This is page numbers 5051 - 5086 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 housing.

Topics

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

November 3rd, 2022

Page 5080

The Chair Ronald Bonnetrouge

I now call Committee of the Whole to order. What is the wish of committee? Member for Great Slave.

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

Page 5080

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Sorry, just chatting about housing, Mr. Chair. Mr. Chair, I move that the chair rise and report progress.

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

Page 5080

The Chair Ronald Bonnetrouge

Mahsi. There's a motion on the floor to report progress. The motion is in order and non-debatable. All those in favour? It's unanimous. Motion is carried.

---Carried

I will now rise and report progress.

---SHORT RECESS

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

Page 5080

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

May I have the report for Committee of the Whole. Member for Deh Cho.

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

Page 5080

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Madam Speaker, your committee has been considering Bill 23, Bill 29, Minister's Statement 264-19(2), Tabled Document 681-19(2), Tabled Document 694-19(2), and would like to report progress. And Madam Speaker, I move that the report of the Committee of the Whole be concurred with. Mahsi.

Report Of Committee Of The Whole
Report Of Committee Of The Whole

Page 5080

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you. Do I have a seconder? Member for Yellowknife North. All those in favour? All those opposed? Abstentions? The motion's carried.

---Carried

Third reading of bills. Minister of Finance.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5081

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Madam Speaker, I move, seconded by the honourable Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, that Bill 71, Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, be read for the third time. And Madam Speaker, I would request a recorded vote.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5081

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Yellowknife North.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5081

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Madam Speaker. When the capital budget was first introduced, I had a number of requests that would require my vote, and they were the same requests I've made for repeated years. They're largely ones of information, Madam Speaker. I do appreciate the Minister's new approach to passing more realistic capital budgets. I was informed today we may or may not have an asset management plan; it's certainly something I've never seen. But I'd like to go through what I would expect to be in a capital budget, and it would largely be an asset management plan.

The first question would be, what do you own? There is no public listing of what GNWT current assets we own. The second question required in an asset management plan is, what is it worth? The tangible capital assets in the public accounts put it at about $3.6 billion but we know many of our assets have amortized to zero net book value. I think if you took the modern replacement value of all of our assets, we're in 10, $20 billion territory. We know that the power corp does have an asset management plan, and it is a very, very terrifying number, the costs that they need to replace their assets. But that's not public information for the GNWT.

What is the condition of our assets? I know the department does, you know, both on our vertical and our horizontal inspections, but we also know that our deferred maintenance backlog is in the tens of millions of dollars behind. And I think it's generally fair to say that the condition of all of our infrastructure is in poor shape.

What needs to be done? This is the next question in the asset management plan, and this is a bit of a prioritizing. What is the immediate things, what are things not in compliance with building codes? That's not public information.

What do you need to do it? This is a question not just about money; it's about, you know, do we have the specialties, do we have the staff, and we know we've kind of landed on this $250 million a year figure that that's about the capacity of this territory to deliver capital. And so it should inform all of our next 20, 30 years of planning. I don't think the labour shortage for skilled trades is going to get any better any time soon. So that has to figure into our decision-making.

How much will it actually cost? This is both an operations and maintenance, a deferred maintenance, and a replacement cost question.

And lastly, how will we pay for it?

All of this information should be contained in any asset management plan. These are the questions we require all of our municipalities to answer before they are provided with money. It is not something the GNWT states publicly. And I think, you know, recently I heard a power corp official describe the increasing rate increases the risk of a death spiral. And what happens is if those rates go much higher, they're going to lose customers and then they're not going to have the money to replace their very aging hydro infrastructure let alone the hundreds of kilometres of transmission lines and new infrastructure they are planning to build.

We've heard repeatedly in this House the state of our housing corp infrastructure. They know that their capital is way behind, definitely in need of maintenance. If we are ever going to actually address the housing crisis, we know it's at least a billion dollars; I have heard the president of the housing corp say. MTS repeatedly states that their entire fleet is aging out; it is in need of replacement. I'll note during this process, the power corp, we get zero information of that. It's not included in our capital budgeting process. I get that but I think it would be helpful to include the power corp as an information item just as we do housing corp, similar for MTS.

You know, there's no public reporting on the states of our roads and bridges. I know we do inspections of them. I know we're spending hundreds of millions of dollars to both replace current bridges that are well outdated and to build some very, very significant new bridges. All of this information I think exists in different places in the GNWT, but it's not coherently presented. All we get is this one-time snapshot that doesn't even show me what has actually been spent. It doesn't show me what's being spent in future years.

I know there's this debate about whether I can get the information publicly about what a project is projected to cost before tendering. But nowhere do we actually publish what the final cost of any projects were. That's information I had to repeatedly ask for on the floor of this House. Nowhere did we find out whether those projects are actually on time and on budget. We've seen what the Fort Good Hope seniors complex, as an example; that it fell off the budget years ago but is in nowhere complete, nowhere on time, and nowhere on budget. I think some sort of regular reporting of whether we are actually delivering this $250 million we are about to pass is actually going to get built and what's going to occur with it.

We know there have been years and years of delays, and there is a variety of reasons for what those delays are. But I think that all needs to be publicly recorded and it needs to be included when the Cabinet comes forward and asks for hundreds of millions of dollars in new spending. Those questions need to be answered, and they need to be answered publicly. For that reason and those reasons, I won't be in favour of this capital budget. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5082

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you. To the motion. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5082

Edjericon

Yeah, thank you, Madam Speaker. There was an article in CBC Report that the Northwest Territories will receive $60 million over two years to tackle the territory housing crisis from federal budget directing $10.1 million to housing. But how that funding will be allocated in the NWT isn't clear. Well, Madam Speaker, it's clear now that -- in this budget that we're going to spend $35 million fixing up public housing already in the communities. But the CMHC provides funding to the Housing Corporation for maintenance -- operation and maintenance. And I'm not sure why we're putting more money into it when it's not a housing crisis. We have housing crisis already in our communities, and that's where the money should be directed.

For this year, the money's already been spoken for. For like I said earlier, the train left the station. Well, I wasn't involved in that, on that train, and decisions were already been made. But I'm saying next year, that this additional $30 million coming from Ottawa, those monies should be really directed to Indigenous governments so that they are able to deal with their own housing crisis as it is. Right now we're not meeting those housing crises right now. For that I am going to reserve my decision on this budget. Thank you.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5082

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Thank you. To the motion. Member for Great Slave.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5082

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Madam Speaker. Madam Speaker, I do agree a lot with both what my colleagues have said so far about the capital estimates.

When I look at our budgets and the way things have changed and the supplement -- the appropriation acts that are coming through, I see a lot of missed opportunity. I think that over the last several years we've lagged on projects that could have kept a lot of our Northwest Territories businesses going. Just the amount of money that we're now not spending and are moving into future years I think speaks volumes to that. Unfortunately, I don't think the GNWT is able to execute projects in a timely or cost-effective manner. And as such, then I do echo the comments of my colleague from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh, that rather than spending more money on the government bloat and the administrative glut, that we put that money into the hands of Indigenous governments going forward and Indigenous organizations and allow them to take on their own projects, empower them to do their own work. And, you know, I have to say I think the GNWT has failed over the last several years to keep our economy going with capital spending. And as such, it's time to give the Indigenous governments a shot at it. Thank you, Madam Speaker.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5082

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

To the motion.

Bill 71: Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024, Carried
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5082

Some Hon. Members

Question