This is page numbers 6353 - 6412 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 assembly.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Glen Abernethy, 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 6353

The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 241-18(3): Successful Relationships with Indigenous Governments
Ministers' Statements

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Bob McLeod Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, the 18th Legislative Assembly has made it a priority to strengthen relationships with Northwest Territories Indigenous governments. We have focused on fostering government-to-government relationships and advancing, finalizing, and implementing land, resource, and self-government agreements. Together we have charted a vision for the economic future of the Northwest Territories, and we have come together to make the case for greater investment and decision-making in our territory.

Our government understands that strong relationships are built on the principles of respect, recognition, and shared responsibility. With this foundation, the Government of the Northwest Territories and NWT Indigenous governments can advance our shared goal of a strong and sustainable future. This includes concluding agreements in order to bring increased certainty to land and resource management in the Northwest Territories and economic opportunities for communities and regions.

In support of this strong and prosperous vision of the Northwest Territories, I am pleased to report that the Government of the Northwest Territories currently has nine signed intergovernmental memorandums of understanding with Indigenous governments, with the most recent signed on June 7th with the Deline Got'ine Government. This collaboration also takes place at the intergovernmental council, where we are working together to promote the harmonization of legislation, policy, and program areas of common interest related to lands and resource management.

Significant collaboration has occurred during the life of this Legislative Assembly, made possible through the Devolution Agreement and the willingness of the Government of the Northwest Territories and Indigenous governments to work together on a government-to-government basis.

Mr. Speaker, this type of collaboration and coordination on lands, resources, and water management is becoming standard operating process amongst our governments and identifying more "made-in-the-North" solutions. We have also made good progress in the finalization of land, resources, and self-government agreements. The Sahtu Dene and Metis of Norman Wells have reached a self-government agreement-in-principle. Significant progress has been made towards the conclusion of a consultation draft of the Inuvialuit Self-Government Final Agreement. We are also optimistic about the prospect of being able to conclude negotiations on a draft of a land, resource, and self-government agreement-in-principle with the Akaitcho Dene First Nations in the near future.

Meeting treaty obligations and honouring the spirit and intent of settled agreements is not only a legal obligation, but also an important part of our overall relationship with Indigenous governments. This work requires a shared commitment by all involved, and implementation committees are an important part of how we advance this work together.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories participates in five implementation committees that oversee the implementation of both land claims and self-government agreements.

Capturing the progress on implementation efforts helps advance future work and is the reason that Implementation Committees publish annual or comprehensive reports on their efforts. Later today, at the appropriate time, I will be tabling reports from the territory's five Implementation Committees. I am pleased to note that, for the first time ever, several of these reports have been translated and published in Indigenous languages. Language is an important part of the cultural identity, and I am hopeful to see this trend continue.

Implementing agreements in an evolving landscape of reconciliation and indigenous governance requires the Government of the Northwest Territories to be adaptable and open to change. This is the reason that the Government of the Northwest Territories is also working with its treaty partners on new and reasonable approaches to better support the implementation of the spirit and intent of previously signed agreements.

Experience has shown that we are stronger and more successful when we work together as partners, and this government remains committed to working with Canada and Indigenous governments throughout the negotiation and implementation of agreements.

Partnership and mutual respect has been the key to success for our territory and has resulted in positive outcomes. The foundation for working together has been nurtured and strengthened by the 18th Legislative Assembly, and this work will continue to advance shared territorial social, environmental, and economic priorities for years to come. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 241-18(3): Successful Relationships with Indigenous Governments
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Minister's Statement 242-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Initial Response to the Final Report of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry
Ministers' Statements

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Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, on June 4th, I tabled the final report of the National Inquiry on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls in this House. The report, entitled "Reclaiming Power and Place," outlines the systemic causes of the violence experienced by Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people in this country. The inquiry's report also presents 231 recommendations as Calls for Justice.

The Calls for Justice cover many areas of public and private activity, including, among others, the justice system and police services, health and wellness programs, human security, and extractive industries. The Government of the Northwest Territories has now completed a high-level review of the report and prepared an initial response to the thematic areas presented in the Calls for Justice. I will be tabling this response later today, at the appropriate time.

In undertaking our review, we were mindful of the upcoming territorial election and conscious that a new government will be carrying this work forward. Once the new government is in place, a more in-depth analysis will be completed, with a view to better understanding the steps necessary to make the response meaningful and effect real change.

As the inquiry began, we recognized that this would be an ongoing project. When the inquiry concluded and the final report was released, we understood that it was not the end of the work, but just the beginning. This initial Government of the Northwest Territories response, called "Doing Our Part," is a signal of our jurisdiction's commitment to keep working, to continue the dialogue, and to keep paying attention to the stories of the families and survivors and to the Calls for Justice.

Mr. Speaker, this is a national issue and some of the solutions have to be national as well. We are encouraged by the Prime Minister of Canada's public announcement that they will be working on developing the National Action Plan called for in the Calls for Justice. We have communicated our jurisdiction's commitment to participate in this national discussion.

Working together on the implementation of the Calls for Justice not only creates the potential for sharing of resources but also builds upon the successes we have had to date. Working together also means bringing many perspectives to the table. To ensure a fair and equitable approach in how we work together with other jurisdictions, we also need to have a northern discussion on what a northern response will look like.

This discussion must include the Native Women's Association of the Northwest Territories, who have been strong partners during the inquiry. When they presented their final submission to the national inquiry, they chose to highlight four key areas that speak to acknowledgement, trust, the need for a person-centered approach, and accountability. The Government of the Northwest Territories supports their recommendations, and we are committed to working with them on these four areas.

Mr. Speaker, I encourage the Members of this House, and all residents, to review the final report, especially the Calls for Justice. It is one fundamental way to honour the courage of survivors and family members of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people. To truly understand the impact of this trauma, we need to read the stories that were shared.

Because these stories can be painful to read, I encourage anyone who is triggered to call on the support services available. The number for the toll free national help line is 1-844-413-6649. You can also call Native Women's Association or community victim services coordinators.

I would like to end by saying, again, that violence is not okay. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to addressing the systemic causes of violence so that Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQQIA people are able to feel safe and empowered in our country and in our territory. Thank you. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 242-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Initial Response to the Final Report of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

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

Minister's Statement 243-18(3): Update on Taltson Hydro and Other Energy Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

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Wally Schumann Hay River South

Mr. Speaker, at the beginning of the 18th Legislative Assembly, our government committed to explore options for renewable and alternative energy sources and to improve our energy conservation efforts. The 2030 Energy Strategy was released in 2018 to provide a long-term vision for energy use and supply in the Northwest Territories. We began implementing the six strategic objectives outlined in the energy strategy last year through initiatives detailed in a three-year Energy Action Plan.

Today, Mr. Speaker, I will provide an update on our government's progress to advance the six objectives of the energy strategy, which will help build an energy system that contributes to the territory's economic, social, and environmental well-being while doing our part in the transition to a lower economy.

The first objective of the strategy is working together to find energy solutions through community engagement, participation, and empowerment. Our government, along with the Northwest Territories Power Corporation, has engaged with many communities on a range of energy projects.

One example is the partnership between the Tulita Land Corporation and Northwest Territories Power Corporation to support a 40-kilowatt solar panel project that will allow the own and operation by the community to reduce the use of diesel in the community. This project shows how communities can lead the way in creating local energy solutions.

Mr. Speaker, the Energy Strategy's second objective involves reducing greenhouse gas emissions from electricity generation in diesel communities. After securing up to $30 million from the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories is in the final stages of the regulatory process for the Inuvik wind project, which will significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the NWT's largest diesel community.

We also secured $15 million in federal funding for a new and more effective generator in Sachs Harbour that will use less diesel and allow for the incorporation of wind power. This generator will be almost 20 percent more efficient than the old one and save about 50,000 liters per year of diesel. The Government of the Northwest Territories has also erected a wind-monitoring tower in Norman Wells and continues to collect wind data in Sachs Harbour and Snare Rapids. Yet another example is the Government of the Northwest Territories monitoring a water-gauge station at Gameti to assess the potential for a mini-hydro project in the community.

The energy strategy's third objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation. This is a particular challenge in our northern environment. Our government is currently conducting energy-efficiency retrofits on a Marine Transportation Services tug through funding provided by the federal Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund, or LCELF. This retrofit will reduce yearly greenhouse gas emission by over 800 tonnes or about 286,000 litres per year of diesel.

Mr. Speaker, the fourth and fifth objectives of the Energy Strategy involve increasing renewable energy used for community heating and increasing commercial building energy efficiency. The Government of the Northwest Territories secured over $7 million from the Low Carbon Economy Leadership Fund and contributed an additional $2 million over the next four years to provide the Arctic Energy Alliance with new funding to expand rebates, programs, and services. Combined, this additional investment will result in an ongoing reduction of greenhouse gas emissions of 2,000 tonnes per year.

Through LCELF funding, our government launched the buildings and industry stream of the greenhouse gas grant program this past spring, providing over $2.5 million a year for industry, businesses, and building owners to make energy-efficiency upgrades such as LED lighting and biomass heating.

The Energy Strategy's sixth and final objective is to have a long-term vision for the Northwest Territories' energy systems when developing our energy potential, addressing industry emissions, and doing our part to meet our national and international climate change objectives. Last year, we secured over $10 million from the federal government to upgrade the Snare Forks hydroelectric facility, which will reduce pressure on electricity rates. We also secured $2 million in federal funding to expand the Taltson Hydroelectric System, with a commitment in the 2019 federal budget for an additional $18 million over the next three years.

Connecting the North and South Slave electrical systems would allow the resource sector to access clean, affordable energy and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It would also help to stabilize the cost of living and of doing business in the Northwest Territories. Our government is currently examining the feasibility of transmission options crossing Great Slave Lake, and is working with our Indigenous partners to define the project structure, business case, and future field work.

Later today, Mr. Speaker, I will table the Government of the Northwest Territories' Energy Action Plan Update, which summarizes what we accomplished in 2018-2019 and describes in more detail energy initiatives planned for the next three years. I will also table the Energy Initiatives Report, which presents a high-level review of the Northwest Territories' current energy landscape, provides the Government of the Northwest Territories' energy expenditures and greenhouse gas reductions, and showcases many of last year's energy initiatives. Together, these documents demonstrate our innovative approach to developing energy systems that will grow and diversify our economy while reducing our reliance on imported fossil fuels.

Mr. Speaker, these successes demonstrate the Government of the Northwest Territories' ongoing efforts to maintain strong partnerships with the Government of Canada as we continue to work toward enabling the Northwest Territories to transition to a strong, healthy economy that is less dependent on fossil fuels. These investments set the stage to achieve the strategic objectives I outlined today and, in turn, meet our goals to transition the Northwest Territories to a lower carbon economy, and build an energy system that will provide a secure, affordable, and sustainable energy for the people of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker

Minister's Statement 243-18(3): Update on Taltson Hydro and Other Energy Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve
Members' Statements

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Tom Beaulieu Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Today, I would like to talk about the newest park that we have in the Northwest Territories, or the country, I guess. Thaidene Nene means the land of our ancestors. On August 20th, we flew from here to Yellowknife with a group of people from Parks Canada, from the federal government, and from the Government of the Northwest Territories to sign an agreement. I wasn't a signatory, but for the signature to be signed by the NWT Metis Government and NWT Metis Nation in Fort Resolution. It was a very beautiful event.

The people from the Metis Nation arrived in Fort Resolution from both Fort Smith and Hay River to show their support. The presidents were there. The president of the NWT Metis Nation was also there. It was quite an event. They had thanked the people in Lutselk'e who had been working on this file for many years, 50 years, actually. Apparently, the first indication that the government and the people of Lutselk'e wanted to see that area of our country protected was back in 1969. It was a nice event.

The following day, on August 21, 2019, we again flew from here with a group of people. We flew into Lutselk'e. People from the Deninu Ku'e First Nation, the chief, and some of his membership and some of his counsellors were also there to sign with the Lutselk'e First Nation, the Government of the Northwest Territories' represented by the honourable Member from Inuvik Twin Lakes, R.C. McLeod. Also, the federal government had Catherine McKenna there signing. She is the Minister of Environment, Minister responsible for Parks.

Again, it was a beautiful event. After we were coming back to Yellowknife, Minister McLeod and I were having a short discussion. He indicated to me, and I felt the same way. We had no idea of the huge significance of the Thaidene Nene and how hard they have worked it, how long they have worked for it until you are actually there to see all of the people and how happy people were, the cheering. We had a full house. Just about everyone in the community was there to wish the people well who were now going to be responsible for protecting that area. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Establishment of Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Development of a Polytechnic University
Members' Statements

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Cory Vanthuyne Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One of the most exciting opportunities for the future in the NWT is the development of a polytechnic university. I am proud that we are taking steps towards making this a reality.

Earlier this week, the Minister released the Strategic Framework for Post-Secondary Education in the NWT. In that framework, I was happy to see the next steps include a strategic plan for Aurora College and an implementation plan for its transformation plan into a polytechnic university. It recognizes that an effective, sustainable institution will remain the central pillar of our post-secondary system.

Mr. Speaker, the world is changing in many ways, and a polytechnic institution is what we need to keep up. It will provide many opportunities for northerners in the growth of a knowledge economy and the development of a capable and versatile northern labour force.

It will support partnerships with other northern institutions, and create a hub for the creation and exchange of ideas among governments, industry, NGOs, and academia. It will reflect our traditional knowledge to create culturally relevant, academic, and applied learning. This will support our growth in culture and language, Indigenous governance, and land-based learning. It will help the NWT take its place at the forefront of academic, circumpolar research, and innovation. It will provide opportunities for our youth in a variety of streams geared to the needs of the growing northern economy. It will foster a culture of creativity, create new approaches to societal challenges, and create a vibrant conversation across the territory.

A polytechnic university will have many benefits for communities throughout the NWT. As a Yellowknife MLA, I believe that Yellowknife has many of the unique conditions that would allow it to support a polytechnic institution. Yellowknife can support the critical mass of a faculty, research, investment in students that will make a polytechnic institution thrive. It has human and civil infrastructure. It is the centre of all levels of government, and much of our business and industry.

Mr. Speaker, the attention of the world is increasingly on its circumpolar regions. A polytechnic university will help move the NWT into a leadership position, providing the tools we need to meet many of the demands facing us as we move into the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Development of a Polytechnic University
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Reflection on the 18th Legislative Assembly and Government of the Northwest Territories Progress
Members' Statements

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Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Having a sound and stable fiscal strategy empowers our government to address new challenges while maintaining and improving programs and services delivery in a manner that produces positive outcomes.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories does an excellent job in promoting our diverse cultures, traditions, and natural resources. Strengthening working relationships with our northern stakeholders and federal counterparts is fundamental to better prepare a fiscal position in capturing and enhancing the opportunities that presents itself.

At the beginning of our term, we were faced with many challenges of realigning our fiscal position through making reductions and implementing revenue initiatives in order to be in a position to make investments as an Assembly. Upon our alignment of reductions and the red alert announcement, there was increased attention to the Arctic and, in particular, the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, as we all know, the Minister of Finance announced he will not be seeking re-election. Under his watch, designing and implementing a fiscal-balanced approach during this Assembly leaves me confident it was the right thing to do. Fiscal deliberations continued, mandate expenditures such as establishing an Ombud's office, and labour concessions. This continued fiscal strategy forged on concerns Northerners shared facing challenges, decisions that our fiscal strategic plan have worked as we have been able to make significant investments in programs and infrastructure during this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, in conclusion, part of the results of these actions have been the development of this coming year's proposed capital plan that will invest $410 million in a variety of capacity-building initiatives and projects. This plan, and all the investments we have made during this Assembly, is something we all should be proud of. Mahsi Mr. Speaker.

Reflection on the 18th Legislative Assembly and Government of the Northwest Territories Progress
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Jackson Lafferty

Masi. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.