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

Question 658-19(2): Housing Partnerships
Oral Questions

Page 2445

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Final supplementary. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 658-19(2): Housing Partnerships
Oral Questions

Page 2445

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am always game to have any kind of chat about housing with the Minister at any time offline, for sure. One such example of this could be: earlier, I heard the Minister saying to the Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes that she is open to entertaining new lease arrangements in communities in the Northwest Territories. One of the things that we run into in the NWT is that it's very, very costly for builders to come in and build housing units, especially without some form of a contract of clients on the other end. When communities largely have public housing, it would be great if builders could set up contracts with the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation before the build in order to know how we are going to operate this, how we are going to work together. This is one such policy example that doesn't exist that would be really helpful to the people of the Northwest Territories to be able to get housing on the ground. I am wondering if the Minister is willing to commit to at least partnerships, then, prior to a build, with northern industry. Thank you.

Question 658-19(2): Housing Partnerships
Oral Questions

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Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you to the Member for elaborating on that and giving me more of an idea of where she is going with her questions. Throughout the territory, we do have leases in the larger centres and not specifically in the smaller communities. If there is an opportunity for us to enter into an arrangement such as this to provide low-cost-income housing throughout the territory, this is something that I would like to further on the conversation with the Member. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 658-19(2): Housing Partnerships
Oral Questions

Page 2445

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. It appears that the NWT Arts Council has not received the attention it deserves for the last several years. Only half the seats on the council are currently filled, with two having been appointed only in the last couple of weeks. The strategic plan ended in 2018, and much of the website is out of date. Can the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment explain what is going on with the NWT Arts Council and how it was operating with only one person on the board out of six? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

Page 2445

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

Page 2445

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A lot of things happened. We had a complete turnover in the office that deals with the arts council, and there was no overlap of employees. In a situation like that where we have a limited public service and we don't have these big offices with a lot of lateral positions, we could run into these issues. That was an issue in getting the arts council filled with board members. We had a couple of resignations that were unexpected, but to the Member's question about how it operates with a single position, there is no requirement for a certain number of members for quorum, so even though there was a single member who was officially appointed, the other members who were in between appointments, who have been since reappointed, did participate.

In May, we are going to have a call for nominations, and we will fill the other seats. We will be back to a full board this spring, and I think the future is looking bright. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In terms of the website, this relates to the Member's other questions about the other website, the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre, that's also going through a refresh at the same time as part of the same process. That would be taken care of as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that, and certainly, my intention is not to embarrass anybody. I just want to make sure that we get the arts council back on track. I think part of the problem is the lack of support from the department and the way that arts seems to fall between two departments, namely Education, Culture and Employment and Industry, Tourism and Investment. Can the Minister tell us what he is doing to support the NWT Arts Council and its independence?

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

Page 2445

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

We currently have staff who provide support to the arts council. As I've said, there were some operational issues last year, but things have improved. The arts council, it's a creation of policy in the Northwest Territories, and through that policy, they have a role in making recommendations to the Minister about how to distribute the arts council funding. We provide them support in doing that and support for their meetings. The best practice is: having peers review the submissions for arts funding. Because of that, when these recommendations from the arts council come to the Minister, the Minister will look at them, but essentially, they're signed off. It's not something where I'm going to go through and make my own -- say no to this artist, say yes to this artist's submission and things like that. They are arm's length in that sense. However, going forward, we have a new Arts Strategy coming out, and we want to look at ways to improve arts across the territory in any way possible. One of those ways might be looking at the possibility of enhancing the profile of the arts council, perhaps, enhancing its responsibilities, its duties, how it's governed, the support that it has, and things like that. I can leave it there.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

Page 2445

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that. I'm interested in looking at best practices, as well. I think some of those best practices are shown in other Canadian jurisdictions, including British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Newfoundland and Labrador. Their arts councils are equivalent; they're actually established through legislation. We've got a policy that dates from 1989 that sets up our arts council. Will the Minister commit to reviewing this situation and bring forward legislation to formally establish the NWT Arts Council as an independent body?

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

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R.J. Simpson Hay River North

No, I won't make that commitment. However, like I said, this is something that we're looking into.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

Page 2445

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I was hoping for a yes there, but a firm no is okay sometimes. He's looking into it; that's a good start. The strategic plan developed by the Northwest Territories Arts Council ended in 2018. We're still in a pandemic, but I think there's tremendous potential here for a rebound in tourism. I'd like to know from the Minister what role does he think the Northwest Territories Arts Council, and arts more generally, can play in economic recovery? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

Page 2445

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Of course, the responsibility for arts in the Northwest Territories lies with Education, Culture and Employment, and the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has more of a focus on the economic side. That being said, it is a partnership. When we bring forward the new Arts Strategy, there will be a focus on ensuring that the supports that we're providing are supporting artists to help generate income to help build the economy. We're going to have measurements in the strategy to ensure that this is actually happening. We don't want to just throw money out and hope that it's working. We want to make sure that it's working.

I think that there are tremendous possibilities for the arts in the Northwest Territories, right from the large sort of festivals that we have that can generate tourism and income, right down to the individual artist who might be beating at home. We want to ensure that those artists are supported. To that end, we are going to look at all of the programs that we're offering, all of the funding that we're offering, and going to determine: is this really supporting that goal? This is the way that the government operates now. In addition to that, we also have the government renewal initiative, and Education, Culture and Employment is first up for that initiative, as well. We're really going to be looking at our programs and making sure we are focusing them and delivering the most benefit that we can for the people of the territory and for the economy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 659-19(2): Northwest Territories Arts Council
Oral Questions

Page 2446

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Item 8, written questions. Member for Nunakput.