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This is from 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

Expanding Tourism Products and Opportunities
Members' Statements

October 18th, 2018

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to celebrate Small Business Week, and to shine a light on small business in the tourism sector in particular. There is more we can do to build on and enhance their success and to enrich the experience and opportunities of visitors to the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I went to Iceland at the beginning of June for 10 days. Seven of those days were spent on a carefully curated knitting tour of western Iceland. The remainder was spent in and around the capital city of Reykjavik. The scenery was breathtaking, the people were hospitable, and the possibilities for activities, and purchases, were endless. I can't wait to go back.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT has a lot to offer on both the scenery and hospitality fronts, but we must find new ways to support small businesses that offer tourists more to do while they are here. The simple math is that, the longer visitors stay, the more they spend. The labour-intensive multiplier effects of this spending are enormous. Yellowknife is a popular destination, with tens of thousands of tourists spending millions of dollars here annually.

The limiting factor to phenomenal growth we have seen is the lack of things to do. It is at best a three-night destination for most travellers. Some active tourists may even say that length of time is too long. Aurora viewing and dog sledding are well-established in Yellowknife, along with day trips and various cultural activities, but additional indoor activities in and around Yellowknife are limited, especially at this time of year, when it is not summer and it is not winter, either.

Since tourism businesses are usual small businesses, they need a hand with research and development of additional activities for visitors. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has a program to meet this need, but it could be working more effectively. The Minister has said that submissions exceed available funds by a significant amount. The program's website says that it is not taking applications at this time. Clearly, this is a program that needs a bigger budget. Let me reiterate the need for a top-class tourism information centre. The lack of a centre is ridiculous.

Mr. Speaker, Iceland has grown its tourism economy almost tenfold in 10 years, and that is in spite of the fact that it is an expensive place to visit. The Icelandic government has made investment in this sector a priority. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Expanding Tourism Products and Opportunities
Members' Statements

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mahsi, colleagues. The Icelandic government has made investment in this sector a priority, and the metrics of money earned and people employed are impressive. It is time for our government to increase its investment in product diversification, so that visitors will, as I said, stay longer and spend more. I will have questions for the Minister of ITI. Mahsi.

Expanding Tourism Products and Opportunities
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Chamber of Commerce Small Business Week and Awards Gala
Members' Statements

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, first of all, I am happy to see the haze in the House has cleared from yesterday. Okay, bad joke number five.

Mr. Speaker, the Yellowknife Chamber's Small Business Week Conference was held earlier this week, and tomorrow night the business community will be honoured at the Chamber's Business Awards Gala. These events reflect on the importance of entrepreneurs and creators. These are people in our communities who take the leap of faith that their idea, new concept, or original breakthrough will pay off and create something of value, and no business idea ever succeeds without the basic component of hard work.

In the 18th Assembly, we have adopted a mandate goal of growing and diversifying the economy, and small business should be a huge part of that goal. My own riding is home to many small businesses that create a busy, thriving atmosphere. From artisans to airlines to restaurants to tour operators, Yellowknife North is a busy hub of activity throughout the year.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank and congratulate the Yellowknife Chamber of Commerce, which works hard in support of the business community. This week's conference is only one of many activities the Chamber promotes. It sponsors the annual trade show, which brings together businesses from the whole territory to promote products and services from northern entrepreneurs. It sponsors networking and sharing opportunities to facilitate the growth of ideas and build connections. It supports apprenticeships and learning opportunities to facilitate learning and growth for young people entering the workforce.

As a government with a mandate to support economic growth and diversification, we must make sure our funding programs and policies ease the way for businesses to grow and prosper. We must ensure that our regulations don't overcomplicate and delay the processes for licensing, permitting, and building at a time that is crucial for the growth of a start-up. We must commit and recommit to supporting this vital economic sector.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, this year's Business Awards received a record 143 nominations. I would like to congratulate all the award nominees for their dedication and hard work, and I would like to thank the Chamber once again for their ongoing support of the business community in Yellowknife and the entire NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Chamber of Commerce Small Business Week and Awards Gala
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Small Business Opportunities in Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh
Members' Statements

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about small businesses in the communities that I represent. First, I would like to share some employment statistics about the four communities in the riding. According to Stats Canada, in 2016 the average employment rate in Canada was 60.2 per cent, whereas in the NWT, it sat at 66.2. Comparatively, Fort Resolution's employment rate is 49.3 per cent; Lutselk'e, 45.7; Detah was 44.4; and Ndilo was 26.5 per cent. Imagine, Mr. Speaker, almost three quarters of your working-age people do not have jobs.

Mr. Speaker, with this dismal employment rate in these small communities, any type of work, whether it comes from small business or otherwise, is welcomed. Over the years I have been in the House, I have pushed for employment opportunities to develop within the riding of Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. While some of these opportunities have been realized over the years, many have not. Today I would like to reiterate some small business ideas that I believe will be beneficial to the communities I represent.

Recently, Mr. Speaker, I discussed the dire need for a daycare in Lutselk'e. Many people feel that there are various long-term benefits to children who attend daycare prior to attending school.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the entire riding of Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh is in need of small businesses targeted at cleaning up the hundreds of waste and contaminated sites across the riding. To help facilitate the growth of such businesses, there will be a need to train heavy equipment operators and people that are skilled in determining when a waste site has been fully remediated.

Mr. Speaker, tourism is an industry that is booming in the city of Yellowknife. While it has a positive impact on Detah and Ndilo, some of these tourism opportunities should be afforded to Fort Resolution and Lutselk'e.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that all the communities in Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh will gain meaningful work from the commercial fishing industry. Arts and crafts and performing arts can also see an emergence in small communities, as we have many talented artists in our riding.

Lastly, but not least, Mr. Speaker, there are businesses that wish to get into the cultivation and distribution of legal cannabis. Yesterday was a good indication that small businesses need some sort of distribution centre. Additionally, I believe the soil conditions in many communities are ideal for growing cannabis. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Small Business Opportunities in Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Supporting Small Business
Members' Statements

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I recognize Small Business Week and the many challenges facing this community for continued stability and sound going concern while recognizing the many contributions created by our NWT small business community, right from household income to property taxes.

Mr. Speaker, aside from governments and industry, in my region, we have the small business. Isolation by itself, Mr. Speaker, is of huge concern. Isolation creates barriers of limitation to supply, recruiting skilled labour, and the marketplace.

Mr. Speaker, our government through strategic engagements is providing land access certainty, and I look forward to the capital inclusion of our physical framework. These, Mr. Speaker, would contribute to supports for our small business community.

Mr. Speaker, this Tuesday I will support small business by attending the Oscar and Bear River Bridge public engagement consultation meetings, opportunities by construction.

Later, Mr. Speaker, I will have questions to the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Supporting Small Business
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Financial Supports for Small Business
Members' Statements

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it's Small Business Week. Whether you need auto work done, a veterinarian for your little companion, landscapers, metal working, a building built, area cleared, or road built, Kam Lake is the economic engine of the capital city. With that in mind, our priority in this House must be to foster continued economic growth, remain competitive, and create well-paying jobs for the middle class and everyone working hard to join it.

The GNWT must remain committed to helping northern creators, innovators, and entrepreneurs target, explore, and take advantage of global opportunities in key business markets, just like the fine entrepreneurs of Kam Lake have done. I want to give a shout out to a few of these businesses, a non-exhaustive list. Energy Wall, Arctic Farmer, Polar Tech, Paul Bros NEXTreme, Boreal Garden, Ron's Auto, Fiberglass North, CR Enterprises are all fine examples of hard-working northern entrepreneurs that show they have got what it takes to remain resilient and economically viable and profitable in an often difficult economic market.

That leads me to my next point, Mr. Speaker, which is how the GNWT supports its business community through funding. The Minister earlier today spoke about the SEED program and the contributions from BDIC. BDIC has a budget of up to $200,000 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, and the SEED program is budgeted at $3.866 million. These are great programs, and they are very popular, but they are often oversubscribed. In fact, in the North Slave region, ITI's SEED money has run out; BDIC's start-up money for entrepreneurs ran out within two months of this fiscal year. These are very concerning for entrepreneurs who want to get into the market. It's great that we celebrate them in this House on Small Business Week and throughout the year, but we need to do more than simply talk. We need to put up the capital that they need to get going.

I am glad the Minister is working on this, but we need more than just a workshop. We need to put money into these budgets to further advance the conditions of economic growth that have been so successful in the past, so I will have questions for the Minister, and I hope he has good answers that are more than about studying the problem and actually investing much-needed capital into our private sector. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Financial Supports for Small Business
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Persis Gruben - 100th Birthday Celebration
Members' Statements

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Saturday, October 20th is a special day for the community of Tuktoyaktuk. I am grateful to witness the 100th birthday celebration for Mrs. Persis Gruben along with her family, friends, relatives, and many people from other communities around the Northwest Territories. This day is a milestone for Persis, her family, and the community of Tuktoyaktuk. She is the first person who anyone knows who has reached the milestone age of 100 years old in Tuktoyaktuk.

Mr. Speaker, Persis has seen throughout her century on earth a challenging yet rewarding lifetime for her and her late husband Charlie Gruben. Together, they had 12 children who they raised and passed on their traditional knowledge and culture as Inuvialuit to their children. To date, Persis has a thriving, huge family from an estimated number of 60 to 70 grandchildren, 110 great-grandchildren, and over 65 great-great-grandchildren.

Mr. Speaker, Persis was born to Sarah Kay and her biological father, Lymin Koe, on October 20, 1918, at the Peel River. Lymin had tragically and unfortunately passed on in an accident before Persis was born.

Mr. Speaker, Persis is fluent in Gwich'in and Inuvialuktun and speaks both languages better than anyone they know. Her mother, Sarah, remarried an Inuvialuit man, Lennie Inglangasuk, whom she called "Dad" and loved him dearly, and he accepted and loved Persis as his very own. Mr. Speaker, Lennie taught Persis the Inuvialuit way of life and the language that she speaks today and orally shares her teaching of the Gwich'in and Inuvialuit cultures and traditions to all generations after 1918.

Mr. Speaker, she is the eldest of five children Sarah and Lennie had. Today, she still lives in Tuktoyaktuk in her very own home, where she feels the most comfort and familiarity with her surroundings. Today, I would like to commend Persis Gruben for her almost 100 years on earth and the sharing of her knowledge, tradition, and culture to all who cross her path. Mr. Speaker, on Saturday, October 20th, please take a moment to think about Persis as she turns 100 years old. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Persis Gruben - 100th Birthday Celebration
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

K'atlodeeche Reserve Access Road
Members' Statements

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the K'atlodeeche Reserve Access Road starts at the junction of Highway No. 5, just by the bridge over the Hay River, running along the east side of the river into the Hay River Reserve. As our only access point to the community when the Hay River is flowing in the summer months, our people rely heavily on the road. The road is our lifeline for seven months and is the only access from the community into the town of Hay River and the rest of the highway system. Mr. Speaker, [English translation not provided.]

As early as March 12th of this year, I made a statement in this House discussing exactly this issue, to which the Minister of Infrastructure committed to continue to have a look at it going forward. Mr. Speaker, it is now October, and we have not seen any improvements. In fact, the road, which was chipsealed in 2010, has completely broken up, and some sections have reverted back to gravel. Conditions have drastically deteriorated. This is a serious issue to our community and an embarrassment when we hosted guests for the annual hand games tournament and the Dene National Assembly this past summer.

Mr. Speaker, the access road is only a few kilometres long, a short stretch to Highway No. 5. I find it perplexing that our First Nations' needs continue to be overlooked. I will have questions for the Minister of Infrastructure later. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

K'atlodeeche Reserve Access Road
Members' Statements

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.