This is page numbers 163 - 178 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 community.

Topics

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

Page 166

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm not sure if he's here right now, but, earlier in our session, my constituent and well-known photographer Pat Kane was in the gallery. I would like to welcome him to the Legislative Assembly. Mahsi.

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

Page 166

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife Centre. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Nunakput.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, my questions are for the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs. The report that the 18th Assembly did, I'm wondering if the Minister read the report. As the former Minister says, the MACA Minister, "I want to acknowledge that we are unable to definitively answer when and how the funding gap will be closed," in regard to the local community governments because of shortfalls there and people and communities are struggling. Does the Minister have any comments to this, Mr. Speaker? Thank you.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

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

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I realize that you can feel the funding gap very strongly at the community levels. Coming from a smaller community, I realize that, a lot of the government funding that we provide at that community level, you can feel the cutbacks. It's drastic.

Going forward, we are looking at solutions to try to work within our department to access federal funding. I don't want to elaborate on it too much, because we are in discussions about this and how we are going to be working to fulfill this, and we do have our budgets and our mandates that are just barely new. Discussions are happening within the department, and I want to follow up with the Member by email or I'll be speaking to him, because it's a very sensitive topic, and I just want to make sure that, once our department has reviewed what we have, I am displaying it for the whole of the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

MACA's own business plan has the acknowledgement that, "If the department remains unable to provide adequate core funding to community governments, the consequences could include the inability of community government to adequately deliver core services and maintain capital assets."

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Can I have the Member repeat his question?

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

MACA's own business plan has acknowledged that, "If the department remains unable to provide adequate core funding to community governments, the consequences could include the inability of community government to adequately deliver core services and maintain capital assets." Is this government prepared to take the risk in having a tainted water scandal or catastrophic event result in chronic municipal underfunding of the community governments?

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

While new funding is important, "reducing the municipal funding gap," this mandate item, is about more than just new funding. MACA is also looking at actions that can be taken to mitigate expenditures or provide additional opportunity for own-source revenue.

For an example, the department intends to work with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources to support implementation of the NWT Waste Management Strategy. This strategy includes actions to support training and develop support to waste site operators, identifying funding to remove bulking hazardous waste from landfill sites, in order to extend the lifespan of the existing solid waste sites and working with the regional land and water boards to support tools which will assist community governments in managing their solid waste site in accordance with their water licence. The activities should improve on local waste management practices, but allow the government to support some of the cost to contribute to the community government.

Furthermore, MACA is working with the Department of Lands to develop and implement a process for the transfer of vacant Commissioner's lands to the community governments, which will take on authority and responsibility for land administration and provide potential own-source revenue for the sale of some land. The process will include such things as developing and implementing land administration training through MACA's School of Community Government to give community governments skills in land administration.

I want the Member to know that I am very mindful of the funding gap that does exist and the effect that is felt in the smaller communities, but I also want the Member to mindful that the departments are funded, and they do have to come up with their own capital plan and their budget of how they are going to be spending their money going forward. MACA is very open to what projects they're going to foresee, and we are there to support them through the process. We will be working very closely with the community governments.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

That's a lot of good news for a question I did not ask, but I'm thankful to the Minister. Thank you so much; that's good news for me. Core funding, Mr. Speaker; that's what I was talking about. It's not the new funding. Our community governments are struggling, because we're getting less and less. It's not so much less and less; it's the cost of doing business in the community, right? Like, I sat on council for three years. We struggle, struggle, struggle. We stretch everything, Mr. Speaker.

Core funding. Has the department presented its findings to the NWT Association of Communities? If not, when does it plan to do so to work with our community association to try to bring that funding gap closed so that we could properly allocate or properly fund our local community governments who provide services to the whole Northwest Territories?

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

My response to the Member was to give him some insight on what MACA is actually potentially forecasting in order to come up and work with that municipal gap that we do have. We are trying to work with the community to look at other solutions of how they can collect revenue at the municipal level. We are very mindful of working with the solid-waste sites, the water stations, and making sure that we do have the quality of service and the safety of each of the communities.

In the communities, they are entitled to be working and going towards accessing additional federal funding. Some of the communities in the Northwest Territories have accessed the federal funding and have been able to pursue projects in regard to climate change and in regard to transportation, as well, with the help and the support of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake. Okay, final supplementary. Make it short, Member for Nunakput.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This government has a new mandate purpose, to provide communities with opportunities in their additional revenue to offset the cost of delivering their core programs. How realistic is the GNWT to do that, Mr. Speaker?

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

As the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, I would not like to see the offset of forecasting of programs. I want to find solutions in the community and with the federal government in how we can work to not have any financial breaks for the communities. Also, going forward, I would really like to express and really emphasize to the Member that we are working as a department and wanting to find solutions on how we can work with that gap, but also I really want the Member to be mindful that safety is number one. I'm looking at water and sewer to make sure that, in our communities, we do not have those issues going forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 69-19(2): Closing the Municipal Funding Gap
Oral Questions

Page 166

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.