This is page numbers 1299 - 1316 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 land.

Topics

Systemic Racism in Government
Members' Statements

October 19th, 2020

Page 1303

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, the issue of systemic racism existing within government institutions and agencies is not something new. This has been a known fact for decades. However, it's something that has not always been taken seriously by most people in positions of power.

Mr. Speaker, I think the tide is starting to turn because more and more people are getting to speak more openly against systemic racism. Not only have we seen several months of global protests against police brutality and racial inequality, but we are also seeing key politicians begin to acknowledge and address systemic racism.

For example, in June 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau said, "Systemic racism is an issue right across the country in all our institutions including in our police forces, including in the RCMP." That's what systemic racism is. Moreover, the Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Belleguard just said this past weekend, "There is systemic racism. There is systemic discrimination. Let's deal with it. Let's put an action plan in place so that it no longer puts us in 2020 and beyond because we're all in it together."

Mr. Speaker despite the public appetite and near unanimous calls by First Nation leaders of governments to address this issue, we here in the NWT do not seem to be getting the message. Our government is not immune to the realities of systemic racism. For example, over the last year since becoming MLA, I have been dealing with several constituency issues pertaining to the systemic racism specifically within the Fort Smith Correctional Complex of the Department of Justice of the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, the problem I am referring to is to do with Indigenous employees with corrections not having sufficient protections in place to air certain grievances about management. The current system in place is simply inadequate, so substantive changes must be made by this government on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, I would seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Systemic Racism in Government
Members' Statements

Page 1303

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, the status quo cannot persist on this matter, otherwise systemic racism will continue to persist throughout corrections and carry on straight up the chain of command. Change must come from the top down on this very important issue, otherwise Indigenous correctional staff will continue to lose their jobs if they speak out against racism or discriminatory policies that they see taking place. If nothing is done on this issue, if it continues to be ignored by this government, then our government is signaling that what the Department of Justice is doing is okay and that systemic racism is allowed to continue unchecked and without accountability. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Systemic Racism in Government
Members' Statements

Page 1303

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

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Large Emitter Rebates and the Carbon Tax
Members' Statements

Page 1303

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I voted against the carbon tax in the last Assembly because Cabinet would not require any public reporting or transparency. On December 10, 2019, the Minister of Finance said the following about the guidelines being developed for large-emitter carbon tax grants, "I can assure the Member that, indeed, draft guidelines will be shared with the committees for review."

Those guidelines, as specified in Section 6.6(5) of the Petroleum Products and Carbon Tax Regulations, were shared with committee in March, just as the pandemic hit. MLAs were also given an opportunity to comment on an approach for carbon tax reporting. While I recognize that COVID-19 has delayed a lot of our work together, there was no review of the large-emitter grant program or policy under our current carbon pricing regime, and it's not clear if the program has even been used.

These guidelines are now on the departmental website after I asked about them in September. I've reviewed them and can summarize as follows: The carbon tax paid by large emitters, basically the diamond mines and Norman Wells production facility, are expected to amount to about $4.1 million for 2020-2021, with about $530,000 available for the grant program. This money stays in individual accounts for each emitter for up to five years before it is forfeited to the government. Projects can be pre-approved for a grant to cover up to the amount held in the individual accounts with costs recoverable as long as there is money in the account. Equipment replacement, alternative energy and fuel consumption reductions are all eligible expenses but must account for at least a five percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions to a project baseline as calculated by an independent engineer.

This looks like a high bar for any large emitter to get over, and the costs of an engineering assessment don't appear to be eligible. The narrow eligibility requirements also work against smaller projects or innovation that could emerge from experimental or novel technology, including renewable diesel. Given the low amount of funding that is available and the narrow criteria for approval, I will be surprised to learn if any large emitters have actually submitted applications.

I will have questions later today for the Minister of Finance on the implementation of the carbon tax, working with committees and how we can better encourage greenhouse gas reductions, and the movement to a green economy. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Large Emitter Rebates and the Carbon Tax
Members' Statements

Page 1304

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

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Government of the Northwest Territories COVID-19 Response
Members' Statements

Page 1304

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. On September 3, 2020, the GNWT announced their intention to create a brand-new department called the COVID-19 secretariat. In all honesty, right from the start, I remain skeptical of the purpose and efficacy of this proposed secretariat. For starters, Mr. Speaker, since this initial announcement, there have been minimal updates as to the status of the secretariat. I feel like the Department of Health and Social Services could do better, and in my opinion, they've dropped the ball in terms of updating the NWT regarding new cases of COVID-19 in a timely manner and putting the whole NWT at risk.

Mr. Speaker, small communities remain most at risk against this pandemic, and many people are travelling to and from Yellowknife for medical visits, shopping, et cetera. Without up-to-date information, we could seriously be putting these communities at risk. An example would be LKDFM. They have their own COVID response, and they'd have to be waiting on our government to respond. Again, that's something that we should look at, and I think it's an issue. Mr. Speaker, at this time, in terms of COVID, funds are being appropriated, or what the Premier wants to put towards this secretariat are absolutely being wasted. Fancy bar graphs once in a while is not effective and not worth our already inflated deficit.

On that note, something that I don't think any of us in this House have really heard is fiscal restraint. It's not been part of this government's vernacular. I think we need to do that. We need to really -- it should come across mind when we do our business here. We are at $1.8 billion in debt and counting. We, the North, since time immemorial, have always made the most with the resources we had, right from Thebacha all the way up to Ulukhaktok. That's how we've always done it. We've always made the most of what we have, and I think that's an example that this government could follow. With that, marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. I'll have some questions for the Minister of health.

Government of the Northwest Territories COVID-19 Response
Members' Statements

Page 1304

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

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Giant Mine Remediation Business Opportunities
Members' Statements

Page 1304

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

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

Giant Mine Remediation Business Opportunities
Members' Statements

Page 1305

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, we only get one shot at NWT benefit retention from the Giant Mine remediation. We cannot afford to fail. We need jobs, we need apprenticeships, and we need to grow into a territory capable of leading its own remediation economy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Giant Mine Remediation Business Opportunities
Members' Statements

Page 1305

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

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Mary Louise Sanguez Eulogy
Members' Statements

Page 1305

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mary Louise Sanguez was born on September 6, 1930, in Horn River, near Fort Providence. She was the only child born to Baptiste and Adeline Sabourin. She had a half-brother. She married James Sanguez when she was 15 years old and had her first child at 16. She had 15 children in total, 29 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, and 5 great-great grandchildren.

She liked to tan moose hides and make slippers, mitts, gloves, moccasins, and mukluks. Her mother taught her at a young age how to work on moose hides, and she passed that knowledge on to her daughters. No matter the weather, there was learning to be done. Her daughter Lucy took her travelling to Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario for family events, like weddings and the swearing in of her granddaughter as an RCMP officer.

About 45 years ago, Mary Louise and her daughter travelled to numerous places across Canada to showcase her work. Pictures of her work can be found in the Canadian Museum of History in Ottawa, the Royal York Hotel in Toronto, the Yellowknife Heritage Museum, and the museum in Whitehorse.

When she moved to long-term care, she didn't want to stay in her room all the time. She liked to be "in the thick of things," as she would say. She was used to noise, and she liked to be in the middle of the action. She wanted to see people coming and going and visit other residents.

She passed away on March 22, 2020, 40 years and one day since her husband, James, passed on on March 23, 1980. She is predeceased by her parents; her husband, James Sanguez; half-brother, Jimmy Sabourin; son, Morris; and two daughters, Florence and Virginia.

The family would like to thank the Fort Simpson long-term care staff for looking after their mother during this time. The family would like to share this quote with us: "Your mother is the greatest mom in the world for you." She will be sadly missed.

Mary Louise Sanguez Eulogy
Members' Statements

Page 1305

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

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 1305

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

I would like to welcome all those who are joining us in the gallery today. It's always good to have an audience. Member for Sahtu.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 1305

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to welcome Ms. Tracy Yakeleya, who is the constituent assistant for Sahtu. Thank you.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 1305

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

Thank you, Member for Sahtu. Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Hay River South.