Mr. Speaker, this week, Parsons, the main construction manager for the Giant Mine remediation, is hosting an online industry week. This is an opportunity for local contractors to learn about the project's upcoming multi-million-dollar contract opportunities.
For half a century over 7 million ounces of gold was extracted from Giant Mine, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of tons of arsenic contamination and a $1-billion clean-up, making it one of the largest Canadian environmental remediation projects. While this project is being overseen by the Federal Government, the GNWT is still a co-proponent. It is still in our backyard, and it still carries with it high expectations for NWT benefit retention.
Last year, the Giant Mine Oversight Board reported employees were 44 percent Northerner and 19 percent Indigenous, while suppliers were 56 percent Northerner and 28 percent Indigenous.
Mr. Speaker, it's important to note that "Northerner" according to the federal government means any of the three territories, and it is unclear if "Indigenous" means local to the NWT. I cannot identify if this brings significant benefit to the NWT. In addition, hours worked are reported rather than types or numbers of jobs held by Northerners and fails to satisfy concerns that Northerners and Indigenous people are in lower-wage, entry-level positions. Entry-level positions that support rather than do remediation do not build remediation leaders for a remediation economy. Successful procurement is more than contracts being awarded to NWT businesses. This work more importantly needs to equate to trades and professional employment for residents as well as training and apprenticeships for NWT workers. With a declining GDP, mine slowdowns and closures, and a shrinking skilled labour force, this project is imperative to the future of the NWT economy.
Mr. Speaker, NWT residents are vocal about the socio-economic importance of this project. In response, the Federal Government released a socio-economic strategy and established multi-agency committees with a mandate to better coordinate socio-economic and capacity-building opportunities. I appreciate the federal government and Parsons' for their intent to create northern benefit, but I am concerned about intent becoming reality.
Parsons' mandates that tenders foster northern employment, training, and apprenticeships, and the federal government uses their Procurement Strategy for Aboriginal Business Initiative to increase federal contracting opportunities for Indigenous businesses, also fining businesses that do not meet their Aboriginal Opportunity commitments. However, how many contractors are fined under this initiative, and how do these fines benefit the NWT, given the NWT suffers by missed procurement opportunities, not Ottawa?
Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.
---Unanimous consent granted