This is page numbers 2525 - 2568 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 going.

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Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2530

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment. I'm wondering if the Minister can please speak to what controls departments have at their disposal to ensure that GNWT dollars end up supporting northern businesses and northern workers from an industry perspective. Thank you.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2530

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This actually touches on the Department of Finance, as well, insofar as Procurement Shared Services does now reside there. All departments, when they have any sort of purchasing above $25,000, do have to go through the public procurement process that resides within Procurement Shared Services. When they do so, it really is that the departments are of course required, when there are multiple bids, to go through local registered businesses as their first priority and then going through NWT bid registered businesses, then local businesses, then NWT businesses. Only then would they be looking to the non-Northwest Territories businesses. There are steps that are built into the process that all departments are expected to take and be aware of in addition to the fact that, even for those procurements that are under $25,000, there is certainly a strong expectation that we are, of course, looking to support local businesses and Northwest Territories based businesses. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

There is a need for the GNWT to work interdepartmentally to identify where business opportunity is lacking and to use this information to strategically offer business supports in those areas. How does ITI work with departments to collect data on gaps in niche markets, where a large majority of GNWT contracts are going south? How do we educate ourselves as a government as to where money is leaving Northwest Territories markets and constantly going south?

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

I know that the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment certainly does capture the data about northern spends, jobs created, and looks at SEED investments and how that is utilized. For instance, again, tourism, I know there is information captured. However, I am hearing that the question is really one that is much more multi-departmental. I can speak to examples of that in ITI. Recently, we and ENR met to discuss exactly that, what can we do in some of our areas of shared interest to ensure that we are analyzing contracts that are not being awarded routinely to Northwest Territories businesses, so that work is happening. However, I think that to truly capture the point and to say that we are doing that as a government, I will have to commit to getting back to the Member after really taking that back to all colleagues so that it is truly a whole-of-government response.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

I really appreciate that and the Minister's intent to follow up on that. I think it's important for us to see where we are losing money and to see if there are markets that we are not filling in the Northwest Territories and to be able to properly communicate that to our business community. In that process of going back to departments, will the Minister also bring back information on how we are supporting businesses to be educated about that? Because, sometimes, it's just a matter of a side-step for a business and one that people would probably love to be able to take advantage of to make sure we are keeping as many dollars from the GNWT in the North.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

There are a number of services offered to small- and medium-sized businesses in particular around business supports, which would then really include that kind of information: where are their opportunities, and what do they need to be doing to be more competitive on those opportunities? While I recognize, Mr. Speaker, that I am going to give an example that is maybe slightly beyond simply the idea of procurement, we are right now at ITI looking next month at bringing together a number of the different entities that provide business support services within ITI, economic development officers, BDIC, and some of the other economic development shops and entities and organizations, to make sure that, when we are doing that work to support the businesses of the North, we are doing it in a coordinated fashion, that we identify if there are areas where more supports are needed, such as what is being discussed and suggested here. As I say, that is actually lined up for next month, and this is a timely question to ensure that, when we do that, we are, in fact, answering that question for the Northwest Territories businesses.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My last question is one that we have slightly touched on before, and that is the timeline for completing the procurement review. We have been told spring of this year, I believe, but I want to confirm that. Also, in confirming that, is the Minister able to let us know what the anticipated timeline is for implementing the recommendations that come out of that? Thank you.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Yes, we are anticipating a report back from the panel this spring and then looking to take that to the departments and into the government to review, to have our own consultations internally and also, once we have some ideas of how we might implement the recommendations, to continue to engage and do proper consultations, including with standing committee, and then through Cabinet. Again, while I am expecting the recommendations this spring, the final implementation of recommendations will be rolling, and it will be rolling because some may be easier to implement than others, some may take more time, some might require more and further discussion or consultation. However, my expectation is that, by the summer, we will be seeing some changes in place. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 671-19(2): Public Service (Procurement) Supporting Northern and Northern Businesses
Oral Questions

Page 2531

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Question 672-19(2): Polytechnic Science Program
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I spoke about earlier in my statement, I am very excited that one of the areas the polytechnic will focus on is skilled trades and technology. I have been happy with the information that has been released to date, but I am hoping to get a little more out of the Minister about where we are going with this. Can the Minister expand on what this specialization is presently going to look like? Is it going to be a building science program of some sort, or is it an architectural program or an engineering degree? I am just wondering the extent of this skilled trades and technology expansion the polytechnic is aiming for. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 672-19(2): Polytechnic Science Program
Oral Questions

Page 2531

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

Question 672-19(2): Polytechnic Science Program
Oral Questions

Page 2531

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the Member for the questions. The skilled trades and technology is an area of specialization, so it's not a program; it is one of the four areas that the college is going to focus on initially. The reason to start there is, first of all, it will be a polytechnic and that is what polytechnics do, but also those are a lot of the things that the college does right now and does well. Initially, it's going to be building on those. As we move to become a polytechnic university, there will be a research component. We have recently added a position of applied climate change research chair in Inuvik, and that is the type of thing that I can see that research happening around, is northern building. I heard the Member's statement, and it sounds like he could be writing for the polytechnic university right now because those are the kind of visionary things that I think that we all want to see. We all understand that the North has natural advantages, and we want to take advantage of those in every way that we can. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 672-19(2): Polytechnic Science Program
Oral Questions

Page 2531

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

I know the Minister is looking forward to getting the board and the polytechnic up and running so he can stop fielding so many questions about what they are going to do, and maybe one day, I will try to sit on that board. Right now, pretty soon, hopefully this summer, we are going to see a three-year economic plan for Aurora College, and I hear what the Minister is saying, and that is the building on current programming. However, I feel that the transformation requires new programming; it requires some sort of new courses, new certifications. My question for the Minister is: especially in this area of skilled trades and technology, when are we going to see some new programming and/or funding for the polytechnic?