This Hansard has not been finalized - this is the "Blues" in Parliamentary speak, or unedited transcript in regular speak.

This Hansard is the unedited transcript and will be replaced by the final copy soon (generally within 5 business days). In the meantime, direct quotes should not be used, when the final is published it will seamlessly replace this unedited copy and any existing links should still work.

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 going.

Topics

Committee Motion 26-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Education, Culture And Employment - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Education, Culture And Employment
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you. That's it, Mr. O'Reilly? Next on my list, I have Mr. Testart.

Committee Motion 26-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Education, Culture And Employment - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Education, Culture And Employment
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Tough act to follow.

A lot of these new initiatives that the department is speaking to are good things: additional resources for land rights agreements; $250,000 to the friendship centres; $100,000 for the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation; the Western Premiers Conference; campaign schools. I mean, these are all good things, but around what the standing committee deemed as extraordinary funding requests from the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation and the council of friendship centres, these are both issues that have been raised with Members of the Legislative Assembly as areas needing some additional investment. It is good to see them made, but my hesitancy with welcoming them too much is the lack of a clear policy framework around these.

During the course of the business plan review, at least as it relates to the friendship centre request, there is an existing fund called the NGO Stabilization Fund, which currently resides with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs but previously was with this department, and that is exactly its purpose, to stabilize the operational funding of NGOs that are experiencing those kinds of shortfalls and allowing them to continue to provide services to Northerners. Friendship centres do amazing things.

The committee has been recommending that this NGO Stablization Fund return to Executive for this exact reason, and one of the solutions to these extraordinary funding requests might be to do it this way. Unfortunately, the department has not agreed with that recommendation, and I cannot imagine why. I mean, it is good to support Northern organizations and to provide this level of funding, but we need to ensure that it meets the rigour of public scrutiny, and just passing out cash, even if it's a good cause, there needs to be some policy guidelines around it, because there are a lot of good causes out there, not just these two.

As for GSOs, I think everyone here will speak to it. One of the most significant areas of this department's mandate is providing GSOs. From all of the Regular Members, it is very clear that there is a lack of front line services available to the people of the Northwest Territories. MLAs are handling a lot of requests from constituents on how to access government services. Those requests go straight to the Ministers' offices, and this could be done a lot more expeditiously if there were front line service officers in every community, including regional centres and including the capital.

Standing committees have repeatedly made suggestions and recommendations that this program be expanded and further that a funding relationship be entered into or explored with Service Canada so we can share resources when applicable. I know the department has been piloting that approach to provide federal services through GSOs, but we have a huge Service Canada centre here in Yellowknife, and I don't see why we can't convert that. Mr. Chair, if you speak French, of course, you can receive that here in the capital. You can go and get one‑stop-shop for government services, but only in French, and I think that is a disservice to our other official language communities. This is a crucial service. People should have a one‑stop-shop to go when they need assistance from government.

As to this deputy secretary position in Ottawa, I think staff to ensure we can achieve our strategies, goals, and public policy objectives is appropriate. I just wonder if, at a time with extremely diminished revenues and mounting expenditures and a need for enhanced public services, if it is really the time to roll out this position in Ottawa. We do have a seat at the table through our Federal-Territorial-Provincial relations. Every department participates in those round-table discussions. Unfortunately, when the standing committee conducted its review and has been communicating with the department since, we have not had much clarity on what this position will do and exactly the parameters around it. I think we really need to consider carefully if we are going to establish a $387,000 position in Ottawa when there, again, are a number of important positions that we need here in the Northwest Territories.

My colleague the honourable Member from Frame Lake spoke of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This is an international declaration that this Assembly has supported in the past. Canada, as a government and a Parliament, is moving towards full support and implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Committee was concerned at the time of the business plans that, if we move in a similar direction, which I think we all agree is important, we do not know the full consequences of doing that.

To ask the department to develop a policy lens for Indigenous rights that it could apply to all public policy undertakings and ensure that all departments are being consistent in their approach to Indigenous rights in Canada and through the lens of the UN declaration, unfortunately, we do not have a firm commitment other than they will keep an eye on it. There are a lot of things going on, and I know we have limited resources, but this one seems like an obvious one. I think events today, the public rally that was held outside, just again underscore how important it is that we make reconciliation a priority for this Government and we ensure that our public policies and those who implement those policies fully recognize what reconciliation means from a public government.

We have a long way to go. Every government in Canada does. We have made significant progress, but we need to go further. These kinds of steps, like enshrining the UN declaration in our public policy documents in every sense of our government, would make a big difference. It is unfortunate that we do not have a stronger commitment to move on this. I think we need to consider that moving forward as not just an area that we need to keep an eye on, but an area that we need to be the leaders on.

There are a number of other issues around the Red Alert, around the future sustainability of our fiscal framework, in the light of increasing costs, pressures, and a mounting infrastructure deficit, and now federal initiatives towards putting a price on carbon and the ongoing effects of climate change. I do think we need to take a stronger and more proactive approach in addressing these significant concerns with Ottawa, who control our constitution, more or less, Mr. Chair, and I think those need to be the core of this department's work as it moves forward.

Also, we need to put that renewed focus on self‑government and how self‑government is going to work. My colleague the honourable Member from Tu Nedhe‑Wiilideh spoke to this as well, that we need to have more than just agreements on the table, but real plans to implement those agreements within a realistic timeline and that we have the resources from all levels of government in order to finalize them and, finally, that we articulate a very clear picture of how the Northwest Territories is going to operate after self‑government is implemented across the board. If the territory is going to have all these different orders of government, constitutionally protected orders of government, this department needs to have a clear road map for what that looks like and how it is going to work. Quite frankly, I cannot understand at this point how we will be able to maintain an equity of service with different orders of government and different capacities in those orders of government.

Again, we owe it to the purpose and principles of reconciliation to clearly articulate that in a realistic and honest fashion so that everyone is on the same page moving forward, everyone can participate in their land rights, in their constitutional rights, and in their self‑government rights. Unfortunately, we still do not see a lot of that vision in these documents. We still see a lack of funding towards services to people, which is the most important role for this government to play. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 26-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Education, Culture And Employment - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Education, Culture And Employment
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Testart. Further to the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, general comments. Mr. Thompson.

Committee Motion 26-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Education, Culture And Employment - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Education, Culture And Employment
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I am going to try to be brief on mine here. I have a number of comments that I would like to make.

I guess my first one: I would like to applaud the Executive for putting the $250,000 to the Northwest Territories and Nunavut Council of Friendship Centres. I think that is a good investment. What my big thing is, is I would like to see it annually. I think that this organization does some really good work, and we should be doing it annually. It should not be just a one‑time offshoot, so I am hoping that the department can look at that. I think that is a good investment for the people of the Northwest Territories.

The $84,000 to the campaign schools, I think that is another good start, but, again, we should be making this contribution annually for this particular endeavour. I think we need to get more women participating in politics. I come from a family of seven children, and there are only two boys. There are five girls out there. The same with my family, I have got five daughters and two sons. I know who rules the roost in our house, but, again, it is getting women involved in politics.

The $50,000 for the Arctic Inspiration Prize is probably our best investment ever in this government. We have now seen, I think, three times we have won this award. The investment is huge. I think the government is getting our bang for our dollars, and I think we need to continue to do that. I think it is a good step.

The almost $600,000 for the additional finalization of resource and self‑government, I think that is a good step. I would love to see it, to have these done. I have two, potentially more, issues in my riding, and I would love to see the DFN and the Echo Dene processes completed by the end of our term. In talking with Echo Dene, it is getting closer, and I have heard another talk about a year now. I mean, we did have a change in leadership there, but it means a positive step. With DFN, there are some challenges that they are seeing there, and we need to move forward on that.

I guess my big thing for me with this department is the GSOs. I honestly believe that is really an amazing program that you guys developed. It has a huge impact on the smaller communities, but, in conversations with Regular MLAs, they talk about the impact it would have on some of the larger centres, as well. We need to look at that. It is about trying to serve the people in the Northwest Territories, and I know the government does a good job at it, but here is an opportunity to make it a priority to get each community to have a GSO in it. I know, in Yellowknife, it is a bigger centre, but we need to give some people some services. I know we have departments here, but sometimes people don't know where to go, and we need to address that.

The position in Ottawa, I am still on the fence with that position, because I don't know what the job description is. I don't know what we are doing with that position. We had correspondence on it, and it has had some positive direction on it, but we need to know what we are actually doing with that position, what it entails, what the job description is, and how it is going to benefit the residents of the Northwest Territories. At the end of the day, that is where, to me, it comes down to, is why we are here is for the residents of the Northwest Territories. I believe all 19 of us are here for that reason, but, again, it is understanding how we are moving forward on certain things. Once we have a better understanding of that, then we can present that information to the residents. Again, we are ordinary MLAs. Once this goes down, we are part of this process, we are part of this government, and we need to be able to explain to our residents and our constituents what we are trying to do.

There are a number of other issues. Those are my concerns. Those are the ones that jump out at me. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 26-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Education, Culture And Employment - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Education, Culture And Employment
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. Further general comments on this department? Seeing none, I will allow the Premier to respond if he wishes. He has 10 minutes. Premier McLeod, if you do wish to respond, I will indicate by holding up my sign when you have one minute left. Premier.

Committee Motion 26-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Education, Culture And Employment - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Education, Culture And Employment
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I will try to live within the limits of the 10 minutes. I guess, first and foremost on land and resources, with regards to questions with land-use planning, those responsibilities remain with the federal government. They were not devolved. We certainly agree with the Member that land-use planning funding should be provided for. We are certainly fully supporting that. We see land-use planning as the way of the future.

The South Slave is becoming very complicated because there is a number of land-claims negotiations. You have the Akaitcho. You have the NWT Metis Nation. You have the Denesuline from Manitoba. You have the Denesuline from Saskatchewan. I guess I should mention the North Slave Metis Alliance, as well, then, of course, the Dene Tha. There is significant overlap in that region, so it will be quite a difficult task, I guess I foresee, to come up with a land-use plan for an area that encompasses all those different Aboriginal governments.

Self-government, we have two self-government agreements negotiated in the Northwest Territories. The Tlicho negotiated self-government at the same time they negotiated their land and resources agreement. Deline has a community self-government agreement. I guess, about 30 years ago, the government tried to organize themselves so that capacity would be built as Aboriginal governments would take over programs and services. We also clarified successor rights. We also have the NEB so, when programs are taken over, employees can access resources.

We see the need for capacity building. We do have a current arrangement with the Gwich'in government. That is a tri-party agreement between the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories, and the Gwich'in, where we have people that can enter into this program. I think we have been at it for two years. I think it is working very well.

As far as implementation, it is up to the Aboriginal government to decide how quickly or how late they want to draw down programs and services. With the additional resources, we see us making a big push. The Minister's special representative reports they have recommended that the governments take a greater responsibility for facilitating agreements. We will endeavour to do so.

We have been very hesitant to put GSOs into Yellowknife or regional centres because people can walk down the street and get the services that they need. The GSOs in the small communities were put into place mainly because of the Aboriginal language requirements and to help seniors. If the committee is all united that Yellowknife should have a GSO, then I guess we would have to look at that. We have a pilot project with the federal government, so we know that works well.

Ottawa office, I think it is important to understand that the federal government is making a lot of significant changes, not only the fact that, as a Member pointed out, we are a creature of the Government of Canada. We are born as part of the NWT Act. The federal government can change the act whenever they want to and could change the whole structure of our government if they saw fit to do so. I don't think they will do that, but they are looking at how programs and services are delivered.

One of the big items is the federal vision for the North. They are starting to work on that. The federal government will lay out their vision for Arctic provinces and territories up until 2030. That is something that will be a very important piece of work for our government and will involve some significant involvement, primarily in Ottawa. If we are not there, the federal government will see fit to move on without us.

Also, with regards to still-unfinished business with devolution, I think the biggest area of change is 10 principles that were announced by the working group of federal ministers, which we will look at. I guess the one principle that will have the most effect on us is the principle that talks about revisiting the fiscal arrangements for programs and services delivered to Aboriginal people or Indigenous Aboriginal people.

That is something that affects us significantly because one of the areas that the federal government is moving is distinction-based approach with three national Indigenous governments. They are talking about taking money that is being used for programs and services and giving it directly to Aboriginal governments. Our Aboriginal governments have been talking to the federal government for at least two years without our involvement, without our knowledge. It is only recently that we have all agreed to work together. We think it is all in our best interests if the Aboriginal governments get as much of the resources that they are entitled to, not only in Aboriginal housing, health, education, where those dollars could be transferred to Aboriginal governments.

It is important for us to be there. The federal minister, Minister Philpott, has invited us to the table now. We will be part of that process. Her responsibilities are primarily to Aboriginal people on reserves. We have to make our case so we don't get left out. Historically, the federal government puts a lot of money into reserves and they forget about us. We have to make sure we are there knocking on doors so that we are not left out of the picture.

Nutrition North, we talked about that before. It is a federal program. They are going to continue to do what they do. We have asked them to give us resources for Nutrition North in the Northwest Territories and we would run it. They have not seen fit to do that.

On the contributions, people approach us. We try to deal with them. The view is that there should be no one-offs. I guess that is something we can look at.

On net metering, all we do is provide administrative services to the Public Utilities Board. Personally, I think it would be better if the Public Utilities Board was housed in the department that is responsible for energy and public works.

Northern Resident Index, we looked at it before, before this federal government came into power, before they put an increase into the northern residents' deduction. We have to go talk to all of the provinces and territories that are eligible to claim this deduction, so we probably have to talk to the three territories. I think there are at least six other provinces that we would have to try to get that change.

On DRIP, the federal government has said that it has to apply to the Constitution of Canada. We are waiting for where they are going from there.

I guess the only other area is that there are a number of things with the Ombudsman, I think, that are pretty close to being done as I expect that it will come forward in the very near future. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 26-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Education, Culture And Employment - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Education, Culture And Employment
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Premier McLeod. We have finished general comments. We can now move into the detail contained in the tabled document. Mr. Beaulieu.

Committee Motion 27-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Executive And Indigenous Affairs - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Executive And Indigenous Affairs
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I move that the committee defer further consideration of the estimates for the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs at this time. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 27-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Executive And Indigenous Affairs - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Executive And Indigenous Affairs
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. There is a motion to defer. The motion is being distributed. The motion has been distributed. The motion is in order and non-debatable. All those in favour. All those opposed.

---Carried

The motion is carried. We will defer consideration of the detail, the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. My apologies. Correction. That was a motion to defer the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs, and it passed, so we will defer consideration of the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. I want to thank the witnesses. Sergeant-at-Arms, you may escort the witnesses from the Chamber.

What is the wish of committee now? Mr. Beaulieu.

Committee Motion 27-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Executive And Indigenous Affairs - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Executive And Indigenous Affairs
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I move that the chair of the Committee of the Whole leave the chair to report progress. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Committee Motion 27-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Executive And Indigenous Affairs - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Executive And Indigenous Affairs
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. There is a motion to report progress. The motion is order and non-debatable. All those in favour. All those opposed.

---Carried

The motion is carried. I will rise and report progress.

Committee Motion 27-18(3): Tabled Document 63-18(3): Main Estimates 2018-2019 - Executive And Indigenous Affairs - Deferral Of Further Consideration Of The Estimates For The Department Of Executive And Indigenous Affairs
Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

May I have the report, Member for Hay River North?

Report of Committee of the Whole
Report of Committee of the Whole

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, your committee has been considering Tabled Document 63-18(3), Main Estimates 2018-2019. I would like to report progress with two motions being adopted, and, Mr. Speaker, I move that the report of the Committee of the Whole be concurred with.

Report of Committee of the Whole
Report of Committee of the Whole

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Do we have a seconder? Member for Yellowknife North. The motion is in order. All those in favour. All those opposed.

---Carried

The motion is carried. Masi. Item 23, third reading of bills. Mr. Clerk, item 24, the orders of the day.

Orders of the Day
Orders of the Day

February 12th, 2018

Clerk Of The House (Mr. Mercer)

The orders of the day for Tuesday, February 13, 2018, at 1:30 p.m.

1. Prayer

2. Ministers' Statements

3. Members' Statements

4. Reports to Standing of Special Committees

5. Returns to Oral Questions

6. Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

7. Acknowledgements

8. Oral Questions

9. Written Questions

10. Returns to Written Questions

11. Replies to Commissioner's Opening Address

12. Replies to Budget Address (Day 4 of 7)

13. Petitions

14. Reports of Committees on the Review of Bills

15. Tabling of Documents

16. Notices of Motion

17. Notices of Motion for First Reading of Bills

18. Motions

19. First Reading of Bills

20. Second Reading of Bills

21. Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters

- Minister's Statement 1-18(3), North Slave Correctional Complex Inmate Concerns

- Minister's Statement 19-18(3), Aurora College Foundational Review Process

- Tabled Document 63-18(3), Main Estimates 2018-2019

1. Report of Committee of the Whole

2. Third Reading of Bills

3. Orders of the Day