This is page numbers 4521 - 4570 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 work.

Topics

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 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4521

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure

Minister's Statement 118-18(3): New Transportation Corridors
Ministers' Statements

Page 4521

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, this summer an important step toward the Government of the Northwest Territories' commitment to securing funding for new priority transportation corridors in the Northwest Territories was achieved.

In July, the federal government announced the approval of funding to advance the all-weather Mackenzie Valley Highway under the National Trade Corridors Fund. Up to 73 percent of total eligible project costs, to a maximum of $102.5 million. We have a commitment by the federal government for the construction of the Great Bear River bridge, Wrigley to Mount Gaudet access road, and environmental and planning studies. Along with an investment of $37.5 million from the Government of the Northwest Territories, the total funding leveraged towards the project is $140 million.

The approval demonstrates the commitment of both governments to addressing the unique transportation needs in Canada's North to improve safety and foster economic and social development, while increasing our resiliency to the effects of climate change.

Work to advance the next steps for the construction of the all-weather Mackenzie Valley Highway will bring important benefits to residents throughout the Mackenzie Valley, including employment and training opportunities that build local capacity. Residents of the Sahtu will have already witnessed these benefits on a smaller scale through the construction of the Canyon Creek all-season access road, which is expected to officially open on November 13th. The local employment and skill development residents have benefited from this project will prepare them to take advantage of the opportunities that will come with the extension of the Mackenzie Valley Highway.

Mr. Speaker, the Great Bear River bridge represents one of these opportunities. The bridge will eliminate the need for an ice crossing on the Mackenzie River, improving the resiliency and safety of this crossing and increasing mobility for residents of the Mackenzie Valley.

Construction of the 15 kilometre Wrigley to Mount Gaudet access road is a project similar in scope to the Canyon Creek all-season access road and will provide opportunities for employment and training for residents of the Deh Cho.

Funding for environmental and planning studies will support the completion of critical project components, including consultation with Indigenous governments and communities, finalizing routing and design, and environmental and regulatory reviews, leading to obtaining permits for road construction.

Increased traffic volumes and weights supported by an all-weather Mackenzie Valley Highway will result in efficiencies in the delivery of essential goods that contribute to stabilizing the cost of living in the communities. Economic development will be enabled by increased access to mineral and petroleum resources in the region, and reducing costs of production and exploration for industry. In terms of social benefits, we only need look to the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway to see how enhanced intercommunity and mobility has increased access to healthcare, education, sporting events, and more.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Infrastructure is continuing to pursue other federal funding opportunities for the remaining components of the Mackenzie Valley Highway, as well as the Slave Geological Province Access Corridor. The Government of the Northwest Territories will reapply for funding for the Slave Geological Province Access Corridor following a northern-specific call for proposals to be issued under the National Trade Corridors Fund by the end of 2018. Funding for environmental and planning studies as well as replacement of the Frank Channel Bridge to eliminate a key bottleneck along this route will help advance next priority phases.

Mr. Speaker, on Thursday of last week, the decision by the responsible Ministers on the future of the proposed Tlicho all-season road was issued. After careful consideration of all of the information and views provided by parties during the environmental assessment process, the responsible Ministers have approved the project and agreed to adopt the recommendations of the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board with modifications. The Tlicho Government separately concurred with the decision of the responsible Ministers.

As a result of this positive decision, the Government of the Northwest Territories will work to identify a successful proponent through the competitive procurement process by November of this year and proceed to the regulatory and permitting phase for this project. This will allow for construction to begin as early as next fall. Tlicho residents and businesses will be involved throughout the construction and operation of the highway, which will help lower the cost of living in this region, increase the resiliency of these communities to the impacts of climate change, and open up new economic opportunities in the region.

Partnerships with Indigenous organizations will also be critical to ensuring the success of the projects already mentioned. The Department of Infrastructure is meeting with Indigenous organizations, community representatives, and staff from the relevant review boards over the fall and early winter to discuss next steps in advancing environmental reviews and permitting for the Mackenzie Valley Highway, partnerships with Indigenous governments, and how benefits to local residents can be maximized. Departmental staff met recently with the Board of the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated and Chief and Council of the Pehdzeh Ki First Nation, and both of these organizations have indicated their continuing support for moving forward together with us in partnership on this project. The department is also continuing to work to identify opportunities and best options to partner with Indigenous groups on the Slave Geological Province Access Corridor.

Mr. Speaker, it is an exciting time for our territory as these projects begin to take shape. Ensuring the people of the Northwest Territories are able to make the most of these investments is critical before any construction takes place, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to building a safe, efficient, and resilient infrastructure system that meets the needs of the North.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 118-18(3): New Transportation Corridors
Ministers' Statements

Page 4522

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 119-18(3): Culture and Language Progress Update
Ministers' Statements

Page 4522

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, our cultures and languages are the foundation of our work in Education, Culture and Employment. When our languages and cultures are strong, our people are strong and our work is much more successful. I am pleased to report that we are seeing progress in our efforts to retain, preserve, and promote Northwest Territories languages and cultures.

We are currently finalizing a multi-year action plan as a companion piece to the Strong Cultures, Strong Territory Framework. The action plan contains 25 categories of actions needed to ensure the Government of the Northwest Territories is inclusive of all the culture and heritage in the North. We expect these actions to be under way until 2025.

Mr. Speaker, the arts are integral to northern cultures and identity, and the Northwest Territories Arts Council is a key organization in supporting the arts. In the 2018-2019 fiscal year, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment increased the funding for the arts council to $700,000 annually.

In partnership with the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, we have begun to develop a new arts strategy. We anticipate a 10-year strategy will be completed by the spring of 2019, following engagements with stakeholders. We are seeing great successes from artists and artisans employing many different media. Supporting their efforts will be a focus of the new strategy.

Mr. Speaker, partnerships across cultures and languages are crucial. Recently, the Northwest Territories Archives was honoured to receive 25 years of stories, photos, and records from the Gwich'in Tribal Council. These valuable pieces of Gwich'in history are currently being catalogued and preserved for generations to come.

The Native Communications Society also recently transferred ownership of approximately 200,000 pictures from the Native Press, taken from 1970 to 1990. The NWT Archives is responsible for the active preservation and stewardship of those invaluable historic records.

During the Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle induction ceremony this morning, we honoured the contributions of nominated NWT residents and groups. The circle, which is in its eighth year, celebrates people and groups who have made a lasting contribution to culture and heritage in the North.

Mr. Speaker, as Members are aware, we recently tabled the Indigenous Languages Action Plan, A Shared Responsibility, which includes numerous actions for the preservation, promotion, and revitalization of the territory's nine official Indigenous languages. The Action Plan also emphasized the value of partnerships and the shared responsibility of all territorial residents to preserve, promote, and strengthen the Indigenous languages of the Northwest Territories.

Much of the work we are doing in languages focuses on integrating languages within our education system. This includes a new Junior Kindergarten to Grade 12 Indigenous Languages and Education Policy, which promotes respecting Indigenous world views, cultures, and languages in the community in which the school is located.

The Our Languages curriculum continues to guide Indigenous language learning in NWT schools. Last month, we held our first comprehensive in-service and training on the curriculum, with 75 regional Indigenous language coordinators and language teachers. The participants were enthusiastic and engaged. This event was a defining moment in our efforts at Indigenizing education, and it strengthened our partnerships at the community and school levels.

Mr. Speaker, the implementation of the NWT Indigenous Languages Framework and Action Plan, A Shared Responsibility also includes the administration of the annual $5.9 million received from Canadian Heritage. Out of the $5.9 million, we provided a total of $4.8 million directly to regional Indigenous governments to design and deliver Indigenous language programming in their communities. The remainder of the funding continues to support several other Indigenous language programs, such as the Community Radio Broadcasting Support, the Territorial Strategic Indigenous Languages Initiatives, and a program called Revitalizing Indigenous Languages in Communities. We continue to support the broadcasting of Indigenous languages on air across the territories through the Native Communications Society and the Inuvialuit Communications Society.

Mr. Speaker, we have also reached a milestone in the delivery of French-language services and programs by the Government of the Northwest Territories. Five years ago, the Government of the Northwest Territories released the French Language Communications and Services Strategic Plan, a five-year plan focused on ensuring the government was providing service in French to the populations in the significant demand communities of Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith, and Yellowknife. The plan has recently been independently evaluated, and the report is publicly available.

With the results of the evaluation, we have now begun the work of developing a new strategic plan with our partner, the Federation franco-tenoise, to meet the expectations of the French first-language speakers and Francophone communities of the North.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, later today, at the appropriate time, I will table the 2017-2018 Official Languages Annual Report, which provides further information on the status of all official languages in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, while there is much work to do in preserving and promoting the cultures and languages of the Northwest Territories, every partnership created makes our initiatives stronger. I look forward to working with all of our partners as we continue to strengthen our languages and cultures in the coming year. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 119-18(3): Culture and Language Progress Update
Ministers' Statements

Page 4523

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 120-18(3): Investing in Northwest Territories Film
Ministers' Statements

Page 4523

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has committed to supporting the film industry to further develop the skills and competencies of Northwest Territories film producers, build infrastructure, assist below-the-line crew and support services, and help develop marketing and communication plans for films made in the Northwest Territories.

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the first annual Northwest Territories Film and Media Awards that concluded this year's Yellowknife International Film Festival. In accepting an award for his impact on the Northwest Territories film industry, the godfather of the NWT's film industry, Terry Woolf, said our industry was experiencing a renaissance. Today I am happy to amplify his words, share some successes, and highlight how the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is sustaining this renaissance with investments in the future of this important sector of our economy.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot talk about the significant growth that we have seen in our film sector without recognizing the Northwest Territories Professional Media Association. Their role in our local industry has been and continues to be a critical driver of its success. Without their mentorship, support, and leadership, it is unlikely that the slate of nominees at this year's inaugural awards show would have been as full as it was.

While I was in attendance this year, I was able to announce a new film apprenticeship program that will soon provide opportunities for the Northwest Territories film workforce to gain on-the-job experience with major film productions. This program will be delivered by the Northwest Territories Professional Media Association with the financial backing of the Department of ITI's NWT Film Commission and the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. This new support is one that originated in a conversation I had with Ms. Jennifer Walden on the set of "Red Snow." It will now provide opportunities for up-and-coming filmmakers to get some of the guidance and mentorship they need to succeed.

Mr. Speaker, this year's Yellowknife International Film Festival was an opportunity to shine the spotlight on and celebrate the success of some of the projects that have been made possible directly and indirectly by our government's investments under Take One - the NWT Film Strategy and Action Plan. They include projects like the big-ticket premiere of Ms. Jennifer Walden and Mr. Jeremy Emerson's "Elijah and the Rock Creature." It was exciting to see the hard work, passion, and time invested in this project rewarded in a first showing that sold out in minutes.

This year's festival also featured films like "I Hold the Dehcho in My Heart" and "Revolution Moosehide," productions that further confirmed the talents and skills of local producers and crews and which also serve to share important cultural stories of our Territory. Off-screen, the 2018 Film Festival included a program of workshops, speakers, and networking, which brought together talent from within the territory and beyond. Together, they were able to gain valuable knowledge and encourage each other.

Through ITI's Northwest Territories Film Commission, the Government of the Northwest Territories is investing every day in the growth and diversity of our economy and its film sector. The Northwest Territories Film Rebate Program in particular has helped the Northwest Territories support high-profile productions like the multi-award-winning "Sun at Midnight," while leveraging an estimated $1.8 million in economic activity from our $280,000 investment. Through film support contributions under our Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development, or SEED, Policy, we provide financial resources for local film makers to produce and promote their films.

We are also increasing the profile of the Northwest Territories with location marketing and global networking led by our Film Commission, which is attracting and encouraging both local and guest producers to film in the NWT. The film and media sector offers extraordinary opportunities to share our stories and diversify our economy. We continue to invest in this area, and look forward to more success in the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 120-18(3): Investing in Northwest Territories Film
Ministers' Statements

Page 4524

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Aging in Place and Long-Term Care
Members' Statements

Page 4524

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. [Translation] Today, I will talk to you about the seniors who are living in their home. It is very hard for the elders to live in their own homes, and it is getting more difficult. Now some of them are confined to wheelchairs, and their houses have to be revamped to live in. Health and Social Services, I want to ask about how the elders are getting help and homecare workers and how they are working with the people.

The way it is down south, you have to be very old before you get long-term care. The way it is now, the elders down south, if they are in a long-term care for two to three years, it is different up here. All the people up here who are in long-term care, sometimes they are in there for 10 years, and it costs a lot of money to keep them there. Well, if they can't live in their home, they are put into long-term care homes, and that is not the best thing.

What I think the Social Service, NWT Housing Corporation, working in partnership, last year, the Housing Corporation Aging in Place, that program, it wasn't enough money. There was only $10 million to work with. That was all it was. It was almost impossible to work with. It was not enough to completely work on the homes. If we work together on that program, if we have more moneys put into the coffer, the young people can work with the elders and show them how to work on homes.

The homecare workers, they used to be trained before and after they were all taught. Now that they are adults, they are not teaching the young people anymore. They are looking for young people to train, but there doesn't seem to be a response. Now that the elders who are living in their home, they have to take care of them with medications so they can be asked. The nurse, you know, they can do some interpreting and work with. This is what I want to ask the Ministers today. [Translation ends]

Aging in Place and Long-Term Care
Members' Statements

Page 4524

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Member's statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Award Recipients
Members' Statements

Page 4525

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured today, and I want to congratulate the recipients of the Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Awards. These awards are given to individuals and groups who contribute to the preservation and promotion of arts, cultures, and heritage in the Northwest Territories.

Taken from the background of this award, I can see that each of the recipients, Mr. Speaker, have been playing a key role in promoting, protecting, preserving, and celebrating our unique culture, heritage, and ways of life.

Mr. Speaker, the elder award was presented to Joanne Tetlichi of Fort McPherson. I want to congratulate her and her efforts in being able to relate to the youth and to make her community, her home, and her camp a better and safe place for everyone. Her role in keeping her culture strong has impacted the youth in a positive way, and they have a role model to look up to.

Mr. Speaker, the community award went to the Designated Gwich'in Organization of Fort McPherson. Ms. Anita Koe has accepted the award on behalf of her colleagues. The DGO is a prime example of promoting the culture; they take pride in being traditional, using their elders to teach and promote the culture, and they also get the community involved in activities that are happening at their office.

Congratulations to Joanne and Anita, and to the rest of the award recipients. Good luck in the future projects, and continue to do the great job that you do. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Award Recipients
Members' Statements

Page 4525

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Addressing Rental Office Delays
Members' Statements

Page 4525

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Rental Officer has had some success reducing wait times for hearings to resolve disputes between landlords and tenants. However, the delay between the hearing and the written decision continues with significant financial consequences for landlords, especially for landlords who are renting a small number of units or who are subletting.

A constituent was in touch to relate her experiences. She was renting out her primary residence and a dispute arose about the non-payment of the rent and damage to her property. She applied for a hearing on March 15th and waited three months until the end of June for that hearing. During that time, the backlog of unpaid rent and damages added up to $13,000, which is big money by anyone's standards.

Mr. Speaker, desperate to recover her losses, my constituent went to the rental office on July 27th to ask for her written order so she could start the garnishee process. According to the rental office report tabled earlier in this sitting, wait times for written orders have been steadily increasing, with half of them taking up to three months. My constituent received her order in two months, but the numbers it contained were wrong. She was told the remedy was to apply for an amendment to her order, requiring a new hearing, likely in October, followed by another two-month wait for a written decision. She is going to end up waiting nine months to begin the garnishee process. Of course, the longer she waits, the less likely she is to collect any money.

Mr. Speaker, the rental office has suggested a remedy. Written orders are mandatory in the Northwest Territories, but in six provinces, there is no requirement for written orders. It is at the discretion of the Rental Officer to issue a verbal order or at the request of one of the parties. The rental officer says, "The requirement to write all reasons for a decision is a major contributing factor to the elapsed time between the hearing date and the date the order and reasons for decision are written."

Mr. Speaker it is time to amend the Residential Tenancies Act to give the Rental Officer discretion about whether to produce written decisions and to give landlords like my constituent hope for a quicker resolution to the hardship imposed by the non-payment of rent. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice. Mahsi.

Addressing Rental Office Delays
Members' Statements

Page 4525

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.