This is page numbers 2213 - 2248 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 community.


Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, 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 1:32 p.m.


The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier.

Bob McLeod

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce the Government of the Northwest Territories has partnered with the Government of Canada to provide more in-person services to the residents of the Northwest Territories, through our single window service centres.

Earlier this year, our two governments launched a 12-month service delivery pilot project in Fort Providence, Fort Liard, and Tuktoyaktuk. Government services officers in these communities are now providing in-person services on behalf of Service Canada, in addition to their current duties for the Government of the Northwest Territories.

The government services officers were trained to help residents with applications for six federal programs: Apprenticeship Grants, Canada Pension Plan, Employment Insurance, Guaranteed Income Supplement, Old Age Security and the Wage Earner Protection Program.

Mr. Speaker, our single window service centres have been an important way to make sure the residents of the Northwest Territories’ small communities have access to government programs and services in a way that works for them. We are pleased to be partnering with the Government of Canada to formally extend access to Government of Canada programs and services in these three communities.

The single window service centres are an already successful program, and since it was launched in

2010, the program has grown across the Northwest Territories from eight to 20 centres and has helped residents with over 40,000 requests for services.

In 2014, the Government of the Northwest Territories received a national award from the Institute of Public Administration of Canada for the single window service centres recognizing the model for its innovative management. Connecting residents with the programs and services they need is important and we continue to work and improve upon the services that the government service officers provide.

Mr. Speaker, we are currently working on establishing the twenty-first single window service centre on Hay River Dene Reserve K'atlodeeche First Nation, with an anticipated opening early in April.

Mr. Speaker, this initiative is an important way that government is more accessible to residents, and I want to thank Members, community residents, local leadership, as well as community and Government of the Northwest Territories staff for their ongoing support. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Lands.

Louis Sebert

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, in a couple of weeks, the Department of Lands will mark its third anniversary. Tasked with managing and administering 1.15 million square kilometres of land in the Northwest Territories, the department has been working to serve residents in a way that reflects the Northwest Territories' interests and priorities.

Our work takes us across the entire Northwest Territories and our staff works with various partners, governments and landowners to ensure we are managing land and resources in a fair and transparent manner.

Much of the way in which we engage, and a standard this government is working to achieve for land management, is set out in the Land Use and Sustainability Framework.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment in its mandate to create a defined set of collective land use and sustainability objectives. Lands is working with other Government of the Northwest Territories departments on this commitment by looking at how they apply to land management strategies and frameworks. Taken together, this will give us the baseline information to develop an approach to ensure the objectives figure significantly in our decision processes.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has also made a commitment in its mandate to evolve our land and resource management legislative, regulatory, and policy systems. In support of this goal, the Department of Lands is currently working on administrative and technical amendments to the Government of the Northwest Territories' two land acts; notably, the Northwest Territories Lands Act and the Commissioner’s Land Act.

With two land administration systems now under one government, this initiative supports consistency in administrative application and enhanced clarity for land users. Engagement and consultation activities will occur at various stages of this initiative. This summer, we will have a discussion paper ready to share with Aboriginal governments and with the general public.

As part of a separate initiative, the Department of Lands has proposed regulatory changes to fee schedules that would affect those accessing services from document preparation and application fees to royalty collection and permit fees for quarrying.

We have also reviewed lease rent minimums with the objective of better aligning the two land administration systems. Updates to these fees have been proposed based on a number of factors, including inflation.

In addition to this work, the Government of the Northwest Territories has committed in its mandate to work to improve the Northwest Territories integrated resource management regime to ensure it reflects the Northwest Territories interests and priorities. The Department of Lands coordinates the Government of the Northwest Territories' input into amendments to the federal Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and regulations, a key feature of the NWT’s integrated resource management regime. We have started engaging with Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada on changes to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act to reverse amendments that would have resulted in restructuring of the land and water boards in the Mackenzie Valley. In addition, the Department has been actively involved in coordinating the Government of the Northwest Territories' input in the Expert Panel for the Review of Federal Environmental Assessment Processes. As part of our input, we continue to voice the need for participant funding for environmental assessment processes in the Northwest Territories.

As Minister of Lands I am responsible for nominating members to various boards created under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act concerned with environmental review and land use planning, as well as appointments to the Surface Rights Board. The department established a screening process and related procedures to ensure board vacancies are filled in a timely matter, with the most qualified nominees available for each position.

The department continues to help the government meet a high standard for environmental assessment and improve our integrated resource management system.

Mr. Speaker, we recently collaborated with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, and MVRMA boards, to host resource co-management workshops in Hay River and Norman Wells. These workshops support the mandate commitment to ensure that residents have meaningful opportunities to participate in the assessment of potential benefits and risks associated with resource development.

The government’s mandate commits it to developing an integrated, comprehensive approach to the management of contaminated sites. The Department of Lands is supporting this commitment through work the Securities and Project Assessment Division is doing to address how we handle and process securities and assess risk. Consistent with the strategic direction in the Land Use and Sustainability Framework, our Shared Services Informatics Centre is working with the Securities Division to develop enhanced information-management capacity for tracking securities and assisting in evidence-based decision-making.

Further to that, the department is collaborating with ENR and other departments through an interdepartmental working group to build and implement an inventory of securities and tracking systems over the next few months. Mr. Speaker, creating certainty around land use is critical to the environmental and economic future of the Northwest Territories. Regional land use plans are the primary instrument to define where certain activities can and cannot take place in a specific region or area, and land use planning is a collaborative process that requires strong relationships between communities and governments.

To help create greater certainty for all land users, the GNWT has made a commitment, in its mandate, to complete land use plans in all areas, in collaboration with Aboriginal governments. The department’s work on meeting this mandate item includes the development of regional land use planning guidelines, to clarify the Government of the Northwest Territories’ role in land-use planning.

In addition, the department will host its third annual Land-Use Planning Forum in March 2017. We have invited Aboriginal governments and land-use planning partners to share information and perspectives on how the current and planned approaches, tools, and activities of planning partners can contribute to advancing land-use planning, in areas without completed land-use plans.

We have also initiated work with the Tlicho Government to develop a planning mechanism for public lands within the Wek'eezhii Management Area. Any final land use plan that is developed through the planning mechanism is directly linked to the provisions of the Tlicho Agreement, and those provisions will also make the plan legally binding on all governments.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the department is close to completing work to develop a framework that will articulate the Government of the Northwest Territory’s goals and priorities for managing recreational leasing on public lands in the Northwest Territories, another commitment of our mandate.

The department also recognized the need for targeted recreational management planning for the public lands outside and around Yellowknife, Ndilo and Detah. Public engagement sessions and online surveys were held last year, giving residents and stakeholders several opportunities for input into the development of the plan for the Yellowknife Periphery Area. The draft plan is expected to be released for public comment this summer. The Government of the Northwest Territories will ensure section 35 consultation responsibilities are met, prior to finalizing the plan.

This work will ensure that Northerners continue to have diverse opportunities to experience and enjoy northern land and waters, in ways that are most meaningful to them.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, the Department of Lands takes its commitments to help this government achieve all of its priorities seriously. We will continue to work toward improving the Northwest Territories’ integrated resource management system, while meeting our land use and sustainability objectives, and the aspirations of Northwest Territories residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Wally Schumann

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories made a commitment in its mandate to support mineral exploration and the mining sector by implementing the Mineral Development Strategy.

I rise today to update my colleagues on our progress. Mr. Speaker, the Mineral Development Strategy has five pillars: creating a competitive edge; establishing a new regulatory environment; enhancing Aboriginal engagement and capacity; promoting sustainability; and enriching workforce development and public awareness.

In our work to create a competitive edge for mining in the NWT, we have placed incentives and advanced world-class geoscience to improve our jurisdiction’s investment attractiveness.

Over three years, we have invested $1.2 million in our Mining Incentive Program. Our first two years of investment leveraged an additional $3.36 million in exploration spending by companies and prospectors on their supported projects. In light of this interest, I am pleased with the decision last week to increase the budget for this fund by $600,000.

We have provided extra work credits through the Exploration Incentive Program, as a stop-gap for companies in uncertain economic times. It is a program that, I am happy to advise Members, will be extended for an additional two years.

We have invested in developing the geoscience research and data that will enable responsible decision-making. Regional maps now detail the geology of the Gwich'in, Sahtu, Inuvialuit, and Deh Cho regions, as well as the Wek'eezhii Resource Management, and Akaitcho areas.

Mr. Speaker, we see our investments in geoscience as part of the broader public good. Not only does the Northwest Territories’ Geological Survey generate and collect this information, it makes it available at no charge.

Our mineral industry drill core collection, including the world’s largest publicly-available kimberlite collection, will be housed in a geological materials storage facility that we will open this summer. This collection, which will be available for examination year-round, significantly reduces costs for companies and prospectors looking to evaluate older mineral prospects that may hold promise as new exploration projects.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, under the pillar of creating a competitive edge, we continue to find ways to promote exploration and mineral investment in the NWT. Last year’s gala celebrating our 25-year history with the diamond industry is an example of how we are using the Unlocking our Potential brand to advance the profile and recognition of our territory’s natural wealth and redouble our efforts to communicate our government’s support for mining.

Mr. Speaker, while geological and economic considerations are important factors in determining mineral exploration and investment decisions, so is our region’s policy climate. Last week, the Fraser Institute published its 2016 survey on mining and exploration companies worldwide.

It ranked the NWT as the seventh most attractive Canadian jurisdiction for mining. Out of 104 jurisdictions worldwide, the Northwest Territories was ranked 11th for best practices and mineral potential and 21st for investment attractiveness.

As part of establishing a new regulatory environment, we have begun work to create a new leading-edge Mineral Resources Act. This work is also part of our mandate commitment to advance the territorial vision of land and resource management, in accordance with the Land Use and Sustainability Framework. While creating legislation from scratch is a long process, we will draw on the latest science and best practices to create an act that will be key to the future of our largest industry.

Our work to promote the sustainability of our mineral development sector has included permafrost, and surficial geology research in the Slave Geological Province, which will help to ensure that any new developments in this region are undertaken with an eye to minimizing environmental impacts on our land and water.

Mr. Speaker, all of this work serves to raise public awareness for the mining industry, and its importance to our territory.

It is a message that we take every opportunity to deliver. Working through its Client Service and Community Relations Unit, the Department of ITI has facilitated workshops with Aboriginal governments to create regional mineral development strategies. We have worked closely with the members of the Intergovernmental Council to promote NWT mining and minerals at events, further advancing the spirit of collaboration upon which our successful, modern mining industry was built.

Meanwhile, through the delivery of the Mining Matters program, we are also engaging students in the stories of the NWT minerals and promoting career opportunities in mining in a user-friendly way.

As we work to implement the Mineral Development Strategy, we will continue to improve the climate for exploration and investment in our territory. As market and economic conditions change, we will need to focus and adjust the actions and investments in our strategy to meet this intended mark.

I look forward to continuing to shepherd this strategy, and advancing the NWT mining sector that is creating meaningful jobs and opportunities for our people and a stable, competitive future for our economy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members’ statements. Member for Frame Lake.

New Mineral Resources Act
Members’ Statements

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Mr. Speaker. Following the Minister's statement about mining, our government is committed to the development of a Mineral Resources Act as part of our mandate.

A request for qualifications was issued for a consultant to develop and carry out a public engagement process resulting in a legislative proposal for this work. It closes on March 17th. The objective is the development of a world-class legislative framework for mining that

● Encourages sufficient mineral exploration and production operations;

● Protects the land, water, and natural resources of the NWT;

● Modernizes the legislative framework and secures the greatest benefit for NWT residents;

● Provides clarity, predictability, and transparency for all stakeholders throughout the regulatory and operational processes;

● Provides employment and economic opportunities for NWT residents;

● Supports Aboriginal governments to build capacity for mining-related activities; and

● Builds consensus for mineral development.

All this sounds rather noble. I would like to suggest several specific issues and solutions.

First is to ensure that mineral exploration and development is fully subject to our integrated environmental management regime, the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. There should be no exceptions or exemptions for the mining industry, as is currently the case.

Next, communities should have the ability to prohibit locating mineral claims within municipal boundaries to avoid land-use conflicts and disputes. The NWT Association of Communities has called for such authority, and this would likely require changes to the Surface Rights Board Act. We should also move this board to a co-management approach.

We should modify or end the free entry system to something more like the directed rights disposition system found in our oil and gas regime.

Capture geoscience data and information during exploration to build our knowledge base and avoid repeating environmental disturbance.

Review and adjust royalties from the extractions of public mineral resources. We are now in control and must ensure we retain fair and equitable returns from mineral resources.

I look forward to opportunities to meaningfully shape a new Mineral Resources Act. I will have questions for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

New Mineral Resources Act
Members’ Statements

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I believe this government recognizes the value and importance of the continued health and wellbeing of their employees. However, these past two years have been difficult ones for the public service. Positions are being eliminated as a result of departmental amalgamations, people are being laid off, and unionized employees have been working without a signed contract for almost a year. As a result, our employees are not feeling good about their relationship with their employer. This needs to be fixed.

Mr. Speaker, wellness is an active process of becoming aware of and learning to make healthy choices. When you focus on keeping your mind, body, and soul in good condition, you can become a more efficient and effective person. We can achieve true wellness only when we proactively recognize that we have mental, physical, and social needs to look after.

A wellness program would help increase productivity, boost morale, and reduce stress. Because a lot of government jobs are sedentary, we need to come up with stretching and walking programs that can be implemented throughout the day. This will help stimulate the brain, help employees refocus, and help provide natural energy. As well, government could look at bringing in a relaxation coach or using videos to help employees learn about deep breathing techniques, tips for loosening up, and secrets for maintaining a relaxed state of mind, even when under pressure.

To truly achieve a healthy and sustainable work-life balance for its employees, the government needs to consider the creation of employee wellness days as part of the overall wellness strategy. These paid wellness days would be spread out across the year to allow employees to spend more time with their families, hobbies, or self.

I am proposing that wellness days be scheduled to fall on the Friday of the third week in February and the Fridays before the following statutory holidays: Victoria Day, August Civic Day, Labour Day, and Thanksgiving. This will give GNWT employees extra-long long weekends to recharge their batteries and return to work rested and enthusiastic about the work they do for the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, wellness programs would help employees make smart, and healthy choices that can reduce healthcare costs, increase vitality, and diminish workplace absenteeism. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank my colleagues. I have shared these ideas with a number of GNWT employees, including the president of the Union of Northern Workers. I have heard positive support for this approach. I hope the government will give some serious consideration to this proposal. Mr. Speaker, later today I will have questions for the Minister of Finance. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Daniel McNeely

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I had the opportunity to visit almost all 25 students in the Sahtu region attending post-secondary or upgrading technical schooling in Fort Smith.

Mr. Speaker, in recognition of this resource as our next workforce, mentoring and future life skills counselling contributes to the graduation success rate of the youth.

Mr. Speaker, ECE is working in partnership with Aurora College in publication of a renewed labour market development and implementing the first year of the Skills 4 Success.

Mr. Speaker, this Assembly continues to advocate for higher youth graduation candidates. Succession planning and counselling is the main tool of focus on collaborative engagement on the principle of job or career readiness. This element of engagement in forecasting opportunities must be developed to share our vision on prosperity to the youth pre-employment entries into the work world. Later, Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the appropriate Minister. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, students in Fort Providence of the Introduction to Northern Leadership provided this statement to me to express on their behalf.

Mr. Speaker, the tourism industry is a great opportunity for the Northwest Territories. Tourism brought in nearly $94.1 million between 2010 and 2011. This number increased to $146 million in the period from 2014 to 2015, which is approximately a 50 per cent increase. Tourism has made a comeback in the NWT and is an important part of the economy.

Mr. Speaker, Fort Providence can take advantage of this opportunity by upgrading Telemia to a tourist camp. Telemia is currently used as a cultural camp of the community and is located approximately 10 kilometres from Fort Providence on the Mackenzie River. Converting it to a tourist camp will enable Fort Providence to participate in the tourism boom in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the local people have the opportunity to explore careers in the tourism sector, as the daily operations of the tourist camp will create 40 jobs. Tourists will also have a chance to experience and learn about the rich Dene culture, food, and heritage that we are so proud of. This camp will create an opportunity for local businesses and foreign investment.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT has identified Aboriginal tourism as an important opportunity for the NWT.

We have allocated resources towards the development of regional tourism plans and initiatives. We need tourist attractions beyond Yellowknife and for people driving north.

Mr. Speaker, Telemia is a great example of that kind of opportunity and a way to showcase the culture and traditions of the North in a historically important location.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage Industry, Tourism and Investment to offer all its support towards this project. I remain hopeful that this vision can come to fruition. Mahsi, 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 want to report today on efforts to introduce a living wage in Yellowknife. The principle guiding this work is that people who work full time should not be living below the poverty line. Eleven Yellowknife organizations with a total of more than 300 employees have now signed with a pledge to pay their employees the living wage.

First, a little background. In 2015, a northern non-profit commissioned an economist to calculate a living wage for Yellowknife. The calculation was based on a 40-hour work week. It included expenses such as food, shelter, transportation, clothing, childcare, and recreation. It does not include paying debts, saving money, helping other family members financially, or owning a pet, among other things. It really is just the basics. The living wage for Yellowknife was calculated for a family of four with two full-time wage earners and two children, one of those children in day care, one in school, as this is the most common family type. The living wage in Yellowknife, Mr. Speaker, is $20.68 an hour for each full-time worker.

The research and calculation of a living wage are important when you consider that, in 2015, there were 1,700 people in Yellowknife making less than $20 per hour, with most of that group earning less than $16 per hour. Contrast this to the territorial minimum wage if $12.50 per hour and you see how far short the legislated wage falls from the wage needed just to get by.

For low-income earners, a living wage can be a permanent solution to poverty. It relieves families of the stress of meeting basic expenses and dealing with financial emergencies. It also allows families to access social and recreational activities that most of us take for granted.

Workers earning a living wage have more money in their pockets to spend locally. They contribute more to the tax base, and that benefits the entire community. Staff retention and workplace productivity is increased, and recruitment and training costs are reduced for employers. Mr. Speaker, a living wage is truly a win-win situation for business and workers and it represents a systemic solution to poverty.

When you are out and about, look for the blue and white living wage supporter decal that living wage employers have posted in their establishments. Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, Outreach is continuing to get more businesses and organizations to take the living wage pledge. I salute Alternatives North for leading this work and all the living wage employers present and future.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

State Of The Economy
Members’ Statements

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I was happy to hear the Minister of ITI's statement earlier today. It was definitely some good news. However, Mr. Speaker, an article in the newspaper last week held some news that should trouble us all. Statistics Canada numbers show that, last month, the number of people employed in the NWT was at its lowest rate since 2010. The article indicates that, between last December and January, employment dropped by 700 people across the territory.

I know I'm sounding like a doom-and-gloom broken record, Mr. Speaker, but these discouraging numbers can be attributed to mine closures and corporate offices leaving the North: Imperial Oil planning to leave Norman Wells; Dominion Diamonds and De Beers have relocated to Calgary; layoffs at Diavik. Interestingly the chamber of commerce found during its membership drive last month that almost every business that cancelled its membership did so because it was leaving Yellowknife.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, the Chamber of Mines announced that mining revenues have fallen in the NWT, and exploration activity continues to be flat.

Companies need to find economical ways to do business, Mr. Speaker. The situation begs for solutions. Not that we can wave a magic wand to fix these problems, but the government needs to send clear signals that we are addressing the high cost of doing business in the territory. That high cost remains a barrier to the economic investment that we need to bring jobs back.

In our mandate, we made a commitment to lower the cost of living, but, instead, the average Northerner's dollar is shrinking by the week, Mr. Speaker. We have faced six straight years of rising power rates. If approved, an airport user fee will drive up the costs of everything. We're paying more at the pumps and in grocery stores because of Alberta's carbon tax, and we know that we're going to phase in our own carbon tax regime at some point. People work two or even three jobs just to be able to cover the basics, Mr. Speaker. My honourable colleague from Yellowknife Centre spoke exactly to this challenge earlier with regard to the living wage. The average person's dollar is getting stretched ever tighter, making it harder and harder for families to invest, save, and build upon their future, much less their kids' future. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Unanimous consent granted

State Of The Economy
Members’ Statements

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. Mr. Speaker, over the past weeks we've made good progress on the budget, and I appreciate the hard work of Members on both sides of this Chamber. We can now finally move forward. However, as you have heard me say before, I support being fiscally responsible, but not at the expense of our residents. I will continue to advocate that we focus on reducing the cost of living. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

State Of The Economy
Members’ Statements

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, I also rise today to speak to an issue that my honourable friends have brought up today, which is the cost of living and helping Northerners make ends meet, but also the coming cost pressures and expectations that Northerners have on their government.

We acknowledge that one part of living in the North that is so spectacular is our pristine environment that is unparalleled across the country and in the world. You know, we need to look at ways to promote a healthy environment and also a healthy economy. Across the world, really, carbon pricing has become a mechanism to do exactly that. However, this government continues to drag its feet on moving forward with a real plan for carbon pricing in the Northwest Territories.

Others have spoken on this comment. Most recently, I have enquired with our Chamber of Commerce, and they have said that they do not have the capacity to reach out and participate in these meaningful consultations, and yet the government will provide, has provided, resources for others to do that. Our business community needs to be consulted in these very important decisions.

In our sister territory, in the Yukon, their Chamber of Commerce has reversed its position and is now in support of a carbon tax. They want to manage it through a third party, Green Energy Trust, and, while I will save that debate for another day, I think that they are proposing solutions, and good ones at that, to start this discussion going.

This government gives $22 million back in cost-of-living tax credits to Northerners each year, and, with this most recent budget, that number is being enhanced. That is a good thing. Why do we not just make that commitment today to implement a carbon tax and give the money back to Northerners directly as a tax return? That is just one idea.

Lowering the cost of living is completely possible while still adopting a carbon tax. The writing is on the wall, Mr. Speaker. Ottawa is going to do it for us if we do not do it for ourselves. We still do not have anything on the table. We do not even have a list of exceptions that this government wants to ask Ottawa for, so I am afraid that, when the federal budget rolls out in 2018, we will have a carbon tax enforced on us because we have not done the hard work necessary to get some ideas on the table and start that process now. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.