This is page numbers 6259 – 6290 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

Question 833-17(5): Morel Mushroom Harvesting Concerns
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Question 833-17(5): Morel Mushroom Harvesting Concerns
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With all the authorities in the Northwest Territories we continue to work with, of course, the RCMP, ENR monitoring these camps and where people are. There is no requirement for them to check in. Many of them are working for somebody else who would know where they’re at. The Member has a valid point and that’s something I’ll discuss with the department, and because we have had a lack of rain, although there is some rain in the forecast for next week, we’re hoping to get rain on Tuesday and possibly Thursday, which will help the harvest and help with potential forest fire danger here in the territory. We’ll get a more thorough response for the Member on monitoring the pickers who are here, where they’re at, and that is a very important issue. Thank you.

Question 833-17(5): Morel Mushroom Harvesting Concerns
Oral Questions

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

I would like to ask the Minister of ITI to share with the Assembly the risk-benefit analysis that the department has undertaken to determine how this territory would gain from allowing hundreds of non-resident harvesters to pick mushrooms on the land who will not pay income tax to the GNWT and, at the same time, will put the territory at great risk either for rescuing them or dealing with their emergencies or, as I said, starting fires that we know costs millions of dollars to suppress. What is the cost-benefit analysis of that being done? It’s a great idea. Come

on up here and pick mushrooms, but it’s worrisome. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 833-17(5): Morel Mushroom Harvesting Concerns
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Not only are we seeing an influx of pickers from western Canada who are showing up in the Northwest Territories, but through the work of the department we are trying to get local people interested in this harvest. That’s why we’re putting on the workshops. That’s why we’re doing the walking tours. It is going to have an economic impact. The pickers who do show up here are going to eat at restaurants, they are going to stay in our parks and campgrounds, they are going to buy gas and supplies from local stores. There is going to be an economic benefit to having them here, but we are trying our best to ensure that the benefits of the morel harvest this summer accrue to people in the Northwest Territories, pickers here in the Northwest Territories.

We’ve had a great deal of interest. I mentioned in my Minister’s statement that 1,200 residents attended the workshops here in the NWT. Our belief here is there is going to be a very good harvest once the rain hits next week and we will see some economic benefit. We haven’t, to my knowledge, done a complete cost-benefit analysis on what it would be. We don’t really know, as I mentioned in my Minister’s statement, and there are a lot of variables. Things like weather, supply and demand, a number of variables there. We haven’t done that, but once this morel season is over, perhaps we could take a look and try to quantify what the economic uptake was on the harvest this summer. The most important thing is we are trying to get local people out to harvest the morels.

Last March we had second reading given to a proposed amendment to the Forest Management Act, which would allow the Minister of ENR to make regulations in respect to the harvest of timber forest products, which would include mushrooms. This is moving forward as well. We have to concentrate on the local economic uptake on this. That’s local people picking morel mushrooms. Thank you.

Question 833-17(5): Morel Mushroom Harvesting Concerns
Oral Questions

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

I agree with all that. Thank you to the department for all of the workshops and all the awareness they’ve brought to this potential remarkable industry for the Northwest Territories, renewable resource industry. But the fact is, we have many, many non-residents who have come to the Northwest Territories. It’s like a mushroom rush out there. There is no registry. There is no place to sign in. We don’t know their names. We don’t know where they’re from. We don’t know who their next of kin are. There are all kinds of dangers in the bush and that’s where these people are going to be operating and hanging out and camping.

You can’t come into the Northwest Territories and take one fish out of our rivers or lakes without a

non-resident fishing licence. You can’t hunt, you can’t kill an animal, yet you can come in here and be part of what is being touted as come and make $500 or $1,000 a day.

Why can’t there be a registry of some kind set up at the border where they are all coming in on rubber tire traffic? Why can’t there be some kind of a registry that the RCMP could have access to, to see who these folks are? So we could contact families if they went missing, just like you do when you are going on a canoe trip somewhere. You register with somebody, at least. It would be really nice to know who they are and where they are.

Question 833-17(5): Morel Mushroom Harvesting Concerns
Oral Questions

David Ramsay Kam Lake

I mentioned the regulatory change that’s going to be required. That is being conducted through the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. For us, if you are going to be conducting business in the Northwest Territories, we have a Business Licence Act here in the NWT. It’s administered through Municipal and Community Affairs. It requires businesses operating in the Northwest Territories to obtain a business licence, which may provide ENR the means to measure the extent of the industry at this time.

We also have a requirement that employers must be registered with the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission to conduct business where there are employees or employers. In the Northwest Territories, we also do not have trespass laws, which challenge the ability to restrain activities on private land. Again, there is going to be some regulatory changes coming. They won’t, however, impact the 2015 morel harvesting season. Thank you.

Question 833-17(5): Morel Mushroom Harvesting Concerns
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Ramsay. Member for Range Lake, Mr. Dolynny.

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

May 29th, 2015

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As a follow-up to my Member’s statement earlier today, I referenced that the GNWT received a failing D-plus grade in its financial reporting from the esteemed C.D. Howe Institute.

Can the Minister indicate if his department reviewed the C.D. Howe findings? Thank you.

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to point out the report the Member talked about has good information in it. I do want to make a distinction, though. It doesn’t talk about how well we are run financially, our Aa1 credit rating and that we are well situated in terms of managing ourselves, one of the best jurisdictions in the country, but that is how we present that information through our public processes that need work.

We are looking at it. I hadn’t looked at it until the Member kindly gave me the indication that he is going to raise this today. I have gone online to take a look and we will look forward to the rest of the Member’s questions. Thank you.

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

I do appreciate the Minister’s response. When a Canadian research institute gives you not only an outright failing grade of D-plus but also tells you your financial reporting would bewilder the average person, I believe you have a problem.

Does the Minister at least agree with these findings? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

I will indicate that I’m going to read that report and we are going to look closely at where the shortfalls are. I have looked at the chart. There are some things we are doing, some things that need improvement and other jurisdictions that had very good grades. Of course, we will check to see how they format their financial information to see what the best way to move forward would be. We would look at doing that in consultation and collaboration with the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning as we look forward to a potential upgrade and improvement to the financial information presentation of the Government of the Northwest Territories. Thank you.

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

Daryl Dolynny Range Lake

Earlier this year the CFIB, or the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, gave this same government an F for red tape. Coupled with this information we are hearing from the C.D. Howe Institute, it does create some concern in terms of our financial reporting as well as the amount of red tape we make our residents endure.

So, with that, does the Minister agree that his department has much work to do to improve both financial reporting and our red tape burden? Thank you.

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business report is marginally helpful. In my mind, they have a very narrow list of things that they consider when they make their grades. They don’t look at the tons of work we’ve done with online reporting, the improving of our procedures, the accountability issues, the investment we’re making to speed up to be able to do things like online buying of registrations, doing all the things the government requires when going online.

But, yes, we recognize that as a system we need to constantly look at improving how we do our business. I acknowledge that we are interested in that kind of ongoing, continuous quality of improvement. I’ve already indicated how we would be intending to proceed. Thank you.

Question 834-17(5): Improving Financial Accountability
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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