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 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Speaker

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 182 19(2): Marine Transportation Services and Community Resupply
Ministers' Statements

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Mr. Speaker, five years after the Government of the Northwest Territories launched Marine Transportation Services, I am glad to announce the completion of a successful fifth sailing season.
Our marine crews delivered a reliable and professional shipping service to the Mackenzie River and Western Arctic coastal destinations working with strict COVID protocols to protect our staff and residents of the NWT.

The first scheduled barges departed Hay River in mid-June, and the last ones reached Paulatuk in late September. A total of 16 trips were scheduled throughout the season, delivering more than 24,000 tons of cargo.

This year MTS extended the Hay River to Lutselk'e route to deliver freight to points throughout the East Arm of Great Slave Lake, including Fort Reliance and Hoarfrost in McLeod Bay. We quickly adjusted our operations as needs arose to better serve residents and businesses of our vast territory.

We are collaborating with the NWT Chamber of Commerce, the NWT Chamber of Mines, and other departments to discuss the possibility of providing this service in future years.

Mr. Speaker, fuel is a large and critical component of the goods delivered throughout the sailing season. MTS has signed a five-year contract to supply and deliver fuel to the North Warning System radar sites throughout Canada's Western Arctic. We successfully delivered fuel to 18 radar sites along the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut coasts to support the Department of National Defense in Canada's Arctic regions.

Nineteen million liters of fuel were also delivered to eight communities in the North Slave, Sahtu, and Beaufort Delta Regions. These communities rely on the deliveries to heat their homes during winter and fuel their vehicles all year-round.

At the season's end MTS quickly pivoted to respond to an urgent request to offload the annual fuel supply destined for the communities of Aklavik, Inuvik, and Tuktoyaktuk. MTS tugs and barges retrieved millions of liters of diesel fuel from an ocean tanker near Tuktoyaktuk and delivered that fuel to storage tanks ashore.

This quick action to support local private-sector fuel distributors mitigated the costs of more expensive transportation alternatives thereby avoiding greater increases to the price of diesel and heating fuel for those communities this winter.

As always, I want to take a moment to thank our MTS staff on the ground and on the water for facing challenging weather conditions, maintaining and repairing the boats, and keeping their crews safe and well fed are just part of the job for the hardworking men and women of MTS.

I had the opportunity to visit the Hay River marine terminal in August to see the impressive work they accomplish. This year, 157 workers were employed by MTS in Hay River, most of them Northwest Territories residents.

Mr. Speaker, this is just an overview of the work MTS accomplished this year. We will continue provide northern employment and economic opportunities while delivering essential goods to remote communities. Quyananni, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 182 19(2): Marine Transportation Services and Community Resupply
Ministers' Statements

Speaker

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

Procurement
Members' Statements

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, just yesterday, the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment tabled the June 2021 report for Procurement Review Panel and updated this House about the status of the procurement review. That new information helped to better inform my statement today which is on the Government of the Northwest Territories procurement.

Mr. Speaker, government procurement is a very large of the NWT economy. In fact, according to the report by the Procurement Review Panel, Government of the NWT's procurement spending represents more than 30 percent of its total budget in 2019-2020, and more than 15 percent of the GDP of the NWT.

Government procurement is used to not only help deliver vital goods and services to people but it also indirectly helps create good paying jobs for many businesses across the NWT.

Some businesses are so reliant on government procurement contracts that their success or failure is determined by government procurement practices. In other words, government procurement with make or break certain NWT businesses.

Mr. Speaker, for these reasons it is extremely important that the Government of the NWT updates its procurement practices across the board as this report suggests. The ITI Minister agreed too yesterday, that the Government of the Northwest Territories must approach public contracting to accomplish both economic and social objectives of the people of the NWT.

It should no longer be that some businesses in some small communities always get awarded the same contract every year.

In all my years in elected leadership in the business community, I've seen many instances of unfair distribution of procurement contracts across the NWT. Often it's not about what the business has to off but rather who you know.

In addition -- Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Procurement
Members' Statements

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

In addition, Mr. Speaker, one recommendation from this report which I strongly agree with, and urge this government to implement, is section 1(b) on BIP eligibility. The change would strengthen the ownership requirements for NWT businesses and would reduce the ability for non-NWT businesses to find loopholes in securing contracts.

We also need to change the definition of NWT residence and allow the Government of the Northwest Territories to request supporting documentation to prove NWT residency.

Lastly Mr. Speaker, our government needs to create an Indigenous procurement policy framework which is a commitment the ITI Minister has affirmed in her remarks yesterday. We need to maximize the extent to which Indigenous businesses are contracted with the Government of the Northwest Territories.

People who were born, raised, and who live here full-time need to be prioritized in government procurement. I can go on, Mr. Speaker, but we'll leave it there for now. I will have questions for the Minister of ITI at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Procurement
Members' Statements

Speaker

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

Slave Geological Province Study
Members' Statements

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. On June 7, 2021 the Tlicho Government wrote to the Federal Minister of Northern Affairs requesting a regional study for the Slave Geological Province pursuant to part 5.2 of the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act. That's the legislation that implements provisions of a number of land rights agreements. This is a bold move that I support.

There has never been a regional study before but there has been strategic environmental assessments conducted in northern Canada, most recently the Beaufort Region Strategic Environmental Assessment released in September 2020.

The June 7, 2021 letter from the Tlicho government states "we need an independent assessment of options, impacts, and benefits, before permanent infrastructure is built" and "there is only one chance to get it right." I agree.

I also believe it's important to do this work before any further funding is expended on the proposed Slave Geological Province Corridor. We need to understand the trade-offs and opportunity costs; in other words, identify what a similar expenditure of funds in any other economic sector would generate in terms of employments and benefits and the distribution of those jobs and benefits.

On August 10th, the Federal Minister of Northern Affairs responded by saying that they would like to bring together a group to do some preliminary work to establish the regional study's purpose, proposed scope, and to discuss potential sources of funding.
I was pleased to see that the Tlicho government copied the Kitikmeot Inuit Association signaling its interest in a trans-boundary approach.

Given the precarious state of the Bathurst caribou herd, a joint effort on a regional study with Nunavut interests would seem to be a requirement.

I would also want to make sure that a series of broad future scenarios are developed, including no mineral or infrastructure development, along with analysis of opportunity, costs and alternatives. Participant funding to allow Indigenous governments and civil society to conduct their own research and contribute to this effort should be another cornerstone of GNWT's position.

I will have questions later today for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources on what the GNWT position is on a regional study for the Slave Geological Province, and how this government intends to engage residents and regular MLAs in putting forward any positions. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Slave Geological Province Study
Members' Statements

Speaker

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

Current State of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

November 25th, 2021

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before I start my Member statement, I'd like to wish a very and happy birthday to -- 91st birthday to a very special Elder in my community, Auntie Margaret Lennie.

Mr. Speaker, the 2020-2021 annual report of the Director of Child and Family Services was tabled. I'm happy to see that the report -- in the report that there was a decrease of a hundred children in permanent care. But, Mr. Speaker, that has taken ten years to bring that number down.

I'm also very happy to congratulate the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation on their announcement yesterday, for their board passed to implement their Inuvialuit Family Way of Living law, which will ensure that Inuvialuit children and youth in care, as well as their families, are supported wherever they live.

Mr. Speaker, in the NWT, we know that Indigenous people make up just over half of the population but our children are overrepresented in Child and Family Services. Our adult jails have an overrepresentation of Indigenous males. Our females are overrepresented as victims of violence.

On the flip side, Indigenous people in the territory are underrepresented in the GNWT employment rates, underrepresented in the graduation rates is just a couple of areas.

Mr. Speaker, I sit here as a Member in this House to make the decisions on how to make the NWT a better place and equitable for all its residents, and I find myself wondering if this will ever happen. It seems that we are constantly in crisis mode. We have declining infrastructure with climate change on our doorstep destroying it faster than ever. We have huge needs in our social area, with no money to really make an impact and an example in our homelessness crisis, our mental health and addiction needs. With our health care deficit growing, there's never enough money to go around. I could go on, Mr. Speaker, but I won't. As the federal dollars that is used to fund us won't come pouring in. The revenues in our territories are going down, and we sit here asking for more for our communities, not because we're greedy, but it's because what our residents need.

Mr. Speaker, we are two years into our term, and I'm push -- and we're pushing up on the borrowing limit ceiling that was raised by this government.

Mr. Speaker, what direction are we going? Are we climbing, or are we sinking? Mr. Speaker, we keep spending but are we really making a difference, or are we just here to keep the lights on for Canada to tell the world that the North is part of them?

Many of our own government departments are asking for a whole-of-government approach because they know they cannot improve the situation by themselves. It's time for Ottawa to provide us with what we need so we can do more for our residents and not just keep the lights on and the heat low so we don't freeze. I will have questions for the Premier later. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

---Applause

Current State of the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Speaker

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

Northwest Territories HousingCorporation Renewal Announcement
Members' Statements

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House, the Minister of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation announced news of undertaking a review and renewal exercise of the Corporation's new vision for the future of housing for the residents of the Northwest Territories. It is encouraging they will work with the Northwest Territories Council of Leaders Housing Working Group.

Mr. Speaker, the announcement goes on to state that the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is committed to keeping Northerners of any progress. Of particular interest is the statement of a significant engagement and partnership with the federal government to provide unprecedented levels of housing activity to include record numbers of home to be built in the North.

Mr. Speaker, all this news is particularly encouraging considering the current state of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation's predicament.

Mr. Speaker, it is known the Housing Corporation is on course to offload housing units to anyone, including First Nations organizations. I believe there is the magic date of 2038. This is the date the Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, also known as CMHC, will discontinue funding for operations and maintenance on all public housing units which includes rental units.

Mr. Speaker, we are already seeing declining CMHC funding on a yearly basis.

Last year, in November 2020, letters were sent to many First Nations organizations by the Housing Minister regarding the Federal Rapid Housing Initiative to create affordable housing for vulnerable populations. The letter stated the tight deadline for the applications of December 31st, 2020. There was a funding pot of $500 million.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to continue my statement. Mahsi.

---Unanimous consent granted

Northwest Territories HousingCorporation Renewal Announcement
Members' Statements

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. And mahsi, colleagues.

One of the criteria was the acquisition of land for the construction of modular housing. Mr. Speaker, the other provisions of the application process is the applicant is responsible for operations and maintenance funding. Well, the O and M funding will most likely pay for monthly land leases, power usage, water, sewage, garbage, and ongoing maintenance of the units.

Does this sound familiar? Of course it does. It is currently the financial woes of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

I am not certain if the applications were ever scrutinized for compliance with the criteria set out in the letter as there was a rush considering the short timeline to submit applications.

Kudos to all that made the deadline. I am certain they had the best intentions of providing housing to their community members. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Housing Minister at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Northwest Territories HousingCorporation Renewal Announcement
Members' Statements

Speaker

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Nunkaput.