This is page numbers 5945 - 5992 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.

Topics

Grizzly Bears in Aklavik
Members' Statements

Page 5949

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Disruptions to Digital Connectivity
Members' Statements

Page 5949

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to address a sadly reoccurring issue: disruptions to our digital connectivity. Since the beginning of 2019, we have dealt with three roughly day-long service interruptions; May the 8th, July 13th, and yesterday, August 12th. I must acknowledge that the incidents are still under investigation by the RCMP, and I trust that they will do their utmost while investigating these matters.

However, I am concerned about the bigger issues these incidents have brought to the forefront of our attention. Every time we have an outage of this severity, it first and foremost affects our businesses. Transacting any form of electronic payment becomes unreliable or impossible. As the mayor of Yellowknife said yesterday, "It's not just, 'Oh shoot, Facebook is down.' It's people's livelihoods. We need something more reliable." Point-of-sale devices, business and government operations, emergency contact numbers, just to name a few, were all affected by this outage.

Connectivity in the North and other rural areas of Canada has been a hot topic for years. I wonder what steps the GNWT, Ottawa, Northwestel, and other potential governments and service providers have and are considering as a solution to not only secure our tech infrastructure, but also what plans have been explored concerning the building of redundancy measures with greater bandwidth than currently exists.

We know that the bandwidth of the existing redundancy measures is nowhere near sufficient to handle the average daily throughput we need here in the North. This is a problem which must be addressed by the existing service provider with joint effort from the GNWT, Ottawa, and other industry partners alike. Infrastructure protection is a tough topic in Canada, and especially in the North, as we have such vast expanses through which to protect our physical infrastructure. It should be noted that it is incredibly difficult to protect individual assets from malicious damage.

If we wish to overcome this over the next few years and diversify towards a true knowledge-based economy, then we must have quality digital infrastructure and uninterrupted connectivity, with sufficient redundancy in place to ensure that. We have to increase remote learning opportunities and truly build a North that can access the full breadth of information that is out there.

I will have further questions later today for the Minister responsible for our telecoms in the Northwest Territories. Hopefully, he can shed some light on what we are doing to improve our quality of service in the NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Disruptions to Digital Connectivity
Members' Statements

Page 5950

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Relationship between Kakisa and the Government of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

August 13th, 2019

Page 5950

Michael Nadli Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. In 2012, the GNWT developed a respect, recognition, and responsibility strategy to engage with Aboriginal governments. Part of this strategy includes that Aboriginal governments are essential partners in shaping the future and creating opportunities and prosperity in communities and regions. [English translation not provided].

Mr. Speaker, small communities are constantly fighting for services that are taken for granted in larger centres. Their voices can be lost, and the government spends less time considering their needs. Ka'a'gee Tu First Nations have been working hard to advance their key initiative. While some have been addressed, including local housing concerns and establishment of a new dock, there are still pressing concerns about the local water supply and the need for a new office.

Recognition of treaty rights and Aboriginal titles to lands and resources and the right to self-determination of local governments matter. Protocols need to be based on mutual recognition and respect, and consultations with the community are critical to advance priorities of both the community and the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, the respect, recognition, and responsibility strategy states that "The GNWT is committed to building and maintaining mutually respectful government-to-government relationships with Aboriginal governments." I will have questions for the Premier on how he sees the relationship between Ka'a'gee Tu First Nation and the GNWT evolving and how it will follow the respect, recognition, and responsibility strategy. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Relationship between Kakisa and the Government of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 5950

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Yellowknives Dene First Nation and City of Yellowknife Land Transfer
Members' Statements

Page 5950

Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I'd like to talk about the recent agreement between Yellowknife City Council and the Yellowknives Dene First Nation to change a boundary between the city and the YKDFN land. I would like to compliment both the city and the Yellowknives Dene on this agreement. With respect to both parties, it is a solid achievement. It is good to see the positive engagement and collaboration between the city and YKDFN to serve their people's best interests.

It also raised questions, Mr. Speaker, and constituents of Yellowknife North are looking for answers. How will this agreement affect residents of Yellowknife North? What kind of impacts will there be for houseboaters in Yellowknife Bay? What effect will there be on the negotiation of the Akaitcho land rights agreement? Is there any potential downside?

Mr. Speaker, it is important that the people affected by this agreement are consulted. Residents deserve the opportunity to review, consider, and contribute to the discussion about the impact the changes may have on their lives. They want to know who will make sure that there is an effective and thorough conversation among everyone who will be affected.

Over the years, there has been vigorous discussion about the management and access to the harbour front of Yellowknife Bay. Residents and visitors alike use the lake for boating, fishing, sightseeing, business, and pleasure. Considerable work was put into developing a waterfront plan through a city-led harbour planning committee. How will that plan inform the new agreement? Is it time for a harbour commission?

We will also certainly have to consider the effect this agreement might have on the Akaitcho land rights negotiation, as well as the Yellowknife periphery recreational land use plan. It is important to consider the impact it may have on the city's general plan. All of these plans will describe the future of the lands and waters where we all live and where many of us work. It is essential that everyone's interests are fully discussed and considered when creating new boundaries that may affect land use in the future.

I recognize that the consultation and final decisions on this agreement may ultimately fall to the 19th Assembly. However, on this important initiative, robust public engagement and discussions is essential. That is why I am raising it today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Yellowknives Dene First Nation and City of Yellowknife Land Transfer
Members' Statements

Page 5951

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Premiers' Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau regarding Bill C-68 and Bill C-48
Members' Statements

Page 5951

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. On June 10th, our Premier co-signed a letter, along with premiers of Ontario, New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta, to the Prime Minister of Canada. That letter warned that national unity would be threatened if the federal government did not accept numerous changes to federal Bills C-69 and C-48 as dictated by the oil and gas industry.

This action came as a total surprise to this MLA and many residents of the Northwest Territories. I will be the first to defend the Premier in expressing any personal views he may have on such matters, but he signed this letter as the duly elected head of this government, meaning he was speaking on behalf of this government. He was once again significantly breaching the guiding principles of consensus government as approved by himself as Premier and all MLAs in October 2016.

More specifically, these guiding principles state, "Except under extraordinary circumstances, Members of the Legislative Assembly should be made aware of and have opportunity to discuss significant announcements, changes, consultations, or initiatives before they are released to the public or introduced to the Legislative Assembly. Use of the element of surprise is inconsistent with consensus government."

Bill C-69 begins to rebuild federal environmental assessment to restore a modicum of public confidence and decision-making around areas of federal jurisdiction after the virtual destruction of these processes. It actually has very limited application in the Northwest Territories and comes into play only when there is a trans-boundary project or a development of national interest.

Bill C-48 deals with shipping off the west coast of Canada and has nothing to do with the Northwest Territories. It is not clear to me why the Premier felt it necessary to align this government with such a partisan effort, as represented by the letter that he signed.

Later today, I will ask the Premier whether he consulted or informed his Cabinet colleagues about this letter and why he continues to breach the guiding principles of consensus government. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Premiers' Letter to Prime Minister Trudeau regarding Bill C-68 and Bill C-48
Members' Statements

Page 5951

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Access to Education in Communities
Members' Statements

Page 5951

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Over the course of this government, I have had ongoing concerns about the education system in general and specifically about the quality of education delivered in our communities I am here to serve. I believe strongly that a solid education system is the necessary foundation required to move our youth forward and to provide our labour market with the workers it needs to fill new positions and complete succession planning that result in more northern people in northern jobs.

Mr. Speaker, we are obligated, both in a fiduciary sense and a moral one, to ensure that all youth throughout the Northwest Territories have access to high-quality education that equips our youth to reach their fullest potential and be able to find meaningful, well-paid employment. I have been heartened to see the technology advances in education that are making education more accessible in our rural and remote regions, and I want to see youth in the communities that I serve benefit from this progress.

The NWT has seen all kinds of progress from before and during my time in this Assembly, with land claim settlements, self-government agreements, and greater understanding that we have reached through the truth and reconciliation process and the release of the Final Report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. We know that we have need to do a better job for our youth. Over my term, I have worked diligently to improve education in the communities I serve. I have brought the concerns of my constituents forward and have worked with the Sahtu leadership, the Minister responsible, and my colleagues to find solutions. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Mahsi.

---Unanimous consent granted

Access to Education in Communities
Members' Statements

Page 5952

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, just this past month, I came together with the Sahtu leadership in the beautiful community of Deline to discuss the delivery of education in our region and benefitted from the work of my esteemed colleague from the Deh Cho riding, Mr. Nadli, in this area. Through these discussions and many others, I have greater appreciation of the challenges we face and will have questions for the Minister responsible later. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Access to Education in Communities
Members' Statements

Page 5952

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Status of Services for Seniors In Yellowknife
Members' Statements

Page 5952

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Seniors are the heart of my constituency and, through the next decade, their population will grow by 134 households in Yellowknife each year. The fact that the seniors population is growing is not news. Our lack of preparedness to meet their needs is today's headline.

The NWT Housing Corporation has a suite of programs for seniors to repair their homes and complete retrofits so they can stay in their homes as they age. That is all good, obviously. The problem is that, while the seniors population has been increasing, program funding has not. The same amount of money is available this year as it was last year for programs such as CARE. The total budget for the NWT for aging in place retrofits is just half a million dollars. In our mandate, we said we would help seniors to age in place, but the truth is there are a lot of gaps.

Mr. Speaker, here in Yellowknife we have a crisis of available and affordable housing for seniors. Not one, and let me say that again, not one new unit has been added to the inventory during the term of this Assembly. There are 60 people on the waiting list for AVENS Court; 49 on the waiting list for public housing; and there is a backlog of seniors in emergency shelters, as well. We need at least 100 new units for independent living, and we need them now.

We also need new investments in homecare to help people age in place. I am looking forward to the paid family and community caregiver project, and I am pleased that Yellowknife is one of the pilot communities, given the size of our senior population, but this program does not include nursing and personal care. We need a plan that addresses the growing need for professional care by people who are trying to retain their independence by living at home.

Last but not least is the day program. Almost three years after it closed, the GNWT still has not found a replacement for the adult day program. I realize the Minister has looked at various options and there is now a survey out for seniors to complete, but the fact is there is nothing in place.

Mr. Speaker, as we age along with the rest of the population, we are going to need increasing support, whether that is help to say where we are, a smaller unit that is more affordable and accessible, services to help us with everyday tasks, specialized nursing, or social inclusion activities. On all of these fronts, the next Assembly must do better than we have. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Status of Services for Seniors In Yellowknife
Members' Statements

Page 5952

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Prevention of Alcohol Bootlegging
Members' Statements

Page 5952

Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Alcohol is a big issue in our communities, including regional centres and Yellowknife. In the last government, I was the Minister of Health and Social Services for two years. I could not believe that we were spending well over a million dollars a day in that department.

As I travelled to the communities, I asked the nurses what they thought were the biggest cost drivers in their communities. In almost all cases, they said alcohol.

I believe the causes of alcohol abuse in small communities, some of the causes, can be attributed to bootlegging. Mr. Speaker, I think it is time for us as a government to look at ways of preventing bootlegging from running a thriving business at the expense of our citizens.

Recently the City of Yellowknife discussed liquor store hours. Maybe there is merit in looking at changing liquor store hours one way or the other. Maybe you have liquor store open hours longer that will have the customers go to the liquor store instead of a bootlegger, or maybe we shorten the hours, I have not thought about that fully, to get away from the bootleggers, or maybe we shorten the hours. I do not know what it should be, but it certainly should be reviewed, Mr. Speaker.

The one thing our government may want to look at is the restriction on the amount of liquor that a customer can buy. A person should not be allowed to buy cases and cases of hard liquor, take them home for after the liquor store hours are closed, and then they have it for resale. We put restrictions on the purchase of cannabis and the possession of cannabis. I think we can do the same with alcohol. We must find a way to prevent the bootleggers from going to the liquor store and buying all kinds of alcohol, and everybody knows it's for resale, without affecting the average citizen who wishes to go to the liquor store and buy some wine or some beer or even some hard liquor for themselves, for their own consumption in their homes, so we must find a happy medium. Allowing bootleggers to buy unlimited amount of alcohol from liquor stores is not correct, and that should be stopped. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.