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 work.

Topics

Question 350-18(3): Land Leases Limiting Housing
Oral Questions

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Yes, we are working on this important project. Office space has been identified. I understand that the staffing process will be underway this month. Members will recall that initially, there were to be three positions. We increased the number to five as this is a particularly important matter that we all wish to resolve.

Question 350-18(3): Land Leases Limiting Housing
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Deh Cho.

Question 350-18(3): Land Leases Limiting Housing
Oral Questions

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my last question is solutions. I know the Department of Lands is reviewing the matter of land leases. Possibly, maybe the Minister could commit to the idea of looking at the land designation for First Nations so that they still could retain some measure of at least being First Nations within Canada, at the same time meeting the needs and interests of people who want to have land for residential purposes. Would the Minister commit to perhaps considering the idea of a different and unique land designation for the NWT?

Question 350-18(3): Land Leases Limiting Housing
Oral Questions

Louis Sebert Thebacha

That is a very complex question, and I'm not sure of all the ramifications. I would have to discuss that with my fellow Cabinet Ministers. I would certainly be prepared to have further conversations with the Member opposite, or, if he wants to put this suggestion, which I'm not sure I fully understand, into writing, we could at least consider it. Thank you.

Question 350-18(3): Land Leases Limiting Housing
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

June 1st, 2018

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier today I talked about the cost of living, in particular as it related to seniors. My questions today are for the Minister of Finance. In recent years, we've seen various fees that have increased. I would like to ask the Minister: is the government's fiscal strategy to save $150 million over the life of this Assembly still in place? Is it still a thing? Is it still under way? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Finance.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, that has actually gone so well, we've decided to double it.

---Laughter

No, Mr. Speaker. When we came into the 18th Legislative Assembly, we had a goal of $150 million. Because of a lot of back and forth between ourselves and committee and listening to what the public had to say, we were able to come up with just over, I believe, $100 million, and as tough a decision as it was, I think it's actually positioned us very well to invest in some of the infrastructure projects and match some of the money from Canada, our 25 cents on the dollar. I think the commitment I made at the time was that this was something that we were going to do over the first two years of this Assembly, so I believe I have met that commitment, and the anticipation is we're not looking at making any more reductions, although there will be some residual reductions based on the decisions that were made in years 1 and 2. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

It is Friday, so I guess it could be considered joke day today, as well. I appreciate the Minister's reply, but the Minister just indicated that this was a two-year undertaking. I guess the next question is, you know, there have been various fees and taxes that have had significant impact on the cost of living recently. When can residents see these increases halted? The government ones are the ones that I'm talking about. The two-year plan is done. These fees and these ongoing increases, is that it? Can we see a reprieve, now? Are they going to be halted?

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

The Member is right. There were some increases as a result of some of the exercises that we went through, and some of those had to be made. They hadn't been increased for a long time. Some fees are legislated, that are reviewed every five years, so those are going to happen regardless. We tried to keep the effects to the people of the Northwest Territories to a minimum, and that is what we'll continue to try to do.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Again, I appreciate the reply. It's good that we can try to make the effort to reduce these fees. I do want to remind the government that, while they are making sure that their revenues are up, it is having a major effect on the cost of living of our northern residents, so we need to be mindful of that. I guess, then, the big question that is still outstanding is that there was lots of talk in the last session about a land transfer tax, and there is still some uncertainty around that. Simply, Northerners want to know: is it coming?

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

The Member is absolutely correct. This was an initiative that was brought forward by the Department of Justice as part of their contribution to the exercise we went through. There has been some opposition to this, not only from Regular Members, but from members of the public. So I don't think we've landed on a decision on this yet. We'll continue to have that conversation. I have informed the department that, if they want to try to pull this one off the table, they will have to put something else on the table to meet their contribution to the exercise that we went through.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Well, then, I guess the question of whether there are future fees to be expected has not ended. I mean, it seems to me that, if we're going to potentially take the land transfer tax one off the table, and that would be welcomed, there is a directive in place, apparently, to make sure that it's going to be made up somewhere else. Is that actually the case, or can people expect in the future here to see continued tax increases or fee increases of some kind to help the government meet their fiscal strategy? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 351-18(3): Fee Increases and Land Transfer Tax
Oral Questions

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

The Member did mention that this was Friday. We're working with the department to see what we can do. Of course, we have to listen to some of the concerns that were raised by Regular Members, and we do that all the time, you know that, and some concerns that were raised by members of the public. So we take that into consideration. Like I said, we haven't landed on a final decision yet. Of course, we will keep committee apprised as to our discussions. We will continue to have discussions internally.

As far as the other thing the Member spoke about, the fiscal situation, I believe the decisions that we've made, as tough as some of them may have been, have put us in a position that we had to absorb a couple of hits, obviously, in the first year with the $34 million reduction in the money from the federal government, then last year with the money in the corporate taxes, the contribution going down. So I think we've positioned ourselves well to absorb those, as well as make our 25 per cent contribution to a lot of infrastructure projects. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.