This is page numbers 1443 - 1480 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 housing.

Topics

Housing
Members' Statements

Page 1446

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the 19 of us gathered this time last year to discuss our priorities for our term in office, we had a rare moment of actual consensus where all of us agreed the Northwest Territories was dealing with a housing crisis. One year later, we have not moved the needle on this critical issue as our government continues to focus mainly on COVID, creating additional layers of bureaucracy, rather than on the needs of our vulnerable citizens and how we have been failing them.

My home is my sanctuary. It is my refuge where I calm my soul and recover from the stresses of my day. It is my legacy and my security, the means to one day help my nieces and nephews or my plan B should life throw new challenges my way. I am proud of my home, that I was even able to purchase it, given I arrived in the North with nothing in my pocket 14 years ago. I am proud that it is a place to entertain my friends as well as to offer them comfort and solace in their times of need.

When people do not have the security of a place to safely lay their head at night, it affects all aspects of their lives. Without safety, sleep is elusive. Without sleep, people cannot function, and the mental health effects ripple throughout their lives. The stress of not having a home often leads to mental and physical abuse, addictions, and public health matters. Embarrassment of one's home or lack thereof can lead to depression and suicide. Intimate partners will stay in domestic violence situations longer rather than risk being homeless by themselves or with their children.

Mr. Speaker, this is not right. This is a situation we can start to deal with immediately. Throughout our territory, there are numerous empty housing units awaiting repair or retrofits. Why is this not a priority of this Cabinet, to get these units into circulation? Elsewhere, contracts are awarded for new units that often cost the public purse double what a private sector developer could build for. Why does this continue to happen? Why are we not being smarter with our dollars and ensuring we get quality work for what we pay for? Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of housing. Thank you.

Housing
Members' Statements

Page 1447

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Addictions, Mental Health and Housing in Deh Cho Constituency
Members' Statements

Page 1447

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I would like to paint the picture of the plight, struggles, addictions, and a host of other mental health issues of many of the vulnerable demographic of my community. Mr. Speaker, my community is no different than many of the other Indigenous Dene communities, where people are dependent on income assistance or are fortunate enough to find a job, eking out a living, and living from paycheque to paycheque. Because of the lack of jobs in a stymied local economy, my people are very susceptible to addictions such as alcohol and drugs. With this comes a myriad of issues, including the mental health of the vulnerable population. When faced with a bleak future and threatened, the mental health of these people escalates, and more often than not, they are driven deeper into their addictions and depression.

Mr. Speaker, we have to understand the local situation in terms of what is available to combat the addictions in our community. There is nothing. Let me repeat that again: there is nothing. My community does not have an addictions treatment centre. My community does not have a family violence centre. My community does not have a woman's shelter, nor do we have an alcohol and drug counsellor, which I may add is a much-needed position for our community. What I know most of all is that we don't have a homeless shelter for people who are facing evictions or have been evicted from a public housing rental unit.

Has this government ever contemplated trying to deliver these resources into the community, to help my people to try to better themselves or have places to go, rather than walk the streets? I will have questions for the housing Minister at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Addictions, Mental Health and Housing in Deh Cho Constituency
Members' Statements

Page 1447

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Canadian North Services to the Mackenzie Delta
Members' Statements

Page 1447

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I am bringing up our northern airlines. On September 10, 2020, the federal government and our territorial government gave the airlines $31.9 million, which we are really grateful for. This funding was intended to support northern airlines to continue essential services during the COVID-19 pandemic. The airlines provided essential services to the NWT residents, especially living in the remote communities which we represent.

I am glad that the federal government and our territorial government stepped up with this COVID funding as this will make the northern airlines continue to provide essential services such as medevacs or food resupply chain and providing medical travel for the people up and down the valley. The funding is meant to ensure that northern airlines can return to their full schedules, now; minimize layoffs; and stay financially viable during this long pandemic crisis that we're in.

This is not enough, to throw money at the airlines and make sure they are spending it for the right reasons. Nine point three million dollars was given to the Canadian North, Mr. Speaker. I fly that airline. You fly that airline back home to the Delta. At this time, I'm seeing no evidence of improvement of service. We give them that money. We fly in overcrowded flights, which people are already scared of getting COVID-19, travellers at greater risk, and not seven-days-a-week service. What's up with that? We're not even getting jet service, now. We're getting turboprop and smaller jets when we should be getting 734 service. We paid for it. We're paying for it. It's plus, plus, plus for them. They get government travel, medical travel. It's ongoing.

Nunavut also, Mr. Speaker, gave $24 million to Canadian North, so that is doubling up. Earlier this month, the Nunavut government assured Nunavut MLAs of their agreements that prohibit the airlines from using COVID-19 money to pay out bonuses. I want to make sure that their executives are not using it to do the same with our funding that we're giving them. Mr. Speaker, it is important to support our essential services sectors. The government needs to ensure accountability on how the money is spend. Later today, I will have questions for the Minister of Finance at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Canadian North Services to the Mackenzie Delta
Members' Statements

Page 1447

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative
Members' Statements

Page 1448

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. The Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment launched the long-awaited review of the fiscal regime for the NWT mining industry last week. It got off to a rather rocky start with the release of a review of taxation and royalty rates across a number of jurisdictions that did not deal with actual revenues or even a full comparison of competitiveness.

I said in this House last week that it's hard to envision a fair and balanced approach to reviewing government revenues from mining when those amounts are kept totally secret. There is a solution that does not compromise the financial competitiveness of the mining industry: the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, or EITI, was started in 2004. It is a partnership among governments, companies, and civil society with an office located in Norway. A global standard to promote the open and accountable management of oil and gas and mineral resources has been developed and adopted by 54 countries. The corporate supporters of the EITI standard include Anglo American and Rio Tinto, that are owners or operators of two of the three NWT diamond mines.

The standard requires the disclosure of information along the extractive industry value chain from the point of extraction to how revenues make their way through the government and how they benefit the public. The initiative and its standard seek to strengthen public and corporate governance, promote understanding of natural resource management, and provide the data to inform reforms for greater transparency and accountability in the extractive sector. Canada is a supporting country, along with others such as the US, UK, the Scandinavian countries, and European states. Although Canada is not an implementing country, the federal government's Extractive Sector Transparency Measures Act provides an equivalent level of reporting to the EITI standard.

The public and the Minister can already see the revenues paid to GNWT and Indigenous governments by the three mines currently in production, although there are problems with the way this is reported. Cabinet could change the Mining Regulations to require public reporting of mining royalties next week, if there was the political will. Private multinationals seem more committed to transparency than our Cabinet. What democratic government doesn't support openness and transparency in public reporting of resource revenues? I will have questions later today for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative
Members' Statements

Page 1448

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Respect between Members of the Legislative Assembly
Members' Statements

Page 1448

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Mr. Speaker, my Member's statement today is about unity. As someone who served as an elected leader for 14 years, most of which within Indigenous governance, I have come to know a thing or two about working together. As a public government and as elected officials in this House, we have certain expectations by the public that we must fulfill and uphold. Among our many responsibilities as leaders, first and foremost is about the importance of relationships, whether it's the relationship between us and our constituents, the relationship between Regular Members and the Cabinet, or the working relationships that all MLAs must maintain while in the Legislative Assembly.

After serving in this House for just over a year, I have come to see a growing division among many Members, and I find it very concerning. I know that disagreements on policy, programs, and services are a given. That is expected. However, I am seeing certain disagreements being taken to new heights, resulting in unnecessary personal attacks and mudslinging done constantly.

Mr. Speaker, the media always thinks that this House is disorganized and chaotic, so I think it's extremely important that we as MLAs rise above that sort of behaviour to ensure we maintain public confidence in their government. People who demonstrate good leadership skills can put aside their differences and work through animosity for the sake of the people they serve. At this time, I am not seeing that being done in this House, at least not enough. We should be able to respectfully disagree and provide constructive criticism to one another while still being able to govern the territory effectively. We should not just attack each other for the sake of attacking or for getting a good news headline.

I will admit, Mr. Speaker, I have had some disagreements with people in this building. However, I don't carry it around with me all the time wherever I go. That isn't healthy, for either my personal health or for the health of the government. Therefore, I always ensure that any animosity that comes my way is left in the room where it has occurred. I seek unanimous consent to complete my statement, Mr. Speaker.

---Unanimous consent granted

Respect between Members of the Legislative Assembly
Members' Statements

Page 1448

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate the importance for leaders to always treat all staff members with respect and dignity and to be thankful for the work they do. Everyone deserves to work in a safe and healthy environment, and I hope we can set a good example of that in this House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Respect between Members of the Legislative Assembly
Members' Statements

Page 1449

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Home-Ownership Opportunities and Challenges
Members' Statements

Page 1449

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. Today, I am going to talk about the need for more assistance regarding home-ownership opportunities for residents of the NWT. Mr. Speaker, in the coming days, many of our residents are going to see an influx of money from class action law suits. The Indian Day School and Sixties Scoop survivors in our communities will see a one-time payment to them. I won't tell our residents how all they should spend their money, but they have told me they will look at home ownership. I would like to explore ways to assist them.

Mr. Speaker, there are some barriers I have seen when it comes to home ownership in the North. I believe we must expand on these services offered to our residents. One barrier is the massive amount of arrears that we are seeing at the local housing authority level. We often see assessing of people's incomes to pay for rent arrears. The GNWT needs to address the way assessments are done to account for fluctuations of income. Many of my constituents have different levels of income on any given day, depending on seasonal work and short-term contracts.

Other barriers, Mr. Speaker, include the inability to buy land or homes on certain lands, an inability to get home insurance, and government programs which require land tenure before any work gets completed. This is a huge problem in my riding in particular where a program such as the CARE program is inaccessible to people who are unable to buy the land on which the home sits. At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, I think we all want to see our residents invest in themselves to get away from this, being perpetually dependent on public housing rent, and move towards being home owners wherever they can. Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Home-Ownership Opportunities and Challenges
Members' Statements

Page 1449

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Homelessness
Members' Statements

October 28th, 2020

Page 1449

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Homelessness is not something new, but when I was growing up, I did not see it in my community. What I see now are elders to youth homeless. One thing that I do remember is: there were people who lived out on the land who did come to town. There were people who had a home in town and had a home on the land. Then there were people who lived just on the outskirts of town in my community, in tents. To me, that was their home.

The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has committed to development of an NWT-wide homelessness strategy. Through this strategy, the NWT Housing Corporation has committed to working with the NWT, federal, and Indigenous partners to increase policy and program alignment and to support the work of community members who provide our much-needed, front-line programming.

Mr. Speaker, we know mental health and addictions are common factors that lead to and keep people homeless. In the NWT, we have two shelter programs that we could consider a public health response to addressing homelessness and addictions, the Yellowknife day shelter and sobering centre and the Inuvik Warming Centre.

Mr. Speaker, the delivery of homelessness programming is hard work that requires attention and support from our social envelope GNWT departments. I would like to raise the attention of the Inuvik Warming Centre in my community, which is struggling to provide this valuable programming. They need support. They need assistance to develop a program plan with trained staff, board training, programming management. Mr. Speaker, they need support to secure a permanent location to offer this programming. Without this program in our community, we know people are in danger of dying. People experiencing homelessness have died in my community. This was the reason the shelter was developed. I would also like to thank all of those in my community who have been volunteering and putting their time in and their heart into the Inuvik Warming Centre over the past year, since its creation. I will have questions for the Minister responsible for Homelessness. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Homelessness
Members' Statements

Page 1449

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.