This is page numbers 2569 - 2602 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 community.

Topics

Bill 26: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Second Reading Of Bills

Page 2578

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill.

Bill 26: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Second Reading Of Bills

Page 2578

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Bill 26: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Second Reading Of Bills

Page 2578

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

---Carried

Bill 26 has had second reading. Second reading of bills. Minister of Finance.

Bill 27: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Second Reading Of Bills

March 29th, 2021

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, that Bill 27, Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021, be read for the second time. This bill makes supplementary appropriations for infrastructure expenditures of the Government of the Northwest Territories for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Bill 27: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Second Reading Of Bills

Page 2578

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill.

Bill 27: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Second Reading Of Bills

Page 2578

Some Hon. Members

Question.

Bill 27: Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 3, 2020-2021
Second Reading Of Bills

Page 2578

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

---Carried

Bill 27 has had second reading. Second reading of bills. Item 20, consideration in Committee of the Whole of bills and other matters: Committee Report 8-19(2), Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on Motion 5-19(2), Referral of Point of Privilege Raised by Member for Monfwi on March 10, 2020; Committee Report 9-19(2), Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on the Chief Electoral Officer's Report on the Administration of the 2019 Territorial General Election; Tabled Document 286-19(2), Main Estimates 2021-2022, and by the authority given to me as speaker by Motion 1-19(2), I hereby authorize the House to sit beyond the daily hours of adjournment to consider the business before the House, with the Member for Hay River South in the chair. Thank you.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Rocky Simpson

I now call Committee of the Whole to order. What is the wish of committee? Mr. Norn.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Chair. Committee wishes to consider the following documents: Tabled Document 286-19(2), Main Estimates 2021-2022, and Committee Report 8-19(2), Standing Committee on Rules and Procedures Report on Motion 5-19(2), Referral of Point of Privilege Raised by Member for Monfwi on March 10, 2020. Marsi cho, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Rocky Simpson

Thank you. Committee, we will take a short recess and resume with the first item. Thank you.

---SHORT RECESS

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Rocky Simpson

I will now call Committee of the Whole to order. Committee, we have agreed to consider Tabled Document 286-19(2) Main Estimates 2021-2022. Does the Minister of Finance have any opening remarks?

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Yes, Mr. Chair. I believe I do have some opening remarks. Mr. Chair, over the past few weeks, the Legislative Assembly has been considering the 2021-2022 Main Estimates. In our system of consensus government, Cabinet does not pass the main estimates without at least three supporting votes from Regular Members of the Legislative Assembly. I know there is, at times, a perception that getting these votes would involve deals made one-by-one with individual MLAs rather than through a process that considers the collective priorities of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, it is to the credit of every Member of this Assembly, this was not how we have arrived at a point in the consideration of the 2021-2022 Main Estimates where I now offer several commitments in response to negotiations. The last few weeks have involved several conversations between myself and the chair and deputy chair of the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight, to which all of the non-Cabinet MLAs belong. Several areas were identified where more work needed to be done for the good of the people of the Northwest Territories. In some cases, that work is policy-based, such as seeing the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation go through the government renewal process as soon as possible and confirming that targets will be part of the Department of Finance's Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Framework.

Discussions of policy do not necessarily require financial additions to the main estimates, but they are key to the work of government and were a very positive addition to these discussions. In other cases, issues or challenges were identified on behalf of committee, but it was helpful that committee members allowed departments to explain what tools are, in fact, available, rather than insist on solutions that might not be a best fit. As a result, the investments I am committing to can be more strategic. Finally, this process was aimed at remaining fiscally responsible, so that, with these increases, we are also looking for decreases, rather than simply continuing to grow expenses without significant new revenues.

Mr. Chair, I want to thank every Member of the 19th Legislative Assembly for making this a consensus process that was not only possible but, indeed, productive. With that, Mr. Chair, I have several commitments that I would like to go through. We have arrived at the following:

  • With respect to midwifery, there will be a $600,000 addition to the Department of Health and Social Services to enable their commitment to move the Northwest Territories midwifery program into phase 2 of its implementation, further to the 2017 Midwifery Stakeholders Report.
  • With respect to after-care facilities, there will be $1.4 million for the Department of Health and Social Services to support after-care and community-based addictions programs and services by, first, establishing a $750,000 community-based addictions and after-care fund for external organizations to access funding to hire counsellors, both traditional wellness and community counsellors, in support of specific community needs, and second, $650,000 to fund community development resources as follows: $150,000 to fund the senior advisor for Indigenous knowledge and wellness coordinator and $500,000 to additional community development activities, including the development of standards and a toolkit to help communities work through policy decisions to determine what will work best in their communities, help adapt program parameters to reflect community needs, and help guide the selection of appropriate infrastructure or programming for each community.
  • With respect to the anti-poverty fund, there will be $935,000 for the Department of Health and Social Services to support efforts towards reducing poverty in the Northwest Territories. This funding includes $750,000 to the anti-poverty fund, $110,000 to increase funding for the roundtable advisory council, and $75,000 to increase core funding to the Hay River shelter.
  • With respect to Indigenous patient advocates, there will be $743,000 for the Department of Health and Social Services for four positions to pilot a new approach to assisting with improving cultural safety and patient experience; supporting Indigenous patients in having their concerns, complaints, and questions resolved; and bridging cultural and language barriers. The Indigenous patient advocates located in the NWT's acute care facilities would work to ensure patients receive culturally safe care and also help deal with the impact of illness and hospitalization; provide cultural, spiritual, and emotional support; and help make connections with family members, elders, and community organizations. Four Indigenous patient navigators will be staffed by the health authorities and located in Inuvik, Hay River, Fort Smith, and Yellowknife. Indigenous cultural awareness is an important criterion for these positions. Job descriptions will, therefore, include consideration in equivalencies so that the focus will be on navigation rather than counselling.
  • With respect to travel reductions, the Department of Finance will be working with departments to implement reductions to travel budgets totalling $4.03 million. We will ensure that nondiscretionary travel that varies by department will not be adversely affected.

There are several other commitments, Mr. Chair.

  • $500,000 for the Department of Education, Culture and Employment to increase the childcare infrastructure fund
  • $100,000 for the Department of Health and Social Services to increase the Child and Family Services contribution
  • The Department of Justice agrees to maintain the court clerk position in Hay River.
  • The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has funding available in 2021-2022 to provide resources to the Hay River homeless shelter to support its operating costs. The Housing Corporation will bring forward a funding request during the 2022-2023 business planning process for ongoing funding for both the shelter in Hay River and in Fort Simpson.
  • The Department of Environment and Natural Resources commits to completing the caribou survey work that was not completed in 2020-2021 in 2021-2022. The department will commit to bringing forward a supplementary appropriation to re-establish the cash flow that would have been lapsed from 2020-2021 and which will be required to complete this work in the fiscal year.
  • The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment will continue to support the town of Fort Smith with its tourism priorities to a total of $130,000 over two years. In addition, the department will commit to support seven community tourism coordinator positions, each at a value of $50,000 annually in 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. This increases the number of funded community tourism coordinator positions up from four.
  • In addition, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment will reach out to the community of Fort Providence regarding their interest in and readiness for a community tourism coordinator position for the community for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023. If the community applies for this funding, the department will provide $50,000 from within existing resources for 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 so that the CTC positions can include Fort Providence.
  • The department does not have dedicated funding for a visitor information centre, but the department further commits to consulting with all Northwest Territories visitor information centres on their future priorities and projects.
  • The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment will continue to fund the hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk with funding to retain the economic development officer position in the community. The department will fund this support in 2021-2022 with existing funding and bring forward future requirements through the business planning process.
  • The Department of Finance will commit to providing standing committee an options paper that discusses the review process for the Affirmative Action Policy by March of 2022 and the Indigenous Recruitment and Retention Framework prior to the start of the 2022-2023 business plan review process.
  • The Northwest Territories Housing Corporation's mandate review will examine the corporation's strategic objectives to ensure the organization is meeting the requirements of its establishment policy and the priorities of the Legislative Assembly. This work is planned in 2021-2022. In addition, I will commit that the Department of Finance's government renewal process on the corporation will examine and measure the effectiveness of specific program delivery in meeting the corporation's mandate objectives.
  • I will commit to including the additional funding and the reduction to departmental travel budgets in 2021-2022 Supplementary Appropriation, No. 1, Operations Expenditures, to be considered during the June 2022 sitting of the Legislative Assembly.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Rocky Simpson

Thank you. I will now open the floor for general comments. Do any Members have any general comments before we begin the departmental summaries? Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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Steve Norn Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Marsi cho, Mr. Chair. There was a lot of work that went into this. A lot of staff put a lot of time into this, and as the Minister mentioned, it was a collaborative effort, a lot of moving parts. Like I said, it wasn't just any one Member. It was all of us working together. I am very, very proud that we moved forward with this. Again, you always hear the media say things about backroom deals. There was nothing like that done here. It was all very open. We had a certain amount of commitment. Of course, there is always going to be compromise. Not everybody is going to get what they want. This job is very difficult. You can't make everybody happy. We're not dry meat. Going back, it was a collaborative effort. I am very proud. I don't have much else to say. I don't have anything prepared. I am speaking from the heart here. I am really, really proud of the work that we have done as a whole. Marsi cho, Mr. Chair.

Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters
Consideration In Committee Of The Whole Of Bills And Other Matters

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The Chair Rocky Simpson

Thank you. Member for Frame Lake.