This is page numbers 6413 - 6444 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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Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, that Bill 61, Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021, be read for the third time, and Mr. Speaker, I would request a recorded vote. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Speaker

Masi. The Member has requested a recorded vote. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Kam Lake.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

August 23rd, 2019

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Kieron Testart Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise to speak to this appropriation bill. I acknowledge that there is a bit of levity in the air today, but the business of the House still must get done, and in this case, it is passing a very large capital budget.

I do not stand in support of this budget on principle, because one of the most important issues to my constituency and to my constituents is the issue of municipal funding and the funding gap that has remained stubbornly unclosed since the start of this Assembly, despite repeated calls for it to be addressed. This budget was last opportunity to add some additional and much-needed funds to our municipalities, and it was not delivered.

After tireless advocating on this side of the House, through business plans, through reviewing budget documents, nothing has still been done, and I told myself that eventually a line would be crossed, and for me, that line is this lack of attention to detail.

The Members on this side of the House and the House itself is not here to rubber-stamp government decisions. It is here to advise government on how to make the right decisions. In this case, there were a number of projects, and this one was very important to me and my community, that were left on the cutting room floor. This has happened time and time again. At this point, I cannot bring myself to support a bill that has essentially been rubber-stamped. It is important that the Ministers are not just there to explain government decisions to this side of the House, but to hear this side of the House, and to incorporate our recommendations into their plans, and especially into their budgets.

Although there are a lot of great projects in this budget, that fundamental issue, which is so important to not just Yellowknife, not just Kam Lake, but to every community in the Northwest Territories, and it is still unaddressed? That is something that I cannot stand for, and I will not stand for this budget as a result. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Speaker

Masi. To the motion. Member for Frame Lake.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I, too, will not be supporting this bill and the appropriation. We have had a great last day here, and I do appreciate the sentiments from everybody. We have accomplished a lot together, but I still need to do my job as an MLA.

In my view, the review of the capital budget was rushed. I wish that we had had more time to carefully consider it and go through it. I did note that there were, I think, opportunities for the Regular MLAs to get input into it, but that didn't happen. I would hope that that changes in the next Assembly, Mr. Speaker.

I know that this is the largest-ever infrastructure acquisition plan by our government, and I am all in favour of investment and creating jobs, but it is a matter of priorities, and sometimes our priorities differ. I guess that is why I have to get up and say this today, Mr. Speaker.

I am concerned about the potential to increase our debt as a government. As I said, I don't agree with some of the priorities set out in this budget. There is a very large portion of it, around 34 percent, that is dedicated to roads. Some of those are winter roads and so on, Mr. Speaker, but when I see a decline in spending or expenditures or money to the NWT Housing Corporation at the same time, I wonder about our priorities, Mr. Speaker.

There are a number of other issues, I believe, with the capital budget. The City of Yellowknife had requested assistance with a water line replacement. It asked for $8 million. That support is not contained in the budget. I had hoped to see some progress with the Mackenzie Valley fibre link, to ensure that all of our communities are connected and that the promised benefits accrue to our communities down the valley, but that's not to be found in here. I question why there is no funding for visitors' services in three communities, Tuktoyaktuk, Whati, and Yellowknife. I think that there is a missed opportunity there.

Lastly, I am very concerned about some of the energy project investments in this capital budget. In particular, there is a replacement of the diesel plant in Lutselk'e. I just hope that that includes high-efficiency turbines or variable-speed turbines so that we get the best value for that. There is also a river, Snowdrift River, right next to the community that has, I think, great potential for mini hydro. I wonder whether the money spent on the diesel replacement might be better used for a mini hydro project in that community.

Then there is the Whati transmission line that I raised earlier today, Mr. Speaker. I am not convinced that there has been a thorough evaluation of all of the options for the Tlicho communities. Earlier today I tabled some information about the costs of mini hydro projects in three of the communities, and I wonder whether we are getting good value for money and whether the money that might be spent on the Whati transmission line might actually fund mini hydro projects in three Tlicho communities, allow them to get off diesel, allow them to use electricity for home heating, commercial space heating, make a more significant reduction in greenhouse gas reductions, and lower the cost of living in those communities, all at a cheaper price than the Whati transmission line.

I challenge the Minister to make more information available about the options and make sure that the public understands what the real purpose of this project is, whether NICO is making a contribution, the NICO project by Fortune, whether they are making a financial contribution towards this line, and to really look at who benefits, as well.

For all of these reasons, Mr. Speaker, I cannot support the capital budget today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Speaker

Masi. To the motion. Member for Sahtu.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I support this bill, as mentioned in our vetting yesterday in Committee of the Whole, looking at the bill. I mentioned yesterday, and I'll mention today, and I'll just give one example. I don't want to go through the whole document.

There is a capital cost allowance for a new school in Colville Lake. You have two buildings. This government is supporting education by establishing a new institution there, a new building, with the help of the community leaders, who will help design and agree on the colour of the building. Right now, you have bookshelves dividing classrooms, and the students are told that they have to whisper, so that they are not interrupting their neighbouring classes. Those are just examples that I have witnessed there.

There are many allowances. We have acts, we have policies, and I have every confidence than this government has scrutinized, balanced, and put forward a legitimate, sound capital plan. I agree with the capital plan. I agree with all of the benefits that it is going to produce, as the Minister said yesterday. Building the school, for example, in Colville, the community will prosper by the paycheques of the father hammering the nails on the building that will house education for their students.

I support this bill. Mahsi cho. I think that we can carry on and conclude. Thank you.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Speaker

Masi. To the motion. Minister of Finance.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Robert C. McLeod Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is unfortunate; I didn't want to have to stand up and speak and have to defend a $410 million capital budget that provides opportunities for folks across the Northwest Territories, especially in a lot of the smaller communities.

I have heard some of the concerns. I do recall sitting before committee on a number of occasions with this particular appropriation, plus others that we had been working on. To say that there was no input from committee I think is misleading the public. To say that this is a budget that doesn't seem to address the municipal gap, it is good fodder for the campaign brochures, but Members know as well as I do that that is an O and M issue. There has been money put into the capital side of the budget for communities.

Mr. Speaker, I apologize for having to stand up and do this. I have always thought, what we do in here, we need to bring our concern to the floor. At the end of the day, we take our blinders off and look big picture and see that this is a budget that is good for the people of the Northwest Territories because it allows a lot of projects to get done. Respect to those who see big picture and realize that we need to try to do what we can.

I know I am supposed to speak to the motion. That is exactly what I am doing. I will say, for those who are running and want to come back, I have said when I didn't run that I wanted to see some new energy for Inuvik, which is true. I also want to see some positive energy from people across the Northwest Territories, because we have important work to do. Appropriation budgets like this are part of that important work we do. We may not disagree on everything. At the end of the day, we have to look big picture, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Speaker

Masi. To the motion.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Some Hon. Members

Question.

Bill 61: Appropriations Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2020-2021
Third Reading Of Bills

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Speaker

Question has been called. All those in favour, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

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Clerk Of The House

The Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, the Member for Hay River South, the Member for Thebacha, the Member for Hay River North, the Member for Sahtu, the Member for Yellowknife North, the Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, the Member for Nahendeh, the Member for Yellowknife Centre, the Member for Deh Cho, the Member for Nunakput, the Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, the Member for Range Lake, the Member for Great Slave, the Member for Yellowknife South.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

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Speaker

Masi. All those opposed, please stand.

Recorded Vote
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 6441

Clerk Of The House

The Member for Kam Lake, the Member for Frame Lake.