This is page numbers 2341 - 2382 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.

Topics

Recycling Depots
Members' Statements

Page 2343

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Anti-Poverty Report Card
Members' Statements

Page 2343

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. The first Northwest Territories Poverty Report Card was released by Alternatives North in November 2020. I've reviewed it, and it's hard to summarize in a few words. The ones that come to mind are "overwhelming" and "shocking." I can't possibly hope to do the report justice, but suffice it to say that income disparity between rich and poor, small communities and larger centres, and within communities continues to be a huge problem that the COVID pandemic has only highlighted and, in some cases, made worse.

The GNWT has had an Anti-Poverty Strategy since 2013 but has done little more than monitor indicators of poverty. I want to highlight the recommendations from the report:

  • it is time to assess the GNWT's poverty reduction strategies;
  • GNWT needs to regularly review data collection and outputs to reflect changing conditions;
  • long-term solutions are needed, such as a basic guaranteed income, a living wage, and economic restructuring;
  • lone-parent families and children should be the highest priority for poverty reduction;
  • measurements of poverty, including living wage and market-basket measures, need to be expanded to better inform solutions;
  • food insecurity has been highlighted by the pandemic and needs to be urgently addressed;
  • immediate action is needed to overcome housing problems throughout the NWT; and
  • reconciliation needs to be part of poverty reduction.

I am dismayed that, once again, a small non-governmental organization is doing the work of this government. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services on our poverty-reduction efforts and responses to the recommendations provided in the first report card on poverty in the Northwest Territories. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Anti-Poverty Report Card
Members' Statements

Page 2343

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

National Engineering Month
Members' Statements

Page 2343

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Engineering has been around since the first humans walked on this Earth and began altering their physical environment in order to improve their comfort, safety, and food supply. As mentioned earlier this week, March is National Engineering Month. Hosted by Engineers Canada, the national regulatory body, it is intended to spark interest in the next generation of engineering professionals and celebrate the role engineers play in shaping society. Next week, the NWT and Nunavut chapter, NAPEG, will be hosting their virtual symposium themed "Powering the North of the Future," and registration is free for anyone.

Engineers take four years of university, followed by another four years of mentorship and experience, in order to become professional engineers, or "big E Engineers," as we like to call ourselves, but there is more to this profession than just those of us who have "banged the anvil" and wear the ring. Engineering techs also play a crucial role in our industry, and when I look at our planned polytechnic university, I'm excited for the opportunity it could bring to this field.

In the North, like many of our skilled labour positions, we often bring engineering techs up from the South to work on our projects. By creating an engineering tech program at the university, we will create an opportunity to train Northerners who specialize in circumpolar engineering. This, to me, is an engineering field that would incorporate traditional Indigenous knowledge as well as permafrost experience and climate change adaptation, to vastly improve our understanding of cold regions engineering. With this type of program, hands-on training could be provided by local engineering firms who would also provide mentorship for students, a key component of the engineering philosophy. This would produce successful northern engineer techs who will remain in the North and contribute to the profession.

There is no shortage of national and international research studies being performed in the Northwest Territories; however, there is a shortage of northern-raised professionals to execute them. In 2018 alone, there were 13 engineering projects listed in the Aurora Research Institute's Compendium of Research in the Northwest Territories. Some were local groups, such as the Nihtat Corporation in Inuvik, which performed a geotechnical investigation for the GNWT in support of a wind study, but several were from overseas, such as the airborne radar program performed by the German Aerospace Center to monitor vegetation, soil, and permafrost conditions in the boreal forest, or the University of Helsinki, which studied the short- and long-term effects of forest fires on carbon pools in the Arctic permafrost and subarctic forests.

Mr. Speaker, can you imagine the wealth of knowledge that participating on international projects like these could bring to our local expertise? How they could help us to better understand our own backyard? By ensuring that engineering tech programs are part of our new university, we will be better equipped to deal with our northern, remote climate by retaining knowledge, expertise, and experience in the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

National Engineering Month
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Hunters and Trappers' Disaster Compensation
Members' Statements

March 4th, 2021

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Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I am going to talk about the Hunters and Trappers' Disaster Compensation Program. Even though all my colleagues are talking about International Women's Day, hunters and trappers is maybe a toast to my granny, who was a very long-time hunter and trapper.

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned about the support for hunters and trappers affected by disaster in my riding last fall. Hunting and trapping is a subsistence lifestyle and income; however, many harvesters today choose to practice this traditional way of life and preserve these harvesting skills while working another job that provides the cash to support these traditions. Many people don't live entirely in their trapping cabin year-round, generating only the cash they make off their trap line. I recognize the Department of ENR administers the Hunters and Trappers' Disaster Compensation Program, and I am concerned that the qualifications for this program may leave many harvesters in my region without support.

Last spring, in my riding, we experienced high water levels that did not go down to previous levels this year, while I watched other water levels on the Great Slave Lake basin reach unprecedented levels this fall. We have seen the severe impacts from flooding in the southern portions of the territory and, as well, in the northern portions. I am concerned for hunters and trappers in my riding. It is unknown what the spring melt will bring. If the water continues to go up, many cabins will be flooded in my region.

Mr. Speaker, hunting and trapping and harvesting is a way of life. These are skills that take many years to refine, and it costs money to practice. Many harvesters in my region may not generate 20 percent of their annual income through harvesting and trapping, but that does not make their pursuit of traditional skills any less important. I am concerned that, if the flooding occurs in the Mackenzie Delta this spring, many cabins will be flooded and many harvesters will be negatively impacted and may even give up their traditional way of life. I will have questions for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources on this later. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Hunters and Trappers' Disaster Compensation
Members' Statements

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Medevac Support
Members' Statements

Page 2344

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today, I am bringing up medevac services in our small communities in the Delta. It has been brought to my attention that we've been having undue delays in services in the communities that are requiring medevac services to bring patients from the communities into Inuvik or beyond. I am wanting to know, in regard to making sure that the Beaufort-Delta is given the service that is required in this urgent nature, because the communities I represent in Nunakput, three of them are air-serviced, and one is by road. I got a few calls from families on delays of service, and it's not right, because of pilots being timed out on their flying time; or if it's not the pilots, it's the staff. We need to reassure the constituents that we are able to provide that service of medical travel for medevac in the Delta. Mr. Speaker, I'll have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Medevac Support
Members' Statements

Page 2344

The Chair Lesa Semmler

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Oh, sorry. I missed one. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 2344

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Mr. Speaker, you can't hide from me. I want to speak about International Women's Day, which, of course, is on Monday. My statement last year celebrated the near-parity achieved in the 2019 territorial election. That gave women MLAs influence on shaping the priorities of the 19th Assembly, to reflect areas where women usually have primary responsibility. On this year's International Women's Day, I want to talk about how to maintain parity in the Legislative Assembly and how to bring more women into levels of government.

We need to build a pipeline to ensure women are ready and able to take on political leadership in the next Assembly. Building a pipeline of female candidates is not going to be easy. Women face challenges to running for office because of the need to modify caregiving roles for children and elders, to work long hours, and to live in a different community from their family. Add to that the challenge of political culture in Canada. Women in public life are harassed online and in person, regularly accused of stupidity and corruption, and held to unrealistic expectations of how they will spend their time while trying to balance their personal lives.

Mr. Speaker, politics is not a career for the faint of heart; it's a 24-7 pressure cooker. Why bother? Because public service is a calling, an opportunity to make a difference, where laws are made, policy written, and budgets developed. Thinking about universal daycare, better student outcomes, more seniors housing? This is where these ideas are debated and sometimes realized. It's a place where passion meets purpose for the greater good of NWT residents.

Once a woman has decided to run for office, there is the question of how to and how much it's going to cost. We have a good answer now to how to: the Women's Advisory Unit created a campaign school for women running for elected positions of all kinds. It's available online to anyone at any time. The question of how to pay for a campaign is an unfinished piece of business. The special committee on increasing the representation of women in the Legislative Assembly heard that the cost of a campaign is a barrier to running. As a result, the committee recommended that there be an election expense rebate program to off set expenses for all candidates, men and women. Rebates are currently available in eight provinces and at the federal level. I resurfaced this idea to the current rules and procedures committee last year, and I am delighted they have recommended adoption of a rebate program for the 2023 election. I look forward to debating this idea in Committee of the Whole.

Mr. Speaker, the next territorial election is two and a half years away. That may seem like a long time, but we all know it's not. Now is the time for women to consider a career in politics, confirm their passion to make a difference through public service, and line up family support. I encourage every woman here to reach out to women she knows to talk about running. Those of us here now have a duty to help make the 2019 election gains for women sustainable. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Page 2344

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife Centre. Members' statements. Item 4, returns to oral questions. Item 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Item 6, acknowledgements. Member for Frame Lake.

Acknowledgement 3-19(2): Anna Seagrave - Youth Category Recipient, 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Awards
Acknowledgements

Page 2345

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I am very pleased to congratulate my constituent Anna Seagrave for her selection as the Youth Category winner of the 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Awards. Ms. Seagrave has practiced the art of Inuit throat singing from her early years, and last year, volunteered her time teaching Weledeh Catholic School students her traditional art. Her instruction provides fulfillment for young women seeking cultural expression and creativity. Congratulations to Anna.

Acknowledgement 3-19(2): Anna Seagrave - Youth Category Recipient, 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Awards
Acknowledgements

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Acknowledgements. Member for Great Slave.

Acknowledgement 4-19(2): Marino Casebeer - Elder Category Recipient, 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Awards
Acknowledgements

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Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to give recognition to an exceptional Great Slave constituent. Congratulations to Marino Casebeer for receiving the Outstanding Elder Award. Marino is a 2020 recipient of the NWT Outstanding Volunteer Awards and contributes to making the community of Great Slave and our entire territory an excellent place to live. Congratulations to Marino. Thank you.

Acknowledgement 4-19(2): Marino Casebeer - Elder Category Recipient, 2020 Outstanding Volunteer Awards
Acknowledgements

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Acknowledgements. Item 7, oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.