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.


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.



The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 243-17(5): Intergovernmental Relations With Aboriginal Governments During The 17th Legislative Assembly
Ministers’ Statements

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.

Minister's Statement 243-17(5): Intergovernmental Relations With Aboriginal Governments During The 17th Legislative Assembly
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 244-17(5): Highway Corridor Planning
Ministers’ Statements

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.

Minister's Statement 244-17(5): Highway Corridor Planning
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 245-17(5): Transboundary Water Management Agreement Reached With British Columbia
Ministers’ Statements

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.

Minister's Statement 245-17(5): Transboundary Water Management Agreement Reached With British Columbia
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 246-17(5): Community Fuel Prices
Ministers’ Statements

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.

Minister's Statement 246-17(5): Community Fuel Prices
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 247-17(5): New Western Arctic Centre For Geomatics
Ministers’ Statements

October 8th, 2015

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.

Minister's Statement 247-17(5): New Western Arctic Centre For Geomatics
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 248-17(5): Success Of The Small Scale Foods Program In All Regions
Ministers’ Statements

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.

Minister's Statement 248-17(5): Success Of The Small Scale Foods Program In All Regions
Ministers’ Statements

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.


Member for Weledeh, Mr. Bromley.