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This is from 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 work.

Topics

MEMBERS PRESENT

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

The House met at 10:00 a.m.

Prayer
Prayer

Elder Mike Crapeau

I will pray for you, the people all across Canada. They will be working together for me, my [English translation not provided]. I was born here. I have lived in Yellowknife all my life. That many people. We love. Now I'm happy to pray for you. We work together nice all right across Canada for the whole of Canada, work together nice, be nice to each other, be happy to work together and to hold the land. I pray for you. For all of you. Mahsi cho. [English translation not provided]

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good morning, colleagues. Colleagues, before we begin, I would like to take this moment to remind everybody that we will be hosting a reception in the Great Hall this afternoon from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. to mark the upcoming retirement of our very own deputy clerk, Mr. Doug Schauerte. All Members and staff of the Legislative Assembly are welcome, as are Doug's family and his friends and colleagues as well. Please join us in celebrating a remarkable career of public service and service to the Legislative Assembly. Masi.

---Applause

Item 2, Ministers' statements. The Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 13-18(3): Working Together For The Northwest Territories
Ministers' Statements

October 20th, 2017

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, before Members finish this Sitting and go their separate ways until the House sits again, I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on our experiences together over the past few weeks and the past two years.

When the 19 of us met in November 2015 as newly elected Members, we agreed that the 18th Legislative Assembly needed to change the way it does business. I supported that priority then and I still support it today. So too, I believe, do all my other colleagues on both sides of this House.

One of the first changes we made included publishing the first-ever four-year mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories. As well, for the first time in 20 years, we agreed to formally review our progress, and Ministers' ability, to meet that mandate halfway through our term.

These are all positive steps towards improved transparency and accountability. Although we may not have fully anticipated how these changes would play out, I still think our intentions were for the best and that there are valuable lessons to be had.

Change is never easy, Mr. Speaker. I don't think any of us should be surprised that making that change has been difficult, but we should not let that discourage us. We have done a lot over the last two years, but we still have much to do.

Consensus has served the territory well and gives us the tools we need to make the best decisions for the residents of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, consensus is about working together to make collective decisions. It is not about one side or the other winning. That does not mean there will be unanimous agreement on every decision, but it does mean that Members on both sides always need to be prepared to listen to and consider diverging opinions inside this Chamber, in committee, and in our own private discussions with each other.

The people of the Northwest Territories want and deserve the best government that we can be. As Premier, I am committed to doing whatever I can to live up to their expectations, and so are all the Members of this Legislative Assembly.

Cabinet has heard clearly from Members about their frustrations and their concerns. We have all worked hard, but we can do better.

As a consensus government, the contributions of Regular Members and standing committees will be essential to our success as a Legislative Assembly. I hope that we will be able to count on all Members for their support where it is warranted, criticism where it is deserved, and their best ideas and suggestions always.

We were elected because people believed that we could make life better for both current residents and for those in our future. Let's work together during our remaining two years to make a better territory for our people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 13-18(3): Working Together For The Northwest Territories
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements.

Minister's Statement 13-18(3): NWT Highway Improvements
Ministers' Statements

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is following through on its mandate to strengthen connections with public sector partners in order to invest in strategic transportation infrastructure.

Improving and extending our highways system helps connect communities, reduces the cost of living, improves the resiliency of our transportation system to climate change, and increases access to natural resources. I am proud to say we have carried out improvements to almost every highway in the Northwest Territories over the past two years. These improvements have been possible thanks to continued investment by the GNWT and federal funding under the New Building Canada Plan.

The first bundle of funding under the New Building Canada Plan was announced in 2015. The federal government provided $72 million, while our government provided $24 million. Rehabilitation work was completed on highways throughout the Northwest Territories using the skilled workforces of a variety of northern contractors. Examples of investments include widening sections of Highway No. 8 and working on Highway No. 7, such as resurfacing parts of the Liard highway and chipsealing over 30 kilometres of Highway No. 6.

A second bundle of highway improvement projects was approved in 2016, through which the federal government provided $60.7 million while the GNWT contributed over $25.2 million, for a total investment of $100.9 million. Reconstruction work under this funding included the Nahanni Butte and Jean Marie River access roads. This funding also allows the Department of Infrastructure to undertake several key projects, such as the rehabilitation of the Buffalo River Bridge and construction of the new Canyon Creek access road.

Mr. Speaker, major rehabilitation works on the Buffalo River Bridge began in July 2016 and will be completed this fall. Originally constructed in 1964, improvements to the bridge will allow it to accommodate modern highway loads and extend its service life.

The Canyon Creek access road will provide significant benefits to the Sahtu Region throughout all phases of construction. There will be many job training opportunities for construction, technical, and support positions. This training will allow residents to gain valuable skills that will be useful for future projects and opportunities. When the road opens, residents will benefit from improved access to traditional hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities. The new road could also facilitate the development of a wellness camp for the region and open up potential resources south of Norman Wells.

Going forward, the Government of the Northwest Territories is seeking federal approval of funding for a third bundle of projects. This funding will extend the work done under the previous bundles to support safe travelling, community access roads, and resource development.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is also actively pursuing new opportunities to further expand our transportation system. I am pleased to announce that the federal government has favourably reviewed our expressions of interest in securing federal funding for both the Mackenzie Valley highway and the Slave Geological Province access corridor. They have now invited us to enter into the next phase of their approval process. We will provide them with detailed project proposals during the first week of November.

Our third major proposed corridor, the Tlicho all-season road, has received conditional funding from P3 Canada and is in the midst of an environmental assessment process under the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Review Board.

Finally, as I am sure you all know, we are getting ready to celebrate the highway milestone in Canada: the opening of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, linking Canada from coast to coast to coast.

Highways are the lynchpin of our transportation system. They connect communities and unlock our economic potential by enabling exploration and development. We are proud of our northern highway system that enables the movement of goods and people in exceptionally rugged terrain and a challenging environment. We are excited about the new possibilities that will be opened up if our corridors become a reality in the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 13-18(3): NWT Highway Improvements
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Hay River North.

Hay River Business Skilled Labour Requirements
Members' Statements

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there is no better way for a government to ensure healthy people and vibrant communities than to support a growing economy. This creates jobs, gives our residents the ability to support themselves and their families, and allows them to lead productive and fulfilling lives.

Right now, the future is bright for Hay River's economy. There are hundreds of job opportunities on the horizon. If all goes well, the Pine Point Mine will create 320 jobs, and the Pellet Plant, the new long-term care centre, and opportunities in manufacturing will create another 60 jobs each.

This is good news, but only if we can make the most of these opportunities. We need people who are trained and able to take advantage of these jobs and the spin-off jobs that come with increased economic activity. We must ensure that entrepreneurs who want to build new businesses or grow existing ones have the support they need to make it happen. We need to encourage people to come north and to make Hay River their home.

Small business owners are not looking for handouts. They want this government to help them help themselves. I have heard about their difficulty attracting skilled labour to the north and the barriers they encounter when trying to bring in foreign labour, especially when dealing with the federal government.

They have told me about their challenges with the Temporary Foreign Workers Program and the red tape associated with obtaining the necessary labour market impact assessments.

I am told that because of Hay River's location potential employers are expected by the federal government to pay wages similar to those offered in the oil sands and the diamond mining sectors. This is ridiculous, Mr. Speaker. It only underlines what we already know, that the federal government does not understand the North.

I have also heard from small businesses and labour about the difficulty they have navigating the apprenticeship system and helping their employees to navigate it, both for current apprentices and for those who want to apprentice.

In our mandate, we have committed to "increase the number of immigrants working in the NWT" by "implementing an immigration strategy that prioritizes streamlining applications processes, increasing awareness of immigration programs, and consolidating our administrative supports." The GNWT has also committed to get more educated and skilled young people into the labour market by matching employer needs through improved career development supports.

To achieve this, we need more support through ECE to capitalize on the potential jobs coming to Hay River. The career development officers in Hay River are doing what they can, but the office is understaffed for the current demand, let alone the increasing demand on the horizon. Instead of bureaucracy and red tape, we need the GNWT to be innovative on how it delivers on its mandate commitments, and, simply, we need more bodies in the ECE office in Hay River. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hay River Business Skilled Labour Requirements
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Family Violence Awareness Week
Members' Statements

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is Family Violence Awareness Week, and this year's theme is healthy relationships and healthy communication. Events are being held throughout the Northwest Territories, with the one in Yellowknife taking place on October 2. These events are made possible by the hard work of the Coalition Against Family Violence, and I want to thank them for their support of this campaign each year. Their tireless efforts continue to make change for the better throughout our territory, and these efforts do not go unnoticed. Thanks to them, our citizens are now wiser, stronger, and safer.

Mr. Speaker, healthy communication is important for any family, workplace, or community. It is the bedrock of healthy relationships and crucial to supporting a safe society. Family violence is a serious problem, and we need to talk about it and stand against it wherever and whenever we can, because in 2017 we still live in a country where one in three women and one in six men will experience some form of sexual violence in their lifetime. Our own territorial statistics reveal an even more troubling reality, as women in the NWT are nine to 12 times at greater risk of experiencing sexual violence than women in other provinces. Only 5 per cent of victims will report sexual violence to police.

While we recognize this week to raise awareness about this important issue, another important campaign is taking place on the international stage. The #MeToo Campaign is a movement launched on social media by actress Alyssa Milano in response to the serious revelations of sexual abuse in the film and entertainment industry. Within 20 minutes, the campaign had 20,000 replies. The goal of the campaign is to encourage the survivors of sexual assault and abuse to come forward and raise the number of stories to a point where people cannot ignore the problem anymore. Through this campaign, survivors know they are part of a global community that can support and stand beside victims.

Mr. Speaker, the #MeToo Campaign has inspired many women in the Northwest Territories to come forward and share their stories. They are very brave to tell these stories, and their courage allows us to start having real conversations at every level of society, including here in the halls of power.

Mr. Speaker, just look around this Chamber. You will find mostly men, and because of that, we lack the experience and perspectives that many women are sharing through this campaign and in their communities. From all this I know we have to work that much harder to be an ally to women and to support real action against sexual violence. I will continue to speak out against abuse wherever it is found. No one should suffer in silence, afraid to use their voice against those who have taken power away from them. As leaders of our people, we must continue to stand against the epidemic of family violence and recommit our efforts to eliminating it once and for all. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Family Violence Awareness Week
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Public Housing In Indigenous Communities
Members' Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to speak on the issue of federal government funds for First Nations and the NWT and that not all the funding reaches community government or band councils for housing.

Mr. Speaker, this past year I met with many constituents in my riding, which includes community and Indigenous governments. They have expressed their concerns on the lack of programs and service funding that can help address all aspects of their community members. I will be attending an Akaitcho Territory Government's 25th annual assembly held in Fort Resolution October 31, 2017 to November 2. I believe the issue will be expressed there, and I would like to see changes in the near future to address future housing funding for Indigenous communities. It was noted on CBC News that the national chief of the Dene Nation, Bill Erasmus, wants Ottawa to fund First Nations communities in the Northwest Territories directly instead of funnelling funding through the territorial government. The national chief noted that money goes through the territorial government; from there it goes to the public purse and is disbursed so that the whole population has access to our dollars. I support Bill Erasmus, and I would like to see action on this issue. I would like to see the territorial government working with the federal government and First Nations to implement the process as this will see funding flow directly for housing programs flow directly to First Nations in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, this process may address the homelessness and housing issues across the North. I have received many complaints from my constituents that they have issues obtaining a dwelling in their communities that is available, affordable, and fair. We also have too many families sharing two- and three-bedroom units with extended family.

Also, I have received complaints from young people who are homeless and are going from home to home and with no place to stay. These communities do not have shelters to help with the homeless.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that our MP for the Northwest Territories, Michael McLeod, who sits on the finance committee, supports Erasmus' proposal. He said it is time for Indigenous communities in the territory to control their own finances. "If we are going to support the whole notion of Indigenous government, we have to let them govern and give them the tools to govern when they are ready."

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Public Housing In Indigenous Communities
Members' Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Mr. Speaker, I, too, support this proposal and would like our government to work on this issue that needs to be addressed in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Public Housing In Indigenous Communities
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Summer Student Employment
Members' Statements

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it will be another opportunity for me to talk about summer student positions here. Mr. Speaker, summer student positions are a great way to get the youth to come back to their communities during their time off from school. This program will also reveal to the students how important education is, especially for securing jobs and potentially a career.

The students employed by the Student Employment Program are already beginning to benefit from their education by way of obtaining a summer position, which is very encouraging. In addition to promoting education, the summer student employment program offers students direct work experience.

Studying in a specific area of interest and later applying the knowledge attained is a challenge that the students face. This program offers students a chance to directly apply skills and knowledge and to learn them in post-secondary, allowing students to be more prepared once they graduate.

The total number of students hired for the summer of 2017 was 349 positions. Out of the total, 202 students, or 58 per cent, were Indigenous Aboriginal students. Both these numbers have increased since 2016, and I applaud the government for this. The number of total hires in the summer of 2017 increased from the previous years from 306 to 349, resulting in 43 more hires. For Indigenous Aboriginal hires, 2017 showed an increase from 177 to 202 hires, resulting in 25 more hires.

This year, there were 16 students hired in Fort Simpson; nice to see. Unfortunately, no students were employed from the smaller communities of Fort Liard, Nahanni Butte, Jean Marie, Sambaa K'e, or Wrigley. This is a result of either a lack of opportunity or a lack of student applications.

In Fort Simpson, summer students were employed by a number of departments, including the ENR, Lands, MACA, NWT Housing Corporation, and human resources in the health department. I understand there are no regional offices for said departments in smaller communities, but maybe other employment opportunities for students in smaller communities should be explored. Year after year, I see an increase in summer students hired, but not in the smaller communities in my riding. It pains me that they are left behind.

Mr. Speaker, the Summer Student Program provides an invaluable experience for our youth. I hope we will continue to see the success and expansion of this program and the positive impact it has on our youth. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.