This is page numbers 4705 - 4730 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 work.


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 1:30 p.m.


Page 4705

Elder Ernie Bernhardt

I am privileged to have the opportunity to give the opening prayer for this Assembly, as one who has served in the Assembly for a short period of time and coming back as a preacher, I guess. My title is on for about five minutes, and then I will be back to an ordinary citizen.

I have chosen to devote my prayer for the youth of the NWT. In fact, I ask you all to remember that you folks have the ability and the knowledge to pass laws, but you have to remember that you have to reflect the diverse groups of people that you are about to serve. You have to put aside your differences, but you've got to start thinking as a whole in order for it succeed.

After having said that, Honourable Speaker, Premier, and Cabinet, I would like to say a little prayer for our young people, as they are the future of the Northwest Territories. Some could be the future Members of council if they chose so.

I would like to call upon my youth, when I was young. I was an orphan in Aklavik and my mother died, but I was lucky to have a nun that was like my mother. She brought me up the first three years of my life, and then after that I was placed in school in Aklavik, where I learned how to pray. Whenever I'm in trouble, I'll grab my rosary that was hers; 150 years old, falling apart, but that's my strength.

Our youth have to find strength somewhere. It's supposed to come from their parents. I'm not saying anything else; it's the children who have to look up to their parents. If you can find it, I welcome you to extend your arm to people you know, your relatives, or someone you don't know, but you don't know that they love you. You've got to find it for yourself. If you find friends because they'll be more honest. They'll give you better guidance, but not forgetting their own parents' guidance.

I'm going to ask the father to bless each and every one of you, so that you could have good judgement, so that you could lead us to wherever our people go, so that you can speak together as one voice. We have many languages, but learn to speak in one voice. They'll get it somehow. My method is simple, but it's for the youth.

When I was having coffee this morning with my wife, up there, Beatrice, we had an argument, of course, but we mended. It's good to mend your arguments. This is from my youth. Respect your mother. Respect your father and your mother as I, the Lord your God, command you, and so that you may go well with you and so that you may live a long, long time in the land that I'm giving you. After that, you could relate to that message.

I pray in my heart for you people. You need it a lot. You could fall down, but have the courage to get up and try again. I fell down. I got booted out, but I found the strength to get up and try again. Don't be afraid to fall down. You're going to find your courage somehow. You've got to believe. You have to believe in God.

Then I will close my prayer by saying the Our Father. Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen. In the name of the father and of the son and of the holy ghost. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


Page 4705

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Please be seated. Good afternoon, colleagues.

[Translation] On behalf of the Assembly, I would like to thank Mr. Ernie Bernhardt for joining us today and leading us in prayer. Mr. Bernhardt now calls Yellowknife home, but he has spent most of his life in the Kitikmeot region of what is now Nunavut and was a Member for Kitikmeot during the 12th Legislative Assembly. Masi, Mr. Bernhardt.

I would also like to thank the pages we will have with us throughout this sitting. We will have students from Inuvik, Hay River, K'atlodeeche First Nations, Fort McPherson, Yellowknife, Detah, Tuktoyaktuk, Gameti, and Yellowknife.

Welcome and thank you to all the Pages who will be with us during this session. Colleagues, it is our privilege to share this Chamber with these young people, our future leaders. Please join me in thanking them and welcoming them to the Assembly.

I would like to advise Members of this House and the public that, throughout this sitting, we will be providing interpretation in the following languages: Tlicho, Chipewyan, French, Inuvialuqtun, North Slavey, Inuktitut, Gwich'in, South Slavey, and Inuinnaqtun.

Colleagues, including English, we will be making use of 10 of our 11 official languages during this sitting. We do not currently have the capacity to interpret into all languages each day, but over the next six weeks our proceedings will be available in 10 languages. This is a great achievement, and I want to thank our staff and our interpreters for making this possible. Masi.

For Members who wish to listen in English, please remember to leave your dials on channel 2.

Colleagues, it is my pleasure to welcome you all back to the Chamber to resume the Third Session of the 18th Legislative Assembly. I also want to wish a happy and healthy new year to all of you and to all residents of this territory. Although we have been busy with the ongoing work of committees and government, this is the first time in 2019 that we have come together in this Chamber.

Colleagues, we are about to begin the final budget session of the 18th Legislative Assembly. The weeks ahead will be long, and we will not always see eye-to-eye. However, we must remain respectful, professional, and mindful of the rules of this Assembly.

In our unique form of consensus government, we hold ourselves and each other to a high standard for our conduct and decorum. The people of this territory who we represent expect this of us. I look forward to the debates and discussion that will take place over the next few weeks. However, I ask that you choose your words carefully, thoughtfully, and respectfully.

Colleagues, it is with sadness that I inform the House of the passing of Mr. Mike Ferguson, the Auditor General of Canada. In addition to serving as the Auditor General for Canada, Mr. Ferguson also served as the Auditor General for the Northwest Territories. On behalf of this House, I wish to extend our condolences to Mr. Ferguson's family, friends, and colleagues.

Finally, I want to take a moment to reflect on the recent passing of two Air Tindi pilots. In a territory such as ours, where many of our communities are accessible only by air, a tragedy such as this impacts us all. On behalf of this Legislative Assembly, I offer our most heartfelt condolences to their family, friends, coworkers, and all those impacted by this loss.

Now it is my duty to advise the House that I have received the following message from the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories. It reads:

Dear Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise that I remind to the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories the passage of:

  • Appropriation Act (Operation Expenditures), 2019-2020;
  • Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 4, 2018-2019;
  • Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operation Expenditures), No. 4, 2018-2019; and
  • Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 1, 2019-2020

during the third session of the 18th Assembly. Yours truly, Margaret M. Thom, Commissioner.

Masi, colleagues. Orders of the day. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 131-18(3): February 2019 Sessional Statement
Ministers' Statements

Page 4705

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome Members back for the continuation of the Third Session of the Legislative Assembly.

We are now into the final months of the 18th Legislative Assembly and Ministers and Members have been working hard together to create a better territory for our residents, one in which all people have the support and opportunities they need to be healthy and economically secure, while maintaining their connection to a sustainable and well-managed environment.

I want to recognize everyone in this House for their efforts and their commitment to advancing our work on behalf of Northwest Territories residents over the past three years. We have achieved a lot already by working together and working with other governments, including the Government of Canada and Indigenous and community governments.

Last November, Mr. Speaker, our government was pleased to sign an agreement with the Government of Canada that will help us address housing needs across the Northwest Territories.

The $140 million bilateral agreement on implementing the National Housing Strategy in the Northwest Territories will see Canada invest $90 million in this territory, while the Government of the Northwest Territories will contribute another $50 million over a 10-year period.

Beginning this April, this funding will protect, renew, and expand social and community housing and support the Northwest Territories' priorities related to housing repair, construction, and affordability. Our governments have also agreed to work together on the design and implementation of a new Canada Housing Benefit for the territory, to provide affordability support directly to families and individuals in housing need.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has also negotiated a $60 million carve-out with the Government of Canada, Mr. Speaker, to advance innovative, community-driven housing solutions in the Northwest Territories under the National Housing Co-Investment Fund. Projects under this fund will build and repair community and affordable housing in the Northwest Territories and will be 75 percent cost-shared with Canada.

I know housing remains a priority for all Members and their constituents, Mr. Speaker, and I am pleased that we are now in a position to meaningfully address those needs with Canada.

Our government also continues to work with community governments to develop community housing plans. These plans will provide communities and their stakeholders with the tools to direct the future of housing in their communities. We are currently engaged in this process with Deline, Fort Liard, Jean Marie River, Paulatuk, Whati, and the K'atlodeeche First Nation. Once developed, these plans will provide housing investors, including all levels of government, with the information they need to invest in community housing infrastructure.

Supporting our residents to be healthy and educated is another priority for our government that I know Members share with us, Mr. Speaker, and we continue to deliver and improve on programs, services, and supports Northerners need.

Addressing mental health and addictions remains a priority for us, and last month our government was pleased to announce a $1.8 million investment over three years for cannabis education. Through funding provided under Health Canada's Substance Use and Addictions Program, the Government of the Northwest Territories will develop and deliver a comprehensive and interactive cannabis public education campaign.

This campaign will use traditional media and social media platforms, augmented reality, community-led engagement sessions, and other innovative public-education tools to bring health and safety information to communities across the territory and help individuals make informed decisions about cannabis use.

We were also pleased last month, Mr. Speaker, to announce an agreement with the Government of Canada to invest over $750,000 to support the opioid addiction treatment program in the Northwest Territories. This additional funding will let the Government of the Northwest Territories extend the opioid treatment clinic, currently only available in Yellowknife, to other communities in the territory.

Along with addressing the health and shelter needs of Northwest Territories residents, Mr. Speaker, our government continues to invest in education and skills development so Northerners are able to acquire skills and training to get the jobs they want here in the Northwest Territories.

As part of our commitment in this area, the Government of the Northwest Territories was pleased to open the new $10 million Centre for Mine and Industry Training at the Thebacha Campus of Aurora College in Fort Smith along with the Government of Canada last month.

With $4 million coming from Canada and $6 million from the GNWT, this new facility will allow Aurora College to develop new and innovative programs to support training of Northern residents. Programs that will be supported include heavy equipment operator training, introduction to the mining industry, surface miner, mineral processing operator trainee, introduction to underground mining, underground mining, and diamond driller.

Training Northwest Territories residents for in-demand careers that are available here in the North remains a priority for our government and is a key to our Skills 4 Success plan, which aims to align educational opportunities to labour market needs in our regions and communities.

Mr. Speaker, the combination of classroom and hands-on training the new centre will provide will not only make Northwest Territories graduates more competitive, but will also become more important as the Government of the Northwest Territories continues with plans to transition Aurora College to a polytechnic university.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, we need to keep up our end of the bargain. We encourage our youth to stay in school, and government has a responsibility to make sure that there are good jobs available for them when they get out.

We want our young people to settle down here at home, start families, and contribute to the ongoing growth and prosperity of the Northwest Territories.

People will not live where there are no jobs or opportunities for them, and that is why the Government of the Northwest Territories continues to invest in economic growth and diversification, including investments in infrastructure that will transform the economy of the Northwest Territories for the long term.

Part of keeping that commitment includes investing in local economic diversification, such as the new Hay River fish plant our government announced last month, with support from the Government of Canada.

This project is one of the keys in the Government of the Northwest Territories' strategy to rejuvenate the Great Slave Lake fishery and restore its contribution to a diversified local and territorial economy. Through a partnership with the NWT Fishermen's Federation and their Tu Cho Cooperative, we look forward to transforming the existing fishery and expanding its scope to supply domestic, commercial, and export markets with Great Slave Lake fish and fish products.

Our government's investment in Marine Transportation Services is also contributing to economic diversification in the territory, with three major projects being undertaken at our MTS shipyard in Hay River. These large maintenance and overhaul projects for our own vessels and contract work for the Canadian Coast Guard, scheduled for January to August 2019, will provide off-season employment for 30 MTS employees and another four specialized trades contractors at peak periods of work.

Resource development, Mr. Speaker, has traditionally been the foundation of the Northwest Territories economy and in 2017 accounted for 32 percent of the Northwest Territories economy.

Much of that economic activity has been due to the diamond mines, but the Northwest Territories is about more than diamonds. We are seeing new and renewed exploration activity in so-called "green" or "technology" metals and minerals like copper and cobalt, as well as rare earth elements, lithium, and graphite. We are also seeing a resurgence of interest in the gold and base metals that established our territory.

We also have world-class reserves of natural gas that, as we begin to see a shift to lower-carbon alternatives nationally and internationally, has the potential to meet market needs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

At the same time, lack of infrastructure, including infrastructure for transporting our resources to market, is one of the biggest challenges to economic development the Northwest Territories faces, and this is why we have made investing in this area a priority.

We continue to make progress on the Mackenzie Valley Highway following last June's announcement of another $140 million in combined funding from the Government of Canada and the Government of the Northwest Territories. This project will connect several communities to the public highway system and create economic opportunities, such as increased tourism and access for resource development. Work currently under way includes the Great Bear River Bridge, the Wrigley to Mount Gaudet access road, and planning and environmental studies that will lead to obtaining permits for road construction.

We are also making progress on the Tlicho all-season road, with Canada providing 25 percent of the funding for this P3 project. North Star Infrastructure was announced as the preferred proponent last November, and we were pleased to learn that the Tlicho Government is considering taking an equity position in the project shortly after that. Construction of this 97 kilometre road is expected to begin in the fall of 2019, subject to regulatory approvals.

Construction of an all-weather road into the Slave Geological Province would address the lack of access to the world-class mineral deposits located in the region and help attract further investment by lowering the cost of mineral exploration and development. We currently have a funding application to advance this project in with the federal government and look forward to hearing good news about it soon.

The high cost of energy, particularly for remote off-road projects, is one of the biggest challenges to resource development in the territory. Addressing this need will not only improve prospects for economic development, but also provides an opportunity for greening the mining industry.

Our government and the Government of Canada made a major step in this direction last month, when we announced over $1.2 million in combined investments to advance the Taltson Hydroelectricity Expansion project. These investments will support Indigenous engagement and fund initial engineering work.

The Taltson project will transform the Northwest Territories' energy system, providing current and future industry with clean and renewable energy, driving economic growth, and mitigating a major source of the territory's GHG emissions.

A significant portion of the funding announced will go to the Akaitcho Territory Government, Northwest Territories Metis Nation, and Salt River First Nation to establish their business model frameworks to actively participate in the development of the project.

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous participation and partnership in the Taltson expansion project will ensure Northwest Territories Indigenous governments and their people will benefit meaningfully from this development, including new revenues, access to jobs and business opportunities, and help ending their reliance on diesel to power their communities.

I want to recognize Canada's Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Northern Affairs and Internal Trade, Dominic LeBlanc, for his leadership in advancing Taltson with his federal colleagues. We expect last month's announcement was just the beginning for this important project and look forward to hearing more good news from Canada on significantly more funding for the Taltson Expansion project in budget 2019.

The investment in Taltson also reflects our shared commitment with the Government of Canada to address the high cost of living in the Northwest Territories and transition towards lower-carbon energy options.

Expanding the Taltson Hydroelectric facility will increase the availability of clean, renewable energy to help the Northwest Territories reduce its reliance on diesel, helping to reduce the cost of living for our residents and allowing the territory to meet its commitments under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change.

Advancing Taltson supports key components under the 2030 Energy Strategy, which has been developed to guide the development of secure, affordable, and sustainable energy for transportation, heat and electricity, support energy efficiency and conservation, and promote renewable and alternative energy solutions.

While the potential benefits of Taltson are still several years away, the Government of the Northwest Territories and Canada are also addressing more immediate energy needs. Last October, we were pleased to announce the investment of $23 million under the Low Carbon Energy Leadership Fund for a number of initiatives that will support implementation of the Government of the Northwest Territories' 2030 Energy Strategy, including energy retrofits for public housing, energy retrofits for marine transportation vessels and ferries, and active forestry carbon sequestration.

This funding will also support a four-year $1.8 million government greenhouse gas grant program designed to support emissions reduction projects and initiatives undertaken by Northwest Territories community governments, municipalities, and Indigenous governments.

The Low Carbon Energy Leadership Fund investment is also being used to enhance programming offered by the Arctic Energy Alliance and to introduce new programs, including support for energy upgrades for owners of older, less efficient homes and low-income homeowners. Funding will also be available to support NGOs for energy retrofits.

Mr. Speaker, the upcoming sitting will be a busy one. We have a lot of work on our table, including consideration of the 2019-2020 Main Estimates and important new legislation to support the responsible management of Northwest Territories land, environment, and resources, protect the health of our residents, and support their education.

While this looks like a lot, it is important to remember that we have already accomplished a lot as Members of the 18th Legislative Assembly. We have already demonstrated that we can do good work together. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Let's build on this success and our commitment to working together on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories as we embark on our final budget session together. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 131-18(3): February 2019 Sessional Statement
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Finance.

Minister's Statement 132-18(3): Notice of Budget Address
Ministers' Statements

Page 4707

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I give notice that I will deliver the budget address on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 132-18(3): Notice of Budget Address
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Minister's Statement 132-18(3): Notice of Budget Address
Ministers' Statements

Page 4707

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, that, pursuant to rule 36(3), the Minister's statement delivered previously by the Honourable Premier, February 2019 Sessional Statement, be moved into Committee of the Whole for consideration later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 132-18(3): Notice of Budget Address
Ministers' Statements

Page 4707

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Minister's Statement 132-18(3): Notice of Budget Address
Ministers' Statements

Page 4707

Some Hon. Members


Minister's Statement 132-18(3): Notice of Budget Address
Ministers' Statements

Page 4707

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed?


The motion is carried. The sessional statement delivered by the Premier will now be before Committee of the Whole. Masi.

Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

2019 IRC Election
Members' Statements

Page 4707

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker. Welcome back, colleagues.

Mr. Speaker, the 2019 IRC Election for IRC Chair and CEO All Candidates Forum took place on Monday, January 28th, in Inuvik, with all 42 directors from the six Inuvialuit communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, Paulatuk, Sachs Harbour, Tuktoyaktuk, and Ulukhaktok in attendance. The event was broadcast live on Facebook and brought many of the issues that we face as a people to light, as well as all of the achievements over the last three years, looking outward to where we would like to be in the future as we make decisions for our children, our grandchildren, and future generations.

The election took place on Tuesday, January 29th, with seven prominent candidates from the IRC. Mr. Speaker, the Inuvialuit of the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, through the 42 community directors, re-elected Duane Ningaqsiq Smith for another three-year term.

Mr. Speaker, the position of chair and CEO of the IRC is a tough job. Mr. Smith has championed many initiatives, such as the Inuit/Crown Partnership Committee, which I am honoured to be a part of; and direct funding agreements with the federal and territorial governments, which have brought millions of dollars for housing, health, wellness, training dollars, and environmental and wildlife conservation, to name a few. These not only benefited the ISR, Mr. Speaker, but the Northwest Territories as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, the mandate of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is to continually improve the economic, social, and cultural well-being of the Inuvialuit through the implementation of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement and by all other means available.

Some corporate goals of the IRC are the representation of an advancement of Inuvialuit interests in areas of external relations, including federal, territorial, and municipal governments, circumpolar and other Aboriginal organizations, private sector, and special interest groups; the preservation and growth of the financial compensation flowing from the IFA; and the distribution of accumulated wealth to beneficiaries.

Mr. Speaker, 2019 will mark the 35th anniversary of the signing of the IFA, celebrating the elders who had the vision for the future of the Inuvialuit and celebrating the many Inuvialuit successes.

Mr. Speaker, I stress that the GNWT must work proactively with Indigenous governments for similarly beneficial results.

Mr. Speaker, once again I would like to congratulate Mr. Duane Ningaqsiq Smith as chair and CEO, working toward our own self-determination, and all the best for the next three years and beyond. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

2019 IRC Election
Members' Statements

Page 4707

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Mandate Commitments
Members' Statements

Page 4707

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the 18th Assembly will adjourn in 198 days. Thinking about it makes me anxious because we have so much to do by then. We all know that feeling of leaving town Saturday for a big holiday, with a full plate of work, things to get ready for the house sitter, and bags to pack. That is the feeling: lots to do, not much time. It is time to prioritize.

Mr. Speaker, according to the GNWT's mandate tracker, 109 of 188 mandate commitments are not yet fulfilled. I have questions about those marked fulfilled. For example, has the government fulfilled its commitment to reduce poverty? My answer is not yet, but using the government's rationale, 79 commitments have been fulfilled and an additional 109 are in progress.

Mr. Speaker, the mandate category lagging furthest behind is the economy, environment, and climate change. Forty-three of 68 commitments are still in progress, including 10 pieces of legislation, completing land use plans, and improving access to agricultural land. That is after the government's budget cutting has reduced the staff of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources by 10 percent. The department doesn't have the capacity to complete the work outlined in the mandate. This is substantial work that is important to the economic well-being of the territory as we embrace devolution and move toward the closure of the diamond mines.

Mr. Speaker, the category of community wellness and safety is also lagging behind, with 23 of 64 commitments in progress. We haven't yet seen the plan for recovering from addictions promised in the Mind and Spirit strategy tabled in 2016. Given that the homecare study is not yet complete, I wonder if the government is going to develop and implement an action plan in the next seven months. These are just samples of the unfulfilled commitments in every priority area.

Mr. Speaker, I ask myself why we have fallen behind, and one obvious answer is the work we have taken on through bilateral agreements with the federal government. We have taken Ottawa's priorities as our own, as the sessional statement demonstrated, because they are bringing substantial investment to the table. This money is welcome, of course, but it comes at a price. We are not fulfilling commitments we are funding ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, I am calling on my Caucus colleagues to meet and examine the mandate. We need to identify our priorities among all those in progress to ensure as many are fulfilled as possible in the next 198 days. Mahsi.

Mandate Commitments
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.