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.


The House met at 10:01 a.m.



The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Good morning, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers’ statements. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Mr. Ramsay.

Minister's Statement 198-17(5): Morel Mushrooms
Ministers’ Statements

David Ramsay Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, economic opportunity comes in all shapes and forms. This summer it is coming to the Northwest Territories in the form of morel mushrooms, a delicacy highly sought after by food markets around the world.

Ultimately, Mother Nature will have the largest role in determining the success of our harvest. However, under the right conditions, we anticipate this harvest could generate as much as $10 million in the NWT this summer.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has been working to prepare NWT residents to take advantage of this opportunity and keep some of these revenues within the territory.

In preparation, we have hosted 19 morel mushroom information sessions in communities where the impacts of the anticipated season are expected to be greatest. These sessions were overwhelmingly popular, with nearly 1,200 residents participating.

Those in attendance learned of potential harvesting areas, methods for gathering and storing morels and best practices for selling and marketing their harvest.

The sessions also emphasized the message of harvesting in a way that is safe, legal and respectful of the environment and Aboriginal peoples, whose lands some of these mushrooms will be on.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has worked with the NWT Association of Communities and the Government of Canada to produce a Morel Mushroom Harvester’s Handbook and field guides to ensure pickers have adequate

information at their disposal when they venture into the harvest areas.

On-site walking workshops have also begun and will continue until mid-June in areas where the mushrooms have appeared, to provide hands-on experience for those interested in harvesting.

I would like to extend my appreciation to the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for assisting us in also providing safety information for prospective harvesters venturing out this summer.

All of this information is now available in French and English on the Industry, Tourism and Investment website.

Mr. Speaker, while ITI has worked to prepare residents for this opportunity, it cannot guarantee a bountiful and prosperous harvest. Many other factors can and will impact the success of this year’s harvest.

Morels will need to meet or exceed certain standards of quality and consistency. Rain, the lack of rain, fire and cooler temperatures will have influences on the crop and the length of harvest that can be realized in our territory; and prices, determined by buyers, will similarly be affected by these elements and the economic principle of supply and demand.

Our territory has a proud history of resourcefulness and innovation. The quick development of a strategy and plan to realize the benefits of what could be a multi-million dollar morel mushroom harvesting opportunity this summer is a good example.

We are also a territory that believes in working together – as Northerners – and in partnership with those from outside of our territory.

I would like to recognize today Chief Lloyd Chicot and the people of Kakisa. In the face of concerns about the impacts that an influx of people will have on their community, they embraced the occasion, throwing a welcoming community barbeque for as many as 50 pickers in the area and sharing with them their traditional practice of catching and drying fish right out of the river.

It was an opportunity for pickers and residents to meet and learn more about each other and to agree on boundaries and practices that could be followed

in the mutual realization of benefits from this most unique and economic opportunity that has come to the NWT this summer. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 198-17(5): Morel Mushrooms
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 199-17(5): Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link Progress
Ministers’ Statements

Michael Miltenberger Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few moments to speak to the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link Project, or MVFL.

On January 12, 2015, the government took the first step towards removing the limitations of our current communications infrastructure. The Fibre Link Project will allow Inuvik to become a global remote sensing site, enable our government to improve our programs and services, particularly in the areas of education and health, and allow many more of our residents and businesses to join the 21st century

and communicate in real time with the rest of the world.

Mr. Speaker, the first winter construction season of the MVFL Project has concluded, with over 430 kilometres of fibre optic cable installed. Though this construction season faced some initial challenges, it was successful with just over one-third of the route completed. The project remains on time, on budget, with a start-up date of the second quarter of 2016.

Winter construction activity took place between Tulita and Inuvik and employed approximately 112 local residents and used over 21 local contractors and suppliers. With the economic challenges facing many of our Sahtu and Gwich’in communities, this past winter, I am happy to report, the Fibre Link Project was able to contribute to the local economy in these communities.

Mr. Speaker, the summer build between McGill Lake and Wrigley is set to begin in late June. The MVFL Project Team is eager to begin summer work and will continue engaging local residents and businesses on project progress over the coming weeks and months.

Mr. Speaker, since construction commenced, we have experienced increased interest, nationally and internationally, in the growth of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility. Since its official inauguration in 2010, a total of three 14-metre receiving antennas have been installed on site. An additional dish has been committed for this summer, with the site preparation work for the installation currently underway. A fifth dish is being planned for summer/spring 2016.

The Premier, Robert R. McLeod; the Honourable Robert C. McLeod; Mr. Robert Hawkins, MLA for Yellowknife Centre; and myself will be travelling to Europe in June with officials from the federal

government to continue to promote the Fibre Link Project and increase utilization of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility.

We have seen first-hand the significant positive benefits the satellite ground station and remote sensing industry have had not only on the economy of Kiruna, Sweden, but also the important role they play in facilitating advanced learning at the Institute of Space Physics. The potential impact of an expanded satellite ground station in Inuvik on the Aurora Research Centre is significant and could make this facility one of the “the places to be” to conduct space-based Arctic research.

I would like to conclude my statement by thanking the sustained efforts and support from our residents, businesses and community leadership throughout the Mackenzie Valley to ensure the continued success of the project.

I also want to thank all my colleagues of this Assembly for their support in advancing the project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 199-17(5): Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link Progress
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Miltenberger. Minister of MACA, Mr. R.C. McLeod.

Minister's Statement 200-17(5): Firth Sisters Elected To Hall Of Fame
Ministers’ Statements

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, today I am very proud to rise and recognize that two of our very own have been elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.

I am, of course, speaking about Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson, who will become the first Northwest Territories residents to be inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony later this fall in Calgary.

Sharon and Shirley captivated the North and Canada from the late 1960s through the mid-1980s with their incredible sporting exploits. They first entered the national scene in 1968 when they won medals at the Canadian Junior Cross Country Ski Championships.

They went on to compete in four Olympic Winter Games, including Sapporo, Japan, in 1972; Innsbruck, Austria, in 1976; Lake Placid, New York, in 1980; and Sarajevo, Yugoslavia, in 1984.

In many ways they were trailblazers for women, for Aboriginal Canadians and for all Northerners in the rest of Canada and around the world.

Although Shirley is no longer with us, Sharon continues to be a role model and inspiration for hundreds of young people in her current work as a youth officer with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame recognizes our country’s finest athletes as role

models for Canadians of all ages, and sharing their stories unites our country and reminds us of the core values that help define our people.

All Northerners are extremely proud of Sharon and Shirley’s accomplishments. We only wish that Shirley could have been here to receive this national recognition of her contribution to Canada’s sport history.

Sharon and Shirley Firth have certainly inspired all of us. They will now take their place at Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame, where their stories can encourage all Canadians to strive to be the very best they can be.

I invite all Members to join me in congratulating Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson’s family on this wonderful honour on behalf of all Northerners. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 200-17(5): Firth Sisters Elected To Hall Of Fame
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. McLeod. Minister of Health and Social Services, Mr. Abernethy.

Minister's Statement 201-17(5): Working To Better Coordinate Service Delivery Of Social Supports To NWT Residents
Ministers’ Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to achieving this Legislative Assembly’s vision of strong individuals, families and communities. By working together in partnerships, we can reach our goal of healthy and educated people in sustainable and vibrant communities throughout our territory.

To help promote, preserve and manage the long-term health and social well-being of NWT residents, the Social Envelope Committee of Cabinet and the corresponding deputy minister committee have introduced a number of initiatives and actions. We have previously talked about some of them, such as our actions to help reduce poverty in the NWT, promote community wellness and better address mental health and addictions issues. Today I want to tell you about some of our actions to ensure stronger coordination and collaboration in the delivery of social services and supports for NWT residents.

A number of our recent strategic frameworks, including the Early Childhood Development Strategy, the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework and the Addictions and Mental Health Action Plan, speak to a more integrated approach to service delivery. The shift to more consciously coordinated service delivery is also evident in the 2015-2016 budget, which included investments to support integrated approaches to case management and initiatives to improve integration of services to people with a variety of needs.

We recognize the need to examine programs and make sure that we are taking a client-focused approach to service delivery. We are seeing many

successes in this work. This includes proposed changes to the way the NWT Housing Corporation will calculate rent for public housing clients. Minister Robert C. McLeod will have more to say about this later during this session.

Different departments are working closely together to promote healthy living for our youth. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs has established a new Children and Youth Resiliency Program to support community programming that helps our youth build resiliency and be more physically active. A healthy snacks component has also been added to this popular after-school physical activity program.

Progress has also been made on protocols and training for support service delivery staff when it comes to referrals or support to clients with apparent mental health issues. The Mental Health First Aid program teaches GNWT front-line workers how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, how to provide initial help and how to guide people to community mental health resources and professional help. Mental Health First Aid training has been provided to staff in the corrections service as well as to staff of the departments of Education, Culture and Employment, Municipal and Community Affairs, Health and Social Services and Justice. In addition, the Department of Justice has Mental Health First Aid instructors in house. The Integrated Case Management Team has two instructors available to deliver the three-day Mental Health First Aid workshops to employees and the public.

We are also making progress on services and supports to seniors. In collaboration with the NWT Seniors’ Society, the Seniors’ Information Handbook has been updated. This valuable resource for seniors provides a comprehensive list of government programs and services that seniors and their caregivers can access to help them make informed decisions and remain independent and active in their home communities. A companion booklet for caregivers is being developed and will provide information to assist families caring for their loved ones. The government service officers have received training on the handbook and are using it as a resource to support effective service delivery to residents.

Mr. Speaker, these are just some examples of our work to improve the coordination of service delivery and supports to NWT residents. We will continue to advance this important work, in the belief that better coordination and collaboration across GNWT departments and agencies that offer social services and supports will lead to improved access and outcomes for NWT residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 201-17(5): Working To Better Coordinate Service Delivery Of Social Supports To NWT Residents
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

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

Minister's Statement 202-17(5): GNWT Support For The Native Communications Society
Ministers’ Statements

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Mr. Speaker, ensuring Aboriginal languages survive for future generations is a key priority for our government and the Members of this Legislative Assembly. One of the most effective ways to ensure the continued use of all of the NWT’s 11 official languages is simply using and hearing these languages as part of our day-to-day interactions. This theme of “use it or lose it” resonates through the regional Aboriginal language plans now being implemented by Aboriginal governments, the 2009 Committee Report on Official Languages and the government’s 2010 “Aboriginal Languages Plan – A Shared Responsibility.”

Broadcasting in the official languages is one way all of our official languages are in use and heard by our listeners in all of our communities. Stories and important information are shared with one another over the radio and television in not just English but the other 10 official languages. In fact, many of our unilingual listeners rely on the radio as the primary source of information to receive the news in their language.

Mr. Speaker, this invaluable service is provided to us in part by the Native Communications Society and its broadcasting arm, CKLB. They have provided cultural and language programming since 1982, with broadcasts in English, French, Tlicho, South Slavey, Gwich’in, North Slavey and Chipewyan. In recognition of their important contribution to Aboriginal language revitalization, the Government of the Northwest Territories has long provided core funding to NCS and the Inuvialuit Communications Society, who provided programming in Inuvialuktun and Inuinnaqtun. This is in addition to federal government funding they are eligible to receive under the Northern Aboriginal Broadcasting Grant.

Over the past few years, they have experienced some operational challenges, culminating in CKLB having to stop live broadcasts and programming in July 2014. Aside from going off the air, it also meant a loss of jobs for people in many of our communities.

Mr. Speaker, as is true for Aboriginal language revitalization generally, it is truly a shared responsibility, and for that reason I continue to lobby the federal government to increase their funding for Aboriginal and French language programming in the current round of negotiations of the renewal of the Official Languages Agreement.

Aboriginal language broadcasting contributes to both our oral traditions and recording languages for those future generations. Having them on our radios, computers and televisions ensures that the North continues to hear, read and explore our languages that are so closely connected to our cultures.

This is why, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that this government will reprofile

$500,000 annually, found from within, on an ongoing basis, for Aboriginal broadcasting. Of that amount, $400,000 will be provided to the Native Communications Society and $100,000 will be provided to the Inuvialuit Communications Society.

The funding will allow NCS to be up and running by June 1st, broadcasting first in Tlicho and South Slavey. They have plans to resume live broadcasting of North Slavey, Gwich’in, Chipewyan and will be adding French later on this year.

We will also continue to make every effort to secure funding from the federal government to sustain Aboriginal language broadcasting in the NWT. Our funding will complement the federal contribution of approximately $700,000 to Aboriginal broadcasting.

Mr. Speaker, we have worked closely with the Native Communications Society to discuss how we can help support the organization with a better financial and operating model. NCS and CKLB play a critical part in promoting and sustaining our Aboriginal languages across the NWT and it is our priority to support them. Our languages are a foundational part of our heritage and the cultural mosaic of the North, and we must support every avenue we can to keep them alive for generations to come. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 202-17(5): GNWT Support For The Native Communications Society
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mr. Lafferty. Item 3, Members’ statements. Member for Hay River South, Mrs. Groenewegen.

25th Annual Territorial Track And Field Championships
Members’ Statements

May 29th, 2015

Jane Groenewegen Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I’d like to talk about what is coming up next week in Hay River, the 25th Annual Track and Field

Championships in Hay River, territorial championships.

This Territorial Track and Field Championship always takes place during our session at this time of year. Every year the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs charters an airplane to take Members who wish to attend the opening ceremony down to Hay River for this event. I’d like to thank the Minister for making that opportunity available again this year.

I would encourage Members to attend. If you have never attended the opening ceremonies of the Track and Field Championships, it is very hard to describe to you how exciting it is as those school teams parade into the arena under the banner of their school. Small schools, big schools, little people, seniors who are participating in the Track and Field Championships, it is a very exciting time for everyone. Those children are very pleased to see their MLAs and a face from home on that stage as they parade by.

This year, already the weather has been beautiful in Hay River. It’s been very warm. We’ve seen the little people out practising on the track. Every time I drive by, I want to stop and take a picture. Also, we’ve seen the loyal volunteers who prepare the track and make it ready for the events. They’ve been out in force this year as well. I don’t want to name them for fear of missing someone. It is that core group of volunteers which we will build on which gives you confidence because of their commitment for the bigger event that we will be hosting in Hay River and Fort Smith later.

I would like to say that I will be going home to the opening ceremony. I probably won’t be coming back for the last day of session next week. It’s really too bad that we couldn’t just all stay down there because right after the Track and Field Championships, they have a masters or seniors or corporate challenge. Some year wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could enter a team of MLAs in that event and we could show them we don’t just talk, but we can walk the talk? That would be really exciting. Unfortunately, I know business will take most Members back to the Chamber here on Thursday.

Mr. Speaker, all the best to all the athletes. Hundreds of them will converge on Hay River, athletes, chaperones, coaches, parents. We welcome them all and are looking forward to a wonderful week and we hope the weather holds. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

25th Annual Territorial Track And Field Championships
Members’ Statements

The Speaker Jackie Jacobson

Thank you, Mrs. Groenewegen. Member for Mackenzie Delta, Mr. Blake.