This is page numbers 4335 - 4360 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd 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 business.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Julie 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.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4335

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 103-18(3): Marine Transportation Services
Ministers' Statements

Page 4335

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories' Marine Transportation Services delivers essential goods by tug and barge to all marine-accessible communities in the NWT. Residents rely on services to receive such items as fuel, food, and household goods, while commercial customers also require fuel, mobile equipment, and building supplies to support their businesses and provide economic growth for the territory.

Mr. Speaker, Marine Transportation Services launched its second sailing season on June 20th this year from the port of Hay River. For the 2018 sailing season, the delivery of all scheduled cargo to seven communities was achieved. In addition, over $20 million in commercial marine services contracts were secured. By the end of the season, a total of 41 million litres of fuel and 13,000 tonnes of dry cargo had been transported by tug and barge.

Marine Transportation Services also supports employment and training opportunities in the marine sector for Northwest Territories' residents. At the peak of the 2018 delivery season, Marine Transportation Services' workforce included 153 employees. Out of these, 72 were from the Northwest Territories. The Government of the Northwest Territories also partnered with the Nunavut Fisheries and Marine Training Consortium earlier this year by entering into a lease with the consortium to establish a Marine Training Centre in Hay River. The training centre, which operates out of the office complex of Terminal C at the Hay River shipyard, has already supported 29 individuals through the completion of 130 training courses. New training courses planned for the fall of 2018 include the Bridgewatch Rating Program, Small Vessel Operator Proficiency, and a Fishing Master's Program with 49 students registered to date.

As Members of the House are aware, Marine Transportation Services experienced significant challenges this year. The start of the sailing season was delayed as a result of high water levels on the Mackenzie River in late June, which caused driftwood from the Liard River to take Canadian Coast Guard navigation buoys out of position. Marine Transportation Services vessels had to wait until the buoys were replaced before they could depart.

Vessel departures were further delayed by a significant volume of fuel of the appropriate specification was not delivered in time to the terminal in Hay River. As a result of these issues, sailing departures and schedules were necessarily adjusted and deliveries to communities and customers were later than planned. The Marine Transportation Services division and the Fuel Services division worked with the fuel supplier to resolve these issues, and updated sailing schedules were posted to the Department of Infrastructure's website for the information of customers.

Vessels were also met with difficult ice conditions in the Beaufort Sea. Although the Canadian Coast Guard provided icebreaker escort assistance to our vessels, conditions worsened to a point that navigation became unsafe and the ice became impassable. For the safety of the crews, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel barge services to the communities of Paulatuk, Kugluktuk, and Cambridge Bay.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes that customers of the Marine Transportation Services rely on us to find ways to deliver supplies they need and we have committed to covering costs to airlift essential goods to these communities. The airlift will provide a quantity of petroleum products sufficient to maintain inventories until next summer's marine supply. Airlift of fuels will amount to no less than 700,000 litres. A significant portion of the deck cargo for all three communities will also be airlifted and prioritized on a commodity-by-commodity and customer-by-customer basis.

Mr. Speaker, appropriate budgets have been set aside under the Petroleum Products Revolving Fund for the airlift of petroleum products and the Marine Transportation Services Revolving Fund for the airlift of cargoes. Actual costs will depend on the aircraft that are chartered.

As a result of this year's challenges, Marine Transportation Services will be taking additional steps to help mitigate similar situations should they arise in the future. We will attempt to move schedules forward for community resupply and depart from the Arctic communities as soon as conditions are ice-free. Communications will also be improved by developing a closer working relationship between headquarters and operational staff. Additional customer service representatives have been hired for Marine Transportation Services and the processes are being established to improve response times for website updates and community outreach.

Marine Transportation Services is in contact with the Canadian Coast Guard throughout the navigational season and we regularly exchange information concerning weather and ice conditions. We will endeavour to strengthen our partnership with the Coast Guard to steadily continue to monitor conditions going forward. A working group has already been established with the Coast Guard, providing additional opportunities to cooperate with the federal government on marine issues such as improved navigation.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a mandate commitment to strengthen connections with public sector partners in transportation infrastructure. This includes working with the federal government to maintain federal commodity resupply port facilities and marine services in the Northwest Territories, to restore safe marine operating conditions in the Port of Hay River and at key sections of the Mackenzie River Corridor, and to improve charting and navigational aids.

This month in Hay River, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Government of Canada announced an investment of $19.5 million under the Oceans Protection Plan to procure four double-hulled barges. The addition of these four barges to the Marine Transportation Services fleet will optimize delivery to communities by providing an increased reliability and efficiency while providing enhanced protection to help mitigate risks to the environment. As well, the Government of Canada announced a significant investment in the harbour infrastructure in Hay River. This investment includes the construction of new floating docks and an extension of the concrete marginal wharf.

These announcements advance our mandate commitments and mark an important milestone in the future of marine operations in the North. This funding will help to stabilize the cost of living, provide increased protection of the marine environment, and support the efficiency of resupply to the Northwest Territories' marine-serviced northern communities.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories remains committed to the safe and effective delivery of marine resupply services to communities. We will take this year's challenges as an opportunity to learn and improve our operations in order to prepare for a successful season next year. We will also continue to investigate additional opportunities to partner with the federal government to invest in the marine sector to capture economic opportunities, improve marine landings, enhance charting, and improve navigation along our key marine corridors. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 103-18(3): Marine Transportation Services
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 104-18(3): Mental Health and Addictions
Ministers' Statements

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Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the key priority areas of our government's mandate was to address the needs of individuals affected by mental health and addictions. That is why we released Mind and Spirit: Promoting Mental Health and Addictions Recovery in the Northwest Territories. This is our strategic framework that helps guide our work in this area. I would like to provide an update on some important initiatives that we are taking to enhance and improve services in the mental health and addictions area.

One important achievement for our government when it comes to addressing the complex relationship between homelessness, mental health, and addictions, is the successful opening of our new Day Shelter and Sobering Centre here in Yellowknife.

This combined centre will reduce pressure on our first responders and emergency department. It will include links to services to meet the basic needs like obtaining identification and access to housing, but also the longer-term needs like employment, social supports, and long-term treatment. The new centre has more staff and more services and will allow clients and providers to collaboratively take the next step in improving health, wellness, and outcomes.

Additionally, this location will now offer flexible spaces that provide opportunities to leverage partnerships with organizations like the city of Yellowknife's Street Outreach program and the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation. These partnerships will enable the delivery of programming that is relevant to the people accessing the Day Shelter and the Sobering Centre in a familiar and trusting environment. This represents a positive step towards the delivery of person-centered, recovery-oriented services.

Mr. Speaker, another important achievement this year is the implementation of the new Mental Health Act, which came into force on September 1st.

The Mental Health Act is one piece of the overall service continuum for mental health, but it is an extremely important tool in how we care for some of the most vulnerable residents. The new act brings with it a number of improvements to the way we will provide care to individuals with mental disorders:

  • The first is patient rights. This act contains a very strong focus on patient rights. The act and regulations outline specific ways that patients need to be made aware of their rights. At each step in the involuntary admission process, health professionals must notify and remind patients of their rights. They will do this verbally and by providing the patient written information. In addition, posters listing the rights of people detained under the new act will be posted in all health facilities.
  • The second is the establishment of the Mental Health Act Review Board. The Review Board exists to provide better protection for individual rights. Any person being held under the Mental Health Act, who wishes to appeal a decision made by their health professional has the right to apply to the Review Board.
  • Lastly, the new act has provisions for assisted community treatment. Assisted community treatment is a new option for involuntary patients. In cases where the physician has assessed it to be safe and where the patient agrees, involuntary patients can be supported to live outside of the hospital, in the community, according to a comprehensive, individualized treatment plan. While this will not be a fit for all involuntary patients, it does represent an important option that will provide a less restrictive model of care and enhanced safeguards.

Mr. Speaker, while these initiatives I have spoken about represent significant and important work towards an improved approach to the delivery of mental health and addiction services, we know that there is still a lot of work to be done. As such, we are developing a Mental Health and Addictions Recovery Action Plan.

While the Mental Health and Addictions Recovery Action Plan is in the final stages of development, it will focus on activities that enhance community and land-based approaches to care, increase integration and collaboration, and improve access to mental health and addiction services. The action plan will also feature aftercare services and supports based on best practice approaches and direction from Members and from NWT residents. There will be an enhanced focus on aftercare services and supports in the Community Counselling Program and in community-based approaches with the recognition that recovery looks different for everyone. We will also continue to partner with non-government organizations like the Tree of Peace, who also offer individualized aftercare supports.

The action plan will be released in 2018-2019 fiscal year, and will guide the delivery of mental health and addictions recovery services for the next two years.

Mr. Speaker, in an effort to improve mental wellness services and supports for children and youth, the Departments of Health and Social Services and Education, Culture and Employment have created 42 new child and youth care counsellor positions and seven clinical supervisor positions territory-wide over a four-year period, beginning in 2018.

Child and youth care counsellors will spend the majority of their time in schools in order to be accessible to children and youth, but also to provide support to teachers and other school staff. They will reach out and offer assistance to parents and families to better equip them to provide support to children and youth. Our counsellors will also have a presence in communities to ensure youth have options when it comes to accessing services. Counsellors will work year round, meaning that they will be available during the summer and school holidays like spring break.

Mr. Speaker I am pleased to advise that implementation in the Dehcho and Tlicho is well under way. Child and youth care counsellors are currently in place in Fort Simpson, Behchoko, and Whati. The counsellor for Fort Providence started on October 15th. The position in Fort Liard and a clinical supervisor position based in Fort Simpson are currently vacant, as is a third position in Behchoko. The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority and the Tlicho Community Services Agency are actively recruiting, working together, for these positions, and they are anticipated to be filled later this fall. Until these positions are filled, services to the schools are being provided by existing community counselling program staff and child and youth care counsellors already in place. The Departments of Health and Social Services and Education, Culture and Employment are also preparing for the planned rollout of counsellors in the Beaufort Delta and the Sahtu regions. These regions will begin to receive funding in the 2019-2020 school year.

Mr. Speaker, we are committed to making sure that NWT residents and communities have access to a variety of programs and services that will support recovery from mental health and addictions issues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 104-18(3): Mental Health and Addictions
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 105-18(3): Support for Business
Ministers' Statements

Page 4338

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, with over 90 per cent of the NWT's businesses defined as small businesses, this sector is essential to economic health of our communities and a primary driver of economic diversification across our territory. Support from our government is more important than ever before.

This is Small Business Week in Canada. It offers us an opportunity to celebrate the successes of small businesses in the NWT and our support for the people whose life's work is the backbone of our NWT economy.

The role of the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is to foster the environment in which NWT entrepreneurs and small business owners can invest, take risks, and prosper. Our regional offices provide single-window access for a suite of policies, programs, and funding that we deliver with partners like the Business Development and Investment Corporation and Community Futures organizations.

ITI's regional economic development officers have access to field specialists in tourism and minerals, mentoring, business training, market assessment, and offer an extensive knowledge of support programs from outside agencies and organizations. Every year, they host, support, or promote entrepreneur-focused training events, from job fairs to How to Start a Business seminars and workshops on how to market and price home-based arts and crafts products.

Mr. Speaker, in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, $17.6 million was provided by our government to individuals, entrepreneurs, businesses, governments, and groups with an economic interest across the NWT. It included, of course, contributions made under our Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development, or SEED, Policy.

Our government made a commitment in our mandate to update our SEED programs to better align with the needs of NWT entrepreneurs and businesses, especially in our smaller communities. Last year, we increased the amount of funding available under SEED to better help northern businesses develop new products, build capacity, promote their services, or purchase needed equipment.

We also piloted a new Strategic Investments stream to allow for one-time contributions of up to $75,000 for business proposals that directly increase the business and economic activities of a community.

We know that, for small businesses, accessing capital from mainstream commercial lenders can be challenging. Last year, the Department of ITI facilitated a workshop on this issue with CanNor, the NWT Business Development and Investment Corporation, the Business Development Bank of Canada, the Metis-Dene Development Fund, and several of our Community Futures Development Corporations. The department continues to evaluate and act on what we have learned from this opportunity, assessing that we are doing the right thing, what we can strengthen, and where there are overlaps or gaps.

Meanwhile, we remain committed to working with chambers across the NWT. One of many examples includes how the NWT and Yellowknife chambers plan the Opportunities North 2019 Conference to be held in Yellowknife next year. The chambers serve as advocates for entrepreneurs and business, and as such provide us valuable feedback on how best to grow business in the North.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, our government is committed to the principle that the NWT businesses deserve a leg up over southern competition when they do public business. We remain committed to the Business Incentive Policy and have defended it through successive national and international trade negotiations.

We are also working to ensure that, through our NWT Manufactured Products Policy, the manufactured goods that our government needs are sourced from NWT businesses who can get the job done. As the GNWT moves forward with investments in the Manufacturing Strategy which is under development, the Agriculture Strategy, Film Strategy, Commercial Fishing Strategy and Tourism 2020, we are working to ensure that the small businesses that drive these sectors are set up to succeed.

While I will be pleased to be a part of the events and awards that will mark Small Business Week, I assure Members of this Legislative Assembly that this sector is at the forefront of our approach to economic growth and diversification all year long, and will continue to be well into the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 105-18(3): Support for Business
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Deputy Premier.

Minister's Statement 106-18(3): Premier Absent From the House
Ministers' Statements

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to advise Members that the Premier will be absent from the House today to attend the Arctic Circle Assembly in Reykjavik, Iceland. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 106-18(3): Premier Absent From the House
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Minister's Statement 106-18(3): Premier Absent From the House
Ministers' Statements

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Nunakput, that Minister's Statement 101-18(3) delivered by the honourable Minister of Infrastructure regarding Marine Transportation services be moved into Committee of the Whole for further consideration. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 106-18(3): Premier Absent From the House
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. The motion is in order. The motion is non-debatable. All those in favour? All those opposed?

---Carried

Minister's statement 103-18(3) has now moved into committee for further consideration. Masi. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Mary Effie Snowshoe - Indspire Award Recipient
Members' Statements

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Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge and congratulate elder Mary Effie Snowshoe from Fort MacPherson. Mary Effie was recently in Ottawa to accept the Indspire Award for Culture, Heritage, and Spirituality.

At 82 years old, she grew up being taught the Gwich'in traditional way of life from her parents, hunting, fishing, trapping, preparing food, and tanning moose hides. Mary Effie continues to pass on her knowledge to family, as well as visitors to the community and visitors to her fish camp.

Up until 2003, Jijuu Mary Effie taught the Gwich'in language for 24 years, until she retired.

Retirement is not in her vocabulary, Mr. Speaker, as she continues to help with the traditional activities in the community and school, as well as playing host to numerous traditional teachings at her fish camp. Mary Effie has a wealth of stories to share, each with spiritual meaning. She is eager to take you by the hand to teach you on-the-land survival skills.

We are fortunate to have elders such as Mary Effie in our community. We have so much to learn, and we should take advantage of such wise women. Congratulations, Jijuu Mary Effie Snowshoe. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Mary Effie Snowshoe - Indspire Award Recipient
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.