This is page numbers 1689 - 1724 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.

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Question 477-19(2): Direct Appointments in Government of the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1700

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

I'd like to take that since it's a Cabinet question. Currently, the requirement for direct appointments is to be reviewed by Cabinet. It's established under the Public Service Act. That ensures that department appointments are being used appropriately. However, Madam Speaker, the Public Service Act is currently under review, and part of that review, we can consider changes to the direct appointment process. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 477-19(2): Direct Appointments in Government of the Northwest Territories
Oral Questions

Page 1700

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Madam Premier. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1700

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Madame la Presidente. My questions are for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. My statement referred first to this government's mandate commandment to increase food security through food industry, increasing country food harvesting, and improving Nutrition North. Of course, there are several tasks there. Can the Minister give us a brief update on the current status of this mandate commandment on increasing food security? Mahsi, Madam Speaker.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1700

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Minister of ITI.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1700

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Speaker. There are quite a number of initiatives taking place right now. There is, of course, the sustainable livelihoods program that is led by ENR that was introduced back in August of 2019. That includes a significant amount of work in terms of food security with respect to on-the-land and harvesting mentorship of young people to engage in on-the-land harvesting and on-the-land food security. In addition to that, there is work happening over in Health and Social Services. They are responsible for meat regulations, responsible for anti-poverty funding, responsible for nutrition supports. In addition to that, Education, Culture and Employment is responsible for supporting students and income support individuals who may require supports with food security.

Furthermore, there now is the Department of ITI with which I am standing to give a bit more information. ITI is responsible for the agriculture strategy and for the implementation of that. We have recently put in place a senior advisor for food security. I think it is envisioned that this individual will help coordinate all of this work that is clearly happening across the GNWT, and currently, that person is conducting an inventory of all of these different programs. I have not mentioned an exhaustive list. I've given only the highlights. One other one, I suppose, is the fish strategy with which ITI is responsible, and we have advanced that project just in the last month. I have two hours just tomorrow, in fact, where I will be sitting down with the department to see where that's at. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that. Could say something about fish there, but we had a great fish lunch today, too. I mentioned that the pandemic did disrupt some of our supply chains, put our food security at some risk. There was a lot of renewed interest in local food production. I mentioned some of the wonderful projects that took place this summer. It's not clear, though, whether we took full advantage of that convergence of events and interest. Can the Minister tell us what lessons we've learned about building food security during this pandemic?

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

There certainly has been a lot of work done in ITI around the supply chains, monitoring those supply chains and ensuring that they are supported. I would say that the course of the pandemic and the need to maintain the supply chains was an opportunity to develop a lot more relationships, and good relationships, across the supply chain, both from the grocery store and all the way to those who are transporting the food. In addition to that, there has been certainly a renewed interest in terms of food production.

I would be remiss not to note that, while there is a lot more interest in food security, which is certainly helpful to all of those programs I mentioned earlier, the convergence is not entirely complete. There of course are challenges between: do we provide, for example, free seeds of potatoes, or do we encourage commercial production? It's not quite so simple, and there has to be a balance struck. However, I think this opportunity over the summer was a chance to start having those conversations so that we can be better going forward.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that. I have looked for data and reports on the output of the agricultural sector here in the Northwest Territories, and it's really hard to find anything. The ITI website has an agricultural sector profile page, but there is not much quantification there. The Bureau of Statistics doesn't seem to have much data on its web page, either. Of course, if you can't count it, how can we measure progress on building food security? Can the Minister tell us what steps she is taking to ensure that we can actually measure food security improvements with real targets and measurement of progress?

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

There was an initial sector-wide survey done back in 2017-2018, as the agriculture strategy was getting rolling and being implemented. That does need to be updated, and another round of surveys does need to take place in order to compare to that baseline. I would note that one important thing that has happened this year, Madam Speaker, is the formation of a territorial agri-food association that can also help advocate for these issues and help ensure that, when we are gathering the data, we are, in fact, going to the right places to gather the data from that membership. Hopefully, there can be, in fact, more information and more quantified information going forward.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Madame la Presidente. I want to thank the Minister for that. I really look forward to counting carrots in the future. We are going to get some hard statistics. I spoke about how ITI's efforts on agriculture seem to be largely focused on business and commercial food production. I think that there is some real urgency in building a food security strategy here for the Northwest Territories. Can the Minister commit to developing a real food security strategy for the Northwest Territories that incorporates food self-sufficiency, including agriculture, country foods, inter-settlement trade, and programs that deliver on targets, with regular evaluation reporting? Can the Minister commit to a food security strategy for the Northwest Territories? Mahsi, Madam Speaker.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

The need to look at food security and to improve food security is part of the mandate of this government, but the ITI lead is focused largely on the commercial side of that. It is not the only side of the food security issue, and that is why Health and Social Services, ECE, and ENR are also involved, because each department has a part to play. Again, I can certainly reaffirm the commitment to achieve what's in the mandate, but I cannot stand alone and say that there will be a particular strategy developed. I would again point back to the fact that we do have now the senior advisor of food security who can ensure that this work is being coordinated so that we can achieve the mandate item around food security. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 478-19(2): Food Security
Oral Questions

Page 1701

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 479-19(2): Income Assistance
Oral Questions

November 5th, 2020

Page 1702

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that the Department of ECE in income assistance does lots of great work, and we have probably one of the most generous income assistance programs in the country. I think the department even inherently recognizes some of the benefits of a basic income. During the pandemic, one of the first things we did is we payrolled people for three months to give them more guaranteed time to report. We also got rid of the productivity requirements such that they got their money whether they failed to show up for a meeting or whatnot. I believe the roots are there, but I believe we need to break out and look at what every department is doing and what the federal government is also doing to really make a proper guaranteed basic income. My question for the Minister of ECE is: as part of our income assistance review, will we conduct a feasibility assessment of a guaranteed basic income? Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Question 479-19(2): Income Assistance
Oral Questions

Page 1702

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Minister of ECE.