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

Page 5080

The Chair

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

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

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

November 3rd, 2022

Page 5080

The Deputy Speaker

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

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

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.

Caroline Wawzonek

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.

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

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

Rylund Johnson

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.

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

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

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.

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

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

Katrina Nokleby

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.

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

To the motion.

Some Hon. Members

Question

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

Question has been called. The Minister of Finance has requested a recorded vote. All those in favour, please rise.

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Yellowknife South, the Member for Sahtu, the Member for Range Lake, the Member for Inuvik Boot Lake, the Member for Yellowknife Centre, the Member for Hay River North, the Member for Deh Cho, the Member for Hay River South, the Member for Kam Lake, the Member for Nunakput, the Member for Monfwi, the Member for Great Slave, the Member for Nahendeh.

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

All those opposed, please rise.

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Yellowknife North.

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

All those abstaining, please rise.

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

The Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

The results of the recorded vote is 13 in favour, one opposed, and one abstention. The motion is carried. Bill 71 has had third reading.

---Carried

Third reading of bills.

Members, I will ask you to now close your laptops and phones down. Mr. Clerk, will you ascertain if the Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, the honourable Margaret Thom, is prepared to enter the Chamber and assent to the bills.

Assent to Bills
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5083

The Commissioner Of The Northwest Territories Margaret M. Thom

Mahsi, Please be seated. Good afternoon, Madam Speaker, Premier Cochrane, Ministers, Members of the Legislative Assembly, staff and visitors in the public gallery. [No Translation].

Thank you, it is always a great feeling and an honour to be here and see all of you. Thank you for your ongoing commitment and hard work on behalf of the people of the Northwest Territories.

With deep respect, I acknowledge and am reminded that we are on Chief Drygeese traditional territory, home to the Yellowknives Dene, the North Slave Metis, and Inuit. We are grateful to live, to work, to celebrate on your sacred lands and to welcome as visitors.

I further extend my respect to all Indigenous, Metis, Inuit, and non-Indigenous people who make the Northwest Territories their home. It is my honour to take this moment to remember the dedication and proud service made by current and past brave members of the Canadian Armed Forces.

Remembrance Day is Friday, November 11th, and it is a day when we remember and honour all who left their homes and families to fight for our country and, more importantly, for our freedoms. Some of these brave men and women never returned home. They died serving Canada.

As your Commissioner, I will proudly take part in the Remembrance Day ceremony in Hay River this year, and I will remember and honour the fallen and their ultimate sacrifice for our country.

It is with deep respect and pride that I mention a postage stamp that was issued by Canada Post on October 17th. It shows Sergeant Thomas "Tommy" George Prince in his Korean War uniform. Sergeant Prince is one of Canada's most decorated Indigenous war veterans and was a prominent Anishinaabe activist. He served Canada in World War II and in the Korean War. He died in 1977.

November 8 is Indigenous Veteran's Day, and on that day, I will remember and honour all Indigenous veterans by participating in the wreath ceremony at Lakeview Cemetery here in Yellowknife.

As this sitting comes to an end, I would like to wish each and every one of you good health, happiness, prosperity, a time for relaxation and a balanced lifestyle. Enjoy the blessed season that is soon upon us with your families and your constituents.

In closing, may each of you be gifted with continued guidance and vision as you work together cooperatively for the betterment of all residents of the Northwest Territories. I wish you all safety in your journey home to your loved ones.

Now, as Commissioner of the Northwest Territories, I am pleased to assent to the following bills:

  • Bill 48, Arbitration Act;
  • Bill 52, Elevators and Lifts Act;
  • Bill 53, An Act to Amend the Liquor Act;
  • Bill 58, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, No. 2;
  • Bill 59, An Act to Amend the Elections and Plebiscites Act;
  • Bill 69, Supplementary Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), No. 2, 2022-2023;
  • Bill 70, Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures), No. 2, 2022- 2023;
  • Bill 71, Appropriation Act (Infrastructure Expenditures), 2023-2024.

Masi cho. Thank you. Quyananni. Merci Beaucoup. Koana.

Assent to Bills
Third Reading Of Bills

Page 5083

The Deputy Speaker

The Deputy Speaker Lesa Semmler

You may be seated. Members, on behalf of the House, I thank the Commissioner, the Honourable Margaret M., Thom, for being here today. It is always a pleasure to have her in the chamber.

I'd like to thank the pages who have been with us for this sitting. It is wonderful to see our youth with us in the chamber. I hope you have learned a little about how our unique form of consensus and how it works, and that you will stay interested in the Legislative Assembly where your representatives make decisions that will affect your lives now and in the future. Please keep up the good work.

I'd like to also encourage all our pages and all of our youth throughout the territory to learn about our Youth Parliament Program. Each year we host students in grade 9 to 10 from across the territory and hold a model session here. They have the opportunity to speak to and debate issues of importance. If you think you would be interested in the youth parliament, I encourage you to apply.

Thank you also to the interpreters who have joined us for this sitting and put up with us and our fast talking. Our languages are vital to our cultures and we honour our official languages by using them. The interpreters make this possible for us.

Members, I finally want to take a moment to thank our long-serving Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Brian Thagard. We don't typically acknowledge our staff for their vital contributions to our successes; however, this is the last sitting of the Assembly before his upcoming and well-deserved retirement. So today I am making an exception to recognize Mr. Thagard for his hard work and dedication. Mr. Thagard has had a 32-year career with the Government of the Northwest Territories, and for the past 18 years he has served this institution as our Sergeant-at-Arms, making him the longest currently serving Sergeant-at-Arms in Canada.

---Applause

I know he doesn't like limelight. His greatest satisfaction is keeping the lights on, as he would say, so I will keep this short.

As Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Thagard has helped run a wonderful page program, bringing in youth from across the territory and giving them an experience that otherwise would not be available to them. He was also integral in setting up our direct-to-home broadcasting system, including appearing at the CRTC hearings in support of our application to have our proceedings designated as a must-carry channel on direct-to-home satellite television throughout the territory. As Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Thagard has overseen the security, operations, and improvements to the Legislative Assembly building for nearly two decades. We consider this building to be a place of the people, and we see the philosophy throughout the work of Mr. Thagard and his team. The improvements he has overseen to improve both accessibility and security in this building are a great example of how he has been able to strike the necessary balance between running a safe and secure Legislative Assembly building while ensuring that the building and our proceedings remain open and accessible to the public.

Brian, you have been a part of this Assembly for so long that most of us cannot remember or imagine this place without your dedication and leadership. While I know that we have recommended the appointment of a very capable successor, we know that you will be missed. On behalf of this institution, I wish you and your wife Patrizia the very best in the next stages of your life. Brian, the world is your oyster; make the best of every day.

Members, next Friday, November 11th, is Remembrance Day, and I encourage each of you, and all Northerners, to take some time to reflect upon and honour those who have served this country in the Canadian Armed Forces. These brave men and women dedicated, and in some cases gave their lives, to fight for our country and to make a better future for each of us. In these troubled times, their service and sacrifice are deserving of our gratitude more than ever. Members, please join me in thanking our veterans and serving members of our armed forces.

---Applause

Members, although this House will not sit again until the new year, we will remain busy. Our days will be filled with ongoing business of committees and government and our most important work serving our constituents. It's still a few weeks away, but as we enter the upcoming holiday season, I ask that you take some time to reflect upon what this season means to you. I also remind you to take the time to celebrate with your family and friends. Let them know how much they mean to you and how much you value their love and support and show them that they are appreciated.

This is the time of year can be difficult for many people. If you find yourself having a difficult time, please reach out. There are many people who care about you and who are willing to help you in any way they can. If somebody else is having a hard time or you believe that they may be, please make a point of checking on them. As Northerners, we help each other, we support each other, and we rely on each other. As we celebrate the holidays, please remember to do so safely. Travel safely on our roads and on the land. Thank you, colleagues.

I'd also like to take the time to -- this is Jennifer Franki-Smith, our clerk's last day in the House as when we return in February, she'll not be here and she may not be back. And we may see her if some of us get back in here in the next term. Hopefully she comes right back.

So orders of the day, Madam Clerk.

Orders Of The Day
Orders Of The Day

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Deputy Clerk Of The House Ms. Franki Smith

[No Translation] Orders of the day for Tuesday, February 7th, 2023, 1:30 p.m.

  1. Prayer
  2. Ministers' Statements
  3. Members' Statements
  4. Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery
  5. Reports of Committees on the Review of Bills
  6. Reports of Standing and Special Committees
  7. Returns to Oral Questions
  • Oral Question 1163-19(2), Homelessness
  • Oral Question 1188-19(2), Memorandum of Understanding with the Canadian Red Cross
  • Oral Question 1246-19(2), Infertility Treatment
  1. Acknowledgements
  2. Oral Questions
  3. Written Questions
  4. Returns to Written Questions
  5. Replies to the Commissioner's Address
  6. Petitions
  7. Tabling of Documents
  8. Notices of Motion
  9. Motions
  10. Notices of Motion for First Reading of Bills
  11. First Reading of Bills
  12. Second Reading of Bills
  • Bill 64, An Act to Amend the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, No. 3
  1. Consideration in Committee of the Whole of Bills and Other Matters
  • Bill 23, An Act to Amend the Public Utilities Act
  • Bill 29, Resource Royalty Information Disclosure Statute Amendment Act
  • Minster's Statement 264-19(2), Response to the NWT Chief Coroner's Report on Suicide Report of Committee of the Whole
  • Tabled Document 681-19(2), Government of the Northwest Territories Response to Committee Report 26-19(2): Report on the Child and Family Services Act - Lifting Children, Youth and Families: An All of Territory Approach to Keeping Families Together
  • Tabled Document 694-19(2): Northwest Territories Coroner Service 2021-2022 Early Release of Data
  1. Report of Committee of the Whole
  2. Third Reading of Bills
  3. Orders of the Day