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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 going.

Topics

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

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Just a few things that would be nice to see in the budget here. Many schools in my riding have issues in the fall, mostly the fall time with bears in the community, and especially when it's dark in the morning. It's a safety concern for children who have to walk to school, both in Aklavik and Fort McPherson. This fall, we had grizzly bears hanging around the community, and also in the springtime. People in the communities would like to see busing, but the truth is, funding that's given to the DAs isn't adequate to provide schooling. That is something that we really need here, and we're putting the safety of students at risk here. I think it's time we address that.

Also, from what I understand, the Small Community Employment Program is doing much better this year with a little help from the rural and remote communities participating in the process. I was hoping that whatever is not spent this year could be put in the community access fund, which is a big help to the small communities. Many of our communities have around a 36 per cent employment rate. It's actually gone up from the last numbers that I received. It's up to 40, but it would be great to see, 50, 60 per cent in the future here. I'm sure, if we work together, we could make that happen, maybe top off the fund here. Maybe even $5 million would be great, my Cabinet colleagues here. Those are the concerns that are brought up by myself here. I know in Tsiigehtchic as well there, they're looking to hopefully provide high school grades here in the future, and will be a challenge providing some subjects. That's something they are looking forward to in the future, how to make that work. Because we're seeing the dropout rate increase because of students having to go to Inuvik, and that's something we don't want to see. We want to see our children to succeed, and we have to figure out a plan here. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Blake. Further general comments on the Department of Education, Culture and Employment? Seeing none, as we've discussed, the Minister will have 10 minutes to respond, keeping in mind that as we go through the detail of this document, there will be plenty of time to respond to more detailed concerns that the Members have. Minister Moses, you have 10 minutes.

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

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I appreciate all the comments and feedback with all Members of committee as well as the Assembly here. We've also heard from our education leaders. We do meet with them on a regular basis, and some of the concerns that were raised here today were some of the concerns that were brought forward with our education partners as well. So we definitely are listening and trying to make those changes that will be in the best interest of our staff as well as our students.

Beginning with the inclusive schooling for junior kindergarten, I know it was brought up by everyone here and you see in my opening comments and in the funding here that we did increase funding for junior kindergarten specifically around the inclusive schooling. I can confirm that it will be in the base moving forward, that this funding is going to continue.

We also had some comments around the child and youth care counsellors. We did do a really good presentation at lunch to standing committee, and I think we got into a lot of detail at that meeting, and that meeting was public. I'm sure it's going to be on the Legislative Assembly Facebook page, if you want to get into more detail on the questions there. That's just a great program, with the collaboration of working with the Department of Health and Social Services to address some of our biggest concerns and the community's on mental health, and I know there was discussions around addictions and suicides as well. Like any other program, we're going to monitor that and make sure that it's working well. As it rolls out, we'll be able to give better updates on how these child and youth care counsellors are working in the Deh Cho and the Tlicho, as we move into the next steps of implementing it throughout the Northwest Territories.

We also had the career and education advisors. There were some concerns there. Obviously, they are two different programs; one is focusing on mental health counselling in the schools, and I agree, I think we need to get some of this information out to our students at a younger age. Not as far as kindergarten, as I heard mentioned, but I think we do need that, to get that information out to the schools, and having these career and education advisors traveling throughout the North and helping students decide what career paths they want to take and education that they need to get to either a post‑secondary or to another career is going to be very important.

I know tying in with our high schools' pathways, pathways to graduation, as Members know, we did give an update to committee on this and we'll be looking at implementing the high school pathways in the 2019‑2020 academic year. So that gives us about a whole year to really get out and consult and work with our partners, work with our families and our communities, and get that information to them and get their feedback and input as well.

I know MLA Green mentioned the shared services report. Currently the steering committee that is working on that is developing a response to the report, and we'll be sharing that with committee as soon as that response comes out, just to have Members updated on that.

Early childhood funding, childcare, we did sign off on an agreement with the federal government, and we will be sharing that action plan with Members once that's all finalized. I know some of that funding was for this fiscal year. One good thing that came out of that is we are able to carry over funding that we're not going to be able to spend this fiscal year. I know it's late into 2017‑2018, and some of that funding is going to be available come April 1st, from this fiscal year, here.

The foundational review, I know that has been a big concern and has rendered a lot of questions in the House. We're still waiting on that report. I gave an update last week on where we are with the foundation review. I appreciate all the Members who took the time to give feedback and comment into that review, and once that review is completed, we will be making sure that we do a management response. Everything that I said on Friday's Minister's statement will continue, staying focused on that. With regard to programs, I think we're going to have to see what came out of that foundational review before we move forward, and working with the Aurora College.

I know one Member has brought up that it would be nice if Aurora College could work on their own, focus on their own path and doing things on their own, but this is public dollars that we do fund Aurora College with, so we do need to be a part of that process when we're looking at the programs and the way they run their shop, over at Aurora College. There are concerns about the level of our students when they're graduating. Back in the previous government, we started working on the education renewal process. We know that there are a lot of new programs, pilot project; we have a lot of working groups that were education leaders on there, as well as our partners. So moving forward with this renewal, we're going to see some positive things coming out and, as some Members mentioned, we want to make sure that our students have all the supports, the resources they need, so that when they graduate, that they would be able to go into further post‑secondary or get into a career that they need. As I mentioned, we'll continue to keep committee updated as we go out and consult on the Pathways to Graduation project.

I'm trying to see what else is in here. As you mentioned, Mr. Chair, as we get into the detail on the budget and go page‑by‑page, we'll get into more detail on some of the questions.

The arts funding, the strategy. As I mentioned when I got questions in the House, I will be working with the Department of ITI to look at what options we have moving forward to develop a strategy, but also looking at things as some Members mentioned with the structural side of things, and we'll have those discussions with the Minister of ITI. As I mentioned in the House answering questions, the Arts Council will be a big part of that. They are the experts and they do represent a lot of the organizations and some of our artists in the Northwest Territories.

I know trades was also mentioned. We just released that strategy, and I think we're going to see some really good things coming out of that strategy. As Member McNeely had mentioned last week: how are we getting support? How are we supporting them to push out the people in the trades area? I think that the apprenticeship trades and occupational certification strategies are going to address a lot of those challenges and gaps. The steering committee and working group, which are mainly comprised of industry personnel, they're the ones who are implementing it, so we're going to reach out and try to get an update from them on where we move forward.

Senior home heating subsidy, ours supports the seniors. We continue to make those supports and make the changes that are benefitting seniors thought the Northwest Territories, and we just made a couple of those changes over the past fiscal year.

We also heard a little bit about the childcare benefits. We made changes when the Canada Child Benefit came into place. We made changes, as well as making changes to the NWT Child Benefit, putting more money into the families of low to modest income, and we're going to continue to support them, as well as support our childcare providers.

The arts funding, as I mentioned, we're currently looking at all the funding that, collectively, all departments fund to the artists and the organizations throughout the Northwest Territories. In my department, we fund over $2 million, and I think it's sufficient in terms of how we support our artists throughout the Northwest Territories, as well.

In terms of support to local radio stations, the funding that we did get with the signing with the federal government, we do have allocated funding that's going to the local radio stations. So a lot of them got a bump up, and we want to continue to look at revitalizing our Indigenous languages throughout the Northwest Territories and have an ambitious agenda to try to address that.

Small Community Employment Support Program, I tried to get into that, but we'll get into more detail. I know the Rural and Remote Committee is doing a lot of good work providing direction and giving good feedback on how we roll out that funding. With the increase of $3 million, we've seen a lot of uptake right throughout the Northwest Territories, where, before, with that $1.2 million, it was not fully allocated, but with that increase, I am sure we can be spending that full funding by the end of this fiscal year. Thank you, Mr. Chair. As we get into detail, we will get into that.

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

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Minister Moses. You are right. We will have plenty of time to discuss this in the detail. If there are no further opening comments, we can consider the detail in the tabled document. Mr. Beaulieu.

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

February 12th, 2018

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chairman, I move that this committee defer further consideration of the estimates for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment at this time. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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. Beaulieu. There is a motion to defer. The motion is in order and non-debatable. The motion is currently being distributed.

The motion has been distributed. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried.

---Carried

We will defer consideration of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. Thank you to the witnesses. Sergeant‑at‑Arms, you may escort the witnesses from the Chamber.

Committee, we have decided to next consider the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. I will turn to the Minister of the department, Premier McLeod, for any comments that he may have. 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 am pleased to present the 2018‑2019 Main Estimates for the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. Overall, the department's estimates propose an increase of $1.5 million or 7.8 per cent over the 2017‑2018 Main Estimates. EIA's proposed increase is almost entirely related to strategic initiatives, which include the following:

• $595,000 in additional resources aimed at the finalization of lands, resources, and self‑government agreements;

• $250,000 in additional funding to the Northwest Territories/Nunavut Council of Friendship Centres to build capacity and strengthen program delivery;

• $387,000 in additional intergovernmental relations capacity and support out of the Government of Northwest Territories Ottawa office;

• $100,000 in funding to assist the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation implement their Strategic Direction Action Plan related to the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway No. 10;

• $101,000 in funding to host the Western Premiers Conference later this spring;

• $84,000 to assist in the delivery of campaign schools to further encourage women's participation in politics; and

• $50,000 in funding to the Arctic Inspiration prize.

These estimates continue to support the priorities of the 18th Legislative Assembly by continuing to successfully conclude agreements with Indigenous governments for lands, resources, and self‑government. There are currently 14 sets of negotiations at various stages, and these negotiations will continue to be a priority for this government as this budget ensures additional resources are dedicated to the furtherance and conclusion of these agreements.

In addition, Canada is setting significant new policy direction in many areas that directly and indirectly affect the lives and future prospects of the Northwest Territories and its people. The new Deputy Secretary of Intergovernmental Relations located in the Ottawa office will help ensure the Government of Northwest Territories' interests and perspectives are understood and considered by Canada in decisions regarding the environment, infrastructure, investments in our economy, and Indigenous rights, including any changes contemplated to the fiscal arrangements between Canada and Indigenous governments.

Finally, these main estimates continue to increase regional capacity by building partnerships with Northern friendship centres, encouraging women to participate in politics, and sponsoring innovation for the benefit of all Arctic communities, including the investment in socioeconomic opportunities related to the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway No. 10.

Thank you. This concludes my opening remarks.

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. Do you have witnesses you wish to bring into the Chamber?

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

Yes, I do, 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. Will the Sergeant‑at‑Arms please escort the witnesses into the Chamber. Premier, would you please introduce your witnesses for the record.

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. To my left, I have Mike Aumond, the secretary to Cabinet and the deputy minister of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. To my far right, I have Terence Courtoreille, the director of Shared Services, and to my immediate right, Shaleen Woodward, the assistant deputy minister of Intergovernmental Affairs. 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. I will now open the floor to general comments on the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. Committee, I will remind you of the procedure. Each Member wishing to speak will have 10 minutes to do so. After every Member who wishes to speak has spoken, I will return to the Premier, who may speak for 10 minutes to make further comments or answer any committee questions if he so desires.

Committee, general comments? Mr. Beaulieu.

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

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I guess, in all fairness, we all have 10 minutes to speak and so does the Minister Premier. I guess I could speak for a few minutes on the main topic that I would like to cover in this area, and that is the lands and resource negotiations.

I see that there are extra, additional resources that the Premier has spoken of, of $595,000 to the aim of finalizing lands and resources and self‑government agreements.

I just want to talk a bit about what I am seeing as I guess you would call it a bit of a deficiency in the process. The first one is the land use planning process. I know that Cabinet, or at least the Minister of Education, has talked about looking at funding job creation for Akaitcho in the area of land use planners as they are trying to put a group of people together.

I know that I have had some discussion with the Premier on what had occurred prior to devolution. Prior to devolution, there was money provided to other claimant groups, whether they be ones that were settled or ones that were not settled. All the same, there was money put towards the land use planning document that I will refer to it as for a couple of Aboriginal governments, but not for Akaitcho.

What, I guess, is something that I would like to see the Premier do in the area of Indigenous Affairs is to take a serious look at that. These are small communities that are represented here. If that means that we do some of the small community fund, small community employment program to provide so that they could hire some local land-use planner -- some of the young people that are already working in that area would be skilled with some direction from maybe a professional land-use planner to take a look at trying to put something together. I think it becomes an essential part of the negotiation process with Akaitcho.

I am not fully up to speed on whether or not the Metis have a land-use plan, but then it is a little bit of a discussion for me because the NWT Metis Nation spills into Hay River, your riding, Mr. Chair, and also in Fort Smith. It is not something I can take on my own and say this is what is needed, because I think it needs to be more of a joint effort and coming from them. Akaitcho clearly has come to me and clearly has asked that some money be provided for land-use plan so that they could put this big piece of the puzzle in place for potential settling of the lands and resource negotiations.

The other thing that has always puzzled me has been the self-government aspect of the negotiations. I don't see our government -- by "our government," I am referring to the Government of the Northwest Territories -- as being a big part of building capacity for potential or future self-government. I think that more effort must be put in there. I know they are at the table, and I know they are moving forward. I am not sure that once the agreement is signed, how quickly we could move to implementation.

Does that mean that, once the agreement is signed, it is at that point that we recognize the resources that need to transfer from the territorial government to the Indigenous governments of Akaitcho at that point? Then we start working on the building of the capacity? To me, looking at it from a perspective, although I am obviously not fully versed on what is going on at the negotiation tables and certainly not versed at what had gone on with the other places that were settled, the drawing down of the departments, the choices and how they draw down what the Akaitcho are drawing down and so on, that type of thing.

I am wondering if some of that work could be done simultaneously during negotiations, because it seems like it is done consecutively. It appears as though we are slowly moving towards developing capacity so that, when you sign an agreement that says Lands and Resources and Self-Government Agreement, that is a step, and then the next step is to try to build the capacity. As I see it, a land-use plan for the lands and resources is something I think that is essential. It is difficult to move without it. Also, the self-government capacity-building would be something that would be difficult to engage the Indigenous governments if we don't work on capacity now.

I am essentially saying that I think that the government has to start to look at what resources are there, what will be drawn down by the governments, determine what will be drawn down, and allow them to set up a structure that can govern themselves. Right now, if we had written a cheque to the Aboriginal governments for all of the areas that will be drawn down, they would spend a lot of their money just building capacity and not delivering programs. I think we should be working with them as a territorial government, working with them to build that capacity so that, when the agreement is signed, they are ready to roll into self-government quicker. If that is their desire and if that is what they are negotiating, I suppose that we should be working with them to try to build up that capacity.

Those are the two areas I speak of today. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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. Beaulieu. Next, I have Mr. O'Reilly.

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

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks, Mr. Chair. I would like to start off on the issue of the land rights negotiations. The Minister indicated that there is an additional $595,000 in this year's budget for it. That is likely a good thing, but this comes after two years of cuts within the department and its capacity to negotiate. It is good that we are trying to work towards that. I guess I have some questions about what that funding is really going to be used for.

The other thing I want to say about this is that there is a joint committee of Cabinet and Regular MLAs to talk about some of these issues, but it has never met twice. It didn't really have the kind of authority that the Premier committed to in his campaign speech to become the Premier. It doesn't provide any sort of oversight or real advice, as I understand it, in terms of those negotiations. We haven't seen much progress. There haven't been any completed agreements, and we are more than halfway through our term. I am very concerned about the lack of progress in this area. We need to set this as a much higher priority for this government.

I want to talk about government service officers. Regular MLAs on our side, we have tried to push, in the last two budgets, for some kind of a plan to complete the GSOs in all of our communities. Not all the small communities have GSOs yet. I don't believe there are any in the regional centres. There certainly aren't any in Yellowknife. There may be some opportunities for greater efficiencies, particularly in a place like Yellowknife where the federal government has sort of a one-stop shop. Perhaps we can be looking at partnering with them on that as well here in Yellowknife to get some efficiencies.

Without a plan, where is this going? It just seems that Cabinet throws a few dollars into this whenever it seems that is can afford it. I think we need a solid plan to know what the additional costs are to complete our network so we can improve our programs and services to our communities.

I have a place to find that, the money that the Minister wants to use to add extra capacity in the inter-governmental relations, as I termed it, the Red Alert office in Ottawa. That is where he can get that money. Let's talk a little bit about that office. It just sort of appears as a line item in the budget. There is not much detail in the business plan. Regular MLAs, including myself, have asked for a job description. We have asked for more details about what that position will actually do. The information we got back revolved largely around the Red Alert messaging that the Premier has talked about in this House, as well, about trying to overturn the offshore rights issuance moratorium.

I guess I had hoped to see much more of an emphasis on leveraging infrastructure funding for things like housing and renewable energy, rather than the large roads-to-resources projects that our government continues to submit. Maybe even an emphasis on the need to revise the territorial formula funding agreement so we can build more fiscal and economic sustainability here in the Northwest Territories, but that is not the information that we have got. I will have lots of questions for the Minister about that investment of money and whether it would be better spent on other initiatives.

There are some good things in here in terms of support for the friendship centres. I support that. The additional funding for the campaign schools to try to encourage women's participation in politics. Those are good initiatives. Ongoing funding for the Arctic Inspiration prize; that is a good investment. Supporting the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk highway plan through the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation; that is good money spent as well, but there do not seem to be any rules around this funding. They all seem to be one‑offs without any sort of policy framework. I think that just leaves the door open to anybody lining up at the Premier's office and asking for money, and I think we are starting to see that here.

I don't understand why the Tuktoyaktuk Community Corporation has to go to the Premier's office to get money when those funds could and should be available as part of Infrastructure and ITI's regular planning for a major infrastructure project. That is not to say that their proposal isn't good, but that should be part of our regular project planning, not subject to one‑offs with the Premier's office. We need to have a policy framework for decision‑making around that sort of funding.

I want to talk a little bit about Nutrition North, which is one of the mandate commitments. I am not aware of really what our government is doing on Nutrition North. There was a federal task force that was set up to investigate Nutrition North and its future, and I am not aware of whether our government even participated in that and what our position is and what we are trying to do on Nutrition North. There have been ideas from this side of the House about making sure that local agricultural producers can access or use or be supported through Nutrition North, as well.

Net metering is another responsibility of the Executive. It is in the mandate as well to try to improve access to net metering and make sure that citizens who invest in renewable resources have a way to feed energy back into the grid and realize some benefits from their investment, but there is nothing that has been done by the Executive on this. There is nothing in the New Energy Strategy around net metering, and there is no direction on this. This issue has been raised in the House, not just by myself but by other MLAs, and I would like to see some real progress on this in the context of the energy strategy.

I guess one other thing here that I would like to ‑‑ Northern Residents Tax Deduction. That is in the mandate commitments that falls under the Executive, as well, although the Minister of Finance obviously has some responsibility here. We did make some progress on getting it improved. It needs to be indexed, and I don't know why we cannot work with the other Finance Ministers in the other jurisdictions that are Nunavut and Yukon and put a lot more pressure on the Minister responsible for the Canada Revenue Agency to get this indexed.

Lastly, the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. There is some progress being made on implementation of this at the federal level. There is a private Member's bill that is going to come forward that is going to require a more systematic approach to federal legislations and policy, and I think that the ruling party has indicated they are prepared to support that initiative. That is something that our government needs to look at in terms of our legislation and policies to make sure that they incorporate things like free, prior, and informed consent, which is part of the declaration itself.

Just checking my notes here, I think those are the main things that I wanted to cover. Sorry, lack of progress on ombudsman legislation. I am not sure where that stands at. This is a commitment in the mandate again, and here we are more than two years into our mandate, and it still has not come forward. I am concerned about the progress on that initiative as well.

Thanks, Mr. Chair. That is all I have on this department for now.