This is page numbers 2493 - 2524 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 care.

Topics

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2499

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I want to thank the Minister for that response, but all we have is the Minister's statement and news release about on what basis the Minister made this very important decision. Can the Minister not at least talk about what the recommendations were from the committee and share those recommendations with the public?

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2499

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

The committee made three recommendations, as was asked for. One of the recommendations is always the status quo; one of the recommendations was also increasing it to $15.20.

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2499

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

I guess I have to guess what the third recommendation was, but I am not going to try to do any math on my feet here. Actually, I will. We have the Wage Top-Up program ending on August 31st, as I understand it, so $18 an hour. The very next day, people are going to see their hourly wages drop to $15.20. It just does not seem to make any sense, so can the Minister explain to the public, the people, the 9 percent of our workforce that is now accessing the Wage Top-Up program, why he chose $15.20, and can he explain why their wages are going to drop from $18 an hour one day to $15.20 the next?

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2500

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Their wages will drop because currently there is a Wage Top-Up program in place, and that runs until August 31st. The next day, the Wage Top-Up program will no longer be operational, and people who are making minimum wage will start receiving $15.20 an hour from their employer without that additional top-up. I just want to point out that the minimum wage is just that. It's a minimum wage. I think less than a thousand people in the territory make minimum wage. Most of them are between 15 and 24. Most of them are living at home, and perhaps a higher wage will help them get out of that house sooner. The fact is: this is not a demographic of people who are counting on a minimum wage to raise a family for the most part. A lot of those positions, as well, come with gratuities, so a number of those people making minimum wage also make tips on top of it.

I appreciate what the Member is saying. I was very happy to see that the wage top-up was extended because I do want to make sure that we are providing for our residents. However, we can't expect our businesses to absorb such a great increase in cost over the course of one summer from the $13.46 to something like $18 an hour. It's just not feasible. It's not the way businesses are structured right now. However, that being said, we have the second highest minimum wage in Canada. We will on September 1st. I think that's something to be celebrated. I don't think we've ever been in that position before. The only one with the higher minimum wage is Nunavut where the cost of living is much higher, as well, so it's appropriate for what we have in the territory.

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2500

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2500

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. I'm looking actually at the Department of Finance website. The number of individuals that have accessed the Wage Top-Up program as of March 10th is 2,360, not the 1,000 that the Minister just kind of mentioned, 96 participating businesses. Look, this is a very significant portion of our workforce.

They're going to see their wages drop in one day. It's just not fair, Mr. Speaker. I've tried a number of different avenues here to try to get the Minister to recognize this is a real problem and issue. What other solutions does the Minister have? He doesn't seem to agree with the idea of a guaranteed basic income. What are the Minister's solutions to trying to help people make ends meet, the 2,360 people who are already accessing the Wage Top-Up program? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2500

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

There may be 2,360 people accessing the Wage Top-Up program. That doesn't mean there're 2,360 people making minimum wage once that program goes away.

Those are two different numbers. One is $18, and one is right now $13.46; there's a difference there. What do we have in place, Mr. Speaker? That's why I work so hard on education. That's why we're working hard on making investments in early childhood. That's why we're trying to expand the number of early childhood spaces there are for children so that they can get in there and get an enriched environment starting at the beginning of their life.

That's why we're reviewing the curriculum, Mr. Speaker, to make sure it's a curriculum the kids want so that they want to go to school and so that it helps them grow and it helps them learn. It could help them get to that next level and get those jobs. That's why we're looking at our SFA program. That's why we have the best SFA program in Canada, Mr. Speaker. We have the most generous Student Financial Assistance program in Canada to help students get that post-secondary education. That is the biggest contributor to improving your wages, getting a post-secondary education. That's where we need to focus our efforts, Mr. Speaker, not putting this on the backs of businesses. This is on us, and this is what we are doing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 667-19(2): Minimum Wage Committee
Oral Questions

Page 2500

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Item 8, written questions. Item 9, returns to written questions. Item 10, replies to Commissioner's address. Item 11, petitions. Item 12, reports of committees on the review of bills. Item 13, reports of standing and special committees. Item 14, tabling of documents. Minister of Health and Social Services.

Tabled Document 353-19(2): Projected Demand for Long-Term Care Beds in the Northwest Territories, Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics, August 2020 Tabled Document 354-19(2): Department of Health and Social Services Response to Long-Term Care Bed Projections
Tabling Of Documents

Page 2500

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table the following two documents: "Projected Demand for Long-Term Care Beds in the NWT, NWT Bureau of Statistics, August 2020;" and "Department of Health and Social Services Response to Long-Term Care Bed Projections." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 353-19(2): Projected Demand for Long-Term Care Beds in the Northwest Territories, Northwest Territories Bureau of Statistics, August 2020 Tabled Document 354-19(2): Department of Health and Social Services Response to Long-Term Care Bed Projections
Tabling Of Documents

Page 2500

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Tabling of documents. Item 15, notices of motion. Item 16, motions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Motion 31-19(2): Extended Adjournment of the House to March 29, 2021, Carried
Motions

Page 2500

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I MOVE, seconded by the honourable Member for Hay River North, that, notwithstanding Rule 4, when this House adjourns on Friday, March 12, 2021, it shall be adjourned until Monday, March 29, 2021;

AND FURTHER, that, any time prior to March 29, 2021, if the Speaker is satisfied, after consultation with the Executive Council and Members of the Legislative Assembly, that the public interest requires that the House should meet at an earlier time during the adjournment, or at a time later than the scheduled resumption of the House, the Speaker may give notice and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Motion 31-19(2): Extended Adjournment of the House to March 29, 2021, Carried
Motions

Page 2500

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Motion is in order. To the motion?

Motion 31-19(2): Extended Adjournment of the House to March 29, 2021, Carried
Motions

Page 2500

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Motion 31-19(2): Extended Adjournment of the House to March 29, 2021, Carried
Motions

Page 2500

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Motions. Item 17, notices of motion for the first reading of bills. Minister of Infrastructure.

Bill 24-19(2): An Act to Amend the Revolving Funds Act
Notices Of Motion For The First Reading Of Bills

Page 2500

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I give notice that on Monday, March 29, 2021, I will move that Bill 24, An Act to Amend the Revolving Fund Act be read for the first time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.