife. As I said, she keeps me company when all of the rest of the family is not here. So I’d like to recognize them today. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Mr. Dolynny.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To you and through you, I’d like to introduce a fine young man from the riding of Range Lake, a man who has joined us on many occasions here, who is a staunch advocate for transparency and accountability with his recent Open NWT website. That is Mr. David Wasylciw. Keep up the good work. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Dolynny. 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 constituent Rick Groenewegen and his daughter, Jillian, obviously, and I’d like to thank Wendy again, recognize Wendy Morgan and Hay River resident Germaine Michel as well. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bouchard. Mr. Bromley.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It’s always special when we have family members in the gallery and I’d like to particularly start by recognizing my wife, Marianne. Perhaps you could stand up.

---Applause

Much to be said there. I appreciate your comments about my mother. She was here when we started and I’m missing her today. I’d also like to recognize Chief Edward Sangris from Detah. Great to see you here, Chief.

I had quite a number of people show up in the gallery today in support of the work I do. They all seem to be movers and shakers, whether it be in our economy, our social work or our environmental work or putting the dots together for all three; my CA of four years, Craig Yeo; Ian Gilchrist, who we just heard mentioned; Peggy Holroyd; Lloyd Thiessen; Dan Wong; John Stevenson; Tasha Stevenson; Julie Green; Sue Wahlner; Rose Marie Jackson; Christine Wenman. I see Kevin O’Reilly has lasted out our droning on here today, and his wife, Suzette Montreuil, was here earlier, too; and I’d particularly like to recognize my CA, Bob Wilson, whose phone number is… Well, ask me if you don’t know it.

---Laughter

With regard to families, Melody, Judy, Rick and Jillian in the audience, I’d like to recognize them too. It’s always a special moment when you have family members here. Mahsi.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Ms. Bisaro.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Wendy Bisaro

Wendy Bisaro Frame Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It was a real pleasure to come into the House today and see so many people in the gallery, and as Mr. Bromley said, some of them have lasted through our droning, others have had to go, but it was great to see so many people. It was also great to see so many people sitting on that side, the far side of the Assembly so that we can actually see them from the Regular Members’ seats.

I have two constituents who I want to recognize, Suzette Montreuil has had to go, but Mr. Kevin O’Reilly, who both he and Suzette have been great supporters. So, thank you both of you for coming and for all the work that you do on behalf of residents of the NWT and particularly Yellowknife. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Ms. Bisaro. Mr. Moses.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d also like to recognize Ms. Judy McLeod and thank her for supporting my colleague here, Mr. McLeod, over the eight years. You’re doing a great job, and also for all the work you do, again, for the region, in the health area.

It is Fire Prevention Week and I’d like to recognize Mr. John Moore from Inuvik, who is a volunteer firefighter for the community. I’d also like to recognize my constituency assistant, Ms. Weronika Murray. When my previous assistant decided to take a year off, there were some big shoes to fill and I was wondering how that was going to happen with all the work that our office does, and Weronica came in and jumped right into the position and she’s been doing a very great job and keeping the office in order and keeping it efficient for constituents back home and even residents throughout the Northwest Territories. So, thank you very much. I’d just like to welcome everybody here to our last day in the House. I think they’re just making sure we leave. So, thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you. Mr. Yakeleya.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you Mr. Speaker. I want to also recognize the family members that have come today to support the Members in this House here. It’s very nice to have them come. I know the sacrifice they have to do so that we can do our work with the fullest attention to our constituents.

I also want to recognize Chief Sangris, Mr. Bromley’s constituent, with the Akaitcho. The Yellowknives people here wanted their ancestors here so we can stand here and do this work.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to recognize Geraldine with Mrs. McLeod here. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Geraldine. I had to ask the Premier, “Is that Geraldine?” I wanted to say that. Sometimes it’s good to see old friends come back still in good spirits.

I want to also recognize my constituency assistant, Ms. Lorraine Bezha, and the other constituency assistants who have been with me. For Ms. Bezha’s hard work and commitment and dedication to the people of the Sahtu, I’d like to say thank you so much to her and all the other constituency assistants that our Members here have to make sure that we do our job effectively and efficiently. 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. Yakeleya. Mr. Hawkins.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don’t think I have any constituents left in the gallery. They came and then they went, as previously mentioned by colleagues. But I do want to take a second to mention and certainly pass on my kindest regards to Melody McLeod. She’s the Premier’s wife. Every time I see her I’m reminded of an anecdote that Ms. Barbara Bush once said when they asked her what’s it like being her, and she said, “Well, I’ve been married to the President of the United States and my son’s the President of the United States and another son is the Governor of Florida,” and she goes, “I’m the most powerful person in the world.” Every man knows there’s some truth to that story, if your wife knows that. But I first met Melody back in 1987 when I was stolen from the clutches of the warm embrace of Fort Simpson to go to Akaitcho Hall, and I’ll say I’m a better man for it, knowing her there. She had been there for me many times, and I hope sometimes in the future too. Even though I pick on her husband from time to time as the McLeod government, hopefully she’ll still have a warm spot for me in her heart. Thank you very much.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Mr. Ramsay.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to recognize all of the visitors that we have in the gallery this afternoon. Especially I wanted to recognize Chief Edward Sangris with the Yellowknives Dene.

I also wanted to recognize, I know she’s been recognized before, my constituency assistant, Ms. Wendy Morgan. Thanks again, Wendy, for all of your hard work and your commitment to my office and helping me do my duties as MLA.

I also wanted to recognize Mr. Kevin O’Reilly, a former colleague of mine at City Hall.

I’ve also got in the gallery today a friend of mine, a consultant, David Wasylciw. Welcome to the House, David.

Also, I wanted to recognize Paula Walsh. I know the Premier did earlier, but I met Paula in Quebec earlier this year, and it’s great to see you here in the Northwest Territories. Enjoy your visit. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Welcome to everybody here in the public gallery. Thank you for taking an interest in our proceedings.

Item 6, acknowledgements. Mr. Moses.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This week is Fire Prevention Week. I would like to take this opportunity to recognize this year’s NWT Fire Service Merit Award recipient, Inuvik’s fire chief, Jim Sawkins. Chief Sawkins has been a firefighter for the past 35 years, with the past 15 as fire chief. He has been a fire chief for the Town of Inuvik for the past four years and, through his experience, has provided the volunteer fire department with a great training ground and sense of professionalism.

Chief Sawkins is actively involved with various territorial committees. He’s the president of the NWT Fire Chiefs’ Association, regional representative for the Beaufort-Delta region and sits as a member of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs’ National Advisory Council. He also just recently received the chief fire officer designation.

Fire Chief Jim Sawkins would like to highlight the fact that any achievements were only possible through the acceptance, hard work and dedication of the Inuvik volunteer firefighters and through the assistance of the NWT Fire Chiefs’ Association executive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Moses. Mr. Bromley.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise in the House to acknowledge my constituent Sarah Erasmus, a Southern Alberta Institute of Technology, or SAIT, Polytechnic Outstanding Alumni for 2015.

Through launching her own clothing company, Erasmus Apparel, she’s woven herself into the very fabric of Yellowknife and transformed an idea into a thriving business.

With eight employees, unique northern designs and a growing reputation, she’s sold more than 60,000 items through a storefront and online operations and proved that homegrown, sustainable businesses can thrive here.

I invite my colleagues to join me in congratulating Sarah Erasmus for a job well done.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. Mr. Blake.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure today to wish one of the most respected elders in the Mackenzie Delta a very happy 100th birthday on October 18th. Gwich’in elder Peter Kay Sr. from Fort McPherson is to be commended on healthy living and for taking care of his family and also living the Gwich’in cultural lifestyle for a whole century.

Mr. Kay’s livelihood, active living and positive outlook on life and family have given him the opportunity to spend precious time with his family at 100 years young.

I might add that Peter has passed down precious traditional knowledge to his sons and daughters as well as grandchildren whom he helped raise. His knowledge and storytelling will continue to be shared with his huge family as he blows out his 100 candles.

Mr. Peter Kay and his wife, Mary, who is 96 years old, are the oldest living couple in the Mackenzie Delta. They celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary in 2014. I would like my colleagues to help me extend warm wishes to this happy couple.

Mr. Speaker, Members of the Legislative Assembly, please join me in congratulating Peter Kay on his 100th birthday. They are also still living at home, too, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Before I call a 15-minute break, I’d like to wish Mr. Kevin Menicoche, for yesterday, a happy birthday.

---Applause

And for today, Mr. Jackson Lafferty turns 50.

---Applause

Happy birthday. I will call a 15-minute recess.

---SHORT RECESS

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Item 7, oral questions. Mr. Blake.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just have a few questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. The feasibility study of universal affordable daycare in the Northwest Territories was tabled in this House on June 4, 2015, and recommended consolidating early childhood education and daycare grants, including small community initiatives grants.

What actions is the Department of Education, Culture and Employment taking to make daycare more accessible and more affordable in our small communities? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. We’ve initiated the feasibility study that’s been undertaken by my department through a consultant. There’s been a lot of engagement with the general public and stakeholders across the Northwest Territories. Obviously, one of the key points that they’ve highlighted is for us to work very closely with the communities, all nine remote communities and the most isolated communities in the Northwest Territories. Some community members and also organizations feel left out of the core programs that are being delivered at the regional basis.

That is some of the emphasis that’s been highlighted as part of the recommendations which will be brought forward to the 18th Assembly to decide if they want to move forward on that. Mahsi.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment offers funding to licenced daycare centres and day homes. There are different rates for different regions and communities.

What options are available for communities in the Mackenzie Delta? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, we are currently subsidizing the daycare establishments and early childhood centres across the Northwest Territories. We have provided funding for programming, the mortgage. There are various subsidies that we provide to these establishments. One of the highlights, obviously, part of this feasibility study is to capture what is being provided currently and how can we improve in those areas. Again, capturing those small communities has been highlighted by the stakeholders, and some of the recommendations, obviously, will capture that. It is an integrated approach, working with various organizations, so that will be put forward to the 18th Assembly.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

What will the Minister be recommending to the 18th Legislative Assembly to improve support and funding daycare centres and family day homes, especially in our small communities?

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

The feasibility study, the outcome of the report and then the recommendations that came out of that will be brought forward to the 18th Assembly government. It does cover a spectrum of how we can improve our current programming that we have. As I stated before in this House, there’s always room for improvement in the programming, in departmental division areas. We look forward to those types of discussions as we move forward.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to ask the Minister, I know we are closing the 17th Legislative Assembly here, but is the department open to pilot projects?

Jackson Lafferty

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Those are discussions that need to happen within the next government. We’re at the end of our session here and we only have a couple weeks as Regular Members now, so our term will be up as Ministers, Cabinet and Executive. This, what the Member is alluding to, obviously, will be brought forward within the next government to decide if they want to proceed with that other project.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Mr. Dolynny.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’d like to give Mr. Miltenberger a break here today. I’d like to talk about tourism for my last set of questions. NWT Tourism likes to market the NWT as a premier world-wide tourist destination. However, hampered with a limited budget and a complex five regional marketing plan, it does beg to ask how we’re able to compete on the national and world stage when it comes to tourism. The traveller is more sophisticated than ever and is looking for that wow factor. My question has always been are we able to deliver at that level. With that in mind, my questions will be for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

A successful tourism economy depends on a skilled workforce and a world-class hospitality program.

Can the Minister inform the House how his department supports the development of human resources that will ensure that the visitors to the NWT will have this experience that exceeds this wow factor?

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’m very proud of our record of support for skills development in the tourism industry. ITI has hosted numerous courses on boat safety and first aid to improve the level of safety of our tourism operations. We’ve developed a tourism hospitality program focused on Aboriginal people, and conducted many hospitality training workshops over the life of this government.

Our Tourism 2015 plan rested on three pillars: people, communities, and business. Continued investment in the skills of the people in this industry is essential for future economic growth, and I hope that the new government will continue to support the development of business acumen of our tourism entrepreneurs and the skills of people that they employ.

A recent article in the Huffington Post had Yellowknife as the fasted growing tourism destination in Canada. That’s a testament to the hard work and commitment of the folks in our tourism industry.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

During the life of this government there have been two trade missions to China, costing taxpayers significant investment.

Can the Minister stand before this House and clearly demonstrate a tangible benefit from these junket missions?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Again, we’re very proud of the work that we’ve done in China. We’ve seen a dramatic increase in the number of visitors from China, since a handful in the low hundreds in 2010, to between January of last year and July this year, well over 7,000 Chinese visitors. We have recently hosted the ambassador from China to Canada here in Yellowknife, in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk.

We’ve only really scratched the surface at the potential of the Chinese market. Markets in Asia remain fertile ground for us when it comes to tourism and attracting more folks here, and undoubtedly, the next government will be conducting further missions to promote and market the Northwest Territories to Asian markets, specifically China, Japan, and others.

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

For the record, NWT has a handicap in tourism and marketing investment compared to the rest of Canada. Two years ago this Assembly approved a substantial increase to its marketing budget for the NWT Tourism.

Can the Minister of ITI provide us with a brief description of the benefits with that increased funding that he received?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

The numbers I spoke of earlier, I think a direct correlation can be drawn with the fact that this government, and with the support of that side of the House, supported the increased efforts in marketing our tourism industry here in the Northwest Territories, promoting the products that we have here, and I think the numbers we’re starting to see now are paying off. That investment is certainly paying off.

We shouldn’t kid ourselves, though. Out of the 13 jurisdictions in this country, the Northwest Territories ranks 12th in terms of what we put into marketing the tourism industry. We have seen some substantial growth. But if we look across to our west and into the Yukon, they spend $7 million on marketing their tourism industry on an annual basis and we’re at about $2 million. Really, we have to find a way and a means to continue to support the marketing efforts and promoting the products and services in the tourism industry here in the Northwest Territories, not just domestically here in Canada or in North America and the United States but also internationally. We have made some big strides over the last four years, and as I had mentioned earlier, the potential is immense when it comes to the Asian market.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Daryl Dolynny

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Minister is aware, his department was provided additional funding for tourism programs under the Economic Opportunities Strategy.

Can the Minister tell the House what benefits were derived from this investment?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

One of the primary contributions through the EOS and the recommendation was for a convention bureau. We funded that at $100,000 a year. That’s had a direct impact. We’ve been able to attract conferences, hopefully, bringing well over a million dollars in economic impact here to the Northwest Territories. Looking at the regional marketing dollars, $50,000 goes into each region to allow the regions to market products specifically in their own region. We have resources for product development that have allowed investment in community tourism, leveraging over a million dollars in federal funding from CanNor. EOS funding for community tourism infrastructure was invested in projects and communities across the Northwest Territories including Tsiigehtchic, Inuvik, Jean Marie River, Kakisa, Hay River, Tulita and Yellowknife.

As I mentioned, we don’t have the biggest marketing budget, so wherever possible we need to take those dollars we have and leverage them to try to maximize the exposure that the Northwest Territories gets both on the national and international stage.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Mr. Hawkins.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have recently learned that the Bower Group is a trustee out of Vancouver and they’ve come to Yellowknife to take possession of the two diamond cutting plants owned by Deepak Kumar, and he’s also known as Deepak International. Now, the actual possession itself is not the concern of this Assembly, and certainly the people of the Northwest Territories, but it’s more about the message of what’s happening with our diamond cutting industry that is of great concern.

To set the questions up properly, some time ago the government agreed to give Mr. Deepak Kumar the ability to have the polar bear logo and to provide access for rough, and of course, they took almost three years to get through this process so he’d finally end up with the buildings, which is part of the issue. I’m going to start my first set of questions off to the Minister of ITI. Knowing that he’s in receivership and they’re now liquidating his assets, what happens to the polar bear logo and what type of messaging are we getting out there as a government to say which way our diamond industry is going? Because, frankly, it appears more that it’s a fledgling industry and we had someone who came in, we gave them whatever they wanted and they’ve been unable to succeed. I’m concerned, as well as many others are, where our diamond industry is going. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Hawkins. Mr. Ramsay.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The secondary industry and the benefaction when it comes to diamonds around the world has been hit very hard. There have been factories closing in locations like Namibia, Vietnam and even in India, lower cost environments. So the economics right now aren’t, obviously, the best.

The issue the Member talks about is a private business matter and really we shouldn’t be discussing that on the floor of this House. Thank you.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

I’m not getting into his private, personal matter, but it is a matter of public record out there. So it’s not a secret, but where it really matters to the people of the Northwest Territories is a particular issue of concern about where diamonds are going and that’s certainly it. You cannot have one without the other. So the Government of the Northwest Territories gave this person the ability to have sole, exclusive rights on the polar bear logo and I want to know what the next steps are.

Is the government going to retract that offer, suspend it? I don’t even know what they take back for goodness sakes.

So, is the government in a position to take back his sole, exclusive right to use the polar bear logo on diamonds? Thank you.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Officials at the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment continue to work with the proponent on the factories, and again, it’s a private business matter and best not discussed on the floor of this House. Thank you.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Three years ago this Minister talked about this being the rebirth of the industry and I even brought it up not that long ago about what’s happening, because clearly the gestation of this first cycle is a very long one. But the point, in a serious note, is if the department continues to work with them to cut diamonds and get our polar bear logo on diamonds, in three years how many diamonds have been cut using this cut and how many diamonds have the NWT polar bear logo on it that the government holds and certainly tried to market? A lot of dollars went into marketing diamonds, a lot of effort, we have a diamond division. I mean, a lot of focus from this government has been to promote diamonds, and if we have one that we’ve given all the rights to, frankly my concern is we don’t know where we’re going and the public won’t know either. So, will the Minister be willing to answer that? Thank you.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Again, the secondary industry is in a bit of a downturn. The economics aren’t very good. Factories are closing around the world. We sold the two factory buildings on Archibald Street a year and a half ago and we continue to hope that at some point in time those factories do open, but right now we don’t have people banging our door down to get into this business. We’ve also got revenue from leases on those buildings.

Again, the purchase price of those buildings was somewhere near $2 million that the government was able to recoup.

Again, our hope is that at some point in time those buildings are producing diamonds. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. While the Minister says we don’t have people banging our doors down, but the last three years when this deal had been made, nothing has been cut. He said maybe we’ll get lease money, but my understanding is the lease has been in arrears. Reading in the Yellowknifer a number of weeks ago, you could see they weren’t even paying property taxes. We weren’t the only ones fooled in this deal. Callidus is a lending agency and they were sold a bill of goods about how great things would be. So, what is the Minister willing to do to help revoke their authority of having the polar bear logo on diamonds, because I don’t know what they’re doing outside the Northwest Territories, and furthermore, is the Minister willing to step in and give the department direction so they can end any type of informal or formal agreement they may have with diamond companies where they are guaranteed a supply of rough? We don’t know what they’re getting and what they’re doing with it. This is very concerning. This has never emerged to result in anything positive. Thank you.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you. I guess I take a different view on this than the Member. We recouped close to $2 million. To my knowledge, lease payments are up to date; taxes are up to date on those two buildings. So, again, we will work through the process and this is a legal agreement that we have with the proponent. We will continue to work through the processes that are there and involve the right people in sorting this out. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for Premier McLeod. They focus today on transparency and accountability. I hear from many constituents and colleagues that there are far too many decisions made by this government behind closed doors and in secret. Transparency can help our public become engaged and contribute to making progress on issues and becoming a more effective democracy. So I’m wondering in what ways does the Premier see that we can improve our performance in providing the transparency that people of the Northwest Territories expect from their government. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Bromley. The honourable Premier, Mr. McLeod.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think we are a very transparent government. We have process conventions and protocols that we have negotiated with the committees and we’ve all signed on and we follow those processes, which lays out a process for sharing information and for making sure that we provide them on a timely basis.

Certainly, we also consult, consult and consult on all the legislation. We work with committees on legislation and we post just about everything we do. It’s posted on the website. We post the Minister’s mandate letters, we post ministerial travel reports, we post outside meeting reports and we offer and brief committees on a regular basis and we do travel to communities to do consultation. Thank you.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thanks to the Premier. There are also many calls for improved accountability from our leaders. The promised, now cancelled review of the Deh Cho Bridge, the overdue energy efficiency discussion paper, the delayed junior kindergarten review, the failure to renew the Greenhouse Gas Strategy as promised in that document are examples that come to mind.

What are the Premier’s thoughts on how to improve the level of Cabinet accountability for our successors in the 18th Assembly? Thank you.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

We’re accountable on a daily basis on everything that we do. At this late stage in the 17th Assembly, those items that the Member listed, we have a transition process. We have a joint transition committee and if those could be on the transition list, then they could be dealt with by the 18th Assembly. Thank you.

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

During the 17th Assembly we’ve moved far from the inclusive form of decision-making called for under consensus government, in the opinion of some, with Members commonly learning about significant decisions after the fact in the media or by word of mouth on the street.

What changes would the Premier recommend to the 18th Assembly in the area of including Regular Members more thoroughly in the decision-making process? Mahsi.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

With the protocol agreements and conventions that we have in place, the Members are made aware of everything that we do. They’re provided with timelines and so on and I believe the 17th Assembly has followed it from day one. These protocols were introduced in the 16th and they’ve been reviewed and updated and we continue to update them on a regular basis to deal with issues like the Member is raising. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Bob Bromley

Bob Bromley Weledeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thanks to the Premier. Many think this government has lacked imagination and progressive thinking in seeking new solutions to long-standing issues and to the public’s repeated attempts to be recognized. For example, impacts of a global economy with the majority of benefits flowing away from the NWT and the costing left to our people is something the people have been questioning for some time.

How does the Premier think this government could become more responsive to the changing realities that global forces now subject the North to and to the public’s voice and input? Mahsi.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

We recognize that those changes are happening and we commit, as we go forward, the 18th Assembly will review those processes and consult with the people to ensure that we are on a program which we can deal with along with other provinces and territories. A lot of the changes are national and international, so we have to make sure that we also participate in those processes as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister of ITI. I want to ask a question to the Premier in light of our economic opportunities in the North.

Knowing that oil and gas is not going to be looked at for a while due to the global world prices, has the Premier’s colleagues looked at a mineral assessment strategy in the Sahtu given that Selwyn-Chihong is going to be racking up their business with their mine close to the Yukon/Northwest Territories border? There are other areas in the Sahtu we haven’t looked at with regard to a Sahtu mineral strategy.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Yakeleya. Premier McLeod.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know the Sahtu has a rich history in mining. We think that with the downturn in the oil and gas, there is certainly potential in that area.

With the mineral strategy, there are opportunities to have regional mineral approaches. Certainly, this is something that we would like to pursue and work with the Sahtu government since they have the land claim settled. I think there are opportunities there that we can work together on. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

The Premier is dead on with this exchange. Within the realm of our government, an election will be happening soon, and something the government can look forward towards, and maybe put together, is a Sahtu mineral strategy conference in region so we can have a good, accurate assessment of what is there in the Sahtu with regard to a mineral strategy.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

We think that’s a very important initiative not only for the Sahtu but in other regions of the Northwest Territories. Despite the fact that we’re very close to election mode and we are also having to follow transitional operational guidelines, we will have our bureaucracy, so we can set the wheels in motion. They can start doing preparatory work so when the 18th Assembly is in place, we can hit the ground running or start working on it and get them to deal with it right away. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

What the Premier is saying is indeed good news. We can get the motion in gear and have some discussion with our leadership, land corporations, and look at some maps and see what needs to happen in terms of a good conference to get a good, accurate assessment of what is in the Sahtu and what areas we can look at to improve the development of a mineral strategy that the Sahtu region can work towards in five or 10 years as to how to extract or develop a mineral strategy and something like the Selwyn-Chihong operation that is expected to go into a billion dollar production sometime in the future.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Selwyn with the Member in the 16th Assembly. Certainly, the potential there is tremendous and the largest portion is in the Territories. It’s a tremendous opportunity for not only the Sahtu but the Northwest Territories. We will have to pursue that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Norman Yakeleya

Norman Yakeleya Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I enjoyed the tour with the Premier when we had that visit into the Sahtu. I know other areas in the Northwest Territories are rich in minerals. When we look at the Sahtu mineral strategy, we are looking at also the types of infrastructure that can help us with our mineral strategy. One of them is the Mackenzie Valley Highway.

Is that something we can look at in all aspects of the mineral strategy, so we can get our people to look at the area, look at the environment, look at the infrastructure and say we have a plan for the Sahtu to extract, develop and produce some of our rich minerals?

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

I know the Member was listening very closely when the Minister of Transportation was talking about our highway priorities. Certainly, the Mackenzie Valley Highway would certainly facilitate development in those areas. A highway would change the logistics of quite a number of projects, not only on the mineral side but oil and gas side. I really believe it would facilitate those projects to move into production. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Yellowknife for Yellowknife Centre, Mr. Hawkins.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Minister of Justice. It’s regarding RCMP and their side job, if I may describe it that way, in transporting prisoners back and forth between the jails. It’s been brought to my attention that the RCMP do this activity regularly. The question came as why doesn’t the sheriff’s office either use their existing resources or bolster their resources to do that particular job?

Frankly, we all know that a member of the RCMP, when you do what’s called the all-in cost, runs in the range of $175,000 to $200,000. It’s much more cost effective to have the sheriff’s office doing those duties between their other ones if they are shuffling prisoners back and forth between the jail and the courthouse. The point is I think it’s better use of RCMP time to put their service in the community, responding to crime and investigating crime.

Has the department investigated this idea and what consideration have they put to it? If they haven’t, will they?

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To my knowledge, it’s corrections services that transports people back and forth between the facility and the courthouse. I can look into this matter further for the Member and get some further detail, but to my knowledge, it’s corrections services that provides that service and not the RCMP. Thank you.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

I know that that’s probably normally the case that the corrections services does that one, but there’s also interjurisdictional travel that is required by shuffling inmates back and forth or other types of similar situations, and we bring the RCMP off duty and they have to find folks to wear that duty outside of normal operating hours, and that affects the RCMP, and everyone complains in this community that they’re unable to get more RCMP on the ground doing the job that they do, and they certainly do so well.

When it comes to interjurisdictional transfers of prisoners and usages of those types of resources, would the Minister investigate the possibility of using the sheriff’s office? If they don’t have the resources, bolster the resources appropriately, because it’s cheaper for us to afford a few extra hours as the sheriff doing that duty than it is taking an RCMP off the street.

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

It would go back to the circumstances surrounding the individual who was being transported, but again, to my knowledge, the corrections service does supply that type of duty or obligation in getting inmates transferred from facility to facility. But again, depending on the nature of the individual and security risk, the RCMP may be involved in that. As to whether or not the sheriff’s office could take part in transferring folks around, again, that’s something that I’ll go back to the department and ask them about.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Well, if the Minister is not sure it happens, I can tell you, I was in a plane recently and there were two RCMP officers shepherding an inmate from a court duty in Alberta back to the Northwest Territories. I do know it happens. I’ve seen it personally, and I’ve seen it personally from my experience working at the correctional centre many years ago, that I know that they do this duty occasionally.

What I’m asking for is: Is the Minister willing to do an evaluation of the resources on that particular matter that evaluates the cost effectiveness of taking RCMP off the street, from providing policing, responding to crime and investigating crime, to considering putting the sheriffs into that particular role? They do it in other regions such as all the provinces across Canada. Why can’t we consider the same type of functionality of our sheriff’s office?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

I do know and I am aware that the RCMP do provide transport and do that type of work. I’ve seen it myself as well. I will go back to the department, as I mentioned in response to a previous question, and get some further detail on this.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate the information and I certainly look forward to it coming before the dissolution of this Assembly, because I’ll have to wait until next term, if things all go well. In all fairness and in all seriousness, I’m asking for an evaluation of the cost effectiveness of the Government of the Northwest Territories paying RCMP to do this as an overtime job, an extra duty job, finding a couple of them, when we could be using our own resources internally through the sheriff’s office, so an evaluation and a little bit of a strategic look needs to be done on this. It’s not just I’ll go look and get the numbers. Will he be willing to do an evaluation on this possibility?

David Ramsay

David Ramsay Kam Lake

To my knowledge, that type of evaluation hasn’t been conducted, but it may have and I may not be aware of that. Again, I’ll go back to the department, I’ll ask them and we’ll see what we can do. I know there are only 17 days left, so I will see what we can do.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Item 8, written questions. Item 9, returns to written questions. Item 10, petitions. Item 11, reports of standing and special committees. Mr. Hawkins.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to report to the Assembly the Committee Report 26-17(5), Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure Report on Transition Matters.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nahendeh, that the Committee Report 26-17(5) be deemed read and reprinted in Hansard in its entirety.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Some Hon. Members

Question.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Question has been called. The motion is carried.

---Carried

Committee Report 26-17(5) is deemed read and reprinted in Hansard in its entirety.

Introduction

As the 17th Assembly concludes, the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure continues to monitor several issues and initiatives with long-term implications and to remain engaged with the vital themes of energy and devolution.

The next Assembly will be the first to inherit post-devolution responsibilities from territorial colleagues. These will require close consideration in the next committee. Energy and heating concerns also remain a priority, including costs of living and cost-effective power delivery, continuing low-water conditions and territory-wide dependence on diesel and other fossil fuels, the regulation of resource extraction, and the incorporation of renewable energies into our daily lives.

The committee recognizes challenges of the projected downturn in mining, prospecting and exploration. Going forward, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has the opportunity to use its legislative, regulatory and economic strengths to increase community sustainability and self-sufficiency through growth in “green” jobs and in traditional and conservation economies, in addition to established industries. This will empower current residents, encourage much-needed population growth and foster economic diversification.

This report informs the public and Members of the 18th Assembly of work in progress and highlights areas we believe will require the continued attention of our successor committee.

Background

The Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure includes six Regular Members of the Legislative Assembly. The committee’s role is to consider the following matters with respect to the departments of Environment and Natural Resources; Industry, Tourism, and Investment; Municipal and Community Affairs; Public Works and Services; and Transportation:

1. review multi-year business plans and budgets, bills, and boards and agencies, including the Workers’ Compensation Commission of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, the Northwest Territories Business Development and Investment Corporation and the Public Utilities Board;

2. review departmental performance, including that of boards and agencies; and

3. consider any other matter referred by the House.

Legislation and Regulations

Hydraulic fracturing has been a matter of great public interest throughout this Assembly. Our successors are encouraged to consider the committee’s Research Summary and Report on Horizontal Hydraulic Fracturing, and seek an update respecting ongoing developments.

The committee also encourages our successors to pursue the merger of the Territorial Lands Act

and Commissioners Lands Act and to ensure that mandatory financial security applies consistently.

Interdepartmental Matters

ENERGY AND CLIMATE CHANGE:

Climate and Energy

Climate change continues to impact NWT people, landscape and wildlife, from shoreline erosion in Tuktoyaktuk to hunt-disrupting permafrost melt near Jean Marie River and from sweeping forest fire activity in the parched forests of the North Slave, South Slave and Deh Cho to record-low water levels across the regions. Climate change also impacts energy needs and capacity, affecting local and regional costs of living, barge transportation and community resupply, residents’ quality of life and GNWT spending and planning.

Energy charrettes held in 2012 and 2014 affirmed that stabilizing energy costs, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and ensuring a reliable energy supply are among the top territorial priorities. It is necessary to continue the work of existing strategies and to develop an action plan specific to climate change. Such a plan would describe concrete actions and target dates toward ending reliance on and divesting from fossil fuels, implementing effective and enforceable renewable energy standards for industry and transportation, and assessing carbon pricing. While great strides have been made improving GNWT energy performance, further advancement is needed in helping residents, business and institutions make similar improvements.

Action is the order of the day. Recognizing the success of past energy initiatives (e.g., biomass capital projects and over-subscribed rebate programs), the committee stresses the immediate pursuit of initiatives with effects that can and will be measured both qualitatively and quantitatively. Members also highlight improved energy conservation as a key continued pursuit.

The committee particularly notes its support of the proposed Energy Efficiency Act and forthcoming discussion paper, the GNWT’s proposal to develop a territory-wide system for fuel data, and the Colville Lake solar-diesel-hybrid system. We highlight the need for additional and continued funding to the renewable energies Net Metering Program and the Renewable Energy Technology Fund, which was over-subscribed four months into the current fiscal year. Much-welcomed work on community funding formulas, particularly capital funding, would also do well to assess and account for climate impacts on territorial infrastructure

In the past twelve months, the GNWT has twice expended tens of millions of dollars in one-time subsidies to the NWT Power Corporation, while subsidy programs to address energy needs in the long term, like the Net Metering Program, consistently run out of funding. Additionally, community renewable energy infrastructure has been excluded from GNWT planning. The GNWT has committed to supporting international efforts to limit the increase in global temperature to below two degrees Celsius and our successors might consider how these factors will impact territorial policy and development.

Strategies for the Future

Both the Biomass Energy Strategy 2012-15 and the Greenhouse Gas Strategy for the Northwest Territories 2011-2015 expire this year. However, the GNWT’s goal of success in a low-carbon economy is as yet unresolved, while biomass projects continue to show great promise, particularly in the South Slave and Deh Cho. Similarly, though the Solar Energy Strategyconcludes in 2017, several goals remain as yet unresolved, while solar projects continue to grow in popularity and practicality. The committee urges our successors to recognize various renewable energy opportunities to reduce energy costs and our dependence on diesel and other fossil fuels, and to press for updated strategies and action.

The committee suggests visiting NWT biomass operations. We also note the Inuvik Storm Hills Wind Farm and the Yellowknife wind feasibility studies, and point to our work on the successful use of wind energy at the Diavik Wind Farm. We also flag waste management, including industrial and mining waste, for further consideration.

Departmental Matters

Environment and Natural Resources (ENR)

FOREST FIRES:

While the 2015 season was not as severe as the previous year, it remains the second worst on record, with similar conditions experienced across Canada and in other nations. Forest fires are a natural part of our forests’ lifecycles, but fire severity combined with climate change, ongoing drought and severe environmental pressures on Boreal forests have serious implications for forest health and GNWT fiscal status. Approximately $99 million has been spent fighting NWT forest fires in the past two years, a total that does not account for related impacts, including human health, lost business, and service and transportation interruptions.

The committee encourages our successors to asses GNWT performance in the identified priority areas of public engagement, safety, and human resources, as well as the anticipated new air tanker fleet. Emerging opportunities associated with fires, including biomass operations, mushrooms and other non-timber forest products are also noted.

MUSHROOM HARVEST:

The 2015 morel harvest drew significant attention from pickers and buyers. The committee encourages our successors to actively foster these and other young, home-grown industries rooted in conservation economies and notes that future work on the Forest Management Act must address more than one type of mushroom or one category of forest resources.

Industry, Tourism, and Investment (ITI)

Abandoned and Suspended Oil and Gas Wells

The committee encourages our successors to press for further clarity on the number of abandoned and suspended wells under territorial jurisdiction, and to urge the development and implementation of an action plan for monitoring and management, including identifying and addressing leakages and site reclamation.

Members feel strongly that the number of wells and specific locations for each should be made public and further note the need to manage orphaned wells.

Commercial Fisheries

The next committee is encouraged to evaluate the Fresh Fish from Great Slave Lake

branding strategy and to seek an update on the fisheries business plan.

Diamond Potentials

The committee urges our successors to continue to press industry on socio-economic agreements and quotas for northern employment and contracting, and to monitor currently proposed expansions. Further, the committee has been eager for progress in the territorial diamond manufacturing sector, particularly Yellowknife-based processing plants, for some time, but with no result. Decisions must be made and action taken. NWT artisans and jewellery may prove a useful future focus for value-added diamond potentials.

THE ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITIES STRATEGY:

The committee recommends that our successors pursue a thorough review of the Economic Opportunities Strategy (EOS) to clearly assess its costs, benefits and impacts.

Several other government strategies emerge from the EOS and the next committee will likely be interested in monitoring their progress, including but not limited to those discussed below. Notably, the committee’s review of the Mineral Development Strategy included a commissioned analysis by the Pembina Institute. We also encourage our successors to review the new China Strategy and Action Plan and to monitor the development of a new tourism plan.

Agriculture Strategy:

The committee highlights the matter of lease rates for Commissioner’s land used for agriculture and encourages our successors to press the department for timely development and implementation of the strategy itself.

Film Strategy and Action Plan:

The next committee is encouraged to meet with the new NWT Film Commissioner to discuss the commission’s direction and marketing strategies.

Oil and Gas Strategy:

This strategy is currently under development and the matter of oil and gas development, even during the current exploration downturn, is one of great interest to the committee and to the public, and with great potential impact on the NWT. The committee points to the report on public engagement on the strategy and encourages our successors to closely monitor developments, as oil and gas development carries great potential impact for the NWT.

Mines and Mining

Northern benefits are key: In 2014, fewer NWT residents held diamond mine jobs than those from other jurisdictions, increasing by nearly 50 percent, while the number of residents holding positions increased only 20 percent. The next committee may also wish to examine royalty rates and other opportunities for northern revenue. We also encourage our successors to pursue a full-cost accounting analysis of net benefits gained from NWT-based mines where the majority of wages leave the NWT.

Additionally, we recommend industry requirements for investment in and commitment to renewable energies to reduce diesel consumption. Wind farm technology has already been proven viable in the NWT.

Northern Workforce

Workforce readiness and GNWT worker retention are vital to territorial capacity for growth

The committee highlights NWT manufacturing and support for territorial businesses’ competitiveness in tender processes. We point to the NWT Business Incentive Policy and NWT-based providers of solar energy technology.

Northwest Territories Geological Survey

The committee suggests expansion of NTGS environmental geoscience projects, including baseline data collection; investigation of permafrost slumps, including resulting catastrophic lake drainage and water impacts; and petroleum work.

The Northwest Territories Mining Advisory Board

To maximize benefits to NWT residents, the next committee may wish to pursue further evaluation of the board’s composition and operation (e.g., expert representation in environmental regulation, poverty reduction, and Aboriginal affairs and governance).

Oil and Gas Exploration

The GNWT initiated its first call cycle for oil and gas exploration in October 2014 and lessons learned will likely be of interest. The committee also recommends a review assessing subsidies to industry, including a responsive action plan.

Lands

Recreational Land Use Framework

There is an ongoing need for a clear plan to address concerns with squatters in the Yellowknife River watershed and the Inuvik Airport Lake areas. Members also flag the ongoing matters of leases and sales along the Ingraham Trail and at Cassidy Point, and the collection of securities for all land-use sites.

Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA)

911 Services

The next committee is encouraged to explore service model options, inter-community disparity, costs and cost-management, and consultation with Aboriginal and community governments.

Sport and Recreation Funding

The funding structure for territorial sport and recreation is notably complex and the next committee is encouraged to seek a status update from the department.

Public Works and Services (PWS)

Departmental Reorganization and Energy Planning

The committee urges its successors to monitor the delivery of the department’s new responsibilities in energy planning, including the development of an Energy Efficiency Act, for which a discussion paper is expected near the end of the 17th Assembly.

Transportation (DOT)

Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway

We urge our successors continue to monitor the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway Project as it enters its third year of planned construction.

NWT TRANSPORTATION STRATEGY 2015-2040:

The committee highlights two long-standing infrastructure initiatives: the Mackenzie Valley Highway and potential infrastructure development in the Slave Geologic Province.

Additionally, airport repairs and the dredging of territorial rivers remain significant issues for several NWT constituencies. These include airports in Hay River and Inuvik as well as the Hay River and Tuktoyaktuk harbours. Loss of permafrost and storm surges are causing persistent damage, while drought and low-water conditions continue to impede marine transportation as well as the quality of the territorial waterways on which our small communities rely.

Conclusion

This concludes the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Infrastructure’s Report on Transition Matters. Members respectfully suggest that our successor committee consider requesting updates on the above matters from the Government, and wish them the utmost success in fulfilling their mandate.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Mr. Hawkins.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know a lot of people are disappointed we didn’t read it in whole, but it’s now on the record in Hansard.

Robert Hawkins

Robert Hawkins Yellowknife Centre

I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nahendeh, that Committee Report 26-17(5) be received and adopted by this Assembly.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Some Hon. Members

Question.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Question has been called. The motion is carried.

---Carried

Committee Report 26-17(5) is received and adopted by the Assembly. Mr. Moses.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

CARRIED

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to report to the Assembly Committee Report 27-17(5), Standing Committee on Social Programs Report on Transition Matters.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Range Lake, that Committee Report 27-17(5) be deemed read and printed in Hansard in its entirety. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Some Hon. Members

Question.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Question has been called.

---Carried

Introduction

As the 17th Legislative Assembly draws to a close, the Standing Committee on Social Programs continues to monitor a variety of important programs and initiatives. Through this transition report, the committee wishes to highlight areas that are likely to require attention in the 18th Assembly.

Background

The Standing Committee on Social Programs is comprised of five Regular Members of the Legislative Assembly. The committee's role is to perform the following, with respect to the departments of Education, Culture and Employment; Health and Social Services; Justice; and the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation:

1. review multi-year business plans and budgets, bills, boards and agencies, including the Status of Women Council and programs for seniors, youth and persons with disabilities;

2. review departmental performance, including that of boards and agencies; and

3. consider any other matter referred by the House.

Transition Issues

1. Service Delivery

The committee has long-standing concerns about limited access to services in small communities. The reason is often a lack of presence on the ground; for example, no local police officer, social worker, nurse, mental health worker or addictions counsellor. This weakens the effectiveness of government programs. It is especially concerning in light of evidence from the Early Development Instrument and other sources, which shows that small communities are home to a disproportionate number of vulnerable individuals and families.

Another long-standing concern is departmental silos that create fragmented experiences for people trying to access services. The committee has consistently urged the government to provide services in a more integrated manner and to revise policies that operate at cross-purposes. An integrated case management pilot project is underway in Yellowknife, and the government has committed to adopting integrated approaches in a range of other settings. The successor committee is urged to promote this way of doing business because of its proven success in other jurisdictions and its far-reaching potential to help our most vulnerable residents.

1. Inter-Departmental Strategic Frameworks

2. Anti-Poverty Action Plan

In response to a motion carried in the 16th Assembly, the government began working on an anti-poverty strategy. In June 2013 the government tabled an anti-poverty framework. In February 2014 the GNWT action plan followed. In June 2015 a territory-wide action plan was released. The action plans are based on five priorities: 1) child and family support; 2) healthy living and reaching our potential; 3) safe and affordable housing; 4) sustainable communities; and 5) an integrated continuum of services.

While the committee supports this initiative, it has urged the GNWT to allocate more funding to it. In 2014-15, $2.5 million – the equivalent of $60 per resident – was spent on a patchwork of activities. Moreover, the action plan contains no systematic approach for dealing with homelessness, a growing problem in the Northwest Territories. The successor committee is urged to track the progress of the action plan and to push for stronger, more comprehensive and longer term funding.

1. Early Childhood Development Action Plan

Scientific evidence shows that the degree of support and appropriate stimulation children receive before the age of four will have a crucial impact on their well-being and productivity in adulthood. Citing this evidence, the committee has repeatedly called for enhanced services for infants, very young children and their parents. A motion carried in May 2012 called on the Ministers of Education, Culture and Employment and Health and Social Services to develop a comprehensive plan. The Government produced a one-year strategic framework and a three-year action plan. While these documents were well-conceived, the government’s commitment was disappointing. In the budget for 2014-15, only $511,000 in new money was allocated, while the remainder of the budget was re-profiled from health promotion and prevention activities (Department of Health and Social Services) and the K to 12 school system (Department of Education, Culture and Employment).

A controversial component of the ECD Action Plan was the implementation of junior kindergarten. The rollout was to be accomplished by adjusting the pupil-teacher ratio (PTR) just within the legislated threshold instead of infusing new money into the school system. Implementation was to take place over three years, beginning in small communities in 2014-15, and following in the regional centres in 2015-16 and Yellowknife in 2016-17.

The proposed rollout drew a number of criticisms. First, the committee felt that the adjustment had been made without due consideration to the impact on the overall learning environment. Second, the committee felt that the funding model was ill-conceived, as it unfairly impacted mill rate communities. Third, the committee was concerned about the quality of programming, noting that junior kindergarten is most effective when it is delivered by specially trained early childhood workers in well-equipped play-based learning spaces. The evidence shows that schools are often not the appropriate place for early childhood programs such as junior kindergarten. Fourth, the committee observed that developmental delays are already well underway by the age of four and asked why the government was not focusing resources on children aged zero to three. Regular Members also voiced concerns along these lines, as did numerous stakeholders, including representatives from the Yellowknife school boards and Aboriginal Head Start program.

The government subsequently suspended implementation in the regional centres and Yellowknife and agreed to complete an evaluation of the implementation that took place in small communities in 2014-15. The government has left it up to the 18th Assembly to determine whether or how to proceed. The successor committee is strongly urged to look for the government’s evaluation and review it carefully.

The successor committee is also urged to review the government’s feasibility study on universal daycare, which was prompted by a motion of the Legislative Assembly in 2013. The study compares the funding and policy frameworks of the Northwest Territories, Quebec and Scandinavia, and shows that our jurisdiction spends considerably less on early childhood development, including daycare, than other jurisdictions. As a percentage of GDP spent on early childhood development, the Northwest Territories allocates 0.4 percent, while Canada allocates 0.6 percent; Quebec 1.1 percent; and Denmark – the highest among countries belonging to the OECD, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development – 2.2 percent. On average, OECD countries allocate 1.1 percent of their GDP to early childhood development.

A related topic is government support for daycare infrastructure. In the spring of 2015, Kids Corner Daycare in Fort Simpson asked for a contribution toward the cost of a new facility. The request was turned down, despite the fact that Children First daycare in Inuvik had received $1 million in 2013 for similar purposes. The GNWT has promised to produce a multi-departmental policy on infrastructure funding for non-profit and private-sector organizations, and the successor committee should inquire into its estimated date of completion.

1. Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan

Released in February 2014, the updated Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan combines the 2012 action plan with the recommendations from the 2013 Minister’s Forum on Addictions and Community Wellness. The updated plan points to a range of government services across the continuum of care. However, as Members are repeatedly told by their constituents, the reality on the ground does not always match up with the government’s promises. The committee has asked for improvements in a number of areas, including withdrawal management services, community counselling and after-care. Members have also encouraged expansion of on-the-land healing programs. The successor committee is urged to push for stronger action in all these areas and request performance evaluations of pilot programs and established activities.

In addition, the committee has expressed repeated concerns about the closure of the Nats’ejee K’eh Treatment Facility in 2013. Members would like to see more northern-based treatment options and less reliance on southern facilities. Moreover, the committee has urged the GNWT to partner with Nunavut and the Yukon in establishing a pan-territorial residential treatment centre. The incoming committee is encouraged to pursue this proposal.

The successor committee is also encouraged to push for stronger interdepartmental collaboration on the Mental Health and Addictions Action Plan. Three potentially fruitful collaborations are recommended. First, a stronger partnership between the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Justice would allow offenders to address addiction and mental health issues more effectively and increase their chances of rehabilitation. Second, a stronger partnership between the Department of Health and Social Services and the Department of Education, Culture and Employment could pave the way for a mental health strategy specifically for youth, with schools serving as settings for service delivery. Third, a stronger collaboration between the Department of Health and Social Services and the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation could set the stage for implementing the “Housing First” model in communities across the Northwest Territories. “Housing First” is an evidence-based intervention model whereby permanent housing is secured for individuals who are homeless and living with a mental illness.

During its review of Bill 55, which will replace the outdated Mental Health Act and come into force in the 18th Assembly, the committee made a number of recommendations, including developing a strategy for addressing the mental health needs of youth and adolescents, hiring staff to fill long-standing vacancies among front-line workers and expanding suicide prevention efforts. The successor committee is urged to track the government’s response to recommendations arising from the review of Bill 55 and the development of regulations for the new act.

1. Departmental Programs and Issues

Department of Education, Culture and Employment

Education Renewal and Innovation Initiative

During the 17th Assembly, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment launched the Education Renewal and Innovation (ERI) Initiative. Through a one-year strategic framework and a three-year action plan, the aim is to enhance relationships between schools and communities, promote student wellness, renew the K to 12 curriculum, and ensure that the education system is monitored, evaluated, and financially accountable. While Members are impressed with the scope of the initiative, they have expressed several concerns: first, the volume of new activities runs the risk of intensifying workloads for principals, teachers and support workers; second, the large number of working groups, operating simultaneously, seem to be making slow and unwieldy progress; third, not enough attention is being given to the problems of truancy and poor attendance; fourth, there seems to be a lack of focus on educational basics: reading, writing and arithmetic; and fifth, the amount of new funding is very limited so there is a danger of attempting to accomplish too much with too little. The successor committee is also urged to monitor the effectiveness of strategies to promote “self-regulation,” defined as the student’s ability to stay calm, alert and ready to learn. An update on the ERI Initiative should be requested early in the 18th Assembly.

Auditor General’s 2010 Report on Education

In 2010 the Auditor General’s report focused on education in the Northwest Territories and included nine significant recommendations for improvement. While the department committed to fulfilling these recommendations, it has made slow and uneven progress. For example, the Auditor General recommended that the department report regularly to the Legislative Assembly on key performance indicators, noting in particular that the department has not been tracking the extent of compliance with the directive on Adult Literacy and Basic Education (ALBE), which is run by Aurora College, or whether training is yielding the desired results. The department promised to evaluate the ALBE Program under the Accountability Framework for the Education and Training of Adults in the Northwest Territories, yet no results have been tabled. Thus, more than five years have passed since the Auditor General’s report and we are no closer to knowing the strengths and deficiencies of the department’s educational programs. The successor committee is strongly urged to look into the department’s readiness and capacity to generate results on key performance indicators. In addition, the committee should request an update on governance reform at Aurora College and on the department’s compliance with daycare legislation, including annual inspections of daycare facilities.

Inclusive Schooling

The Inclusive Schooling directive was reviewed during the 17th Assembly, and the government’s plan is to continue funding it through an enrolment-based formula. The committee believes this disadvantages “magnet communities” which attract higher numbers of students with complex needs. Moreover, the committee wants assurance that funding assigned to support any particular student will migrate with the student if he or she moves to a different school. Members have recommended an alternative funding formula, based on a blend of enrolment numbers and the actual number of students who have special needs. The successor committee is encouraged to pursue this line of reasoning and to monitor a number of related activities, including the department’s methods for identifying student needs and evaluating the true effects of inclusive-schooling expenditures on market communities.

Skills 4 Success

In the closing months of the 17th Assembly, the government presented its 10-year strategic framework known as Skills 4 Success. The goals of this initiative are to build residents’ skills and post-secondary credentials, enhance employment supports, improve the recruitment and retention of qualified workers, and provide Northerners with the information they need to make smart career decisions. In the 18th Assembly, the committee is encouraged to monitor this strategic framework for its effectiveness. The labour-market forecast and the territorial needs assessment, as prepared by the Conference Board of Canada, may also be of interest.

Auditor General’s 2013 Report on Income Security Programs

In 2013 the Auditor General’s report focused on income security programs. Deficiencies were identified in a number of areas, including the management of client files, financial oversight, program evaluation, staff training and staff safety. The department responded with an action plan, and the committee has been tracking the department’s fidelity to its commitments. The successor committee should continue tracking the department’s progress, including the corrective action plans for addressing deficiencies, the evaluation of five new employment transition officer positions, and the expansion of public housing units for clients on income assistance.

Enhancements to Student Financial Assistance

Since before the 16th Assembly, the committee has been asking for enhancements to the Student Financial Assistance program. Members are pleased that some enhancements are finally in place. Students can now give their consent to be connected with potential employers in the Northwest Territories. In addition, basic grant amounts have increased, and debts will be forgiven more quickly if students reside in the Northwest Territories. A northern bonus will also be offered to any student who settles here. As these enhancements are part of the government’s Population Growth Strategy, the successor committee should monitor data on key performance indicators, including the current proportion of students who have chosen to settle in the Northwest Territories upon completion of post-secondary studies and any subsequent increases. In addition, the incoming committee may want an update on the appeals process.

Anti-Bullying Legislation

During the 17th Assembly, a motion was passed urging the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment to address bullying in the schools. The government’s subsequent decision to amend the Education Act was also based in part on compelling independent research. A survey of 1,600 NWT students showed significantly higher levels of bullying here than in most of Canada. In addition, cyber-bullying has had tragic results across Canada, sometimes leading young people to take their own lives. Accordingly, the amendments to the Education Act sought to define bullying, including cyber-bullying, and provide, through regulations, for a territorial school code of conduct and safe school plans. The bill was passed on November 1, 2013, but the regulations have not been developed to date. This points, once again, to the department’s tendency toward slow progress. The successor committee is encouraged to request a status update on the development of the regulations, territorial school code of conduct and safe school plans.

Aboriginal Language Revitalization

Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories are struggling to keep their languages alive. This is largely due to the combined impact of colonialism, residential schools and the dominant use of English in the North. Over the past 20 years, the percentage of residents who speak their Aboriginal language has declined by nearly 20 percent. If this trend continues, the Northwest Territories may lose its Aboriginal languages altogether. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment, together with key stakeholders, has initiated a new approach to language revitalization. Funding has been allocated for five‐year regional Aboriginal language plans, including enhanced funding to help Aboriginal governments build capacity in implementing the plans. The department also recently reviewed its directive on Aboriginal Language and Culture-Based Education (ALCBE) under the Education Renewal and Innovation Initiative. The incoming committee is urged to track the effectiveness of the five-year language plans and the renewed ALCBE directive and to ensure that financial accountability mechanisms are in place for the five-year language plans.

Department of Health and Social Services

System Transformation

During the 17th Assembly, the Department of Health and Social Services began to modernize and streamline the health and social services system. Bill 44, the amended Hospital Insurance and Health and Social Services Administration Act, received assent in March 2015 and will allow the Minister to combine the regional authorities into a single territorial authority. The new legislation will also allow for the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority to be brought into the public service at a later date, but at considerable cost. The committee urges the Minister to continue communicating openly with the committee and the public on this important endeavour. The successor committee should request status updates on several activities, including contract negotiations with the Union of Northern Workers Local 21 in Hay River; the Privacy Impact Assessment, which is the formal process for identifying potential privacy risks associated with the amalgamation of regional authorities; and the implementation of new provisions pertaining to critical incidents.

Child and Family Services

In recent years, the child and family services system in the Northwest Territories has received significant scrutiny. The committee’s 16th Assembly report on the review of the Child and Family Services Act contained over 70 recommendations, and called for a less adversarial approach, including the use of least-intrusive measures.

Then in March 2014, the Office of the Auditor General released its audit of child and family services. The audit identified serious deficiencies in a range of areas, including accountability, investigations, risk assessments and screening of foster homes. The department responded with an action plan that promises to provide greater voluntary supports for families and to usher in a more collaborative approach. While some progress has been made, several initiatives are delayed or stalled, and the annual compliance audits have yet to be released. The successor committee is urged to assess the extent to which these audits replicate the Auditor General’s key indicators and thus provide a sound method for tracking improvements over time.

In addition, in the spring of 2015, the committee completed its review of Bill 47, the government’s long-awaited response to the committee’s 2010 report. The successor committee is urged to monitor the department’s response to the committee’s recommendations, including its recommendation to rewrite the Child and Family Services Act during the 18th Assembly.

Continuing Care

Over the next 15 years, the Canadian population is expected to age dramatically, and one of the highest proportional increases in the over-65 population is expected to take place within the Northwest Territories. This demographic shift will strain the health care system and increase demands for housing and infrastructure. Hundreds of new care beds will be required, and demands for home care services will rise. Indeed, the needs of seniors are already pressing, as there are waitlists for long-term care and concerns that home care services are too thin on the ground. The committee has urged the government to go beyond its preliminary framework entitled Our Elders: Our Communities

by establishing a comprehensive action plan. The lack of thorough long-term planning is a serious concern, and the successor committee is encouraged to pursue this issue.

Pharmaceutical Strategy

In 2012 Alberta Blue Cross prepared a report for the GNWT to look at cost-saving options for the management of drug benefits. A pharmaceutical strategy was subsequently initiated for the purpose of revising the GNWT’s policy and regulatory framework, establishing procedures for bulk procurement, introducing catastrophic drug coverage and considering alternatives to the NIHB formulary. A comprehensive rollout of the pharmaceutical strategy did not take place as planned in the 17th Assembly. Accordingly, the successor committee should request an update.

Medical Travel Policy

Since the 16th Assembly, the committee has been urging the government to modernize the Medical Travel Policy and address inconsistencies in its application. The committee asked the government to complete this task within the life of the 17th Assembly, but the goal was only partially realized. The incoming committee should ask for an update on the new ministerial directives in the first quarter of 2016.

Water Quality Testing

During the 17th Assembly, the committee repeatedly urged the government to improve its water testing regime through more rigorous standards and better public reporting. Concerns about water quality have been amplified by recent drought conditions and boil-water advisories. A new public website on drinking water quality was launched in 2015, and the successor committee is encouraged to monitor the website, the frequency of monitoring activities and overall compliance with national water testing guidelines.

Health Information Act

Bill 4, the Health Information Act, received assent in March 2014 and is expected to come into force on October 1, 2015. With this legislation, the Northwest Territories is joining several other Canadian jurisdictions with health-specific privacy legislation. The successor committee is urged to request an early status update on the implementation of the act, including the Health Information Act Manual; the risk-management tool kit; the delivery of staff training across the Northwest Territories; the communication plan, which should include broad circulation of plain-language materials; and measures being taken to ensure that Aboriginal language speakers understand their rights and what the legislation means.

Health Promotion and Prevention

Throughout the 17th Assembly, the committee has recommended more resources for activities that promote good health and prevent diseases or family dysfunction. The successor committee may wish to request an update on these activities, including how funding has been allocated and results from key performance indicators.

Chronic Disease Management

Many chronic diseases are preventable, yet they cause a lot of suffering and drive up health care spending. The committee urges a stronger response to chronic diseases such as diabetes and cancer. Diabetes is a particular concern, as more than 3,000 NWT residents have the disease and over 200 new cases are diagnosed every year. The committee may want to request an update, including results from the diabetes prevalence study, which is due in January 2016, and evaluations of the various prevention and disease-management programs.

Health and Social Services Professions Act

Once in force, the Health and Social Services Professions Act will enable the GNWT to regulate numerous professions under a single law and ensure that only qualified professionals are licenced to practice. The legislation will also empower the Minister to establish a mechanism for reviewing professional conduct. The successor committee may want an update on the drafting of regulations, including the extent of stakeholder involvement and an indication of the professions that are next in the queue for regulation. Fee amounts may also be of interest.

Department of Justice

Auditor General’s 2015 Report on Corrections

In 2015 the Auditor General’s report focused on the correctional system within the Northwest Territories. The audit found that the Department of Justice has not met its key responsibilities for inmates and has failed to comply with key rehabilitation and reintegration requirements. Deficiencies in case management were also found to limit the department’s efforts to rehabilitate inmates. The successor committee is strongly urged to track the department’s action plan for correcting deficiencies and to assess the extent to which the audit tools replicate the Auditor General’s key indicators and thus provide a sound method for tracking improvements over time.

In addition, during its review of Bill 63, An Act to Amend the Victims of Crime Act, the committee noted that corrections services division is struggling with capacity issues and that the changes associated with Bill 63 will place even greater strain on the courts and correctional resources when offenders cannot pay their fines. There will also be greater pressure to find work opportunities for offenders who participate in the territorial work/Fine Options Program. The successor committee should urge the government to track additional costs and fund the anticipated shortfall.

Wellness Court

In the previous Assembly, the Standing Committee on Social Programs conducted research on specialized courts which divert accused persons from mainstream courts and address underlying causes of criminal behaviour. During the 17th Assembly, the government responded by introducing the Wellness Court. This alternative court provides treatment and community support for offenders with addictions, mental disorders or cognitive challenges. The successor committee may want an update on the program’s effectiveness in providing timely and reliable supports such as counselling, housing and income assistance. The new committee may also want to inquire into the potential for expanding the program beyond Yellowknife.

Integrated Case Management Pilot Project

The Integrated Case Management (ICM) Pilot Project is adopting a client-centred, multi-departmental model of service delivery and is geared to clients with complex needs. The successor committee may want to inquire into the results of the first evaluation phase in Yellowknife, the number of clients in the program, the proposed expansion to Inuvik and strategies for overcoming barriers to multi-departmental pr