This is page numbers 1035 - 1054 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

Members Present

Hon. Frederick Blake Jr, Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Martselos, 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 1:33 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 1035

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Item 2, Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier.

Minister's Statement 49-19(2): Inuvialuit Day and National Indigenous Peoples Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 1035

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, I know that renewing our government's relationship with Indigenous governments is important to all Members. That is why the 19th Legislative Assembly has established settling and implementing treaty, land, resources, and self-government agreements as one of its priorities. We have also made it a priority to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.

On June 5th each year, we commemorate Inuvialuit Day to celebrate the signing of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement in 1984. In many ways, this agreement led the way for the future negotiation of land, resources, and self-government agreements in the Northwest Territories and perhaps all of Canada. The Inuvialuit Final Agreement was the first comprehensive land claim agreement north of the 60th parallel and only the second of its kind in Canada. The final agreement designates over 90,000 square kilometres of land as the Inuvialuit Settlement Region and includes close to 13,000 square kilometres of subsurface ownership and certain wildlife harvesting rights within the region. The agreement also established the Inuvialuit Development Corporation to support Inuvialuit self-reliance by providing a solid economic base that allows them to participate fully in the Canadian economy.

Just as importantly, the final agreement gave Inuvialuit a guaranteed right to participate in important decisions affecting the Inuvialuit Settlement Region: it established the Inuvialuit Game Council, ensured Inuvialuit participation on co-management boards, and led to the creation of the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. To this day, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation remains one of this government's most important and valued partners. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation was the first Indigenous government to join with our government in signing on to the Devolution Agreement-in-Principle in January 2011, and their support and participation in the negotiation of the final agreement was invaluable to our government. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation continues to be a strong supporter and ally as a member of the Intergovernmental Council on Lands and Resource Management. Following devolution, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation and our government jointly advocated to Canada for a start to Arctic offshore oil and gas accord negotiations as called for in the Devolution Agreement. These negotiations began in the spring of 2019, and the GNWT and the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation share an interest in bringing more decision-making authority to the North as part of this accord.

Earlier this year, we celebrated Gwich'in Day. Later this summer, we celebrate two additional important landmarks for the people of the Northwest Territories. Sahtu Day on June 23rd will mark the 27th anniversary of the signing of the Sahtu Dene and Metis Comprehensive Land Claim Agreement, and August 4th will mark the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Tlicho Agreement. We look forward to recognizing these accomplishments with our Indigenous government partners and continuing to build on the vision of reconciliation expressed in these agreements. On June 21st, we will also celebrate National Indigenous People's Day. This is a day to celebrate the first peoples of Canada, including the rich and diverse cultures of the Dene, Inuit, and Metis peoples. National Indigenous People's Day also serves as a reminder that we are stronger and more successful when our public government works in cooperation with Indigenous governments throughout the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, our collaboration with the Inuvialuit, the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated, and the Tlicho are just three examples of the government-to-government relationships we are building with all Indigenous governments of the Northwest Territories. We look forward to continuing to build and strengthen these particularly important relationships. The future of the Northwest Territories depends on partnerships. One of the things that the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated is that we are all connected. Everybody has been affected by this pandemic, and all governments have had to work hard together to protect the health of Northwest Territories residents.

Indigenous governments are a critical partner for us, and that is why our government has been meeting weekly with them throughout the pandemic to discuss our response and how we can work together to serve our people. While this pandemic will not last, I look forward to continued close collaboration between the Government of the Northwest Territories and Indigenous governments in the years to come. We ask all Members to join me in congratulating the Inuvialuit people on the 36th anniversary of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Minister's Statement 49-19(2): Inuvialuit Day and National Indigenous Peoples Day
Ministers' Statements

Page 1036

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 50-19(2): Housing and Homelessness Response to COVID-19
Ministers' Statements

Page 1036

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We recognize that supporting vulnerable residents in need of housing or at risk of homelessness across the Northwest Territories is an essential part of the overall response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has been working to ensure that we meet the needs of our residents during this difficult and challenging time. The need for social distancing due to COVID-19 has a significant impact on how we support our residents and highlighted the need for all of us to work together, respect one another, and be resourceful of hope in these trying times.

To support meeting the housing and shelter needs of Northwest Territories residents during this pandemic, the Government of the Northwest Territories announced $5 million in supportive initiatives that recognize the vulnerable residents who have limited ability to self-isolate safely. This included $1.4 million to create housing for persons at risk or persons experiencing homelessness to self-isolate and $3.6 million to bring on stream up to approximately 130 units across the Northwest Territories that are either available for occupancy or in need of renovations to meet the core housing needs. Now that these units are no longer required by the Emergency Management Organization, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is in the process of re-allocating these units to the corporation's rental programs: public housing, market rental, affordable rental, or to support homeownership. The re-allocation of these units will help to alleviate overcrowding in smaller communities. Sixty of these units are available for immediate allocation. These units will decrease the wait lists across the Northwest Territories and make us better prepared should there be a second wave of COVID-19.

Mr. Speaker, we also recognize that some residents are facing economic challenges due to the virus. To meet the needs, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation enhanced the Transitional Rent Supplement Program by extending the program to August, streamlining the application process, and simplifying the requirements for participants. Where there were approximately 40 applicants for the program, participants last year, this year we are helping 150 households. One of the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic is that the sudden loss of income could lead to residents being at risk of homelessness. In anticipation of this, we increased the budget for the Homelessness Assistance Fund from $125,000 to $300,000. This program provides financial assistance for the private rental market for people to find stable housing. We have been working to ensure that these applications are processed as quickly as possible, as we know that these times are extremely stressful for our residents.

Mr. Speaker, we have been working with community partners to access buildings to help serve as isolation centres for the vulnerable people who are at greater risk to be in contact with COVID-19. Under this action, we leased Aspen Apartments from the federal government to provide 36 additional units in Yellowknife; and we have accommodated up to 18 people to be sheltered that are experiencing homelessness at the North Country Inn in Hay River. During this pandemic period, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation continues to be accessible to residents even with the realities of many working remotely. As such, emergency 1-800 numbers were set up for homelessness assistance, emergency repair, and access to the Transitional Rent Supplement Program.

Mr. Speaker, as we begin recovery, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation will be an important contributor to the economic recovery of the Northwest Territories. We will be working with communities to ensure that construction, renovation, and repair work is done in a safe and considerate manner, and bring in much needed economic benefits to our smaller communities. Lastly, even though we have entered into stage one of the pandemic recovery plan, I would like to remind our tenants that the risks posed by COVID-19 are not over. I know that with the easing of social distancing, we want to gather and spend time with family and friends, but we all need to follow the directions of the Chief Public Health Officer. Let us be considerate, helpful, kind, and keep washing our hands and following these orders.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation staff and the local housing authorities who have been creative, flexible, and responsive throughout this pandemic. They have gone above and beyond to provide direct, appropriate assistance to the residents of the Northwest Territories. Their time, energy, and countless hours are extremely appreciated. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 50-19(2): Housing and Homelessness Response to COVID-19
Ministers' Statements

Page 1037

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Item 3, Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Monitoring and Enforcement of Public Health Orders
Members' Statements

Page 1037

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would again like to raise current issues surrounding the monitoring and enforcement of the COVID-19 orders established by the Chief Public Health Officer. I continue to receive numerous calls about persons, businesses, and visitors not following the Chief Public Health Officer's orders in the community of Hay River. I have been informed time and time again that we continue to have drug dealers and others snubbing the orders while we put these people up in hotels at this government's expense.

In addition, the community is experiencing an influx of southern workers who are not following the orders. A worker who attended a retail outlet in Hay River informed the owner he had just arrived in town and was not required to self-isolate and was only required to wear a mask, which he did not have on. Another was a visiting salesperson who was selling windows. That person was going door to door and interacting with residents, something I assume we want to avoid. A final example is that of a local retailer who required a certified relief worker in the health field who filed an application with Protect NWT. It took over two weeks to receive confirmation the person would be allowed in. The response was received too late, and the worker changed his mind. That put our northern business in a difficult position. The result is overworked health care workers.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that Protect NWT is probably swamped with calls. If they are understaffed, I expect this government to provide them with the additional support required to provide timely and consistent responses. When we open our borders, it is imperative that the responsible department have a plan to protect those communities closest to NWT entry points. If we expect to uphold the orders of the Chief Public Health Officer, then this government needs to support Protect NWT, monitoring, enforcement, and border security with additional staff. What we have in Hay River right now is not working. Mr. Speaker, in addition, northern businesses are finding the process for bringing in essential or supply chain workers to be not efficient. These businesses want to do the right thing, however, are finding the application process both confusing and time consuming. There are no clear answers when clarification is requested. The process must be clear and concise if we expect to retain those businesses in the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Monitoring and Enforcement of Public Health Orders
Members' Statements

Page 1037

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Celebrating the Graduation of Nunakput Students
Members' Statements

Page 1037

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I'm rising in the House to recognize Nunakput's class of 2020 graduates in our communities. There is nothing better than hearing parents and teachers celebrating the accomplishments of our students who have completed their school studies and onto new endeavours. Graduating in high school is a big deal. It takes study and a commitment. Graduation in the North is a bigger deal than what it is because of what we have to do is travel outside of our home communities in our riding. Sometimes, travelling and living outside the communities for our studies, graduation also marks entry to our young people into the adult world to begin their bigger dreams by pursuing trades, moving to post-secondary education, or entering the workforce.

Today, I want to congratulate the students of Nunakput on this monumental achievement and wish them all the best in their future endeavours. From Helen Kalvak Elihakvik School in Ulukhatok, congratulations to Mitchell Inuktalik, Lucy Ann Okheena, and Alexandria Bankskand. From Mangilaluk in Tuktoyaktuk, I want to congratulate the following graduates: Eriel Lugt, Shaeli Pokiak, Jewel Keevik, Carmen Kuptana, Gabrielle Nogasak, Demaris Elias-Noksana, Anna Panaktalok, and Roslyn Rogers. Out of Sachs Harbour, Alexis Lucas, who had to graduate in Inualthuyak; and Paulatuk Angik School, Shannon Green, Jorgon Ruben, Gracie Nakmaik, and Figuris Krengnaktuk. We are all very proud of you and wish you all the best in your future endeavours, and to keep continue in school, and all the best to them in 2020. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Celebrating the Graduation of Nunakput Students
Members' Statements

Page 1038

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Members' Statements

Page 1038

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, I spoke about the lack of cell service coverage between Ray Junction and Yellowknife. Today, I'm going to speak about the maintenance camp along the highway. Mr. Speaker, our government's highway maintenance workers are some of the most critical public servants in the territory. Without them, the travel in the Northwest Territories will grind to a halt, and where would we be, Mr. Speaker? In the face of the COVID-19 crisis, I want to thank all the maintenance workers for their dedication to their duty. They are the unsung heroes of the supply chain that keeps our territory operating through good times and bad times. In light of their importance in the territory, I find it ironic that our highway maintenance workers are so badly disrespected by the government. I refer to Edzo highway camp, which is understaffed and ill-equipped that it's a wonder our workers don't go on strike. I will have questions for the appropriate Minister later on today. Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Members' Statements

Page 1038

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Members' Statements

Page 1038

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Since March, a lot of my questions that I have been receiving have been in regards to COVID-19. I've heard from my constituents about their thoughts as well on the Emerging Wisely plan. There are some residents who support the closed borders and the strict rules in place, and there are those who want to know why, since we've had no cases since April, we are under such strict rules at the borders and the borders remain closed. Mr. Speaker, with our neighbouring territory, the Yukon is planning on opening up a lot faster than us. This has increased the questions of concern for those who are against opening up and those who are wanting to have loosening of the restrictions. They would like an explanation as to why we cannot return to normal, at least within the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, you're well aware the ferries will be opening up to the Yukon this weekend in our region, and many of my residents are asking when they will be able to travel without isolating when they return. With the recent news of the Yukon possibly opening up to BC by July, is travelling even a possibility for the NWT residents there? For those who do not want to stay home and want to go camping overnight, I'm glad to hear that we may be going into phase 2 by next Friday, according to Dr. Kandola's announcement. It will, at least, give the residents some freedom. I will have questions for the Minister of health. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Members' Statements

Page 1038

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Impacts of Second Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic in Small Communities and Regional Centres
Members' Statements

Page 1038

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As we move on from the first wave of the COVID-19, I can't help but wonder what the second wave of this pandemic might have in store for us later this year. Our territory has endured the first wave of COVID-19 with relatively good success, seeing as we have only had five cases, all of whom have recovered, and no community transmission. We are now about to enter phase 2 of our territory's Emerging Wisely plan of reopening the economy to regular life. However, Mr. Speaker, I remain concerned about our territory's level of preparedness for future waves of COVID-19, or even for future pandemics that we may face down the road. My primary concern, though, is about our regional centres and small communities' level of preparedness.

In an April 6, 2020, interview, the Premier stated that the Stanton Territorial Hospital was well-equipped and well-stocked with personal protective equipment. Missing from the Premier's answers, however, was any information about any small community's level of preparedness. Do other communities have face masks, gowns, protective glasses, or ventilators? Do health centres and nursing stations have the proper procedures in place to deal with one positive case of COVID-19, let alone a potential outbreak?

Mr. Speaker, this government has also stopped short of sharing any projections of potential COVID-19 cases transmitted across the NWT. Sure, we are a small populated territory, but that shouldn't prevent us from releasing basic projection data, just as any other province would. I think releasing this type of information would help the people of the NWT to see where the vulnerabilities lie for our territory in the face of global pandemic. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Impacts of Second Wave of COVID-19 Pandemic in Small Communities and Regional Centres
Members' Statements

Page 1038

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Socio-Economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation Project
Members' Statements

Page 1039

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. On May 19th, the Giant Mine oversight board released its fourth annual report. Once again, the failure to deliver socioeconomic benefits to Indigenous peoples and northern residents is front and centre. Since 2005-2006, about $500 million has been spent on the Giant Mine site. It is estimated that another $750 million will be spent on future active remediation. After that, annual perpetual care costs are estimated at $2.35 to $5.66 million for the next 100 years. This will be the largest-ever government-funded capital project in the Northwest Territories.

Northern employment at the site does not appear to have ever exceeded 50 percent, with less than 20 percent Indigenous. Northern contracting is not much better. The board has been unable to determine whether there are any efforts of capacity-building and ensuring that barriers to local employment or contracting are minimized. Residents continue to express anxiety about whether they will be able to take full advantage of the employment and business opportunities that will increase when full site remediation begins in 2021. There is still no plan to ensure northern benefits from remediation at Giant Mine. No one seems to take any responsibility for pushing this forward, including this government.

The board concluded that the challenge is rooted in the absence of an effective and experienced champion to carry these messages forward and coordinate them to an effective end. It is now recommended that a special envoy be appointed by the federal government to coordinate the development and implementation of a socioeconomic strategy, monitor the outcomes of the two socioeconomic committees, and negotiate changes as required; report directly to the relevant federal and territorial Ministers and make those findings public in an annual report; facilitate information-sharing with the broader Yellowknife community; and finally, facilitate discussions on project-related reconciliation.

The special envoy would have significant experience in government relations, cross-cultural issues, and negotiating complex issues. It is recommended that significant resources will be made available to ensure the success of this position and that it should be located in Yellowknife. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, who has the lead on the Giant Mine for GNWT, on whether we can expect to realize real socioeconomic benefits from this project. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Socio-Economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation Project
Members' Statements

Page 1039

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Members' Statements

Page 1039

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When I opened my business, I introduced myself to local portrait photographers. My calls were largely met with negative remarks about how there was no market for photography here, how it won't generate a livable income, and how I was setting myself up to fail. Within a year, all except one had closed their doors, and soon after, a new generation of photographers began to grow in the North. We attended conferences, shared equipment and clients, encouraged one another, and together created a demand for our craft. Mr. Speaker, market disruption is not always a negative. It can be the catalyst that propels creativity, excellence, and community. In the pre-COVID days, businesses had time to evolve through change. Internet, for example, jump-started the evolution of online shopping. Retailers had time to grow and plans that promoted product both with and without brick and mortar storefronts and how to meet the needs of tech-savvy customers who wanted to shop from home.

COVID has presented abrupt new business challenges. Many have had to revamp their business models practically overnight to stay afloat. I want to again commend the resiliency and creativity of northern business owners as they have worked hard to respond to the realities of the pandemic. I also want to thank northern consumers who prioritized shopping local and see the long-term value of supporting our local business community. Business evolution isn't only a pivot of the feet, Mr. Speaker. It takes courage, planning, and cash flow. Northern businesses desperately need cash flow today to evolve their businesses. Fortunately, the GNWT's Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development, or SEED, program financially invest in the economic development ideas of northern entrepreneurs, but there's a catch, Mr. Speaker. To be eligible for funding, a business idea cannot cause market disruption, and this is keeping dollars from our existing northern businesses. I understand the GNWT's concern with market disruption, but, Mr. Speaker, at a time when the entire global economy is experiencing unprecedented market disruption, this policy should not be allowed to inhibit SEED funding from flowing into existing northern businesses.

I fully support SEED, but it must respond to the needs of its clientele in the current economic climate. I am therefore asking the ITI Minister to commit to allow existing businesses to apply for 2021 SEED funding on a first-come, first-served basis without applying the market disruption clause to help fund the evolution of their operations. Mr. Speaker, we can't afford to watch decades of northern businesses fail, but we can afford to remove one policy provision that stands in the way of government support that might help these businesses survive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Members' Statements

Page 1040

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Sahtu.

Recognition of Phoebe Tatti
Members' Statements

Page 1040

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Preserving language and culture is a priority, and implementing the structure to restore the pristine language and culture of the Northwest Territories brings a large and unique focus to our Indigenous people. Today, I want to display and recognize the appreciation and contribution of Ms. Phoebe Tatti, originally from Deline, born and raised on Great Bear Lake.

Ms. Phoebe Tatti has demonstrated her unique ability to teach, translate, and enlighten the importance of preserving the North Slavey language. She has displayed her accomplishments through Indigenous linguistics, interpreting, and activism as a storyteller and media host. She played a critical role in developing not only Dene language children's books but advancing the Northwest Territories education curriculum to include the first Dene language curriculum of the Northwest Territories.

Ms. Tatti is highly recognized amongst educational jurisdictions throughout Canada and did promote the Slavey language to demonstrate the international language and documentation during a conference and included her time spent interpreting for the Berger Inquiry, the implementation of the Sahtu Dene Metis comprehensive land claim agreement. She was a host interpreter for CBC North current affairs program. Her experience led her to become the co-chair for the Aboriginal language task force for the Northwest Territories. Ms. Phoebe Tatti completed her degree in education and further more pursued her master's degree in Indigenous language and revitalization. With her knowledge, experience, and education, Ms. Phoebe Tatti also served as the former commissioner of language for the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, today, I want to highly recognize Ms. Phoebe Tatti, who has received an honourary doctorate from Concord University that recognizes her passion, dedication, and efforts that contribute to rebuilding the enhancement and continue the education and awareness to preserve the North Slavey languages and the languages of the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, I want to highly thank the contributions of Ms. Phoebe Tatti; her time, her passion to preserve the Indigenous languages for the Northwest Territories, and her knowledge and leadership that inspires women, Indigenous women, to break those barriers and continue to lead with integrity and compassion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition of Phoebe Tatti
Members' Statements

Page 1040

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Recognition of Passing of Les Rocher
Members' Statements

Page 1040

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I would like to acknowledge the passing of a very important member of our community, Mr. Les Rocher. I am not sure anyone can quite measure the contribution Les made to the very fabric of Yellowknife. Les was raised in Old Town, and his rugged style and straight talk are largely a reflection of this entire town. Les was a Titan of real estate in Yellowknife, yet he never lost his Old Town charm and was always willing to go for a drive or provide a detailed history of nearly every building and lot in this town. Les's encyclopedic knowledge of Yellowknife made him a historian and invaluable resource on how to get things done.

Mr. Speaker, I recall once discussing the purchase of the old Hudson's Bay building in Yellowknife with Les, part of a plan to use the building as a potential artists' centre, a dream I hope can still one day be fulfilled. Before any mention of price could be discussed, Les made sure I, some young lawyer, was fully lectured on the entire history of the building and the days when sled dogs were still a common way to transport goods purchased from the Hudson's Bay. Les truly cared about this town.

Les's parents, John and Mary, came to Yellowknife in the 1950s and settled in Old Town. Yellowknife was just then a town in the midst of a gold-mining boom. However, in time, Les's Swap Shop would emerge, and Les would expand the family business, Quality Furniture. In a climate where development is never easy, Les played a role in putting up hundreds if not nearly thousands of homes, Mr. Speaker. My guess is most long-time Yellowknifers have likely lived in a Rocher home at some point. Les was a symbol of the spirit, ambition, and fearless can-do attitude that defines Yellowknife to this day. I know his memory will live on, and we should all take inspiration from his vision and ability to bring that vision into fruition. I would also like to thank Les and the entire Rocher family for all the intangible things they have done which build a community. Les knew his community. Whether a person was rich or poor, he was always willing to take a risk on them and give his time to those in need. That commitment to community-oriented causes translated to support for social clubs, historical groups, cultural events, and there is no doubt that Les had a big heart, Mr. Speaker.

COVID-19 has made grieving difficult at times, but in a spirit Les would be proud of, Yellowknife found a way. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all those who organized and took part in the memorial parade for Les. There were literally hundreds of people out on the road for one last drive with Les. Les Rocher is survived by his wife of 35 years, Sandra McDaniel, their six children, three grandchildren. I believe there is one more on the way, Mr. Speaker. When COVID permits, I know there will be a very large celebration of life for Les Rocher as there was no doubt much to celebrate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition of Passing of Les Rocher
Members' Statements

Page 1041

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery

Page 1041

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

I would like to recognize Mr. Richard Gleeson joining us today in the gallery. It's always good to have an audience with us. Also, to our interpreters, I would like to thank you for all of the work you have been doing over the last couple of weeks with us. It's very important work that you do to communicate what we are doing here in the House, and I would just like to thank you. Sometimes, it means a lot to just hear, when you are doing work, such a simple thing as "thank you," so mahsi.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, acknowledgements. Member for Monfwi.

Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements

Page 1041

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday, it was announced that the Tlicho Community Service Agency received accreditation status from Accreditation Canada. Accreditation Canada is an independent, not-for-profit organization that sets standards for quality and safety of healthcare and accredits health organizations in Canada and around the world.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my sincerest congratulations to all involved. A compliance rate of 98 percent is something to be very proud of. Please join me in congratulating the Tlicho Community Service Agency in their highest achievement for NWT, along with the Hay River Health and Social Service Authority and the Northwest Territories Health and Social Service Authority. Congratulations, and keep up the great work for making a difference for the Northwest Territories. Masi.

---Applause

Acknowledgements
Acknowledgements

Page 1041

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1041

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Mr. Speaker, I would assume that Protect NWT's slow response time is caused by staff shortage and the high volume of calls they are receiving. Can the Minister tell me: how many calls has Protect NWT received to date, and is it increasing or decreasing? What are the average calls per day? What is the nature of the calls? Are they for exemptions, monitoring, enforcement, reporting, or general information? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1041

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1041

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Since issuing the first public health order on March 21st, Protect Northwest Territories has responded to over 12,000 phone calls. We have processed over 5,300 self-isolation plans, and we have responded to more than 9,000 emails. On an average basis, Protect Northwest Territories receives about 144 calls a day. Currently, the call and email volumes remain very high, and staffing is a priority to meet the demands. Calls and emails received related to self-isolation requirements for residents and essential service workers, compliance, enforcement, requests for information about orders, requests for exceptional-circumstance approvals, and redirecting enquiries to other pandemic response services. Any time there is a compliance concern, the case gets forwarded to the compliance and enforcement task force. In the last week, we have had 52 cases around self-isolation and travel restriction concerns, 10 concerns on gatherings, and 31 public health enquiries from businesses.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1041

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

That was a mouthful. Response time by Protect NWT has been an issue, so I would ask the Minister: have we added or considered adding additional staff to Protect NWT to address the slow response time to questions because, evidently, there are a lot of requests?

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1042

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Mr. Speaker, having the necessary human resource support is very crucial to Protect NWT and the compliance enforcement task force being able to carry out mandates successfully, especially in a timely manner, and staffing is a priority for Protect Northwest Territories. The original team was largely made up of a small group of GNWT employees who were redeployed to assist with this component of the COVID-19 response work. With GNWT employees returning to positions, it has been difficult as hiring is a combination of casual positions and mature summer student positions. Staffing actions are not only to replace the GNWT workers but also to add to the team, given the workload demands. I do want to add that our department wishes to acknowledge the contributions of these redeployed GNWT employees and also thank them for their skills and passion in this area of work and coming to work for our department from other areas within the GNWT.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1042

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

I think we all appreciate the work that the staff has done, as well. Mr. Speaker, if we are to open our borders at some point, it is imperative that the responsible department consider increasing our monitoring enforcement staff in communities at NWT entry points. This is crucial. Once the borders open, will the Minister commit to additional staff being added to monitoring and enforcement staff?

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1042

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

We have no plans to lift travel restrictions any time soon. We do recognize that we do need to accommodate those protected by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and we also need to ensure that the Northwest Territories residents have access to essential services, often provided by those who are travelling from other jurisdictions. I would also agree with the Member that ensuring that we have the necessary staffing is crucial to our continued efforts to reduce the public health risk of COVID-19 to Northwest Territories residents. The department has a better understanding of where the pressure points are in implementing and enforcing the Chief Public Health Officer's orders, having had time now to review some operations. The Office of the Chief Public Health Officer will be looking at all GNWT departments for some support to make this adjustment.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1042

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Hay River South.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1042

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said in my statement, I constantly receive calls from constituents about southern workers coming into the NWT and not self-isolating, not self-monitoring, and not wearing proper PPE. Residents are becoming short tempered and discouraged at what is taking place. We need added staff to monitor and provide enforcement in Hay River. Can the Minister provide me with some guidance as to what I can tell the residents of Hay River to alleviate their concerns about those not self-isolating and how they will be dealt with?

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1042

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Currently, the default is that essential service workers must self-isolate when they travel within the Northwest Territories. However, employers can apply for their workers to be exempt from this self-isolation requirements if they take other necessary measures and get special approval from the Chief Public Health Officer. Supply chain workers can be in the Northwest Territories for less than 36 hours. They must socially distance while they're here, but they do not need to self-isolate while working. This could include truckers who are coming, unload their goods that are being delivered, get something to eat, turn around, and get to their point of origin. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 294-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1042

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1042

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given the NWT has allocated $23 million from the federal government for the COVID-19 pandemic, I'd like to know in detail about how the allocated funds and expenditures were spent. Can the Minister provide some specific details in how this money was spent? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1042

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Minister of Finance identified on her May 27th statement, we're all fortunate that Canada has provided $23 million to support the GNWT's response to offset some of the costs related to the COVID-19. A grant agreement was finalized with the Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada on May 11, 2020. The $23.4 million from CIRNAC is to assist the GNWT with the COVID-related costs on the health system. In discussions with Canada, it was indicated that they will be flexible on how funding can be utilized as long as it is substantial, and the costs were incremental due to COVID-19. Department of Finance is working with department and public agencies to track all the incremental costs that are due to this pandemic. The most recent projections for the GNWT is almost $39 million in COVID-related costs, of which $13.9 is specifically related to some of the health system response. The projection for the health system is also based on the current level of response that is associated to the end of September. The Department of Health and Social Service's authorities are continuing to actively monitor some of their costs. The current projected costs specifically for the health system include new or expanded programs, service and supplies directly to support COVID response such as services to vulnerable population, Protect NWT 811 call centres, the COVID compliance and enforcement task team, screeners at the hospitals, public health units, virtual care, rapid testing tools, drive-through testing, and more.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

I expect a detailed accounting of the $23 million at some point during the time of our government. How is the Department of Health and Social Services preparing the regional centres and small communities for the second wave of COVID-19?

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

There have been daily meetings with the regional teams to prepare for the COVID-19 response in small communities. Education and training include COVID testing procedures, infection prevention and control measures, point of care, risk assessment, and more. Additionally, there are regular service and staffing updates provided to the territorial operation, a scan easily to assess situation in any community if there is a requirement for support.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Does the Department of Health and Social Services have a plan to ensure that regional centres and small community nursing stations are considered in the master plan to ensure our residents are safe for both mental and physical health?

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Ensuring small communities can respond to the COVID-19 has been a top priority for the authorities and in their planning after this pandemic. We also recognize that they are our most vulnerable part of our health system should an outbreak occur. The first priority is, of course, to prevent the introduction of COVID-19 in our small communities, which the CPHO has constantly expressed and has taken action to ensure. Nonetheless, we need to be prepared to respond should this happen. The first priority will be on preventing the spread of COVID-19. This means we have to be focusing on training for testing, including in the communities where there is no resident nurse; readiness to contact trace anyone who tests positive and make sure all possible contacts are tested; sending in staff to also support, virtual technology to ensure that staff are ready to support self-isolation and monitoring of any residents who test positive have been contacted. In the event that the resident becomes ill with COVID-19, we may need to transfer to them to a hospital for care. The authorities have also mapped out a detailed process to move patients to hospital centres like Stanton to receive this care in the most seamless way possible.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. How is the Department of Health and Social Services working to ensure that small communities and regional centres are equipped with proper PPE and medical procedures to ensure that all residents are properly looked after in future pandemics or even in other emergencies? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

The Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority monitors the inventory of swabs for COVID testing and the PPE stock to ensure that community has adequate stock. There is also an inventory maintained for emergency drugs used in COVID-19 for each of the communities to ensure that they have sufficient stock. Oxygen supplies are also monitored to make sure that we have adequate supply on hand. The department is looking at ways to ensure that we are prepared. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 295-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic
Oral Questions

Page 1043

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1043

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess I'll just continue along with some of these questions with my colleague. Like I said, I have many constituents that are for the restrictions and some that are against. In my region there is a link between the Beaufort-Delta and Whitehorse, and they really want to know why and when, because we have no cases since April in both territories, that they can't travel back and forth once the road opens without having to isolate. Can the Minister explain why this can't happen? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1043

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can also advice that I am getting requests for considering to loosen up some of the borders, especially between Yukon and Alberta. I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the issue for the record. There are a couple of things that people need to keep in mind because there are no active cases of COVID-19 in the Northwest Territories, Nunavut, and the Yukon. Until very recently, we were prepared in phase 2 to open the borders between Yukon and Nunavut. However, once Yukon decided to open its borders to unrestricted travel from BC, with all of their active cases, we were no longer able to consider that. The same holds for Alberta where they have still many active cases. It's just not safe, and it could have a serious impact on our elders, our people with compromised immune systems, smaller communities. We can't take the chance, Mr. Speaker. There is nothing restricting any Northwest Territories resident from going to either the Yukon or Alberta to visit themselves. The restriction upon return is that they must self-isolate for the 14-day period. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

I've also been getting questions about the role of Premier, Cabinet, and yourself agreeing with the advice and action from the Chief Public Health Officer in restricting the day-to-day activities of the residents and businesses of the Northwest Territories. Can you please outline the process that takes place in extending this public health order or instituting new orders?

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

In regular times, there is no role for the Premier, Minister, or Cabinet when the Chief Public Health Officer issues a public health order such as the whooping cough, TB, any sexually transmitted disease, and we find out about the same time as the general public. When we're in a public health emergency that I've declared on the recommendation of the Chief Public Health Officer, it is a different situation. The office of the Chief Public Health Officer now has regular briefs with the Premier, myself, and Cabinet on any new orders or amendments being developed, and then, we look at how to brief Cabinet, Regular Members, and then make the orders public. This is what's happens now and the lead up to the official announcement on easing up the restriction on phase two of Emerging Wisely. When we look at the extension of the public health emergency, the Chief Public Health Officer and I discuss, and if the same conditions that necessitated the declaration in the first place, if they still exist, as long as the conditions, meaning the public health risk, presented by COVID-19 to our smaller communities still exist, I am prepared to continue to keep signing off the extension of the public health emergency order.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

In the Emerging Wisely document, there will only be a return to normalcy and lifting of all restrictions once there is a vaccine developed and sufficient people have been vaccinated. What will this government do if there is no vaccine developed in the next 12 to 18 months or the development of an effective vaccine or if they can't find one?

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Right now, the office of the Chief Public Health Officer and the department and the government are focused on prepping for the second wave, which we're expecting to happen possibly this fall. With that and in the upcoming cold and flu season, it is probably premature for me to speculate as what we as a government may or may not do in the event of there being no vaccine until we get to the upcoming seven to eight months. Though there's nothing official going on, I would be not naive to say that there are not internal discussions going on within government departments and external organizations and governments on what should be done in the event the development of a vaccine is delayed or exclude research. We all hope that the development of an effective vaccine is successful within a reasonable timeframe. The federal Chief Public Health Officer has now stated that a vaccine may be two years from now. It's obvious if we can't develop an effective vaccine, that with the advice of the Chief Public Health Officer and noting how other jurisdictions are easing restrictions, we're going to have to come up with a plan for the Northwest Territories. I'm noting the fact that we remain at risk of community spread for as long as there are cases in the rest of Canada and also elsewhere.

Question 296-19(2): COVID-19 Pandemic Border Restrictions
Oral Questions

Page 1044

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1044

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. ITI's SEED policy describes market disruption as, "Circumstances when, in the opinion of the regional superintendent, the granting of a contribution will likely adversely and significantly impact the revenue earned by another business within the region." This definition plus the duties of a regional superintendent under Section 7.4(c), make it clear that the authority to determine market disruption falls to ITI's regional superintendents and that this authority is discretionary. Will the Minister instruct her senior management in ITI not to apply the market disruption clause for existing NWT businesses seeking SEED funding for the 2020-2021 fiscal year so NWT entrepreneurs can collectively evolve and expand their businesses in response to COVID-19? Thank you.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1044

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister of Industry, Tourism & Investment.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to thank the Member for her attention to this. I think we both share a common interest in seeing our businesses succeed. That being said, one of the foundations that is expected for our government is that our programs are fair and equal to everyone, especially in the situations where the resources are limited. We're very conscious of supporting one business in a market over one of its competitors. We are equally as conscious, though, of how we support businesses in Yellowknife compared to businesses in other communities. I recognize the point the Member is making. I would like to take this idea away and see if there's a solution that we can come to that is nimble enough to benefit both the businesses that she is representing but also measured enough that we address some of the implications mentioned here. I do commit to the Member with working with my regional superintendents to come up with a solution that satisfies the Member. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I will take that, thank you. In March, the GNWT put together an economic relief package that offered NWT businesses fee and loan deferrals. At that point, the GNWT did not know the extent of the impact of COVID-19. We can now see the devastating impact the lockdown is having on the global economy. Can the Minister confirm if the GNWT intends to extend the measures offered in the economic relief packages beyond the original timelines?

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

For individuals who have applied and received these loans, and for all existing BDIC client, a three-month loan payment deferment or reduction initiative was also offered. This three-month period was initially identified as a time in which we would be able to gauge the extent of the problems facing our business community. I can advise the Member that, in response to demand from our clients, the BDIC is extending its deferral and/or payment reduction period to the end of this fiscal year. In total, this extension as estimated will save between $4.5 and $5 million in cash flow during the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

That's great news. I'm sure many businesses will be happy to hear that today. We are now almost three months from when we went into the COVID lockdown. Our territory has been spared the health effects of COVID-19 because of the swift and aggressive decision-making of the Department of Health and Social Services. However, while our people are not ailing, our economy definitely is. The NWT has suffered the worst fall in GDP from 2019, and I'm sure that number will continue to show this year. Has the Cabinet begun to discuss how to balance our healthcare needs with the economic needs of our territory?

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

I can only speak for myself, not for the rest of Cabinet in those discussions, so I do just want to speak as my department. One of the challenges we have faced has been the speed of which life and times are changing with respect to the COVID pandemic. We're running into situations we never have before, and we're trying to find solutions on the fly. As we move into phase 2 and a period of economic recovery, we are only now able to consider the challenges and paths that are ahead. We have put a number of pieces in place to help us. They include the three advisory boards, including the business advisory body and the data that we have and our collecting from our surveys of Northwest Territories businesses, tourism businesses, specifically, and a survey of consumers that we are just today preparing to introduce tomorrow.

A letter went from my office to Members yesterday asking for their input into possible adaptations and improvements that we can make. This is part of the role we envision for the new business advisory council to provide advice on these changes. I am pushing on that initiative, also, so that the new committee can make as quickly as possible itself, and with MLAs, we will continue to address the economic realities of the pandemic we are in. At the same time, we are considering what they can do. We can continue to lobby our federal economic development agency to ask what they can do, as well.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Kam Lake.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The length of the pandemic today -- sorry. I'm going to start this over because I'm going to trip all over my words, and I'm just going to cut right to the point to allow for my colleagues to ask their questions. Mr. Speaker, what I would like to know is: how is the Minister working with the Chief Public Health Officer in order to balance the advice of the Chief Public Health Officer with the other needs and requirements of the people of the Northwest Territories? Thank you.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1045

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Those milestones are part of what we need to identify going forward. I know you didn't ask that part, but you do have your question. What we do know at this point is that we are all globally in this together. The collective, worldwide effort that will be put into economic recovery may, in itself, be unprecedented in a positive sense. The Northwest Territories economy was struggling in advance of the crisis. Unfortunately, we were largely struggling alone. Industry had alternatives for their investments. It was hard to get federal attention to the North's economic needs. These things have changed. Everybody is in the same boat now. Coming out of this, we can make the argument to Canada that the federal government needs the North. Major investments in the North will have reciprocal benefits across Canada. It's a good place to invest if you want to get a strong bang for your investment buck. Infrastructure projects are one of the most effective means for a government to kick-start an economy. On a national scale, we have, in the Northwest Territories, some very significant and large infrastructure projects that are all but ready to go. The economic reality of a post-crisis, recovery-focused economy might improve the bottom line of investing in the North. Certainly, on a global scale, we are good place to invest from a political, socio, and business perspective.

I did just want to add one item that I know the Member did not ask. We will be looking to alter the flexibility within the SEED guidelines to allow for the purchase of personal protective equipment for companies, structured changes to the business that might be required to protect employees, such as the plexiglass shields that we see in some of our businesses, and capital improvements, such as drive-thru windows or patios for restaurants. Those will all be incorporated into the SEED guidelines. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 297-19(2): Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) Funding and Market Disruption
Oral Questions

Page 1046

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister of ITI. Oral questions. Member for Monfwi.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Mr. Speaker. Work conditions at the Edzo highway camp have virtually destroyed morale among the dedicated workers who staff that facility. I do have questions regarding this for the Minister of Infrastructure. What is the current staff complement at the Edzo highway camp, and how long has this staffing shortage been allowed to continue? Masi.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Minister of Infrastructure.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's unsettling to me to hear that morale in the camp is not good. I commit to the Member that this will change. I understand that the Member would like to see more involvement from senior management in the camp, and I commit that we will improve upon that, Mr. Speaker, and do better. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

I thank the Minister for her acknowledgement on the Highway No. 3 Edzo camp. Obviously, there needs to be more work in that area. Mr. Speaker, just moving on to a second question that I do have, I did speak to the Minister a bit on this. What steps has the Minister's department taken to beef up the staffing levels with summer student hires? I understand the Yellowknife highway maintenance camp has already hired two. Why is there a wait on the Edzo camp, Mr. Speaker? It's already June.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

This summer, the North Slave highway operations is hiring four casual labours, two for the Yellowknife camp and two for the Behchoko camp. The regional manager of highways has staffed the two Yellowknife casual positions through the casual pool in accordance with the Affirmative Action Policy. Presently, the two candidates identified for Behchoko are in the reference check phase and should be staffed soon.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

That's great to hear. The workers have been asking me the last couple of weeks now, so I'm glad it's coming. The sooner, the better. Mr. Speaker, the third question I have is pertaining to the Edzo highway camp. How long has it been since the Edzo highway camp was provided with new equipment, such as loaders, packers, trailers, generators, sweepers, and distributor trucks? Mr. Speaker, they have been using old equipment all these years, so I have that question for the Minister today.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

The past two light duty trucks purchased for highway staff saw one vehicle go to the Yellowknife camp and the other to the Behchoko camp. We are purchasing two loaders this summer, one for the Yellowknife camp, one for the Behchoko camp. Both the Yellowknife camp and the Edzo camp have aging equipment and vehicles and the department is working on a solution to update both equipment and vehicle requirements at both locations. I can tell the Member that the North Slave Behchoko will be receiving a new plough dump truck valued at $400,000, and they will also be receiving a wheel loader valued at $130,000.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Jackson Lafferty Monfwi

Masi, Mr. Speaker. Obviously, the Edzo highway camp, the crew will be happy with this announcement. They have been waiting for some time now, so it's good. Mr. Speaker, my last question to the Minister was alluded to earlier. Would the Minister please provide a complete schedule of the past visits to the Edzo highway camp by either herself, regional manager, superintendent, assistant deputy minister, deputy minister? Would she commit to having her department or her staff or herself travel the road to visit and meet with the staff of the Edzo highway crew? Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

As part of the transition with the regional superintendents, it is my understanding that the new superintendent did visit the camp. However, I don't know when the date of that was. I am disappointed to hear that the employees at the camp are not feeling supported or enough interaction with senior management, so I commit to the Member that, not only will senior management go, I will also go to the camp. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 298-19(2): Edzo Highway Maintenance Camp
Oral Questions

Page 1046

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. I don't think that I have had the pleasure of asking the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources about benefits from the Giant Mine Remediation Project, but he sat next to me in the last Assembly, so this won't come as a surprise. The Giant Mine oversight board is again making recommendations about securing northern benefits. The remaining expenditures during active remediation are the equivalent of spending on another Stanton hospital. Has the Minister read the most recent report from the board, and does he support the recommendations? Masi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Minister of Lands.

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Right here, and I have another copy right here. Yes, we did receive it. It was brought to the front desk here. We have looked at it. So the Member is aware, the department and the project team are currently in the process of viewing the Giant Mine oversight body 2019 annual report, and the GNWT and CIRNAC will be responding to the report publicly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I have props, too, but I can't use them. The problem seems to be that no one is taking the leadership and responsibility to ensure that Northerners, especially Indigenous peoples, do not continue to lose out from the tragedy that is Giant Mine. Can the Minister tell us what specific action over the last year his department and others in the GNWT have taken to secure northern benefits?

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

The Member did give me a heads-up on this, so I'm going to read from my notes so I can give him exact information. The Giant Mine Remediation Project has developed a socio-economic strategy, which is currently in place to maximize benefits for Indigenous and Northern businesses. An implementation plan is currently being finalized for the strategy. ENR, ITI, ECE participates on the senior socio-economic advisory body at the senior deputy minister's level with CIRNAC, the City of Yellowknife, the DFN, North Slave Metis Association, and Alternatives North. In 2018-2019, total dollars spent by the main construction management, Parsons Canada, totalled $28.77 million. Of this amount, 91 percent went to Indigenous suppliers and northern businesses. For Indigenous governments, it's $22.69 million or 79 percent, and for northern business it's $3.45 million or 12 percent.

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that. I'm just going to get a little more personal here. Can the Minister tell us what he has done personally and whether he has raised the issue of northern benefits with the federal Minister of Northern Affairs and if not, why?

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

The GNWT, through the Department of ENR, is a co-component of the Giant Mine Remediation Project. I have and will continue to advocate and promote northern benefits for this project.

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. The federal Minister of Northern Affairs was here several months ago. I had asked whether you had a chance to meet with him, but I can take that offline. The remediation of Giant Mine has the potential to allow the NWT to develop and expand remediation economy, given the number and scale of contaminated sites across the NWT. This should also be one area of focus for the polytechnic university. I suggest in this House, Mr. Speaker, that the GNWT should seek an accelerated federal investment in NWT contaminated sites to help with economic recovery. Can the Minister tell us what he has personally committed to do on the Giant Mine remediation file over the next year? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

We continue to work with the Giant Mine Remediation Project to find ways to develop new skills and provide access to jobs related to the cleanup of Giant Mine. Conversations between Giant Mine Remediation Project and contaminated sites staff are taking place this week to continue to explore linkages and promote economic opportunity for Northerners. In addition, the department continues to work with other GNWT departments to secure federal funding to support remediation of contaminated sites to support economic recovery efforts in the NWT. The department is continuing to work in partnership with CIRNAC and Public Services and Procurement Canada to ensure Northerners, Indigenous communities benefit from federal procurement process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 299-19(2): Socio-economic Benefits of Giant Mine Remediation
Oral Questions

Page 1047

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have no doubt that almost every Member in this House would say they are committed to a more open and transparent government. However, I think there is a bit of disconnect in that open and transparent government doesn't happen without clear intention in changing the systems we operate in. Every single jurisdiction in Canada, except ours and Nunavut, has an open data portal, a place where you go to get all of the departments' data in one place. Right now, this is scattered across various GNWT websites in various different forms. My question for the Minister of Finance is: will she commit to creating an open data portal? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister of Finance.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Yes, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Well, that was easy.

---Laughter

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

When can we expect to see that open data portal operational?

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

That's a slightly more difficult question to answer. I took note yesterday when the Member gave a very impassioned speech about the importance of being quick, sometimes, with what government does. Certainly, in our COVID-19 response this government has been nimble and quick and responsive, in my view. Taking action with government data that includes personal information, private information, health information, information with all sorts of privacy concerns, privilege concerns, labour relations concerns, that is not something that we're going to be able to rush through quickly. The information shared services unit was created in April of 2019. Yes, we are behind, but we are now taking steps. ISSS resides in Finance. I am very much tuned into the fact that we are behind, and I don't like being behind. While I don't have a timeline now, I intend to have a timeline and not perhaps in this sitting, in the next six days, but I will have a timeline by the time we are back in the fall as to how exactly this is going unfold.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I look forward to hearing that timeline. I think, to me, there are two steps. One is getting the portal, and the second is populating it. I recognize it will take some time to get certain data in there. Right now, there is a simple matter of collection and putting it in one place. I believe we could start that work immediately, and then you will get this user feedback from departments and other people looking for this data. Step one, get the portal to exist. Step two, let's populate it. One of my concerns is the GNWT really loves its PDFs. The problem with that: most recently, we published our budget. It's a 400-page PDF, and I don't know a single accountant who doesn't operate in spreadsheets. What I'm looking for from the Minister of Finance is a commitment that, whenever we publish reports, we will include the open data with them.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

There is a steering committee that has been formed, as well, which has led to the ISSS being developed. It is co-chaired by the chief information officer, whose position resides within Finance, as well as executive, the EIA department deputy secretary. While I appreciate that there are a variety of possible views on what the correct process or best process might be, what I would commit to is to bringing forward some reports through to the Member and, if interested, then to a relevant committee about what process is underway, what process has been chosen, and why, and certainly, to take back what information and what response we then get from that.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate there is a steering committee and there is a process. My concern here is that, if you go look at the budget right now, there are published graphs and reports that no doubt someone created with underlying data. Every time I see one of those, I have to request, "Can I get that underlying data that actually make up this chart?" I'm not asking for information that's not already public. The way that this would be done, in my opinion, is: we have an information management and technological policy manual. It requires all sorts of things: translation, same look and feel. Every single report we have has numerous requests. It would simply have a policy in there that, when data is published in a final format, the underlying data is included. Will the Minister include a policy like that? I know there are some details to it, but I'm looking for a commitment that such a policy will be developed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1048

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

I would love to give another really quick answer. Let me go so far as to say "yes, probably." However, what I'm concerned about is: the example being given is the budget, which is certainly numerical, very quantitative, and in that regard, probably much easier to simply turn around into excel spreadsheets. In speaking about whenever the government puts out information, that opens up a door that I'm not prepared to make that commitment to. In some regard, yes, there should be a policy to make government information more accessible, easier. When it's quantified like a budget, that's not a problem. I'm not going to extend that quite entirely to being every single time there is a report made. Certainly, to a certain degree, I do agree with the position that some of this information needs to be made more accessible. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 300-19(2): Government Transparency and Open Data Portal
Oral Questions

Page 1049

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister responsible for the Status of Women. In the fall, I questioned the Minister and the Premier on an action plan for the NWT. Yesterday, it was confirmed that they are waiting for a national action plan. Last night, Crown Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett was questioned in the House of Commons about the inaction of a national action plan. I quote her, "All the provinces and territories are working on their plans that will be lifted up into a national action plan." My question is: I ask again, will the government begin work on an MMIWG NWT action plan? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have read the report and saw the article. We have a special advisor who reports under the EIA, the Office of Executive and Indigenous Affairs. We are working closely to ensure that we get on the calls for justice. We have a plan that is called doing our part. This is something that our government needs to take seriously. This is something that, as Minister responsible for the Status of Women, is something that I will bring to Cabinet. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

With the Northwest Territories being a leader in a lot of areas, will the Northwest Territories lead this, and will the GNWT prioritize the calls for justice by finding staff, even within, to accomplish this work?

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

This is something that I will bring to Cabinet. It's something that, if the Member would like to have a discussion on how we, as a government, can go about supporting this, there is a working group. The Department of Justice, Department of Health and Social Services, housing, EIA, we have a working group that continues to acknowledge the action plan. It is something that we will look at.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Yesterday, the question was asked, and there was commitment on an annual report. We're going to need staff. We're going to need someone to put this report together. Will you be able to have these staff in place to present an annual report of progress on this file for at least our October sitting?

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

This is something that we can work with the department of EIA. I agree that we do need supports. It will take a lot of work to pull together the report. This is something that, if we need to go back to EIA and request additional support, that is something I will do.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My last question will be: as a working group, who is going to lead this working group, and will you, as a Minister, lead this working group so that we can commit to ensure that we have an NWT action plan before we are done our four years? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

We have a special advisor, and I will work closely with her. I am also the Minister of Health and Social Services going through a pandemic. That's no excuse. I will put a lot more effort into the status of women. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 301-19(2): Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls Action Plan
Oral Questions

Page 1049

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1049

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. Early in this sitting, I raised the issue of a pan-territorial travel zone with the Premier. Today, on CBC, it was reported that the Nunavut Health Minister, along with the Chief Public Health Officer in Nunavut, announced that there is going to be a travel bubble between the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. We had the Minister of Health on the floor of this House today say that there is not going to be a bubble with the Yukon, because they're going to open up with BC. I would like to ask the Premier: what's going on with all of this, and why are we finding out about this in the media and on the floor of the House, instead of being informed as Regular MLAs, about this pan-territorial travel zone? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1049

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Honourable Premier.

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There were negotiations going on. There weren't negotiations; there were talks going on. That is the problem with having different tables, Mr. Speaker. I was talking. I brought it forth to the Premiers at our northern Premier meeting. In reality, I hadn't yet spoken to our Chief Public Health Officer. The Chief Public Health Officer has the whole authority over the borders. I'm clear with that; it can't be fettered. I thought we'd start this discussion just by bringing to the Premiers, and then I would bring it to the Chief Public Health Officer. At the same time, though, unknown to me, Mr. Speaker, the Chief Public Health Officers were also meeting with the three territories because someone else, I guess, had put it in their head. The decisions had been made through the Chief Public Health Officers, but in honesty, Mr. Speaker, Premiers have just found out today. I just found out, as well. My staff are working on an emergency call with the northern Premiers right now to discuss it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I am sorry that I had to put the Premier on the hot spot, but when I am finding out these things on the floor of the House and in the media, there is a lot of public interest in this. Can the Premier, then, explain what is going on? Is there a travel bubble now with Nunavut, and what is the situation with Yukon?

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Again, I am just actually finding out myself what's going on with it. The Chief Public Health Officers have been working closely together. It is the Premiers who have to have those discussions. We only meet once a week, and sometimes, that doesn't work with the Chief Public Health Officers' meetings. We had negotiations or talks at the table to see if there was interest. There was interest in all three. Since we had that first discussion, though, Mr. Speaker, there was a new revelation that Yukon -- as we were talking about three territories, all three territories had locked down borders, and then the Yukon actually announced that they are now having to deal with the BC government, which put a different spin on it. Those are discussions we still have to have as Premiers, although recognizing it is the Chief Public Health Officer's authority. I can't remember the rest of the question, so I will sit down.

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Premier for that. It sounded a lot like her response to the first question I had. I guess what I want to know clearly from the Premier is: is there a travel bubble through the public health order process between Nunavut and Northwest Territories, and what is the situation with Yukon?

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

My understanding from the Chief Public Health Officer report is that it will be with Nunavut. It's not with the Yukon at this time. There will be an announcement next week on it. However, the opening of the borders actually will take a little bit more work. It's not something that you can just do in one day. There will be background work that needs to be done to open up those borders.

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, monsieur le President. I want to thank the Premier for that. What I would like to seek now is a commitment from the Premier that she is going to provide us with an update following her emergency meeting with the other two Premiers that she says she is going to have this evening. Look, I understand that the Chief Public Health Officers are independent. That is what we want; we want them independent of everybody, including Cabinet, quite frankly, during a pandemic and an emergency. I would like to seek a commitment from the Premier that she will provide an update to us as Regular MLAs, perhaps later this evening after she has had a chance to chat with her colleagues on either side of our border. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

There are a couple of issues. I will provide the MLAs an update, but I can't commit to it being this evening. Two issues, Mr. Speaker: one is that my staff are still trying to arrange that emergency meeting. I'm not sure if the Premiers are just finding out because of this meeting here. The other thing, Mr. Speaker, I'm going through some family stuff, serious family stuff at this point, so I will not commit. I need to have a day off after I have this meeting to deal with my family issues, and I will deal with you tomorrow. Serious family issues. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 302-19(2): Pan-Territorial Travel Zone
Oral Questions

Page 1050

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Question 303-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1050

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The questions I have are for the Minister of health. Employees continue to find Protect NWT forms to be inconsistent. When Protect NWT is questioned about the forms, they do not always have the answer. The answers provided create additional confusion. NWT employees are trying to follow the process but find it easier to operate from the south due to less paperwork and less issues entering and exiting the NWT. I know of NWT employers who are laying off northern workers and operating out of Alberta. Can the Minister commit to having Protect NWT forms reviewed for consistency and relevance related to travel, isolation, and monitoring for all categories of employees entering the NWT and come up with something that is acceptable to workers and businesses? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 303-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1050

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Question 303-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1051

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We've identified the need for consistent resourcing and training materials for Protect NWT staff, as well as border officers and compliance and enforcement officers. We are aware of some of the issues that we have been having working with our partner agencies and northern companies. We need to improve some of our processes to address the Member's concerns. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 303-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1051

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

In the NWT, our curve is flat. Our neighbour to the south has flattened its curve. At this time, it's important that, as we are relaxing restrictions, we take into consideration the need to support the economic recovery as soon as possible. The departments appear to be working in isolation of the Chief Public Health Officer. I would ask the Minister: what input did the Department of Infrastructure, ITI, education, and housing have in developing the Emerging Wisely plan? If they had none, does it not make sense to include them in planning as we re-establish the economy?

Question 303-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1051

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Absolutely. That is something that our department needs to do. We sit in Cabinet, and we talk about some of the ways. We have specific COVID-19 discussions around what can our departments do to pull together and to improve some of the programs and resources that we offer.

Question 303-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1051

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

No further questions.

Question 303-19(2): Protect NWT
Oral Questions

Page 1051

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you. Oral questions. Item 8, written questions. Item 9, returns to written questions. Item 10, replies to Commissioner's address. Item 11, petitions. Item 12, reports of committees on the review of bills. Item 13, reports of standing and special committees. Item 14, tabling of documents. Minister of Finance.

Tabled Document 129-19(2): Follow-up Letter to Oral Question 196-19(2): Economic Cost and Support for Business
Tabling Of Documents

Page 1051

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following document, "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 196-19(2): Economic Cost and Support for Business." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 129-19(2): Follow-up Letter to Oral Question 196-19(2): Economic Cost and Support for Business
Tabling Of Documents

Page 1051

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Tabling of documents. Item 15, notices of motion. Item 16, motions. Item 17, notices of motion for first reading of bills. Item 18, first reading of bills. Item 19, second reading of bills. Item 20, consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters, Tabled Document 30-19(2), Main Estimates 2020-2021, on the Departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Industry, Tourism and Investment with Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes in the chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

The Chair Lesa Semmler

I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. What is the wish of committee, Mr. Norn?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Madam Chair. The committee wishes to consider Tabled Document 30-19(2) and, specifically, the Departments of Education, Culture and Employment and Industry, Tourism and Investment. Marsi cho, Madam Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Mr. Norn. Does committee agree?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, committee. We will proceed with the first item. Committee, we have agreed to consider Tabled Document 30-19(2), Main Estimates 2020-2021, resuming with the Department of Education, Culture and Employment. Committee, we have previously deferred this matter at consideration of the departmental summary. Members, please turn to page 29 of the tabled document. Education, Culture and Employment, operations expenditures, total department, 2020-2021 Main Estimates, $340,268,000. Does committee agree?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Members. Committee has indicated they would like to continue with the summary page for Industry, Tourism and Investment, on page 195. Industry, Tourism and Investment, operations expenditures, total department, 2020-2021, $59,585,000. Does committee agree?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, committee. Do you agree that we have concluded consideration of Tabled Document 30-19(2), Main Estimates 2020-2021?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1051

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Minister Wawzonek.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Madam Chair. A few comments. I meant what I said earlier, some time ago now, in my first budget speech. A budget is a collective effort and a collaborative approach will be the best way to build a financial plan for this fiscal year and beyond. Through this budget session, we have worked with Regular Members to evaluate our priorities with the result that we are committing $1.9 million in additional investments to round out the 2020-2021 Budget. These additional investments include the following:

  1. $600,000 to support the revitalization of Indigenous languages. We will contribute $150,000 within that to our regional Indigenous government partners to increase current efforts to encourage the use of Indigenous languages, and $450,000 for a pilot project to build community capacity by supporting career development for interpreters and translators.
  2. $500,000 to increase childcare spaces through subsidizing the cost of space acquisition, renovations, and repairs. This investment is in line with the supports we believe will be necessary to help the Northwest Territories economy recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  3. $150,000 for the sustainable livelihoods program that is currently underway to accelerate actions identified under the program's plan, including increasing country food harvesting and the underlying knowledge, skills, and capacity needed to better harvest, process, and prepare country food. Acceleration of actions under this program will also support our economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
  4. To support increasing local food production, $172,000 to increase funding in the Community Harvester Assistance Program to offset capital and operating costs of harvesting activities; $70,000 therein to draft meat inspector regulations that reduces the barriers to developing food production businesses, which in turn will allow for increased local food production without compromising on food safety; and $100,000 to extend the fish sector support position to March 31, 2022.
  5. $615,000 to expand the hours of service of the dialysis unit in Hay River, including increases to staffing, training, and equipment.

Madam Chair, the GNWT also concurs with Members for a phased approach to examining unauthorized and rights-based occupancy of territorial land and, as such, will reduce the number of legal counsel positions proposed for this work from three to one. This will result in a reduction of $339,000 to the Department of Justice's 2020-2021 operations expenditures budget. Despite all that has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the global, national, and Northwest Territories economies, the 2020-2021 budget still represents a stable starting point for the future of the 19th Legislative Assembly. We are fortunate that, although we expect our own source revenues will be significantly lower this fiscal year and possibly in 2021-2022, as well, over time, territorial formula financing will respond to partially offset these losses. We intend to continue to maintain a focus on responsible fiscal management so that we can help the economy recover and make investments to make progress on this Assembly's other priorities. Budget 2020-2021 allows departments to move forward with their ongoing business, providing programs and services to residents, supporting the economy, and protecting the environment.

If ever we needed creative problem solving to achieve responsive and effective results it is now. We have demonstrated our ability to collaborate through this, our first budget process, and I am already looking forward to the next round of meaningful engagement through consultations for next year's budget 2021 starting over the next few months. As we emerge from the effects of COVID-19 restrictions, we know that our economy will not be the same. We need the perspectives of this Assembly and our residents to help frame the discussion about future government expenditures that will create a better future for the Northwest Territories economy. Madam Chair, I will follow through with these commitments by including these items in Supplementary Estimates (Operations Expenditures), No.1, 2020-2021, to be considered by the Assembly during this Session. Thank you.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Minister Wawzonek. Does committee agree that this concludes consideration of Tabled Document 30-19(2)?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

Some Hon. Members

Agreed.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Mr. Norn.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Madam Chair, I move that consideration of Tabled Document 30-19(2), Main Estimates 2020-2021, is now concluded and that Tabled Document 30-19(2), be reported and recommended as ready for further consideration in a formal session through the form of an appropriation bill. Marsi cho, Madam Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Mr. Norn. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1052

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Tabled Document 30-19(2) will be reported as ready for consideration in a formal session through the form of an appropriation bill. Committee, those were the matters agreed upon to review today. What is the wish of committee? Mr. Norn.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1053

Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Madam Chair, I move that we rise and report progress.

CHAIRPERSON Mr. Norn. The motion is in order. The motion is non-debatable. All those in favour? All those opposed? The motion is carried.

---Carried

I will now rise and report progress.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

Page 1053

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

May I have the report of the Committee of the Whole, please? Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Report Of The Committee Of The Whole
Report Of The Committee Of The Whole

Page 1053

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, your committee has been considering Tabled Document 30-19(2), Main Estimates 2020-2021, and would like to report progress with one motion adopted, that consideration of Tabled Document 30-19(2) is concluded and that the House concur in those estimates and that an appropriation bill to be based thereon be introduced without delay. Mr. Speaker, I move that the report of the Committee of the Whole be concurred with. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Report Of The Committee Of The Whole
Report Of The Committee Of The Whole

Page 1053

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Do we have a seconder? Member for Frame Lake. All those in favour? All those opposed?

---Carried.

The motion is carried. Item 22, third reading of bills. Mr. Clerk, orders of the day.

Orders Of The Day
Orders Of The Day

Page 1053

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

Orders of the day for Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.:

  1. Prayer
  2. Ministers' Statements
  3. Members' Statements
  4. Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
  5. Reports of Committees on the Review of Bills
  6. Reports of Standing and Special Committees
  7. Returns to Oral Questions
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Oral Questions
  10. Written Questions
  11. Returns to Written Questions
  12. Replies to Commissioner's Address
  13. Petitions
  14. Tabling of Documents
  15. Notices of Motion
  16. Motions
  • Motion 9-19(2)
  1. Notices of Motion for First Reading of Bills
  2. First Reading of Bills
  3. Second Reading of Bills
  4. Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
  5. Report of Committee of the Whole
  6. Third Reading of Bills
  7. Orders of the Day

Orders Of The Day
Orders Of The Day

Page 1053

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Clerk. This House stands adjourned until Tuesday, June 9, 2020, at 1:30 p.m.

---ADJOURNMENT

The House adjourned at 3:20 p.m.