This is page numbers 2439 - 2492 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 housing.

Topics

Tabled Document 348-19(2): Supplementary Estimates (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021 Tabled Document 349-19(2): Supplementary Estimates (Operations Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Tabling Of Documents

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following two documents: "Supplementary Estimates (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021;" and "Supplementary Estimates (Operations Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 348-19(2): Supplementary Estimates (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021 Tabled Document 349-19(2): Supplementary Estimates (Operations Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Tabling Of Documents

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Tabling of documents. Honourable Premier.

Tabled Document 350-19(2): 2019-2023 Mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories Annual Status Report
Tabling Of Documents

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Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table the following document, "2019-2023 Mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories Annual Status Report." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 350-19(2): 2019-2023 Mandate of the Government of the Northwest Territories Annual Status Report
Tabling Of Documents

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Tabling of documents. Minister of Environment and Natural Resources.

Tabled Document 351-19(2): Waste Reduction and Recovery Program 2019-2020 Annual Report
Tabling Of Documents

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table the following document, "Waste Reduction and Recovery Program 2019-2020 Annual Report." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 351-19(2): Waste Reduction and Recovery Program 2019-2020 Annual Report
Tabling Of Documents

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Tabling of documents. Member for Frame Lake.

Tabled Document 352-19(2): Husky Oil Operations Limited Exploration License (Consolidated) No. EL494
Tabling Of Documents

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I wish to table had following document, "Husky Oil Exploration Licence No. EL494." Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 352-19(2): Husky Oil Operations Limited Exploration License (Consolidated) No. EL494
Tabling Of Documents

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Tabling of documents. Item 15, notice of motion. Colleagues, we will continue after a short recess.

---SHORT RECESS

Tabled Document 352-19(2): Husky Oil Operations Limited Exploration License (Consolidated) No. EL494
Tabling Of Documents

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Welcome back, Members. Item 8, notices of motion. Item 9, motions. Member for Kam Lake.

Motion 30-19(2): Actions for Improved Housing Outcomes, Carried
Motions

March 10th, 2021

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Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. WHEREAS the 2019 NWT community survey found that over 42 percent of dwellings in the Northwest Territories had at least one housing problem, an increase of 10 percent since 2009;

AND WHEREAS housing problems can be issues of affordability, adequacy, or suitability;

AND WHEREAS this affects every community in the territory, including small communities, regional centres, and Yellowknife;

AND WHEREAS the administration of housing is not consistent between communities;

AND WHEREAS the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation mission statement is focused on housing stock, but is silent on the social program outcomes;

AND WHEREAS there has been no meaningful addition to the amount of public housing in the Northwest Territories;

AND WHEREAS housing plays an integral role in the well-being of residents and public housing needs to take an integrated view of the needs of its tenants as clients;

NOW THEREFORE I MOVE, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes, that this Legislative Assembly calls upon the Government of the Northwest Territories to prioritize the review of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation as part of the Government Renewal Initiative;

AND FURTHER, that the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation update its mission statement and policies to reflect its role in social wellness;

AND FURTHERMORE, that Northwest Territories Housing Corporation must include referrals to appropriate government programs prior to beginning the eviction process;

AND FURTHERMORE, that the Government of the Northwest Territories provide a comprehensive response to this motion within 120 days.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 30-19(2): Actions for Improved Housing Outcomes, Carried
Motions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. To the motion. I will allow the Member to speak. Member for Kam Lake.

Motion 30-19(2): Actions for Improved Housing Outcomes, Carried
Motions

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Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, laced throughout my Member's statements over the past year have been persistent concerns that housing is far more than a commodity. Housing is a human right recognized by the United Nations, both generally, in regard to sustainable development, and specifically, as it relates to Indigenous people, captured in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Housing is a public good. It is the centre of thriving communities and the health and well-being of people and society regardless of ethnicity or income. The central role of housing in society is not only recognized by habitat in the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, but also in this House by this Assembly. Discussions of housing, its importance, and its place in community wellness unites the 19th Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, there is good reason for this centrality of housing. From an environmental perspective, we are on a collision course with climate change while more than 40 percent of the carbon footprint comes from buildings, mostly housing. To be honest, Mr. Speaker, the numbers are probably higher because of the energy intensity of insulation products, the long-distance transport of construction material, the cost of heating and diesel-fired electricity throughout the service life of a house, and the requirement of oil-fired vehicles to get to any public services in most of our communities. Community planning and housing design must be responsive to this rapidly changing environment if we want to protect the health of our planet.

From a social perspective, a safe, secure, and healthy home is essential to family life. It is the family that informs our lifestyle choices and decisions from the day we are born until the day we die. Our prosperity, if not our very survival, as people and communities depend on good choices, which will stand the test of global economy and allow our communities to provide viable housing options. Housing is not a commodity, like a house. Housing is a public good: a home. Accessibility to everything that dignifies humanity starts in the home. The home supports conversations with people we trust about things that matter to us. It keeps us healthy, and when we are sick, it gives us the best place to get well. Housing provides a passport to health, clean water, education, and our participation in governance and the economy.

From a governance perspective, the quality of our citizenship starts with housing. The basic ethic of a compassionate, caring society is one where no one gets left behind. Housing equity dignifies us, and from that place of dignity, we participate in decision-making in a social democracy, where personal interests give sway to the common good. In this Chamber, I have spoken about people whose return to their birth community has been frustrated by our housing program. I have spoken about vulnerable persons who have been evicted when they were prime candidates for integrated support systems. Housing programs failed to provide it. I have spoken to the fundamental relationships between housing and environmental, social, and economic well-being. I have spoken to systemic racism and its overpowering manifestation in homelessness.

There is good reason, Mr. Speaker, for the centrality of housing. There is no good reason, Mr. Speaker, that we are not providing it. Homelessness is the shadow side of homefulness, a term we rarely hear in housing discussions. Homefulness, as explained by Marilyn Hamilton, captures how access to the many levels of nested services fuels success. The flip side of homefulness is homelessness: society's punishment for people's inability to fit within the limited range of services connected through a bureaucratic system. The existing mission statement of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation speaks to acquiring, building, and maintaining housing stock, but remains silent on its role in the social wellness of Northerners. There is no strategic plan to increase housing stock in the Northwest Territories, and there is no policy structure to either change how this government provides housing or supports housing partnerships.

Mr. Speaker, what we are looking for through this motion is a housing program that is people-centred and built around the wellness of Northerners. To be consistent and forward-looking, it must be underpinned by a comprehensive policy, flexible action plan, prudent investment strategy, and set of performance measures that capture the values of care and compassion for people, planet, and prosperity. The housing program must be built in partnership by all its stakeholders bound by a common purpose.

The attempt to achieve housing as a public good won't be perfect. In fact, progress depends on us learning continuously as we innovate and keep at it, but that means we need to be prepared to try new things and step outside of the cyclical history of housing the NWT. The 2019 NWT community survey found that over 42 percent of NWT dwellings had at least one housing problem. This represents a 10 percent increase from a decade earlier and tells us that our cycle is not serving us. Excellence in housing is a process, not a final destination. Just like we renovate our houses to suit our changing world, we will renovate our housing program, but we must start now to ensure that it choreographs all of the interrelated issues and brings together and all of government approach to achieve success. Housing is embedded in our community life and housing is not a silo. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 30-19(2): Actions for Improved Housing Outcomes, Carried
Motions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. We'll allow the seconder, and then we will open it up to everyone. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Motion 30-19(2): Actions for Improved Housing Outcomes, Carried
Motions

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Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Housing is a basic need for all. Many people in every community of our territory are living in housing that is below standards. Many lack housing altogether. Indigenous people are at higher rate than anyone else in this territory who are struggling with homelessness. How do we expect our residents to overcome any issues we raise in this House like mental health, addictions, low levels of education, graduation rates, poor health outcomes, high numbers of our Indigenous males incarcerated, high rates of family violence? If no one has a home, we will never overcome these. If I could go back to the first week of this Legislative Assembly when we were coming up with our priorities, I would have said one: housing. Housing to ensure that every resident has a place to live that meets their needs and their circumstances that they are living with. With that, Mr. Speaker, I fully support this motion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 30-19(2): Actions for Improved Housing Outcomes, Carried
Motions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. We will now open it up for discussion. To the motion. Government House Leader.