This is page numbers 6031 - 6090 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 tax.

Topics

Members Present

Mr. Beaulieu, Mr. Blake, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. 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 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 6031

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Good afternoon, Members. Item 2, Ministers' statements. The Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 223-18(3): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 6031

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the honourable Glen Abernethy will be absent from the House today due to illness. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 223-18(3): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 6031

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 224-18(3): NWT Waste Resource Management Strategy
Ministers' Statements

Page 6031

Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Government of the Northwest Territories made a mandate commitment to develop a strategy for improving the way that waste is managed in the Northwest Territories.

Waste management is a shared responsibility, and improving waste management in the Northwest Territories requires a collaborative approach that considers the diverse interests of all groups producing and managing waste.

After extensive engagement, I am pleased to share that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, together with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, has completed and released the NWT Waste Resource Management Strategy and Implementation Plan, a 10-year roadmap to reducing and managing waste in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Waste Resource Management Strategy and Implementation Plan reaffirms the GNWT's commitment to working with our community and private-sector partners to manage the resources and potential economic and environmental benefits from household, commercial, and industrial waste, both from the private sector and our municipalities

The Strategy and Implementation Plan has four overarching goals:

  • Preventing and reducing waste at the source;
  • Diverting waste from disposal;
  • Improving waste management facilities and practices; and
  • Leading by example, through initiatives that help us to "green our government."

These goals are intended to foster a shift away from the current disposal model approach to waste management to one that will reduce the amount of waste from residential and non-residential sources that is sent to landfills. This shift aims to disrupt the current model of making, using, and disposing of resources in order to better protect our environment and reduce the amount of waste that is sent to NWT landfills.

Mr. Speaker, by focusing on improving waste management practices and policies, the strategy will ultimately help communities in the NWT reduce the long-term liabilities and costs associated with hazardous waste and shortened landfill life, and contribute to the green economy by creating opportunities for new businesses and jobs to emerge in the waste management sector.

The Waste Resource Management Strategy and Implementation Plan was developed based on extensive public engagement. I want to thank our residents and the many Indigenous and community governments, regulatory boards, federal agencies, professional associations, non-government organizations, businesses, industry, and commercial operators for helping to shape this 10-year roadmap toward improved waste management in the NWT.

This strategy will help us to reduce waste and support a healthy environment for generations to come. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 224-18(3): NWT Waste Resource Management Strategy
Ministers' Statements

Page 6032

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 225-18(3): Update on Strategic Transportation Corridors
Ministers' Statements

Page 6032

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, early in the life of the 18th Legislative Assembly our government made a commitment to secure funding for the advancement of new strategic infrastructure corridors. It is a commitment that we made in Connecting Us, the Northwest Territories 25-year Transportation Strategy, as well as in our government's mandate.

The three priority transportation corridor projects our government is pursuing are the Tlicho All-Season Road, the Mackenzie Valley Highway, and the Slave Geological Access Corridor. Each of these projects will help connect communities, support employment and training opportunities, increase our resiliency to climate change, and create new social and economic opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to provide an update on these projects.

Less than two years ago, our government opened the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway. Now, we are getting ready for the construction of another new highway: the Tlicho All-Season Road. When it opens, this highway will cover a distance of 97 kilometres and provide year-round access from Highway No. 3 to Whati. The Environmental Review and Regulatory Processes are nearing completion, with construction on track to begin this fall.

Construction and maintenance of the road will result in significant employment and training opportunities for Tlicho residents, which supports the development of a strong northern workforce. In fact, specific requirements have been established for hiring and training local residents. In the long term, the road is expected to reduce the cost of living for the region and support new social opportunities, while helping to attract additional interest from industry in the exploration and development of natural resources.

Mr. Speaker, we are working closely with the Tlicho Government on this project and thank them for their support. The Tlicho Government is an equity partner in North Star Infrastructure, with whom the GNWT has a Public-Private Partnership, or a P3, Project Agreement to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the road. As we have seen with the Stanton Renewal and Mackenzie Valley Highway Fibre Link, P3s are an effective way of delivering large, strategic infrastructure projects that are essential for the Northwest Territories. They allow our government to bring in private-sector expertise and accountability to the process, while preserving government ownership of core public assets.

Mr. Speaker, work has also continued on the advancement of the Mackenzie Valley Highway, focusing on the section of highway from Wrigley to Norman Wells. Last year the federal government announced $102.5 million to advance the highway under the National Trade Corridors Fund. The Government of the Northwest Territories has committed $37.5 million to the project, bringing the total investment to $140 million.

Mr. Speaker, continuing to extend the Mackenzie Valley Highway will connect more communities to the all-weather road system, while increasing resiliency of the winter road system to the impacts of climate change. The project is currently the subject of an ongoing environmental assessment, and work has started on the preparation and submission of the developer's assessment report. The Department of Infrastructure has started holding community engagement sessions in Norman Wells, Tulita, Wrigley, and Fort Simpson regarding the overall project. Additionally, community and stakeholder meetings will take place in the coming months in the Sahtu and Dehcho regions.

Most recently, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated signed a memorandum of understanding to the advancement of the Mackenzie Valley Highway. The MOU outlines how we will cooperate through the environmental review and regulatory processes. Our government is also working with the Pehdzeh Ki First Nation on the advancement of the Mackenzie Valley Highway through the Environmental Review and Regulatory Process.

Mr. Speaker, we also continue to make progress on the Slave Geological Province. Yesterday the Government of Canada announced that it will provide $30 million to support the advancement of the Slave Geological Province under the National Trades Corridor Fund. The Government of the Northwest Territories has committed $10 million to the project, bringing the total investment to $40 million. Funding will support planning and environmental studies that will lead to obtaining permits for road construction.

The Slave Geological Province Corridor will serve as an important transportation, hydro, and communications corridor, improving access to significant untapped mineral potential, helping us green the mining industry, and facilitating future resource exploration and development opportunities. This project is not possible without support from Indigenous stakeholders. I have discussed the project with the Yellowknives Dene, Akaitcho Territory Government, Tlicho Government, and North Slave Metis Alliance. Further discussions with Indigenous governments will continue over the coming months to explore future opportunities for their involvement in the project.

Mr. Speaker, our government also continues to work with the Kitikmeot Inuit Association on its proposed Grays Bay Road and Port project to further our long-term vision of an infrastructure corridor through the Slave Geological Province that will connect to an all-season road in western Nunavut that links to a deep water port on the Arctic Ocean. As we work through the environmental assessments and regulatory processes and pursuing the funding for these projects, we will continue to engage Indigenous groups and work with them to take advantage of the benefits that these projects will bring. We will also work closely with our counterparts in the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to ensure ongoing protection of wildlife and natural environment.

Mr. Speaker, strong, effective partnerships with the federal government and Indigenous governments are essential to the success of these projects. Together, we can improve transportation connectivity across the territory, which will help us achieve our social and economic goals and improve the quality of life in the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 225-18(3): Update on Strategic Transportation Corridors
Ministers' Statements

Page 6033

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Coerced Sterilization
Members' Statements

Page 6033

Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today as an ally to add my voice to the grave and tragic issue of forced sterilization. This is not some past, dark chapter in Canadian history on which we have turned the page. It appears, based on several class-action lawsuits in front of the courts right now, that this barbaric practice is still in use. We hear now more and more voices rising up, sharing their stories, the traumas, and their terror of having been coerced into sterilization. I want to commend all of those who have spoken up to ensure that we hear their stories.

Mr. Speaker, contrary to popular belief, tubal ligation is virtually irreversible. It is undetectable to the untrained eye. Medical records are kept private for good reason, but a systemic review of these records may be the only way to begin to verify data and add weight to what is admittedly anecdotal at this time.

For us to address this issue, we must not only promise to do better, but we must take concrete steps to ensure that full and complete knowledge on the topic is gathered, preserved, and published. We must collect the stories of those who are affected and willing to come forward. We must commission a systematic review of medical records to uncover the full scope of this tragedy. We must continue to bring this to the forefront, and we must remain diligent and unrelenting as we move to take concrete action to criminalize coercion of this type. It is not simply enough to condemn this practice. We must also never forget that providing real support to those affected by this continuing tragedy is among our top priorities.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I will repeat the words of the Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh: "If you suspect that you or someone you know has been pressured for sterilization, make it be known. No person should have the procedure performed on them without free, prior, informed consent. Anything else would be a violation of the victim's human rights."

Sadly, it appears that the echoes of eugenics still haunt us today. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Coerced Sterilization
Members' Statements

Page 6033

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Country Food in Healthcare Facilities
Members' Statements

Page 6033

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When I feel sick, I want comfort food. The same is true for our elders and family members who are in the hospital. Unfortunately, most traditional foods that we want when we are sick are not available in our hospitals and long-term care facilities.

In the Yukon, there is a traditional food program that serves wild game to patients that is donated by local hunters. They fill out a checklist ensuring the food has been handled safely before sending it to the local butcher, who also has to complete a checklist before sending the food to the hospital. At the hospital, liaison staff visit all Indigenous patients to help them access the traditional food, run by the First Nations Cultural Programs Coordinator.

In our last sitting the Minister said that the new Stanton Hospital would have the ability to prepare country food, but that it was not quite ready. I hope to hear from the Minister later today, or the Premier, that they are up and running. I also hope that they are looking at how to get country foods into our other health facilities in the territory and also our long-term care facilities. Thank you Mr. Speaker. I will have questions later today.

Country Food in Healthcare Facilities
Members' Statements

Page 6034

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Marine Transportation Services
Members' Statements

Page 6034

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise to make my statement. The Mackenzie River itself, Mr. Speaker, is 1,650 kilometres in length. In most areas, its 1.6 to 3.2 kilometres in width can present many logistical challenges, particularly during the later part of the low-water season.

I have seen it myself during my boat ride of last month between the communities of Norman Wells and Fort Good Hope. In particular, you have to cross two sets of rapids and, in particular, one just above Fort Good Hope, eight kilometres. There is a landmark rock on the outside of the boat route, the only route on that section that is passable. Now, the rock in my last trip was showing, measuring the low-water season.

Mr. Speaker, this is the main supply chain for many routes and coastal communities, the resupply that is the utmost importance to community residents and businesses that the Marine Transportation Services provides.

Last month, during my visit to the community of Hay River, I was accompanied by the Minister of Infrastructure to tour the Marine Training Centre, which gave me the privilege of meeting two young ladies taking marine courses, one from Deline and one from Tulita. It was quite remarkable to see them, Mr. Speaker, these young ladies pursuing their career choices. Given the logistical challenges that our service company has to resupply and the importance of sustaining those communities and the businesses and supporting the residents in particular the store shops, later, Mr. Speaker, I will have progress questions to the appropriate Minister on the progress of this sailing season on resupply. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Marine Transportation Services
Members' Statements

Page 6034

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.