This is page numbers 1779 – 1836 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 2nd 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 program.


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, Mr. Testart, Hon. Wally Schumann, Hon. Louis Sebert, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Vanthuyne


The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Transportation.

Wally Schumann

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its mandate to capture opportunities for investment in transportation infrastructure by working to secure funding to improve access into the Slave Geological Province. Today I would like to provide an update on the department’s progress on this project.

Improving road access into the Slave Geological Province has been a long-term objective of the Governments of Canada and the Northwest Territories. This long-term vision includes connecting to an all-weather road and deep-water Arctic port in western Nunavut. Partnership with the Governments of Canada and Nunavut, as well as Aboriginal governments and industry, will better enable us to achieve this vision.

Climate change is increasingly affecting the Northwest Territory’s transportation system, and investment in all-weather roads is one of the ways we can address those impacts. There is increased uncertainty regarding the feasibility and capacity of the existing winter road into the Slave Geological Province. This is due to warmer temperatures, more unpredictable weather, and the increased traffic projected to resupply the region’s mining industry. Already, recent shortened operating seasons for winter roads have resulted in significant additional transportation costs and operational difficulties for mining developments in the Slave Geological Province.

The development of the Slave Geological Province access corridor provides an opportunity to boost

mineral exploration and development in this resource rich region and support our mining industry, which continues to directly contribute more than 30 per cent to the territorial economy.

An all-weather road to the Slave Geological Province will stabilize the resupply system to existing mines in the area, making it feasible to extend mine life. It will also enable new mineral exploration and development opportunities by increasing reliable access to resources.

Mr. Speaker, there are significant base and precious metal prospects in the Slave Geological Province that require all-weather access for exploration and development. By increasing access to the Slave Geological Province, the Government of the Northwest Territories will increase investor confidence and enable our territory to reach its full economic potential.

In addition to collaboration with the Governments of Canada, Nunavut, and Aboriginal governments, the development of an access corridor into the Slave Geological Province requires significant inter-departmental collaboration within the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The Department of Transportation has conducted numerous studies on this corridor over the last two decades. Based on the results of mineral potential and route option studies conducted by the departments of Transportation and Industry, Tourism and Investment, a corridor has been identified that will provide the greatest economic benefit to the region and the NWT. The departments of Transportation, Finance and Industry, Tourism and Investment are jointly conducting a P3 business case assessment of the chosen corridor. This business case is expected to be completed in mid-2017 and will allow the Government of the Northwest Territories to make a better estimate of construction costs for this road, as well as determine an appropriate funding model.

In the meantime, the Department of Transportation continues to focus on next steps, including undertaking environmental studies and finalizing engineering and design work for the road.

The Department of Transportation is also working with caribou subject experts from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to identify any gaps in knowledge and opportunities to support the mandates of both departments.

The Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Nunavut have set up a joint working group to collaborate on advancing the project from both territories. Both of our governments look forward to new opportunities to fund further planning and construction of the access corridor.

Improving territorial transportation infrastructure will remain one of the priorities of this government. This supports our commitment to improve the quality of life, lower the cost of living of our residents, support business and employment opportunities, adapt to the impacts of climate change, and maximize opportunities to realize our economic potential. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' Statements. Minister for Education, Culture and Employment.

Alfred Moses

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Legislative Assembly has identified education, training, and youth development as one of its priorities, and the Government of the Northwest Territories has made several commitments in its mandate to advance that priority. Work in these areas is foundational to the future success of our territory, and we have seen some solid progress on many initiatives in education, training, and youth development.

Mr. Speaker, one of our mandate commitments is to implement the Education Renewal Framework, which is guiding multiple initiatives to improve outcomes for NWT students. We have established working groups comprised of multiple partners from across the NWT, including students, teachers, parents, elders, contracted experts, and staff from many agencies and GNWT departments. All of the groups are focused on designing a better learning and working environment in our schools and communities, as well as a more responsive education system for all students.

Education renewal is grouped into four focus areas:

1. Improving student and teacher wellness;

2. Strengthening teaching and learning;

3. Strengthening culture/language programming and student sense of identity; and

4. Increasing system-wide accountability and results.

One of our mandate commitments was to expand the NWT distance learning pilot project to increase access for NWT senior secondary students in all communities. I am pleased to report that we have built on the success of the distance learning program from the Beaufort Delta and expanded into four additional communities. This is one of a number of initiatives flowing from the four education renewal areas at various levels of development and implementation, many in pilot projects. For example, the Elders in Schools program and Residential School teaching resource have also been well received over the past few years.

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories currently has the highest number of instructional hours across Canada, resulting in our teachers working approximately 52 hours a week, and yet our education system continues to struggle to dramatically improve student outcomes. Research shows that teachers have the strongest impact on improving student outcomes. There is also substantial research that indicates that, by providing teachers with more time to plan, assess, collaborate, and engage in professional development and training, student outcomes improve.

For this reason, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment, in partnership with the Northwest Territories Teachers' Association and the Northwest Territories Superintendents' Association, have agreed to focus on both improving and strengthening teacher instructional practices, as well as reducing teacher workloads by participating in a three-year pilot beginning in the 2017-18 school year. This pilot will allow interested schools to redirect a portion of their current instructional time.

All schools participating in this pilot will be evaluated to determine if the redirected hours do, in fact, improve student outcomes and improve overall teacher workload and wellness.

The GNWT has also made a commitment in its mandate to develop options to increase the pathways available to students who lead to graduation and provide greater linkages to post-secondary education, training, and employment opportunities. High School Pathways is another education renewal initiative under way. Many jurisdictions have implemented versions of this initiative, focused on redesigning their high school curricula, making stronger connections between high school and post-secondary entrance requirements, connecting labour market needs with high school course offerings, and aligning workplace expectations with students' competencies.

Mr. Speaker, this is an exciting initiative, as it has the potential to lead students down pathways that they have strengths in, are interested in, and want to explore. This will provide them with a clear path into fulfilling careers and meaningful work. This work will be connected to the changes that Alberta Education is currently making within their High School Redesign program, and I am very pleased that our department staff have been participating in various Alberta Education curriculum working groups which will help to inform changes within our senior secondary programming. This initiative will connect well with the work we are doing on Skills 4 Success and our Apprenticeship Strategy. We are committed to increasing northern participation in all job categories in demand in the NWT, including the skilled trades, to prepare residents to be first in line for the many jobs that exist and that will be coming in the future.

Another of this government's mandate commitments is to work with stakeholders and communities to explore options for free, play-based care for four-year-olds. Further to the independent review of junior kindergarten implementation and subsequent report, we engaged with communities, early childhood operators, and education stakeholders for the better part of 2016. We have committed to fully fund the implementation of junior kindergarten in all remaining NWT communities and have identified $5.1 million dollars in the proposed 2017-18 budget for this. We look forward to seeing junior kindergarten in all our schools across the NWT beginning in the 2017-18 school year.

As all Members are aware, we have been using the Early Development Instrument, which provides a snapshot of children's school readiness at age five. We have been using the instrument for five years, and we now have a year of data which gives us some information on children who attended junior kindergarten. The Early Development Instrument measures vulnerabilities in five different domains of a child's development and shows us where we can focus our efforts. Though our results are preliminary, they are very promising. They indicate that children who have attended junior kindergarten show improvements in many aspects of their development.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT also made a commitment to promote and improve Student Financial Assistance to support NWT youth in developing the skills and abilities to meet their potential, as well as territorial labour demand. The NWT has one of the most successful and generous Student Financial Assistance programs in Canada. In the 2016-17 academic year, we have paid $12 million dollars in benefits to 1,286 students thus far.

As well, over the past 18 months we have increased our benefits for applicants, which have been very well received. These improvements include:

● Up to $2,950 per semester for basic grant funding for tuition and books, an increase of $625;

● Increase in loan remission rates;

● Reduction of interest to 0% for students who are residing in the NWT;

● Removal of the 20-semester funding limit and re-introduction of the revolving loan limit to further support continuing students; and

● A new Northern Bonus for students residing in the NWT for a year since ending full-time studies. They are eligible for $2,000 per year to a maximum of $10,000. Southern students are also eligible.

● Since September 1, 2016, we have received 110 applications for the Northern Bonus.

● As well, we support students with permanent disabilities, providing the option of studying at a reduced course load, a $2,000 yearly grant to assist with educational expenses, and up to $8,000 per year to assist with extraordinary expenses like a tutor.

These improvements, combined with the national marketing campaign promoting the Student Financial Assistance Program, are providing vital support for our students. We are hopeful that we will see more students remaining and/or returning to the NWT, and that we will begin to see some successes from our national campaign that will support the GNWT's population growth objectives.

Mr. Speaker, education and training are the cornerstones of healthy, fulfilled residents, and a robust economy. We will continue to ensure our youth, residents, and communities have the programs, services, and opportunities they need to achieve their goals. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to one of the pages who are here with us, just starting today. I would like to highlight Denae Lafferty. She is my daughter, of course. We have such a fantastic page program that this is my third child in the page program. Masi.

Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak about the need to invest in the biggest asset of the Northwest Territories -- our people.

Mr. Speaker, for many years we have focused on the resource sector, mining and oil and gas. In the last 20 years, we have turned to diamonds. Our natural resources are world class, and they have done well for us. As much as 30 per cent of your GDP comes from these resources, but nothing lasts forever.

In Yellowknife, where famously the gold was paved with streets, the two founding gold mines are now closed. Imperial Oil wants to sell off its Norman Wells assets after a hundred years of operations. Fossil fuel prices are low worldwide. Corporate headquarters are moving South, and we are entering the declining years of some of our diamond mine projects.

These prospects all sound pretty gloomy. The challenge for us as leaders is not to be discouraged by the bad news, but to creatively seek new opportunities for growth.

That means focusing on our greatest asset. As I mentioned, that is our people. Our people are expanding the economy into new areas every day. We have a growing agricultural sector, with a new agricultural strategy on its way.

Our new film rebate program is encouraging Northerners to create original, ground-breaking works of art, including an original award-winning feature film and a couple of new television series. We have newly published authors and musicians releasing original works that are turning heads at the highest levels across the country. We have entrepreneurs investing in tiny homes. Our tourism numbers are at an all-time high and climbing and our fish and furs end up in markets around the world.

There are many areas with great potential for diversifying the economy. So we, as leaders, have to make it possible for people to thrive in these areas.

That is why we must take every possible step to drive the cost of living down. We must develop our transportation infrastructure so goods and services can move freely and more cheaply.

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

---Unanimous consent granted.

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, we must build a made-in-the-NWT education system so our young people are equipped with the real skills to succeed and our businesses receive the capacity they seek in these alternative economies.

Mr. Speaker, in changing times the outlook can be bleak, but times of change are also times of opportunity. We in this Chamber can lead the way forward towards new days and new opportunities, by investing in our greatest resource: our people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Kieron Testart

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there can be no denial that Northerners are resolute when it comes to surviving the cold winter months. We are tough, and we can take whatever February throws at us. Whether it is digging out vehicles buried beneath thick layers of snow or trudging through icy cold wind with a coffee in one hand and a frozen cell phone in the other, Northerners know the winter and it does not break us. We also know that it does not give us any breaks, but our government can, Mr. Speaker.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I think it is about time Northerners deserve a holiday in February!

Mr. Speaker, across our great snow-covered nation are statutory holidays occurring on a Monday in February. In the provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan, a holiday is observed on the third Monday of February. British Columbia began observing Family Day on the second Monday of February in 2013. Even in the Yukon, one Friday in February is deemed Yukon Heritage Day. That means two thirds of Canadians live in a province or territory that observes a February holiday.

A mid-winter holiday is something many Northerners want, but more importantly deserve, and we in this Legislature can make it happen. This new holiday will give Northerners more time to spend with family and friends, just like the majority of their fellow Canadians, Mr. Speaker. Who would not want an extra day to spend time with the family, kick back with a cup of coffee, or spend or spend an extra day at the cabin?

Mr. Speaker, although a holiday in February may not seem like the most pressing issue facing this Assembly, a day of respite during the coldest of months is one way to improve the mental health and well-being of Northerners. Stress takes its toll on each of us, Mr. Speaker, and leading research shows that taking a break from work improves our personal relationships, creativity, job satisfaction, career development, sleep quality, general mood, blood pressure, and much more.

Mr. Speaker, consider this a call of action to the honourable Members of this House: it is time for us to take the initiative in order for Northerners to have that well-deserved day of inaction. Thank you, Mr. Speaker

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, minor hockey brings people together in communities across the Northwest Territories and Canada.

Fort Providence has not seen organized hockey for children since the late 1980s, but it has recently made a comeback thanks to the efforts of the Parents' Minor Hockey Committee and its newly elected president, Mr. Tim Cragg.

Mr. Speaker, many Members of this House and people listening to our proceedings today have good memories of growing up with minor hockey. Some of us still play hockey, thanks to participation in minor hockey leagues.

Mr. Speaker, minor hockey led to the development of players like Jordin Tootoo, who once played for the local team, and the eventual formation of the Fort Providence Bulls, a dynasty that defended the Kingland Ford Tournaments champions' title for years.

This past year, Deh Cho constituents Tim Cragg, Edward Landry, Bertha Landry, Trisha Landry, and other parents raised funds to buy new equipment for children to play minor hockey in Fort Providence, also applying for funding through Jump Start to get 20 new sets of hockey equipment for the other students to play.

Mr. Speaker, hockey is a great way to stay active and get kids involved in sports. Hockey helps them develop skills that that they can apply to other sports and activities out on the land, like shooting straight, working hard, and using the right technique and equipment.

Mr. Speaker, playing hockey is an opportunity to learn life lessons about goal setting, winning and losing, fair play, working as a team, and keeping your stick on the ice.

Mr. Speaker, this past weekend, parents and 12 youth took part in their first hockey tournament in Fort Smith, and the kids ages from five to nine sure enjoyed their time on the ice, scoring, making new friends, and finding a new passion for themselves in hockey.

Mr. Speaker, it is exciting to see youth in my riding taking to the ice. I would like to take this opportunity to applaud the efforts of the Parents' Committee as well as the community for its support in bringing hockey back to Fort Providence. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Daniel McNeely

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The communities of the Central Mackenzie Valley are not linked to the rest of the NWT and Canada by an all-weather road. Ground access to the Central Mackenzie Valley is only by the winter road season. The federal government, through Public Works Canada did significant work in the 1970s on highway surveys, geotechnical investigations, environmental studies, bridge and culvert designs, through the great recognized Hire North program. The reasons for building the Mackenzie Valley Highway through the Sahtu Settlement Area are the same as when first proposed in the 1960s, as follows:

1. Provide a year-round transportation link connecting the Central Mackenzie Valley as phase 1;

2. Decrease the cost of living by increasing access to good and services;

3. Significantly reduce transportation costs for the government, businesses, and industry;

4. Stimulate local workforce and business development in the resources sector; and

5. Develop hospitality and tourism markets and other businesses and international destination clients.

This project is a mandate of our 18th Legislative Assembly. Preliminary efforts are in the $700 million application and supported by the business case application. The Mackenzie Valley Highway is crucial to unlocking the Sahtu potential and benefits to lowering our dependency on social programming, a combined budget factor of 63 per cent.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, to date a large investment has been made on the route Wrigley North for over 25 bridges and approaches, an amount that exceeds $200 million. Mr. Speaker, I ask: why stop there?

As we know, aside from this pre-construction investment, the phrase "shovel ready" is defined on the $70 million structural section, the BRB, or Bear River Bridge. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Daniel McNeely

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, colleagues. The Bear River Bridge, a project that this government supported through the designs/build, permit approvals, and regulatory developments of the application, and procured with even steel being purchased back in 2006.

Mr. Speaker, if this segment can be reviewed as a first portion of the project execution, it would provide a number of positive benefits towards resiliency commerce to the community of Tulita, not only annual access to granular materials for community expansions, but also community or industry certainty. Thank you. Mahsi. Mr. Speaker.

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. If we finish early enough today, I will be playing hockey tonight; but more seriously, Mr. Speaker, GNWT has negotiated a number of transboundary water agreements with the following jurisdictions:

● Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Yukon, and Canada for the Mackenzie River Basin Master Agreement in 1997;

● the Yukon in 2002;

● Alberta in 2015; and

● British Columbia in 2015.

These are very important agreements for the health of our aquatic life and communities on our shared watersheds, which includes the vast majority of our population. These arrangements also help fulfil commitments made in Indigenous land rights agreements where right is established to ensure waters which are on or flow through or are adjacent to Indigenous lands remain substantially unaltered as to quality, quantity, and rate of flow.

Our government has invested a substantial amount of time and money in the negotiation of these agreements, and Cabinet says this continues in the proposed budget of 2017-18 with an allocation of $2.1 million. While this may seem like a large amount it is a small price for pure and drinkable water at a time when our planet's fresh water supply is shrinking and in danger.

While our government made good progress on these agreements in 2015, I can find little evidence of further work. There are no annual reports as required under the agreements on the Environment and Natural Resources website. The agreements are found there, and some background information, but very little on implementation. There are a couple of baseline reports on groundwater in the Mackenzie Valley and water quality in the Hay River watershed, but nothing else. What is the status of negotiations with the Yukon, Saskatchewan, and Nunavut? Have water quality objectives and learning plans been started under any of the agreements? Are the bilateral management committees actually set up and meeting?

These transboundary water agreements were of such importance that Cabinet included them in our mandate. If we are truly to live up to these agreements, and nothing is more important than water, we need to better communicate what is going on with the public and MLAs on these transboundary agreements and fully implement them. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Herbert Nakimayak

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, for over 80 years the Northern Transportation Company Limited has provided several essential marine transportation services in the Northwest Territories.

Recognized all across our vast region, NTCL has carried much-needed fuel and freight from the shipyard in Hay River to the furthest regions of the North.

As a result of changing market conditions, business declined over the last decade and NTCL filed for creditor protection in 2016.

Mr. Speaker, reliable, dependable barging service is our lifeline for the communities in my riding. The barges serve other communities along the Mackenzie River and industries that have no other way to bring fuel and other goods into the community.

Failure in the barge service would disrupt the petroleum product supply for the Northwest Territories communities, and the way of life for everyone who lives there. The Government of the Northwest Territories issued a tender to find a new transportation provider, but was unable to identify an alternate contractor.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT's recent purchase of NTCL assets was based on an evaluation of their market value. It will help ensure that our communities can keep getting the fuel and goods they need and reduce the chance of higher transportation costs, raising the prices of power and other goods in these communities.

Mr. Speaker, the high cost of living is a significant problem throughout the Northwest Territories, and especially for residents of small communities.

Mr. Speaker, NTCL's specialized equipment is essential to marine re-supply along the Mackenzie. People are looking forward to when a contract for the marine re-supply is successfully negotiated. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to oppose cutting the social work program at Aurora College. I believe, and my constituents have told me, that eliminating this program is the wrong thing to do for several important reasons.

Mr. Speaker, social workers provide essential services by supporting the well-being of individuals, families, and communities. They work with some of the most vulnerable people in society, including children, youth, and disabled adults. To be effective, social workers must understand the dynamics of the community they work in and develop the respect and trust of residents. Social workers deal with serious life-changing issues every day.

Mr. Speaker, given this background it's easy to understand why it's a benefit to train Northerners in the North to become social workers. In fact, the program description for the Aurora College program says:

"The program is designed to be of particular relevance to the Northwest Territories and its social issues, cultural groups, and delivery systems and resources. The courses and the field practicums are planned to meet the educational needs of students who will be working in the North after the completion of the program."

Providing southern social workers with a cultural introduction to the North, as the Minister has suggested, is no substitute for training homegrown social workers, which was the goal of this program when it began 35 years ago.

Mr. Speaker, we need social workers. The ECE labour market forecast estimates 158 social workers with degrees will be required in the next 15 years, along with 479 social and community service workers with diplomas. These are good-paying jobs, paying an average of $68,000 a year, the report says.

Mr. Speaker, also consider that most social workers are women. I believe women become social workers because they are drawn to the role of caregiver and they find the job one that they can relate to. Some of the Aurora College students are mothers as well as students. They didn't start college right after high school, but decided to enrol in post-secondary education a little later in their lives. Imagine the decision that a woman or a family must make to move to Yellowknife to access this training; it's a significant upheaval. It's a testament to their determination that many students go through the access program before enrolling in social work. Now ask yourself whether this same woman or family is likely to move to Edmonton or Regina.

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

---Unanimous consent granted

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mahsi, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, there are 17 students in each of the two years of the program, but the number of graduates is much lower. The answer to low completion rates is not to cut these programs, but put supports in place which will help students in their academic journeys. Cutting the programs will cut off access to education to a significant number of Northerners, and that access will have a domino effect. Education, as we all know, is a way out of poverty and into self-determination.

Finally, and I echo what my colleagues have said, I find it incomprehensible that the program is being cut before we see the contents of the new Aurora College strategic plan.

Mr. Speaker, I'm aware the Minister has said it was not his decision to cut the social work program, but the board of Aurora College answers to him. He needs to tell the board to change their minds and reinstate the social work program. I will have questions. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Frederick Blake Jr.

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, overflow is disrupting the highway in the Mackenzie Delta. It's no surprise, Mr. Speaker. Overflow happens every year in two spots along the highway, between Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic near Caribou Creek, and just past Tsiigehtchic on the way to Fort McPherson at kilometre 142, also known as Georgetown, Mr. Speaker, because a man named George lives there; or used to until the overflow got so bad he couldn't drive to and from his house.

Mr. Speaker, the chartered community of Tsiigehtchic has asked the Department of Transportation for help. No money, we are told.

Mr. Speaker, in the past the department has come and cleared out the culvert and diverted the water. This work was done under the maintenance contract for the Dempster as an add-on, I believe. Now the department is telling the chartered community to hire its own contractor.

Mr. Speaker, water has been running through the culvert, which the department put in about a year ago, since before Christmas and gradually froze up. We know these areas cause problems almost every year.

Mr. Speaker, we could save money in the long run by putting in a heat trace like they do on the Yukon side of the Dempster Highway instead of paying extra every year to deal with the overflow. We could budget a fixed amount for a generator when we have problems with the overflow.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is about to finish building a highway over some of the most challenging terrain on the planet. I'm sure our government has the resources to manage some of the problem spots and get the overflow off the existing highway system. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I'll have questions later today.