This is page numbers 4831 - 4856 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 housing.

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 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4831

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 138-18(3): Celebrating Language and Culture in the Northwest Territories
Ministers' Statements

Page 4831

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, when our connections to our languages and cultures are strong, our people are strong. Language and culture play a crucial role in people's daily lives, as tools for communication, education, social integration, and development. Language, culture, history, and traditions shape us as people.

I will begin by announcing that, upon recommendation of the Official Languages Board, February has been declared the new Indigenous Languages Month in the Northwest Territories.

The theme of this year's Indigenous Languages Month, "We Love Our Languages," serves as an invitation to all residents to take time to show their appreciation and celebrate the 11 official languages we have in the Northwest Territories.

During this month our languages are being promoted, a meeting of the Official Languages Board is taking place, the top entrants of the Elder and Youth Indigenous Languages Video Contest are being premiered, and other events are being held throughout the regions.

Mr. Speaker, celebrations are important; however, successful revitalization won't be accomplished through the efforts of just one month a year.

Despite their tremendous value, Indigenous languages across the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate. In an effort to bring attention to this, 2019 has been declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages by the United Nations.

Mr. Speaker, to combat the threat against them, this government is committed to revitalising and increasing the use of Indigenous languages. We are actively promoting the nine territorial Indigenous official languages on a continual basis and working to preserve and revitalize them for future generations. Although there are challenges, we are seeing some progress. Initiatives like the Our Languages curriculum in schools, funding Indigenous governments for language activities, and providing Indigenous language coordinators in all regions are making a difference.

Mr. Speaker, We are extremely proud of our continued work to develop the Our Languages curriculum. A large-scale pilot started in 40 of our 49 schools this past September, and the response already has been astounding. We have heard that it has been a positive experience, that it is exciting, that it is important and the right thing. We heard loud and clear that it's about time.

Just as Indigenous Languages Month draws to a close, the Rendez-vous de la Francophonie is beginning around the world. During the month of March, I invite my colleagues and the public to celebrate another of our official languages, French. Language and culture events throughout the Northwest Territories will promote the French language in the context of cultural diversity and aim to bring people together by highlighting the importance of all official languages.

The government recently released the 2018-2023 French Languages Communications and Services Strategic Plan developed with input from the Federation franco-tenoise. This is the second five-year plan focusing on ensuring the government is providing services in French to communities where francophone populations are of significant demand. Our partnership with the Federation franco-tenoise is critical to the success of our strategic plan. We continue to work together to increase the use of the Government of the Northwest Territories' French-language communications and services.

This June, we will also be celebrating an important anniversary, the 40th birthday of the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Over the last 40 years, the institution has worked with communities across the territory to care for, research, and celebrate territorial cultures, history, and languages for the benefit of Northerners and visitors. I encourage everyone to come out to the party, have fun, and learn more about how the activities and work that occur in this building serve and represent all of the people of the Northwest Territories.

Hosting more than 60,000 visitors a year, the centre plays a key role in preserving and showcasing our connection to our cultures, heritage, and languages. The website for the exhibit "We Took Care of Them: RCMP Special Constables in the NWT" is the first digital exhibit to be available in all 11 official languages, and I must credit my colleague, the honourable Alfred Moses, for his work in bringing this incredible exhibit to fruition.

As well, the centre is also soon launching an iPad program so visitors can view and experience exhibits in Indigenous and other languages.

Mr. Speaker, languages and culture together contribute to a strong sense of identity and pride. Our government acts as facilitator, steward, and supporter of territorial languages and cultures. Our commitment is strong. We are doing more than ever to help all our languages thrive, and we are starting to see positive results, so I very much look forward to all these upcoming celebrations of the territory's languages and cultures. They showcase our past, influence our present, and lay the path for the future. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 138-18(3): Celebrating Language and Culture in the Northwest Territories
Ministers' Statements

Page 4831

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 139-18(3): Community Housing Plans
Ministers' Statements

Page 4831

Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is helping to address the high cost of living in our territory by implementing northern solutions for northern housing. We are working with other governments and housing stakeholders to support Indigenous and local governments in their housing aspirations and create initiatives to address homelessness. As part of its strategic renewal, the Housing Corporation is developing community housing plans to guide and support strategic development and investment in each community.

In 2017, one of the key findings of the Engagement Survey on Housing was a strong desire for community housing plan development across the Northwest Territories. The Housing Corporation has responded by beginning work toward a housing plan with each of the 33 communities in the Northwest Territories. We are using a planning process with the community and other stakeholders that reflect community values and priorities.

To ensure that these plans are community-driven and will support local intentions to address housing needs, we are working with local leadership. We are promoting community ownership of housing plans, local coordination, and activity planning that is suitable for the community. Local housing facilitators are being hired to assist with this community planning.

The community housing plans will combine the knowledge of community residents with housing data, statistics, and other material relevant to housing needs, such as information on health, education, employment, and land. To guide planning, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is using the solid and proven planning principles of community involvement, skills development, flexibility, sustainability, and respect for local culture and traditions.

Mr. Speaker, the community housing plan process involves five steps: pre-planning, needs assessment, housing plan, implementation, and monitoring. The process will result in a community housing plan that contains a community profile, a needs analysis, and a housing plan with measurable goals and outcomes that can evolve over time.

Pre-planning sets the foundation. This work includes meeting with stakeholders to discuss potential resources, partnerships, and information-gathering. We have conducted housing research and developed methodology to guide the approach in each of the communities.

Needs assessments are conducted through community engagement. One of the lessons learned through the Voices on Housing survey was the importance of local voices and local input. At this stage, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation will ask each community to designate a council member to work directly with us to support the housing planning activities and community engagements. These engagements happen at the community level and include discussions in public areas, small group discussions, and school and home visits.

As we move to the housing plan stage, which is starting to happen now, we will work with each individual community to engage appropriate stakeholders. Stakeholders will participate in local housing forums to share information, develop partnerships, and establish a strategic planning direction to develop the community housing plan.

This strategic direction will inform the community housing plan that will be presented to Councils for Plan Adoption at the implementation stage. Further to implementation, we will work with communities to monitor these housing plans on an ongoing basis once they have been developed.

Mr. Speaker, the community housing plan process has begun, with six communities selected based on stakeholder feedback, community interest, and community readiness to engage in the planning process. To date, we have signed Agreements to Participate in Housing Planning with the communities of Whati, Fort Liard, and Paulatuk.

We have also met with leadership in the communities of Deline, Jean Marie River, and the K'atlodeeche First Nation, and we anticipate moving forward in those communities in the near future.

Community housing plans are critical in ensuring that infrastructure investments are made in the right areas. As we see investments under the National Housing Strategy roll out, including the National Housing Co-investment Fund, community housing plans will help guide all parties in making the right investments. Indigenous, federal, territorial, and municipal governments will all be able to use the plans in meeting housing needs in Northwest Territories communities.

Mr. Speaker, I am excited for a future of community-led housing plans in the Northwest Territories. Housing involves partnerships at all levels. Having a community voice in planning is critical to any success that we have moving forward. Not only will these plans ensure that housing programs and services reflect community values and priorities, but they will also prepare us to take maximum advantage of federal housing funding, private industry investment, and other partnerships as they become available. I look forward to seeing these community housing plans as they are completed and working together with all our people to improve housing outcomes in each and every community. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 139-18(3): Community Housing Plans
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 140-18(3): Cold Weather Testing at Yellowknife Airport
Ministers' Statements

Page 4832

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is following through on its mandate commitment to strengthen connections with public and private sector partners in transportation infrastructure. As the primary aviation hub of the Northwest Territories, the Yellowknife Airport hosts a number of businesses and industries that employ Northerners and contribute to economic growth, provide services that support our growing tourism sector, and provide essential services to our communities and residents.

Maintaining our relationship with partners at Yellowknife Airport is vital to its growth and success. Consistent with this commitment, the airport has been seeking out partnership opportunities with international aviation leaders who are looking for locations to undertake cold-weather testing.

Last fall the Yellowknife Airport held discussions with the City of Yellowknife, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, and NWT Tourism to determine how we could come together to capture new revenue streams associated with cold-weather testing. One of the outcomes of these meetings is the newly-formed Yellowknife Airport Cold Weather Testing Group.

The group's goal is to ensure Yellowknife is recognized by global aerospace leaders as the number one Arctic cold-weather testing destination. In order to achieve this, the group is joining forces and adopting a collaborative approach to marketing the Yellowknife Airport to the highly competitive cold-weather testing aerospace industry.

Mr. Speaker, cold-weather testing offers significant opportunity and major economic benefits for the local economy. Visiting teams typically stay in the testing location for 30 to 90 days and often include between 30 to 70 professionals, such as engineers, pilots, and support staff. This could significantly increase revenue growth for Yellowknife Airport's partners and create an opportunity to diversify the Northwest Territories' winter tourism markets by developing a new sector of business tourism.

Working with local air carriers and operators, the Cold Weather Testing Group is developing the resources and relationships that position Yellowknife as the Canada's Arctic cold-weather testing location of choice. These resources will assist aeronautical decision-makers to locate suitable accommodations and working venues for their away teams prior to their arrival in the Northwest Territories.

Working with our partners, efforts are being made to ensure that information packages are available to respond to both proactive and reactive cold-weather testing enquiries. Packages will include maps, brochures, and other information, such as restaurant listings, vehicle rental locations, entertainment venues, and tourism operator information for those off-duty testing team members wishing to explore our unique northern environment and communities.

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to say that Yellowknife Airport is hosting Bell Helicopters. They are conducting cold-weather testing of one of their larger helicopters, the new Bell 525 Relentless, the next-generation helicopter. This is the first commercial helicopter to incorporate the Garmin G-500-H touchscreen, and is recognized as the best in class for low noise and vibration, and sets the new standard for vehicle control and operational safety.

The partnership between the Cold Weather Testing Group and Bell Helicopters has created an opportunity to host 30 engineers and pilots for approximately 90 days in Yellowknife. This group will provide a measurable economic boost to Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, it is estimated that this one cold-weather testing partnership with Bell Helicopters will infuse $2.3 million into the local economy. In recent months, Yellowknife Airport has also had discussions with Mitsubishi to test their medium-sized jets, and Korean Aerospace Industries has inquired about testing their helicopters here.

In addition to the creation of the Yellowknife Airport Cold Weather Testing Group, planning efforts are under way for the development of a preliminary competitor analysis, a marketing framework, and the decision to link the cold-weather testing marketing strategy to Destination Canada's Business Events Canada marketing program for the aerospace industry.

The Northwest Territories has a unique Arctic advantage. Yellowknife is one of the coldest cities in the country. As the major gateway airport to the Northwest Territories, conditions at Yellowknife Airport in the winter are cold, clear, and dry, and temperatures can dip as low as minus 50 Celsius. Yellowknife Airport has all of the facilities and services required to be a testing site: runway and airspace, as well as apron and ramp space, available for aircraft testing; emergency services; and onsite airport firefighting facilities, coupled with airport-based businesses that understand the needs of the aerospace industry.

The Yellowknife Airport Cold-Weather Testing Group recognizes Bell Helicopters as one of many successful partners bringing innovation and economic opportunity to local businesses. We believe that there are other cold-weather testing opportunities to be developed, all of which position the Northwest Territories as a global leader in the aerospace industry.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to cold-weather testing, there are important improvements under way at the Yellowknife Airport. On Sunday of this past week, Madame LeBouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, MP Michael McLeod, and I were pleased to announce the funding of approximately $2.5 million from the Airport Capital Assistance Program for airfield lighting rehabilitation project. In addition, the Yellowknife Airport Revolving Fund will contribute 15 percent of the total project cost, bringing the total of the project to over $3 million.

This funding announcement will bring changes to airfield lighting on Runway 16-34, the primary runway of the Yellowknife Airport. The project will make the airport safer and further contribute to our commitment to reduce energy consumption.

These and other initiatives will reinforce our efforts to strengthen connections with public and private sector partners in transportation infrastructure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 140-18(3): Cold Weather Testing at Yellowknife Airport
Ministers' Statements

Page 4832

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to a visitor in the gallery. With us is Mr. David Ramsey, former Member of the Legislative Assembly. Welcome to our Assembly. Masi. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Hay River North.

Long-Term Care
Members' Statements

Page 4832

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services announced plans and is already taking steps to more than double the amount of long-term care beds available in the territory. Given that we are still in the early stages of this massive expansion, now is an opportune time for us to re-examine our fundamental notion about long-term care so that we can develop and implement best practices, cultivate the appropriate institutional culture, and design facilities to help us realize this vision.

There is already much agreement on what basic long-term care should provide; shelter, meals, ensuring prescribed medication is taken, assistance with physical tasks such as bathing, if necessary, and so on. However, to achieve and maintain positive mental health and a sense of well-being, people require more than just the basics. People need companionship. They need to be engaged in activities that they find entertaining and meaningful, and they need to feel like they are part of a community.

To be clear, Mr. Speaker, I know that many staff in the long-term care facilities are doing these exact things right now, and I appreciate all of their efforts. I can't emphasize that enough. I know that the residents appreciate them, as well. However, the work they do is confined by the system in which they work, a system designed around the overarching notion that, as long as physical needs are being met, the system is doing its job.

We need to decide if we want to expand that idea and put mental well-being on equal footing with physical well-being so that we can ensure residents in long-term care have the opportunity to lead fulfilling lives.

For some, family members provide this opportunity. However, it is quite common for people in care to not have nearby family for a variety of reasons. Some long-term care residents have had to relocate from other communities. There are also many in care who moved to the NWT decades ago for work. The one or two children they had have left the territory, and their spouses passed on. These people, most of whom have limited mobility and limited means, are at the mercy of the system. If the system doesn't provide opportunities for them to live fulfilling lives, no one will.

I raise these concerns with the Assembly because my constituents in long-term care raised them with me. I am concerned about the toll it takes on their mental health, and I am gravely concerned that, in our rush to supply more beds, unless we turn our minds to this issue, the proposed 48- and 72-bed facilities could turn out to be more like warehouses than care facilities.

I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Long-Term Care
Members' Statements

Page 4833

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Private Sector Housing Solutions
Members' Statements

Page 4833

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to the concerns raised by constituents and the business community concerning the GNWT's market housing program. The framework is, in effect, shutting out local businesses and entrepreneurs from being able to enter and stay in the property rental and real estate business. It goes without question that the GNWT must have a strong housing policy which supports lower income residents and families, yet there must be diversity in how this goal is achieved. Maintaining a government monopoly is clearly not effective, nor does it ensure no one is left out in the cold of the winter and dryness of the summer.

The current situation prohibits businesses or private individuals from being able to get a fair return on their investment in the rental business or from being able to invest their time and energy into eventually flipping their property for market resale. What the NWT needs is a multifaceted approach, not more of a one-size-fits-all strategy.

To achieve this end, it would be wise to ask the Housing Corporation to work with local builders to allow for the framework of a housing economy to be established that is not influenced or controlled solely by the Government of the Northwest Territories. This would be strengthened if the Housing Corporation and other GNWT departments worked with the local builders to sign market lease agreements for up to 50 percent of the private housing inventory for GNWT employees. This would inevitably alleviate some of the pressure on the Housing Corporation's demand on inventory, as it would make it easier for the government, local governments, and the private sector to attract skilled labour and professionals into the communities through the availability of housing. The secondary and tertiary effects of this are boundless.

In short, it would allow people more freedom to pursue the lives they wish. This initiative would bring with it the added bonus of training and hiring local community members to build, maintain, and refurbish these homes over the short and long term. Housing is in high demand in every community, and the opportunity to have private enterprise build rental units and alleviate the demand for housing off the GNWT would be a win-win for everyone, and particularly for the people who are in desperate need of housing.

Mr. Speaker, Regular Members have often called for this government to do more to expand private sector opportunities. Today, I am calling on the Minister to open this government's approach to addressing the NWT's housing needs with private sector solutions. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Private Sector Housing Solutions
Members' Statements

Page 4833

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Aboriginal Sports Circle 20-Year Anniversary
Members' Statements

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, April 1, 2019, marks the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the Northwest Territories' 20th year anniversary.

Over the years, the organization has grown tremendously and is proud of the delivery of grassroots programs in all 33 communities in the NWT, including hosting territorial championships in Arctic Sports, Dene Games, archery, along with organizing and bringing Team NT to the North American Indigenous Games, and is responsible for developing community leaders in sport, recreation, and culture.

The organization's growth can be attributed to the dedication of the countless volunteer hours by the board of directors. Over the years, the board has grown from one staff member to now six staff members. This is keeping true to the values of why the organization was established in 1999. With all the success Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT achieves, the board strives to do more, recognizing the value that sport, recreation, and culture have on community wellness.

As the organization prepares for their 20-year anniversary, it is important to reflect on where the organization has been. Aboriginal Sports Circle of the NWT would like to recognize the volunteers who have helped shape the organization and the dedicated work put forth by its volunteers, whereby creating an Honorary Board of Directors.

The creation of the honorary board will be a continuous reminder to the organization of how far they have come and reflected on the values needed to remain. The honourable board members will be welcome to sit in on meetings and will be relied on as knowledgeable members who hold wisdom to help the board and staff make decisions in the best interest of the organization.

The three inductees for the Aboriginal Sports Circle of the Northwest Territories honorary board members are Clifford Mcleod from Fort Providence, Rena Squirrel from Hay River, and Allan Browning from Fort Simpson/Hay River.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank these three volunteers for their continuous commitment to this organization, and I wish them all the best. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Aboriginal Sports Circle 20-Year Anniversary
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.