This is page numbers 5575 - 5600 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was work.

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 1:29 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 5575

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, colleagues. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 181-18(3): Stanton Territorial Hospital - First Patient Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 5575

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today marks a major milestone for healthcare delivery in the Northwest Territories. On May 26, 2019, we began accepting patients at the new Stanton Territorial Hospital, and we implemented a detailed patient move plan to bring patients from the old Stanton hospital to our brand new facility.

I am pleased to report that our patient transfer was successful and that the new Stanton Territorial Hospital is now providing health services and care to residents. Our team successfully transferred 55 patients at approximately three-minute intervals over three hours. These transfers were provided by porters and healthcare staff through an above-ground tunnel built specifically for this move to ensure patient safety and privacy. Our partners from Health Care Relocations, who are experts in this area, provided us with guidance on this elaborate move process and also helped us through the facility activation phase of our new territorial hospital.

Having a brand new hospital that provides improved patient care requires that our entire healthcare team of professionals are knowledgeable and confident in their new work environment. This process is called "Facility Activation" and was another crucial milestone for the Stanton Hospital Project. Led by the Stanton Renewal team, dedicated hospital staff, and our P3 partner Dexterra, Facility Activation is the process for making sure that everything from work stations, machines, equipment, and the overall flow for patients and staff work as they need to. I can tell you that this is no small feat and that countless hours and work have gone into making the new hospital, from top to bottom, as ready as it possibly can be to provide improved patient experience and care.

Mr. Speaker, it is one thing to say that things are better and nicer at the new hospital, but I want to take a moment and provide a few highlights and examples of how the new Stanton Territorial Hospital will help us provide residents with the best patient care we can, both now and well into the future.

Our new hospital is twice the size of the old facility and houses new systems and features on every floor that make it possible for us to support the health and wellness of patients as never before. The new hospital has:

  • 100 single in-patient rooms;
  • a significant expansion of the Emergency Department, Ambulatory Care Centre, and Intensive Care Unit;
  • operating rooms that are double the size and equipped with surgical booms; these structures provide equipment support, which is something that we didn't have in our old hospital;
  • a secure dedicated outdoor space, especially for mental health patients;
  • a designated non-denominational Sacred Space for spiritual ceremonies that can support smudging ceremonies;
  • an expanded cafeteria featuring northern artwork, lots of natural light, and a living green wall;
  • upgrades including a pneumatic tube system, patient lifts, a nurse call system, integrated bedside terminals, and Wi-Fi;
  • a therapeutic garden space, complete with a ceremonial fire pit, playground area, and natural flora and fauna, which is completely wheelchair accessible;
  • wood pellet boilers, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and making the new hospital more energy efficient;
  • dedicated elevators for the public, which are separate from elevators for patients and staff, to enhance privacy and mobility throughout the facility; and
  • 375 parking stalls, almost double the 188 that were available for staff and public at the old hospital.

These are just some of the highlights of our new territorial hospital. It has also been designed to maximize natural light throughout and to be able to grow and adapt to our future healthcare needs. It is a beautiful facility, and it will welcome patients, their loved ones, and staff from throughout the North.

It should come as no surprise that there has been a great deal of public interest in the new facility. Earlier this month we escorted over 250 guests on tours of the new hospital. Unfortunately, we weren't able to accommodate all requests, but we plan to make videos available that will feature all of our program and service areas. These will be available on the Stanton Renewal website later this summer.

I also want to thank my MLA colleagues and all of those who shared information on changes in services in and around our first patient day. This allowed our staff and patients to move into the new facility as efficiently as possible and prioritized emergency and labour services. As is the case whenever you move into a brand new facility, we know that there will be some hiccups as staff and patients get used to our new hospital. During these early days of operation, staff will be working diligently to minimize any inconvenience wherever possible and to ensure that we can deliver the best service possible

Mr. Speaker, later this summer we will hold a grand opening event for the new Stanton Territorial Hospital. It will be an opportunity to thank all of our staff, partners, stakeholders, and volunteers who have been involved in making this project a success and a chance to celebrate our new hospital as a key part of how we hope to achieve our goal of Best Health, Best Care for a Better Future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 181-18(3): Stanton Territorial Hospital - First Patient Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 5576

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 182-18(3): Climate Change Strategic Framework Action Plan
Ministers' Statements

Page 5576

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Government of the Northwest Territories made a mandate commitment to develop a territorial climate change strategy that takes into account northern energy demands and the cost of living, while reflecting international and national commitments to lower greenhouse gas emissions.

Last year on May 1st, the Government of the Northwest Territories released the 2030 Northwest Territories Climate Change Strategic Framework. This is our government's coordinated, comprehensive response to mitigating and adapting to climate change, outlined in the following three goals:

  1. Transitioning to a strong, healthy economy that uses less fossil fuel, thereby reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030;
  2. Increasing understanding of climate change impacts occurring in the Northwest Territories; and
  3. Building resilience and adapting to a changing climate.

Last month, the Government of the Northwest Territories publicly released the first five-year action plan to put the vision of the framework into motion. The 2019-2023 Action Plan identifies work currently under way or resourced to take place within the next five years, as well as high-priority areas that we need to secure partnerships to accomplish and a tracking process for implementation.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to reviewing the action plan and reporting on our progress annually. After five years, a review of the action plan will guide the development of an updated action plan for 2025-2029 to ensure that we continue to meet the coming challenges and opportunities related to climate change.

Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories is on the front lines of climate change and has been experiencing impacts for decades. We remain committed to addressing the threats that climate change poses to the sustainability of Northwest Territories communities and the health and safety of our residents.

We know we cannot do this alone. The action plan was informed by input from partners, including Indigenous governments and organizations, community governments, the Government of Canada, co-management boards, non-government organizations, industry, and academia. All partners, including the Government of the Northwest Territories, need to make significant commitments to implement the action plan. The Government of the Northwest Territories' commitment and investment to addressing climate change is demonstrated by the actions it is leading or partnering to achieve.

As the Northwest Territories is a small jurisdiction with limited resources, support from Canada and other partners will be essential for action plan implementation. We continue to work with the Government of Canada to find funding that supports our long-term vision and approach to energy and climate change that will enable the Northwest Territories to transition to a strong, healthy economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels. As the lead department responsible for climate change, Environment and Natural Resources will provide strong leadership on related coordination within the Northwest Territories and with other jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker, through implementing the 2019-2023 Action Plan, I believe that the Northwest Territories will be able to respond to the challenges and opportunities associated with climate change by improving knowledge of climate change impacts, increasing adaptation and resiliency, moving towards a lower-carbon economy, and doing our part to contribute to national and international efforts on climate change. We look forward to working with our partners to achieve the actions set out in the 2019-2023 Action Plan. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 182-18(3): Climate Change Strategic Framework Action Plan
Ministers' Statements

Page 5577

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's Statement 183-18(3): Unlocking Our Petroleum Potential
Ministers' Statements

Page 5577

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, in the Northwest Territories, responsible resource development is at the core of who we are. It drives our economy, has generated billions in opportunities for northern and Indigenous-owned businesses, and provides thousands of jobs to residents.

Our natural resource wealth is not limited to minerals. We also have some of the world's largest reserves of natural gas and oil, both onshore and offshore, and these resources, if developed safely and responsibly, will result in significant long-lasting benefits and returns for NWT residents.

Mr. Speaker, as part of advancing the territorial vision of land and resource management in accordance with the Land Use and Sustainability Framework, our government made a commitment to introduce a new petroleum resources strategy.

The Petroleum Resources Strategy: A Path to Northern Benefits and Energy Security was tabled in May of 2018 and is part of our government's overarching vision for addressing energy and climate change in the NWT. It has set the stage for the steps that our government is taking to restore confidence and investment in NWT petroleum resources.

We have introduced amendments to the Northwest Territories' Petroleum Resources Act and the Oil and Gas Operations Act to increase transparency and accountability.

We have formally begun negotiations on the agreement for the management of oil and gas resources in the Arctic offshore that we hope will result in a new offshore oil and gas regime comparable to those already in place off Canada's east coast.

Although disappointed with how the moratorium was imposed, we also recognize that Canada has a need to provide a legal basis upon which to implement this moratorium.

The Government of the Northwest Territories' current focus is moving forward towards co-management of the Northwest Territories' Arctic offshore waters and resources. We are working with Canada and other partners on the five-year review of the moratorium.

We also want to ensure that the review is evidence-based and evaluates the different regions of the Arctic individually, as the Beaufort in particular has benefited from many years of study. The Government of the Northwest Territories needs this new management regime, comparable to the Atlantic accords, to ensure Northerners will be decision-makers on oil and gas exploration and development in our offshore, including making decisions on if, when, where, and how it happens.

Mr. Speaker, as we adapt to the realities of climate change, the transition to a strong, healthy economy, less reliant on fossil fuels, will benefit all residents and communities. Our government's petroleum strategy also recognizes more immediate opportunities that exist for our gas to be developed locally to reduce the cost of living, displace diesel for a cleaner environment, and create long-term jobs. These opportunities include working with the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation to support the completion of a feasibility study to produce natural gas from local wells and use those resources to generate electricity and heat in the Inuvialuit Settlement Region.

With a view to the future, we are also working with the federal government to address the infrastructure deficit that exists in our territory.

If our government is going to promote economic growth and prosperity for all residents, strategic investments in infrastructure that support responsible development are key. Investments in the Mackenzie Valley Highway, in particular, will help increase the viability of oil and gas resources in the Sahtu. However, if we are going to get our petroleum resources to market, we must also change the way we look at traditional infrastructure like pipelines.

As we continue our work to implement the Northwest Territories petroleum strategy, our northern perspective offers a unique competitive edge and an opportunity to consider a new direction for getting our gas to market, both figuratively and literally. Instead of going south, where the shale boom has flooded the gas market, we have been approached by investors interested in transporting our LNG resources west from the Arctic coast, where the Beaufort Sea offers a route to the Bering Strait and on to Tokyo.

We know that LNG is being sold in the Asia-Pacific region at six or seven times North American prices, and consensus research tells us the demand for natural gas in this region will continue to grow until at least 2050.

Mr. Speaker, we have incredible, proven reserves of Arctic natural gas, once destined to flow south through the prosed Mackenzie Valley pipeline. While controversy rages across Canada over pipeline megaprojects to move gas to tidewater, more than 6 trillion cubic feet of defined NWT gas sits in our Mackenzie Delta, just a short pipeline away from the Arctic coast.

Technological advances mean that, once these resources reach the coast, they could be processed and distributed for transportation from floating platforms, where ships capable of navigating through Arctic ice can make the journey to Asia.

These are not unproven technologies. Icebreaking LNG tankers are already in use between the Yamal Peninsula and Vancouver, and floating LNG platforms are in use off the coast of Russia, Malaysia, and Australia. From the delta of the Mackenzie River, it is just over 3,800 nautical miles through the Beaufort Sea and the Bering Strait to Tokyo. By comparison, it is 4,300 nautical miles from Vancouver to Tokyo and well over 5,100 nautical miles from the Yamal Peninsula to Tokyo.

The Mackenzie Delta is well positioned to be a supplier of LNG globally. It is a region of potential and ultimately can be Canada's first highway to the Arctic Coast without crossing other jurisdictions. The region has active Indigenous businesses with experience in oil and gas and a history of working with industry to get things done. This is all a stark contrast to what companies must navigate in other jurisdictions.

There is still a lot of work and research needed to make this concept a reality, but as we continue to implement our petroleum strategy and advance and define our approach to climate change, the development of our territory's natural gas resources offers a means to reduce our use of fossil fuels, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and realize greater energy security, all while providing economic benefits and opportunities. Secure and sustainable sources of energy will create a more prosperous territory for everyone. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 183-18(3): Unlocking Our Petroleum Potential
Ministers' Statements

Page 5578

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Lands.

Minister's Statement 184-18(3): Finding Common Ground
Ministers' Statements

Page 5578

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has a mandate commitment to have land use plans in all regions of the Northwest Territories. Furthermore, the government's vision of land management, articulated in the Land Use and Sustainability Framework, states that we will promote and support land use planning in all regions of the Northwest Territories.

Regional land use planning in the Northwest Territories has been a key component of our evolving land and resource management regime since 1983, when the Basis of Agreement on Northern Land Use Planning was signed by the federal and territorial governments, the Dene Nation, the Metis Association of the Northwest Territories, and the Tunngavik Federation of Nunavut. The concept of land use planning has been incorporated into each land claim agreement that has been signed since that time.

To foster the conversations and relationships to support these objectives, the Department of Lands created the NWT Land Use Planning Forum in 2015 to bring Indigenous, regulatory, territorial, and federal planning partners together. Each year, the partners gather to exchange ideas and build a shared understanding of how to advance land use planning in the Northwest Territories. In other words, by finding common ground, Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories can facilitate and coordinate the important and necessary work to complete land use plans in every region of the Northwest Territories. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to land use planning as a central feature of our land and resource management regime across the territory.

Mr. Speaker, a land use plan is both a process and a document. Land use plans are developed collaboratively to reflect the values of Indigenous people, residents, and communities in a planning area. The plans create the rules for use of the land that will promote their social, cultural, and economic well-being. The process of land use planning itself builds confidence for communities, and the completed plan provides certainty for land users on how and where development can proceed. Completed land use plans will improve investor confidence, which in turn will support growth in important economic sectors such as tourism, agriculture, and resource exploration and development.

Our government remains committed to land use planning as a central feature of our land and resource management regime in all areas of the territory, and continues to create tools to help us advance this commitment in partnership with other land managers in the Northwest Territories. Later today I will table "Finding Common Ground," our commitment to strengthen partnerships and support land use planning.

Finding Common Ground describes the approach to advance land use planning and the accountability framework for that approach. It was developed in partnership over four years, beginning with the first NWT Land Use Planning Forum in 2015. The Finding Common Ground approach aims to strengthen existing government-to-government relationships among the Government of the Northwest Territories, Indigenous partners, and Canada to:

  • advance land use planning in a way that supports the completion of outstanding land, resources, and self-government agreements with the Akaitcho Dene, Dehcho, and Acho Dene Koe First Nations, and the Northwest Territory Metis Nation;
  • establish a new land use planning process for Wek'eezhii; and
  • renew the land use plans for the Sahtu and Gwich'in.

Mr. Speaker, who gets to use the land and resources in the Northwest Territories and how it is managed matters to all of us. Finding Common Ground is one way the Government of the Northwest Territories and federal and Indigenous government partners are working together to provide clarity and certainty around how land and resources are managed and used, and this renewed commitment to land use planning will help us make wise land use decisions for this territory and its people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 184-18(3): Finding Common Ground
Ministers' Statements

Page 5579

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Reconciliation and Co-Drafting Legislation
Members' Statements

Page 5579

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm proud to be a Canadian and a Northerner, and I'm proud of our shared history as a country and many peoples and nations, but not all of our history deserves celebrating. As we share international achievements, we must equally share in the mistakes from our past, and those which are still repeated today. We must reflect on the pernicious legacy of wrongheaded policies that work to victimize and harm the peoples with whom we co-exist.

Nowhere is this more apparent than in the wrongs inflicted on Indigenous Peoples and Nations through cruelty of the residential school systems, the all-too-frequent failure to honour treaties, standing by and ignoring third-world conditions which exist on many First Nation Reserves, and the ongoing crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. These wrongs must not be forgotten, yet we must have hope for the future. Governments can learn from mistakes of the past and, in some important respects, the GNWT has made meaningful progress towards real reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples in the Northwest Territories.

This House is considering a concert of bills respecting lands and resources which were co-drafted with Indigenous governments. Well beyond consultation, Indigenous leaders had a seat at the table to ensure these crucial laws respecting what happens in their traditional territories included their values and perspectives.

During recent committee hearings, honourable Members were told directly that this process works and represents a clear realization of reconciliation. Co-drafting can be slow, and it's not without differences of opinion, but if this ensures our government is actually walking the walk when it comes to reconciliation, then it's crucial we continue down this path and invite Indigenous governments back to the table for the development of regulations and other matters arising from these proposed laws. This model of law-making should be celebrated and used as an example in Canada and the world on how to honour and respect Indigenous Peoples, develop meaningful government-to-government relations, and deliver on the promises of reconciliation.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I want to commend this government for establishing the co-drafting mechanism for these laws, encourage our Premier and Cabinet to stay the course, and show Canada and the rest of the world that we can continue to do better. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Reconciliation and Co-Drafting Legislation
Members' Statements

Page 5580

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Giant Mine Remediation
Members' Statements

Page 5580

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Giant Mine remediation project is crucial for the people of Yellowknife. Constituents have concerns with the process that they've been raising with me. It's important that the plan accommodates everyone's legitimate concerns and interests.

Mr. Speaker, two groups with significant interests are the Yellowknife Historical Society and the Great Slave Sailing Club. Over the years, both have made substantial investments in the area. Now, they're concerned that the remediation plan won't meet their needs.

The Historical Society is developing a destination site that reflects our mining heritage. That includes a community museum in the old Giant Mine Rec Hall. While their current sublease guarantees them continued use of that building, it doesn't assure them access to other adjacent areas and buildings they also plan to use as part of their development. The Historical Society also promotes the preservation of the natural landscape, and is concerned about plans for extensive blasting. The blasting would provide material needed to fill in existing pits, but it's planned for areas that are highly visible to the public. The society is concerned about the potential environmental degradation.

The Sailing Club has operated in its current location for 40 years and has a significant investment in infrastructure. The club supports the remediation plan, but members understood that it would happen in stages. That would allow them to continue to use the dock and mooring locations, but in the remediation plan that was released last summer, that suddenly changed.

Mr. Speaker, the remediation of such an enormous contaminated site is a huge and complex task. We should acknowledge the Giant Mine Project team and all the people involved at every level, and the enormity and scale of the work they've taken on. Environmental rehabilitation and public safety are the highest priorities, but there are extensive public interests in the area, and I suggest that it's important that the remediation plan take everyone's needs into account.

Mr. Speaker, the project's work plan outlines opportunities for public hearings and intervention by interested parties. I urge everyone to participate fully and make sure the process is truly responsive. It's important for everyone with interest in the area to be part of finding solutions, to make sure that the remediation project is done right. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Giant Mine Remediation
Members' Statements

Page 5580

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.