This is page numbers 2555 – 2578 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 going.

Topics

Members Present

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

The House met at 10:01 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Good morning, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 191-18(2): Disability Awareness Week And Disabilities Review
Ministers' Statements

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Speaker, Disability Awareness Week is approaching in the NWT. Each year we acknowledge persons with disabilities and strive to raise awareness of challenges they may face in their daily lives with accessibility and inclusion. We also recognize volunteers who work to help persons with disabilities achieve equality within their communities during the annual disabilities awareness tea. There are more than 3,000 people in the NWT who identify as having a disability. The GNWT has committed in its mandate to ensuring effective supports and programs are in place for persons with disabilities. Completing the NWT Disability Program Review and Renewal Project Public Engagement Questionnaire is part of fulfilling that commitment.

The project is being led by the Department of Health and Social Services in collaboration with non-government organizations from the disabilities sector and a working group comprised of officials from the Departments of Education, Culture and Employment; Municipal and Community Affairs; Justice; Finance; and the NWT Housing Corporation. The disability review will document existing resources and identify gaps in disability programs and services as well as opportunities for improvement. This review will ensure government departments are maximizing the use of existing resources, are marketing them effectively, and are establishing priority areas for new initiatives, should additional resources become available.

Through the disability review, we will also develop a strategic framework and a five-year action plan that addresses the needs of persons with disabilities. The action plan will be focused on four pillars, ensuring services are person-centered and family-driven; improving inclusion and accessibility of services; increasing awareness and education; and coordination, evaluation and reporting. As a first deliverable, we will publish an updated inventory of existing GNWT programs and services in the near future. Mr. Speaker, I am confident that this review and the development of the strategic framework and action plan will enhance and improve the programs and services we have for persons with disabilities, and ultimately enhance their quality of life here in the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 191-18(2): Disability Awareness Week And Disabilities Review
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 192-18(2): Changes To The Income Assistance Program
Ministers' Statements

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over the past year, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment has been making significant changes to the way it provides critical support for the territory's most vulnerable residents through its Income Assistance Program.

In 2016, the federal government announced the Canada Child Benefit. This new benefit had significant implications for our Income Assistance Program, and we revised our program so that the new Canada Child Benefit was not counted as income under the Income Assistance program. This change was intended to ensure all NWT residents with families received the full benefit of this new federal program. Mr. Speaker, through a joint initiative with our colleagues at the Department of Finance we will be increasing the Northwest Territories Child Benefit to provide additional financial support to more low- to modest-income families with children and not only those accessing income assistance. For example, a family with three children under six whose annual income is $45,000 would have received $136.05 per year before the changes. With the enhanced benefit, that same family will now receive $1,397.90, an increase of $1,261.85.

The enhanced NWT Child Benefit will also now reach more Northwest Territories families, as we have increased the income threshold to receive this benefit to $80,000. We estimate that more than 2,200 families will benefit from these changes. The enhanced Northwest Territories Child Benefit will continue to be non-taxable, and will not be counted as income in the calculation of income assistance benefits. The improved NWT Child Benefit will take effect in July.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the amendments to the Income Tax Act made earlier in this sitting will allow us to move forward with our plan to help families provide a better quality of life for their children, support their well-being, and give children opportunities to reach their potential. The Government of the Northwest Territories continues to review and update its Income Security Programs so they respond to the needs and realities of our residents, including the rising cost of living in our territory. This is a critical step toward the health and well-being of families across the North. These changes, and all of the revisions we have undertaken, support the 18th Legislative Assembly's mandate to reduce the cost of living, foster healthy families, improve the affordability of childcare, and reduce poverty by increasing the benefits to low- and modest-income families. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 192-18(2): Changes To The Income Assistance Program
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 193-18(2): Yellowknife Airport Evolution
Ministers' Statements

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has passed legislation to establish a revolving fund for the Yellowknife Airport. This initiative will allow for significant improvements to the airport that will enhance services for users and make the airport a bigger economic driver for the entire North.

The new revolving fund will come into effect on July 1st along with a new airport improvement fee and increases to aeronautical charges. Mr. Speaker, the increased revenue generated by the airport will allow us to make critical changes to the airport facilities to increase business opportunities and improve the quality of service for travellers.

The Department of Infrastructure continues to communicate with air carriers, businesses, residents, and other stakeholders about these changes and is committed to ensuring they are able to provide input into how these funds are used. The Yellowknife Airport will benefit from the advice of several committees and Members of this Legislative Assembly. Airport committees include the Airline Consultative Committee and the Airline Operating Committee, which provide the opportunity for the airline community to meet formally with airport management to discuss issues of concern and to develop potential solutions.

The Economic Advisory Committee will provide a forum for communications with businesses, utilize the expertise of business leaders, and build community awareness for airport-related opportunities to enhance business and economic development for the NWT. Committee members will help shape the development of the Yellowknife Airport, attract outside investment, and enable it to act as a catalyst for the wider NWT economy. The Department of Infrastructure will continue to provide updates to the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment and to seek the committee's input. The revolving fund budget will be presented as an information item in the business plan and main estimates of the Department of Infrastructure. Members will also be able to review the airport's progress in the audited financial statements of the revolving fund that will be published with the GNWT's public accounts. Key airport stakeholders also provided input in the development of a draft business plan for the Yellowknife Airport identifying improvements necessary for a strong and effective airport going forward. The Department of Infrastructure is revising this business plan using public feedback. The revised version will be made public and implementation of the plan will begin in July. All of the actions identified in the business plan will be accompanied by clear timelines for implementation.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Infrastructure plans to renew the Yellowknife Airport business plan on an annual basis. In developing the annual plans, the input of all of the advisory committees and Members of the Legislative Assembly will be critical, and the draft business plan will be shared with the Economic Advisory Committee and the airline consultative committee for their review and input. Each committee will provide advice based on their mandates and expertise, which will include commentary on the airport's developing capital plan. Annual reports will provide information to the public about how well the airport is achieving its mission. As the Department of Infrastructure refines the current business plan, we are not wasting any time beginning improvements to the Yellowknife Airport.

Mr. Speaker, one of the key things we heard from the public about improvements to the airport is more efficient services. Design and implementation plans are currently being finalized for common use terminal equipment, which allows airlines to interchange terminals and ultimately shorten check-in wait times. The planned addition of self-service check-in kiosks further reduces wait times. The Department of Infrastructure has begun developing a tender to complete design and geotechnical work for an improved de-icing bay at the airport. This improves the efficiency of airline operations while helping ensure on-time departures for passengers.

Pre-design of a new security screening facility is underway to reduce passenger screening time while continuing to maintain a high level of safety and security for passengers and staff. Some of you have probably seen that Javaroma is now serving food and beverages in the departure lounge. This is just the beginning of our plans for additional services, food, and beverages in the security area. A number of improved services will also support businesses. New phone charging stations will be established throughout the airport, and wi-fi upgrades are also planned. We are creating a Gate 5 Business Centre, which will give mine staff unlimited Internet access and increase their productivity during wait times. Industry-specific security screening will take place at the airport prior to departure, rather than at the mines upon arrival. This change will save person-hours and allow staff to work more efficiently.

We also heard that better use of space at the airport will reduce congestion. The Department of Infrastructure has plans to relocate the oversize baggage facility in the check-in area of the airport to create more passenger queue space. We are also working with Edmonton International Airport to develop an economic growth plan that would support parking facility upgrades, a terminal improvement plan, and a real estate growth plan. The Department of Infrastructure continues to work with air carriers on new routes. Expanding flight options would provide new travel opportunities for residents while helping support increased tourism within the territory. The establishment of a revolving fund is enabling the transformation of the Yellowknife Airport into a centre of capital growth, economic investment, and quality service for travellers both outside and within the NWT. The Department of Infrastructure will continue to update airport stakeholders and the general public on the changes we expect to take off in the coming year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 193-18(2): Yellowknife Airport Evolution
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Colleagues, I'd like to draw your attention to the people in the gallery today. I'm pleased to recognize the Indigenous leaders from Colombia who are visiting the NWT this week. We have with us Mr. Higinio Obispo, Ms. Martha Peralta, Mr. Antonio Lopez, Mr. Diego Botero, and Ms. Lina Lorenzoni. They are also accompanied by Mr. Steven Cooper, Mr. Kevin Kossowan, Ms. Mary Grzybowska, Ms. Karie Bell, and also it's also interesting to have another interpreter in our house. It's always great to have another language in the House. Their interpreter in the booth is Mr. Tjebbe Donner. Thanks for being here with us. Welcome to our Assembly. Welcome to Canada. Masi for being here with us.

---Applause

Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Visiting Colombian Delegation Of The International Bar Association's Indigenous Peoples Committee
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

MR.

Visiting Colombian Delegation Of The International Bar Association's Indigenous Peoples Committee
Members' Statements

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a segue to my Member's statement. Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to welcome to the House members and guests of the International Bar Association's Indigenous Peoples Committee. With a membership of over 40,000, the International Bar Association is the global voice of the legal profession.

Committee Chair Steven Cooper and Vice Chair Lina Lorenzoni organized an "Indigenous to Indigenous business knowledge exchange program" which has leaders from the Northwest Territories engaging with counterparts in Colombia. Mr. Cooper, as many Members may know, is a partner in Ahlstrom Wright Oliver & Cooper and is a former long-term resident of Hay River and a legal advocate for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis across the North. In July 2015, First Nations representatives from the Northwest Territories attend three communities in Colombia to interact with leaders there. The purpose of the exchange was to discuss the evolution of the relationship between northern Canadian First Nations and extraction companies. The Indigenous people in Colombia are suffering through many of the growing pains that were experienced in the Northwest Territories in the 1970s and 1980s and are looking to their Indigenous colleagues here for guidance.

The Northwest Territories is being held up as the paradigm for change in Colombian Indigenous circles. The success of First Nations, Metis, and Inuit in regaining control and establishing autonomy in the Northwest Territories is an inspiration and a framework for change in Colombia. The visit this week to the Northwest Territories is phase 2 of the project sponsored by the IBA. They are getting to visit some companies and municipal governments to see how we do business. I would like to thank the organizers for coming here during this sitting to see how our government system works. I am proud to say this could be their future model for them. I would like to thank the Premier and his office and his staff for allowing them here today and to show them around the Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Visiting Colombian Delegation Of The International Bar Association's Indigenous Peoples Committee
Members' Statements

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Skills Canada NWT
Members' Statements

June 2nd, 2017

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the strengths of the 18th Assembly is our broad range of experiences -- what we might call our past lives. In this Chamber, we have journalists, non-profit coordinators, lawyers, public servants, community leaders, small-business owners, and more. This diversity also reflects our constituents. In my own past life, before I was a small-business owner, I was an apprentice carpenter and cabinet maker, so I understand the importance of the skilled trades.

A few days ago, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment tabled the NWT Apprenticeship, Trades and Occupational Certification Strategy. Mr. Speaker, we're going to need that strategy, and we're going to have to put it into action soon. To meet our forecast growth, the NWT is going to need more than 2,300 skilled trades jobs by the year 2030: carpenters, electricians, automotive service technicians, heavy-duty equipment mechanics, plumbers, and welders. We are lucky that we have a non-profit organization on the case. Skills Canada NWT is a registered charity that for almost 20 years has engaged youth in the skilled trades in our communities.

It organizes skills clubs, youth conferences, regional and territorial competitions, and supports our best at national competitions. I am proud to say I have served on its board, and I have seen firsthand how Skills Canada makes a difference for our young people who want to learn and to work. Mr. Speaker, in past generations, success was measured by whether you went to university or not, but we live in a different world. Today, technical and trade schools dedicated to excellence and innovation are popular and growing fast. Skills Canada's message to northern youth is that the skilled trades are for anyone, and the government's new strategy encourages women and Aboriginal youth to enter into apprenticeships. In the NWT and across Canada, resources remain at the core of our economy. Technical expertise, innovation, and skilled trades will be a centre of growth in our future.

Mr. Speaker, this week, northern youth are competing at the Skills Canada National Competition in Winnipeg. I want to wish them all the best and thank them for representing our territory with their wisdom, strength and, of course, their skills. Mr. Speaker, trades work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Skills Canada NWT
Members' Statements

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Recognition Of Retiring Public Servants Debbie Greenland And Sheila Greenland
Members' Statements

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Mr. Speaker, let me acknowledge a couple of people who have served the NWT for several years in their respective departments.

Ms. Debbie Greenland, manager for her department for three communities of Fort McPherson, Aklavik, and Tuktoyaktuk. Debbie Greenland was employed with the Health and Social Services Authority since 1980 until 2017, 37 years of service, dedicated to her field of helping families and assisting with our schools, working as a community liaison to ensure families are safe and living in a healthy family environment. Let me congratulate and thank Debbie for all the years of service, and wish her well in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, please allow me to also congratulate and thank Ms. Sheila Greenland, teacher at Moose Kerr School, in her field since 1994 to 2017, 23 years of instructing our children. Being a teacher also means being a parent. At 8:30 in the morning to 3:30 in the afternoon, Sheila is responsible for our children, and makes every effort to teach them math, show them how to read, and how to write. It is people like Sheila who dedicate their time to our schools, and we are sad to see her leave. Sheila has dedicated her time to education both in Inuvik and Aklavik, and we wish her well in her future goals. Both ladies, Mr. Speaker, have a wealth of knowledge, and are going to be missed in the Delta. Good luck, Debbie, and good luck, Sheila. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.