This is page numbers 5601 - 5648 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 public. View the webstream of the day's session.

Topics

Question 731-18(3): Film and Television Industry Support
Oral Questions

Page 5622

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

May 28th, 2019

Page 5623

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some questions for the Minister of Infrastructure related to my earlier statement about dredging. In my earlier statement, I was talking directly to the federal government because people tell me they listen to what we are saying here, but I am sure, like most people, they tuned out while we were reading that report, so I have some questions about what our government is doing.

It's been tough to get someone to take responsibility for dredging. In 2015, the then Minister of Transportation said:

"I wrote a letter to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and asked the federal government to consider putting money into dredging the Port of Hay River, and I indicated it was vital to the territories for resupply of fuel and food to some communities. I did not get a response."

In a letter to me from the Minister of Transportation, he has stated that Transport Canada has indicated generally that it does not want to fund dredging activities. Given their investment in dredging in the last 25 years, it's clear that they do not. That is because they have ended, the Government of Canada has ended, their national dredging program. They ended it years ago. I would like to know what this government is doing. Like other governments, the Government of Manitoba has a dredging program, so clearly it's within the responsibility of the other territories or provinces, so what is this government doing? Can I get an update from the Minister on dredging the Port of Hay River? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5623

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Infrastructure.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5623

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To update the House or to remind the House, I guess, more than anything, last year, I wrote a letter, actually we applied, Infrastructure applied under the Ocean Protection Plan. If all Members remember that, that is one of the programs the federal government has listed in their mandate going forward. We applied under the 2018 application form for the fund for marine facility planning studies. In that study, in our application with the federal government under the OPP, we asked for planning studies to identify dredging requirements in the Port of Hay River and the Port of Tuktoyaktuk. Both of these facilities are federal facilities. However, this funding application at that time was not approved.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5623

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I have a pile of papers here. I have been doing research, and this file goes back a long time. The Minister said that there was an application for a study to find out where it needs to be dredged. Mr. Speaker, we know. The Minister has given us statements before where he said that there has been surveillance-aircraft reported imagery over the harbour. The coast guard has done sounding operations. There is a price tag for dredging. He tells me it's about $10 million. There is an estimated volume that needs to be dredged of about 100,000 cubic metres. So it seems like this work is here. When I flew over the West Channel the other day, I could see the sand bars in the water. I think that we need to move past studies and we need to move towards dredging. Has the Minister submitted or is submitting any application to the federal government for dredging, not just planning studies but for dredging? Can he elaborate on that?

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5623

Wally Schumann Hay River South

The Member is making his point here. We've talked to different Ministers. Different Assemblies have talked to the federal government about this dredging issue in Hay River and the Port of Tuktoyaktuk. It's an ongoing issue. The federal government got out of this racket in about 2012. That was when they cancelled their program, and they left the jurisdictions hanging. Members and Ministers from that point forward have pushed this issue for a long time. We have in this Assembly, I myself particularly since I have become the Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Infrastructure, have been pushing this issue with different Ministers, and, at the end of the day, they are not that interested. They do not even like the word "dredging" mentioned. What we are doing, our new approach now, is we are working closely with our partners, the Canadian Coast Guard, to explore possibilities of restoring the former federal remote marine resupply sites MoU with our government. We have got an ask in with them, and I am waiting to hear back from the Minister on that. Actually, with any luck here, we are going to be setting up a call, and that will be one of the things I will be discussing with the federal Minister here in the coming weeks.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5623

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

That response is similar to one that was heard in this House on February 4, 2011, when actually the Member for Great Slave at that time asked our then Transportation Minister or now MP a similar question. He said there was going to be some discussions with Coast Guard; they are going to look into getting some dredging done. Hopefully, these discussions are a little more fruitful.

There is another working group that has been put together, and I believe the government is part of it, and it has been led by the harbour authority. It's been around since 2016. Can the Minister give us some updates about what's been going on with that group?

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5624

Wally Schumann Hay River South

The development of the working group is intended to facilitate joint work on issues of common interests concerning marine transportation and marine infrastructure in the Northwest Territories. The Department of Infrastructure will continue to emphasise the importance of dredging in the Port of Hay River and other federal port facilities in the Northwest Territories and particularly Tuktoyaktuk, which is of some concern going forward, too, and to Canadian Coast Guard, but cannot guarantee these efforts will increase the likelihood of dredging.

Now, as I have said in this House and the Member has made quite clear, a number of people have approached the federal government on this issue. They clearly do not want to be involved in this thing, and they are trying to download it as much as they can to the jurisdictions. This is an important issue going forward, particularly this year. My concern already is the low water we see. Great Slave Lake is already down. Many of the Members here who live in Yellowknife can testify to that when they go down to how low the level is. The river system is low. So this is going to be an issue that is going to be of significant importance going forward, particularly with the MTS stationed in Hay River that has to use that port facility. We also have to use the part going into Tuktoyaktuk.

We are going to have to try to find a way with the federal government to help support this initiative because, without their support, it's going to end up on our lap and it's going to cost us a significant amount of money. As all Members in this House know, the financial resources of the 18th Legislative Assembly have been taxed right to the max, and the 19th Assembly is going to be in just as tough shape going forward, so we are going to have to find a way to partner with the federal government and all the people and players in this industry to try to make this happen. I will continue to do that.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5624

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5624

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I agree that the 18th Assembly is in rough financial shape. I think that the 19th is going to be in even worse shape and the 20th in even worse than that. The fact remains that, when something has to get done, it has to get done. We hear about dredging Hay River. We hear about it in Tuktoyaktuk. We hear about it for the ferries. There are some ferries that are in a few inches of water, and that is not sustainable. Will the Minister stop waiting for the federal government to come to the table after 25 years and just pony up and buy some dredging equipment that we can use all across the territory? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5624

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Yes. We can postpone a lot of capital projects to do that. That is going to cost a lot of money. That is not something I am willing to do without an analysis of what this thing would even fathom what this would cost, never mind the permitting that would have to be obtained to do this type of thing. At this point, I am going to continue as the Minister of Infrastructure to work with my colleague in the federal government on this issue. I will update the House when I have a call with him in the coming weeks. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 732-18(3): Dredging the Hay River
Oral Questions

Page 5624

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Nahendeh.

Question 733-18(3): Foster Care
Oral Questions

Page 5624

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Foster parents are a very important part of our child and family system in the Northwest Territories. I greatly appreciate the selfless work that they do to help our children as they grow and develop during difficult times. Mr. Speaker, I have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Can the Minister tell us how many foster parents we have in the Nahendeh region, including those families who make their homes available for emergencies? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 733-18(3): Foster Care
Oral Questions

Page 5624

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 733-18(3): Foster Care
Oral Questions

Page 5624

Glen Abernethy Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are 159 foster caregivers in the Northwest Territories today. Twenty-eight of those are in the Deh Cho. Thank you.