This is page numbers 1563 - 1592 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 work.

Topics

Question 445-19(2): Self-Isolation for Medical Travel
Oral Questions

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Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

There is a testing unit called Panbio that will be in place in every health centre by the end of October. It will provide rapid testing in the sense that it can be used at point of care and generate a result right then and there. It is a very simple-to-use machine; it is not only available to highly trained medical professionals. The thing is that, if somebody is not symptomatic, these machines are not necessarily the things that they need most. There is sort of a sequence of events. There can be a screening test: do you have COVID now? However, there need to be follow-up tests through the isolation period, which in any case is going to be 14 days. There is no change to that. The short answer is: rapid testing is coming your way. It says in my notes the end of October, so it should be there now. I will check to make sure that's the case. Thank you.

Question 445-19(2): Self-Isolation for Medical Travel
Oral Questions

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The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1573

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. It is important that the Premier accept some responsibility, good or bad, for how we are managing our small business support during these tough economic times. Therefore, I will direct my questions to the Premier. She can answer them, or she can direct them to the Minister who she thinks can best provide the answer. We have a long list of projects that need to be undertaken, so the first question I will ask the Premier is: how is this government ensuring that all of our small businesses are receiving work that will help them stay afloat during these tough and uncertain economic times? Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

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The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Honourable Premier.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

November 2nd, 2020

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Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. That would be best deferred to the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1573

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1573

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. I think the Member's statement earlier on actually identified that this, indeed, in large part, does involve the procurement of resources and procurement of projects through the Government of the Northwest Territories. As I mentioned in my own Minister's statement today, we acknowledge that there certainly has been a lot of discussion around ensuring that the procurement processes we have are indeed providing best benefits to the people of the Northwest Territories and the businesses of the Northwest Territories.

Again, and I know the Member acknowledged it, there is the review that is intended to happen, but we are also looking at some interim measures that we can employ that might more quickly make some changes, which may or may not ultimately find their way into what gets recommended, but that might provide some more immediate relief, or at least demonstrate more immediate action that, again, might make a difference for some of the businesses.

In addition to that, there certainly is an ongoing infrastructure plan that has already been approved under the current fiscal, and that is, of course, advancing notwithstanding COVID. There has been a lot work that has happened on that. Then, of course, there are quite a number of programs, a variety of programs, that have been instituted to help northern businesses in terms of the rural relief fund, the program money that has come through, as well as a variety of other COVID-related relief tools. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1573

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

I thank the Minister for that answer. I have talked to small-business owners who are not receiving any work in their community or region. This is partly due to the number of bidders and outside influence from southern contractors. One area where we can assist them is in those M and Is or projects required by the NWT Housing Corporation and Infrastructure. If we find a business that has been left out, will the Premier commit to talking with the Minister of housing and the Minister of Infrastructure to find a solution to this inequity and make sure that our small businesses are working?

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1574

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

I think I'm going to speak perhaps with my Department of Finance hat on, as well as with ITI. Really, I suppose it's a whole-of-government response that is going to be required in light of the question, and certainly, to the extent that Procurement Shared Services, which now falls under Finance, is responsible for managing and supporting those contracts. Indeed as far as Procurement Shared Services goes, for all of its client departments, it has not only the Department of Infrastructure, but all client departments. I'm sure they will do their very best to work with the client departments and ensure that work is moving forward, and moving forward in a way that is conscious of the needs of our business community.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1574

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Considering that we have programs such as BIP, the manufacturing policy, sole-sourcing, and negotiated contracts, can the Premier commit to talking with and directing the appropriate Minister to make sure we are exploiting those programs for the immediate benefit of our small businesses?

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

In some ways, it's a simple yes in that that is the goal of the Department of Finance through Procurement Shared Services, to ensure that we are providing value not only, obviously, to the people of the Northwest Territories in the expenditure of public funds, but value to the business community. It really is an easy answer, in that sense, but how we do it is where it becomes more complicated. As I have indicated, we are fast-tracking efforts to have procurement review but also looking at some immediate measures that we can bring into place, hopefully before the next sitting, again, on an interim basis, to see what we can do to have some immediate change.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

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The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Member for Hay River South.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

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Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. If we're saddled with COVID-19 restrictions for another year or more, can the Premier confirm what is the long-term strategy to assist our small northern businesses so they do not fail? Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1574

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

The longer-term strategy for small businesses, I'll refer, again, to the fact that we had fast-tracked the procurement review. To that extent, I want to be very clear that it's my intention that that review engages those small businesses directly, engages the chambers, engages Indigenous governments, Indigenous development corporations, really looks broadly at what it is that we need to do to support the business community in all of its facets here in the Northwest Territories. Again, ensuring that we have interim measures in place before January, but also then is engaging for COVID related specifically is entities such as the Business Advisory Council to see what sorts of relief measures and recovery measures specific to COVID we can also bring into place.

I believe later this week I'll be meeting again with the Tourism Association, so going on an industry specific basis, as well, to ensure that not only broadly are we looking at what we can do for business community but what we can do for individual industries. On that note, also going back to my federal counterparts, whether it's through agriculture, whether it's for the department of fishery, whether it's for filming, all of those different tables are all looking at what can all of the governments across Canada do to support those small businesses. Small business is a huge issue here in the Northwest Territories; it's a huge issue for all of Canada. Small businesses support Canadian economy, so I'm not alone in the challenge that the Member is bringing to me. I ensure that we'll continue to do our best to fight that challenge going forward. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 446-19(2): Support for Small Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 1574

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Deh Cho.