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.

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Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

August 22nd, 2019

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Alfred Moses Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Yes, I know the Member and I have had discussions on this in terms of some of the communities, I don't want to say "that can't manage", but need the resources to assist them, and that is what our department does. We offer and provide services in terms of training through our School of Community Government.

The last thing that we want to do is take administration of the community. I have said this on a few occasions, that we would like our staff to do the work that we need to do at the headquarters and territorial level. We do get people who get elected into communities, but also the administration. I think the SAOs and administration is one that we are always going to seem to have a challenge with. We are there to provide support to communities to ensure that we are able to help them administer their programs and services in the communities.

I have had conversations with the Member as well as the leadership. Most recently, we have sent letters to the leadership in the communities that the Member may not have mentioned, but he understands that we are communicating and we are there to provide assistance. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister Moses. Mr. Thompson.

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I thank the Minister for that clarification. I am not asking them to come and administer the funding and do the co-management. I appreciate the department regional staff has reached out. What I am hearing from the communities is they are at capacity. If we get them out to do training, that is the one or two individuals who are actually operating the community. Training doesn't help. They are asking if there is some way that we could build capacity.

Minister, I understand we have talked about it. I am just telling you what I have been hearing again from the communities moving forward, is that what they are asking for is some help with project management; if it is not the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, if it is Infrastructure, because in the past we used to do that especially for the smaller communities. My next question, then, is: is part of this funding available? Could they hire somebody to do that job? Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. Minister McLeod.

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I do know that MACA is more than willing to go the communities and work with them on some of the issues that they are facing. I think they are even able to be in a position to provide them some technical advice. To the Member's question, though, my understanding is they are. They can use some of that money to hire themselves a project officer or project manager to help them through that project.

I speak from first-hand experience because, during my time in MACA, I do know there were a couple of projects where the community hired a project officer who did a really nice job. The next community I had a project coming in, hired actually the same project officer come and manage their job. They have that ability. MACA is more than willing to work with a community on some technical and administrative advice. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister McLeod. Mr. Thompson.

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I appreciate the Minister's answer. I understand what advice is. The challenge is that maybe here is an avenue that we can maybe utilize some of the funding to hire somebody, because that is what they need. They need to have somebody to help them with the project. I appreciate the Minister's answers. No further questions.

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Thompson. Next on the list, we have Mr. McNeely.

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Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Chair. I support this capital plan. In looking back at the first presentation made by the Minister to the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning on August 6th, in reviewing, as I mentioned in my Member's statement here today, the variety of expenditures and capital projects that this budget would support and also taking into account here the other investments made into asset upgrading programming, it makes me comfortable that there are supports for opportunities in the smaller communities and the communities that are impacted. I am encouraged by that and look forward to hearing in detail by the departments and working with the appropriate Ministers to ensure that benefits from these projects and ongoing O and M and upgrades to existing buildings are being done to the maximum participation by the local communities and region. Thank you, Mr. Chair.

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. McNeely. Would the Minister like to reply? Minister McLeod.

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Chair. Am I replying to the statements made by all Members or just the Member in particular?

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

It was more of a comment, anyway. I just thought you might want to respond. We can carry on. Any further comments? Okay. If there are no further comments, does committee agree to proceed to the detail contained in Capital Estimates 2020-2021?

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Some Hon. Members

Agreed

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Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Frederick Blake Jr.

Agreed. Thank you, committee. Thank you, Members. We will start with the Legislative Assembly. Minister McLeod.

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Chair. What my point was: I was waiting for an opportunity for all Members to have their general comments. I thought, after that, I would reply to them as a whole. I thought we might have had one or two more Members who were going to make general comments. My apologies if I didn't catch that. I would like an opportunity just to respond to a couple of comments in general before we get into the detail.

This is a huge capital budget. There was some concern with the capacity. Because we are having so much money flow out the door, there will be some concerns with capacity, but we are taking steps to address that. Carry-overs were another concern. We have full concern with carry-overs. Part of that, sometimes, in the arrangements with the federal government, they require a bit more information. It takes us a little longer to try to get the projects out the door, not just information from us, but information from the areas that the projects are going into.

I think a good example is the maintenance camp that the Member for Mackenzie Delta made reference to, where it was supposed to be. The location it is in now is actually probably the best location. Because of concerns raised by the Indigenous governments up there, we have tried to work with them to find a location that was agreeable to all. That has taken a bit of time. I think this was on the books for last summer, maybe even the summer before.

Some of the questions around the money for communities, Members know that we put some money into the overall CPI funding, as I said before, was $27 million in 2000 for years, where you have about $29. That will only address part of the problem.

I do know there is a concern from the communities with the O and M funding. We have tried to make some arrangements with them on that. There will be an opportunity for the first budget in the 19th Legislative Assembly to speak to the O and M funding. I think, in this government, we put $8 million towards the over O and M funding. I would like to think that made a bit of an impact. Then, a lot of it, the costs are going up every year to do business. We tried to work with them on that.

This is a huge infrastructure budget. I think it is probably the largest one we have ever had in this government. I think $132 million of that is money that we were able to leverage from the federal government, which would allow us to put more projects on the ground and see more of our people working. I would like to get to the point where our capacity, with all the work that we have done, is so good that our folks would be able to just take advantage of all this money.

We hear concerns about contracts being let, firms from down south bidding on them. Because they have the low bid, they are given the project. They bring in all their own people, and there is not much benefit for local businesses or workers. We try to work into a lot of our projects where they take advantage. Those are still going to happen, but we have taken great steps, I think, in trying to ensure that all the local businesses and workers are able to take advantage of some of the capacity.

Again, this is a huge capital budget, and I've come to the realization that sometimes it doesn't really matter how good it may be for the people of the Northwest Territories. There's always going to be opposition to it, and some of the opposition I've seen from day one of this Assembly, and that's fine. Some of the opposition to this I've seen in the last couple of days, because we have a period coming up there where Members are going to have to hit the campaign trail. What I respect is the fact that there were some messages that I heard today that I heard from the first day of this Assembly, and those messages haven't changed. I've got respect for that.

We're all concerned, but this is a good opportunity to create some employment for the people of the Northwest Territories. The schools that we need to build will have children to put in them because we have opportunities for their parents to work; then they can go to school. We don't want them to be going to school in jurisdictions outside the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Chair.