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

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

June 4th, 2020

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.