This is page numbers 1277 - 1298 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd 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 911.

Topics

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1291

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister of Finance.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1291

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I fully expected a question was going to come about this in the course of this session. Short answer, Mr. Speaker: yes, this is going to be part of the procurement review. Slightly longer answer, Mr. Speaker, is that I want to make sure that it's clear that we will be doing this in conjunction with the Indigenous governments who have those rights in their land claims agreement. Yes, it's coming, but it's going to be coming and it's going to be done the right way, which is in consultation with the Indigenous governments. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yes, and I fully expect this work to be done in consultation with both Indigenous governments, whether they have that clause, and Indigenous-owned businesses. I recognize this is a large piece of policy work, but can I get a sense of when we expect that work to be completed?

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

I have a stronger timeline with respect to the more general procurement review that is scheduled to take place. Right now, work is happening to finalize a discussion paper around procurement; not just procurement generally, but procurement, negotiated contracts, northern manufacturing policies, BIP, all of that is going to be subject to this discussion paper, which will be coming out this month or next month with a view to engaging in public consultation and engagement across the board with those participating in the business area, with Indigenous governments, with the public.

My expectation is that that will produce some recommendations by March, with a view to having some changes ready to go by June. Now, that does not necessarily mean that the Indigenous procurement policy will follow that exact timeline, but that will be part of what is happening there. I will be able to give a better update on where that's at, again, once we begin that engagement. Again, simply giving myself, quite frankly, the leeway to acknowledge that, when we are engaging with Indigenous governments, I am not necessarily going to set that timeline unilaterally. That timeline has to be set partly through that process of engagement, but we are well under way to taking those steps.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I look forward to that work, and I recognize the complexity. I hope we can get most of this done by June, because we're about to pass hundreds of millions of dollars of capital and, every year we wait and we have not refined our procurement process, more of that money will flow down South. One of my concerns with this is that a lot of our contracts are 75-cent dollars. They have federal conditions in them. Some of our bigger projects, such as Giant Mine, are purely federal contracting, and I don't think this government has worked to lobby the federal government to make sure we are capturing and putting proper northern benefits into the federal procurement process. Can I get a confirmation from the Minister that this work will include a strategy for capturing federal procurement, as well?

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

I don't want to get captured with semantics. Being conscious of the fact that we have to be engaged with the federal government when we put forward any kind of procurement policy, and particularly an Indigenous procurement policy, the answer to that is yes. Whether it's going to be a specific federal strategy, I'm a little more hesitant to say, but I believe the Premier has already spoken at other occasions about the fact that we are all tasked with being responsible to go to our federal partners and counterparts to discuss all of these kinds of issues. What I will say is that I will perhaps commit to providing a better update on exactly where we're at and engaging with the federal government on procurement. It is happening; I'm just hesitant to call it a strategy, but we could be more concerted in our efforts and more clear about those plans.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This government in its mandate has a number of very large capital projects: the Slave Geological, Taltson, Mackenzie Valley. We saw a P3, which had a good start to Aboriginal business in its contracting. My concern here is also Giant Mine, which is largely federal-run. Can I get the Minister to provide an update on whether perhaps there is a way to speed up this work and put a little bit more of a focus on Indigenous procurement and northern benefits for our major infrastructure projects? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

I have actually asked that exact question about what can be done to speed the work up. What I can say is that, right now, as well as producing the discussion paper, we are also producing the work plan of how this will roll out cross-departmentally, with all of the different departments that are involved. One of the steps that I have asked that we take is to, in that work plan, make the process one where we will be in control of the timeline and able to pull those levers to ensure that the timeline at the very least stays on track, but ideally can move forward quickly. I do have some areas where I am hopeful that, before the end of this calendar year, we will see a few changes to procurement that we can enact even before this takes place, at least on an interim basis. So yes, we are doing everything we can to advance this and accelerate it. Thank you.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 361-19(2):
COVID Secretariat

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Premier in regard to the COVID secretariat. The isolation centres in the Northwest Territories take up 54 percent of the total budget of the COVID secretariat, and so what I'm wondering is: given that the isolation centres are by far the highest cost, what is being done to mitigate this? Thank you.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1292

The Speaker (Hon. Frederick Blake Jr) Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you. Minister responsible for the COVID-19 Coordinating Secretariat.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1293

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are a variety of things that we're looking to do with this. We are, of course, making sure that we're working closely with the Chief Public Health Officer regarding corridors. Where she goes with that will impact on our isolation units, but there are things we're doing. We're looking at perhaps whether we can contract out the services and if that has the potential for better service and for cost savings. Sometimes, that happens. We do have, not a lot, Mr. Speaker, but I want to clarify, a few people who use our isolation centres fairly regularly. We're looking at how we can decide what we should be paying for, what things are mandatory, for example, medical travel, and what aren't mandatory, and how we will address those. Those are discussions we're just beginning, and we will provide to standing committee when we have concluded our results. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1293

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I am happy to hear that because, although, yes, things like medical travel are absolutely a requirement for the government to help out with, there is some misuse of the isolation centres happening and it is an expense that is just really unaffordable for the people of the Northwest Territories. I did hear the Minister responsible for the COVID secretariat speak a little on contracting out services, and I'd like to find out more information about what the COVID secretariat is looking at contracting out to local businesses around the Northwest Territories. This not only increases the GDP in the Northwest Territories, but it also creates safety ambassadors across the Northwest Territories when we are educating, informing, and empowering people to help us do the work of safety in the Northwest Territories.

Question 360-19(2): Indigenous Procurement Process
Oral Questions

Page 1293

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

The COVID secretariat actually houses a number of functions. It houses our border controls, it houses our enforcement for COVID-19, for the CPHO orders. It houses 811 and ProtectNWT, our isolation units, and our PPE for anyone who is non-health: our schools, our NGOs, our municipal and Indigenous governments. We are looking to see if we can contract some of those pieces. We have recently identified a local warehouse provider that has the potential to hold our PPE inventory, so that is one area we're looking at. I know that we've gotten questions on the floor about the border down south, in the Smith/Hay River area, Providence, so we're looking at how we can actually perhaps contract out some of those services.

There are areas, though, where we have to be very careful in contracting out; for example, our enforcement. Enforcement usually comes with a set of qualifications and skills. It's a very technical piece. You don't want just anyone showing up at people's doors; that's not a very good idea. We did hear about safety before, already, so that is some of the concerns. At this point, we're not looking at contracting out our enforcement services.