This is page numbers 1 - 44 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 --.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Mr. Lafferty, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 1

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Colleagues, before we begin, I just want to thank you the CPHO and the Department of Health for the great news today for the Beaufort Delta. Everybody up in the Delta is very happy now that they get to travel to the Yukon so I am sure Canadian Tire and everything will be empty by next week.

Okay, Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister's statement 167-19(2): Tourism Week 2021 and Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

Page 1

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, we continue to navigate our every changing circumstances as the pandemic continues around the world. And After a long winter, I am sure we are all looking for a summer of fresh air and outdoor activities. The Northwest Territories parks are ready for visitors. We have already received a record number of registrations from residents across the territory. In 2020, registrations from Northwest Territories residents booking overnight stays in territorial parks increased by 46 percent and already this year we are see a further increase of 15 on top of 2020's already impressive numbers.

Building off this momentum, the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has recently released of a new logo and branding for Northwest Territories parks. This new look will be reflected in all of the marketing and communication platforms for NWT parks, allowing us to position our parks locally, nationally, and globally, as premier wilderness destinations.

With that said, tourism remains one of the hardest hit industries globally. The NWT had been enjoying increases in visitors year over year and people now know, and want to experience what our unique and beautiful home has to offer. Many Northwest Territories' tourism businesses are adapting their company models to make sure they are ready when visitors return after travel restrictions are lifted. And We, as a territory, must support our tourism operators and businesses as best we can. As a government, we must provide the support to help keep them in business.

Mr. Speaker, last week was Tourism Week across the country. This year, to mark this national event, we developed a campaign that involved interviewing Northwest Territories residents who took advantage of the adventures and experiences available across our territory. They enthusiastically recounted their stories and shared their pictures. So many people across the Northwest Territories supported tourism operators and had, in their own words, some of their best travel experiences ever.

It is inspiring to see the resilience operators and businesses have demonstrated, and adapted to focus on opportunities for residents, while we wait for the pandemic to ease. The tourism industry has offered innovative packages tailored to all budgets and opened residents' eyes to the world-class experiences we have right here in our backyards. With every booking, we have shown operators how much we value their contribution to the economy. In return, they have given us a new appreciation that the Northwest Territories is truly spectacular.

Mr. Speaker, Tourism Week is only one way we continue to celebrate and support the tourism industry. Building on the momentum of past supports, like the digital boot camp training for operators to enhance their online profiles and in-market presence in partnership with Northwest Territories Tourism, as well as the Growth and Recovery by Investing in Tourism program, delivered through a funding collaboration with the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Very soon, we hope to launch the newest support programs to bring relief to the tourism and accommodation industries; the Pandemic Relief Extension Program, or PREP, for licensed tourism operators, and the Supplement for Tourism Accommodation Relief, or STAR, for accommodation providers who have three or more rooms.

The federal government has been a critical partner throughout the year, and they are planning to continue supports through federal recovery programs. However, we know that the STAR and PREP programs are also going to be needed to continue supporting relief measures for these heavily impacted sectors.

Accommodation providers in the Northwest Territories have been particularly impacted by the COVID-19. Average occupancy levels for hotels reporting from statistics dropped from 65 percent in 2019 down to 39 percent in 2020.

The STAR program will provide financial assistance for eligible expenses to accommodation providers in the Northwest Territories with three rooms or more and helps to continue the support for the sector that CanNor offered through their Northern Business Relief Fund.

Mr. Speaker, although there are positive signs for our tourism restart as the territorial and national vaccination programs gain momentum, the majority of tourism operators cannot maintain their businesses without some form of support. In the fall of 2020, 75 percent of tourism businesses had reported a decline in revenues of 50 percent or more.

The PREP will provide relief for eligible fixed costs to licensed tourism operators at a minimum of $2,500 to a maximum of $100,000. While home-based tourism businesses were not eligible for the federal relief through the NBRF, they will be eligible for relief funding under the PREP.

Mr. Speaker, our tourism operators have demonstrated their resilience through their adaptation and refocus under never-before-seen conditions. When our travel restrictions ease, we are confident our tourism industry will rebound and continue to grow into one of the most robust areas of economic diversification in the Northwest Territories, supporting one of our primary mandates. We know that visitors are looking forward to returning, and we want to make sure our tourism industry is ready to welcome them with the unique experiences and opportunities that make our territory spectacular. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's statement 167-19(2): Tourism Week 2021 and Initiatives
Ministers' Statements

Page 1

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Education, Culture, and Employment.

Minister's Statement 168-19(2): Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Awards
Ministers' Statements

Page 1

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, the arts, culture, heritage and language play an integral part in creating a strong and sustainable territory. Living without access to live music, art shows, craft fairs, traditional events and seasonal festivities because of the pandemic has highlighted the beauty, tradition, celebration and community that arts, culture, language and heritage bring into our lives. This past year has also shown the resiliency and creativity of the many individuals and organizations who have found ways to continue to bring us together even when we are apart.

In celebration of these individuals and organizations, Mr. Speaker, I am proud to announce this year's recipients of the Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Awards, all of whom are leaders in protecting, promoting, and preserving heritage and culture.

In the Individual category, I would like to recognize Myrna Pokiak from Yellowknife. Myrna shares her formal and land-based education with her community. She promotes her culture through developing cultural awareness programs and was recently asked to design a celebratory coin marking 150 years since the NWT joined Canada.

In the Youth category, Kaysea Fountain from Fort Resolution. Kaysea has emerged as a cultural role model to her peers and a true champion of her ancestral language - Dëne Suliné Yatié.

In the Elders category, Rosalind Mercredi from Yellowknife. Rosalind has been a catalyst for many art events, including the 2020 Ice-olation Art Shows which allowed people to enjoy the arts despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the Group category, Collège Nordique Francophone from Yellowknife. Collège Nordique has demonstrated outstanding leadership with their efforts to build awareness among Northerners about the importance of protecting, preserving, and celebrating the North's unique cultures and ways of life.

As well, this year a new category was added to recognize the important work of promoting, preserving, and protecting Indigenous languages. This award is presented to any individual or group whose efforts increase the presence, visibility, use, or scope of languages in communities. I am proud to award the first Indigenous Languages category award to Angelina Fabien from Fort Resolution for her work in reviving her ancestral language - Chipewyan.

Each year, Mr. Speaker, I also have the discretion as Minister to present the Minister's Choice Award to an exemplary person or group who embodies the spirit and purpose of the Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle.

This year, I am honoured to present this award to Lawrence Nayally from Wrigley, Pehdzeh Ki. Lawrence was raised by his grandparents, Dora and Boniface Nayally. Through the example set by his grandparents and his community, he developed a love of language, culture, identity and storytelling. Lawrence has volunteered with youth, taught Dené games with the Aboriginal Sports Circle, created music with Juno Award winning artist Leela Gilday, and was featured in the powerful documentary Nahanni: River of Forgiveness. He has done advocacy work through Idle No More and helped to create Dené Nahjo, a group working to advance social and environmental justice for Northern peoples and promote Indigenous leadership.

Over the years, listeners of CKLB and CBC's Trail's End have been treated to Lawrence's insights into his Dené life, heritage, and language. He regularly offers pronunciation guides, including definitions of Dené Zhatie words that encourage the revitalization of language.

Early in his life, Lawrence set out to make a difference for the North and the people that call this place home. He has used his life and career to inspire others through his messages of hope and his vision for the future of the Dené. For that, I am honoured to recognize Lawrence Nayally with the Minister's Choice Award.

This year, in light of the current public health measures, we are honouring all of our winners virtually through a celebratory video featuring all of the award winners and further information on their important work. The video can be viewed on the Government of the Northwest Territories YouTube channel and Facebook page.

Mr. Speaker, I invite all Members of this House to join me in honouring this year's Culture and Heritage Circle Award recipients and thanking them for their leadership and passion in promoting and celebrating our incredible Northern cultures, languages, and heritage. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 168-19(2): Minister's Culture and Heritage Circle Awards
Ministers' Statements

Page 2

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Minister's Statement 169-19(2): Homeownership Initiative
Ministers' Statements

Page 2

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes that owning your own home leads to physical security as well as emotional and financial security. Our goal, our mandate, is to increase the number of affordable homes and reduce the core housing need across the territory. Throughout my time being responsible for the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation, I have made it my priority to listen to community members and look for resolutions to the barriers that have been identified.

The NWT Housing Corporation has been working diligently, and in partnership with Indigenous groups, community governments, and the private sector, to meet this commitments through a variety of programs and initiatives including the Home Ownership Initiative.

This initiative targets current Housing Corporation rental clients who have the ability to manage and succeed as homeowners. Part of that means the financial resources to pay for the shelter costs and utilities involved in being a homeowner. Another part involves taking care of the maintenance issues each year to ensure greater longevity of their homes.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Housing Corporation recognizes that we must also support these households in their transition. Moving from renter to homeownership brings on more responsibilities, and people need to be prepared. To ensure this, tenants will be provided with the tools to become successful homeowners such as additional counselling, as well as maintenance and repair courses, and courses on developing financial skills.

Mr. Speaker, under the initiative, rental clients enter into a forgivable loan agreement with the Housing Corporation that facilitates the transition to homeownership. Forgivable loan agreements are for a period of three years or five years depending on the value of the home. Approved program participants are also eligible for $20,000 in financial assistance for desired upgrades to their home. I strongly encourage anyone who may be interested in this program to reach out to the Housing districts or check the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation website for more information on this program. Communication is also going out directly to the tenants, as well informing them of the initiative.

Mr. Speaker, the homeownership initiative provides a great opportunity to add more homeowners to the Northwest Territories. Being a homeowner is something that many of us ourselves and our families need. I am pleased that this program will be able to help make this ambition a reality for many residents. I also want to talk the Housing Corporation staff who have worked diligently to find solutions, expressing ideas, programs to meet the needs of our future homeownership clients. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 169-19(2): Homeownership Initiative
Ministers' Statements

Page 2

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Aging in Place with Dignity
Members' Statements

Page 2

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, one of the priorities of this government is to enable seniors to age in place with dignity. It is great a sound byte with no real plan and limited action from this government.

Mr. Speaker, there are seniors living in their homes who are bedridden with limited support. There are seniors housebound because they are in a wheelchair and without a wheelchair ramp. There are seniors living in homes that are in need of major repair. We have seniors living in homes where the wooden basement and structure is being compromised by frost heaves. We have seniors without homes who are living on the street. We evict seniors from public housing units. We have seniors locked up in extended care facilities with limited interaction with others. We promise more homecare support but have no plan and no budget. We house seniors from the south while those born and raised here go without. We have seniors who are abused by family members and we do nothing. And we have seniors who are abused and neglected by this very government and, again, we do nothing.

Mr. Speaker, I can go on and on but the reality is that this government needs to step up and address all these issues I mentioned. It is not the responsibility of one department; it is the responsibility of several and all of us working together. To start, we all need to show compassion and respect for seniors. We need to listen to all seniors and not just those that have the means to get our attention.

Mr. Speaker, seniors want to see a commitment and a plan from this government that will allocate the financial and human resources that will allow them to age at home with dignity, that will provide those without a home with suitable housing or accommodations, that will provide them the care they require to stay healthy and safe, and to provide each with a quality of life and a quality of living that we would want for our own parents.

Mr. Speaker, I ask each of the Ministers sitting across from me if they are up to the challenge? Will they commit to making a difference for seniors, and I ask each if they will start now. And before answering that, to consider what they would want and find acceptable for their own parents. Thank you.

Aging in Place with Dignity
Members' Statements

Page 2

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

State of Housing in Nunakput
Members' Statements

Page 2

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in March of last year, I brought up the urgency of housing and the housing crisis in Nunakput. Since then, I've had more concerns from my constituents regarding the state of housing in the communities. There are no market housing in the communities in Nunakput, and the NWT Housing Corporation does not have enough houses to address the issues. The lack of housing we have in the public housing.

Public housing units in Nunakput are ageing, Mr. Speaker. Houses are that we have built in 1970 and the '80s now need retrofits. I'm getting messages about needing new windows because when a certain wind blows, it's blowing snow right into the unit now. We need new windows and doors. In Paulatuk, I got a call from the mayor saying that he was at his daughter's house one night and he could almost -- he had to put blankets on the floors for them to walk in because it's so cold.

So the overcrowding, again, Mr. Speaker, with that needs is a big issue in my riding, especially with everything happening with COVID and the pandemic. Overcrowding in the houses is extra stress, frustration, making an already severe crisis and addictions and mental health and challenges make worse for families being overcrowded. There's still a lack of single units in each community. How young people are supposed to return to home to their communities and start families or just come home to live and work? Some people have to live in overcrowded shacks as they have been evicted and are waiting for housing, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, the local housing organizations are doing their best with what limited resources that they have, but -- I'm grateful for the work that they do, but we require additional support from the NWT Housing Corporation. We need to work together with the Minister, Mr. Speaker, for the small communities outside of Yellowknife. We need to -- she needs to see this firsthand, understand the urgency of the situation that we're in in my riding.

Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister later today. Thank you.

State of Housing in Nunakput
Members' Statements

Page 2

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

CLimate Emergency
Members' Statements

Page 3

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. In our last sitting, I made a statement on this government's less than adequate first attempt at integrated climate change reporting. Unfortunately, there was not much to report given the lack of progress over the last year. This may have been partially due to COVID but is also rooted in the faulty design of the climate change approach from the last Cabinet that carries over into this Assembly.

So what's changed since February? Our neighbour to the west has joined a growing international movement to plan and implement more stringent emission targets to keep this planet from going completely off the rails. The Yukon government has committed to a target of net zero by 2050. While doing this, the Yukon also established and held its first meeting of a youth panel on climate change.

Meanwhile in Europe, a group of German youth took their government to court over climate change inaction and they won. Germany's constitutional court, on April 29, sided with nine young Germans against their federal government. The court agreed the country's landmark climate legislation, passed in 2019, put too much of a burden on future generations and didn't take enough responsibility in the present. Gee, the same thing could be said about our weak and totally unachievable climate change approach that is back-end loaded with Taltson expansion for which there is no funding, no buyers, and no plan.

An Ontario youth group is also taking their provincial government to court over inaction during the climate emergency and another group of youth are taking our federal government to court. I suspect that NWT youth are also watching these court cases closely.
Meanwhile, our dinosaur approach from the last Cabinet continues to creep mostly backwards with only a commitment to review where we are at in 2023 at the conclusion of this Assembly - a recipe for inaction and disaster.

I will have questions for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources as the apparent lead Minister on climate change. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

CLimate Emergency
Members' Statements

Page 3

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.