This is page numbers 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 know.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek. Ms. Weyallon-Armstrong

The House met at 1:32 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Colleagues, before we begin today I'd like to pro- vide some clarity on the events of yesterday. In speaking to the Member for Thebacha's motion yesterday, Mr. Norn made the following statement. I quote from the unedited Hansard:

“I will say that I will resign. I will prevent you from making this vote. I will save you that. I will do that and do you that honor. And I -- and that I could feel the will of the people in this room, and I will respect that.”

Section 10(1) of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act lays out the different ways that a Member may resign their seat in this House. One of them is to announce that decision from their seat in session. This has happened on a number of occasions in this past, most recently when the then Member for Monfwi resigned from his seat earlier this year. The words he used at that time were as follows:

Mr. Speaker, today I am giving notice to this House, to the Tlicho people, the NWT as a whole, that I will be resigning my post as a MLA for Monfwi effective today, Friday, June 4th, 2021.

Similarly, when the then Member for North Slave, Mr. Henry Zoe, resigned during the 15th Assembly, he stated:

Madam Speaker, I rise in the House today to announce my resignation as a Member of the Legislative Assembly for North Slave effective immediately.

Unfortunately, the words Mr. Norn used in speaking to the motion yesterday were ambiguous, and they lacked the clarity needed to give that resignation full effect. This is why I allowed debate on the motion to continue and ultimately put the question to the House.

I should also say that even if Mr. Norn's decision to resign had been stated clearly and unambiguously in the House, the motion would still have been required and taken effect.

Rule 60 states "A Member who has made a motion may withdraw it with the consent of the seconder provided debate has not begun."

As you know, debate on the motion was well underway by the time Mr. Norn made his statement. Furthermore, section 10(4) of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act goes on to state that "The resignation of a Member under this section does not affect the conduct of any proceedings that are pending or that may be taken (b) in respect of any complaint brought against the Member under section 100(2)."

The initial complaint to the Integrity Commissioner against Mr. Norn was made under section 100(2). Therefore, even had Mr. Norn clearly stated his decision to resign from his seat in the House yesterday, that resignation would not have ended the requirement of the House to consider the sole adjudicator's disposition on the report and either order or reject the recommended punishment.

To conclude, Mr. Norn did not resign his seat in the Legislative Assembly yesterday. The Legislative Assembly ordered the seat declared vacant in accordance with the recommendation of the sole adjudicator by the motion the Member for Thebacha introduced following my ruling on her point of privilege.

Thank you, Members. Orders of the day. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's Statement 180-19(2): Update on Procurement Review
Ministers' Statements

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, later this afternoon, I will table the Report of the Procurement Review Panel, which provides a review of the GNWT's procurement policies and practices, as well as recommendations on how these can be improved.

Government procurement, especially in the Northwest Territories, is far-reaching, and the steps that we take to respond to the panel's recommendations will support the GNWT's mandate commitments.

To adopt a benefit retention approach to economic development; Increase employment in small communities; Increase economic diversification by supporting growth in non-extractive sectors like manufacturing.

Mr. Speaker, to develop the report, this panel was asked to meet with Indigenous governments, industry, and business communities, as well as Northwest Territories residents, to discuss GNWT policies and practices around public procurement and then identify ways in which they can be improved.

To adopt a benefit retention approach to economic development; Increase employment in small communities; Increase economic diversification by supporting growth in non-extractive sectors like manufacturing.

Mr. Speaker, to develop the report, this panel was asked to meet with Indigenous governments, industry, and business communities, as well as Northwest Territories residents, to discuss GNWT policies and practices around public procurement and then identify ways in which they can be improved.

They have done that, and they have done it well. In the interest of openness and accountability, their findings and conclusions were shared publicly on September 29, 2021.

The panel has provided 50 recommendations for us to consider, highlighting that our government's procurement processes need to be simpler, more transparent, and easier to navigate for the parties that are accessing them.

The panel's report shows that our government's procurement policies and related activities are spread across too many administrative departments and that the responsibility for up to seven key performance functions is unnecessarily confusing to those that these policies are intended to serve. In many cases the panel's recommendations align with work that is already underway to improve our internal procurement processes such as

The development of a 'one stop shop' website that combines all procurement related information into one spot for contractors;

The improvement of contract monitoring through the implementation of the first phase of vendor performance management with more work on this initiative is already in progress. Vendor performance management helps us first monitor and, if necessary, enforce compliance with procurement provisions in contracts; and the GNWT's regular review of processes and procedures.

Many of the recommendations in the panel's report will trigger consultation requirements set out in the land claims with our treaty partners and will likely impact or intersect with our commitment to develop an Indigenous procurement policy. Our officials will continue to meet with Indigenous governments to discuss the panel's report, receive their input, and map out next steps.

The panel's report also includes recommendations to improve information sharing and help suppliers navigate the procurement system and resolve disputes. It recommends streamlining existing rules and oversight to reduce complexity and confusion for suppliers and contracting authorities. These are areas that we can get to work on sooner rather than later.

Mr. Speaker, there is much at stake in this review.

In the words of the panel, "Procurement can have significant impacts on individual businesses and sectors of the economy. In some industries within our territory, the GNWT is the largest purchaser of goods and services and, as the panel heard through its engagements, the influence of the GNWT's procurement practices can be enormous in influencing the success or failure of any given business."

The panel suggests that its findings and recommendations provide the GNWT with an historic opportunity to use its buying power strategically and to leverage its public procurement in support of economic and social objectives.

I agree. The report identified that a significant proportion of GNWT's contracts are awarded to NWT-based business. Approximately 75 percent of all contracts over the last nine years have been awarded to Northwest Territories businesses with a value of $2.2 billion.

In our most recent contract report for 2020-2021, the GNWT entered $338 million worth of contracts and change orders. 70 percent of these were awarded to Northern companies. A share of the remaining contracts received no bids from Northern companies, and a portion required goods and services that are not available in the Northwest Territories. This shows that our policies are working, but I believe there is more we can do.

The panel's report, Mr. Speaker, highlights the potential that exists within our own resources and the economic stimulus that can come from it. In order to restore and grow the Northwest Territories economy, it is essential we limit the migration of dollars out of the territory. While we may never be able to completely eliminate dependency on outside workers or suppliers, this government is dedicated to working closely to close any potential loopholes in the system, maximize benefits to Northern companies, and ensure as much money as possible stays in the territory.

It will take some heavy lifting and strong decision-making, but these are the types of impacts that must be our goal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 180-19(2): Update on Procurement Review
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Minister's Statement 181-19(2): Northwest Territories Housing Corporation Renewal Strategy
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

HON. PAULIE CHINNA: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is undertaking a review and renewal exercise to ensure that the Housing Corporation's efforts are effective and producing the desired outcome for Northwest Territories communities and residents.

Across the world, affordable housing is a significant issue. We face the same in the north, with the added complications of severe northern climate, real pressures on both supply and labor, and working across extraordinary remote and vast lands.

Mr. Speaker, the 19th Legislative Assembly made safe and affordable housing a priority. On March 4th, 2021, a motion was passed calling for a change in the mandate of the NWT Housing Corporation. A large number of the reports and consultations have been conducted within the last five years, including one of the most extensive surveys ever conducted by the Government of the Northwest Territories with the public. This high level of interest and scrutiny will continue through forums like the Northwest Territories Council of Leaders Officials Housing Working Group.

The NWT Housing Corporation is rethinking its purpose. People need to be at the center of every housing perspective; programs that are no longer practical or do not really serve Northerners need to change; client service needs to be improved; the housing aspirations of Indigenous governments needs to be better supported; our relationships deepened with existing partners as well as inviting more in to become partners.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard a lot in recent years about the housing situation, and we understand the time for further studies is over. Now is the time to implement solutions.

As we move forward, the NWT Housing Corporation is committed to ensuring Northerners are kept informed. Our social media, our website and, as needed, information in local housing offices or in print and radio will always be refreshed to keep Northerners aware of the ways the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is serving Northerners better. Some actions will be quick. In fact, some have already happened.

Just this year, as a result of significant engagement with the federal government, we are partnering in an unprecedented level of housing activity. Over the next two years, a record number of homes will be built throughout the north.

Nearly 200 people who were leasing their property have now had their land in fee simple title; in other words, they've become property owners. 160 public housing units are scheduled for major renovations and upgrades in 2021-2022. Of these 160 units, 38 projects are completed, and contracts have been awarded on further 95 projects.

These is just a few of these actions already underway that will make a very real, tangible difference to the lives of Northerners. We need housing. Additionally, the Housing Corporation continues to make progress on community housing plans. These plans provide communities, and their stakeholders, the tools to plan and direct the future of housing in their communities. To date, the Housing Corporation has engaged with 23 communities on their community housing plans.

New actions will be coming and will not stop until we have made clear our progress based on our four pillars of renewal:

  • Rethinking our purpose;
  • Strengthening our staff;
  • Revising our programs; and
  • Deepening and growing our partnerships

We are excited to see how this renewal process with the result in making life better for the people throughout the North, and I hope you will be excited too. At the appropriate time today, I will be tabling the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation Renewal Strategy. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 181-19(2): Northwest Territories Housing Corporation Renewal Strategy
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

COVID-related Cost Recovery for Small Communities
Members' Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it took 18 months for the pandemic to finally hit my riding of Nunakput. The first scare we had was in Ulukhaktok and I really want to thank our mayor Josh Oliktoak and his staff and the health centre staff that did the awesome job to contain that, and then we didn't really have an outbreak there.

But unfortunately it came to Tuk. I want to thank the community leadership, my mayor Erwin

Elias, the TCC chair, and all the nurses and the health care workers, and the Rangers, who have been working nonstop to take care of our people. And I also want to thank our health care workers that were flown into the community, and my Minister for taking the late calls from us in making things happen.

Mr. Speaker, I'm really proud of my entire community. It has come together for each other. It's been exhausting, and the total number of cases are 10 percent of my people in the community of Tuk, there's a hundred people, and we're still on the road to recovery. Mr. Speaker, I'm thankful it wasn't worse and the case numbers are still dropping. It remains much to be seen yet.

Our small communities, Mr. Speaker, do not have the resources to help their residents in regards to increased demand on food, the hampers that we should be giving. People need assistance. They can talk -- they can't go to Inuvik to go buy food or it's not easy to go out on the land because we're on lockdown in the community. Things need to get -- to keep busy for our youth. But I'm happy that IRC and the Community Corp delivered boxes on the steps for the kids, and the school gave them homework. So we're keeping the kids busy. And the mental state, it's a big thing right now because they're under lockdown.

Our community leadership has asked about what financial supports are available to access and to pay for all the financial isolation centre was set up, all the food, the check stops on the highways. The community's willing to do what it takes but in case it has had zero help for payment.

I'm going to be asking the Minister today where -- if the community's lockdown, they should be paying the bill to assist. The community does not have a budget to these costs, it can't come out of their O and M. The money, you can't take it out of their gas tax funding because it's not for that. So the GNWT should cover all the costs for small communities across the territory and assist them. And I'll take my time now.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: 10 minutes.

COVID-related Cost Recovery for Small Communities
Members' Statements

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

So Mr. Speaker, it's just -- what we really need to do is make sure if COVID Secretariat or CPHO shuts down the community on lockdown, that's when the bill should be getting sent to them. They should have to pay, not my community, not any community across the territory, because at the end of the day they have enough problems in regards to stretching out the dollar and to try to provide service, you know, for the constituents that we represent.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to remind everybody back home to stay safe and across the territory keep physically distancing, sanitizing your hands, and stay home. And if you're not feeling well, make sure you're getting checked by the health nurse. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

COVID-related Cost Recovery for Small Communities
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Legal Services in Small Communities
Members' Statements

November 24th, 2021

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when one lives in any small community in the North, one is subject to higher costs for goods and services.

Mr. Speaker, I want to focus on one area that I am familiar with, and that is the need for basic legal services to those who reside in the smaller communities throughout the Northwest Territories. What we in the larger communities take for granted, those residing in small communities go without. And if they want access to what we have, there is always an additional cost.

Mr. Speaker, as an MLA and a member of the Law Society of the Northwest Territories, I have had the satisfaction, over the last two years, of providing some of those legal supports in my community at no charge to constituents and those from other regions. Some of the legal issues that land on my desk require information, advice, and some drafting of documents. These services include wills and estates; personal directives; power of attorney; guardianship; Rental Office applications; Emergency Protection Orders; Affidavits; Statutory Declarations; land transfer documents; land lease agreement disputes; employment matters; contract/security document review; criminal law and court applications; and other matters.

Mr. Speaker, as you can imagine, if we, as MLA's, are dealing with the foregoing matters in our mid-sized communities, one can only imagine how the lack of legal services in a small community will impact the residents. This government talks about bringing services to the people, and rightfully so, and legal services has to be a priority. We as a government bombard businesses with contract documents. The NWT Housing Corporation place tenancy agreements in front of clients, seniors are signing off on matters that impact their care, finances and assets, and, in many instances, are signed with no legal understanding and no legal advice.

Mr. Speaker, we have only one legal outreach worker in the NWT who can only offer information and advice on certain legal matters but are not in a position to complete documents on behalf of the clients. We also have legal aid workers however they too are limited in what services they can offer.

Mr. Speaker, it is important all residents in outlying communities have access to legal services so they are provided with an understanding of their legal rights along with an understanding of legal processes. I will have questions for the Minister of Justice later. Thank you, Mr. Speaker

Legal Services in Small Communities
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Services in Small Communities
Members' Statements

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I wish they would have renamed this week 'the small communities appreciation and funding week'. But maybe that will come sooner than later. I also want to thank my colleagues for their indulgence in helping our small communities to their issues. Mahsi.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring attention to the lack of many services and infrastructure in my small community and of other similar small communities.

Mr. Speaker, far too often the residents of small communities have to leave their home communities to access programs and services offered in larger centres. The reason many have to leave their home communities is the lack of available programs and services.

Mr. Speaker, our communities lack infrastructure and funding to offer services such as women's shelters, family violence shelter, emergency shelter, community freezers, child care spaces, aftercare centres, and a host of other programs and services easily afforded to larger centres.

Mr. Speaker, it is very hard on residents when they're faced with having to leave their community to access shelters and programs in the larger centres. Many leave with their children, much to the dismay of immediate family, especially the grandparents. Many cannot stay to take in activities and other celebrations that bring the community together and to enjoy cultural activities.

Mr. Speaker, our small community, and others in similar situations, are never afforded much-needed infrastructure, programs, and services. We seem to always be an afterthought, that we are even thought of at all by the Government of the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, we need to bring these issues to the forefront and ensure small communities are treated equally and provided the programs and service that will make a better life for the residents.

I will have questions for the Health Minister at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Services in Small Communities
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Housing in Small Communities
Members' Statements

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This week as we highlight the issues in the small communities, I'd like to talk about core housing need.

A household in core housing need is one whose dwelling is considered unsuitable, inadequate, or unaffordable, and whose income levels are such that they could not afford alternative, suitable, and adequate housing in their community. It should come as no surprise, then, that our core housing needs are greatest in our small communities where, in my community, 6 percent of homes are deemed inadequate. That jumps to 29 percent in Tsiigehtchic. Over 14 percent of households in the Beaufort Delta communities have someone who can't get into their own home. And for the vast majority, it's because there are no units available in their community.

For those who can get into homes, almost one-third of the homes, for instance in Tsiigehtchic and Fort McPherson, are in need of major repairs. The Beaufort Delta communities have the lowest rate of home ownership in the territory. Only 28 percent of homes in Aklavik are owned, rising to 40 percent in Tsiigehtchic. This is far below the territorial average. Even in famously expensive Yellowknife, over 58 percent of homes are owned by the occupant.

Mr. Speaker, the majority of homes available to rent in the communities are owned by the government. Core housing need isn't a community problem. It's a government problem. And I will have questions for the appropriate Minister at the time.