This is page numbers 4777 - 4802 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 strike.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Julie 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 10:00 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4777

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good morning, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's Statement 135-18(3): Vision and Purpose of the Proposed Mineral Resources Act
Ministers' Statements

Page 4777

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes the need to advance the territorial vision of land and resource management in accordance with the Land Use and Sustainability Framework, and we have made a mandate commitment to evolve our legislative, regulatory, and policy systems to develop and proposing a variety of acts, including the Mineral Resources Act.

The Northwest Territories has mineral potential that could position itself as a primary economic driver for our country. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to responsibly managing Northwest Territories' resources and passing made-in-the-North legislation.

Mr. Speaker, in the coming days we will introduce the Northwest Territories' first Mineral Resources Act. This proposed act is the culmination of years of research, public engagement, collaboration with Indigenous governments and organizations, and consistent engagement with industry and other interested stakeholders.

Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, this legislation is a foundation upon which our management of mineral industry can be built. Its defining goal is to give our government the ability to respond to the wants and needs of our people; bring clarity and certainty where it is lacking; and modernizing how we govern mineral resources. These authorities will give us the ability to set regulations to match those ambitions and remove existing legislation barriers.

The proposed act would allow the Northwest Territories to regulate minerals effectively, efficiently, and transparently. It could provide benefits for people and communities of the Northwest Territories and Indigenous governments and support our economic interests by ensuring wealth generation by mineral resources is used to benefit our territory for generations to come. It will also encourage positive relationships between all parties; improve geological knowledge of our territory; complete our existing system of land and natural resource management; recognize sustainable land use. It is designed to achieve these ends while ensuring respect for Aboriginal and Treaty Rights.

Mr. Speaker, it will define a vision for managing exploration and mining in a way that makes sure NWT residents benefit; fosters positive relationships; and advances the public interest while maintaining a balanced approach for all. I would like to share some brief examples of why it is this way.

Contained in the proposed act, for the first time in Canada, provisions that will ensure benefits for Indigenous governments and organizations for major mining projects. This proposed act also addresses the benefits-generating tools for NWT residents. It will clarify an approach that has existed in practice through our socio-economic agreements and provide the flexibility to use other tools we see appropriate to generate benefits for the territory.

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous governments, communities, public government, and those looking to do business here will all find measures in this proposed act that will benefit them as they work to build a mutually beneficial relationship with the mining industry.

Through the proposed act, we hope to encourage early engagement, better communication, predictable dispute resolutions. We are also proposing a processes to reduce conflict by addressing gaps around sensitive lands and local awareness amongst those exploring for minerals.

The proposed act will enable our exploration regime to move into the 21st century with online map staking. This will actually help facilitate improved communication and transparency once implemented.

Finally, we recognize that geological information is key to much of it collected through mineral exploration to mining activities. We will be proposing the ability to collect more geological information through all stages of the mineral-development cycle. Such measures would add to our understanding of the territory's complex geology and could encourage economic development in the future while also respecting the need for reasonable confidentiality to protect commercial interests.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you the Government of the Northwest Territories recognizes how important it is for NWT residents to have accessible information about our legislation. That is why the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment plans to release public awareness materials, and I hope to work with Regular Members to support a full understanding that we hope and the intent of this proposed act to achieve.

We are encouraging Northwest Territories residents to visit our website; get acquainted with the details of our proposals; and take part as this proposed act moves through the legislative process.

Mr. Speaker, I'm proud of how far we've come, but understand there is more work to come. The proposed Mineral Resources Act addresses the need for modern, clear, and competitive legislation and a regulatory framework that responds to the needs of the Northwest Territories and its investment partners. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 135-18(3): Vision and Purpose of the Proposed Mineral Resources Act
Ministers' Statements

Page 4777

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister for Environment and Natural Resources.

Minister's Statement 136-18(3): Thaidene Nene
Ministers' Statements

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has a mandate commitment to use the Land Use and Sustainability Framework to establish the Thaidene Nene protected areas in partnership with Indigenous governments and the Government of Canada.

I can inform Members of the Legislative Assembly that we have made significant progress towards the establishment of the protected area with the negotiation of a draft establishment agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation.

The chief and council for Lutselk'e have authorized a ratification vote for the general membership to take place on February 18, 2019. We are hopeful for a positive outcome of this vote, which will continue to move us towards our goal of having a signed establishment agreement.

A completed establishment agreement between the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation and the Government of the Northwest Territories is one of a number of agreements required to establish Thaidene Nene. That includes a Land Transfer Agreement with Parks Canada for the transfer of the approximately 14,000 square kilometres of land required to establish the National Park Reserve.

This session, our government intends to introduce a Protected Areas Act, which will be used to establish Thaidene Nene. This legislation will allow us to develop regulations for this protected area, based on the final Establishment Agreement.

Mr. Speaker, I can also advise the Legislative Assembly that we have taken significant strides toward establishing a Regional Management Body for Thaidene Nene that will include all Akaitcho communities, the Northwest Territory Metis Nation, Parks Canada, and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

More work still needs to be done to formalize this arrangement and conclude agreements with other Indigenous governments and organizations, but the negotiation of a draft Establishment Agreement with the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation is a significant milestone in the long journey toward establishing Thaidene Nene.

I would like to recognize the efforts of everyone involved in helping to advance the finalization of this important initiative, and I look forward to keeping Members apprised of the progress. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 136-18(3): Thaidene Nene
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Member's statement on Gwich'in Cup and First Annual Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournaments
Members' Statements

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Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Good morning, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out two significant events happening this weekend in the Mackenzie Delta and lnuvik Region.

First, let me mention hockey players. As many as 300 youth ages 4 to 17 will flock to Inuvik both yesterday and today to participate in the Annual Gwich'in Cup. This event is held each March and has six divisions and welcomes all youth. Teams are made up on registration numbers; players are put on teams not by community, but by age. The weekend hockey competition and skills takes place today, Friday, right through to Sunday.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association for organizing the event, and also the Gwich'in Tribal Council for generously supporting financially.

Young hockey players from the entire region look forward to this weekend. Good luck to each of the players participating this weekend in the Gwich'in Cup.

Mr. Speaker, the other event happening in Fort McPherson is the 1st Annual Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournament. This event is honouring the late Alan Blake Jr., also known as "Trapper," who lost his life tragically last February. He was the captain of his hockey team, the LJ Sabres. He took pride in playing competitive hockey and was always encouraging others to get out and play.

Teams will gather in Fort McPherson to pay tribute to Trapper, someone who lost his life at such a young age, 22 years young, lived a healthy lifestyle, and friends with everyone who crossed his path.

Four hockey teams from the Region will compete in the 1st Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to all the hockey players this weekend. Good luck and have fun. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's statement on Gwich'in Cup and First Annual Trapper Blake Memorial Hockey Tournaments
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Land Rights Agreements
Members' Statements

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Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the most important and far-reaching mandate commitments the 18th Assembly agreed on when we started out was the commitment to resolve land rights agreements. When Members on this side have raised this commitment with the Premier, we have been told that progress is being made, that he remains confident that these discussions can be resolved in the life of the 18th Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, the clock is ticking. The 18th Assembly is in its final months, and to date, we have the Premier's confidence, but not much else.

Mr. Speaker, the fair resolution of land rights discussions may be the most pressing thing on our list. Our other priorities cannot be advanced until land rights are resolved. Certainty is essential in order to achieve our mandate of economic growth. It is necessary to achieve our goals in health, social justice, and education. It is necessary to support small business, develop renewable energy, and minimize our carbon footprint. All of these crucial priorities depend on the successful and fair resolution of land rights.

These questions have a direct impact in my riding of Yellowknife North. How do we determine the distinction between traditional indigenous land use and unauthorized squatting? How do we reassure born-and-raised Northerners we are seeking fee simple ownership of their homes? How do we respond to the interests of the burgeoning tourism industry when lands are frozen? How do we move forward with the Yellowknife Periphery Recreational Land Use plan?

As of today, with just months left in the 18th Assembly, the answer is: we don't know.

With certainty on land and rights and self-government in place, communities and regions will be able to establish their own priorities, develop their own economies, and employ their own people. Our system of governance must support and empower Indigenous governments with responsibility and authority for self-determination. This will allow communities to flourish and grow on their own terms.

Mr. Speaker, it remains my sincere hope that, in this Assembly, we can take this important step forward and create a lasting legacy of fairness and certainty. Only with that certainty can we move ahead as Northerners together. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Land Rights Agreements
Members' Statements

Page 4778

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Tribute to Search and Rescue Technicians
Members' Statements

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Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to applaud the outstanding efforts of the search and rescue technicians of the 435 Transport and Rescue Squadron based in Winnipeg. The efforts these search and rescue technicians, often called SAR techs, made to reach the site of the downed Air Tindi plane last week was heroic. This is what I have pieced together about their actions from news reports.

Air Tindi dispatched a charter flight to Whati in the morning of January 30 and lost contact with the two pilots just as the sun rose. Soon afterwards, the company called the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Trenton, Ontario, for help. Staff there dispatched 435 Squadron from Winnipeg and they arrived in the late afternoon.

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday, as you may recall, was a cold day in Yellowknife, with poor visibility and blowing snow, but searchers in the air were able to find what they thought was the crash site just west of Marion Lake. Search and rescue technicians parachuted out of the Hercules aircraft carrying overnight survival kits and medical supplies.

It took six to eight hours for the SAR techs to make their way from their landing to the crash site, wading through chest-deep snow. The Hercules provided light so they could see what they were doing. The overnight low in the area was minus 24, with a wind chill that made it feel like minus 33. The techs arrived at the site during the night and were able to confirm the downed plane belonged to Air Tindi and that the pilots had died. By midday, with their work done, the SAR techs were picked up and brought back into Yellowknife. It's important to note that the SAR techs worked with support from the crew in the Hercules, the Canadian Rangers from Behchoko, and Air Tindi.

Mr. Speaker, most of us have experienced flying in small planes to reach distant and remote communities. We depend on companies like Air Tindi to get us there safely, and 99.9 percent of the time, that's what happens, but as Northerners, we know that accidents are a reality. When they happen, we depend on search and rescue technicians, the people who are willing to jump out of a plane on a dark and stormy night to see if they can help. I am grateful to 435 Squadron and our own 440 Squadron for their efforts last week and every time they are called on. Mahsi.

Tribute to Search and Rescue Technicians
Members' Statements

Page 4778

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Taltson Project Expansion
Members' Statements

Page 4778

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. On January 23rd, federal and territorial governments announced funding for the Taltson Hydro Expansion projects. There is $480,000 from Canada to support feasibility and engineering work for the expansion and $620,000 to support Indigenous engagement. Our government will have to come up with $120,000 for the feasibility and engineering work. It's not clear who will actually receive the money, when, and whether this is old money or new.

Hydro-electricity is not necessarily green energy. There are impacts on water quality, aquatic life, release of greenhouse gases, mercury, and to people, as well. After 30 years of operation, there is still a public health advisory in place due to mercury contamination of lake trout in Nonacho Lake, the headwaters of the Taltson system. The honourable Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh has described the adverse impacts from the construction and operation of the Taltson system.

Cabinet's current plans for Taltson expansion will concentrate most of our energy efforts into one mega-project. This will take away money from small community energy projects where the cost of living is very high already. Getting those communities on renewables would reduce energy costs for everyone in the Northwest Territories. Large hydro projects have a very poor track record of delivering power on time and at predicted costs. Consider the current Commission of Inquiry respecting the Muskrat Falls Project and the huge cost overruns for Site C on the Peace River.

Why has there been no serious evaluation of other energy options outside the Taltson expansion? With no buyers, no funding, and no business plan, Taltson hydro is not the answer to our energy needs. Existing excess power at Taltson should be used to build the regional economy on the south side of the lake by powering electric vehicles and heating homes and businesses.

There are alternatives to Taltson. Building local and household energy self-sufficiency should be the direction we move in. Much better would be a comprehensive program for heating and transportation, as well as electricity production. Energy efficient retrofits and conversion of all homes and buildings to wood-pellet heating would cost less, reduce more greenhouse gas emissions, create more local employment, and actually reduce the cost of living and doing business and improving our housing situation. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Taltson Project Expansion
Members' Statements

Page 4778

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Health Information Privacy Breaches
Members' Statements

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Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marci cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about my concerns regarding the increasing list of data and information breaches that have occurred within the Department of Health and Social Services over the last nine years. Since 2010, there have been at least 10 known instances of significant breaches regarding privacy and personal patient information contained within the GNWT's Department of Health and Social Services. The types of breaches vary, but in each case has nevertheless resulted in patient information being compromised in some way.

The first two breaches, Mr. Speaker, consisted of a series of faxes containing highly personal medical information being sent to incorrect recipients. Breach three, Mr. Speaker, was identified in April 2013 by the Territorial Privacy Commissioner for incorrectly storing patient health records in their data systems. Breach number four occurred in July 2014, where a total of 195 healthcare cards were mailed to the incorrect mailing address.

Mr. Speaker, I can go on to identify each case, but others include:

  • One patient's psychiatric assessment being ill-advisedly sent to her employer;
  • A doctor losing an unencrypted USB drive that had health information for at least 4,000 patients;
  • A discovery that several staffers at a hospital were unfittingly accessing patient health records;
  • Irregularities found within the referral paperwork of a health authority;
  • An unencrypted laptop which contained health records from more than 33,000 NWT residents was stolen from a car in Ottawa; and
  • A man found a banker's box filled with hundreds of confidential patient records.

Mr. Speaker, this is a growing list of privacy breaches. This growing list of privacy breaches is extremely concerning. According to this list, there are at least 38,000 people whose information and privacy was breached in some way. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Health Information Privacy Breaches
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Celebration of Life of Michael Ferguson, former Auditor General of Canada
Members' Statements

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, it is with heartfelt sorrow that I rise today to pay my respects to Michael Ferguson. Mr. Ferguson passed away at the age of 60 after a prolonged battle with cancer.

I worked very closely with Mr. Ferguson, or Mike as he was affectionately known, in his role as the auditor general for the NWT and for Canada. He upheld his responsibilities to the people of the Northwest Territories and all Canadians with integrity, honesty, and passion. His dedication to transparency and accountability, in these times where it is harder and harder to know what is "really real," was and still is a guiding light for me as a public servant.

Mike worked tirelessly to ensure that the people whom he served received the best possible services from their governments, all while cutting through the spin to ensure that those governments were meeting the guidelines, milestones, and conditions they publicly set for themselves.

On a more personal level, Mike was a warm, kind, compassionate, and down-to-earth man with a wonderful sense of humour. He will be greatly missed by all. My thoughts and condolences are with his family, friends, and loved ones. I will remember him fondly, and try my best to honour his memory.

Rest in peace, my friend. You, your work, your presence, and your laughter will all be sorely missed, but rest assured that you and your contributions to our democracy will never be forgotten. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Celebration of Life of Michael Ferguson, former Auditor General of Canada
Members' Statements

Page 4779

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Our condolences to the family members, as well. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Eulogy for Rozsika Tsetso
Members' Statements

Page 4779

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Rozsika Tsetso was born in Fort Simpson on September 11, 1983, to Alice Dolly Cazon and Edward Lafferty. She was raised and lived her whole life in Fort Simpson. She passed away on January 8, 2019.

When people spoke about Rozsika, they remembered spending time together and her stories, the stories that consistently revealed her absolutely bottomless love for her sons Demerius and Zolton, her parents, brothers, sisters, and indeed all of her family and friends.

Her mother, Dolly, tells stories of her daughter as a mischievous child always having the maximum amount of fun possible with her friends, and as Rozsika became a young woman, the tender moments they shared when she came home to touch base with her mother.

Her family talked about how Rozsika was a rough-and-tumble girl in her childhood, often playing and keeping up with the boys. This did not come as a surprise for people, and it served her well when she joined the Canadian Rangers in 2005.

During her career with the first Canadian Ranger Patrol Group, Rozsika served in Operation Nanook, Operation Nunakput, and on many local area Type 1 and Type 2 exercises. In March of 2011, Rozsika took top shot for the Fort Simpson Ranger Patrol, the first and only female to accomplish this.

During the local exercises, Rozsika would put her all into every task assigned to her, and when she would see others begin to tire, she would bring out that smile, that huge smile, the one that would reassure that, no matter how hard the task, we were going to have fun accomplishing it. Rozsika could turn hard work into play.

Rozsika could always find something to giggle about, and those giggles were infectious. Everybody looked forward to the uncontrollable and embarrassing belly laughs that followed.

Most notably in her Ranger career, Rozsika served at Operation Nanook in Resolute Bay where First Air flight 6560 crashed. When this happened, Rozsika volunteered for the most difficult of tasks. Over the course of four days and nights, Rozsika did this work with poise and persistence. As a young woman, Rozsika showed great maturity during this time, and as always, she maintained her ability to lift the team's spirits with her love and laughter.

She was survived by her father, Ernest Tsetso, Sr., mother, six brothers, three sisters, and her two sons.

The Cazon and Tsetso families would like to take this moment to thank their friends, family, and community to our beloved Rozsika for their kind words and support during this time.

Eulogy for Rozsika Tsetso
Members' Statements

Page 4779

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Again, our condolences to the family and also to the community. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize interpreters from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. I'd like to recognize Tommy Unka, who will be interpreting the Chipewyan language for the entire sitting, and Maro Sundberg, who will be interpreting in Tlicho and Wiilideh language. Thank you.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Yellowknife North.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 4779

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to recognize and welcome a resident of Yellowknife North and president of Local 11, Frank Walsh. Thank you for being here.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

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Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to recognize one of our translators who has been here all week, Ms. Lillian Elias, who has been a very strong advocate for Indigenous languages as well as culture in Inuvik and throughout the Northwest Territories. Once again, I would like to welcome and recognize two Pages of mine, Corbin and Aeva Grace Dempster. Thank you for all the hard work that you guys have done for we Members in the Legislative Assembly this week. Mahsi.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 4779

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. If we missed anyone in the gallery, thanks for being here and witnessing our proceedings. It's always great to have an audience. Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

Page 4779

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in the CBC news article, "NWT in Talks to Raise Debt Limit As Budget Projects Slight Deficit," published on February 6th of this year, the finance Minister has indicated that he has reached out to his federal counterpart and begun discussions on raising the debt limit. Can the Minister offer more details on what is happening in these discussions? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

Page 4779

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Finance.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

Page 4779

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have had initial discussions with Minister Morneau on our debt limit, and we have not gone very deeply into discussion yet. I did indicate to him that it is our desire to sit with him and his officials and actually start the discussions of raising our debt limit. He was receptive to that, so we are just looking at time when we can actually sit down and have that conversation.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

Page 4779

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

So I think I am hearing it's fair to characterize this as early stages of discussions. When is the Minister going to involve this side of the House in those discussions? It would be nice to know what's driving this, what our fiscal needs are, and what he is asking his federal counterpart for. Can the Minister let us know when we are going to be involved in those discussions?

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Through a number of the briefings we have had with committees on our financial situation and the desire if we were to take on larger projects, well, the challenge we would be faced with our current debt limit, given that initial, but I do commit to Members, something as important as this, obviously I will be keeping the Members up to date. If there is a desire from the Members to have the Minister sit with them before I go and have my discussions with the federal Finance Minister and seek their input and advice, I would be glad to do that.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you to the Minister for that commitment. It's very much appreciated. I wonder if these talks are going to dovetail with the territorial financing formula discussions that are upcoming. Can the Minister provide any clarity on that?

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Any opportunity we have to raise the discussion on the territorial formula financing with our federal counterpart is one we take advantage of. If there is an opportunity during our discussions to that, the debt limit will have no effect on the territorial formula financing. That is kind of a separate discussion, but we use every opportunity in our discussions with Ottawa to raise our need for the funding for the Northwest Territories.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I appreciate that these are separate topics, but they are somewhat intrinsically linked. You either have money to spend or money to spend through borrowing. If we are not getting it from TFF, then we are going to have to raise taxes. Obviously, 45,000 people cannot exactly bear that burden or provide the government with the resources it needs to take on these projects, so is the Minister willing to bring TFF into this conversation? I am fine with either approach, but we need a strategy to get these projects done.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Any opportunity we have to bring more money into the Northwest Territories without having to go on the backs of our hardworking employees of all sectors in the Northwest Territories and raise taxes, I think we have done a good job in the last three years. I made it quite clear from day one that we have not raised personal income tax in the Northwest Territories because we do know that our residents are challenged as it is with the high cost of living, especially in a lot of the smaller communities, so we do not want to add further burden. However, if we are able to have that discussion with Ottawa and talk about an increase to our TFF so we were able to have the money to still deliver a lot of the programs and job-creating opportunities we have, then I will take advantage of it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 530-18(3): Raising the Northwest Territories Debt Limit
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

February 8th, 2019

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. My questions are for the Minister of Infrastructure. The Minister, along with his federal counterpart, recently announced $1.2 million for the expansion of Taltson hydro. This House approved a capital budget for 2019-2020 in the fall. Can the Minister explain whether the funding announced recently is actually new money or what is already in the capital budget for 2019-2020? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Infrastructure.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

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Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am going to read my notes because this stuff is from all different sources. The funding is coming from two federal sources, with some additional funding from the GNWT. From CanNor we are receiving $480,000, with an additional $120,000 from the Government of the Northwest Territories funding. This is an allocation for technical and commercial work on the project. From CIRNAC we are receiving $619,950. This money will be used to support Indigenous partnership. Funding for technical questions is only sufficient to take us to the end of this fiscal year.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks to the Minister for that, and I will double check to see where the $120,000 is coming from, whether it's the capital or the O and M budget. As far as I know, there are no buyers for Taltson expansion power, no secured funding other than this little drop in the bucket, and no business case. Can the Minister explain whether there is a business case for the Taltson expansion or when that might be ready and whether it will be shared with the public and this side of the House?

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

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Wally Schumann Hay River South

Yes, the funding, the GNWT source, is from the existing O and M budget, just to answer the Member's question. This project is premised on the fact that the federal support is required for the project and that it will become a driver for clean growth for the people of the Northwest Territories. A preliminary business case will be prepared for this fiscal year. Work is still under way to find high-level costs for the transmission component.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks to the Minister for doing his homework there on his feet. The last estimate that I am aware of for full expansion of Taltson seems to be well over a billion dollars. Does the Minister actually have any preliminary cost estimates for this megaproject, and can he share that information with this side of the House now, full expansion, please?

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Wally Schumann Hay River South

As we have done a number of technical work and stuff that was done previously in the previous Assemblies on this work, that stuff is going to be part of the updated stuff that we will have to work on. The transmission system is still under study, so it would be premature to speculate what that new cost would be because it's a whole different type of system, as I have said before in this House. We are looking at the first underwater, high-voltage, direct-current line under Great Slave Lake. We are waiting for those costs to still come back, but, once we compile these types of costs, I would be glad to share with committee.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4780

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Thanks to the Minister for that, and I hope that he can make the figure actually public. In the Minister's statement yesterday, he claims that the full expansion or some kind of expansion of Taltson hydro is going to remove up to 240,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, in the 2030 Energy Strategy, the claim is 227,000 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. So maybe hopes are growing that Taltson is going to continue to grow, but what is going on with these greenhouse gas reduction figures, and can the Minister explain the discrepancy? Which one is the right figure, and can he provide some calculations behind that?

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Wally Schumann Hay River South

For those of you who have read the energy strategy very, very closely, in there it clearly states that the Northwest Territories needs to reduce our GHGs by 517 kilotonnes by 2030 to meet our targets for the 2030 pan-Canadian framework that we have signed on to. Of this, 290 kilotonnes can be achieved through a variety of models, reducing diesel generation in communities, industrial efficiency, renewable heating in communities, transportation, et cetera. That leaves us a gap of 227 kilotonnes which is in there. The 240 from the Taltson Project, which it would generate, would be sufficient to meet this gap. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 531-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4780

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Finance. In a communique issued to the unionized work force in July of last year, he said, and I quote, "You would not be able to return to work during the strike to perform other unionized work." My question for the Minister is: why did this position change? Thank you.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4780

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Finance.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If the Member could explain a little further, I am not sure what has changed with the communique going out that, if folks wanted to return to work, then they would not be asked to do other tasks that are not within their own personal job description. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Let's fast forward now to Tuesday when the Minister said in this House, and I quote, "I think that this is one of these situations where we show due respect on both sides of the table, and we hope that would bring the temperature down." Imagine my surprise when I saw the government waiver that was handed out to unionized workers yesterday. How does that action square with his statement earlier in the week of bringing the temperature down?

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Obviously, we would like to see things cool down a bit. However, providing information to employees, somebody has to provide employees with information. We have provided them with the information upon a lot of employees' requests about the waiver. If you have read the one from last week, we have encouraged them to speak to their union representatives, and this waiver is part of that process. I don't think it is inflaming anything. It doesn't really matter what we say. At the temperature things are at, nothing is going to calm it down, anyway. This is just providing information, Mr. Speaker. Somebody needs to keep the members of the public service informed.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

I would like to provide the Minister of Finance with some information: it is further inflaming the situation. I don't understand what the government is thinking they are going to accomplish by handing out these forms, except to make everybody more mad. There is a sort of an impugning of intention here that the picket line is going to be aggressive and that there needs to be some kind of indemnification for the government. Does the Minister not see that, in fact, this is fanning the flames, and why would he want to do that?

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4780

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

The ministry is not fanning the flames. We are providing information. People want information. They need to know, to have the information to make an informed decision, and they know the consequences of the decision they are going to make. We need to give them that opportunity. This is just part of the process as we prepare for what we are hoping is not going to happen. We will do our darnedest as we are going into mediation, I told committee that the other night, to reach an agreement.

We have all seen the emails from a lot of people out there who are concerned. There are some emails saying, "Well, that is going to decide where I go on October 1st." That is fine. That is part of the process. Every four years, we hear that, but I am hearing from people who are wanting to know, "How am I going to pay my mortgage? How am I going to look after my three children?" We are going to use that as a backdrop as we go into negotiations to try to find a deal that works for them, for us, for the union, and especially for the people in the Northwest Territories. That is what we should be thinking about.

I don't believe we are fanning any flames. We are providing people with information. Members always want information. They stand up, asking me questions, "Can you provide more information?" I say, "Yes." Same situation, we are providing information.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4781

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Not surprisingly, the Minster and I have a difference of opinion here about providing information that undermines the union's position in ways that are completely unnecessary. They have the right to strike. The norm is for unionized people, they don't have to be on the picket line, but they are not usually welcomed back with open arms for crossing the picket line. I stand by my position that I think that this inflames an already very volatile situation. I would like to know what the purpose is of handing out these waiver forms. What is the purpose? Thank you.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Absolutely, the union has a right to strike, and they have served a strike notice. We respect their position. That doesn't mean we have to agree with it, but we respect it. People out there also have a right to go to work, and they have a right to have the proper information to help them make an informed decision. That is all we ask of each other. We want to have the right information to make an informed decision. We are giving them that opportunity. Unfortunately, it might be perceived differently by some, but we have to give people the right to choose. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 532-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Waiver for Employees Crossing a Picket Line
Oral Questions

Page 4781

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Nahendeh.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, recently, actually probably ever since I have been elected, I have had a number of constituents come to me and ask questions about medical travel. I have been trying to get the information out there as best as I can. Sometimes, I may not be doing it properly. I will have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. The first question I have is: there seem to be some different forms of medical travel. Can the Minister please explain how GNWT staff have a different per diem rate than non-insured residents? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, medical travel is not an insured service under the NWT healthcare plan. The GNWT provides medical travel benefits through Medical Travel Policy to eligible residents if they have no other sources of benefits in an effort to ensure that transportation expenses are not an economic barrier to accessing ensured health services. However, the Medical Travel Policy is only one of many policies and insurance plans that provide medical travel benefits to residents throughout the Northwest Territories. When patients are eligible for benefits through an employer or third party, those benefits must take precedence over the GNWT's medical travel plans.

With respect to the GNWT employees, GNWT employees have a negotiated benefit called Medical Travel that provides terms and conditions that determine how much individuals get when they travel on medical travel. They are not covered by GNWT medical travel. They are covered by an employee benefit. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

I greatly appreciate the Minister's answer. It helps to clear up a little bit more as we move forward. I have noticed, though, that the federal government medical travel differs from the GNWT medical travel. Is there a reason that ours is different than that? If there is, can the Minister explain why the differences are?

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

As I indicated, medical travel is not an insured service under the NWT's healthcare plan, and if an employer has a benefit, those benefits will take precedence. The federal government does have a benefit program around medical travel. Theirs will take priority over the GNWT plan. Many of our residents have access to medical travel benefits through their employer, whether it is the federal government or the GNWT, private businesses.

Employer benefits generally surpass the benefits offered under the Medical Travel Policy and are subject to different decision-making criteria, which are dictated by the employer in the plan that is in front of them, usually through the collective agreement or policy documents or purchased through third-party providers. Those employers have a program. The employees are to use those programs. If the employer doesn't have a program, then they can come to the GNWT program.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you to the Minister for his answer. It is my understanding through federal employees and their families that they have to pay for their costs for their hotels, their per diem, up front for medical travel. Is there a possibility that the government can cover these costs and get reimbursed through vouchers from the federal government instead of having the families foot these costs?

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, many employers such as the federal government authorize and coordinate travel from within their organization for their employees or their dependents to ensure that their benefits are applied as intended. In such cases, the Territorial Authority Medical Travel office does not have any involvement in their travel, does not process any of their authorizations, or have knowledge of their travel plans.

It is possible that a person may receive employer travel benefits but not actually qualify for coverage under our own medical travel policy. However, the NWT Health and Social Services Authority Medical Travel office does not have the authority to interpret collective agreements or administer benefits on behalf of an employer or other third-party insurers. I know some employers actually provide the opportunity to provide travel advances. We don't dictate, we don't control, we don't even approve medical travel for some of the third-party providers, so we would not be in a position to fund in advance because we have a completely different program.

The short answer on this one, Mr. Speaker, is: no, we don't.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Nahendeh.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would hope that we could be able to do something, but I understand we are dealing with different benefits there. Previously in this House the Minister has talked about the Medical Travel Policy being reviewed. Can the Minister please advise what the status of this Medical Travel Policy review is? The status of it right now. Thank you.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

I met with committee last October to provide a bit of an update on the Medical Travel Policy review and to get feedback and advice from the committee members to help inform the final changes that need to be made. The feedback from committee was received in November. Thank you very much for getting that to us. We are working to revise the policies. It has already started. These policy revisions will be completed this spring in 2019 with the intent to implement the changes during the remaining months of this term. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 533-18(3): Medical Travel
Oral Questions

Page 4781

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marci cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in my Member's statement I talked about the breaches that we have been hearing about now and then with the Health and Social Services system. I would like to ask the Minister what has been done to put safeguards in place to prevent future breaches. Thank you.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4781

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4781

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the honourable Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh and I came into this Assembly at the same time in October 27, 2007. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012, we received reports from the Privacy Commissioner who said this government badly needs a Health Information Act. In 2013, when the Member was the honourable Health Minister, he moved and did first and second reading of the Health Information Act, which was passed in 2014 when I was a Minister. This act is a huge step in the right direction. Prior to this act, the only time health and information breaches became public is when things happened to be faxed to media and they did not escalate to the degree that they did.

Since the Health Information Act has come in, we have an obligation and responsibility to train staff to provide indication to our residents when there are breaches, to notify those affected. We have been able to learn from each of the breaches that has occurred. We are continuing to make improvements.

In 2015, when the act went live, we came up with a health information guidance manual. Based on what we have heard and what we are learned from these breaches, we are doing a major upgrade to that progress manual, the compliance manual. We are continuing to train staff, and we will continue to do so.

I understand one of the committees recently had a meeting with the Privacy Commissioner on her report. I'm looking forward to any more recommendations that come out of that, so that we can continue to work together to strengthen our response to privacy breaches and make sure that our public is informed and breaches are not occurring. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Mr. Speaker, the Health and Social Services system is huge, as we all know. There are hundreds of employees, maybe 1,500, 1,600 employees. I would like to ask the Minister if there are designated employees only who handle confidential health records.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

There are specific individuals who have been targeted and highlighted as -- I'm blanking on the title of the position. I really apologize. I can't remember the name. They are designated as specific individuals responsible for information.

At the same time, we are also training all of our staff on the rights and responsibilities on privacy. Everybody in the department has been trained. In the territorial authority, we have about 70 percent trained. In Hay River, I think we are at about 40 percent. In Tlicho, we are not quite there. I think we only have about 30 percent trained, but we are working to train everybody regardless of the fact that we have some individuals dedicated with some additional responsibilities to ensure that privacy is maintained and understood when a breach has occurred.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

By no means would I ever assume that any employee would breach confidentiality deliberately. I would like to ask the Minister: is there a follow-up with employees when there are breaches to health information?

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

When there is a privacy breach, every breach to date has been actually significantly different than the one before, except for maybe the faxes that were sent prior to the legislation existing, and which is actually one of the main reasons that we moved forward with legislation. I'm sure the Member remembers.

When an incident occurs, it is investigated. If there is employee responsibility, progressive discipline would have been applied appropriately. Additional training might be provided. Every situation is different, Mr. Speaker. We can't paint every one of them with the same brush, but where appropriate, progressive discipline may apply.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister a question on the breaches. When it is a hard copy of a thing, like the box of files, it is easy to say we have recovered them all. Is the Minister confident that information that could be digital or transmitted in various ways have all been recovered? Thank you.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

I'm not 100 percent sure what the Member is asking. If the Member is asking whether or not we have been able to maintain all the files on the Simpson case, we believe we have all the files. When it comes to the USB that was lost, the USB was found. When it comes to the laptop that was stolen, it is our understanding that it wasn't encrypted, which was the problem, but also, based on the fact that the computer never connected to the network, we're not sure, we don't believe that information actually was ever public. It doesn't change our obligation or responsibility to notify our residents when there has been a breach. The laptop was never found. The memory stick was found. I'm not sure if I'm answering the question. I'm not sure I fully understood what the Member was asking. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 534-18(3): Health Information Privacy Breaches
Oral Questions

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Earlier in my questions with the Minister of Infrastructure he talked about the 240,000-tonne reductions in greenhouse gas emissions claimed in yesterday's statement about Taltson. Can the Minister provide those calculations publicly and table them in the House for the end of this sitting? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Infrastructure.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, we can do that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks very much to the Minister for that commitment. I know that Alberta just went on the market to get some additional power. They spend a billion dollars to get 600 megawatts of wind energy at 3.7 cents/kilowatt hour. We are paying over 23, I think, 24 cents/kilowatt hour here in Yellowknife, so I am trying to figure out the Minister's rationale for saying that Alberta and Saskatchewan are actually going to want to buy our power. We should be actually bringing it up from Alberta. Can the Minister provide some rationale for why he thinks that Alberta and Saskatchewan will actually want to buy our power?

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Wally Schumann Hay River South

When you start looking at the whole electrical grid system across North America, which is not connected at this point, actually, the federal government is having a serious look at how they can do that to help make a more stable grid right across the country and share renewables, but the situation with Alberta and Saskatchewan the Member does not bring up is they are on an extensive amount of coal. Both of these provinces have coal generation that they need to get off there to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Both provinces are clearly at the odds right now with the federal government around the climate change strategy. We are committed to fulfilling our obligation, and this is one of the prospects that we need to look at to expand our hydro facility to benefit from it in the most potential way we can.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Thanks to the Minister for that. Just to be clear, that power in Alberta is wind power. We are not talking about coal-generated. We are talking wind. I do want to ask the Minister: the Indigenous governments that he seems to indicate are on board for Taltson expansion, does that include Deninu Kue First Nation?

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Wally Schumann Hay River South

As I mentioned in my statement yesterday and in one of the questions that I answered, I have had discussions with the Akaitcho, which does include Deninu Kue, at the table at that time.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Thanks to the Minister for that. Has the Minister actually spoken to anybody from the Deninu Kue First Nation about Taltson recently?

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

Wally Schumann Hay River South

As I said, I stated that I met with the Akaitcho, and the Deninu Kue were there, represented by their leadership, and I had a conversation with all the leaders of the Akaitcho First Nations. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 535-18(3): Taltson Project Expansion
Oral Questions

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Item 8, written questions. Item 9, returns to written questions. Item 10, replies to Commissioner's opening address. Item 11, replies to budget address (day 3 of 7). Item 12, petitions. Item 13, reports of standing and special committees. Item 14, reports of committees on the review of bills. Item 15, tabling of documents. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

Tabled Document 327-18(3): The Natural Resources Conservation Trust Fund Financial Statements for the year ended March 31, 2018
Tabling Of Documents

Page 4782

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Pursuant to section 13(1) of the Natural Resources Conservation Trust Act, I wish to table the following document entitled "The Natural Resources Conservation Trust Fund Financial Statements for the year ended March 31, 2018." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 327-18(3): The Natural Resources Conservation Trust Fund Financial Statements for the year ended March 31, 2018
Tabling Of Documents

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Tabling of documents. Member for Kam Lake.

Tabled Document 328-18(3): Employee Acknowledgement & Waiver - Crossing Picket Line
Tabling Of Documents

Page 4782

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table the following document, "Employee Acknowledgement & Waiver - Crossing Picket Line." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 328-18(3): Employee Acknowledgement & Waiver - Crossing Picket Line
Tabling Of Documents

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Tabling of documents. Item 16, notices of motion. Item 17, notice of motion for first reading of bills. Item 18, motions. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4782

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. WHEREAS the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Union of Northern Workers have been negotiating a collective agreement for the last three years;

AND WHEREAS the Union of Northern Workers and the Government of the Northwest Territories have agreed to mediation scheduled to take place on February 8 and February 9, 2019, in an attempt to reach a collective agreement;

AND WHEREAS the Union of Northern Workers has served the Government of the Northwest Territories with strike notice for 12:01 a.m. on February 11, 2019, in the event that mediation fails;

AND WHEREAS the Union of Northern Workers has agreed to enter into binding arbitration to produce a new collective agreement;

NOW THEREFORE I MOVE, seconded by the honourable Member for Kam Lake, that this Assembly call on the Government of the Northwest Territories to agree to enter into binding arbitration before the scheduled strike begins. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4782

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Yellowknife Centre. To the motion.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4782

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am proposing this motion because I believe that entering into binding arbitration is preferable to a strike. If both parties agree to arbitration, then the strike action will be cancelled.

Arbitration acknowledges that collective bargaining has failed, and it provides a path forward to resolve this dispute in a way that is fair to both sides. It allows for the government and the union to save face without the parties calling one another "winners" or "losers."

Mr. Speaker, I have the greatest respect for collective bargaining. My father was a proud member of the trade union for most of his work life. I wrote my Masters' thesis on western Canadian labour history about the appalling working conditions that resulted in hundreds of miners dying in the Crowsnest Pass. I was a member of the union during my 16 years at CBC. In that time, strikes happened on what felt like a regular schedule. When I think about those events at the CBC, I think about the tension of having to cross the picket line because my union was not on strike. I remember a riot at the broadcast centre in Toronto at the end of one of those strikes, where there was a brawl in the atrium and police outside on horseback. It was ugly.

Mr. Speaker, Yellowknife has its own tragic experience with strikes. I am of course talking about the labour dispute at the Giant Mine. I did not live here then, but what happened in Yellowknife was news everywhere. Labour action polarized the community. People threw punches, ended friendships, and moved away. I got to witness the fallout while I was a reporter covering the civil trial in 2003-2004. Widows and mothers talked about their lost husbands and sons, their lives broken and unable to mend without them. At the trial, union members watched video of the mayhem on the picket line and said they did not recognize themselves as those angry, volatile people of 10 years earlier. They told the judge they said and did things in the heat of the moment that they still regretted.

My point is that strikes can be dangerous because stakes are high, tempers flare, and the results are unpredictable. We have already seen the tension rising. The union served legal strike notice. Government put out an email to staff highlighting the possibility of crossing the picket line. The union confronted the Premier at his constituency meeting. Most recently, the government has distributed a waiver for people to sign who want to cross the picket line. It's easy to see how confrontation on the picket line is not just likely, it is inevitable.

Mr. Speaker, I have had dozens of emails and messages supporting the union's request for binding arbitration. One woman is a single mom, a relief worker with two part-time jobs. She is struggling to keep up with her bills. She is asking for an end to casual positions so that she has job security. Another woman has talked about the need to end the widespread use of casual and term positions in order to build up a permanent northern workforce.

I am touched that people have shared their personal circumstances with me and their belief that I, that all of us, can help them by supporting this motion. I believe that, of all of the communities, Yellowknife has the most to lose if there is a strike. We have the biggest number of workers who are eligible to strike, and we have the largest retail sector. A strike is bad news in every way. At a minimum, it will divide the community and put families on the financial ropes. I have also heard from people who are not members of the union, but who are worried about their small businesses, specifically that a strike will dry up consumer spending and result in them laying off staff or even closing shop. Mr. Speaker, there is no upside to a strike; none at all.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make a couple of points that may be obvious to us as MLAs, but may not be clear to the public. The first is that this motion is legal, and what it is requesting is legal. The Public Service Act does not say anything about arbitration in these circumstances, but that doesn't mean it can't happen. The union did not give up the ability to participate in arbitration when they acquired the right to strike. The two are not mutually exclusive.

The starting point for arbitration is to have the GNWT and the Union of Northern Workers agree between themselves to enter binding arbitration, and they can do this at any point. In fact, they could decide to do it today as a backstop to the possibility that mediation doesn't produce an agreement this weekend. The rules of arbitration would be set by the parties themselves, and they would agree on the choice of the arbitrator. As I said earlier, once the parties agree to arbitration, the strike action is cancelled.

To clear up any confusion around the issue of whether the union has formally requested arbitration, the president of the union wrote a letter to the Minister of Finance this week requesting the government to agree to enter binding arbitration. We are waiting for the Minister to respond.

Mr. Speaker, these negotiations have gone on for far too long. Negotiations began in January of 2016, and while the two sides met frequently through that year and in 2017, there was only one negotiation session last year. It's hard to say what mediation produced in the fall, except an agreement to meet again this weekend.

I haven't given up hope that an agreement is still possible. I encourage both parties to put aside the escalating tensions of this week, and work hard to get an agreement through mediation. It is the last opportunity to negotiate an agreement that both parties have a say in. If that fails, binding arbitration moves everything to a third party, and he or she will decide on the concessions. There are no guarantees that either side will get what they want, but this process is preferable to a strike.

Mr. Speaker, I am aware that this motion is not binding on the government even if all Regular MLAs vote for it, but it important for us to provide advice to this government. We have the right as MLAs to speak on any topic in this House, especially on one of the biggest issues of our Assembly. We are not interfering. We are doing our jobs. I truly believe that a strike would be a disaster for Yellowknife, for our families and friends, for our communities and our territory, and that's what I've heard from constituents throughout the last few days.

Colleagues, I urge each and every one of you to support this motion, and bring the possibility of a strike to an end before it starts. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4783

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Kam Lake.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to stand in support of this motion that calls for binding arbitration as the clear resolution to the collective bargaining dispute between the government and the Union of Northern Workers, and leave us with a 100 percent chance of a no strike situation.

This motion should be uncontroversial. The honourable Members of this House have risen many times to call for a fair deal that respects both sides of the dispute and results in a new collective agreement between the government and its workers. This motion will achieve that result, a result that has not been possible under the current conditions of the bargaining process. It is imperative that Members carefully consider what is at stake, and I ask that they, too, stand in support of this motion.

Mr. Speaker, after three long years of prolonged negotiations, Northerners are frustrated and worried. The uncertainty created by the lack of a collective agreement, all the while the cost of living continues to rise, has further intensified the concern many express for the future of our territory. As leaders of the Northwest Territories, we must do whatever we can to provide confidence in the ability of the government to manage its affairs and prevent any damage to our all too fragile economy. I have accepted my responsibility in this matter. As the representative of Kam Lake, I did not speak up or speak out for a very long time. I naively assumed that the difference between both sides of the bargaining table could be overcome through mediation, and that they would be carried out in a professional and good faith manner.

When the union gave its strike notice earlier this week, it raised the seriousness of this matter to a new level. It has left me unconvinced that the next round of mediation will succeed without the intervention of political leaders.

Northerners will feel far worse than frustration if picket lines form outside their workplaces and public buildings. There will be anger, division, cost to local businesses, further insecurity, and most of all, lost wages and time spent supporting important government initiatives that this Assembly has committed to accomplish in the time remaining before the election. I cannot fathom any of my honourable colleagues wishing for that outcome, so I ask all of us in this Chamber to support the only course of action that will ensure there can be no strike and still achieve a fair deal. Binding arbitration, as it's called for in this motion.

I expect that the Honourable Premier and many Cabinet Ministers will ask us here today to believe in the process, and allow mediation to go ahead without new political direction from this House. Mr. Speaker, this process has led to the imminent threat of strike and pushed the parties farther apart in recent months. I cannot and will not continue to support what can only be seen as a clearly broken process that has spiralled out of control. The Legislative Assembly has it within its power and jurisdiction to change broken processes, to update legislation, and should do all it can to avoid a strike through binding arbitration.

In supporting this motion, I acknowledge the concerns that have been raised in the media and our citizens that binding arbitration is undefined in the current version of the Public Service Act. This confusion has been heightened by recent reporting on the history of the act wherein binding arbitration was replaced in 1996 with strike action as the final resolution mechanism available to a labour dispute.

I want to set the record straight and be very clear in my understanding of the act. Although there is a process identified in the Public Service Act that ends in strike action, there is no restriction on the ability of negotiators to pursue different dispute resolution mechanisms. The act is completely silent on binding arbitration, and most importantly, does not explicitly prohibit its use. Therefore, it is a completely acceptable and reasonable tool available to end this dispute, and I argue, far more preferable to a divisive strike that will harm our communities' relationships and our economy.

Again, if the process isn't working, I see no reason why we would force anyone to continue down a path that inevitably will lead to disastrous consequences when other options can legally be made available.

The lack of clarity within the Public Service Act on binding arbitration is just one of many examples of why we, as lawmakers, must take a careful look at this law, and propose amendments to improve its use, provide better understanding of available tools, and modernize many features of the outdated legislation. These changes are not, however, required, to support the successful outcome of this motion, but are important for future rounds of collective bargaining and to ensure that northern workers have world-class legislation supporting their labour rights.

With a better understanding of the nature of binding arbitration in the context of the Public Service Act, this motion must then be understood as a question of leadership and not a question of law. The honourable Members of this House are the elected leaders and representatives of the people here in the Northwest Territories. If they can pass laws and legislation, they can weigh in on decisions within their power and jurisdiction, including the collective bargaining process, and express their views on a dispute resolution that is different than what is contained within the act.

The only thing preventing this alternative solution from being made a reality is the political will of this Assembly. It's our job to write and maintain the rules and legislation, not find excuses to avoid action and discussion. Now, the decision rests in the hands of all of us, and I am calling on my colleagues to support this decision and end the uncertainty and fear that has gripped our communities.

I respect all the views of my constituents, but the vast majority have informed me they do not want a strike. The only way I can ensure that outcome and properly serve the people of Kam Lake is to support this motion and vote in favour of binding arbitration. If this motion passes, it guarantees a 100 percent chance that there will be no strike and both sides will craft a compromise that results in a new collective agreement. This is what the majority of our people want, and I will not compromise on my support for binding arbitration and a swift end to this already drawn out labour dispute.

Mr. Speaker, this motion is not about take a side with the union or with the government. In actuality, the Union of Northern Workers gave me a failing grade as a candidate in the 2015 election. I support many of the government's infrastructure priorities and spending decisions, but I cannot support a process that is failing: failing the union, failing the government, and failing our people. Put simply, the process must be changed to ensure the best possible outcome for the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, sticking with the status quo and continuing to just pass the buck is easy. Taking decisive action is much harder. I ask the honourable Members of this House to live up to the expectations of Northerners to put an end to the threat of strike and get a fair deal now.

I will stand in support of this motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4784

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Yellowknife North.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
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Page 4784

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Mr. Speaker, I was a member of the Local Steel Workers 182 as an employee of Con Mine when the Giant Mine strike took place. I assure you I do not need to be reminded of the impacts of a strike. I lived it.

Mr. Speaker, clearly no one in this House wants a strike to take place, for so many obvious reasons. Countless constituents and members of the public from all over the territory have shared their deepest concerns with me about fears of a strike. We all know that any reduction or stoppage in critical government services and programs would be detrimental to all Northwest Territories residents, so I understand the intention of this motion, which I know is to offer a path to resolve a contract dispute without favour to either the GNWT or the Union of Northern Workers, and for that I commend the mover and the seconder of the motion.

Mr. Speaker, I want to be clear to all who are following today's proceedings about what today's motion is procedurally and what this motion can or cannot do. It's a recommendation only. Many of my constituents, GNWT employees, business owners, and the public at large have written, called, or messaged me, encouraging me to support this motion today, thinking, believing, or understanding that MLAs have the power by third-party intervention to legally direct the GNWT to accept binding arbitration as a means to resolve this dispute.

That is not the case at all. Today's proceedings are not a magic wand or a silver bullet. Only the union and the government can agree to use arbitration and set the terms to be used for the arbitration process, period.

I want to repeat this. Today's proceedings, regardless of outcome on the vote, will have no legal bearing or binding on either party involved in the collective bargaining process, as has been the case all along, and only the two parties can agree to use arbitration as a new process, a new process to continue toward reaching a tentative agreement.

With that said, my concern is the effect of a recommendation for binding arbitration at this time, during what appears to be the last days of mediation toward a collective agreement. At this crucial time, both parties must concentrate on reaching a tentative agreement and not be hindered or impeded by political influence.

Mr. Speaker, what I hear from my constituents and see in the news daily causes me great concern. The government and the union do not seem to be concentrating on the job at hand, which is to get a tentative agreement during mediation this weekend. Frankly, I am shocked by some of the conduct I have seen so far. Responsibility is what Members expect from both parties going into the ongoing mediation. It is a time for bargaining, not bluster, not threats, not provocation. It is a time for common reason to prevail. Mr. Speaker, anything less is an abrogation of their duties to all the people of the Northwest Territories.

I wish to remind the government and the union that they agreed to this mediation process and chose one of Canada's best mediators to conduct its proceedings. Their duty is to bargain honestly and in good faith, and I have no doubt that Mr. Ready will remind them of this should they stray from the path.

There have been too many grave distractions from the path in recent days. I am concerned that dangling the hope of binding arbitration in the middle of mediation is another distraction that will not help produce a tentative agreement this weekend.

Collective bargaining is a sensitive matter, with its own set of rules and protocols, foreign to most of us outside the profession. These have evolved over many years, from experience, to maximize the chances for good results. It worries me when pressure is so high to have a new process when mediation is still under way.

The mediator has not declared an impasse or made recommendations. As I submitted previously, Mr. Ready and the respective bargaining teams must not be influenced by a newly recommended process from this House.

Mr. Speaker, in the interest of getting the most effective mediation possible, I am not willing to support a new process at this time. Again, I want to be clear. This is not to say that I oppose arbitration as a potential tool to reach a collective agreement. Definitely not. I would support arbitration if the point is reached when it is needed, and I sincerely hope that tool will not be lost to us if needed.

Moreover, I would hope that the government and the union would both be interested in a new process if the current one does not yield results, but the bottom line, Mr. Speaker, no matter the chosen process, negotiation, mediation, or arbitration, the process does not do the bargaining. The process is intended to enable a spirit of compromise but cannot force it on unwilling negotiators. If these bargaining teams live up to their titles as negotiators, we should see a tentative agreement emerge.

Mr. Speaker, no doubt they are under tremendous pressure, with a heavy burden of responsibility, and I know as they meet this weekend that both sides are very much aware of what is at stake for all residents of the Northwest Territories and that no additional outside influence is required.

Mr. Speaker, I remain confident that, under the current agreed-upon process and by using any and all means available within it, that a tentative collective agreement can and will be reached. Those are my comments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4784

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Colleagues, at this point in time I am calling for a short break. Masi.

---SHORT RECESS

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4784

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Colleagues, we left off on a debate of the motion. Next on my list, Member for Sahtu.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
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Page 4784

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Good afternoon, colleagues. To the motion. We make status quo decisions every day in our homes, in our communities, community and regional leadership roles, and in this Legislative Assembly in what we can only deem hopefully would be in the best interest for those whom we serve.

Collectively, we possess the opportunity in researching, gathering, and seeking advice on the information that would assist during our decision making process. Concluding our decision is not an easy one to make, and not acceptable by some. However, we have shown leadership by deciding where we stand and what we believe would be in the best interest of those who placed their trust, the general public, in our abilities on November 23, 2015.

Mr. Speaker, no one wants a strike. The Public Services Act describes the process for achieving a collective agreement. We are currently in the mediation stage. The request for binding arbitration is problematic for a number of reasons.

First, the Public Service Act does not include any provisions for binding arbitration to settle negotiations. Then, there is needed agreed principles guiding the arbitration process.

In our deliberation leading to today's decision, this information I share is very important for the public to know. A motion of the Assembly cannot compel the Government of the Northwest Territories to take a particular action. That is, a motion adopted by the Legislative Assembly is not binding on the GNWT. A motion that is defeated in the Assembly has no effect and cannot be introduced again during the same session.

Our NWT economy is combined by the public, industry, and private sectors. All are complementary in generating revenues and opportunities.

With the government's prudent and management capacity through the Fiscal Responsibility Policy and the Financial Administration Act, in a fiscally responsible manner, we can see adjustments for capital growth and workforce acknowledgments while realizing the positive measures.

Unexpected disruptions or forced growth must be considered a gap and, more importantly, where is the loss in covering this gap? These are elements and principles during strategic planning. Capital planning, for example, on schools, health centres, and housing are important parts of the NWT economy, and the ability to deliver services to our NWT residents.

I can only hope our collective bargaining representatives are negotiating with honesty, integrity, and with the utmost passion and understanding of the challenges faced every day by the majority of small communities that make up this territory and the citizens of the Northwest Territories.

I must respect the process, show leadership by developing a conclusion to a decision. Through research, I'm confident in my abilities not to support this motion and I have full confidence in both the collective bargaining parties with their knowledge and wisdom in arriving to an equitable agreement this weekend.

In closing, I want to say to our colleagues in the House and the listeners that I, too, have received many e-mails and they were, I would say, very sympathetic to the process and very convincing on the challenges that they face constantly, giving examples of what may happen during a strike to their incomes, to their constant day-to-day challenges of payments. I hope that I have concluded faithfully with the decision today despite the fact that Members of my riding gave me options. I have chosen an option and I hope it is in the best interest of everybody in the Northwest Territories. For all these reasons and my views, I can't support this motion. Mahsi, Mr. Chair.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4785

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
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Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marci cho, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is a very difficult motion. As far as I'm concerned, it has its positive sides and it has its negative sides. I can say that, if this motion was contemplated after a strike, I would support it 100 percent because I am 100 percent opposed to a strike, and I told that to the media. I spoke to the media. The media reached out to me and asked me the question: "What is your opinion on that?" I said a strike is probably the most awful thing that can happen to our communities. A few people in our communities who have good jobs will no longer be employed. Or they will be employed, I guess, at some point in the future, but it's going to have quite a disruption.

If this motion does not pass today, or even if this motion passes today, Cabinet can take that as advice for the House and continue on with the mediation. If this motion was put on the floor when there was a strike, I would suggest that everyone in this House would support a motion to go to binding arbitration because that would mean that mediation has failed.

We sat in the House here. We sat in committee and we have asked the government to negotiate in good faith with the union. That is what we have done. We have asked them to go to the table, to go to the table and negotiate in good faith. As they start their discussions, their mediation, at the table, Mr. Speaker, we then want to put in a tool that makes that unnecessary.

Binding arbitration would make mediation unnecessary. If we had binding arbitration in our back pocket, why would we continue to mediate? We have hired mediators, good mediators. I don't know the guy, but everybody who knows him tells me he is an excellent mediator. We are not going to give him that opportunity with this motion. Why should he continue? Why should anyone listen to him? Right? Let's give him the full opportunity. I'm sure we are paying him good money to do that. Give him the opportunity. If it fails, if we come to an impasse, then you put this kind of motion on the floor and you vote on it. Then you have people. Then you will see who is supporting a strike and who is not supporting a strike.

As it turns out now, there is information coming saying that people who vote against this motion support a strike. That is ridiculous. I don't know one person here who supports a strike, but I'm not saying the same, that everybody here is going to vote for this motion because as far as I'm concerned, we should do this if mediation fails. Not to say right now we are going to pre-empt this before they go into the last critical thing.

I find it funny that the union puts a deadline on when they are going to strike, made it very clear. "We will strike 12:01 Monday." Well, then why are they now coming to us? It is not specifically union, but why are they now saying, "We want you to remove our strike mandate by agreeing to binding arbitration"? You say, "I am going to strike," one day. The next day, you say -- no, not even the next day. In the same communication, that is what it said. "Twelve o'clock, we are going to strike. We want you to remove our mandate to strike." If that is the case, why not say, "If mediation fails, would the MLAs consider binding arbitration?" I think that would be a no-brainer. Every MLA in this House would support that type of motion.

Not every MLA wants to trip the process up halfway through or close to the end. Nobody really knows how close we are. We could be very close to an agreement. We don't know. We are not privy to that information. What we are privy to is communications. I am not happy with some of the communication that comes from the government, and I am not happy with some of the communication that comes from the union.

I do think that people shouldn't strike. I do think that the government should make an agreement with the union. It is for the betterment of the people who work for the public service. That is a big group of people. There are 4,000 people out there who are a part of the union who could be walking out on Monday. Don't walk out. Don't ask us to remove your mandate, and don't walk out. I think the lines have been drawn in the sand, as far as I am concerned.

I am concerned about a couple of things, and that is communications. When we started to engage in this process, I found it funny that the union felt that they communicated to the government that binding arbitration was something that the union had asked for. They were very detailed in what they said, that the mediator at two different tables, that two different mediators went back and forth to the government to ask for binding arbitration verbally.

If that wasn't good enough, then I think the people negotiating on behalf of the government should have said, "That is not good enough. Put it in writing," because that is what it came down to. It was not good enough. It should have been put in writing right away, or the government should have said, "Hey. These guys have come forward, and we are going to bring this up to the Minister. This is what the union has said. They are offering binding arbitration at two tables. It is verbal. What should we do?" Ask for it in writing. If I was the Minister, that is what I would say, "Ask for it in writing." That would be the first thing I would say when that came to me. I think there is something to be said about the way that communication has gone.

This is a key tool, binding arbitration. It is not in the Public Service Act, but it is a key tool. It is a tool that can be used in a worst-case scenario. That is what it should be used for. Today, if this motion does not pass, and I don't think it will, I am sitting in the committee room with the Regular Members. If this motion does not pass, this motion cannot come back to the House on Monday. When we need it most, Mr. Speaker, we are not going to be able to use this motion. That is why I have a problem with it. It has put me in a quandary because, for me, I would say I should vote for this motion. I should, because this is my last chance, my last chance to actually put this motion.

It would have been nice if this motion was necessary, and I am not saying it will be, if this motion was necessary, that it comes out on Monday. If there is a strike, then this motion comes out on Monday. I think the union would have gladly pulled back the strike if this motion came out. Binding arbitration basically means that both the union members and the government will put their faith in an arbitrator, then that arbitrator will make a decision. I am still not 100 percent sure that the arbitrator is mandated to pick one of the two positions or something in the middle. I don't know 100 percent what would happen.

For me, failing the motion on arbitration does absolutely no good at all. Nothing. It does nothing. It does nothing to advance the process. I want a tool like this. This is a big tool for us, a big tool for the union, and a big tool for the government. It should be used when it is critical, not pre-emptive. I will not support the motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4785

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Hay River North.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as has been stated, this motion, if successful, would not require the GNWT or NTPC to enter into binding arbitration. The Minister of Finance has already stated that, because mediation is scheduled to begin today, the government will not consider binding arbitration. Further, if this motion is defeated, it may actually embolden Cabinet's position. I wanted to make this clear, because some of the people who have contacted me seem to believe that this motion represents a silver bullet, but that isn't the case. I apologize to those whose expectations have been raised.

While I agree with much of what Mr. Beaulieu said, especially regarding the wisdom of bringing this motion forward at this point, the fact is that it is before us. If it has any utility, it is that it's promoting a level of dialogue among residents that I have never seen in my time as an MLA. I have heard from as many constituents in the past two days as I usually hear from in six months.

Some are eager to place blame for the ongoing impasse, alleging bad-faith bargaining or ego-driven negotiating by one side or the other. However, Mr. Speaker, most of those who have contacted me believe that both the GNWT's and UNW's leadership share the responsibility for this ongoing failure:

  • There is dismay at the fact that not only were collective agreements not in place prior to the previous agreements expiring, but that for years, teams of well-paid, professional negotiators haven't been able to find enough common ground to reach a deal;
  • There is confusion as to why, in all of 2017, 2018, and 2019, the GNWT and UNW have been at the bargaining or mediation table a total of nine days; and
  • There is concern that the UNW's push for binding arbitration and the GNWT's proactive counselling of how to cross a picket line are indications that neither side is prepared or expecting to reach a deal this weekend.

Mr. Speaker, it has become clear to me that our residents have lost faith in the abilities of the powers that be, on both sides, to do what is necessary to avoid a strike.

The importance of avoiding a strike, Mr. Speaker, cannot be overstated. The effects of the Town of Hay River's 2015 strike are still being felt to this day. There were 31 employees involved in that job action. A GNWT and NTPC strike would be of a much greater magnitude and could take an incalculable toll on residents who rely on government services, on unionized employees and their families, on small businesses and their employees, and for our community has a whole. The results of a prolonged strike would be nothing short of catastrophic.

Don't get me wrong, Mr. Speaker, I would like nothing more than for both sides to do what they're paid to do and come to an agreement. It is always preferable to have the relevant parties involved in the decision making, especially in this case where the decisions made will have far-reaching effects on the future of our territory. However, the potential consequences of a strike are far too great to leave this process in the hands of parties who have continuously proved themselves incapable of compromise.

As I said earlier, I've heard from many constituents, and regardless of why they think we are in this situation, they have all had the same message for me: support this motion and encourage the government to enter into binding arbitration, and I'm doing just that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4786

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Nahendeh.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
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Page 4786

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is one of the most difficult things I have been asked to decide since being elected. From the beginning, my position has been clear and concise: the government needs to get back to the table and negotiate with the Union of Northern Workers. I believe in the collective bargaining process.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT and the Union of Northern Workers have been involved in a difficult bargaining process since 2016. It has been in mediation for some time, and we are now at the point where the union has given strike notice.

This is a serious and extremely stressful event for all involved, and even for the NWT residents who are not directly involved. The stakes are very, very high. This is about the workers, the government, and most importantly, the residents of the Northwest Territories.

It is not a win/lose situation here. It is about people's lives. These pressures are an unfortunate side effect of collective bargaining, when the parties do not readily reach agreement. It is getting down to the wire. Right now, those of us on the sidelines have to accept that the pressure is part of the process. The pressure focuses the parties to face up to the consequences of failure to get a deal.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a while, but as we speak in this House the parties are in the process of returning to the negotiation table with the help of a skilled mediator. The GNWT and the Union of Northern Workers are very lucky to have one of the best mediators in the business, Vince Ready, to help them this weekend. Both parties asked for him to do the mediation. Remember that. Both parties asked for him.

I did not want to take action that might distract the parties from doing their absolute best to get a deal. We should have had the faith in everybody to do their job, and let the process proceed with integrity. I am assuming there will be good faith and positive results.

Mr. Speaker, I have had the opportunity to sit in meetings with the Union of Northern Workers and the Government of the Northwest Territories to hear both sides. I thought we were very, very close in reaching an agreement this weekend. That was my personal opinion, Mr. Speaker.

In the event the parties do not reach agreement this weekend, it is very likely that Mr. Ready will recommend a way forward. He will be laser-focused on getting constructive results. History shows that he is very astute and resourceful in this regard. If Mr. Ready does need to make recommendations, the GNWT and UNW will again be faced with some very important choices.

This is a process laid out in the Public Service Act, and that is the process that should have been allowed to unfold. No one wants a strike. I especially don't want a strike. A strike hurts everybody in the NWT. I believe everybody needs to respect the collective bargaining process, so why are Members of this House now trying to get involved in the process? Why are we considering a motion that calls on both sides to give up their right to bargain when there is still negotiating to be done?

The simple answer, Mr. Speaker: politics. We are feeling the pressure from both sides, and I will stand up here and say that. We are here because it is political now.

I believe that both parties were heading into mediation today in good faith. Yes, the UNW was the first to put the pressure on by giving strike notice for midnight on Sunday. To me, this is part of the process. Then, we saw the government jump in by suggesting, directly or indirectly, that it would welcome unionized employees back to work if there was a strike. I did not agree with this, but I figured this was again part of the process. Getting information out there, sharing things out there.

Mr. Speaker, I respect what my colleagues are trying to do with this motion. I know Ms. Green has been through a strike, and I know all of us remember the painful events that happened in Yellowknife in the early 1990s. This is scary stuff. Mr. Speaker, I had a question to the timing of this motion. I was sincerely hoping the parties would reach an agreement over the weekend, or at least agree on a way forward. That may or may not include binding arbitration. I see this motion circumvents the process and puts our Cabinet colleagues into a corner. I felt it was turning up the pressure on the parties this weekend, rather than let them negotiate in good faith.

My colleague Mr. Beaulieu talked about allowing the process to go forward and then using this motion later on, and that's what I was hoping.

I wonder why we would expect our Cabinet colleagues to both support this motion and then go into mediation in good faith. I want the public to understand, if this motion passes, Cabinet is not bound by it. If it fails, our rules stop us from considering a similar motion again next week, when it might actually do some good. I believe this motion would take energy and focus away from the bargaining table and bring it into the political realm.

Mr. Speaker, I look back into history, and in 1996 this Legislative Assembly changed the Public Service Act to eliminate binding arbitration. They did this at the urging of the UNW, who wanted to restore the right to take job action. I felt this motion would revisit that history. Has anyone thought about the implications of this on an ongoing basis? If we open the door to binding arbitration now, it may doom all future collective bargaining to the same fate. How would we expect either party to compromise and work together in the future? Some may think that it wouldn't be a precedent. I think we may have to think about this again.

Mr. Speaker, how can we ask the government to give up their right to negotiate in the best interests of the people of the GNWT? How can we ask the union to give up their right to strike? This is what binding arbitration does.

In saying it again, Mr. Speaker, no one wants a strike, but the right to strike is a fundamental part of the collective bargaining process in a free democracy. The risk of all parties of a strike is what keeps them at the table. It's what causes them to compromise. It's the lubrication in the collective bargaining process.

Mr. Speaker, if this motion were up for debate next week, I would full-heartedly support it. I was hoping this weekend a process where both parties would have control over their own actions and outcomes and where both parties have a lot at stake if an agreement can't be reached.

Mr. Speaker, I am encouraging both parties to stop the posturing, stop the nonsense, stop the thinly veiled threats, and take advantage of this weekend to walk a few feet in each other's shoes. It's often said that the sign of a good agreement is where everyone walks away wishing they could have got more. If both sides are willing to compromise, I am confident that an agreement is within reach. My position has been clear and consistent, Mr. Speaker. I wanted the parties to sweat it out at the negotiation table. There is a lot at stake. The whole territory is depending upon you. Let's get a deal done.

Unfortunately, last night I saw the waiver forms given out by the GNWT to YK employees to sign if they decide to walk across the picket line. My frustration was: why did this waiver form get sent out a day before the mediation process started? I have asked the government to keep me informed on the process, but I got a surprise last night. Because of all the news from both sides, I question if we will see an agreement this weekend. The motion says the Assembly calls on the Government of the Northwest Territories to agree to enter into a binding arbitration before the scheduled strike begins. We're not asking for binding arbitration to start now. We're asking, if it fails, it stops before a strike. Therefore, I will be supporting the motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4787

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Nunakput.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4787

Herbert Nakimayak Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate all the words of my colleagues up until now. I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, this motion to place binding arbitration before the mediation is not taking the proper steps in the first place, and I think what has happened here is we're tripping up the negotiators as they walk into the negotiating room. That, Mr. Speaker, is unfair. What it is, it's a lack of confidence, both in the Government of the Northwest Territories and the UNW, so I think this is kind of a double-edged sword that has been put upon us. I think, Mr. Speaker, we need to look at how we do thing in the territory, and also I think there is a level of interference, a level of political interference that we are really, really pushing people.

What it has come to, Mr. Speaker, I have had a lot of calls. Ninety-five percent of my constituents who have called are worried. They want to continue to work no matter what happens. Mr. Speaker, I have had phone calls from maybe five other constituencies, five other ridings in the territories, as well, with the same concern. As many of us here represent small communities, it's the small community people who are worried that this will affect their ability to work, to continue getting a paycheque, and continue to do the work that they are doing.

Some them work with children. Some of them work with children in schools and daycares, and they are worried that their program dollars may come to a halt, which sometimes when you are helping with children and their education, it has negative effects to that. It's like somebody getting up and walking out on you in the middle of a school year. Basically, that is what it is, and that is how they see it.

Mr. Speaker, I won't reiterate what some of my colleagues have said, but I believe the actions up until now are leading to something that is something that is blown out of proportion. This morning as I woke up and I thought, you know, holy cow, somebody was holding the grenade and someone just pulled the pin this morning, and here we are. It's blowing up on everybody. We need to look at this and say, well, maybe there needs to be a process moving forward. If we can't allow the professionals, the negotiators, to do their job, then what are we questioning? Does this say that we might need the negotiators that we have with the government and also the negotiators with the UNW? After three years of not negotiating, this is meant to expire in March, does that mean that everybody wants those negotiators to be changed and we put a new negotiator so that we can have a better future in the Northwest Territories rather than this division? I see the fracture, and it's getting bigger and bigger, Mr. Speaker, and I have a lot of worried constituents.

Also, I respect both sides. The unions, I have worked with unions with the North Warning System, and they are some of the highest-paid people in the territory and probably in the country, as well, Mr. Speaker. I think we need to look at the cost of living in the North, the cost of living for communities for harvesters, for people who do not have a voice to speak for themselves. I look at the number of union members who are pushing for this, and it's less than half, it's far less than half of the amount of union members in the territory. For me, that is a huge sign saying, okay, well, we need to rethink this. Maybe we need to meet with executive. You know, the legislature may need to meet with the executive of the Northwest Territories and look at a way forward, and maybe it means something. Maybe the union members across the territory need to unite and look at what's important for them, as well, and then maybe it takes a second round to get a true voice of what really is going on in the territory and what are the needs of the people who are worried about this strike.

We also need, Mr. Speaker, when we look at this, to look at the economy of the Northwest Territories. There are a number of mines that do not have 10 years left, and what's next for that. I saw a post this morning, and it said, "What now?" What's the way forward for everybody here? I think we need to really think long and hard about that. Coming from a small community, I see us struggling as the way it is right now, and for us to give this much to a union that is asking for so much, I think there is an imbalance there, and I think that is something we need to really consider when we look at these negotiations and appreciate that. There are 44,000 people in the Northwest Territories, Mr. Speaker. What about them? I think we need to really look at that and look at regions, the high cost of living, the high cost of transportation. I think those are all key factors in all of this, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of groups that will be affected in the Northwest Territories. I am speaking from an Indigenous perspective. Recently, I was involved with work with Indigenous groups, and I still am. Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of Indigenous groups in the Northwest Territories who have co-management agreements with the Government of the Northwest Territories. If they go into a strike, that will affect the kind of work that they are doing nationally, internationally, laterally with government-to-government relationships, and I think we really need to kind of stand back and say it has a much bigger effect than we think, than just the union.

It has an effect on Indigenous groups and Indigenous governments in the Northwest Territories, who are talking about, Mr. Speaker, an impasse on co-management in the Inuvialuit settlement region and other regions. You know, it also impacts the rest of the Northwest Territories as a lot of wildlife resources are shared in the NWT along with Nunavut, the Yukon, and Alaska, Mr. Speaker. Of particular importance is required polar bear surveys, which is a minimum three-year research program that provides vital information that leads to effective co-management of a species that is very important to the Inuvialuit, the Inuit, Canada, and the entire polar range states in the Arctic, Mr. Speaker. There are five Arctic states in the circumpolar world, and what about them, as well? I think we need to look more broadly and really see the negative effects, of what's really going on here or what could possibly happen.

That is why I say someone pulled the pin on the grenade this morning, and it's really blown up, for us to come here, to this point, to debate about something like this that should not have happened until Monday or Tuesday or sometime next week. If the union goes on strike, then this would be an effective tool, but right now we are taking away the strengths and the abilities of the people who are hired to negotiate this and negotiate it fairly. There are not many options other than what we have right now, Mr. Speaker, so I think we are losing those options. We are narrowing it down to the point where there is nowhere to go. We are simply cornering people who need to do their job to represent the people of the Northwest Territories, and I believe that very strongly, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I think we should allow the mediation to happen in good faith. I know both sides want a deal. Like the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh said earlier, "How close are we?" We do not know, but there are some things in every government, in every relationship, whether it's with Indigenous governments or other countries. Even though you may not be working at the surface, Mr. Speaker, there are some working relationships in there, and I think that's where the union and the Government of the Northwest Territories really need to grasp onto to strengthen those, and I believe that's a good working point.

I think all we can do is to encourage them to do their best this weekend and come up with something that's agreeable to the people of the Northwest Territories. I think that we owe that to them, Mr. Speaker. I really believe so. Otherwise, you know, Mr. Speaker, entering binding arbitration, next we will have to find an arbitrator who is willing to take this on, and I bet you the way that things are, the atmosphere in the territory right now, there aren't many out there, Mr. Speaker, so we need to think about that, as well.

Mr. Speaker, for that matter, I won't be supporting this motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4787

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Deh Cho.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4787

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the mover and the seconder for presenting this motion to the floor of the House. Mr. Speaker, I will not support this motion. As a Regular MLA, I try my best to work with everyone. Right now, we are being led by the Premier, Cabinet, and Ministers, who make decisions for all residents of the Northwest Territories. I understand as Regular MLAs along with Cabinet, we are the principals for driving this negotiation process, and periodically we hear from the negotiators in terms of representing the union and the GNWT. That is the negotiation process that we have seen thus far.

As I understand it, the GNWT is a system of people, policies, procedures, and fiscal resources. In considering the operations of this government, once in a while we come across issues, whether it be fiscal, whether it be policies or procedures, and sometimes people who want their concerns to be addressed. What we are seeing now is part of that process, that people want better wages, better benefits, and better hope for their futures in terms of working in the Northwest Territories.

However, the two parties have determined a collective bargaining process, and they are involved with that process and they agreed to that process. This motion is essentially asking us to intervene, to take a side, and to see an arbitration process kick in. Of course, we are all experiencing the pressure from all sides, but, for me, what is critical is the timing of this motion. At this point, you know, we are poised to see the mediation process perhaps in the final stages, and there could be an attempt to try to mediate an agreement. There is a process in place for negotiations. There are negotiations that have been going on for some time, and we are at the mediation stage. You know, I would like to strongly encourage both parties to come to an agreement and to ensure that an agreement will give assurance to everyone that everyone is a winner. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4787

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4788

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank all my colleagues who have gotten up and spoken today. I have tried to choose my words carefully, as I know that a lot of people are listening, watching, or will read what happens in the House here today. I am proud of my Yellowknife colleagues for bringing this motion forward, and I am pleased to support it. Our constituents, and indeed all the residents of the Northwest Territories, deserve to know where we stand on this motion. This is the defining moment and the biggest test we face in the 18th Assembly. I believe in collective bargaining and acknowledge that the mediation is occurring right now as we speak. I urge both sides to come prepared and hope for a successful outcome.

However, the Union of Northern Workers has formally offered and requested binding arbitration. We haven't responded. This is the off-ramp for what is now a very risky and serious situation. There is no other plan and no process if negotiations fail. We need to do everything we can to prevent a strike and binding arbitration will do that. There are no legal barriers to binding arbitration and the parties can set whatever conditions they want on that process, including timelines, the scope of the arbitrator, salary increment ranges, you name it. There is lots of experience to draw on.

Of all the issues during my time as an MLA, this one has brought forward the most emails, phone calls, and conversations. The messages are not some cookie-cutter campaign, but very sincere, often expressing frustration and desperation with the position of this government and the impacts a strike will have.

I have worked very hard to avoid a strike and all that will bring, much of which we cannot predict, but we know it will be bad, very bad. I will never forget the sight and sounds of sirens heading out to Giant Mine in 1992 and 1993. That terrible strike tore Yellowknife apart, and the scars are still here. The strike at CBC was also very painful. How ironic that we are on the cusp of our first-ever territorial government-wide employee strike 27 years later and 4 km away from Giant Mine, yet appear to have learned so little from that infamous and tragic episode in our history.

Those of us in this House have little influence over what the Union of Northern Workers does, but when I have been contacted and met with representatives, I have urged moderation and a focus on getting a deal at the negotiating table. I do not condone some of the recent events of this week.

What we do have some influence over as Regular MLAs, and indeed a duty to act, is to attempt to work with our colleagues in Cabinet to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion before a strike. I am disappointed and distressed that Cabinet has done very little to de-escalate this situation and more recently has enflamed it with deliberately provocative communications and actions.

As MLAs, we must know what is going on, ask tough questions, and have input into decisions. That's not interference in any sense of the word. That's our job as MLAs. I should have demanded sooner to have some meaningful input into the UNW negotiations mandate. I don't need or want to be at the table, but I should know what is going and what the range of the offer will be.

Cabinet has never sought our input on the negotiations mandate, let alone told us what is in the mandate of the negotiators. That mandate has largely been framed by Cabinet's fiscal strategy that I have disagreed with at every opportunity. I called on the Minister of Finance to ensure that our negotiators have a mandate to offer binding arbitration at the table if the negotiations are not successfully concluded during this mediation. I have not received any assurances that the negotiators' mandate includes binding arbitration and thus have very little confidence in Cabinet's current approach.

My confidence was shaken even further late yesterday upon hearing and seeing that some GNWT supervisors are distributing an Employee Acknowledgement & Waiver form for crossing picket lines. Employees would acknowledge they are making a free decision to cross a picket line and that they will not hold GNWT responsible for anything that may happen. In the labour world, this is union busting and deliberately provocative. This action from our government came after Regular MLAs specifically requested in writing that the Minister refrain from such actions. Clearly, Cabinet has not listened to regular MLAs and has ignored our advice yet again. Everything I have tried with this Cabinet on this issue has failed.

This situation is now spiralling out of control. A strike will change us all, and those divisions have already started. Yellowknife and the regional centres will feel the initial brunt of a strike, but make no mistake, those impacts will certainly spread out across the entire Northwest Territories. That is not the legacy that any of us should want.

While this motion is not binding, the Premier and this Cabinet have the ability to avoid a disruptive and divisive strike at this point. I implore you, I beg you, I plead with you to turn this around right now and show the leadership the Northwest Territories need. The risk of a strike is just too big. Stop the provocative actions, live up to the leadership you were entrusted with, and agree to binding arbitration now. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

Page 4788

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member from Mackenzie Delta.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4788

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this motion is somewhat premature, as we have been told. This should have been done next week, if we needed to. Now this motion cannot be brought up again during this session. Cabinet is putting a lose-lose situation. If Cabinet votes for this motion, they will be seen as negotiating in bad faith at the negotiating table. Also, if they don't support the motion, they will and have already been labelled as not supporting our employees, which is far from the truth.

I will support this motion, but it is very difficult to after how our Premier was treated by union members at his constituency meeting on Tuesday night. That was bullying at its finest, Mr. Speaker. Let's hope this never happens again.

Now to the negotiations. It seems we may have hard negotiators on both sides who aren't willing to complete negotiations. If that is the case, we need to change negotiators on both sides and remember we have a common interest.

Mr. Speaker, every one of my constituents who have reached out to me all don't want to strike. Many of them just want to continue working and provide for their families, as we have the second highest cost of living in the Northwest Territories. Just to be clear, the somewhat threatening e-mail we all received yesterday from the union had nothing to do with my decision.

At first, I wasn't going to support this motion, as it should have taken place next week if we needed to, although it would be perceived that we don't support our employees if we don't support the motion.

Let us work together to ensure we reach a fair deal for our government employees. The residents of the Northwest Territories rely upon us. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4788

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. To the motion. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4788

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the debate that's going on in this Assembly. I have had a lot of people reach out to me as well; constituents of Inuvik Twin Lakes, a lot of families worried about the strike. What I want people to understand is that, just because you don't support the motion, and I think a couple of Members have already said it, just because you don't support the motion, you're not voting in favour of a strike. Let's make that perfectly clear, and people need to understand that.

I have a lot of confidence in the ability of our negotiators and the UNW's negotiators to think about the people who have been e-mailing us, talking about the hardships that they might face if they have to go on strike. None of them wants to. None of us wants them to go on strike. You're talking about the hardship and it is that mindset that we should take into the mediations this weekend, thinking about those particular people. I believe that we would be able to come to an agreement. One of the Members over there said it perfectly well, said that there was a lot of politics involved. I totally agree. I totally agree. I have had a few emails, some threatening on October 1st. I mean, that is fine. We are all MLAs. Every year, we go through an election period, and we have people say why they won't support us. That is fine.

As dean of the House and one who has been here the longest, what I don't appreciate is the pressure that is put on all 19 of us. I don't appreciate that because we have people who we have tasked to do our negotiating. The pressure that is put on all 19 Members of this House, I absolutely do not appreciate. It put everyone in difficult positions where I think Mr. Blake said it: it is lose-lose for everybody on which way you go with this. That is something that I am not a big fan of.

Our folks are before a mediator this weekend. Let's let them do as we tasked them. I have heard Members say that this is something that should have happened next week. I agree. Again, political pressure and how some react to it is different for a lot of people. I want people to be assured that I will be available. I am going to make myself available all weekend. I want to try to be in constant communication with everybody to see if we can go through a successful mediation.

The Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh said it really well when he said communication. He said communication. That is something that sometimes we are often criticized for: the communication part of the work we do. I have heard that. I have had meetings with the Regular Members, deep, deep conversations on where we need to go, but I don't think there is a person in the Northwest Territories who wants a strike. Because you vote against the motion doesn't mean you are supporting a strike.

Again, I really take offence to the pressure that is put on all my colleagues in this Assembly. It is undue pressure. We have people who we have tasked to negotiate on our behalf. The union has people who they have tasked to negotiate on their behalf. I think the backdrop to those negotiations should be how it is going to affect the people in the Northwest Territories. With that backdrop, then I think we can reach an agreement.

Mr. Speaker, one of the Members said, "Well, the Minister is going to tell us, 'Let's respect the process.'" I have been saying that for a while. Let's respect the process. I also have faith and respect the principle of the people who are in the process, that they are going to take the best interests of people across the Northwest Territories in mind while they are sitting and having their back and forth. I will trust them to do that. Failing that, then they will come up with probably the next step in the resolution of this. I am not sure what that would include. Again, they are negotiating for their membership, and we are negotiating. Again, I will leave that up to them.

I will be available all weekend. Because we believe in the concept of mediation and the folks who are involved in it, Cabinet is not going to be supporting the motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. At this point in time, I will allow the mover to conclude her remarks on the motion.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying that I appreciate the positions that my colleagues have taken. I think some of them I don't agree with, but I appreciate their efforts to make themselves understood.

Mr. Speaker, make no mistake. This is a political discussion, and we are making a political decision. This is a place in which politics happens. We are here to demonstrate leadership in the most pressing issue facing our territory at this time. It is my take on my role that I can express this leadership by forwarding this motion.

From a legal point of view, we have been advised by people who are lawyers that the fact that there is no binding arbitration in the Public Service Act is not an impediment to entering into binding arbitration. It is one of the options. It is important to note that the Minister has not said that binding arbitration can't happen. He simply hasn't said anything about it.

Where I am at now is that I have lost confidence that the process that we are engaged in now is going to produce a result that both sides will accept and that it will result in a no-strike action on Monday. The timing of this motion is related to the soonest possible that we could debate it. This is not a stunt. I think, if there is one thing that I have been impressed by today, it is the sincerity with which people hold their beliefs. This is not a game. We are not playing poker here. We are talking about the future of our territory and the people who live in it. The stakes are incredibly high.

I want to say that the timing of the motion, I recognize that the motion is non-binding. It wouldn't matter if we had the motion today or Monday or next week or any other time. The effect of the motion is to give advice to the government. They are not obliged to act on it. I understand that, but I still feel that I need to provide that advice.

I reject the idea that we are in any way interfering in the current process. Mediation is happening now. I hope that it continues and is productive, but we have to think in terms of what happens next. As my colleague from Frame Lake said, we need the off-ramp. We need the off-ramp in place before the highway runs out.

I know that there are people here, my colleagues here who want to talk themselves out of the political leadership that they were elected to demonstrate, and I will leave that to them and their constituents to sort out.

Mr. Speaker, I would finally just say that I have a history in this House of doing what is right and not necessarily what is popular. I have been on the losing end of motions before, and I am prepared to be in that position today because I sincerely believe that we need to do everything possible to avert a strike and its disastrous consequences. With that, I would like to request a recorded vote.

Motion 31-18(3): Request for Government of the Northwest Territories to Enter Binding Arbitration with Union of Northern Workers, Defeated
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Member has requested a recorded vote. All those in favour, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Yellowknife Centre, the Member for Hay River North, the Member for Mackenzie Delta, the Member for Kam Lake, the Member for Nahendeh, the Member for Frame Lake.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

All those against, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Deh Cho, the Member for Nunakput, the Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, the Member for Range Lake, the Member for Great Slave, the Member for Yellowknife South, the Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, the Member for Hay River South, the Member for Thebacha, the Member for Sahtu, the Member for Yellowknife North.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

All those abstaining, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Recorded Vote
Motions

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

The results of the recorded vote: six in favour, 11 opposed, one abstention. The motion is defeated. Motions. Item 19, first reading of bills. Item 20, second reading of bills. Item 21, consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters: Minister's Statement 131-18(3), Sessional Statement; Tabled Document 322-18(3), Main Estimates, 2019-2020, with Member for Hay River North in the chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Chair R.J. Simpson

I now call Committee of the Whole to order. What is the wish of committee? Mr. Beaulieu.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

February 9th,

Page 4789

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Mr. Chairman, I move that the chair rise and report progress.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Chair R.J. Simpson

Thank you, Mr. Beaulieu. There is a motion to report progress. The motion is in order. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried.

---Carried

I will rise and report progress.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

May I have the report, Member for Hay River North?

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

February 9th,

Page 4789

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, your committee has been considering Minister's Statement 131-18(3), Sessional Statement, and Tabled Document 322-18(3), Main Estimates, 2019-2020, and would like to report progress, and Mr. Speaker, I move that the report of the Committee of the Whole be concurred with.

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Do we have a seconder? Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. The motion is in order. All those in favour? All those opposed? Motion carried.

---Carried

Masi. Item 23, third reading of bills. Item 24, Madam Clerk, orders of the day.

Orders Of The Day
Orders Of The Day

February 9th,

Page 4789

Committee Clerk Of The House Ms. Franki-Smith

Orders of the day for Monday, February 11, 2019, at 1:30 p.m.:

[Translation]

  1. Prayer
  2. Ministers' Statements
  3. Members' Statements
  4. Returns to Oral Questions
  5. Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
  6. Acknowledgments
  7. Oral Questions
  8. Written Questions
  9. Returns to Written Questions
  10. Replies to the Commissioner's Opening Address
  11. Replies to Budget Address (Day 4 of 7)
  12. Petitions
  13. Reports of Standing and Special Committees
  14. Reports of Committees on the Review of Bills
  15. Tabling of Documents
  16. Notices of Motion
  17. Notices of Motion for First Reading of Bills
  18. Motions
  19. First Reading of Bills
  • Bill 34, Mineral Resources Act
  1. Second Reading of Bills
  2. Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
  • Minister's Statement 131-18(3), Sessional Statement
  • Tabled Document 322-18(3), Main Estimates, 2019-2020
  1. Report of Committee of the Whole
  2. Third Reading of Bills
  3. Orders of the Day

[Translation ends]

Orders Of The Day
Orders Of The Day

February 9th,

Page 4789

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi, Madam Clerk. This House stands adjourned until Monday, February 11, 2019, at 1:30 p.m.

---ADJOURNMENT

The House adjourned at 1:03 p.m.