This is page numbers 3665 - 3710 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 know.

Topics

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, with respect to the vaccination policy, accommodations to begin with, I can advise that no employees have submitted a medical reason at this point for not providing proof of vaccination. We don't have any duty to accommodation files in this regard.

Mr. Speaker, less than 5 percent of the GNWT's workforce, or approximately 325 employees, have opted to use enhanced PPE and testing rather than providing a proof of vaccination.

As for early retirement, Mr. Speaker, I don't expect employees to give reasons for when they choose to retire or why they might choose to retire. I have no information or awareness that there are any who have chosen to retire as a result of vaccination policies. Similarly, no one has been terminated, Mr. Speaker.

If someone's choosing to resign right now, they well have done so during the course of the pandemic but I have no indication that there's been any resignations as a result of vaccination policies.

Mr. Speaker, only 13 employees out of the some 5,000 or so that we have with the public service are currently on leave without pay. One of those actually, I think, may have indeed provided a proof of vaccination and is going to be heading back to work. So that would put us down at around 12. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister confirm the breakdown by Indigenous and non-Indigenous employees, specifically those who have, I guess in this instance who are using the enhanced PPE and testing and leave without pay, due to the vaccine policies? Thank you.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't have a breakdown of the 320 or so employees who are opting for the PPE option. I can certainly see if we do have that breakdown.

With respect to the 12 or so who are on leave without pay, that's too small a number, Mr. Speaker, and I'd be concerned about identifying individuals who have made that option. So I don't know that I'll be able to break that down. But I will look into the other number for the Member. Thank you.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister, for those employees placed on leave without pay, will those persons eventually be terminated if they're not vaccinated or will they be on leave without pay indefinitely with the possibility of returning to their work positions at a future date? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So again, to reiterate, Mr. Speaker, no one has been terminated. And coming back from leave without pay, really, it just depends on the reasons why they're on leave without pay. For those -- and I'm assuming the numbers that I have are reflective only of those who may be on leave without pay likely or very likely because of the federal travel requirements or federal regulations on their federal -- federally-regulated locations, as such we may be in a situation where we're waiting on the federal government to modify their policies. And I did certainly take note of the Member's statement earlier about ensuring that we are doing our part to on top of what's happening in that regard. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Hay River South.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister confirm what discussion, if any, has taken place been your department and -- her department and the federal government with respect to how the federal government vaccination policies is affecting not only employees and contractors but potentially our communities as well? Will the Minister commit to asking the federal government for relaxation on air travel in the NWT? Thank you.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The lead thus far in terms of ensuring that communities and residents of the Northwest Territories continue to have access to the necessary services that often involve a flight has really fallen thus far with the Minister of Health and that -- as was I think discussed earlier in the Member's statement, there are concessions available for individuals who are not vaccinated so that they can get access to medical care and have family reunification.

As far as seeking adaptations of the regulations solely for the handful of employees who may be choosing to not get vaccinated, Mr. Speaker, I don't know that that's going to get us very far. I will certainly commit, as I've said, to ensure that we continue to monitor, that we are staying on top of what's happening with the public service federally but also with other jurisdictions. And as we've done throughout the policy, this vaccination policy for the public service will be flexible and responsive as the pandemic continues to evolve. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 963-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Vaccine Policy
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Question 964-19(2): Taltson Hydro Expansion Project
Oral Questions

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Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of Infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering to date how much funding has been secured and spent on the Taltson Hydro Expansion?

Question 964-19(2): Taltson Hydro Expansion Project
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Oral questions. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Question 964-19(2): Taltson Hydro Expansion Project
Oral Questions

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Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you. Since 2018, the federal government has allotted $20 million to the GNWT to advance the Taltson Expansion Project. It's important to note that this is 100 percent federal funding. The funding has supported the establishment of partnerships with Indigenous governments as well as the collection of information to be able to define the project and move it towards so that we could get our regulatory applications. The discussions with the federal government are ongoing in regards to the continued financial support so that we could get this project moving forward. Quyananni.

Question 964-19(2): Taltson Hydro Expansion Project
Oral Questions

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Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, what is today's estimated cost of the total project, and what is the status of securing that funding as federal funding? Up here in the Northwest Territories, we love 100 percent federal dollars, and we will take as many as we can get our hands on. Thank you.

Question 964-19(2): Taltson Hydro Expansion Project
Oral Questions

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Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Quyananni. A preliminary cost estimate for the project renewed in 2019 estimated the project construction costs in the range of $1.5 billion. It is very important to note that this is preliminary costs estimate which will be reviewed and refined as our work to define the scope is advanced. Significant financial support from the federal government is key, again, to move this project forward.

The GNWT maintains active communication with both Canada infrastructure bank and officials from the Crown Indigenous relations as well as Northern Affairs Canada so that we can have potential -- so that potential funders are informed on the project as it progresses. Discussions and correspondence at the political level have also occurred. There is much interest from the federal government in this green energy project. Quyananni.

Question 964-19(2): Taltson Hydro Expansion Project
Oral Questions

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Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering if the Minister can speak to the status of discussions to secure partnerships on this project. In order to make this project really worthwhile for the NWT, the GNWT is going to need to secure both purchasers and also ensure that it has the support of partners like Indigenous governments. Thank you.