This is page numbers 4981 - 5026 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 going. View the webstream of the day's session.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, 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 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4981

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Welcome back, everyone. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 152-18(3): Progress in Post-secondary Education
Ministers' Statements

Page 4981

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, we are making significant progress in meeting this government's mandate commitments to strengthen the Northwest Territories post-secondary education system.

I am pleased to advise that the drafting of legislation to govern post-secondary education in the Northwest Territories is nearing completion. The proposed legislation will create, for the very first time, a process to ensure the effective governance and quality assurance of all post-secondary institutions operating in the territory.

This fulfills our mandate commitment to develop legislation ensuring a quality assurance system by which post-secondary institutions will be recognized in the Northwest Territories. This also contributes to our mandate commitment to develop and foster our knowledge economy. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment continues to work with our post-secondary partners to support the development and growth of post-secondary institutions and programs in the Northwest Territories. The proposed legislation will also support Aurora College's transformation into a polytechnic university, including the creation of a new governance model and its own degree-level programs.

Mr. Speaker, we have a great opportunity to transform post-secondary education for the long term. This will provide opportunities here in the territory for residents to get the skills and training they need for NWT jobs today and in the future.

A polytechnic university combines the practical approach of a college education and the depth of study usually associated with a university program. Polytechnic programs are skills-intensive, technology-based, and hands-on, providing students with practical training for in-demand jobs. Program and curriculum decisions at polytechnic universities are also made in close collaboration with representatives from industry, ensuring graduates achieve skills that are relevant to the current job market.

Since tabling the Government Response to the Aurora College Foundational Review, I have travelled to the three campus communities of Inuvik, Fort Smith, and Yellowknife. I have met with Indigenous and community leaders, Aurora College staff, more than 100 college students, and more than 200 members of the public in the three communities.

Mr. Speaker, there is overall excitement for the transformation of Aurora College. The mayors of all three campus communities have sent a joint letter confirming their collective support of the polytechnic university and recognizing the academic, social, and economic advantages it will provide for all Northerners.

A polytechnic university with three vibrant campuses and 21 community learning centres will give residents access to more educational options closer to home. It will improve employment success for residents, help close skill gaps for in-demand jobs, and better respond to employer, industry, and community needs in the Northwest Territories. It creates a platform to grow our knowledge economy, including increased retention of research funding and increased influence over Northern research priorities.

The new $10-million Aurora College Centre for Mine and Industry Training in Fort Smith and the planned Arts, Crafts and Technology Centre in Inuvik are two examples of what we can achieve through strategic partnerships with governments and industry. The Government of the Northwest Territories has been and remains committed to investing in post-secondary education for Northerners, but we must be making strategic and informed decisions as we move forward.

Mr. Speaker, we know the next steps for 2019, and we remain on track to meet our long-term goal of a polytechnic university. It is critical that we get this right by making decisions in the right order and at the right time. The strengthening and growth of our post-secondary education system must begin with a clear vision and a strong associate deputy minister to lead Aurora College and oversee the design and implementation of changes over the coming months and years. I am pleased to welcome, starting on March 4, Dr. Tom Weegar as our new associate deputy minister of post-secondary education renewal.

That vision will be informed by the people of the Northwest Territories. All residents will have the opportunity to provide their thoughts and ideas on the strengths, challenges, and opportunities in our post-secondary education system. This input will be used to define the territorial vision and goals for the future and guide the development of a post-secondary education framework. The framework will provide a clear picture on what we will achieve and how we will work together with our stakeholders and partners.

Our next step is to establish the advisory committee and academic advisory council to bring together experts from across the territory and the country to ensure we follow national standards and best practices in all areas.

Mr. Speaker, there is a great deal of work ahead, but the opportunities we create will generate wide-ranging social and economic benefits and greatly advance what we can achieve as a territory. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 152-18(3): Progress in Post-secondary Education
Ministers' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Minister's Statement 153-18(3): Community Government Elections
Ministers' Statements

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Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, municipal elections were held in nine hamlet communities in the Northwest Territories on December 10, 2018. There were 71 candidates in total vying for 46 available seats. I am pleased with the large number of candidates as this indicates there is keen interest in local government and that individuals want to serve as leaders and decision-makers for their communities.

I am also pleased to report that through the elections held on December 10th, our territory continues to benefit from near gender parity at the local government level with 21 female candidates successfully securing their seats. In total, 41 percent of the 71 candidates for municipal office were female, and 46 percent of those candidates were successful in their bid for a seat.

The voter turnout rate was between 44 percent and 54 percent across the Territories. Thirty-nine percent of candidates for councillor positions were acclaimed. Acclamations occurred in the hamlets of Aklavik, Enterprise, Sachs Harbour, and Tuktoyaktuk.

Mr. Speaker, local elections remain important to community residents. Being an elected official is one of the best ways that an individual can support their community in providing a safe, sustainable, and healthy environment for their residents.

In addition to those elected in the October Municipal Taxation Authority elections acknowledged in this House in the fall, I congratulate all who were elected on December 10th. In particular, I wish to congratulate Mayor William Koe in Fort McPherson, Mayor Ray Ruben in Paulatuk, Mayor Floyd Lennie in Sachs Harbour, Mayor Danny Beaulieu in Fort Providence, and Mayor Laverna Klengenberg in Ulukhaktok. I look forward to working closely with each of these community leaders in their new capacity.

Many thanks to all the candidates who ran in the nine community elections. People's willingness to serve is a critical component of democracy at all levels of government.

I would also like to thank the staff and volunteers who led the election process on behalf of their municipalities. It takes dedication and significant effort by many people to support this process behind the scenes so that residents can exercise their right to vote in elections.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, we will see 11 municipal elections held in 2019. There will be five mayor positions and 46 councillor positions available. This will be an opportunity for aspiring candidates in those communities to run for community leadership positions and for residents to choose their decision-makers. I encourage all qualified residents to put their names forward and, especially, to get out and vote. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 153-18(3): Community Government Elections
Ministers' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Recognition of Inspire Award Winner Mary Effie Snowshoe
Members' Statements

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Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge Elder Mary Effie Snowshoe from Fort McPherson. Mary Effie was recently in Calgary to accept the Indspire Award for Culture, Heritage, and Spirituality.

Mr. Speaker, Indspire is a national Indigenous charity that focuses on the education of Indigenous people. Their vision is to enrich Canada through Indigenous education and by inspiring achievement.

Each year, Indspire presents the Indspire Awards, honouring success and achievement by Indigenous people. Indspire celebrates and recognizes First Nations, Inuit, and Metis individuals who contribute for the long-term benefit towards their family, community, and Canada.

Mr. Speaker, at 81 years old, Mary Effie Snowshoe grew up being taught the Gwich'in traditional way of life from her parents; hunting, fishing, trapping, preparing food, and tanning moose skin. Mary Effie continues to pass on her knowledge to family as well as to visitors to the community and visitors to her fish camp.

Up until 2003, Jijjuu Mary Effie taught the Gwich'in language for 24 years until she retired. "Retired" is not in her vocabulary, as she continues to help with traditional activities in the community and school, as well as play host to numerous traditional teachings at her fish camp.

Mr. Speaker, Mary Effie has a wealth of stories to share, each with a spiritual meaning. She is eager to take you by the hand to teach you on-the-land survival skills.

We are fortunate to have elders such as Mary Effie in our community. We have so much to learn, and we should take advantage and learn from our elders, such as a wise woman. Congratulations, Jijuu Mary Effie Snowshoe. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition of Inspire Award Winner Mary Effie Snowshoe
Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Indigenous Equity in Minerals Industry
Members' Statements

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Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What if I told you the next big business movement in the NWT, and it's already happening, is that Indigenous organizations are going to become actual owners of mineral resource projects?

Mr. Speaker, relations between Indigenous Peoples and resource developers have been difficult in the past. A lack of respect for treaties and an often inconsiderate industry attitude toward First Peoples have strained relations, so it's easy to understand the degree of mistrust about mineral resource projects.

However, in recent years, there has been an obvious change. Since the start of the diamond mines and the execution of impact benefit agreements, both sides increasingly understand that the real collaboration can be very profitable. Indigenous governments have formed economic development corporations that provide a multitude of services to the mines; human resources, catering, and camp services, to name a few. The Dene Nation took it a step further when the Denendeh Development Corporation created its own exploration and development company.

These past 20 years of doing business together has revealed a change in mindset. Reconciliation is the current priority between Indigenous Peoples and Canada, and that involves greater recognition of Indigenous rights and the abandonment of harmful policies. It will only truly be achieved, however, when Indigenous Peoples have the power to create their own economic freedom and decrease their dependence on government support.

Mr. Speaker, I believe the Indigenous people of the NWT have found the solution through building partnerships in resource development, but we're about to see this go one step further to ownership.

Mr. Speaker, a key discussion at roundup this year was how Indigenous groups want to become involved in resource development, and what benefits they will derive. Equity ownership is the new partnership. The resulting wealth creation and prosperity will lead to economic empowerment and self-determination.

Mr. Speaker, it is time to acknowledge that Indigenous people want to improve their living standards and provide a better future for their children. Their socio-economic situation may remain difficult, but the NWT proves that Indigenous communities are reconciling economic development and empowerment while continuing to be respectful stewards of the land and the environment. There are many reasons to be optimistic about our economic future, Mr. Speaker, and Indigenous ownership in mineral resource development is one of them. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Indigenous Equity in Minerals Industry
Members' Statements

Page 4982

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Strategic Infrastructure Investment
Members' Statements

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Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The NWT tourism is very much a thriving industry. This can be measured by the current surveys reflecting over the past several years on the incoming visitors and public and private sector investments.

Mr. Speaker, our continued support is needed in broadening our horizons to further provide destination options through infrastructure investments while reducing our living costs through affordable travel on expanding our all season road systems. These strategic infrastructure investments enhance affordable connections by providing travellers with options in collaboration to sustaining our future's non-Territorial Formula Funding, or TFF, revenues

Mr. Speaker, this sector contributes 32 percent of our income. It is incumbent upon us as legislators of this government to demonstrate our mandate and obligations on affordable access, modernizing our regulatory regimes, and local Indigenous partnerships. This approach is political development for economic growth and positive returns. These strategic initiatives are essential to creating an environment for investment certainty, affordability, meaningful employment, and training opportunities. Mr. Speaker, to deny this in our current position and decision making authority for responsible resource development would be to deny the next generation's abilities for sustainability.

Mr. Speaker, in recognition of over half the population outside our capital when formulating the TFF outcomes, let us recognize the challenges of our smaller communities and expectations for equality and meaningful services.

Mr. Speaker, with these principles, I look forward to our fiscal budget deliberations in our remaining sitting. Mahsi.

Strategic Infrastructure Investment
Members' Statements

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The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members' statement. Member for Frame Lake.

Ministerial Appointments
Members' Statements

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Last week, concerns were raised in this House, and have been raised in the media and by the general public, regarding the process used to appoint the workers' advisor. The authority of the Minister responsible for the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission to make such an appointment is not in doubt. What is in question is the process used and the judgment exercised in making that appointment. The previous appointment was made following a public call for expressions of interest. The previous individual who served in that office has said publicly that he provided three months' notice that he did not wish to continue.

I have searched high and low for any Cabinet or ministerial policy regarding appointments. The closest I could find was an August 3, 2017 Boards' Policy signed by the Premier as chair of the Executive Council. That policy sets out a number of principles to "encourage and support good governance." The fourth principle states "the process for appointments to GNWT boards should be timely, consistent and transparent."

The Premier is accountable to the Executive Council for the implementation of this policy. Further guidance on appointments to boards include the following direction to "ensure that gender equity and local expertise in relation to mandate are considered when persons are appointed, nominated, or confirmed." Lastly, the board policy states that the Cabinet may: "establish appointment guidelines and procedures for the selection and appointment of board members."

In some cases, opportunities for board appointments or nominations are even made known to Regular MLAs. I am also of the view that the Premier must exercise some oversight on ministerial appointments, including those to boards and other appointments authorized by statutes. It is now time for Cabinet to develop a policy for ministerial appointments given the public concerns raised by the recent appointment of the Workers' Advisor. I will have questions later today for the Premier. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Ministerial Appointments
Members' Statements

Page 4982

The Deputy Speaker R.J. Simpson

Members' statement. Member for Yellowknife Centre.