This is page numbers 1111 - 1152 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.

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Question 315-19(2): Claw-back of Income Assistance from Inuvialuit Beneficiaries
Oral Questions

Page 1119

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

The Member is right. People in the Northwest Territories, and especially in the Member's riding, pay more than anywhere else in Canada, and that is why the Income Assistance program in the Northwest Territories pays much more than any other program in Canada.

Question 315-19(2): Claw-back of Income Assistance from Inuvialuit Beneficiaries
Oral Questions

Page 1119

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

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Nunakput.

Question 315-19(2): Claw-back of Income Assistance from Inuvialuit Beneficiaries
Oral Questions

Page 1119

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Will the Minister commit to amending the income support regulations to exempt claims for beneficiaries from all land claim groups? They do get benefits once per year. Would the Minister commit to amending their clawback system? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 315-19(2): Claw-back of Income Assistance from Inuvialuit Beneficiaries
Oral Questions

Page 1119

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

I already committed to the Member to have a look at this. This is the type of work that I am glad is getting brought up here because these are the things that I was looking into prior to COVID sort of derailing things. It's nice to get back to business as usual. I have made an offer to the standing committee to make a presentation where we could sit down and have some more in-depth conversations on this, and I look forward to it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 315-19(2): Claw-back of Income Assistance from Inuvialuit Beneficiaries
Oral Questions

Page 1119

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

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

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

June 10th, 2020

Page 1120

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. My questions are for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. Earlier today, I mentioned the recent Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories decision on the Acho Dene Koe First Nation case on the relationship of community investment plans to regulatory requirements under oil and gas legislation. Can the Minister tell us whether she has read or been briefed on this important case and what, if any, changes her department is going to make to ensure that Indigenous governments and all Northerners benefit from resource development? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1120

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

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1120

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I am aware of this case. We are working to update our benefit plan guidelines that do exist under our oil and gas legislation. When it comes into force, the MRA will give us the ability, in law, to establish measures that will generate benefits for all Northerners.

Mr. Speaker, I must remind the Member that Indigenous governments and all Northerners are already benefitting from resource development. Every producing mine has an associated socioeconomic agreement in addition to independent IVAs that are negotiated with Indigenous governments. Since 1996, under our SEAs, socioeconomic agreements, almost $30,000 jobs have been realized for northern and Indigenous persons at our diamond mines. These same mines have spent over $16 billion with northern companies and service providers. Our government receives royalties that ultimately benefit all people of the Northwest Territories. Indigenous governments also share in resource revenues under the devolution agreement. We are already benefitting, Mr. Speaker. Let's not forget that. Thank you.

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1120

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that. I am not prepared to engage her in a debate in question period about whether there are benefits. My purpose here is to make sure that we benefit more from resource development. In August of last year, the Assembly completed its review and passed amendments to our oil and gas legislation that, among other things, would have done away with much of the secrecy around our management of those resources. Can the Minister tell us when those amendments will finally be brought into force and what is the source of the delay?

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1120

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

I am not sure that that work is delayed. Nevertheless, I can tell the Member that it is close to completion, and I am anticipating that we will be able to identify a target coming-into-force date fairly soon, possibly as early as the end of this month. There are two things in particular that have taken some time. The Office of the Regulator of Oil and Gas Operations, or OROGO, wanted the opportunity to develop two sets of guidelines and interpretation notes, which will help explain their application and administration of two of the amendments. These have now been drafted. More critically, our government needed to update our technology infrastructure to be able to host a secure, public-facing, online database. That is the work that is now almost done. When it is ready, we will go live and bring the legislation into force.

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1120

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

That's great news from the Minister. I am glad to hear that we are weeks away from flipping the secrecy onus. I certainly pushed very hard to get the public registry as part of the legislation. In my statement, I also referenced the extraordinary power and discretion of Cabinet and the Minister in deciding what, how, and when benefits might be secured from mineral development through enforceable agreements or plans. Can the Minister tell us what the implications of the Acho Dene Koe First Nation court case are in relation to securing benefits under the Mineral Resources Act, and when will those provisions actually be brought into force?

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1120

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

I don't believe that I am the first ITI Minister to admit that I can't predict the future. The one for-sure thing we can take from this court ruling is that, when it comes to petroleum projects in the Northwest Territories, a very clear distinction was made between benefit plans and agreements that might be signed between project proponents and Indigenous governments. Now, as far as our work on the Mineral Resources Act is concerned, I can tell you that, as we get back to the more regular business of government, these regulations will become a focal point for our government. This work will take time, and our planning for it is under way. The MRA is a brand new act. We are building some of the regulations from the ground up, and that will require research and input from multiple parties. What I will do is assure the Member that, as our work moves forward on this file, I will keep him and the rest of the Members of this House involved and informed, as already committed to during ITI's main estimates review.

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1120

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

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

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1121

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for another piece of really great news. Of course, it's a challenging time in the Northwest Territories for resource development as we have so little control over commodity prices and financing. What assurance can the Minister provide that securing benefits for Northerners from resource development to fulfill the promise of devolution is truly a priority as we enter an era of economic recovery? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 316-19(2): Enforceable Benefits from Resource Development
Oral Questions

Page 1121

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

I am happy to provide the Member and this House with that assurance. Absolutely. It is part of our mandate, and I think it has been evidenced most recently in the rollout of our approach to COVID. I have said numerous times that we will need our resource sector to anchor our recovery. Mining and exploration are the biggest source of private sector jobs and income for our residents and, when they return to full operations, will once again be major buyers of products and services from Northwest Territories companies. We have worked with our mines and resource companies to ensure their safe and continued operation. We have taken steps to protect mineral tenure in the Northwest Territories by suspending payment and work requirements as we work on more comprehensive and coordinated relief measures. Also, the Mining Incentive Program has been adapted to support Northwest Territories prospectors and company-led mineral exploration projects to ensure that their projects this summer will be in line with orders and conditions of the Chief Public Health Officer. All of this, Mr. Speaker, because we recognize the importance of mining and resource development in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.