This is page numbers 739 - 766 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 health.

Topics

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 744

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Minister of Finance has a call with the federal Finance Minister this afternoon, actually, to find out that information. We do know that the federal government has put aside a billion dollars already for health issues that there may be with COVID-19. However, our portion of that monies is just under $600,000, if I remember correctly, and I have already said that that is not enough. We're dealing with the health issues, what he's looking at giving us now, and when the economy comes, my instinct is telling me that my first words will be, "That is not enough." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 744

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

This government has a number of projects that will ultimately be impacted by COVID-19. These projects may be delayed for a number of reasons that include shortage of workers due to self-isolation, shortage of supplies from southern Canada, and other related reasons. Can the Premier or the Minister of Finance confirm how various departments will help small businesses address current government projects that may experience delays due to COVID-19?

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 744

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

I have already given direction to all of our departments to look at how we can support all of our residents in the Northwest Territories, including our business partners. ITI and Infrastructure are looking at how we can do the procurement, make sure that people are paid timely during this crisis, et cetera. All departments are looking at the influx of additional costs that are going to come. People who are going to be laid off of work will be impacting our systems, so income support is on that. We have asked for every department to now do tabletop exercises to see how they will react if people get sick and we have a public outcry for services.

Again, we don't know until the federal government comes down and allocates what the economic support will be to the Northwest Territories. We do know that there will be a downturn in our economy. We know that there is a downturn in the economy happening across Canada, so we are trying to plan not only about the financial rest tuition of businesses; we are also trying to plan currently about how we keep our supply chain open. Those are questions that we're asking now. Again, looking at the economic stimulus, after the fact is a little bit premature when, right now, we're worried about the health of people and making sure that our groceries get into the Northwest Territories.

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 744

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

We know that the departments have tools and legislation and policy that can assist small businesses. We don't have to go to the federal government; we don't need anything from them right now. What is this government doing with the tools that each department currently has to lessen the impact COVID-19 will have on small businesses?

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 744

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Those are some of the discussions we are having right now. That is why we have given direction for the departments to do the tabletop exercises. Like I said, we are looking at procurement practices, bill payments. We will also be looking at things like loans, et cetera, how we can make those easier for people.

Again, the federal government is also doing that work. They are looking at it. There have been no promises yet, is my understanding; however, they are looking at things. Can they pump money into business development agencies? Can they take money away from mortgages? Can they look at loans? Can they look at EI? All of those factors are being looked at by the federal government, and every jurisdiction across Canada is looking at how we can assist not only our residents but our businesses, and we are all working in partnership as we go forward. Daily conversations are happening, so that hopefully we are all in the same place, because we are all experiencing the same impacts by this to different degrees.

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 745

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

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Final supplementary, Member for Hay River South.

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 745

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wasn't sure what to ask on this last question, but listening to the Minister responsible for the NWT Power Corporation, I am pretty dismayed at his answer with respect to the limiters, because it is a small thing, but it means it is such a big thing.

I have a feeling that, if we are going to be, you know, nit-picking on that, we are going to be doing the same thing with evictions and housing, and both of those things have to be put aside, at least for the next few months. I would like to ask the Premier if she would commit to having a frank discussion with the Minister and with Cabinet to address these two issues? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 745

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Cabinet will be meeting every day throughout this duration. I should let everyone know that now, because we need to keep on top of this, so I can commit, Mr. Speaker, that we will have conversations on the evictions, on the power rates, on the supply chains, all the impacts that will come to the residents of the Northwest Territories. I am not going to commit on what the solution will be. What I commit to is that we will have those discussions and we will be looking at the least impact possible relating to COVID-19. We cannot just shut down every collection, every business happening in the Northwest Territories, or every bill out of speculation, but we will be having those discussions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 214-19(2): Economic Effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 745

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

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 215-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic and Northwest Territories Post-Secondary Students
Oral Questions

March 16th, 2020

Page 745

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. We have a lot of university students who are still in NWT residence who are currently living outside the Northwest Territories to attend post-secondary. I am wondering how the Minister of education and his department are communicating with students whose schools may have closed and gone to online courses and who want to come home? How are they communicating their options with them? Thank you.

Question 215-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic and Northwest Territories Post-Secondary Students
Oral Questions

Page 745

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

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 215-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic and Northwest Territories Post-Secondary Students
Oral Questions

Page 745

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is an ever-evolving situation. When I was looking at the news on Friday, it was changing right before my eyes. A few schools were closing their doors, but most were moving online, as the Member said, so classes aren't necessarily cancelled. Courses have moved online.

A lot of universities are also keeping their facilities, their resources open, like libraries, and so students might make the choice to stay down and finish their semester there because they need access to those types of resources. That being said, some who have the ability to complete their entire courses online might want to come back home. We haven't communicated that to them yet, seeing as how this happened over the weekend and everyone has been working full-out, but we will have that communication with them. Students who want to return home early, depending on the status of their post-secondary education, we will work with them to provide their travel home funds at an earlier date so they can get home. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 215-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic and Northwest Territories Post-Secondary Students
Oral Questions

Page 745

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

In the case where students are expected or end up coming home, because this is progressing quickly and we don't know where we are going to be at the end of the week, if students do end up coming home early, will the department of education be looking at what they can do for students in the event that students end up with an incomplete for the year but are still on the line for student loans?

Question 215-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic and Northwest Territories Post-Secondary Students
Oral Questions

Page 745

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Like I said, it is still pretty early here, but if students make the decision to come home and complete their courses online, I would imagine they would be expected to complete their courses online; but, like I said, it is an evolving situation and perhaps there are going to be situations where the online delivery doesn't quite work as well as it was expected, considering that some schools are throwing this together over the weekend. A mass of universities are trying to pull this off over the weekend. I am open to doing what we can to ensure people aren't adversely affected by this pandemic, but I can't make any guarantees at this point, given that things are still new and we have so little information.

Question 215-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic and Northwest Territories Post-Secondary Students
Oral Questions

Page 745

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I appreciated the question from my colleague from Inuvik Twin Lakes in regard to daycares and day homes to the Minister of Health and Social Services, and I understand that it is the responsibility of the Chief Medical Health Officer to close day homes, but I received a concerned phone call yesterday from a constituent whose day home provider in a private residence was coming back from travel and not anticipating self-isolating in her home. In that case, how is the Department of Education, Culture and Employment communicating what it means to self-isolate and who is responsible for self-isolating to day home providers?