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

Nunakput High Wind and Power Outages
Members' Statements

Page 741

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This weekend, starting Saturday night, 10:00 o'clock, I got a call: winds are hitting at 108 kilometres in my home community of Tuktoyaktuk, and we had a blow of the same weather up in Sachs Harbour. I put a note yesterday, I was so happy that the power was back on in my home community of Tuktoyaktuk and in Sachs Harbour, too; it was restored yesterday. Even waiting for the weather to improve and the delays that we had, we all pulled together through as a community, and a big thank you to my mayor, Erwin Elias. A special thank you to our Minister responsible for the NWT Power Corporation, Mr. Thompson; staff Richard Cockney who drove out to the plant from the community at 100-kilometre winds with a snowmobile to try to get the plant up and running for the community. Thank you, Richard, and Mason, and the line crew, when they did arrive into the community. I'd also like to thank Meeka Steen for text messages.

I'd like to thank the DEA chair, Darlene Gruben, who I called at 1:30 in the morning to see if we could get the school opened up, which they gladly did, and they were starting to help people at the Mangilaluk School starting at 8:00 in the morning. Thank you, Ephraim Warren, the principal; Audrey Walker, for cooking for the people. The EGT workers who opened up the runway; Gus Gruben, Kenny Lucas, and Doug Saunders, for getting the runway open, and thank Fraser Pingo at Alkak Air for the work that you did yesterday.

I'd also like to thank Mr. Marius Driscoll of Tuktoyaktuk Stanton; the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk staff; Davey Krengnektak, Wayne Cockney, and Bruce Noksana. I'd like to thank, for free transportation, Tuk Taxi, Eileen Jacobson, who provided rides to the community, and also Steen Services, Joanne Edwards-Steen, who gave free rides, as well, to and from the shelter. They needed, the community, the rides to get them to the emergency shelters. Also, a thank you to Noe Cockney, Mr. Speaker, our elders Roy Cockney, David Noksana, and the family members who helped in any way. Thank you for all they've done for our community, working together in a crisis that needed the school, anyone involved.

Together, they did this outstanding job. They cooked for over 200 people, Mr. Speaker, and I really want to thank them for keeping them fed and warm. They enjoyed each other's company, because I saw it on Facebook live. I'm really proud of all of them, the community pulling together for the safety of our people, especially with the time that is coming in front of us. I also want to thank my wife because, at 10:00 at night, I never slept until 6:00 Sunday, so we were up for 20-plus hours. I thank the Minister again for all the hard work he's done. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Nunakput High Wind and Power Outages
Members' Statements

Page 742

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

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

COVID-19 Response Plans in the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 742

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Speaker. I want to briefly address our government's response to the COVID-19 pandemic. We've seen a lot of good information from our Minister of Health and Social Services and the Chief Public Health Officer. They've been working really hard, lately, and I want to say thank you for that. However, I believe that is still a need for more preparatory work. My main worry right now, Mr. Speaker, is for our small communities. Many of our small communities don't have the resources, services, or capacity if the pandemic gets into the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, today we will be looking at passing our interim appropriation that is necessary to have a functioning government in these trying times. This will really test our resolve, but, as some of the other Members have mentioned, we are a really strong collection of communities and we will get through this. We are being told to practice social distancing, we need to keep our vulnerable populations in mind. We still need to be compassionate, though, and help each other out while using common sense and best practices while doing so. I recently had a constituent who had a great idea to get care packages out for our elders and those with mobility restrictions if this crisis does carry out for a longer period of time, and I thought that was a great idea.

I also want to address the issue of communications to some of our elders and those who don't use cell phones, computers, and the like, and social media, because we need to get the message out there for people in the Indigenous languages, so I'm hoping we can address that today. I know that a lot of our elders listen to community radio, CKLB, and they are really are dependent on it to get their news. Some of them are still not sure what's going on, and we need to really reach out to them and let them know that we care and we're doing something to assists them.

That being said, we are really strong as a territory, a network of communities. We've got through other scourges and other scares like this in the past, because we worked together, we communicated with each other, and this is no different. Marsi Cho, Mr. Speaker. I will have some questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services later on. Marsi cho.

COVID-19 Response Plans in the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 742

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

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Five-Year Review of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act
Members' Statements

Page 742

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I will confess, on the weekend, I was scrambling to try to find something to talk about today, and I have to go back to do my regular job as an MLA and hold the government accountable. One of the promises of devolution was that GNWT and it's peoples would have a made-in-the-North approach to resource development decisions and we would do things better than the federal government.

Currently, the Minister of Lands coordinates and signs off on full government responses to reports from the independent Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board. Our Minister of Environment and Natural Resources is responsible for signing Class A water licences. There is a section in the devolution agreement, 3.18, that requires a five-year review of the delegated authority to the GNWT under the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. The parties to the devolution agreement are to negotiate terms for the review of the delegated authority to GNWT. This may include a review by an independent third party mutually agreeable to everyone. This process was supposed to start on April 1, 2019.

GNWT has a mixed track record in terms of our performance with its delegated authority under the MVRMA, and I will give some examples:

  • Cameron Hills and Cantung went into receivership under GNWT's watch without full and liquid financial security in place;
  • The mandatory financial security provisions under the Commissioner's Land Act are to be replaced with discretionary measures under the Public Land Act.
  • In an unprecedented move, a water licence amendment for Diavik was sent back to the Wek'eezhii Land and Water Board after the company wrote twice to the Minister after the closure of the public hearing;
  • The infrastructure project manager on the Tlicho All-Season Road wrote to the Minister of Lands during the consult to modify process, stating that there would be no project if the review board's recommended measures were adopted;
  • The review boards severely criticized GNWT's whole-of-government approach on the Tlicho All-Season Road environment assessment; and
  • GNWT's project assessment policy continue to state that "technical advice and evidence provided to boards is in line with Cabinet direction."

While it's true GNWT has continued to learn and grow, we can and should be doing a much better job, Mr. Speaker, and I'll have questions later today for the Minister of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Five-Year Review of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act
Members' Statements

Page 742

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

Thank you. Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

COVID-19 and Capacity to Address Pandemic
Members' Statements

Page 742

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the COVID-19 pandemic progresses, I think it's important to situate ourselves in the global context. We have seen what being unprepared looks like. We have seen the data from Italy, China, South Korea, the United States, and other jurisdictions in Canada. I think we all recognize that, in the Northwest Territories, we are fortunate that we are seeing this pandemic reach us last; however, we also recognize we are one of the most vulnerable jurisdictions.

Over the coming months, I'm sure we will hear the term "flatten the curve" multiple times. This refers to making sure that we can slow the pandemic to allow our healthcare system to respond. However, I would like to think about this more as a wave, Mr. Speaker. It's a wave that can potentially come crashing down on a healthcare system.

We have seen in Italy nurses who have tested positive for COVID-19 treating others. We have seen in the United States. Today, New York closed all its bars, its restaurants, its gymnasiums. It is banning public gatherings, Mr. Speaker. We are seeing the experts project an economic recession similar to 2008.

Nunavut's Baffin Island Mine has told its workers not to attend. It is likely we will see the same with our mines in due course. I think it's important that we all recognize this is not a normal state of affairs. There have been many jokes about the run on toilet paper and people not getting toilet paper, but we're also seeing a global run on medical supplies, including oxygen and ventilators.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important to recognize that we, the territorial government, do not have the resources to respond to a pandemic. Ultimately, we must be coordinating daily and working with the federal government to make sure that our healthcare system maintains capacity and builds capacity to address this pandemic.

Once again, I want to assure everyone to follow the advice of our public health officer and our professionals. It is important that we all remember the basic things like practising social distancing, washing your hands. This will take an entire territorial effort to make sure we can make sure that wave does not come crashing down on our healthcare system. I will have questions for the Premier in making sure that we are in connection with our federal government, and that Canada gets this pandemic right. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

COVID-19 and Capacity to Address Pandemic
Members' Statements

Page 742

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

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Community Impacts of COVID-19
Members' Statements

March 16th, 2020

Page 742

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Mr. Speaker. [Translation] We know that this is a very serious illness, the COVID-19. Even though it's not here yet, but it will eventually be here, so at this time what we're talking about, there are a lot of people who are tourists. Some people are overseas. Some people are coming from overseas. They still continue. When you talk about self-isolation, once they come here, will they be self-isolated. Not only that but, Mr. Speaker, we're talking about the elders. We want our elders to be really well taken care of, like in my community for the last two weeks, there's been two weeks off. The school has been shut down; not shut down, but spring break. The parents, once they go to Edmonton or wherever, once they get back, will they be self-isolated? Are we prepared for it? Now, we are hearing that they are going to shut the school down for a while. What about the seniors' homes? We want to make sure that our elders are well taken care of.

Mr. Speaker, not only that, but we have some mines in our community. We have three major diamond mines, and also a lot of our people who are working at the mine. They are at the mine for two weeks, and also home for two weeks. There are all kinds of mixtures of people, like Baffin Island Mine in Nunavut. This time, in Baffin Island, that mine is shut down, but our mines in our area are still running. It's something we should look into, Mr. Speaker.

The way to look at it, this COVID-19, before we get this epidemic, let's prepare ourselves and be proactive instead of reactive. Let's put r a plan in place. At this time, there is no COVID-19 here now, and if we get the COVID-19, let's not do something.

Mr. Speaker, I'm just talking about the elders and also the kids who are in school, once the teachers come back from two weeks of holiday; and I also talk about the people who work in the mines. To me, I'm very concerned. A lot of my people or my constituents are phoning me on behalf of that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. [Translation ends]

Community Impacts of COVID-19
Members' Statements

Page 743

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

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, acknowledgements. Item 7, Oral questions. Member for Nunakput.

Question 211-19(2): Line Repairs and Power Limiters in Nunakput during COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 743

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions today for the Minister responsible for the NWT Power Corporation on being proactive and not reactive, Mr. Speaker, in supporting our communities' action plan with regard to safety of lines, power lines that are in the communities that need to be redone before this COVID-19 our communities. Because I really worry about, if a blizzard hits and a lineman being sick and come to attend to our community, how do we fix that, Mr. Speaker? Will the Minister commit today to make sure that all the Nunakput communities, the line crews go in and then start working and making sure that the lines are properly fixed and ready for the next blizzard? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 211-19(2): Line Repairs and Power Limiters in Nunakput during COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 743

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

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Power Corporation.

Question 211-19(2): Line Repairs and Power Limiters in Nunakput during COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 743

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all, I'd like to thank my colleague from Nunakput for actually phoning and working with me this past weekend to help his residents. He was very diligent in working for his residents. In regard to his concern, our staff have been out there working hard to make sure we had proper power installed, getting it back in place, and that we're also working to ensure it doesn't happen again, but with weather, we can't predict it. We are working with it, and there is a strategic plan moving forward to work with all residents of the Northwest Territories to ensure these things don't happen again.

Question 211-19(2): Line Repairs and Power Limiters in Nunakput during COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 743

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

I want to thank the Minister for that. In regard to the power limiters, no. Power limiters in our communities right now through this COVID-19 state of emergency in regard to our communities. Would the Minister commit today that we shut down all power limiters until we get through to May/June for our residents so they don't have to worry about it?

Question 211-19(2): Line Repairs and Power Limiters in Nunakput during COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 743

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

I apologize to my colleagues. I'm going to read this. It's going to be a little bit longer, but I just want to get the information out there.

The Power Corporation recognizes many of our customers will be facing financial impacts by the effects of the COVID-19 virus. We will adjust our policy on load limiters and disconnect as follows:

  • customers experiencing financial hardship and who are having difficulties in paying their power bills, NTPC will provide customers with the option to further bill payment or enter into a flexible payment plan without penalty; and
  • NTPC will not, I repeat, will not disconnect any customers. NTPC will limit customers who are in arrears but will adjust the approach to acknowledge that the current challenge exists.

Our limited policy will be adjusted as follows:

  • If people haven't gone in and set up payment plans in the communities with smart meters, our load limit policy will be changed from 15 minutes on / 15 minutes off to 15 minutes on / 5 minutes off to ensure the homes are safe and kept warm;
  • In communities that have manual meters, consumers may exceed the 15 amps usage will continue to have their powers undisturbed until the meter is manually reset. The meters can be reset by the customers; and
  • If COVID-19 is identified in the community, all limiters, and I repeat, all limiters, will be removed until the pandemic declaration is over.