This is page numbers 2705 – 2744 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 communities.

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

The House met at 1:30 p.m.


The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, climate change is an issue of serious concern for this government and the people of the Northwest Territories. Our government has made a commitment in its mandate to develop a territorial climate change strategic framework. I am pleased to provide Members with an update on the development of this framework, intended to guide our efforts on climate change from 2018 to 2030.

Since my last Minister’s statement on this topic in March, the department has been working hard to develop a draft NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework.

In April, a very successful three days of climate change education took place in Yellowknife called "Earth to Sky." The event was a collaborative effort between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Government of the Northwest Territories. NASA scientists and Environment and Natural Resources staff delivered courses and presentations related to data-gathering, impacts, and the importance of traditional knowledge to support research on climate change.

Further, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Department of Infrastructure coordinated six joint regional engagement workshops on energy and climate change issues and undertook a public survey.

Workshops were held in Inuvik, Norman Wells, Fort Smith, Yellowknife, Fort Simpson, and Hay River. All workshops were well attended, and the feedback received has been positive.

Mr. Speaker, at these workshops we heard that NWT residents want better planning, community funding, and communication around climate change, renewable energy systems, and energy efficiency.

Residents raised concerns about a carbon tax and the cost of living. There was acceptance of a carbon pricing scheme if some revenues were allocated to improving energy efficiency in communities.

Residents expressed support for increased research and monitoring, and traditional knowledge was highlighted as an important tool in understanding and adapting to climate change. A Joint Engagement Report has been posted on the Environment and Natural Resources website which summarizes what we heard. Summaries of the workshops and written submissions gathered during the engagement period are also posted online.

Mr. Speaker, traditional knowledge has played an important part in the development of the Climate Change Strategic Framework, and monitoring is an important component. The draft NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework rests on three pillars: knowledge; resilience and adaptation; and emissions mitigation. The department is working closely with the Department of Infrastructure to ensure the NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework and the NWT Energy Strategy are aligned.

The draft framework identifies three goals towards which the NWT must make significant progress by 2030. These goals are:

• transition to a strong, healthy economy that is less reliant on fossil fuel use;

• improve knowledge of the climate change impacts occurring in the NWT; and

• build resilience and adapt to a changing climate.

Proposed priorities and actions for each goal are detailed in the draft framework. Mr. Speaker, the draft NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework is now going through internal reviews and is expected to be released in late October for public review and comment. We will also be engaging with the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment on the strategic framework. Tabling of the final NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework in the Legislative Assembly is planned for February 2018.

Mr. Speaker, the federal government is expected to announce several new funding programs as part of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change. As federal funding programs for climate change become available, there will be significant opportunities for our government to work together with the federal government, Aboriginal and community governments, industry, and other stakeholders to take numerous actions on climate change. In particular, these actions need to focus on adaptation to ensure our communities are healthy and resilient in the face of serious impacts of climate change.

We continue to look forward to working in partnership to protect our communities, our residents, and our economy by increasing our resilience to, and mitigating, the effects of climate change. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Wally Schumann

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, we are investing in an economy that will give the Northwest Territories residents and their families the opportunity to prosper, and give the government the financial means to pay for programs and services our territory and its people need.

This work is important to both sides of this House. Regular Members have played an important role to help move the work of this government, and with that collaboration we are able to support better diversification of our economy. Our residents deserve the opportunity to achieve economic self-determination, and this House can be proud of the work it has accomplished to provide better opportunities for our residents.

Our economy gains strength as it grows more diverse, and our government is doing its part to promote, contribute, and invest in progress across all sectors of our economy. Tourism is by far the strongest of these sectors. Our extraordinary landscapes and vibrant cultures attract visitors from around the globe to our spectacular home. Numbers released today confirm this was the case for more people than ever before.

The 2016-2017 fiscal year saw nearly 110,000 visitors reach the Northwest Territories, the first time visitor numbers have broken 100,000. This is a 16 per cent improvement over 2015-2016, and the latest cap on nearly a decade of consistent growth in visitors choosing to visit the Northwest Territories.

These visitors spent enough during their visits to set new spending records for our tourism industry. For the first time, the value of our industry topped $200 million, a 21 per cent increase over 2015-2016.

Mr. Speaker, while there are reasons to be proud of these successes, our work is far from over. The investments we have made in product development, world-class facilities, and marketing are just a few of the goals set out in Tourism 2020, the five-year strategic investment plan that is opening our spectacular home to the world.

We fully intend on following through on this strategy through the duration of our four-year mandate to help build on a more diverse economy and bring even more opportunity for NWT residents.

In the meantime, Mr. Speaker, the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy is another long-term plan which is guiding our ongoing investments in renewable resource-based sectors.

A number of major initiatives identified under this strategy are in progress. The department has developed the NWT’s first-ever agricultural strategy, investing in local greenhouses; agricultural programming, including the NWT’s agricultural development conference; community gardens; and experimental farming. We have also created an agricultural analyst position to help implement this strategy out of Hay River, the agricultural capital of the NWT.

The commercial fishing revitalization strategy will capitalize on the bounty offered by our world-class fish stock. To implement this strategy, we are working with our partners at the NWT Fishermen’s Federation. We have committed funds to re-establish a fish processing plant in Hay River and are helping to train the next generation of commercial fishers.

A manufacturing strategy is being developed to guide our approach to locally manufactured products. A discussion paper is currently in development, with public engagement in-person, online, by e-mail, phone, and mail slated to begin in the coming months.

Our film sector is advancing, with investments in innovative marketing approaches, training initiatives, and new opportunities for local producers. We have seen these initiatives pay off with increasing international exposure for this budding industry.

We continue to build the profile of the Northwest Territories' traditional artists and their products through the Northwest Territories Arts brand. Our profile at airports has increased with significant northern traffic, including exhibits at the Edmonton and Calgary Airports. We continue to improve and modernize the Northwest Territories Arts website to connect more people with NWT-made art than ever before.

Finally, our investments in the traditional economy are paying off with a rebound in Northwest Territories wild fur sales under the Genuine Mackenzie Valley Fur brand and greater use of our fur and procurement program by traditional artists across the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, while we have made many strides, we are still a long way from the broader economic horizons we want to reach. We are committed to continuing our pursuit of the Northwest Territories with the opportunities from mine site to the silver screen for the rest of the government’s mandate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister for Environment and Natural Resources.

Robert C. McLeod

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, 2017 was an above-average fire season. This year, 249 wildland fires were reported, affecting over one million hectares. That makes this the seventh worst year for area burned by forest fires since Environment and Natural Resources began keeping records in 1975. As a comparison, in 2016 there were 188 fires that burned 229,000 hectares, a below-average year. In 2014, 385 fires and 3.4 million hectares burned. In a regular year, the Northwest Territories experiences about 213 fires, affecting just over 500,000 hectares of land.

This year, in addition to the 136 fire fighters who made up 34 four-person crews, ENR hired 378 extra fire fighters across the NWT for training or in support of wildland fire operations. These crews were critical in managing the 2017 wildland fire situation.

ENR fire crews continue to provide a professional level of service to the residents of the NWT. This was especially demonstrated this summer by the great work that crews did to protect communities when fires encroached on Fort Good Hope, Nahanni Butte, Fort McPherson, and Tsiigehtchic.

In addition to actioning fires and protecting values at risk, fires crews in all regions assisted communities with thinning and pruning projects to increase community protection.

As a government, it is important for us that we are able to provide assistance to other Canadian jurisdictions, as many of them helped us in our time of need during previous wildland fire seasons.

This season, with the extreme burning conditions in western provinces, we assisted British Columbia by providing 80 crew members, 24 overhead personnel, and equipment. In addition, the GNWT assisted Alberta and Parks Canada, specifically Wood Buffalo National Park, with a total of 14 air tanker missions for fires in their areas.

Mr. Speaker, every resident has a responsibility to help prevent fires in the NWT. Despite ongoing public awareness campaigns on fire safety, of the 249 fires this year, 17 fires are suspected to be person-caused. I cannot stress enough the value and importance of our FireSmart Program. It is everyone’s responsibility to FireSmart their home and cabin, and promote the FireSmart Program in their community. Property owners and communities should be using FireSmart tools to reduce their risk of loss from wildland fire.

In cooperation with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources continues to lead an initiative to review, update, and integrate community wildland fire protection plans into existing GNWT emergency management processes. This will ensure communities have a more complete understanding of their role in FireSmart and what is required to mitigate community risks of a wildland fire. Information about the FireSmart program and the community protection plans is available on the ENR website and at local ENR offices.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources remains committed to working with NWT residents and communities to finalize community wildland fire protection plans and develop and propose amendments to modernize forest protection legislation. Over the next year, we will remain vigilant in working with property owners across the North and all NWT residents to reduce the risk of wildland fires, and to prepare for a potentially extreme fire response in 2018.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to note that the GNWT employed the new group of 802 Fire Boss aircrafts on fires in all regions this summer. These aircrafts proved highly successful in initial and sustained attack. The 802 air tanker group was also exported to Ontario to help with fires, and also actioned several fires for our friends in Alberta and Wood Buffalo National Park. Feedback from fire crews and air attack officers this summer indicated they are both impressed and pleased with the group’s performance. Turbine aircrafts with the ability to use both foam and retardant and have access to more water sources are proving to be a sound investment for the people of the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity to thank all our fire personnel. From the fire crews out on the fire line, to our radio operators, logistics, planning, air attack officers, and everyone who worked hard this summer to protect our residents and communities and our neighbours to the south, your commitment and efforts are greatly appreciated. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Colleagues, I'd like to draw your attention to people in the gallery. We have with us Mr. David Ramsay, former Member of 15th, 16th, 17th Legislative Assemblies and a former Minister as well. Welcome. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Cabinet approved the Project Assessment Policy on April 13, 2017, after a review by standing committee. The policy applies to all GNWT departments, boards, and agencies and establishes the administrative procedure for assessing any "seismic surveys, exploration, extraction and/or production of natural resources, development of infrastructure, or remediation of past resource or infrastructure activity that might have environmental impacts within the Northwest Territories."

Although it was improved as a result of standing committee review, it is still not a good policy. It makes no reference to the rights of Indigenous peoples to free, prior, and informed consent for resource development as recognized in Article 19 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which was unanimously endorsed by this House on February 18, 2008.

The policy is established on the principle that the GNWT "should support resource management board processes and carry out project assessment in a manner that is transparent and accountable". Yet the operational direction is that "any technical advice and evidence provided to boards by their respective staff is in line with legislation, Cabinet direction, and ministerial policies".

Some may say that this sort of approach may lead to the muzzling of scientists and withholding of information that Cabinet does not agree with or that this policy could lead to policy-based evidence making. I'll give a concrete example. Cabinet has already endorsed and is actively seeking funds for an all-weather road into the Slave Geological Province. Will technical advice and evidence about the state of the Bathurst caribou herd, no matter how bad it is, be brought forward by our government if and when an environmental assessment is held on the proposed road?

The way this policy could operate is not at all consistent with evidence-based decision-making and transparency principles that it contains. The policy does not honour the spirit of reconciliation and recognize the rights of communities to free, prior, and informed consent. This policy is not why Northerners fought hard for devolution, and it's time to send it back. I will have questions for the Minister of Lands on how this policy is to be implemented and whether there is any appetite for greater transparency. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Last Friday the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment delivered a Minister's statement about the Aurora College foundational review and later tabled a letter written by the Standing Committee on Social Development. Both concerned the planned review. The Minister also said, and I quote from the unedited Hansard: "I appreciate committee's advice about the timelines and have decided to extend the timeline."

I am wary of arguing who said what. Nevertheless, as a member of this committee, I must object. As the Member for Yellowknife Centre has already said, we're not interested in further delay. Quite the opposite. We're concerned with expense, staff and student wellbeing, project scope, and college stability, tensions colouring this project from the start.

Mr. Speaker, without concerted effort from Regular Members, ECE would have already eliminated the Teacher Education Program and the Social Work Diploma Program, programs treasured by students, teachers, alumni, and the college board, not to mention critical to meeting labour needs.

The board's own minutes show its unease at how ECE made major budget decisions without consulting them, before they were fired altogether.

Now the department plans to spend nearly $400,000 reviewing the college? Teacher and social worker intake is frozen and the board is gone. What about their experiences? Yes, the committee was able to review and comment on the RFP before it went out, and to give credit where credit is due, the department adopted some of our recommendations. Then, Mr. Speaker, months went by until the RFP was awarded to a company specializing in "accounting, consulting, and tax." Is that what's best for our only college?

One of my biggest challenges with the review was that ECE planned to run it out of sync with the budgeting cycle, leaving programs in limbo while next year's budget was planned without the insight the review would supposedly bring. Well, guess what? Extending the timeline doesn't solve that problem. The teacher and social work programs, and the college itself, remain trapped in limbo for another year. Will these programs wither on the vine? What can current and prospective students plan for?

The Minister said that, when it came to college programming, "there was little agreement on what to do." Well, Mr. Speaker, at least we can agree on that. I'll have questions later for the Minister. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marci cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, [translation not provided].

Mr. Speaker due to reductions, the layoff of staff has created real issues for people of the NWT. Several people working for the GNWT were told the GNWT no longer needs their service. Meanwhile, the GNWT continues to fill jobs. Mr. Speaker, as a hypothetical example, the GNWT places more value on hiring a young engineer from Toronto than keeping a young mother from the North in their job. This young mother serves as a key to the entire extended family. She uses her income to help her extended family. Mr. Speaker, the layoff of employees has a negative effect on more people than just the immediate family and the employee.

Mr. Speaker, the person relocates outside the NWT with four members of their family for 80 per cent of their salary for one year to go to school. What are they going to do after that? They can't become an engineer, and the job at the GNWT is no longer needed. Mr. Speaker, the government will have assurances that a bridge or a highway will be completed a year earlier. Don't get me wrong, Mr. Speaker; it is good that we have young, bright engineers working for us, but it should not be at the expense of our families in the North.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT does not have the socio-economic analyses of the impact of this type of decision. When we make decisions to lay off people, we must be fully aware of what those decisions do to our families and the NWT in general. Mr. Speaker, under this scenario the government would save $90,000 in salary but give up about $130,000 in federal transfer payments, plus will carry the full costs of financing for the people who are left behind, the extended family that was getting assistance from this young mother as the main income earner. Do this a few times and we will have to hire a few income support officers, social workers, housing officers, and nurses to support the families. Mr. Speaker, in addition the entire family could be lost in the system down south.

I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Tom Beaulieu

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marci cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, each time the GNWT decides to lay a person off, this scenario has the potential of repeating itself. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Kieron Testart

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, as all honourable Members of this House know, I have been a consistent advocate of natural resources development and mineral exploration since I was elected almost two years ago. It is the life blood of our economy, representing almost 40 per cent of our GDP, and an important part of our heritage and the key to our future prosperity. Mr. Speaker, Northerners look optimistically towards the opportunities that future mining projects will create for our communities. Although we are all hoping for that next big discovery and see new projects at the scale of the Ekati or Daivik mines, today I would like to recognize the great success of the Northwest Territories' newest diamond mine: Gahcho Kue.

On September 20, the Gahcho Kue diamond mine has just celebrated its one-year anniversary since operations began. A joint venture between De Beers Canada and Mountain Province Diamonds, Gahcho Kue is the world's largest mine to open in the last 13 years, located at Kennady Lake, approximately 280 km northeast of Yellowknife and 80 km southeast of De Beers' Snap Lake Mine. This open-pit operation will employ about 530 workers and will produce almost 54 million carats of rough diamonds from an estimated 35 million tonnes of ore during its approximately 12-year lifespan.

Mr. Speaker, those are big numbers, but they translate into an even larger number for our economy: $5.3 billion in gross value added output. That means jobs for Northerners and proves the incredible potential of resource development industry and the future it holds for us all.

Mr. Speaker, it is projects like these that keep our territory from being dominated by public sector spending. It is projects like these that create real economic growth that benefits northern communities and northern businesses. It is projects like these that make the North what it is today, a place of opportunity, hard work, and limitless potential.

Mr. Speaker I offer my sincere congratulations to De Beers Canada, Mountain Province Diamonds, and the workers who have made the Gahcho Kue mine such a grand success, and I thank them for investing in the North and its peoples. I wish them only continued success for the future and hope that we see more mining success stories as we continue to support a prosperous future for our Northwest Territories. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Cory Vanthuyne

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have some numbers I want to share; 97 per cent, that is the percentage of Canada's economy made up of small business; 70 per cent, that is the percentage of labour force made up of small business; 30 per cent, that is the percentage of Canadians who have started their own business; and a number that I find most interesting, Mr. Speaker, 68 per cent, the percentage of Canadians who want to start their own business and be their own boss someday.

These stats may not be the same in the North, but they certainly indicate the potential for opportunity. However, these numbers are being threatened, Mr. Speaker. The federal government is proposing new tax revisions to small business. These revisions are being termed as corrections to "loopholes." The federal government suggests that these revisions are necessary and will balance the tax contributions between middle-income earners and what the feds term as wealthy business owners. Now, while these measures might be seen as fair by some, the fact is we are a very small jurisdiction in the North. Those tax changes will apply to our small businesses.

Mr. Speaker, by and large small businesses in the NWT are not wealthy, and they certainly do not get sick days, maternity and paternity leave, health benefits, or unemployment insurance. Honestly, the struggle of a small business owner today is trying to squeeze a living into the margin somewhere between income and expenses.

In the North we have a higher cost of doing business, higher transportation costs, higher utilities, higher labour rates, and now a new federal carbon tax coming. With all these factors narrowing that margin, the ability to earn an actual living as a small business owner is becoming more and more difficult.

Our government has been doing good work to support small business and, as we continue to broaden, diversify, and invest in our economy, small businesses will become more and more important and necessary. In most of our small communities, small businesses offer one of the only ways to create jobs and keep communities sustainable and vibrant.

Mr. Speaker, this new federal tax regime brings a lot of apprehension and concern to small business in the North. We cannot continue to sit on our hands with this matter. We need to stand behind the small business community. At the appropriate time, Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Premier. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Daniel McNeely

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, last summer I attended the NWT and Commissioners Lands Act engagement meeting in Norman Wells, one of many consultation sessions on land regulatory reform.

Mr. Speaker, after negotiations, the GNWT assumed responsibilities as identified within the provisions of devolution. There are a number of concerns on the whole issue of lands; for example, the status of Municipalities. We have communities registered as cities, towns, villages, and chartered arrangements. Mr. Speaker, there is a large number of stakeholders with interests in the direction our government is taking. The Department of Lands is conducting a comprehensive review of its dual land administration systems, legislative and regulatory scheme, and policy suite to allow the department to better tailor its existing policies in an effective manner.

In maximizing time management, Mr. Speaker, the stakeholders have encouraged better use of time, with the somewhat industry slowdown, to address reform on land systems and regulation on post-devolution maturity as administrators of public lands. Mr. Speaker, community Indigenous landowners and stakeholders consultation is fundamental to the success. Views of this are under way in the current consultations on the new Mineral Resources Act engagements.

Mr. Speaker, the Mackenzie Valley Resources Management Act legislated in 1998 by the federal government provides an opportunity under devolution to assume additional authorities.

As a demonstration of our strategy and hard work to success, rewards of additional responsibilities would none other than bring our independence. Later, Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Lands on these actions to independence. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Michael Nadli

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, [no translation provided].

Mr. Speaker, those who have housing are worried about overcrowding and its impact on family relationships, unmanageable arrears, debts carried over from family members who have passed away, and the difficulty getting repairs and maintenance done.

Those who cannot get housing wonder why vacant houses on the reserve have not been put to good use. Young people who want to live on their own have no choice but to live with their parents or leave the community. If they choose to leave, families are separated and traditional ways of life are threatened. If they choose to stay, they have to deal with endless waiting lists and bureaucracy.

Because of these long-standing and serious problems, it was good news earlier this year when the Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation advised this House that the Housing Corporation was working on making 16 units available for people on the Hay River Reserve.

There can be no question, Mr. Speaker, that federal jurisdiction for reserve lands makes it challenging for the GNWT to address the problems of those living on the reserve. I was encouraged by the Minister's news that they had managed to negotiate and successfully obtain land tenure for 10 of the units and that they were entering a tender process to repair those houses.

Now that autumn has arrived, I am concerned whether these units will be available for access before the cold weather arrives. I am also wondering what progress has been made on land tenure for the remaining six units. Mr. Speaker, I am hopeful that the day is coming when I no longer need to speak about inadequate housing on the Hay River Reserve. We are finally beginning the dialogue about strategies, proposals, and actions that will make adequate housing available for the people of the K'atlodeeche First Nation. I believe we can keep up the positive momentum, Mr. Speaker. Mahsi.

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, housing is one of the core critical challenges facing the 18th Legislative Assembly. Homelessness plagues our communities, whether rural and remote or our regional centres. Public housing tenants face lengthy wait lists. We do not yet have enough long-term care beds for our seniors and elders.

Today I want to talk about a housing issue more likely to be hidden, but no less likely to be harmful and costly: the housing needs of women and children escaping family violence. Research into women's homelessness in Canada's North, including our territory, is sobering. The Homeless Hub found that women's security is often taken out of their control, dependent on their partners' behaviour and circumstances. A study from the YWCA found that domestic violence was a major determinant in women's homelessness. You must know, Mr. Speaker, that the NWT, with Nunavut, has the highest rate of family violence in Canada.

In spite of this, we have only five family violence shelters in all regional centres. That means that women and children in many of our small communities, often our most vulnerable communities, cannot have local access to a safe place to stay, not to mention victim services or the RCMP. Yes, it is true that the government will help families travel to the nearest shelter, but can you imagine the disruption of not only leaving your home, but also your community? What happens in an emergency?

This is an area that needs greater resources, Mr. Speaker, but the mandate of the government authorities addresses only the status quo. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous content granted