This is page numbers 2575 – 2598 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

Results Of The NWT Housing Corporation Engagement Survey
Members' Statements

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The NWT Housing Corporation released its survey, a 172-page document, right from homelessness to home ownership. Addressing the demands for the people in the Northwest Territories is challenge by itself. Firstly, I agree we cannot meet the demands for housing over the term of this Assembly; however, Mr. Speaker, efforts to minimize this continued demand would only be satisfactory.

Mr. Speaker, there are many obstacles. Our first encounter on delivery is our fiscal position. Although we have received limited federal funding assistance, I am supportive of the Housing Corporation in their efforts on forging ahead. Advancing forward with the limited means of what we have can only reassure the people of the Northwest Territories that we are trying. This unique part of Canada, with the many logistical challenges, provides our administration to champion these difficulties, and provide a product that serves the aspiration of the people in our small, remote communities.

I am also glad of the many strategies developed by this government, execution, and implementation. It is altogether a separate initiative. I look forward to areas of community consultation and engagements, and provide my extended efforts. Mr. Speaker, to maximize the implementation with positive additional results, the Housing Corporation should also undertake and conduct a policy efficiency review. Later, Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the appropriate Minister. Mahsi.

Results Of The NWT Housing Corporation Engagement Survey
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

GNWT Employee Vacancies And Overtime
Members' Statements

June 2nd, 2017

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. On February 14, 2017, I sent a Valentine's Day message to the Minister of Human Resources, in the form of a set of written questions regarding vacancy and overtime statistics. I recognize this was a complicated and lengthy set of questions, and that the department likely had to expend a fair amount of effort to pull together that information. I sincerely thank the Minister and his staff for pulling the information together.

Today, I offer some observations on that data tabled in this House on May 25th. The vacancies in our department for indeterminate positions from June 2016 to January 2017 vary from 98 to 136. That seems like a lot to me, and I wonder whether there is any way that we can make our recruitment efforts more efficient. Perhaps the most surprising thing I found in the data the Minister provided was that overtime payments for 2016-2017, from April to mid-February, totalled more than $11.42 million. The agencies and departments with the greatest overtime were:

● Stanton Hospital at $2.05 million;

● Transportation at $1.98 million;

● Environment and Natural Resources at $1.96 million;

● Justice at $1.16 million;

All of the other regional Health and Social Services authorities ranging from Yellowknife at $186,000 to the Delta Beaufort at $557,000; and

● Public Works and Services at $410,000.

Departmental overtime seems to have occurred mainly over the summer months of June, July, and August, and that makes sense given the fire and construction seasons. I didn't see any patterns in terms of the overtime for the Health and Social Services authorities, except it was highest in December over the holiday period.

Lastly, for sick leave, from April 2016 to mid-February 2017, 71,000 hours out of 117,000 total GNWT-wide hours, or about 61 per cent, are for employees in the Health and Social Services Authorities. Almost half of the total sick hours for departmental staff are found in the Justice department alone. I will have questions for the Minister of Human Resources, now known as the Minister of Finance, later today about how we can reduce our overtime and sick leave, and improve the quality of life for our valued employees. Merci, Mr. Speaker.

GNWT Employee Vacancies And Overtime
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

City Of Yellowknife Living Wage
Members' Statements

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I welcome the changes that are coming to the NWT Child Benefit, and I appreciate that fact that there will be a group of people who have modest incomes who will now receive more money as a result of this benefit, and that is a good thing.

I want to give a little perspective, though, on how much money it actually costs to live in the NWT, and in Yellowknife in particular. A known profit organization here in Yellowknife contracted an economist to figure out what the living wage would be in Yellowknife, and in 2015, the answer was that a family of four with one child in school and one in childcare would need $80,000, and that would only cover their basics: food, shelter, childcare, transportation, clothing, and so on. What I want to underline here today is that income assistance, even with the addition of the child benefit, is still going to keep people in poverty who are now in poverty, if they are on income assistance.

Mr. Speaker, the living wage is based on the premise that no one who works full-time should live in poverty, and it offers a systemic solution to poverty by paying people who are working full-time a living wage. This is a campaign that has been undertaken across the country. There has been some uptake in the NWT, but the campaign at the moment is dormant because it has not been funded by the GNWT to continue. I want to stress the potential it has for people to earn enough money to meet their basic needs rather than depending on government handouts, which nobody wants at the end of the day. I would like to just provide that perspective today and to ask the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment in particular, who is now considering changes to a different category, the minimum wage, to consider what it really costs to live here in setting these rates. Thank you.

City Of Yellowknife Living Wage
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Offshore Drilling Policies
Members' Statements

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today on our last sitting day to address an issue that has been bothering me for quite some time. It is indisputable that the North has an abundant wealth of petroleum resources. Many of those are located offshore in the Beaufort Delta. What we have heard from the Premier is opposition to the arctic drilling ban, and while I have some questions about that, what I really want to know is what we are doing to support oil and gas development in the Northwest Territories.

I know that the Minister, in his state of the economy address, shall we call it that, earlier this week, also touched on this issue, but one thing we are not addressing are the massive cuts we have made to the public service capacity to manage oil and gas resources. Five million dollars has been cut from their budgets. The Premier has made statements on one side saying, "We need this economic opportunity," while on the other side he has said, "Oil and gas is gone for the foreseeable future." I would like to challenge him on those statements. We have a huge amount of work ahead of ourselves to get the North ready for offshore drilling, if that is the direction we want to take. Oil companies cannot ensure that they can properly address problems that happen on rigs. We all know that some of these offshore rigs have huge challenges with environmental damages when the proper spill responses are not in place, and the Arctic Ocean has been identified as one of those major challenges. I do not see any work ongoing to address those challenges or to put government processes and regulations in place that are going to allow us to assure Northerners that we can deliver prosperity through an oil and gas regime that protects our very fragile arctic environment.

We cannot ignore these problems, and we cannot just stand up and criticize another government's decision, which is their right to make, without addressing these concerns. If we are going to do oil and gas, let's make sure we have the possibility, the capacity, to do it right. I am going to be asking the Premier if he can clarify that work is going on, and if we can assure our residents that we can deliver both economic prosperity and environmental protection, because that is what Northerners today expect from their government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Offshore Drilling Policies
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Reflections On Aboriginal Day 2017
Members' Statements

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Looking ahead, June 21st will be Aboriginal Day. I just wanted to take a moment to talk about that day, in particular here in the NWT and across Canada, when Indigenous people across this nation are trying to reflect upon their history and look forward in terms of trying to determine their place in Canadian society and, on a big important front, our place in the world. I just wanted to reflect in my language in terms of seeking some points for people to consider as they gather during the summer.

[English translation not provided.]

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to wish everyone a good summer. There are going to be a lot of important meetings, and one thing that elders have always stated to us is that we need to work together, and I think that is a message that people should consider throughout the Assembly in the summertime. Mahsi.

Reflections On Aboriginal Day 2017
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to our guests in the gallery. Former legislative librarian for our Assembly, Ms. Vera Raschke. Ms. Raschke is joined by her fellow retired legislative librarians, Ms. Lynn Brodie of the Library of Parliament of Canada, and Ms. Donna Burton of the Ontario Legislative Library. Welcome, and what part of retirement don't you three understand? Thanks. Masi for joining us. Thanks for being here. It is always great to have an audience as part of our proceedings. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Nahendeh.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the Indigenous group of people from Colombia. I would like to thank them for showing up here. As well, two friends of mine, Mary, I will not try to say your last name, because I think the speaker did a good job. And of course, Mr. Steven Cooper, who is unfortunately a long-time friend of mine. He knows all my stories, and I have to say thank you for keeping the stories quiet, but remember, if you share stories, I share stories. I would like to thank him, and I would like to thank his firm and his staff for doing all the good work for Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories and across Canada. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Sahtu.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I, too, would like to recognize our guests in the gallery here today, and I also recognize our two Pages from Fort Good Hope, Arianna Laboucan, and Patricia Mukhamadieva. I think that is how you pronounce it, Mr. Speaker. I also want to thank everybody. Like my previous colleagues, I wish everybody a safe summer. Mahsi.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Frame Lake.