This is page numbers 2329 - 2354 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.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, 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 10:00 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

I would like to say Masi to our elder for our opening prayer. Elder Mary Louise Drygeese from Detah.

Good morning, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister’s Statement 171-18(2): NWT Tourism 'secrets' Campaign
Ministers’ Statements

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the secret is out; or, to be more precise, 150 secrets are coming out.

They are the foundation of a Canada-wide promotion highlighting the many reasons our territory is a spectacular place to live and visit.

From coast to coast, Canadians are learning about things like the Rabbit Kettle Tufa Mounds in Nahanni National Park, the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, the Canol Trail, Ice Road Truckers, and Fort Smith’s annual Paddlefest.

The campaign, which is also taking advantage of Canada’s 150th birthday, was conceived and is being led by our government’s Destination Marketing Organization, Northwest Territories Tourism.

It is being promoted to Canadians at major trade shows in Vancouver, Calgary, and Toronto; in restaurant promotions; on decaled public transit; and in advertising on TV, social media, newspapers, radio and the web.

The goal of the campaign is to generate national awareness and conversation about the Northwest Territories as a must-see travel destination. Mr. Speaker, it is safe to say that our goal has been achieved. The response to this campaign is already astonishing, and it is not over yet.

In the first three weeks of the campaign, it exceeded its marketing targets with 60,000 contest entries, 157,000 visitors to the Spectacular NWT website, 385,000 webpage visits in search of our spectacular secrets and 3,000 new subscribers to the NWT Tourism’s Quarterly Newsletter. The campaign will end on April 10th.

Mr. Speaker, the Secrets campaign features five grand prize packages that will take five couples on all-inclusive adventures, one each, into our territory’s five regions. Subsidiary prizes will see 140 individuals fly to Yellowknife, where they will be encouraged to travel further into our territory.

The entire campaign is just part one of the NWT Tourism's broader $2.76 million plan to attract domestic and international visitors to our territory that I will table in the House later this afternoon.

The tourism sector offers the best opportunities that we have to advance economic diversification in the NWT; and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is working diligently to build the foundation on which our tourism sector will flourish.

Our Tourism 2020 strategy is the blueprint for this work and aims to increase tourism spending in the NWT to $207 million by 2020-21. Our strategy outlines the steps we are taking to attract visitors to the Northwest Territories. It outlines the programs and initiatives for which we are strengthening the products and capacity of NWT operators.

Under the banner of our Tourism 2020 strategy, the new Aboriginal Tourism Champions Program was launched in October. More recently, we have introduced the new Community Tourism Coordinator Program to advance regional product development and packaging.

We continue to deliver the Community Tourism Infrastructure Contribution Program to encourage the development of community tourism infrastructure and we want to continue to facilitate and invest in our territory’s greatest tourism resources with our businesses and youth mentorship programs.

Mr. Speaker, in 2015-16 we increased our visitors to the NWT by 11 per cent over the previous year. As importantly, the increase was reflected in a 14 per cent increase in visitor spending and the direct spend in our territory related to tourism in 2015 rose to $167.1 million. That means new money for our economy, increased business for tourism operators and our hospitality industry; and business development. The growth of our tourism industry also means growth in employment opportunities and improved quality of life for northern residents in terms of dining and activity options.

With creative marketing campaigns, strategic planning and timely, targeted programs, we will continue to build our tourism sector and the growth and diversity that it will bring to our economy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 171-18(2): NWT Tourism 'secrets' Campaign
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Ministers' statements. Minister of Human Resources.

Minister’s Statement 172-18(2): Success In Retaining GNWT Public Servants
Ministers’ Statements

March 10th, 2017

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, the decisions we make here in the Legislative Assembly have real impacts on the people of the Northwest Territories. Make no mistake about it; they are watching us to find out what our plans are and how they will be affected. This puts a big responsibility on us to make sure that what we say here is accurate and does not cause any public fear or misconceptions about the government’s plans.

We have a particular responsibility to our staff, Mr. Speaker. We make the decisions here in the Legislative Assembly, but it is the dedicated professionals in the GNWT public service who put our direction into action. Without them, we would have nobody to plan and deliver the programs and services the people of the NWT rely on.

To provide the people of the NWT with the good programs and services they need, it is critical that we recruit the best staff we can. We are also committed to developing our employees and to making every effort we can to retain them as members of the GNWT public service.

As with any employer, our organizational structure and staffing levels change over time. Mr. Speaker, often these changes are small, but there are times when we go through a more significant restructuring process. When that happens, we make an effort to reduce effects on our employees, first by eliminating vacant positions and then through our Staff Retention Policy.

The Staff Retention Policy provides a clear process for working with affected staff to find them other employment options within the GNWT. An important feature of the policy is a commitment to give affected employees staffing priority for up to 21 weeks. This provides our employees some confidence that a restructuring does not mean the end of their GNWT career and it gives us the opportunity to retain someone with valuable experience and training.

Through this process, Mr. Speaker, we are often able to reduce the number of employees impacted by position reductions and to accommodate the majority of affected staff. For instance, the GNWT identified 124 positions for elimination in its 2016-17 budget. There were 56 staff affected as part of that reduction, with 40 of them being redeployed to other positions within the GNWT. Five others retired, and nine were laid off, having received a layoff option.

We have eliminated 65 positions in this year's budget. As is our normal practice, we looked at vacant positions first and initially identified 36 as affected employees. We will work toward retaining affected employees, as we have in the past.

I would also like to point out, Mr. Speaker, that our 2017-18 budget actually creates more positions than it eliminates. With new positions such as the 23 being created in Norman Wells with the opening of the new health centre and long-term care facility, the GNWT expects to have 17 more positions next fiscal year than it did this year. This budget is creating opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, I want to assure Members of the Legislative Assembly, the public, and our employees that the GNWT is committed to the retention and retraining of our impacted staff. Employees are our most valuable asset and we will make every reasonable effort to retain affected employees as a part of the GNWT public service. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister’s Statement 172-18(2): Success In Retaining GNWT Public Servants
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's Statement 173-18(2): Moving Towards An NWT Oil And Gas Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, our territory is a region with massive petroleum potential, and we have committed in our mandate to delivering a long-term strategy to capitalize on these reserves and to bring oil and gas investment back to the NWT. The need for this work was first identified during public engagements informing the development of the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy.

Across our North, industries, businesses, and residents pointed to the need for strategic planning and preparation to position our territory to capitalize on the opportunities that the responsible development of our oil and gas resources will bring. Many in the Sahtu and Beaufort Delta regions said that this development could provide the same economic growth that diamond mining has provided in other regions.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has drafted a strategy that we believe offers a viable, balanced, and made-in-the-NWT approach to advancing oil and gas development in the NWT. Our plans balance the priorities and interests of NWT residents, businesses, and industry. In response to recommendations from the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, it also includes an implementation and evaluation framework.

Our work has taken place in consultation with many of the same stakeholders that first highlighted the need for this strategy. We believe it represents an approach that NWT residents and businesses can both support and benefit from and one that will help restore investor confidence and investment in our territory.

Mr. Speaker, the next step in our strategic process is to return to our stakeholders and partners to confirm that we have it right, that the balanced approach represented in our draft strategy will enable us to benefit from our oil and gas resources while ensuring the traditions and environment that we value are protected.

Over the course of the summer, we will be organizing community engagement sessions in regional centres to give NWT residents an opportunity to learn about and comment on the draft strategy and to provide input on its eventual implementation and evaluation.

Ultimately, this strategy will set a path for responsible oil and gas development by identifying challenges like our transportation infrastructure deficit, reinforcing the GNWT's commitment to environmental and social sustainability, and recommending a smart, sustainable path forward for oil and gas development.

Mr. Speaker, as oil and gas markets begin to show signs of recovery, this strategy is one of several steps our government is taking to address the economic approach, the oversight, and public confidence in future oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories.

Next week in Calgary, our government will facilitate a workshop of Aboriginal and government partners on the subject of northern transportation corridors; not just pipelines, but railways, highways, waterways, fibre optic infrastructure, and transmission lines that can play an important role in realizing our North's energy and economic potential.

For the most part, the oil and gas and energy infrastructure that we have needed is not in place, but like so many pivotal moments in our territory's history, we see this as an opportunity to shape our future with the skills, experience, creativity, and passion of Northerners to find new ways to develop northern energy corridors and resources.

In the coming months we will also be taking important steps to enhance the legislation governing oil and gas development as part of our mandate commitment to advance the territorial vision of land and resource management in accordance with the Land Use and Sustainability Framework. We will also be taking steps to advance the understanding and capacity of NWT residents to engage with and benefit from oil and gas development in their regions.

As we move forward this year, this work will ensure that residents have meaningful opportunities to participate in the assessment of potential benefits and risks associated with the development of all of our natural resources.

I look forward to working with colleagues, stakeholders, Aboriginal governments, and constituents on finalizing and implementing the NWT's Oil and Gas Strategy in pursuit of economic opportunities and prosperity for all citizens of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 173-18(2): Moving Towards An NWT Oil And Gas Strategy
Ministers’ Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Sale Of Seal And Ivory Products To Cruise Ship Passengers
Members' Statements

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Crystal Serenity Cruises is planning another trip through the Northwest Passage this summer. More than 900 tourists and 600 crew are expected to come aboard for the summer cruise season, the majority of them from the United States, Mr. Speaker.

The Crystal Serenity is a luxury cruise liner, nearly three football fields long and 13 storeys tall, and the largest cruise ship ever to traverse the Northwest Passage.

Mr. Speaker, tickets start at $20,000 per person and guests can watch polar bears and muskoxen, kayak along Canada's northernmost shores, and land on pristine beaches to hike where few have ever set foot. Other activities include birding, rafting, and helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft flights. In Nome, Alaska, the annual Blueberry Festival was rescheduled so that visitors could enjoy blueberry pie while watching Inuit dancers and browse traditional handicrafts made by local artisans.

Mr. Speaker, while environmentalists are seeing doom, some Nunakput communities are seeing economic opportunities. Mr. Speaker, as we know, seal and ivory products cannot be brought into the USA. In interest of maximizing benefits to the communities and Inuvialuit from cruise ship opportunities and providing the best available experience to the tourists, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation will host workshops in the ISR to prepare for the upcoming cruise season as restrictions prevented Inuvialuit of Ulukhaktok from selling seal and ivory products to cruise ship passengers, which had an impact on traditional crafts sales and to coverers and seamstresses.

Mr. Speaker, the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species has exemption provisions that we should explore, such as the EU, which now agreed to accept Inuvialuit-harvested seals. This is a milestone for our region, and I commend IRC and the GNWT in this example of coordination and cooperation. Mr. Speaker, I see that Arctic cruises are an opportunity for remote communities in the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Sale Of Seal And Ivory Products To Cruise Ship Passengers
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Family Violence Survey
Members' Statements

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, following the discussion that took place in this House yesterday, I am renewing my call for the Minister for the Status of Women to repeat the survey of attitudes toward family violence. It is clear that we 19 Members do not share a common understanding of what family violence is, and I suspect that we are representative of the territory as a whole. The information the survey will produce is fundamental to creating policy and programs that reduce rates of family violence.

The mandate for the 18th Assembly calls on us to take action on the crisis of family and community violence. It is also one of three priorities of the Standing Committee on Social Development. The rate has been high for many years and has resisted any and all efforts to reduce it. It is time to look for a systemic fix. That means we need to promote acceptance of women's equality.

A first step along this road is to ensure we have a common understanding of what family violence is. Ten years ago, the NWT Bureau of Statistics surveyed 753 people in communities large and small to answer this question. At that time, 88 per cent of respondents said they were either very worried or somewhat worried about family violence. There was a significant number of men and women who said they believe that physical violence between a couple is a private matter to be resolved within the family. There's a general reluctance to define family violence as a problem for which help is needed, and we saw that only too clearly here yesterday. Finally, there is also a considerable misunderstanding that men are victims of family violence to the same extent as women. It's simply not true.

I believe that updating the family violence survey will give us the information we need to create effective policy and actions that are aimed at the attitudes that perpetuate family violence and women's inequality. The Coalition Against Family Violence and the Status of Women NWT have also requested the survey be repeated.

Members had the opportunity yesterday to be role models in family violence prevention, and they decided not to take it, but the issue is not going to go away. It is time for us to get serious about reducing rates of family violence and to work in smart and consistent ways to ensure that every NWT hears the message that women are equals and violence -- Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to bring out my last sentence. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Family Violence Survey
Members' Statements

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is time for us to get serious about reducing rates of family violence and to work in smart and consistent ways to ensure every NWT resident hears the message that women are equals, that violence is not inevitable, and it is preventable. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Family Violence Survey
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Budget Session Reflections
Members' Statements

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today wraps up what has been a demanding and at times a difficult session. It has been a bit of a long haul, but looking back, we have made some significant accomplishments.

All Members of this House should be able to look back with some pride at the achievement of the budget. It may not be exactly what any of us had in mind at the outset, Mr. Speaker, but by defending our different perspectives, and through good-faith discussions and negotiations, we made progress and achieved an overall success. We have committed money to establish a 911 service after it was talked about for years, we can take pride in fully funded junior kindergarten, and it is important that we reinstated funding, at least for now, to the teacher education and social work programs at Aurora College.

This session wasn't just about passing a budget, though, Mr. Speaker. It was also about communication between the two sides of this House and with the public. I believe we made progress there as well. We have to keep working to make the relationship between Cabinet and Regular Members become the cohesive one that I know all of us believe it can and should be.

The residents who elected us are counting on us, Mr. Speaker, to continue to move forward on the many issues and challenges that face us. We must continue to work to make the Northwest Territories competitive on the national and international stages. We can do that by building on our strengths and assets.

Our products and resources are world class, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I am referring to our mineral wealth, which is rich and largely untapped. I am also including our renewable resources: an under-developed fishing industry in one of the largest lakes in all the world, and forests that would lend to a healthy reforestation opportunity that would continue the development of wood products and support the biomass industry. Our land, water, skies, and culture are the basis of another world-class industry that is just beginning to be realized, and that is the tourism sector. The Minister spoke about this earlier today.

Our people are another world-class resource, Mr. Speaker. Northwest Territories businesspeople are resourceful and hardworking. Our tradespeople are second to none. Our artists, filmmakers, authors, and musicians are emerging and accomplishing great things on the national and international stages. Of course, our furs garner the highest prices in the world markets. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Unanimous consent granted