This is page numbers 229 - 294 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 going.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Frederick Blake Jr, Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Lafferty, Hon. Katrina Nokleby, Mr. Norn, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Diane Thom, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 229

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

Thank you, colleagues. I would like to take this opportunity to pass on my condolences to the family of the late Chief Johnny Kaye of Fort McPherson. Johnny served his people well during his tenure; his leadership skills were noticed throughout the Mackenzie Delta and into the Yukon, where his family originated.

Aside from his serious side of being chief and other management roles, Johnny also had a way of making you feel comfortable, and there was never a conversation without laughter involved. Johnny led many hunting trips; he taught many young boys the traditional way of living. His culture was important to him, and he held on to his language and spoke it as much as he could. The Gwich'in Nation has lost yet another powerful leader. May we all take what he has taught us and continue to support one another. Thank you. Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Lands.

Minister's Statement 15-19(2): Strategic Oil and Gas Receivership Process
Ministers' Statements

Page 229

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Strategic Oil and Gas Limited, or "Strategic," filed for creditor protection under the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act in April 2019. Strategic operates the Cameron Hills, Northwest Territories project, which includes winter access roads; well sites; oil and gas gathering systems; a small pipeline; an oil and gas battery; a permanent camp; and various incidental activities such as borrow pits, permanent bridges, and sump sites.

The Government of the Northwest Territories has been monitoring and intervening in the ongoing court process to help ensure Northwest Territories interests are represented. A receiver has been

appointed by the court to oversee the Northwest Territories' assets of Strategic. The receiver, Alvarez and Marsal, is to take temporary custody of Strategic's assets in the Northwest Territories, address regulatory obligations, and attempt to sell the Northwest Territories assets, if possible. The proceeds of any sales will be used to cover regulatory obligations and pay company creditors.

In the Northwest Territories, the immediate regulatory obligations are to repair and suspend a leaking well and suspend two other wells by April 1, 2020. There is currently enough money through existing securities to do this work and bring the site into compliance. Until the receivership process has been completed, it is impossible to say what the final costs to remediate the site might be or who would be responsible for covering them.

Strategic's project was approved in 2010, before devolution. At the time it was transferred to the GNWT, Strategic's site was in operation and its permits were in order. The Government of the Northwest Territories had a reasonable expectation that it would continue its operations until it was wound down according to regulatory requirements.

While it is too early to predict the outcome of the ongoing receivership process, the Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to protecting the Northwest Territories' land and environment and ensuring appropriate remediation is carried out on Strategic's sites in the Northwest Territories.

Our government's work to strengthen and improve the Northwest Territories regulatory framework continues, including ongoing work on how we calculate the amount of security we recommend to regulatory boards. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to managing development responsibly and protecting the Northwest Territories' land and environment through careful regulation of future projects and taking appropriate responsibility for the consequences of past projects when necessary. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 15-19(2): Strategic Oil and Gas Receivership Process
Ministers' Statements

Page 229

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

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister's Statement 16-19(2): Pink Shirt Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 229

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, no one in the Northwest Territories, especially our children and youth, should ever have to endure bullying. Our schools and communities must be safe spaces for all students, and the responsibility to ensure this happens is one we all share. I am pleased to announce today, on Pink Shirt Day, the formal release of the Guidelines for Ensuring LGBTQ2S+ Equity, Safety and Inclusion in Northwest Territories Schools.

In 2007, Nova Scotia teenagers David Shepherd and Travis Price organized a protest after a male grade 9 student in their school was harassed for wearing a pink shirt. The next morning, these two youth brought pink shirts to hand out to all of the male students. Their school was full of kids in pink that day. Thirteen years later, Pink Shirt Day has become a global call to action as schools and workplaces around the world are flooded with pink in solidarity against bullying. The national theme for 2020 is Lift Each Other Up, and I am happy to see so much pink around the House today, as we stand together on Pink Shirt Day.

Across the Northwest Territories, we have worked with our education and community partners to combat bullying. As I am sure all Members of this House are aware, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Queer/Questioning, and Two-Spirit youth experience greater discrimination compared to their heterosexual and cisgender peers. They have higher instances of mental health issues, substance abuse, lack of school attendance, violence, and suicide.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment is aware of the unique challenges that LGBTQ2S+ students face in school, at home, and in their community. Research shows that having strong anti-bullying policies and guidelines results in lower levels of bullying victimization, greater school safety, and less social aggression. As well, students in schools that run Genders and Sexualities Alliances, or GSAs, are at a lower threat for risky behaviours, like alcohol and substance use. They also report increased psychological well-being and function.

Mr. Speaker, the department is committed to supporting diversity among school staff, students, and families. As a part of Education Renewal and Innovation, the Guidelines for Ensuring LGBTQ2S+ Equity, Safety and Inclusion align with the Safe Schools Regulations, the Territorial Schools Code of Conduct, the Northwest Territories Human Rights Act, and the Government of the Northwest Territories Harassment Free and Respectful Workplace Policy.

There are 13 promising practices that can be integrated into any school. These practices are evidence-based, tangible calls to action, through collaboration with the Rainbow Coalition of Yellowknife, FOXY, and SMASH, and with feedback from our education partners.

Some of the most valuable insight in the guidelines came from youth who attended the first Rainbow Youth Conference in 2017. LGBTQ2S+ and ally students across the North developed music, visual art, spoken word poetry, and videos featuring messages of inclusion and support. The students shared their ideas on what needs to happen to ensure their schools are respectful, caring, and safe for everyone.

We will be hosting the second Rainbow Youth Conference this spring, and sharing the new guidelines with the students. Community and territorial leaders will also have the opportunity to hear their stories at the Lunch with Leaders; I hope you all attend. I truly hope the students see themselves in the work and know that their input has helped break down barriers to understanding.

Mr. Speaker, Northwest Territories schools should be safe and caring environments for the entire school community. With the release of the guidelines, the continued education and wellness partnerships, and most of all, the individuals and groups paving the way for inclusion and equity, I believe our schools can be the places of change where we respect each other's differences and recognize our similarities. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 16-19(2): Pink Shirt Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 229

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

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 17-19(2): Premier Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 229

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise the Members that I will be absent from the House for a portion of today's proceedings to attend a Council of the Federation teleconference call. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 17-19(2): Premier Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 229

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

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Ministers' statements. Minister of Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 18-19(2): Tlicho All-Season Road
Ministers' Statements

Page 230

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Making strategic infrastructure investments that connect communities, expand the economy, and reduce the cost of living is a priority of this government. Infrastructure projects bring skills, training, and economic opportunities to our communities and their residents. Infrastructure plays a very important role in the longevity and health of the people of the Northwest Territories.

During the last Assembly, the government completed work on the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, with the grand opening occurring just two years ago. This award-winning project has had a huge impact on the region, helping to connect communities and increase the tourism potential of the Beaufort-Delta. This past September, construction began on another new highway project, the Tlicho All-Season Road, and today I am happy to provide Members with an update.

I am pleased to report that work on the Tlicho All-Season Road is both ahead of schedule and on budget. As of December, embankment construction had been completed for the first 36 kilometres, along with a number of culverts and drainage ditches. The project is scheduled for substantial completion by November 2021 and final completion in the fall of 2022.

When the Tlicho All-Season Road opens, this two-lane gravel highway will cover a distance of 97 kilometres and provide year-round access from Highway No. 3 to Whati. This project will help to connect communities, support employment and training opportunities, increase our territory's resiliency to climate change, and create new social and economic opportunities.

Already, we are seeing the benefits this project is having for our residents and communities. By December of 2019, close to 6,000 hours of cumulative training had already taken place through the Tlicho resident training program. This includes training in job readiness, heavy equipment operation, camp cooking, and first aid. As well, as of December 2019, 137 workers were working on site. Nearly half of these workers are Northwest Territories residents, including 35 percent who are Tlicho citizens. Approximately 40 percent of business contracts for this project have also gone to northern businesses.

The Government of the Northwest Territories is working closely with the Tlicho Government on this project. The Tlicho Government is an equity partner in North Star Infrastructure, with whom the GNWT has a public/private partnership, or P3, project agreement to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the road. As demonstrated through projects such as the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link, P3s can be a successful way to advance major projects while achieving the best value for money for the government and taxpayers.

I am pleased to report that, in November, the Tlicho All-Season Road was one of five projects to be recognized by the prestigious Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships. As one of the first P3s in North America with an Indigenous government holding a cash-funded equity stake, the project won gold in the National Awards for Innovation and Excellence in Public-Private Partnerships. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate our P3 partners, both the Tlicho Government and Kiewit Canada Development Company, on this significant achievement.

Investing in public infrastructure is a core responsibility of government that benefits our residents and supports economic development across the territory. In the long term, the Tlicho All-Season Road is expected to reduce the cost of living for the region and support new social opportunities, while helping to attract additional interest from industry in the exploration and development of natural resources.

This highway continues to be a priority for the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Tlicho. I will continue to provide updates as we progress through the project timelines, and I look forward to the day when our residents can drive to and from Whati all year round, not just during the winter. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 18-19(2): Tlicho All-Season Road
Ministers' Statements

Page 230

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

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Minister's Statement 19-19(2): Northwest Territories Association of Communities Annual General Meeting
Ministers' Statements

Page 230

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, today I'm pleased to share information on the NWT Association of Communities' upcoming annual general meeting and the specific training and networking opportunity for chiefs and mayors.

The NWT Association of Communities represents all 33 of the NWT's incorporated communities. Together, they are an effective voice for community governments. The NWTAC promotes the exchange of information among community governments, working together to reach collective goals. The NWT Association of Communities will host their 2020 annual general meeting in Inuvik from February 27th until the 29th.

This is a time of complex changes in the world, especially with the effects of climate change that we are experiencing in the North. Apparently, a theme for the AGM this year is managing change. Mr. Doug Griffiths has been invited as a keynote speaker and will share his knowledge and experience in helping communities identify challenges and develop solutions to become successful during this time of change. This year, there will be an interactive session focused on healthy communities and the social development of health, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Services. This collaborative opportunity will be followed by a healthy living fair. I am excited to note that the formal AGM will wrap up with discussions with the Cabinet. This session has historically been very popular with community representatives, and I am pleased to share that Cabinet will be in attendance.

In addition, leading up to the AGM, MACA and the NWTAC are collaborating to offer mayors and chiefs the opportunity to attend the second annual Mayors and Chiefs Bootcamp on the 25th and 26th of February, and training for elected officials on the 27th prior to the start of the AGM later in the afternoon.

This year's bootcamp is about building relationships to help navigate the everyday challenges of governance. The focus of the elected officials training is in the process of being finalized, but topics being considered include addressing the media, fraud prevention, and forensic audits, and the importance of these actions.

On behalf of the GNWT, I wish the NWT Association of Communities well with their upcoming AGM and training opportunities. I look forward to being a part of the discussions and hearing from the communities to better understand their priorities and concerns. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 19-19(2): Northwest Territories Association of Communities Annual General Meeting
Ministers' Statements

Page 230

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

Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Housing in Inuvik
Members' Statements

Page 230

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to discuss the housing and homelessness in my community. Since elected, I have many discussions with residents in regard to the Inuvik Housing Authority wait lists and policies, concerns of lack of beds at the homeless shelter, people who are having to stay in the wet shelter who don't have any addiction issues because of nowhere else to go, and people who are just going from couch to couch. I have been asked why there are vacant units not being filled. I have seen these units in my community. The most recent update I received is that we are currently sitting with 97 people, families, on this wait list. Some of my constituents have been waiting for years.

I would like to highlight one of our priorities for this 19th Assembly, which talks about increasing the number of affordable homes and reduce core housing needs. Then, I'd like to highlight some of our 19th Assembly priorities in the area of increased student education outcomes to the same level as the rest of Canada, improve early childhood development indicators for all children initiatives, and create a polytechnic university.

Housing is just one basic need to survive, next to food and clothing. If we look at Maslow's hierarchy of needs, housing is at the bottom, and we need to meet those needs at the bottom to move up. At the top of the pyramid, it is self-actualization, which is a desire to become the most that one can be. It is no wonder that we have the issues we have with our education graduation rates, child and family services, addictions, mental health, and crisis in youth and adults. If a person cannot even access a basic need to survive, how do we expect them to succeed in any of these priorities?

Anything we as a government can do to get people into homes, we need to do. We need to take risks, as our Finance Minister stated yesterday. We need to take risks on adding homes to our public housing allotment. With this thinking, we will begin to meet their basic needs so they will be successful and transition out of public housing before the date that our Premier continuously reminds us of 2038, when we will no longer have CMHC funding for operation cost funding. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Housing in Inuvik
Members' Statements

Page 230

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

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.