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

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

June 4th, 2020

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.