This is page numbers 6091 - 6124 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 environmental.

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 10:00 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 6091

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 226-18(3): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 6091

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

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

Minister's Statement 226-18(3): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 6091

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. The Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 227-18(3): Food Establishment Safety Regulation
Ministers' Statements

Page 6091

Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, the demand for safe, affordable, and locally grown food choices continues to rise in the Northwest Territories and is a topic that our government is actively addressing as part of the Government of the Northwest Territories Agriculture Strategy. With emerging agricultural activities and this government's priority to support an increase in local food production, the Department of Health and Social Services recognized the need to update the Food Establishment Safety Regulations, under the Public Health Act, to support Northwest Territories residents in the agriculture and food establishment sectors.

Improving food security by encouraging local food production is one of the main goals of the Agriculture Strategy. An integral part of this work is ensuring that the proper regulatory frameworks are in place to guide and protect the Northwest Territories' agriculture industry, promote safe agriculture and food production, and integrate best practices.

Our first step is updating the Food Establishment Safety Regulations to ensure that the public is buying food that is safe to eat, while also making it easier for operators to produce and sell locally grown foods. This enhances food security overall and promotes economic development in our territory.

Mr. Speaker, the amended regulations came into effect yesterday and reflect current best practices for the primary agricultural activities currently found in the Northwest Territories. These amendments will apply not just to regular food establishments, like restaurants, but also to home food processors and farmers, as well as other operators wishing to grow and sell local, low-risk foods at venues such as farmers' and community markets, out of their home, or through farm gate.

Additional updates to the regulations have also been made to support food security. These include the ability for the Chief Public Health Officer to waive the payment of permit fees, extend durations for temporary permits, and exempt some permitting requirements for home food processors to make it easier to establish home-based food businesses.

Under these enhanced Public Health Act Regulations, current and prospective Northwest Territories food establishment operators will see a more streamlined permitting process. This will result in a clearer and more responsive application process for NWT vendors, which will better determine what type of permit is required. Resources and tools to help food operators navigate this new process are already available on the Department of Health and Social Services' website, and we hope this will make it easier for residents to sell locally grown, low-risk food at venues throughout the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services will continue to work with partnering organizations and fellow departments to grow the Northwest Territories agriculture sector and lower the cost of living for Northwest Territories residents. Through the implementation of updated regulations and our environmental health units' routine food establishment inspections, we will continue to work towards increasing the availability of safe, locally grown food choices for our territory's residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 227-18(3): Food Establishment Safety Regulation
Ministers' Statements

Page 6092

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister of Justice.

Minister's Statement 228-18(3): RCMP in the Northwest Territories
Ministers' Statements

Page 6092

Louis Sebert Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, few services have as direct an impact on our citizens as the policing services provided by the RCMP. This modern relationship continues to develop, providing effective and collaborative policing services in our communities.

Over the past few years, the RCMP in the NWT have placed a deliberate focus on increasing public trust in policing services, working with partners to improve responses for vulnerable populations, and adapting their work to reflect changing legislation and best practices. This includes providing policing services that reflect community priorities and an understanding of the unique cultural history of the communities the RCMP serves. The commanding officer of "G" Division has stressed the importance of regionally-specific outreach activities by members of "G" division. This includes attending feasts and meeting with elders, and that these activities need to be part of members' initial introduction to the community, as well as part of ongoing community engagement, and be consistently applied across the NWT.

Through Policing Priority Action Plans, the RCMP and community leadership work jointly to develop plans for addressing the specific needs of each community. All 33 communities in the NWT have these plans in place. This work is vital to building a relationship of trust between RCMP members and the communities they serve. Additionally, analysis of the community priority plans allows the opportunity to examine current community safety pressures and plan for future demands. A vital part of this collaborative approach is accountability. Action plan reporting tracks the RCMP and community goals and are reported on quarterly. These reports are provided to community leadership to be shared with community members. The action plans are revisited annually and revised as necessary by the community and the RCMP. Through this process, communities have a direct role in making their community safer.

Almost every community has identified stopping drugs and bootlegging activities as a priority. The mutual trust gained from building community action plans has resulted in the support the police need in order to see results in these areas.

I would also like to update Members on the status of our work over the last decade on the First Nations Policing Program. Currently we are expecting an expansion under this program to the territories that will support the priorities of this Legislative Assembly to ensure services are delivered locally with culturally appropriate methods that will support the priorities of communities in the NWT. Before the end of the 2021 fiscal year, we will be seeing additional policing resources to support those detachments that currently serve small communities under the First Nations Policing Program, allowing us to better address the challenges of policing in the North.

Mr. Speaker, members from the RCMP "G" Division, in partnership with staff from the Departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Justice, were instrumental in creating the RCMP history project on special constables in the NWT, the "We Took Care of Them" exhibit. The exhibit celebrates and honours the contributions of Indigenous people in the NWT to policing in the North. This past April, "We Took Care of Them" received national recognition as the winner of the Canadian Museums Association Award of Outstanding Achievement in the Exhibition-Cultural Heritage category. I would like to congratulate the entire team who worked on this project. I can advise Members that this award-winning project has been very successfully received in our communities. All seven educational kits have been distributed and are being utilized by members in the regions during community or school events. In each case, surviving family members or relatives of special constables are invited to attend and join in these presentations, and are encouraged to speak their language.

In addition, one kit has been requested to be on loan to the RCMP Depot in Regina for use with their recruits during their training to advance cultural awareness. We hope that it will make our NWT recruits very proud as they attend Depot for their training this year to see their own history being featured. All RCMP cadets receive cultural awareness training at Depot, woven in with concepts of human rights, harassment, discrimination, ethics, and bias-free policing. Cultural awareness training comprises 66 hours in the Depot training curriculum. Of that, 17 hours is dedicated to Indigenous cultural awareness training. In addition, recruits coming to our local "G" Division have mandatory requirements for an additional six hours of Indigenous awareness training.

I am very pleased to announce that, as of December 2018, three NWT recruits have graduated and have returned to the NWT for their placement. There are still two NWT residents in Depot actively working towards completing their training. In addition, it is my understanding that, since January of this year, 28 other NWT applicants are within different stages of the recruitment process, with the majority being Indigenous applicants. This is a very significant number of northern recruits.

Mr. Speaker, I believe that the longer-term efforts of the RCMP leadership and individual members have made great inroads in regard to community trust and respect. The ultimate goal we are all working towards is safe communities where our citizens can thrive. I applaud the work that the RCMP have been doing to help achieve this goal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 228-18(3): RCMP in the Northwest Territories
Ministers' Statements

Page 6093

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 229-18(3): Investing in World-Class Parks
Ministers' Statements

Page 6093

Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, our territory has no shortage of spectacular sights for visitors and residents to enjoy. Our territorial parks are the starting point for many looking to experience these world-class wonders.

Through the life of this government, and in line with our mandate, we have invested in enhancing these vital assets for the benefit of the growing contingent of tourists choosing the NWT, and our residents seeking to enjoy their recreational time.

With the construction season in full swing, many Northwest Territories residents are already seeing those investments in action. Today I would like to highlight our work to invest in world-class parks infrastructure throughout this mandate, and what that has meant for the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, this summer alone there is almost $7.3 million in work planned. Some of the bigger projects include campsite enhancements in the Deh Cho at Blackstone Territorial Park, new camping loops and structural improvements on our waterfalls route in the South Slave, and smaller improvements that make these parks that much more enjoyable, like kitchen shelters, sports areas, and road repairs.

Throughout this government, we've dedicated more than $3.5 million annually to keep that momentum going, meaning our parks users come back to better facilities at their favourite spots year after year.

Mr. Speaker, we invest in more than just infrastructure. We have invested in planning, like the work under way to enhance North Arm Park to become an even more vital part of our parks infrastructure, or to lay the groundwork for a future where the NWT/British Columbia boundary crossing gets social media coverage like the 60th Parallel.

We have invested in better service by revolutionizing our online service delivery and consistently delivering a better experience for our users, and by upping our staff presence at our parks to keep them clean and safe for our users, and we have invested in marketing our parks to new audiences, reaching road travelers at conferences using targeted advertising for these world-class assets.

These investments have led to big improvements in our parks indicators across all of our regions. At the beginning of this government, we welcomed just over 28,000 overnight visitors in a season. As of last season, we're getting close to 37,000. We have also reached a point where more of these visitors are coming from outside the Northwest Territories, a reflection of how our spectacular parks are reaching new audiences. In fact, some regions see almost 70 percent of their traffic arriving from beyond our boundaries.

Mr. Speaker, early indications are that it will be another great season. From record-breaking opening-day bookings on our website, to packed parking lots and the posts I see across social media, I know residents and visitors alike are enjoying our parks, and our investments in making them better.

We have committed to investing in world-class parks, and the next Legislative Assembly is in a good position to make continued improvements. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 229-18(3): Investing in World-Class Parks
Ministers' Statements

Page 6093

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Colleagues, I would like to draw your attention to visitors in the gallery. We have with us Mr. Robert Bouchard, former Member of the Legislative Assembly. Welcome back to our Assembly. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Yellowknife Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary
Members' Statements

Page 6093

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to salute the exemplary service of the Yellowknife unit of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary, and to thank the volunteers for their continuing contributions to boat safety on our waters.

The Yellowknife command of the Canadian Coast Guard provides marine search and emergency rescue on the north half of Great Slave Lake. The Yellowknife CCGA operates the search and rescue vessels Nick Martin and Diavik Discovery, and collaborates closely with the RCMP in emergency response. Federal funding transfers cover the organization's rescue costs, while local fundraising meets the costs of its extensive training programs.

The unit makes emergency prevention a priority by promoting safe boating to the public at local and regional boat and trade shows. The unit also supports "on the water" community events, such as the Abilities Cup sailboat race, the Commissioner's Cup race, and the Float Plane Fly-In.

Marine rescue services were put to the test again recently for a medical emergency on the big lake. On a cold and blustery morning in July, a call for help went out from the sailing vessel Yola, when its skipper fell gravely ill. Coast Guard Auxiliary responders responded to the distress call, providing the skipper with medical assistance. They relieved the crew, and towed the Yola to safety, where an ambulance was waiting. Unfortunately, Yola's skipper, George Diveky, passed away after being evacuated to medical care, but it was the fast action of the Coast Guard Auxiliary that gave George a chance, and brought the crew and vessel to safety. Yesterday the community of sailors and others remembered him at a wonderful service.

Thanks go out to the crew of the Diavik Discovery, coxswain and liaison Mark Hilman, to Darren and Sharron Sutton, Dawn Keim and medic Kristjan Goodman as well as Zodiac crew Jack Keefe, Alison Gillis, and Robert Anderson. The family were grateful to have Yola and her dinghy towed safely and secured to her mooring, and we all support the unhesitating and professional help of these volunteers.

Please join me in honouring the exceptional public service of the Yellowknife unit of the Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary. Mahsi.

Yellowknife Canadian Coast Guard Auxiliary
Members' Statements

Page 6094

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Mackenzie Delta.

Housing Needs in Mackenzie Delta
Members' Statements

Page 6094

Frederick Blake Jr. Mackenzie Delta

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Minister is well aware, we have a housing shortage in the Mackenzie Delta, with a waiting list of up to three years. Many of my constituents, including myself, would like to see new homes in our communities. More importantly, adding to our stock of homes that we have a limit on.

My communities want to start building their own homes for members, with a partnership with Housing. For example, log homes, as we have timber in the Mackenzie Delta, also woodmeisters for squaring logs or getting the logs to size. This will help keep the costs down and increase the number of homes in our community. I'll have questions later for the Minister. Mahsi.

Housing Needs in Mackenzie Delta
Members' Statements

Page 6094

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.