This is page numbers 5679 - 5712 of the Hansard for the 18th Assembly, 3rd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was going. View the webstream of the day's session.

Topics

Question 752-18(3): Northwest Passage Discussions
Oral Questions

Page 5689

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

All of the major federal political parties should have platform positions on how to strengthen Canada's position in the Arctic. I am working to raise the profile of the Arctic, and will look at many opportunities including letters to the political party leaders to get this issue the attention it deserves in the upcoming federal election. I should point out that, four years ago, we wrote letters to all of the political parties and their leaders, and we had very good, detailed responses to the questions that we raised, so it's certainly a good way to getting attention during the federal elections.

Question 752-18(3): Northwest Passage Discussions
Oral Questions

Page 5689

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5689

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have some questions for the Minister of Infrastructure. It might be better suited to the Minister of ENR, but I've been assured by his staff that the Minister of Infrastructure can answer at least part of these questions. It's about the highway closure on Highway 35 in Alberta. Now, there's a concern that Highway 35 leads out of Alberta, and there's really not a lot of Alberta infrastructure north of that highway, but for us in the territory, that highway is very important. There is some concern that maybe Alberta isn't putting the resources in there they could be to put that fire out so that we can open that highway up. Would the Minister of Infrastructure be able to give us an update on what the Government of Alberta is doing in order to put that fire out so that we can open the highway up? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5689

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Infrastructure.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5689

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we talked about this yesterday in the House, and I think this is timely to have this question anyway to inform everyone what's going on. The Alberta government has reassured us that they are in full response of this fire. They have their own incident management team managing the fires in Alberta. They are well aware of the situation that's going on there, and I think the whole country is quite concerned about what is going on down there. I have talked to an ENR minister in his department to get an update on all activities on what's going on, and the Department of ENR has a resource-sharing agreement with the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre, and we have mutual sharing aid agreements across this country. The Government of the Northwest Territories has exported to Fort McMurray, because that's where the Alberta government has asked them to send them, but we have exported an information officer. We have exported one complete Fire Boss group consisting of an air attack officer and four air tankers and a Bird Dog plane. ENR is also committed at this time to offer four crews, which would be up to 20 firefighters, which are going to be available starting Monday, June 3rd, with the expectation that, every two weeks, we would be rotating out the firefighters.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5689

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

It doesn't sound like we're directly dealing with the fire, but we're sending resources down there where they're needed so Alberta can put resources toward the Steam River fire. Is the GNWT coordinating with the Government of Alberta to implement a plan to begin allowing motorists to travel along that highway by night with a convoy, or at least to let essential goods down that highway?

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5690

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Again, to update the House, as of yesterday, the Alberta government, it's their fire. It's their jurisdiction, and they're in charge of things. They are escorting essential goods through this section of highway for the residents of the Northwest Territories as long as it's safe to do so, and as of yesterday, we're doing that. We are also communicating all these messages, as I said yesterday, publicly through Twitter, our online road map system, messaging boards and such, so the travelling public knows what's going on. There will be questions, I suspect, about Highway No. 7 through the Fort Liard region. That route is certainly open. I've had a few people phone me, and the Member made the statement today, it's double the mileage, but at this point right now, if you want to drive back and forth to either BC or Alberta, you're going to have to use Highway No. 7. That is the only available route at this point.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5690

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

In addition to the highway being out, the railroad is closed, and not necessarily from the Steam River fire but from the High Level fire. As we learned yesterday, the rail bridge at Steam River was consumed by fire, apparently. Does the Minister know how long it would take CN to repair its railways after they have access to it? Because, if they have to rebuild the bridge, there might be other sections, and I'm just wondering how far behind this could put us in terms of the marine resupply.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5690

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Yes, the Member is right. I got a picture sent to me today of the trestle actually burning to the ground there. Actually, the fire was so hot that it warped the railroad, so there's going to be significant work that is going to have to go into this, and we're in constant contact with CN, and keep updated on how they're going to address this situation.

As far as the fuel goes, we've already got hold of the fuel supplier, and they have activated their fuel response team. They reassure us that they've got a trucking solution already put into place to get the fuel to Hay River to try to meet our barge schedule and maintain it as close as possible. We don't foresee that as being a concern at this point right now. As it is going to have to be trucked in the short term, the fuel supplier told us and reassured us that they are going to do that, and they expect to have trucks rolling as soon as tomorrow. As I've said, at this point right now, essential goods and fuel will be escorted through the fire situation at this point unless it gets too dangerous, and we're also looking at a long-term trucking solution to be able to meet our sailing schedule and work with CN.

MR. SPEAKER: Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5690

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I know, I think, rail is probably the cheapest way to ship goods, so there's probably an increased cost associated with trucking the fuel, I guess, around the Liard Highway. I know last year we discussed trucking fuel to Inuvik, and it was about an additional $600,000. Does the Minister know what the cost implications would be for trucking as opposed to using rail?

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5690

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Last year when we had those discussions, that was to meet the emergency need, what it would have been to truck it around. It was a hypothetical question, I guess, if we trucked our fuel and staged it out of Inuvik. This situation with delivery of fuel to the Hay River port, I'm going to have to check with our procurement people and see where the delivery of fuel is actually supposed to be. It may be that this extra cost might be burdened by the Government of the Northwest Territories. It might actually be on the supplier of the fuel. I'll have to get that information and get that back to the Member. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 753-18(3): Effects of Fire Emergency Road Closures on the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 5690

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Oral questions. Member for Nahendeh.

Question 754-18(3): Student Financial Assistance
Oral Questions

May 30th, 2019

Page 5690

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Recently, I had an issue brought to my attention about Student Financial Assistance. After doing my own research, I have some questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Mr. Speaker, some students exhaust all their remissible loans or supplementary grants. They end up needing to access student loans, which need to be paid back. In speaking with students, they don't have any issue with that. However, there seems to be a roadblock in the way. It's called an assessment of a student's income. I had one student after getting reassessed only get $120 per month. This did not help the student, so the person had to reach out for help. Can the Minister advise us why we need to do an assessment of a student's income if a student loan is what they are asking for? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 754-18(3): Student Financial Assistance
Oral Questions

Page 5690

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 754-18(3): Student Financial Assistance
Oral Questions

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Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do have to start by saying that we have one of the best student financial supports in the country. I know I've accessed student loans from other provinces and supplementary program for Indigenous people wasn't an option, so I do have to start with that. The other thing is that Student Financial Assistance isn't a basic right. It's a privilege, actually. The Student Financial Assistance isn't meant to provide unlimited financing to everybody in the world to access. It's actually meant to supplement income, and actually support people. It is income tested. We can't just give it to everyone who needs it. We just don't have that kind of money in our fiscal budget, so it is based on a needs assessment to determine how much the student would need.