This is page numbers 393 - 436 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 communities.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Ms. Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Martselos, 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 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 393

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

Minister's Statement 24-19(2): Conservation Network Gathering
Ministers' Statements

Page 393

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Madam Speaker. The 19th Legislative Assembly believes our decisions must reflect a full understanding of our communities and regions. It is our responsibility to ensure that the needs of our residents are reflected in the decisions that will impact them. This is especially important when it comes to decisions about the land, Madam Speaker. That's why our northern Indigenous governments and communities are at the heart of our northern approach to establishing and managing protected areas.

The Northwest Territories is a leader in Canada when it comes to conservation plans. We work closely with our Indigenous partners to protect the Northwest Territories' natural and cultural diversity. Today, I am pleased to tell you about a gathering that was held in Yellowknife recently to help advance this work.

On February 26 and 27, 2020, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources hosted this territorial first Conservation Network Gathering. The idea behind this gathering, Madam Speaker, is to share experiences and build partnerships to manage territorial protected areas under the new Protected Areas Act.

More than 100 partners from across the Northwest Territories took part in the two-day gathering, including Indigenous governments and organizations, territorial and federal departments, funders, academics, and conservation leaders from across Canada. Topics discussed included:

  • new ideas in conservation and stewardships;
  • the role of Indigenous guardians; and
  • on-the-land success stories.

They also talked about the financial reality of protected areas and best practices for management and research. "Healthy land, healthy people" is our five-year plan for conservation network planning. It lays out how the Government of the Northwest Territories is moving forward together with its partners to protect the integrity of our northern ecosystems. Protected areas can also provide new job opportunities for small communities. Madam Speaker, the guardian programs, land-based products, and cultural tourism are all ways we can expand and diversify our economy.

Over the upcoming months, Environment and Natural Resources will work closely with our partners to develop a new "healthy land, healthy people" work plan to guide us over the next five years. Madam Speaker, we need to hear from all stakeholders as we determine a path forward. That is why I am pleased to confirm that we have secured federal funding for the next three years to make the Conservation Network Gathering an annual event.

Madam Speaker, we look forward to working together to develop the next made-in-the-North conservation work plan to keep our land healthy for current and future Northerners and visitors to enjoy. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 24-19(2): Conservation Network Gathering
Ministers' Statements

Page 393

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Minister's Statement 25-19(2): Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Ministers' Statements

Page 393

Diane Thom Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Madam Speaker. We all want better health for our families and communities. The choices we make are important for our overall health and well-being. By eating good, being physically active, reducing the amount of alcohol we drink, living tobacco-free, and making healthy choices, we can help reduce the risk of getting chronic disease like cancer.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Canada, and it is important that we talk about it. Over the past few decades, we have learned more about cancer, which is resulting in more people surviving than ever before. This is why it is important to observe cancer awareness months.

Madam Speaker, this month is Colorectal Awareness Month, and it is dedicated to raising awareness about colorectal cancer and honouring those who have been affected by this disease. Colorectal cancer is preventable; it's treatable. Yet here in the Northwest Territories, the incidence of being diagnosed with colorectal cancer is twice the rate than in the rest of Canada. Many people are unaware that they can reduce the risk of getting it with timely screening and healthy lifestyles.

Madam Speaker, the best protection we have against colorectal cancer is early detection. Taking a fecal immunochemical test, or FIT test, is the easiest way for Northwest Territories residents to learn if they are at risk of colorectal cancer. In an effort to improve screening and early detection, "one and done" FIT screening is an effort to improve screening and early detection. It was introduced in 2018. This approach makes it easier for people to collect a sample at home and return it to their healthcare provider. The FIT test, which you can easily do at home, is recommended for residents ages 50 to 74 and should be completed at least every two years.

To increase screening rates for colorectal cancer in our territory, Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority just launched a pilot project in February to mail FIT screening kits to eligible residents. The pilot project focuses on the Beaufort-Delta region. If the approach is successful, it will be expanded across the territory. Our aim is to increase the participation screening rate to meet the national goal of 60 percent.

Madam Speaker, we have also distributed community cancer awareness kits to community health representatives. Health care staff can use these comprehensive kits in their communities to raise awareness and have conversations with residents about the importance of early screening and healthy living.

In February, the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority also launched two educational cancer videos. Part of the seven series, these videos aim to help residents better understand cancer and the importance of screening in the NWT. These videos were created in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services and the University of Alberta's Indigenous and Global Health Research group. The videos were developed through community consultations in the Northwest Territories, incorporated feedback from community members in Fort Good Hope, Inuvik, and Yellowknife. Residents can view them on the website, cancernwt.ca. The videos were also distributed to the health centres for use and will be promoted on social media.

While it is important to improve screening rates and to communicate directly about cancer with Northwest Territories residents, it is also critical that we support those patients who are battling cancer right now. We know that the emotional and physical effects of cancer can make it difficult for patients to process information. To help support patients and families, the NWT Health Authority has hired and trained two full-time cancer Nurse Navigators. The Nurse Navigators are specially trained to help patients and their families through their cancer journey.

In closing, Madam Speaker, I want to encourage all residents, particularly those aged 50 to 74, to speak to their health care providers about getting screened. Let us work together to promote healthy living, reduce the risk of colorectal cancer and other cancers, and support those who are living with it. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 25-19(2): Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month
Ministers' Statements

Page 393

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 26-19(2): Fort Good Hope Seniors Complex
Ministers' Statements

Page 393

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Supporting the housing needs of seniors is very important to our people in our communities. To do this, a key approach to support our elders is to recognize their desire to have friends and family close by as they age and to remain in familiar surroundings.

Having those strong networks of your long-time friends and family around you has impacts on your health and your age. Having the support to age in place in your home community will improve the quality of life for seniors and may prevent early admission to long-term care facilities.

I am pleased to advise Members that we will be ready to open the new Fort Good Hope Seniors' Centre this spring. This centre is the last of five centres that were designed in conjunction with the Department of Health and Social Services, taking into consideration local guidance and input. The development of these units has improved the lives of seniors in Aklavik, Fort Liard, Fort McPherson, Whati, and soon Fort Good Hope.

These complexes feature eight units that will be occupied by seniors and one unit will be designated as a caretaker unit. An on-site caretaker improves the safety and security of the building. As part of these designs, these buildings feature common areas where therapeutic and lifestyle programming can be delivered for seniors. The designs include non-step entrances to suites, wider doors, and common spaces that are used for delivery of Health and Social Services programming.

Madam Speaker, seniors are the bedrock of our lives. They have been there for us since the day we were born. They have given so much to us. Their knowledge, their guidance and their love. As such, we needed to take the time and use the necessary resources to ensure that these units were built to the best standard available. It is important that we give back to the ones that have given us so much. I look forward to opening this facility and celebrating with elders and their families as they move in to their new home. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 26-19(2): Fort Good Hope Seniors Complex
Ministers' Statements

Page 394

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

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

Minister's Statement 27-19(2): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 394

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Madam Speaker, I wish to advise Members that the Honourable Katrina Nokleby will be absent from the House today and tomorrow to attend the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada Conference in Toronto, Ontario. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Minister's Statement 27-19(2): Minister Absent from the House
Ministers' Statements

Page 394

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Northview Real Estate Investment Trust Purchase
Members' Statements

Page 394

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Speaker. In light of Starlight Investments and KingSett Capital's recent intention to purchase Northview Real Estate, thus making the two largest landlords in Yellowknife. One, I wanted to read an open letter to CEO Jon Love of KingSett Capital and CEO Daniel Drimmer of Starlight Investments.

Congratulations on your intention to purchase Northview Real Estate Investment Trust for $4.8 billion. I wish to inform you that, upon closing this deal, you will own a small city in the subarctic called Yellowknife.

Yellowknife also happens to be the capital city of the Northwest Territories. I invite you to come and visit sometime. It's a beautiful place. In case you were not aware, Northview presently owns the majority of rental apartment units in Yellowknife, and when combining their commercial stock with KingSett's current Yellowknife stock, you will own the majority of commercial leasing space, as well. I have attached a picture of our downtown core to show you all the buildings you will own, one of which KingSett has managed to keep vacant for almost a decade. It recently had its siding fall off; I have attached that picture for you, as well.

Additionally, congratulations on your intention to purchase a company which is our city's leader in residential tenancies violations. When you come visit our town, I hope you will visit the various Northview apartments that have been left in disrepair due to rent money flowing south to fuel other capital investments. Before you purchase our city, I wanted to ensure that you are aware of the fact that the majority of Yellowknifers have, at some point, lived or worked in one of the buildings in this deal, and I have yet to ever hear a single positive thing about that fact.

My apologies, Dan. I know you have significant amount of investment in Northview, but I hope, as our new landlords, we can start a fresh and do some work to repair the relationship with our residents.

Now I recognize that by design real estate is first and foremost an investment for your companies and the fact that people live and work in your property is secondary; but I would hope you both put something extra in for exceptional cases such as this.

As I am sure you are aware the North is an exceptional market. The capitalization rate for Northview's Northern Canada holdings is 9.17 percent which is 55 percent higher than its overall capitalization rate and 40 percent higher than its next most profitable region. Of course KingSett, as a private equity fund for institutional and ultra-high net worth investors, does not have the transparency of an exchange-traded REIT like Northview, such that similar information is not publicly available for Kingsett's current holdings in northern Canada.

Madam Speaker, I am seeking unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

I also note that Northview's current market power, combined with Kingsett's market share, is an index that will make Yellowknife one the most highly concentrated real estate markets in Canada.

Dan, Jon, we all know this deal is not really about Yellowknife. There are so many assets in your combined multi-billion-dollar portfolios that I wouldn't expect you to ever know them all by city. I am hopeful that this letter, despite its sarcastic tone, can start a conversation. There are a variety of remedies available that will ensure the acquisition of Northview can allow some competition to once again exist in our northern capital. I have brought this market share issue to the Competition Bureau of Canada's attention on multiple occasions. I encourage you to reach out the them and divest some of Yellowknife assets in this deal, ideally on a small enough scale to allow local ownership in a city which is desperately in need of competition and local developers. At the very least, perhaps you could try and do something about that 10-storey vacant tower that you own.

Yours truly, Rylund Johnson, MLA for Yellowknife North.

Northview Real Estate Investment Trust Purchase
Members' Statements

Page 394

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act Implementation
Members' Statements

Page 394

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Madam la Presidente. In June 2019, the Assembly passed historic changes to the Access to Information Protection of Privacy Act that had been in the works since 2012. The then-Minister of Justice worked well with standing committee, and we now have very good legislation; in fact, it may be the best in Canada. There was extensive consultation with GNWT departments, public bodies, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, as well as the general public. Feedback received during the course of these consultations, including the Information and Privacy Commissioner's extensive submission, and recommendations identified by the standing committee were thoroughly considered and informed the development of the bill. Mandatory exemptions were reduced, the jurisdiction of the Information and Privacy Commissioner was clarified giving that officer the ability to issue binding orders, and the act will apply to municipal governments, as suggested by several parties over many years.

What is not clear is the Minister's plans for implementing the recommendations as documented in the November 2016 "what we heard" report from public consultations. These issues included fee reductions, training, identification of classes of records that do not require an ATIPP application, and many more.

When I asked the former Minister of Justice about fee reductions on June 6, 2019, he responded by saying:

  • the initial fee for general requests would be dropped from $25 to $10;
  • there would be 10 free hours of processing for general requests;
  • photocopy charges would be dropped to 10 cents per page; and
  • personal information charges would be kept at $25, but the number of free pages would be increased from 100 to 200.

Madam Speaker, we're still waiting for these changes. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice on the next steps of implementing the amendments passed in the last Assembly to the Access to Information and Protections of Privacy Act. Mahsi, Madam Speaker.

Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act Implementation
Members' Statements

Page 394

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.