This is page numbers 4163 - 4204 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 indigenous.

Topics

Members Present

Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge (remote), Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Mr. Edjericon, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O'Reilly, Ms. Semmler (remote), Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek (remote), Ms. Weyallon-Armstrong (remote).

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4163

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Minister's Statement 237-19(2): Seasonal Time Change Engagement
Ministers' Statements

Page 4163

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, twice a year we all adjust our clocks by one hour. First, we move them forward, and then we move them back. People have always questioned the wisdom of this annual tradition but in recent years a number of jurisdictions have taken concrete steps towards eliminating seasonal time change.

On Monday, April 4th, the Government of the Northwest Territories will begin a six-week public engagement to help us determine when and how we will eliminate seasonal time changes. The public engagement will invite residents to share their views on seasonal time change through an online survey. The survey, which is anonymous and only takes about five minutes to complete, will ask residents whether they want to continue changing their clocks twice a year, or if they would prefer to permanently stick with daylight saving time or standard time. We will also reach out directly to key stakeholders and partners including Indigenous governments, community governments, relevant businesses, and non-governmental organizations.

The results of the survey and the feedback we receive will be compiled in a "What We Heard" report that we anticipate releasing publicly later this year. This information, along with developments in other jurisdictions, will help us determine the best path forward for the NWT.

I encourage all Members of this House and residents to complete the survey to ensure their views are taken into consideration. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 237-19(2): Seasonal Time Change Engagement
Ministers' Statements

Page 4163

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Municipal and Community Affairs.

Minister's Statement 238-19(2): Preparing for Flooding and Emergencies
Ministers' Statements

Page 4163

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the flood of 2021 was extraordinary, and they caused life-altering hardships for so many residents, families, and communities. I am very pleased to advise that the majority of these who were impacted are now in their homes.

I would like to acknowledge the commitment and effort of the local leadership in the flooded-affected communities. It has been nearly a year since the flooding took place, and during that time leaders have been carrying out the day-to-day business of running the community government while also being shouldered with the aftermath of the flood.

This government thanks you for your efforts and your resilience. As the ice broke on the Mackenzie River and Little Buffalo River last spring, residents in several small communities witnessed the devastation as the water and ice conditions to rise and destroy or damage homes, businesses, and community infrastructure throughout the South Slave and Deh Cho regions.

As communities in the South Slave and Deh Cho region were flooding, communities to the north were able to learn in real time from their neighbors and implement response measures that helped to reduce the damage caused by these floods.

In total, the GNWT has addressed approximately 140 structures owned by private residents, small businesses, non-government organizations, and community governments - either damaged or destroyed. We have processed disaster assistance claims from impacted residents and organizations which has helped repair and replace some of those that have been lost.

The challenges caused by these floods are beyond what the Northwest Territories has experienced in the past and our government met these challenges with extraordinary and unprecedented recovery measures.
We took a centralized approach to support the recovery efforts, which allowed the GNWT to cover the repairs or replacement costs of homes. To manage those massive repair and rebuilding efforts, the GNWT coordinated contractors to complete 28 repairs, 18 home replacements in Jean Marie River, Fort Simpson, Little Buffalo, and Fort Good Hope. The total cost to the GNWT was approximately $39 million.

Work is underway to change how the GNWT undertakes disaster recovery work and how we provide disaster assistance in the future. We are conducting an after-action assessment of the 2021 flood response.

Mr. Speaker, we have learned many valuable lessons over the last year, and those lessons are helping us prepare as we must turn our attention to this year's flood season. With spring breakup coming soon, so too is the risk of more flooding in many NWT communities. No matter the water level, ice jams can cause flooding at any time. All of us, from individuals, to families, to businesses, to government, need to be ready for the possibility of flood every single year.

Throughout the winter, all emergency management partners have been doing their part to prepare for this spring. Last summer, community governments have worked hard to prepare for the upcoming flood season. Our government has been supporting this work, and communities are ready and equipped to handle the next emergency no matter when it comes.

Our emergency management staff are working closely with local governments to ensure their emergency plans are up to date. They have offered training to local governments on emergency management and are prepared to jump in and assist should local governments need it.

Mr. Speaker, being ready for emergencies is not just about government. It is about every resident's responsibility to be prepared before an emergency strikes. Our role as government is to ensure that residents understand that risk, are informed about what is happening, and are equipped with the tools that they need to stay safe and help if they can in the event of an emergency.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is rolling out a social marketing campaign called Be Ready NWT. It will appeal to the community's values and responsibilities we have to each other. It provides us with the information and the tools we need to be ready for any disaster.

We are making significant investment to make sure those messages reach all residents, using a variety of platforms - radio, social media, and newsprint.

Let us all work together to help our constituents be ready as we prepare for the upcoming flood and wildfire season this spring and summer.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 238-19(2): Preparing for Flooding and Emergencies
Ministers' Statements

Page 4163

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Minister's Statement 239-19(2): New Northwest Territories Housing Corporation Name and Identity
Ministers' Statements

Page 4163

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise again today to announce the completion of another step in the strategic renewal of the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, in a few short days, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation has been operating in the Northwest Territories for 50 years. In 1972, when the territorial law creating the corporation was passed, a different Prime Minister Trudeau was in Ottawa, and his first child Justin had just been born only a few months earlier. Canadian musician Neil Young was topping the charts with the song Heart of Gold.

Mr. Speaker, although 1972 may have been a good year for music, as I have stated in this House before as a government, we need to change to keep up with the times.

The strategic renewal of the Housing Corporation calls for a review and a refresh of the identity of the Housing Corporation. I am thrilled to stand before you to announce the changes resulting from that work.

First, beginning April 1st, 2022, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation will be known to the public as Housing NWT. This new name better reflects the new mandate and the commitment to our clients, our partners, and our staff what we are about.

We are not a business in the usual sense. We are part of an integrated social support network.

Second, Mr. Speaker, the visual identity of the corporation will change. The northern lights are an image that all residents are familiar with, and fond of, creating the feeling of connection between this land and the people who occupy it. An image of northern lights will replace the very traditional NWT shield logo surrounded by elements of a house that has represented the corporation since its earliest days.

The new visual identity and name will be implemented on a phased basis beginning April 1st in order to economize on costs.

Mr. Speaker, while we turn a page with this anniversary and the renewal of the Housing Corporation, we should also acknowledge and celebrate its past successes. This is an opportunity to reflect on where the corporation came from, and where it is going in the future.

The list of former board members of the Housing Corporation reads like a short course in the modern history of the Northwest Territories board members that include Nellie Cournoyea, Stephen Kakfwi, and Jim Antoine - all of whom went on to become Cabinet Ministers and Premiers for the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, in reflecting upon these stories past, Housing NWT will be organizing a series of activities to connect with our employees, past and present, throughout the NWT. I hope that my colleagues in this House will have the opportunity to join in some of these activities and to offer their thoughts and encouragement as we continue with the strategic renewal. I ask the public to stay tuned to print and social media for further details.

Mr. Speaker, these changes to the identity of the corporation and reflections on the past are a small but important symbolic step as we renew the corporation to meet the next 50 years. I look forward to updating the House on further actions in the renewal in the coming months.

Mr. Speaker, I do not have a story of how I first landed or relocated here to the Northwest Territories. I have lived here all my life. I can reflect on the evolving of housing in the North, I can see the effects, and the need for adequate affordable housing.

These terms are political terms but not being, as a Dene woman from Fort Good Hope and in a settled land claim area, I have had the benefit of hearing from elders and previous and current leaders. The message is clear: Listen to the people and do with respect. Don't let the politics misguide you and remember to look after your people of the North.

Mahsi to the people of the North for the information collected. Mahsi to my colleagues for identifying housing as a Number 1 priority. Mahsi to the staff of the Housing Corporation for their commitment to continue this historical work. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 239-19(2): New Northwest Territories Housing Corporation Name and Identity
Ministers' Statements

Page 4164

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Member's Statement 1060-19(2): Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone
Members' Statements

March 30th, 2022

Page 4164

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to do it in my language, Tlicho language, for some and then I am going to do some in English as well. Mr. Speaker [Translation unavailable]

Member's Statement 1060-19(2): Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone
Members' Statements

Page 4164

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Member for Monfwi, the audio's not working.

Member's Statement 1060-19(2): Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone
Members' Statements

Page 4164

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

[Translation unavailable].

I'm going to do this in English now. Mr. Speaker, I have heard many times from elders that every animal has a spirit and it is not good to talk about them all the time. So what I want to share with you today about the caribou is done with great respect.

We have an important relationship with caribou. We have been living with the caribou forever, and they have sustained us. Mr. Speaker, many elders and hunters have said -- have shared with me that it is difficult too maintain this important relationship with the caribou because of the mobile core Bathurst caribou management zone. I've heard from Tlicho people who said they drove by thousands and thousands of caribou before they got outside of the boundary.

ENR is making the boundary so big that there is no caribou outside the boundary.

Mr. Speaker, people are driving long distance and come back home without caribou to provide for their families. This is a hardship for many with the rising price of fuel, cost to maintain a skidoo, and all of the supplies needed to hunt. In the communities, the prices of groceries are so high that many people cannot purchase meat like steak or chicken that is common in Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, as I have said before I appreciate and respect the work of Indigenous governments, elders, and the respected boards on their endless work to protect and conserve the remaining Bathurst and Bluenose caribou in partnership the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

With that said, ENR budget reduction to research on Bathurst and Bluenose caribou does not line up. It doesn't make sense when caribou is considered species at risk and you reduce the research fund. Instead, more money is being put into enforcement to monitor and chase harvester in the tundra.

Mr. Speaker, as previously mentioned by director of lands and culture from Tlicho government, as a society "we need to do our part to preserve the caribou herds. With this in mind, we all have a to work together to take care of caribou." Mr. Speaker, I will have question for Minister of ENR at appropriate time. Mahsi.

Member's Statement 1060-19(2): Mobile Core Bathurst Caribou Management Zone
Members' Statements

Page 4164

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. We were having trouble with the beginning of your statement so maybe what we could do is let you go at the end. I think we did -- we will have the staff contact you to see what was missed. But everything in Tlicho was missed because we're having challenges with our audio with translation so we'll get the staff to contact you and possibly come back to you at the end of Members' statements.

Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Member's Statement 1061-19(2): Salt River First Nation Treaty Land and Entitlement Agreement
Members' Statements

Page 4164

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, on June 22nd, 2022, in just under three months, it will mark 20 years since the Salt River First Nation Treaty Land Entitlement agreement was signed at a signing ceremony in Fort Smith.

Mr. Speaker, Salt River First Nation has been very patient in their negotiations with the federal government and the Government of the Northwest Territories throughout the whole process of their treaty land and entitlement agreement. First of all, it took over a hundred years before the outstanding land provisions in Treaty 8 were finally fulfilled for Salt River. Treaty 8 was signed in June 1899, and the outstanding land provisions of the Salt River were addressed in the 2002 agreement.

Secondly, it has now been 20 years since the Treaty Land Entitlement agreement was signed, yet the agreement has not been fully implemented by the federal government and the Government of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, while the signing of the 2002 agreement was an historic occasion, it pains me to say that despite that agreement being signed, Slat River has almost nothing to show for itself in terms of advancing full implementation of the agreement. Despite the signing ceremony in 2002, there are still some sections of the agreement that continue to remain outstanding and have not been settled in subsequent trilateral negotiations with the federal and territorial governments.

For example, it was only just last year in May 2021 that the government -- that Salt River members lived on Indian Affairs' branch lands in Fort Smith were able to finally convert lands they resided on into free simple ownership.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, when this agreement was signed in 2002, all three parties agreed that they would continue negotiating on details around funding for core infrastructure and the development of the Salt River reserve. In fact, specific sections of the 2002 agreement, which remains outstanding, include:

  • The impact on the finance and delivery of programs and services, including infrastructure and housing of the Salt River members moving onto reserve.
  • The potential cost implications of such options for each party.
  • An agreement on cost sharing and implementation of each mutually acceptable option.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Overall, Mr. Speaker, Salt River First Nation wants to receive the same treatment as any other reserve that is south of the 60th parallel. Salt River is one of only two reserves in the NWT. Currently the other reserve gets funding for their operations and maintenance. However, Salt River does not have that same arrangement. I do not want to see anything taken away from the other reserve; I just want to see Salt River receiving the same treatment and on the same footing as other reserves. I will have questions for the Premier later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1061-19(2): Salt River First Nation Treaty Land and Entitlement Agreement
Members' Statements

Page 4164

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1062-19(2): Changes to Canada Infrastructure Bank
Members' Statements

Page 4165

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I love Private Member's bills. I had one successful bill in the last Assembly and another before the House now. They are an important mechanism to advance policy and the public interest when Cabinet will not do so or has other priorities.

As easy as it is here to get a Private Member's bill to the floor, that's not the case in many other places.

I recently became aware of a Private Member's bill before the House of Commons in Ottawa sponsored by the Member, the Member of Parliament for Churchill-Keewatinook-Aski Ms. Niki Ashton, that has a good chance of getting to a Standing Committee.

Bill C-245 would amend the Canada Infrastructure Act to accomplish a number of things in the interest of NWT residents.

The goal of this federally established institution is to invest $35 billion in priority sectors - public transit, clean power, green infrastructure, broadband, and trade and transportation, including a new target to invest $1 billion in Indigenous infrastructure across these areas.

However, there are some shortcomings with the existing Canada Infrastructure Act including the following: ·

  • An overwhelming focus on leveraging private and institutional investment with no explicit priorities or criteria;
  • A board without Indigenous or northern representation requirements; and
  • Limited public reporting.
  • I can say that Bill C-245 fixes most of these issues with three pages of simple amendments. These include:
  • Insertion of climate change mitigation and adaptation into the purpose of the legislation;
  • A clearer set of functional principles for the bank's operation with more a public investment focus;
  • Clear priorities for the Bank including investments in northern and Indigenous communities and projects that are not harmful to the environment;
  • A requirement for First Nations, Metis and Inuit membership on the board; and.
  • Special annual reports on the implementation of these new priorities.

I will have questions for the Premier on whether Cabinet supports this Private Member's bill and the improvements it will bring to the Canada Infrastructure Bank in the interest of NWT residents. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1062-19(2): Changes to Canada Infrastructure Bank
Members' Statements

Page 4165

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1063-19(2): Recruitment and Retention of Health Care Professionals
Members' Statements

Page 4165

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over the past several years, our northern health care system has been tested when it comes to recruitment of health care professionals.

For the community of Hay River, the last two years has been difficult when it comes to ensuring permanency of doctors and other health care professionals who provide services our residents have come to expect.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of recruitment and staffing is not unique to Hay River, or the Northwest Territories. It is a Canada-wide issue. Because of staff shortages and burnout, we have relied on current health care and support staff to step up and take on duties beyond those they signed on for. It is important that we recognize that fact and show our gratitude by financially compensating all health care workers appropriately.

Mr. Speaker, the Hay River Health and Social Services Authority continues to actively recruit health care professionals, including occupational therapists, physiotherapists, social workers, registered nurses, family physicians, and laboratory technicians.

Staffing shortages, driven by a combination of difficulties in recruitment and retention includes:

  • disappearing wage gap with southern jurisdictions;
  • highly competitive market;
  • limited talent available;
  • vacancies caused by departures or retirements; and
  • changes in worker's priorities and expectations.

Mr. Speaker staffing shortages are, and will continue to be, a reality and it is important to the residents of Hay River that communication continues to be open and transparent when it comes to delays that impact appointments, diagnosis, and treatment.

As staffing levels and services change, Hay River Health and Social Services Authority continues to keep residents informed with optional supports.

Mr. Speaker, by not receiving timely diagnosis and proper treatment, we are placing the residents' health and life at risk. Residents do not want to hear excuses of why we are having difficulty providing service or why we cannot recruit health care workers. They want to know what options are available to them and what will we do to provide access to health care services they desperately require.

Mr. Speaker, the workforce is changing, workers priorities are changing, and demand for health care workers is on the rise. Therefore, it is important this government adapt to that change and find creative ways to recruit professional health care staff that will provide for consistent, timely, and quality health care services to the residents of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Health at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Member's Statement 1063-19(2): Recruitment and Retention of Health Care Professionals
Members' Statements

Page 4165

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1064-19(2): Cheetah Resources' Nechalacho Project
Members' Statements

Page 4165

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Friday marks the end of two years under a public health emergency in the NWT. As I reflect on this time, I'm struck by how much life and our territory has changed. COVID shifted focus away from the failing economy towards our fragile health care system and the mental health challenges of our residents. It has been a time of great change and now we must use what we have learned to create meaningful change for our territory and kickstart our economy once again.

As global stability worsens, interest increases among developed nations to source ethically mined minerals and resources. China currently monopolizes the market of many critical minerals identified by Canada as necessary to transition to a green economy - minerals that are key in the production of electric vehicles, cell phones, computers, and fibre optics as well as medical and other scientific devices.

Mr. Speaker, now is the time to capitalize on our strong ethical regulatory regime and start raising our profile in the commodities sector. We must ensure that the message is clear: The NWT welcomes mining and we are open for business.

We've heard about Cheetah Resource's Nechalacho Rare Earth Mine, and that for the first time in Canadian history an Indigenous group is mining on their traditional land. This deposit, one of the world's richest, could significantly enhance the socio-economic post-pandemic recovery of the North and sets a shining example of meaningful economic benefit and partnerships for Indigenous people.

The planned Tardiff deposit expansion will more than double Indigenous and northern employment and business opportunities [audio] Cheetah is showing others how to do business right in the North. It is helping to rejuvenate Hay River's transportation hub by utilizing southbound marine, trucking, and rail backhauls, exemplifying what a responsibly sourced, strategic, and independent supply chain can look like.

Cheetah is also leading the way in innovative mining with recent technological improvements that include a low-impact sensor-based sorter, eliminating the need for the chemicals used in traditional mining methods. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said, Cheetah is also leading the way in innovative mining with recent technological improvements that include a low impact sensor-based sorter, eliminating the need for the chemicals used in traditional mining methods. It also does not require the use of water and no tailings are produced, vastly reducing the environmental impact of the mine and the need for extensive post-extraction remediation.

Mr. Speaker, Cheetah Resources is exactly the type of responsible corporate citizen that we want to attract to the NWT and foster relationships with such that we can achieve what is a priority of the 19th Assembly - to increase resource exploration and development. And, Mr. Speaker, after a bleak two years, I'm starting to feel some hope that we may actually achieve this. Thank you.

Member's Statement 1064-19(2): Cheetah Resources' Nechalacho Project
Members' Statements

Page 4166

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1065-19(2): Increasing Immigration to the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 4166

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Mr. Speaker, we have arrived at the routine session day where I speak to proactively increasing our population size to achieve our labour market needs and grow the economic potential of our territory. So settle in, friends, as I plant a wish list for immigration.

First is a shift to relationship building that pulls immigration staff out of offices and into our communities through an industry-focused effort to support economic development by supporting unfulfilled NWT staffing needs. Establish an Immigration Advisory Council that serves as an expert panel to recommend improvements to current immigration policies and programs. This advisory council would be co-chaired by the Minister responsible for Immigration.

Second, with those solidified industry relationships, launch an NWT pilot program that speeds up the immigration process by facilitating entry with open work permits and exemption policies that allow newcomers to work for multiple employers without a labour market impact assessment. The Yukon has a pilot program and attributes its immigration success to this flexibility.

The Atlantic Immigration Pilot Program brought over 10,000 new permanent residents to Canada. The Atlantic program was designed to stimulate economic growth and support Canada's Atlantic growth strategy to accelerate growth in Atlantic Canada, and nearly 90 percent of principal applicants could gain permanent residency through this pilot chose to remain in the Atlantic region.

Third, establish relationships with specific international jurisdictions to help fill specific labour needs like health care staff, Mr. Speaker. For example, the Manitoba government recently announced a new initiative to support internationally educated nurses who want to practice in the province. The plan is to add 400 new nursing education seats and financially support the licensure process for internationally educated nurses. This means establishing these relationships and ensuring our system can support the practicum spaces to grow our health care staff.

Fourth, Mr. Speaker, building community programs foster relationship building between Northerners and newcomers. For example, the Manitoba government supports the development and delivery of newcomer community support projects to help newcomers succeed while supporting Manitoba's economic recovery.

Mr. Speaker, I'm asking the GNWT to proactively increase our population size to achieve our labour market needs and grow the economic potential of our territory. I'm not asking the GNWT to reinvent the wheel. Success has already been designed and achieved in southern provinces and in a sister territory that understands the North is different.

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. Successful economic recovery for the NWT relies on immigration. This is not a zero sum equation that cancels our needs for education, increased graduation rates, skilled northern workers, housing, and northern procurement. Immigration supports our goals in the face of building up Northerners and our collective vision for the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1065-19(2): Increasing Immigration to the Northwest Territories
Members' Statements

Page 4166

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1066-19(2): Universal Child Care Implementation
Members' Statements

Page 4166

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Our government is setting itself on a path to implement universal childcare in the next five years in this territory, and we all know how massive of a task that is. It involves hundreds of new spaces. It involves millions of dollars. However, Mr. Speaker, I have to -- I note there will be some growing pains but we have to ensure that in those growing pains, we don't leave anyone behind.

Mr. Speaker, the other day in this House the Minister said they have different motivations when speaking to the difference to describe day home operators as money-making businesses as comparison to the nonprofit centres in the North. And Mr. Speaker, for the last few days, my office has been talking with multiple day home operators who have concern about the implementation of the childcare subsidies in the NWT and the lack of the transparency of the funding going forward.

Mr. Speaker, we know that the day home model is one of the most resilient and most affordable ways to implement childcare. We know we cannot afford to not have any day homes not sign on. We need all hands on deck if we are truly to accomplish this task of implementing universal childcare.

The people who have chosen the profession of being childcare providers have opened their homes and hearts to the children of the Northwest Territories, Mr. Speaker. Many of them have become part of the families and the children they care for with relationships lasting well past the day they leave the homes and go to school.

Mr. Speaker, those day home providers want clear direction on how they are supposed to be able to raise fees if they have not done so in years. They have been told that no more than 2.3 percent of an increase will be allowed. Mr. Speaker, the reality is the rate of inflation in Canada is currently 5.7 percent.

We also know that many day home operators have not raised fees in years so there is discrepancy in the market for what different homes are operating.

I am concerned that the department, in the initial stages of rolling this out, may be fiscally restrained but, Mr. Speaker, if we need to find some more money to bring all the day home operators up to a similar rate and allow some exceptions for those rate increases, it's going to help us accomplish this goal in the long run.

I would also like to say that day home providers are not suspect because they want to raise their prices. They are families who have opened their homes to raise our children. Later today, I will have questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1066-19(2): Universal Child Care Implementation
Members' Statements

Page 4166

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Returns to oral questions. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Yellowknife Centre.