This is page numbers 1 – 42 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd 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 ceo.


Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, Hon. Jackson Lafferty, Hon. Bob McLeod, Hon. Robert McLeod, Mr. McNeely, Hon. Alfred Moses, Mr. Nadli, Mr. Nakimayak, Mr. O'Reilly, Hon. Wally Schumann, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Singing of O Canada

---Prayer [English translation not provided]

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Mr. Clerk, would you ascertain if the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the Honourable Margaret M. Thom, is prepared to enter the Chamber to open the Third Session of the 18th Legislative Assembly?

Commissioner's Opening Address
Commissioner's Opening Address

Commissioner Of The Northwest Territories (Hon. Margaret M. Thom)

Please be seated. Mr. Speaker, Mr. Premier, Ministers and Members, ladies and gentlemen, it is my honour to welcome you to the third session of the 18th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

This session comes at approximately the halfway point in the life of the 18th Assembly and follows the recent review and adoption of the revised Mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories, 2016-2019. Yours is the first Legislative Assembly to have formally adopted a mandate to clearly set out its plan for achieving the priorities you have selected on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories.

I commend and congratulate you for this new step in improved transparency and accountability and for your continued commitment to better serving the people of the Northwest Territories. The revised mandate adopted at the end of the Second Session of the Legislative Assembly on October 4, 2017, includes changes proposed by both Cabinet and the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning and discussed among all Members in Caucus meetings.

These changes take into account both the progress made on mandate commitments over the first half of this Legislative Assembly, as well as new challenges and opportunities that have arisen since the mandate was first adopted in March 2016. With your revised mandate, the 18th Legislative Assembly now has a strong and clear plan for advancing its shared priorities during the remainder of its term. In its revised mandate, your government has renewed its commitment to grow, diversify, and modernize the NWT economy so that territorial residents have the jobs and opportunities that they need support themselves and their families.

The knowledge economy will become an increasingly important part of the NWT economy in the future, and your government has made a commitment to foster and develop this sector. Actions to support the knowledge economy will include supporting the development and growth of post-secondary institutions and programs available in the NWT.

Your government will also support the feasibility of creating a Northern Centre for Excellence to promote and support research, innovation, and use of traditional Indigenous knowledge. Supporting local food production is another area for economic growth that will also help reduce Northerners' cost of living and promote health.

In partnership with other organizations, your government will support the creation of a central repository to research, store, and share knowledge and best practices for Northern farming and greenhouse technology. Recognizing that resource development will continue to be an important foundation of the NWT economy, your government will also ensure high-quality geoscience knowledge is available to support exploration and discovery, and will increase public awareness about how NWT renewable and non-renewable resources can be developed in a responsible and sustainable manner.

Northerners expect jobs and opportunities in small communities in every region, not just in Yellowknife or regional centres. That is why your government has made a commitment to enhance job creation programs in small communities, build community capacity, and support new economic opportunities.

The new Rural and Remote Communities Committee established to bring together Cabinet Ministers and small community MLAs will be an important source of ideas and advice for helping the residents of the NWT's smallest communities.

NWT residents expect their government to provide them with good, accessible opportunities for education from the earliest ages so they have the tools and learning they need to achieve their hopes and aspirations. That is why your government has renewed its commitment in its revised mandate to continue investing in quality early childhood development and supporting the JK to grade 12 system.

Your government has also renewed its commitment to expanding opportunities for post-secondary education, trades-oriented learning, and northern educational institutions. Its commitments include developing legislation to outline a quality assurance system to support the recognition of post-secondary institutions and completing the Foundational Review of Aurora College.

Through Aurora College and other educational partners, your government has also committed to develop and promote post-secondary programs designed to meet needs in high-demand occupations identified in the Labour Market Forecast and Needs Assessment (2016).

Cost of living has a direct impact on Northerners' quality of life and opportunities for economic growth, and that is why your government has renewed its commitment to focus on cost drivers that directly affect families in its revised mandate.

Addressing the urgent need for affordable housing is a particular priority for your government, and it is making a new commitment to reduce the number of households in core housing need in the NWT by 250 households per year for the next three years. As part of this, your government will create a comprehensive and fully costed plan to reduce core need, develop housing programs and services to deliver households from core need, and ensure that they reflect community values and priorities.

Your government will also address the shortage of market housing in tax-based communities through collaboration with stakeholders, including the private sector, other governments, and third-party organizations. The high cost of energy is another burden on Northerners, and your government is committed to increasing the production and transmission of renewable and alternative energy.

Your government will implement a new NWT Energy Strategy that will include renewable and alternative energy solutions and actions to meet greenhouse gas reduction targets and a 10-year strategy for investing federal and other funding.

Your government will also continue to develop and advance initiatives to displace diesel generation, including Taltson expansion and the Inuvik High Point Wind Project, as well as other hydro, wind, solar, and biomass projects.

Your government has also renewed its commitment to making childcare available and affordable, including creating an action plan for a phased-in approach. It has committed to support the creation of new child care spaces and programs in all communities and to ensure the sustainability of existing early childhood development programs.

Your government's revised mandate includes a new commitment to support communities in crisis by providing appropriate responses to suicide, including forming a crisis response network and providing specialized trauma-informed training and critical incident stress debriefing training. It will build surge capacity so there is coverage for team members and use the expertise of the crisis response network to promote enhanced suicide intervention activities.

To continue its work to reduce poverty, your government will work collaboratively by funding community-based partners and convening meetings of stakeholders. It will collect and report annually on indicators for assessing performance in reducing poverty and will ensure continuous quality improvement in the administration of the Anti-Poverty Fund.

Your government has also made new commitments in its revised mandate to implement a territorial 911 program and to develop and implement the policy, program, and legislative regimes to support the legalization of cannabis in the NWT.

Your government's revised mandate renews its commitment to improve governance in the NWT by improving accountability, transparency, and collaboration. That includes recognition of the need for improved communications between Cabinet and Regular Members of the Legislative Assembly and a revised commitment to ensure early, regular, and open consultation by Cabinet with Regular Members and committees of the Legislative Assembly.

The revised mandate continues your government's commitment to collaborating and fostering government-to-government relationships with Aboriginal governments. It continues to be committed to advancing, finalizing, and implementing land, resources, and self-government agreements and to building stronger relationships with community governments and stakeholders.

The revised mandate also continues your government's commitment to supporting initiatives to increase the number of women running for elected office in the NWT. Taken together, the commitments set out in the Revised Mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories, 2016-2019, provides a clear plan and road map for achieving the priorities of the 18th Legislative Assembly in the areas of economy; environment and climate change; education, training and youth development; cost of living; community wellness and safety; and governance.

I wish you well in your efforts and look forward to the progress that you will make on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories. During this session, the Government of the Northwest Territories will be introducing the following bills for consideration by the House:

• Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2017-2018;

• Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 3, 2017-2018; and

• Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 1, 2018-2019.

The government considers these bills essential to the good conduct of government business and, as such, I recommend their passage. As Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, I now declare open the third session of the 18th Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

Mahsi Cho, Quanani, Koana, merci beaucoup, thank you.


Commissioner's Opening Address
Commissioner's Opening Address

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

On behalf of all Members of this House, I would like to thank Commissioner Thom for opening the third session of the 18th Legislative Assembly. I would also like to thank Mrs. Alphonsine McNeely from Fort Good Hope for leading us in prayer, and I thank Katie Schauerte from Yellowknife for her beautiful rendition of the national anthem.

Colleagues, earlier today, Mr. Fred Carmichael was inducted into the Order of the Northwest Territories for his work in business. Mr. Carmichael was the first Aboriginal person from Canada's Arctic region to receive a commercial pilot's license and during his 60-year career in aviation he has proved himself to be a valuable mentor, teacher, entrepreneur, and a business leader. Please join me in congratulating Mr. Carl Michael on his many achievements and an inductee into the Order of the Northwest Territories.


Colleagues, this Chamber is and will continue to be a place for lively debate, powerful questions, and meaningful answers. However, this Chamber is also a place of great honour and respect. It is a great honour that we have been elected by our people to represent them here. Masi. Respect for institution and for each other, for our constituents, and all of the people of the Northwest Territories. Our actions and our words can carry great meaning and have lasting effects. We must choose them wisely. Masi. Item 3, Ministers' statements. Minister of Justice.

Louis Sebert

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last week an unprecedented package of 70 letters from inmates at the North Slave Correctional Complex were addressed and delivered to myself and several MLAs.

These letters outlined common themes that focus on issues surrounding programming at the facility, as they work to make positive changes in their lives. Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that these concerns from inmates are not being taken lightly. I have directed the department to respond to each of these letters without delay. In fact, last week, the warden of the facility has started to have direct conversations with the inmates regarding these concerns.

We have a well-established process within each of our correctional facilities for inmates to raise concerns and report back on how they can be addressed. I can confirm many of the issues they have raised in these letters have not been brought forward through the inmate advisory committee meetings. This does not mean that the inmates' concerns raised in these letters are being discounted. As I have said, we will be communicating with inmates to ensure that they know how they can access programs, as well as how they can continue to prepare to reintegrate back in their community.

Mr. Speaker, within our correctional facilities, programs have been created to allow offenders to help address the root causes that lead an individual to criminal behaviour. Programs are delivered in a way that recognize the importance of culture, and take into consideration the short time that most territorial inmates are incarcerated.

We have not reduced programs available at the NSCC. In the past three years, we have seen 330 inmates access or enrol in educational programs at NSCC. Since April 2014 to today, 278 inmates have completed a variety of programs, including sex offender programs and the new modular programs to address violence prevention, dubstance sbuse management and respectful relationships. In addition to these core and educational programs, 11 other programs, including Alcoholics Anonymous and the John Howard Society workbook series, are offered.

An adult literacy basic education program is also available for those needing this support. For others who may be a few courses away from their high school diploma, teaching staff will work with them to work towards obtaining required credits. This includes access to the regular high school curriculum. A traditional counsellor continues to offer cultural programs within the facility, while the larger yard security issues are being addressed. This restriction of use of one outdoor area is time limited. It is expected to be re-opened by the end of the year, once necessary security upgrades are in place.

Members are aware that we have challenges in the North delivering programming to inmates due to the average sentence of less than three months. For most, it can seem like they just get started and then their sentence is complete and they are released. Since I have been Minister of Justice, new modular units of programming were created, taking into consideration the sentences of our territorial inmates. For example, with the support of trained probation officers, work to address violence prevention, respectful relationships, and substance abuse management is able to continue in the communities.

Mr. Speaker, I am ready to work with any Member who needs more information in order to assist their constituents' concerns. These inmates need to know they are not left without resources. I commend them as they try to better themselves, and I am committed to ensuring they know how to access the tools that are in place to allow that to happen. Staff in our corrections services are dedicated to providing the safe and secure custody of inmates, and supporting the successful reintegration of inmates upon their release. I look forward to working with all of you as we continue this work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Member for Kam Lake.

Kieron Testart

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, that Minister's Statement 1-18(3) delivered by the honourable Louis Sebert regarding North Slave Correctional Centre inmate concerns be moved into the Committee of the Whole for further consideration. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Some Hon. Members


The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed?


The motion is carried. Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on the progress of the Strategic Renewal that is being undertaken by the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation. The Housing Engagement Survey was used to identify what is working, what needs improvement, and what is missing for housing programs. Each policy and program is currently being revised in consideration of these needs, as well as ensuring that programs meet the mandate commitments, are effective in meeting their objectives and are appropriate and efficient through considering alternative design and delivery approaches.

Action on Strategic Renewal is already under way. As one fellow Member of the Legislative Assembly has stated, "We are starting to pick the low-hanging fruit." One key issue we heard was the need to improve customer service. Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect. This is especially true when providing a critical support, such as housing, often to the most vulnerable in society. In response, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is now providing customer service training. All program, finance, and technical staff, senior management, and our Local Housing Organizations partners will have access to this training on an annual basis.

Members of the Legislative Assembly identified, and the survey confirmed, financial challenges as an obstacle for homeowners and many residents. In response, we have made changes to address the cost of living. Households earning under $60,000 per year will no longer be required to make a co-payment for repair programs.

We are launching a Fuel Tank Replacement initiative. The initiative will assist homeowners to cover the cost of replacing above-ground fuel tanks that do not meet current standards or are in poor condition, through a one-time forgivable loan. We have made policy improvements to allow family members to take over the forgivable loans of their parents or siblings who have either passed or need to move to access long-term medical care. This change will help ensure the continuality of community housing, avoid family hardship, and decrease vacant housing.

We will be addressing affordability in market communities through two approaches. One will be expanding financial partnerships with non-government organizations to provide rental payment assistance and housing stability support within a Housing First model. We will also re-launch the rent supplement program, which will contain stronger supports and be streamlined to ensure better access.

Mr. Speaker, the cost of living is often felt hardest by our aging population. It is critical to provide support for seniors to continue living independently in their home communities. As such, seniors will now be able to access a new repair program specifically designed to extend the longevity and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. This funding can be accessed on top of our Contributing Assistance for Repairs and Enhancements program. We will also be completing a senior housing planning study over the next few months in order to define demand and urgency as well as to identify design features desired to meet seniors' needs for a new home.

We also need to promote wellness and healthy choices. We want to retain our young people in our communities and build our knowledge base, so we need common sense solutions to support students in public housing. Students can now go away to school for four years without having to worry that they will lose their unit or have to fulfill a residency requirement upon their return to their community.

All of these initiatives begin today, and we will continue this work in the near future. In the coming months, a new program will be finalized which will support tenants in purchasing their homes that they live in. Creating pathways from public housing to homeownership was a prominent theme throughout the survey. There are public housing tenants that have the capacity to own and maintain their own home, but there is no market in their communities. This initiative will provide a homeownership option for residents who may not be able to access traditional lending sources.

We are developing online home maintenance training materials for residents and increasing the effectiveness of our website and social media presence. We are working on a pilot project to have a housing support worker engage one-on-one with tenants facing eviction, to assist them in successfully maintaining their housing.

We now have a Community Housing Support initiative that partners with local and Indigenous governments to implement innovative and community-driven housing projects and, to further support, we are creating individual Community Housing Plans.

Mr. Speaker, corporate change is a long and challenging process. This change began with the previous governments, which set the stage for renewal by stabilizing and rationalizing the operations of the Housing Corporation through improved systems and rigorous financial accountability. Now, we must build upon this progress to become even more responsive to our residents.

We are leaving no stone unturned in our actions. A variety of options are being considered, including new programs, educational components, pilot projects, research into challenging issues, and policy improvements. We are planning focused, fiscally responsible investments in the short-term, while striving for adequate, affordable, and suitable housing for all residents in the long term.

Mr. Speaker, I have been driving the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation hard to make these necessary changes and I am pleased to see the progress made so far. We still have much more to do, and I am excited to lead them on that progress over the next two years. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Wally Schumann

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, more than 50 years ago Prime Minister John Diefenbaker announced his goal to connect Canada coast to coast to coast.

Today, I am pleased to announce the official opening of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway will be held on November 15, 2017. Canada's first highway to the Arctic Ocean will finally connect the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk to our all-season highway system, while allowing for new economic opportunities, increased tourism, improved accessibility to health care, and a lower cost of living for residents.

The success of this project can only be attributed to the dedicated crews who have put in long days and nights during some of the coldest and darkest times of winter. Their dedication has allowed the project to proceed as planned. Before I get into the details of the official opening, I'd first like to reflect on the immense benefits the project has already brought to the Beaufort Delta region.

Mr. Speaker, throughout the project up to 600 people have been employed, and 74 per cent of that total have been residents of the Northwest Territories, with an estimated 10 per cent of the people employed being women. Not only were we committed to hiring locally, we also trained local. Roughly 185 people have received training and educational opportunities throughout the project, such as wildlife monitoring and heavy equipment operation. These training opportunities underscore our government's commitment toward developing a strong northern workforce.

In total, there have been over 136,000 person days of employment since the start of construction, 98,000 of which were NWT residents. This does not include employees who have worked for 41 subcontractors, of which 83 per cent were awarded to northern companies. While construction of the highway has already benefited the region's economy, this is only the beginning, Mr. Speaker. Through the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, our government is working to position residents and businesses in the Beaufort Delta region to capitalize on economic opportunities from year-round road access.

The new highway will make exploration of oil and gas more feasible. In fact, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is currently seeking federal funding to study the possibility of developing gas fields along the new route. From a tourism perspective, this new connection to the Arctic Ocean will attract visitors interested in exploring the natural beauty of the Beaufort Delta. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is already planning to promote this spectacular experience, and is working with the community of Tuktoyaktuk on a proposed tourism-focused celebration of the opening of the highway during the summer of 2018, as well as to identify and fund tourism products and infrastructure needed to meet the increased demand and opportunity that more visitors will bring.

Mr. Speaker, the opening celebrations this fall will be of national significance, as we mark the first time Canada will be connected by highway from coast to coast to coast. Significantly, the project has been designated as one of four Canada 150 signature infrastructure projects by the federal government. As we approach the official opening on November 15th, the Department of Infrastructure is working closely with the Town of Inuvik and the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, other GNWT departments, and the federal government to prepare for this historic day.

A multi-stakeholder committee has been meeting on a monthly basis to organize and prepare for the official opening of the highway. Celebrations will start with the opening ceremonies and a ribbon cutting, followed by a reception in Inuvik. Those activities will be followed by a historic symbolic drive along the new highway to opening ceremonies, fireworks, and a feast in Tuktoyaktuk. Our government is also proud to support a local documentary that will be screened at the opening celebrations. The film focuses on the history of the former ice road and the importance of the new all-season road. These celebrations in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk will ensure maximum participation from both communities. A separate ceremony will take place in the summer of 2018 to celebrate the tourism opportunities the road will provide.

Mr. Speaker, expanding our transportation system will help us connect residents to new social and employment opportunities, stabilize the cost of living in the territory, increase our resiliency and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and provide better access to natural resources. We hope everyone will join us on November 15th in celebrating this national infrastructure achievement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Hay River North.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in 1997, the Legislative Assembly held a mid-term review, and it wasn't until every single Member who was involved in that process finally left office 18 years later that another mid-term review was held. I don't think that was a coincidence. This Assembly held a mid-term review 12 days ago, and I have a feeling that, until all 19 of us are gone, there won't be another. Regardless, the review is now behind us.

Mr. Sebert received a vote of non-confidence, and we must decide how to move forward. In the system of government based on political parties, a non-confidence vote means that the opposition gets to kick the government out of power. However, we are a consensus government. Cabinet is not a ruling party, and the Regular Members are not the opposition. We are all MLAs with specific roles working together to try to improve the lives of our residents.

One of the roles of Regular Members is to ensure that the Ministers are doing their job. In my opinion, a non-confidence vote highlights our failure to do that. Holding one performance review and then removing a Minister does not fulfill our obligation to ensure good governance, in my opinion.

I am not letting the Minister off the hook, however. It is an honour and a great responsibility to hold his position, and we should not be satisfied with anything less than maximum effort on his part, and the non-confidence vote shows that we aren't.

So the question is: will replacing Minister Sebert with one of the current Regular Members improve government more than working with the Minister to improve his performance? History indicates that a removal motion can deepen the tension between Cabinet and Regular Members and undermine future prospects for consensus. Taking that into account along with the considerable challenge of taking over a department halfway through a term, I believe we are better off using the tools available to try and improve the Minister's performance, which so far in this Assembly, we haven't done.

The Premier will meet with Regular Members at our request to discuss any issues we may have with the Minister. In past Assemblies, the Premier would take these criticisms and work with the Minister to address them, and it was effective. Say what you will about our Premier, but I have been told by many constituents that Premier McLeod was the best deputy minister they have ever worked under. He knows how to manage people, and he knows how to get results, so let us utilize that. If Minister Sebert retains his position, the next few months will be a major test for him. If there is no improvement in his performance when this House meets again in February, then I'll be leading the charge to remove him. Until then, let's do our job and make government work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mr. Speaker, today marks the start of Family Violence Awareness Week across the NWT. This year's theme is Healthy Relationships and Healthy Communities. Teaching healthy relationships between men and women, and fostering respect for women, through public programs and traditional values learned from our elders can help curb family violence in the NWT, and I encourage everyone to play their part. Together, we can bring an end to family violence.

Mr. Speaker, this is a matter of critical importance and urgency. Families are the basic unit of our society, and the relationships between grandparents, men and women, and children form the fabric of our communities. When people ask for help, this government must ensure that programs and services are available.

Here in the NWT, we have the second-highest rate of police-reported family violence and intimate partner violence in the country. NWT women, our fellow citizens, are victimized at a rate seven times the national average. This violence can take many forms. There is physical harm, but abuse can also be emotional or psychological, or take the form of threats or isolating victims from resources, friends, and opportunities. In the wider community, lateral violence such as intimidation, gossip, and bullying also takes a toll.

It is clear that we are all affected by family violence, but, Mr. Speaker, Indigenous people are affected the most. The family bonds that I spoke of earlier were broken by the residential school system. Our parents and grandparents suffered abuse there, and we were not taught the traditional values, the love and respect, that is vital to our traditions.While Canada's overall crime rate is going down, the incarceration of Indigenous people is increasing; a population that represents roughly 4 per cent of the national population represents 36 per cent of women and 25 per cent of men held in custody. First Nations people, marginalized after years of colonization and cultural oppression, are more likely to experience violence, including family violence.

Now, what can we do? Mr. Speaker, this week I must also speak from my own personal experience, as I have done in this House before. The society we live in has strict ideals for what it means to be a man. Men are proud; they want to do things for themselves, and reaching out for help is rare. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Mahsi.

---Unanimous consent granted

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, colleagues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The society we live in has strict ideals for what it means to be a man. Men are proud; they want to do things for themselves, and reaching out for help is rare. However, in my own personal wellness, and I share this because I believe men need help, I must tell you that admission is truly the first step towards that help. I must tell you that there are people who care. There are resources out there. Get the help you need. I went through the Domestic Violence Treatment Option and the A New Day Program, and I continue counselling in my journey of healing and wellness.

I want to say a heartfelt thank you to the many people who have helped me, and I encourage both men and women to seek help if they are experiencing violence in their families. It can be done, Mr. Speaker. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, along with my colleague, Mr. Nadli, I am drawing attention today to the fact that this is Family Violence Awareness Week, and I am going to take this opportunity to raise awareness of a recent report on this issue.

Two Aurora College researchers interviewed 56 frontline service providers across the NWT to document the needs and service gaps of women experiencing violence from their intimate partners. What they discovered is that there are three social processes that contribute to our shocking rate of violence against women. First, women put up with violence because they feel locked in by a lack of housing and poverty and, as a result of these two factors, a fear that their children will be apprehended. This is especially true in small communities. Second, women shut up about violence because society is not speaking out effectively about violence in intimate relationships. Forces such as historic trauma, the normalization of violence, gossip, and community and family retribution together keep women quiet. The third social process is described as "getting on with life," meaning that because of the lack of resources to make change, getting on with life is a way of coping. Of course, there are women with the courage to tell their story to police, shelter workers, and victim services, and they overcome these barriers to make changes for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, there is more that the GNWT can do to help keep women safe. It is time to finalize the standards for family violence shelters and to provide permanent stable funding that will allow the shelters to meet these standards. It is time to establish family violence shelters in the Deh Cho and Sahtu so that safety is available and close to hand in those regions. It is time to establish a death review committee that will review intimate partner deaths and discover patterns that may aid in prevention.

Most of all, Mr. Speaker, we have to push back against the idea that intimate partner violence is normal and that there is nothing we can do about it. Violence against women in the NWT occurs at many times the national average. It has been at that rate for years. It is time to make investments to make sure that women are safe in their homes and their communities. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Small Business Week
Members' Statements

Kieron Testart

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, this week is Small Business Week, a time to celebrate and thank northern small and medium-sized businesses for their enormous contributions to our territorial economy. They invest in our communities; bring new ideas, products, and services; and foster the economic opportunities that create long-lasting careers and economic growth. This is no more evident than in my riding of Kam Lake, the hub of our territory's small businesses. Since its humble beginnings until the present day, small businesses are everywhere you turn throughout Kam Lake; so much so that I would state that my riding acts as an economic indicator on the growth of our entire territory. When Kam Lake prospers, so does the rest of the North.

Mr. Speaker, the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce is holding their 71st Annual Business Award Gala, a long-standing event that demonstrates the strength of our economy and acknowledges the contributions of our hard-working business sector. I applaud the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce for keeping this tradition going strong for 70 years and continuously advocating for small businesses in Kam Lake and around the North. Some of the great Kam Lake businesses nominated this year are Arctic Farmer Nursery, Ron's Auto Services Limited, Weatherby Trucking, Polar Tech Recreation, All West Glass, Bassett Petroleum, and Paul Brothers NEXTreme. I congratulate all of them for these well-deserved accolades and wish them the best of luck.

The roots of any stable economy, Mr. Speaker, are its small businesses. Nationally, they make up 98 per cent of all business operations in Canada, employ over 70 per cent of the total labour force in the private sector, and contribute more than 30 per cent to our gross domestic product. This week, the federal government has lowered the small business tax, a measure that I have been advocating for since I first took office, and it is something that is in our mandate that we are going to do to give back to our business community. Mr. Speaker, the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce agrees with me, and I tabled their letter calling for a more competitive tax system last year.

Mr. Speaker, in the spirit of Small Business Week, I want to call on this government to give our businesses a nice present and cut the small business tax, in line with what the federal government has done, so that we can ensure competitive rates and future prosperity for our business community. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Small Business Week
Members' Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. In August, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources issued a request for proposals to clean up the former North American Tungsten Company's Mactung property. This government purchased the property for $2.5 million under special warrant in the summer of 2015 after the company went belly-up and left its mess for the taxpayers. A partial clean-up contract for Mactung was issued for $87,455, but I am told that I can't see the details because they are protected as third-party business under ATIPP legislation. The request for proposals details a list of abandoned junk, waste fuel and barrels, chemicals, tent frames, and the like.

It is unclear to me whether the government knew the environmental state of the property before buying it. At my urging, the Lands and ENR departments performed a site assessment in the summer of 2016, even though the bulk of the property is on the Yukon side of the border. Presumably, the contract to clean up the site came about as a result of that GNWT reconnaissance. The Yukon Government had inspected the site in June 2015 and found it out of compliance with its mining land user authorization. A non-compliance letter was written to GNWT about Mactung on February 4, 2016.

Last year, I asked the ITI Minister what work is under way to sell this property and was told that ITI is working with the geological survey on "expending geological knowledge of the property." In a May reply to my oral question last February, the ITI Minister said, "The decision to proceed with marketing is related to the insolvency which linked the business asset of Mactung to securities for environmental liabilities of the Cantung Project." Our government accepted a promissory note for financial security on the Cantung mine.

We bought the Mactung property without the consent of the Legislature, with no clear idea of its environmental state. We are now spending public money to do the cleanup the company should have done and cannot even unload it because it is wrapped up in the Cantung insolvency. What a mess.

So what about the future? Can we at least learn yet another lesson from this latest contaminated site on the public purse? Will we ensure that fully cost guaranteed and unencumbered financial security is a requirement for future mining and exploration projects? I will have questions for the Minister later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.