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.

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Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Responses
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

MR. ROCKY SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of Justice confirm how many outreach legal workers we have in the NWT and what their role is when it comes it dispensing legal advice information and how are small communities accommodated in that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Responses
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister responsible for Justice.

HON. R.J. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There is one legal aid outreach lawyer in the Northwest Territories. There is also one court worker who works in that office. People call the Legal Aid Outreach Clinic for a number of different reasons, most commonly, by far, is for family law questions. So questions, you know, what steps do I take now that I'm separated? What do I need to do to get a divorce? A lot of questions where they just need guidance and where to go. And from there, people can either get a lawyer or take the appropriate steps.

Traditionally, there's been a lot of travel with the Legal Aid Outreach Clinic. But these past -- this year and the previous year there's been no travel unfortunately. Before that, there was a significant travel to most communities in the territory going back to between 2014 and 2019. But anyone in the NWT can call the Legal Aid Outreach Clinic. Thank you.

MR. ROCKY SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, can the Minister confirm how many NWT residents use the service of the legal outreach lawyer and if those services occur mostly in Yellowknife. Thank you.

HON. R.J. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So in the 2020-2021 fiscal year, there were 692 people who accessed the Legal Aid Outreach Clinic. 46 percent of those people were in Yellowknife and the rest were throughout the territory, and it roughly breaks down to the populations of the specific regions. So the South Slave region had about 15 percent of the people, the Inuvik region about 15 percent, and so on. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. ROCKY SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the issues that I guess I come across is that when people come into my office, they're looking for I guess more than legal advice. They're looking for assistance in drafting, you know, documents.

So I'd ask the Minister, would the Minister consider expanding the legal outreach lawyer's responsibilities to include the drafting of documents for clients in less complicated matters. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. R.J. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I know when people go to the Member's office, they go there looking for free legal work is what they go looking for and he obliges on a regular basis. So I'm thankful for that, and I know his constituents are.

The Legal Aid Outreach Clinic does provide assistance with some forms, but probably not the variety of forms that the Member's talking about.

I can look further into that. The issue comes down to the fact that that office is stretched pretty thin as it is. Their workload is maxed out so we would really need additional staff in order to do that type of work, and I would love additional staff, and I'll leave it at that for now. Thank you.

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

MR. ROCKY SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my colleague from Yellowknife North brought up increased employment. So with my next question, and also the comment just from the Minister about requiring extra staff, the Minister can make more employment, create more employment in the communities.

So will the Minister commit to reviewing the need to expand the current number of legal outreach lawyers to include Hay River, Fort Simpson, and Inuvik. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. R.J. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I have identified this as a priority with the department.

There are court workers in those communities, and I know that they do provide quite a bit of assistance. As MLA, I often send constituents to them, and they do help. I know that we have asked the outreach clinic to make sure they're keeping good records on who's contacting them and about what issues, and I know they have that. I read some of those stats here and so we're doing our best to make a case to get some more positions but I can't promise anything at this point. But I would be as happy as the Member to see that happening. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Deh Cho.

MR. BONNETROUGE: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my Member's statement highlighted the need for much needed infrastructure and services to small communities. I stated several of the types of programs and services, but one that we could start with is a safe space for women and children who are victims of domestic violence.

Can the Minister of Health and Social Services ensure and look into creating these spaces to provide the necessary staff required for the shelter. Mahsi.

HON. JULIE GREEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you for the question. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health and Social Services funds five family violence shelters in the Northwest Territories. They're operated by nonprofit organizations in Tuk, Inuvik, Yellowknife, Hay River, and Fort Smith. There is a gap in service in three regions - Sahtu, Deh Cho, and Tlicho. To that end, the YWCA NWT obtained money from the federal government to do a safe house pilot project where they could establish safe houses in communities in those regions, one community in each of the three regions I've just mentioned.

I don't know if the YWCA has chosen the communities that they're going to establish the safe houses in. But I would recommend to the Member that he contact the YWCA of the NWT and express an interest in having the pilot program in his community if that's what his community wants. Thank you.

MR. BONNETROUGE: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, and mahsi to the Minister for that answer. It's too bad that I have to go ask somebody else rather than the department for help.

Mr. Speaker, most of the victims of domestic violence have family that they count on, but there is the issue of overcrowding, and we all know too well the health issues that come with this situation. Many of the families don't want to see anyone leave their community, especially with children in tow.

In small communities, we seldom ask for anything, but will the Minister take a serious look into

providing the necessary infrastructure and services so we can provide this service to families of domestic violence in our small communities. Mahsi.

HON. JULIE GREEN: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we don't have in the business plan or the capital plan a plan to build more shelters in more communities in the NWT. We have some supports available to people in remote communities such as a help line and the Department of Justice offers the emergency protection order program to assist as well. We realize that that is not the same as having a shelter. There is money available to bring people in to a family violence shelter. It's my experience that often women want to leave their communities in order to obtain safety. In the event they want to stay, the emergency protection order is the right tool for them. So there are resources available. But building a shelter in the Member's community is not part of the capital plan at this time. Thank you.

MR. BONNETROUGE: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, and mahsi to the Minister for that answer. Yeah, I have a problem, we have to phone a help line. You know, we're trying to do -- this government recognizes that there's reconciliation with First Nations and First Nations communities, and some of the ways that we do that is to provide them the services needed in their communities without having to leave home. I know there's a need for some of them that want to leave the community but we can still do it in a safe manner within our communities, Mr. Speaker.

I see that, you know, we need an action plan from this government to address the lack of much needed programs and services in the small communities. You know, they're much needed. Our people are the most vulnerable of all in the Northwest Territories and probably across Canada, and we really need that help and we need that government focus to look at an action plan to actually help us so that, you know, we can have such services, shelters for victims of violence, aftercare services that we've talked about quite a bit previously. We don't have any buildings at all. Nothing in our communities. There's no focus there. We want this department to start focusing on those things and with the help, probably of the whole Cabinet, all the departments should look at something for small communities, an action plan.

Can the Minister commit to beginning the action plan specific to the small communities. Mahsi.

HON. JULIE GREEN: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is not possible for the Government of the Northwest Territories to provide a family violence shelter in each of the 33 communities of the NWT. We simply do not have the money; we do not have the staff. And it is, I recognize, an important need. I spent many years of my career working for the YWCA on family violence issues. And if we were going to invest money in anything, I'd like it invested in putting police into every community. There are a third of communities that do not have police resident in the community. We also have a third of the communities that do not have nurses resident in the community. So if I was going to spend money, I might have different priorities than the Member has.

In terms of an action plan, I am going to narrow that down to a family violence action plan. My colleague, the Minister of Finance, has under her control the gender equity unit. There's a family violence coordinator hired into that unit, and that person is working on a family violence strategy. I'm sure there will be robust engagement with small communities about their needs and aspirations in order to come up with a document that will address the family violence needs that we are aware of. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Deh Cho.

MR. BONNETROUGE: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I see the Grinch has shown up early. Christmas is around the corner, and my stocking is going to be empty going home. I'm not too pleased with the government's action plans for our small communities, and stating that we need to increase RCMP presence in our communities. We already did that when the Deh Cho Bridge was built. They added two more staff, so we got a total of four RCMP in your communities. They're overworked. You know, there's lots of issues within our small communities and we really need that help, and we need that government to have that focus to help our small communities. We're just not getting that here. I'm not sure where we're going to turn to. I guess we'll just have to keep addressing the issues and bringing them up. You know, I really -- we're going to be counting on my colleagues here to really put the pressure on this government to help our small communities. I don't have any further questions, Mr. Speaker. Mahsi.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. I will take that as a comment. Oral questions. Member for Thebacha.

MS. MARTSELOS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in the mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories document, there's a section with regional decision-making authority where the government states it will empower regional and community staff with training to increase their awareness of the decision-making authority.

Can the Premier tell us if this training has been developed yet and if the Department of Executive and Indigenous Affairs will be on track with its goals on this initiative. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Honourable Premier.

HON. CAROLINE COCHRANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Training, we realize, is an ongoing process but, yes, we've started some of initial training within this regional decision-making and there will be more as we go on because we've still got more work to do.

But the areas of training that we've developed, and based on our findings so far, we'll be doing delivery of training on the human resource manual and human resource delegations of authority. That's began in October, already, with all the regions. We're going to be doing training on the Cabinet process, and that's been developed, and the delivery will begin in December of this year, 2021. And then training modules on the Financial Management Board handbook and financial delegations of authority are currently being finalized and the delivery is expected to begin early in 2022.

So, Mr. Speaker, EIA, Executive and Indigenous Affairs department is on track with its goal on this commitment. However, in stating that, we have more work to do which I'll get into further. And as we identify training needs, then we constantly, as a government, should be trying to address those training needs, so. But we're beginning the process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. MARTSELOS: Mr. Speaker, can the Premier provide us with some details as to the extent of the departmental review into regional decision-making authority, including any Executive Council amendments that were proposed or enacted. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. CAROLINE COCHRANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So that is some of the areas that we want to talk about.

Throughout our review, we started with doing an internal review of the current processes in regards to human resource and financial authorities. We looked at job descriptions, etcetera, and we realized that there weren't any discrepancies within them. There is an issue. And when we did a -- we've done surveys with the senior managements in the rural -- smaller communities, etcetera, and they identify that there's an issue, the feeling of empower. So that led us to say even though our job description say it's all good, you know, we're equal, there's a perception of not. So that's why I wanted to say that, you know, we're doing training on right now what your authority is, but there's other issues that we need to look at and make sure that those are addressed.

So with that, like I said, at this point we're not doing any changes to the Executive Council because we haven't seen that there's a need. The need isn't on changing the Executive Council at this point, and delegations; it's about making sure that employees, both in headquarters and regional staff, understand the delegations of authority. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. MARTSELOS: Mr. Speaker, can the Premier tell us of any legislation based on her departmental review will need to be amended or enacted to better provide and improve regional decision-making authority. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. CAROLINE COCHRANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So, again, like I had said earlier, in regards to making legislative changes or changes to the Executive Council, that wasn't seen to be an issue. The job descriptions are on par. The initial service that we did identify, that there are problems. When we asked what the problems were, people just identified headquarters, not enough power in the regions. So in fact, that didn't give us enough information in all honesty to be able to do a final assessment. So we're now in the process of hiring a contractor -- last question -- and we'll be doing one on one interviews.

The other thing that's really important to know is because it's easy to hire a contractor and go into the communities and say what do you need, but I take a real firm stance that if you're going to be doing things for the people, by the people, about the people, the people need to be involved.

So we have hired a contractor, but we've also got a working group that we started, and the working group has staff from both the regional and the headquarters. And that working group has delegated the task of developing the questions that will be used in the small communities so that we can hopefully gain more insight.

Like I said, it's not enough just to say, headquarters has all the control and yet your job description said it doesn't. So we need to find out what exactly that means and that's the process we're working on now. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Honourable Premier. Final supplementary, Member for Thebacha.

MS. MARTSELOS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, can the Premier provide us with any other notable facts or examples not yet mentioned where her government has improved regional decision-making authorities since the start of the 19th Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. CAROLINE COCHRANE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I think for me the most notable change I made on the mandate, we did talk about doing this work, we talked about developing training and delivering it to people, but in the mandate we never talk to who was going to do that. So the mandate could have been that headquarters because traditionally headquarters does do those things and would have defined it. What's different now, Mr. Speaker, is that it's not only headquarters defining this work. It is the regional managers that are helping define it because it's the regions that are experiencing this problem. So, again, I feel it would be totally inappropriate if headquarters alone did this. Headquarters is one party at the table but the regional managers are the ones that need to be guiding this work. And so that is a change that we've done, is that it's a -- we're working together on this. It's not top down. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Honourable Premier. Oral questions. Member for Great Slave.

MS. NOKLEBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, getting back to my original roots here, I'm going to ask the Minister of Infrastructure some questions about the Great Bear River bridge.

Could the Minister speak to whether or not the regulatory review and permitting process is on track to maintain the timelines previously stated on the project website. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

HON. DIANE ARCHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, given some of the challenges to get in the communities in during this pandemic, the regulatory permitting process timeline has been revised so that applications will be submitted in early 2022. Staff are working with the community of Tulita and the Department of Lands to obtain required land reserves. This will not, however, cause any impact to project delivery within the expected bridge completion date being 2026. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. NOKLEBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Given that we have a lot of conversation around small communities and retention of money there, can the Minister briefly describe the community engagement process that's been undertaken until now and tell us what she's been doing differently to ensure that the benefits of the project are retained within that small community and are not being lost to businesses from the south or in regional centres. Thank you.

HON. DIANE ARCHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Great Bear River Project has potential to bring significant socio-economic benefits to the Sahtu. My department has been working very hard to optimize how we can retain benefits in the region and community, as well as how to involve is many local businesses and contractors as possible. Engagement meetings have been taking place since August 2018. The project team has also held public meetings in each of the five Sahtu communities. Also have met with Sahtu Secretariat, community councils, land corporation, resource councils, all throughout the Sahtu.

Topics addressed during meetings have included discussions on how business and people of the Sahtu can be prepared to provide services to the project. So next round of meetings are being scheduled for December and January.

The NWT business incentive is in place to favour bids with local and northern content. We will work with Department of Finance with regards to procurement options and also utilize the Northwest Territories Business Incentive Policy which is in place to favour bids with local and northern content. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. NOKLEBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to hear that, although I do want to caution the Minister BIP is only for a small portion of that overall contract so it may not actually have much weight in this.

And further to that, could the Minister speak to what is the estimated value of the work from the project that could realistically be executed within the community by local contractors. So this includes opportunities such as camp provision, work for laborers, catering services, camp attendants. What do we realistically see that Northwest Territories businesses could actually execute. Thank you.

HON. DIANE ARCHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I can't really give an exact figure at this time. However, it is expected with a project of this complexity that a higher portion of cost will be attributed to bridge construction itself. That's what we've been telling the communities in the Sahtu that, you know, it -- this is a complex bridge. So it -- as a matter of fact, it will be the second biggest bridge here in the Northwest Territories.

We could expect that local and regional and Northwest Territories contractors would be able to carry out quarry operations, roadway work, earth works, bush clearing, just to name a few, Mr. Speaker.

Additionally, businesses are available to supply camp services, heavy equipment operators, skilled and unskilled laborers, camp cooks, attendants, to name a few. There are many components to a project of this size and the work will take more than two years to complete, providing opportunities for local, regional, and territorial participation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Great Slave.

MS. NOKLEBY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I'm glad that the Minister supplied even some further examples of areas in which the local community can benefit.

And so I guess my next question is what is the Minister going to do or what requirements will be filled into the project plan in order to ensure that those small and local businesses and contractors are competitive in bidding on work for this project. Does the Minister commit to changing how RFPs are written to ensure greater scoring for those who incorporate training, Indigenous and community engagement. Thank you.

HON. DIANE ARCHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, there has been and continues to be significant engagement with the Sahtu and community folks that are interested in this project. In addition, the Northwest Territories BIP program, which provides support to local contractors bidding on projects, small and local businesses have an advantage when bidding on local work as they do not need to build in costs for things like accommodations or mobilization, because they're already there. This gives local businesses and contractors a competitive advantage over someone that perhaps is outside the Northwest Territories.

As the project is still in the early of design regulatory permitting, it's kind of early to discuss the method of procurement. But I can assure Members our department is making every effort to optimize local and regional opportunities for this important project within procurement framework of the GNWT while also respecting the procurement framework and trade rules that are associated with this primary project funder, the federal government.

I would also remind the Member that I am appearing in front of SCEDE tomorrow morning with some of my senior staff to discuss all the projects that are happening in the Sahtu and be able to answer a little more detailed questions to some of the project that's occurring. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. SEMMLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I mentioned in my Member's statement speaking about the Beaufort Delta and the core housing need, can the Minister of the NWT Housing Corporation tell us what is the current waitlist for the Beaufort Delta communities right now. Thanks.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister responsible for Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

HON. PAULIE CHINNA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the question. The total number that we have as of f today is 178. We've got Inuvik has 73, Aklavik's got 18. Fort McPherson 21, and Tsiigehtchic 9. Those are the numbers that I was provided that are on the waitlist. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. SEMMLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to ask the Minister what immediate actions are

being taken to reduce this waitlist. Thank you.

HON. DIANE ARCHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As of today, ate, the number that I have for the Beaufort Delta, including Inuvik, Aklavik, Fort McPherson and Tsiigehtchic, is 26 million that has been invested into this region. We have 17 of the market housing units which are the RCMP constructed units. They should be completed by the end of this government.

But we have got two units going into Inuvik. In Aklavik, we had 600,000 that was invested into six public housing units. Also home ownership repair programs for private homeowners and minor unit repair, all of to be expected to be completed in 2022-2023. McPherson, we've got four public housing units coming available. And also Tsiigehtchic two housing units and three major repair home ownership programs as well too. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Sorry, Mr. Speaker. I also wanted to add that we continue the effort working with the Indigenous groups in the Member's riding as well too to continue lobbying the federal government for further additional housing infrastructure money. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. SEMMLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the Minister for those numbers. You know, Housing keeps bringing up these RCMP units. They don't resolve our housing crisis. They do provide our RCMP with new units in that, you know, since the Minister has brought that up, what I want to know is with all these new units that are being for RCMP, what are we doing with the old units? Are we going to absorb them into GNWT and are we going to use those to reduce our public housing waitlist? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. DIANE ARCHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate that question coming from the Member.

Right now, as these RCMP units are being constructed, I am in conversations with the federal government and I want those units to be transferred over to the Housing Corporation so we would be able to work with the Northwest Territories and add that to our public housing stock. And also that there is possible an opportunity to work with the Indigenous groups as well too, as they would have preference before the GNWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

MS. SEMMLER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll go back to my other question that I had. So knowing that we've heard in this House many times that there's communities and there's boarded up and there's vacant units, what is the Housing Corporation -- how many housing units are in the Beaufort Delta communities that we are talking about, and what is the plan for those units that are vacant that Housing Corporation owns. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. DIANE ARCHIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I'm going to provide the Member with some numbers.

We've got 11 in Inuvik. We have two that are under repair and four that were scheduled for repair in 2022-2023, and five require funding.

Aklavik, we've got eight. Two are under repair. One is scheduled for 2022-2023 completion. And also five require funding as well too.

In Fort McPherson, we have four. Three are under repair, and one is required funding.

In Tsiigehtchic, we don't have any numbers.

But then, you know, I look forward to looking at those numbers as well too because we don't have the funding to repair those units and have them available for the clients. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Monfwi.

Oral Question 798-19(2): Land Ownership Issues in Small Communities
Oral Questions

November 24th, 2021

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

MS. WEYALLON-ARMSTRONG: Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. [Translation] I am thankful for today and I also thank my colleagues. The things that they are bringing up is very important, especially to the smaller communities and we are in need of a lot of things, and it's the people that are needing these things; I thank them for that. And we're not going to stop asking for these things for our small communities, and we're trying to make sure that we -- we help our community.

Yesterday's Member's statement. So I'd like to ask a question towards Housing Minister. [Translation Ends]

This is not to be disrespectful for the loss of loved ones, especially in my regions. There are some family that I know that are still grieving. So this is a question for the Minister.

Can the Minister share what types of assistance are available to residents regarding the transfer of property and land ownership from deceased relatives.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Minister responsible for MACA.

HON. SHANE THOMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, that there is not a Municipal and Community Affairs issue. I think that's very much about wills, about working with the justice system. But if the Member is talking about land transfer and that, that there is very much about a municipal government.

It's been very confusing, and I thank the Member. She's hit me a few times with this question, and I greatly appreciate it. It's trying to understand how it works in the Tlicho government, but it is my understanding land belongs to -- or is looked after by the Tlicho government, whether it's Behchoko, Gameti, Whati, or Wekweeti. And they need to develop a bylaw to do that type oaf work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. WEYALLON-ARMSTRONG: Thank you for the question. I just wanted to know if the Minister is aware, knows, Behchoko, Whati, Gameti, and Wekweeti is a public government. So it is responsibility of Municipal and Community Affairs.

With that, can the Minister advise what possible assistance is available relating to accumulated tax arrears. Thank you.

Oral Question 798-19(2): Land Ownership Issues in Small Communities
Oral Questions

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, I'm well aware that it's a public government. And, again, it's understanding the complexity of a new government and how we do things.

So in regards to taxation, this was an issue that I brought up in the 18th Assembly and what we were able to do is work with the Minister of Finance is that we were able to do a reserve mortgage, I would call it. Basically we would just pay -- come up with a payment plan to work and pay off the taxes and then as the interest would be reversed. So that option is available. You would have to reach out to the Department of Finance. That's what I have had to do with working with my community members in my riding, and my understanding that option is still available but would need to confirm with the Minister of Finance. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. WEYALLON-ARMSTRONG: Thank you for the question -- for the answers.

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister commit to instructing staff to reach out to the Tlicho and community government to address barriers in the transfer of land and property title. Thank you.

HON. SHANE THOMPSON: Thank you. From the Municipal and Community Affairs side, with the bylaws, we would be more than willing to come with the municipal governments to come up with the bylaws that they need to do that. If it's something to do with lands, more than willing to work with the municipal governments, the Tlicho government, moving forward.

Again, I appreciate the Member asking these questions. And she's been very true to her word. She's been asking the questions numerous times, and I appreciate that. And all we need to do is work together to help solve that issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 798-19(2): Land Ownership Issues in Small Communities
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Monfwi.

Oral Question 798-19(2): Land Ownership Issues in Small Communities
Oral Questions

Weyallon-Armstrong

We have to be persistent. If we're not persistent, then it's going to be shelved, so.

So the final question, can the Minister commit to having discussions with the Tlicho and community government regarding amendments to the Tlicho Community Government Act to address the legislative barriers of transferring lands and property title. Thank you.

Oral Question 798-19(2): Land Ownership Issues in Small Communities
Oral Questions

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you. Thank you, and the Member for Thebacha kept on reminding me about land issues. I asked them the same questions so I appreciate the commitment by the Member. I love it, I think it's -- that's how we get things solved here.

I'm more than willing to work with the municipal governments. Our staff is more than willing to work with the Tlicho government. Again, though, I just want to make sure we know what we're looking at, what we need to do. So if the Tlicho governments can work -- reach out to us, work with their MLA, we're more than willing to sit down and have conversations how we can improve things moving forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. My question is for the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs. I visited Jean Marie River and the Minister on August the 11th to see some of the flood damage. Can the Minister provide an update as to the status of funding expended to date by this government in Jean Marie River and efforts to carry out any of that work from other sources. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Minister responsible for MACA.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you. First of all, I'd like to thank the Member for touring my riding. It was greatly appreciated. And the community of Jean Marie greatly appreciated him stopping in to sit there. I also have to give a shout out to the Member from Hay River South. He was very much involved in that as well.

So in regards to how much money we spent right now, presently, as of September 30th -- sorry, I just had a mental block there -- we spent $1.7 million for the flood recovery for activities in there. We are projecting that the total for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, we'll spend approximately about $6 million in total.

The GNWT is making a claim for reimbursement for flood-related costs to the Government of Canada through the federal disaster financial assistance arrangement, and Municipal and Community Affairs has engaged Public Safety Canada throughout this. So they're not being surprised about it; we are actually being proactive and saying here's what our costs are and, you know, is this something that we can or cannot claim through the process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that response.

The community of Jean Marie River was particularly hard hit by flooding as we all know. Can the Minister tell us if and when the water treatment plant was put back into operation and what arrangements were made for clean water for the community before that. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to answer the last part of the question first, and then we'll go from there.

So when the flood hit, the leadership from the department and local governments from Hay River and Yellowknife provided bottled water to the community. So we were bringing in bottled water to help address that issue. Then as the ferry was kicked in in Fort Simpson and people were moved back into their homes, or they were still in their homes that weren't impacted by the floods, we were bringing the water from Fort Simpson, the water truck.

Now we continue to do that. In July and August, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and contractors worked on improving getting the reservoir up and running and as of September 30th -- or September, it is now operational. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. Good to hear that the water treatment plant's up and going again.

I noted in my statement the housing closest to the Mackenzie and Jean Marie rivers was particularly heavily damaged. The previous Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs had promised publicly that people would be in accommodations, be back in their communities before winter.

What's the status of the assessment or repair work for both private and publicly owned housing in Jean Marie River, and are people back in their own homes. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

I'd like to thank the Member for asking these questions. I think these are questions I asked weekly with the staff on it.

So the status is basically we've been working on it. For the homes that we're able to repair, we're hoping to having everything as of December 17th. For the ones that may or may not be back into their home, we brought in a camp. So we have two camps. One for the Elders, and one for the family. When we were asking the community about getting a camp in there, we gave them some options. They provided the option -- they selected the options, and that's why the camp we have set up as we have it here.

In regards to homes that are beyond repair, what we've done is we've given them a number of options of how we're going to move forward on that. And then the community members made that decision. It wasn't us as government saying this is what you have. We said, here's option A, here's the consequences if you pick this, option B, C, D, and then the community members made a decision.

I'd just like to share a quick story. I had one individual who was going to do it but decided that the home meant too much more so he -- they have actually gone back to building it, fixing it up themselves. So as in regards to the public, there's four units. My understanding they're in the process, if they're not already done. Housing has done the work on them, and we're moving forward on that. Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Question 799-19(2): Jean Marie River Flooding and Response
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

MR. O'REILLY: Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. Clearly, people in Jean Marie River, particularly the Elders, like to be close to the rivers. That brings some risk with more extreme events which will increase with the climate crisis.

Can the Minister tell us whether there have been any discussions or plans to relocate or move some or all of the community of Jean Marie River, and what support is our government giving. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.