This is page numbers 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 1079-19(2): Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport Expansion Project
Oral Questions

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pretty surprised that given this is a massive project in the Minister's backyard that she doesn't even know who is showing up to the meetings or the technical qualifications of her department.

Could the Minister commit to please providing me with minutes of those meetings as well as the attendance lists? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1079-19(2): Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport Expansion Project
Oral Questions

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the project staff are meeting biweekly with the joint venture on some of the work package -- on the work project number 1 and the project stakeholder meetings. So these meetings are happening.

In terms of getting Ministers to sit down at these meetings biweekly is probably not, you know, the best use of my time. But I do follow up. I do get updates from my deputy minister, from ADMs, and follow -- especially on this project. I mean, the Member's calling it on my backyard and I mentioned earlier I want this to happen. You know, this is a five-year project and I think that's important that we push this project through within budget, within timelines. It is five-year. I mean, I've been talking about this all week. It's just -- thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1079-19(2): Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport Expansion Project
Oral Questions

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the Minister misunderstood me. I actually don't want her at the meetings. I was asking about the technical staff, the lower level. It is my understanding that only high level meetings are occurring at this point. And as we need to have this lift of material go down this year, does the Minister commit to directing her department to find the money to start the lift this year? Thank you.

Question 1079-19(2): Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport Expansion Project
Oral Questions

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, like I mentioned this week, and I've -- you know, I have to be involved as Minister for this project. I mean, you know, I feel like it's -- it's important to our region and it's an important project.

You know, in terms of, you know, getting this work done now, we've been saying we need to sit down, review the technical level of this project and work with project staff at all different levels. So this work is advancing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1079-19(2): Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport Expansion Project
Oral Questions

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess I'm still confused at all of the delays and discussion around what essentially is putting down dirt onto the ground; something that we do very well as a territory, something the contractor does very well and has done for several years in that area.

So can the Minister please commit to whether or not she is going to have that lift done this year so we are not delayed by one year? It doesn't matter that there's five years on this project. It is -- it is a stage. There are phases that need to be completed for anything else to run. People are counting on this money. And the Minister is not holding her department to task. Thank you.

Question 1079-19(2): Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport Expansion Project
Oral Questions

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Until I know what this means, I'm not going to commit to doing this. We still have work to do. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1079-19(2): Inuvik Mike Zubko Airport Expansion Project
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Colleagues, our time for oral questions has expired. Written questions. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Returns to -- sorry, returns to written question.

Return to Written Question 36-19(2): Mental Health Supports for Residents
Returns To Written Questions

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a Return to Written Question asked by the Member for Great Slave to the Minister of Health and Social Services on March 8th, 2022, regarding mental health supports for residents.

1. Staff Turnover Rates

Within the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, there are health care professionals who provide a holistic array of mental health, addictions, and wellness support services across the Health and Social Services System. Therefore, positions cannot be easily or accurately categorized into just the three positions of mental health counsellors, child protection workers, and family support workers.

For the purposes of our response, we have included all frontline professionals providing some degree of mental health, addictions, and/or wellness support to NWT residents. This includes Case Managers and Aides; Community Health Representatives; Community Health Workers; Community Wellness Workers; Counsellors; Family Preservation Workers; Healthy Family Workers; Social Workers, including those with Child Protection Worker designation; Wellness and Recovery Workers; and other Mental Health Support positions.

As of December 31st, 2021, there were 242 budgeted positions in the Northwest.

Territories Health and Social Services Authority and the Tlicho Community Services Agency, Health and Social Services that provide mental health, addictions, and wellness support to residents of the Northwest Territories. Of those positions, 240 are indeterminate, and two are term.

Of the 242 budgeted positions, there are 25 that are currently administratively vacant. These are positions that are not being actively recruited for within the next three months. Positions can be left administratively vacant for several reasons, including, but not limited to:

  • A position is identified as being funded, but has not yet been established;
  • A position is being re-evaluated by Job Evaluation;
  • Funding for a position is being used to double fill another position; or
  • The vacancy will be of too short a duration to fill through the regular recruitment process. A short-term vacancy are usually filled with casuals.

As of December 31st, 2021, 45 of the 242 positions were vacant and being actively recruited for within the next three months. This translates into an actively recruiting vacancy rate of 18.6 percent.

In terms of staff turnover rates, unfortunately these rates cannot be provided by individual positions. Turnover rate is determined by the number of exits divided by the number of positions. For the 2021 calendar year the turnover rate for the 242 budgeted positions was 20.5 percent whereas the accession rate was 19.4 percent.

Later today at the appropriate time I will table a document that will give a breakdown of budgeted positions that provide mental health, addictions, and wellness support, by community and by occupation, including the actively recruiting vacant and administratively vacant positions. The document will also break down employee accession and turnover by occupation.

2. Mental Health Vacancy Coverage Planning.

Coverage approaches to staff vacancies are determined by several important operational factors. For example, coverage may be determined by:

  • The number of available staff to provide coverage in a particular community or region;
  • The needs of the community;
  • The preferred modality of coverage, such as virtual vs. in-person or a hybrid approach; and,.
  • The length of time coverage is required, such as short-term vs long-term.

Regional Leadership have several short-term and long-term coverage options available depending on the circumstance. Options range from:

  • Temporary short-term coverage from existing team Members, if operationally possible;
  • Temporary short-term coverage from other regions, such as by distance or planned travel;
  • Casual term hiring for temporary coverage ranging from six months up, with an option to extend if required;
  • Specific to the Community Counselling program, use of contracted counselling services is available for short- and longer-term coverage when active recruitment efforts are impacted by low applicant rates and/or unsuccessful screening;
  • Crisis support: When there are vacancies and a community crisis occurs, regional and territorial resources are scanned and made available to provide immediate support where possible. Crisis response plans can include a number of intentional and sequenced responses including virtual care, simultaneous in-person support, extended hours of service and other organizational supports such as EFAP services, depending on the circumstance; and.
  • Community and regional level communications are crafted to ensure relevant stakeholders are aware and updated to any temporary service impact or how to reach service providers.

If there are questions regarding region or community specific timelines and current coverage plans, this can be provided.

3. Rates pertaining to Suicidal Ideation and Self-Harm.

The collection of data related to suicide attempts is complex and is currently recorded in a combination of paper-based and electronic medical records. There is currently no single, reliable and accurate data system that enables us to track people across multiple sites in different systems. With that said, hospital discharge data and data collected by the Community Counselling Program are of assistance. Hospital discharge data is collected by the Department of Health and Social Services and the Canadian Institute for Health Information, and contains four potential combinations of self-harm, including suicide attempts, with or without suicidal ideation.

The territorial hospital data will capture significant presentations of self-harm and suicide ideation that also initially present to RCMP, emergency medical services, and health centres.

Where the intention for self-harm or suicide is not clear, medical coding used for this data may not capture all the cases. Not all suicide attempts are disclosed or reported to formal systems. Self-harm also tracks behaviours such as non-suicidal self-injury, commonly known as "cutting" types of behaviours, which will confound statistics.

The document to be tabled later today will present territorial hospital discharge data surveyed for the years 2016-2017 to 2020-2021 for the total number of people (unique clients) not accumulated or repeat events, and data collected from the Community Counselling Program regarding the number and percentage of people who presented to the Program with suicide ideation or suicide attempts as their primary concern.

The Department of Health and Social Services will continue to work on refining data collection and exploring one, cohesive system for health records across health centres, Community Counselling Programs, and hospital settings.

4. RCMP and First Response Indicators pertaining to Suicidal Ideation and Self- Harm.

The Department of Justice has supplied information about the number of RCMP calls where the primary reason for the call is a mental health crisis for the years 2018 to 2020. This category of call is not specific to self-harm or suicide ideation. There is no breakdown to distinguish between different types of mental health crisis or to allow for specific suicide ideation or self-harm calls to be identified. In 2018, there were 1228 calls identified in this category, in 2019, 1458 calls and in 2020, 1503 calls.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return to Written Question 38-19(2): Project Assessment Policy Review
Returns To Written Questions

March 31st, 2022

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

Mr. Speaker, I have a Return to Written Question 38-19(2) asked by the Member for Frame Lake on March 10th, 2022, regarding the project assessment policy.

As shared with Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment, the review of the Project Assessment Policy is underway. The Department of Lands is working with all GNWT departments to review and discuss questions and concerns about the Policy, and to develop recommended revisions for Executive Council's consideration. Department of Lands anticipates meeting the timelines set out in the workplan.

1.How the review will address the criticism that the whole-of-government approach muzzles scientists and subject experts, preventing their presentation of evidence vital to the identification and assessment of environmental effects?

The GNWT recognizes that concerns have been expressed about whether the 'whole-of-government' approach hinders the ability of departmental scientists and other experts to provide evidence to environmental assessment bodies when GNWT projects are being assessed. As committed to in the responses to the Tlicho All-Season Road lessons learned report, which is available on the Department's website, the review of the Policy will include a review of the whole-of-government concept, as well as other relevant approaches and the development of a process for evaluating and determining the approach best suited to each individual GNWT project. This evaluation will take into account the nature of the project, the views of Indigenous governments involved in the project, the views of any co- proponents, the requirements of the relevant environmental assessment and regulatory regime(s), and other relevant factors. As stated in the responses to the lessons learned, the GNWT commits to make public the approach and supporting rationale that is taken for any given project.

The review of the Policy includes consideration of how to better communicate the intent of the Policy, which is to give a voice to the full scope of the GNWT's mandate and to support interdepartmental discussion among scientists and other subject matter experts. Given the interdisciplinary nature of impact assessment, such discussion is important to the GNWT's ability to provide unified and complete submissions to environmental assessment bodies.

The review of the Policy is based on the understanding that individual GNWT departments are accountable for the content of their contributions to GNWT's submissions to environmental assessment bodies. This is currently set out in provision 5(c) of the Policy, which confirms that the Policy respects individual Ministers' authorities under Establishment Policies and legislation.

2. The timeline for completion of the review of the Project Assessment Policy?

As set out in the workplan for the Policy Review, the timeline for completion is December 2022.

3. How the review will provide opportunities for public engagement into the review of the Project Assessment Policy including reporting of public input and GNWT responses?

The workplan for the Project Assessment Policy review does not include plans for broad engagement. However, the review will incorporate the input received within the independently prepared T³ý?cho All-season Road Lessons Learned Report, input from all departments, who represent a broad range of public interests; as well as input from standing committee, in accordance with the Process Conventions of the Legislative Assembly.

4. How the input of Indigenous governments and co-management bodies will be solicited and incorporated into any revisions to the Project Assessment Policy?

The workplan for the Project Assessment Policy review does not include plans for broad engagement. However, the review will incorporate the input received within the independently prepared Tlicho All-Season Road Lessons Learned Report, which included input from co-management bodies and Indigenous governments. Additional input from Indigenous governments, in accordance with the Intergovernmental Agreement of the Intergovernmental Council, may also be considered.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return to Written Question 39-19(2): Mining Programs and Subsidies
Returns To Written Questions

Clerk Of The House Mr. Tim Mercer

Mr. Speaker, I have a Return to Written Question 39-19(2) asked by the Member for Frame Lake on March 10th, 2022, to the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment regarding mining programs subsidies.

I am pleased to provide a brief explanation as requested for each of the programs and subsidies for mining provided by the Government of the Northwest Territories included in the written question. Later today, at the appropriate time, I will table a document entitled, "Value of Work Completed Under the Work Credit Program 2015-2022".

The Northwest Territories Mining Incentive Program, or MIP, provides funding to prospectors and exploration companies who propose new exploration projects or are already carrying out NWT mineral exploration work. The MIP is intended to stimulate and sustain mineral exploration activities throughout the NWT and reduce the risk associated with grassroots mineral exploration; exploration that is vital to a healthy, sustained, and productive mining industry.

In 2021-22 the MIP program was supported by a one-time increase of $500,000 from the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency to support economic recovery of the NWT's mineral industry and to assist advanced projects in further evaluating their mineral resources and economic potential.

As a one-time COVID-19 relief program for the mineral industry, work requirements for mineral claims were waived on an as-needed basis for those claims whose work requirements could not be met for the period of March 17, 2020, until December 31, 2020. This was addressed by applying a top-up where needed to the credits required to keep mineral claims in good standing until 2021.

Also, as a one-time COVID-19 relief measure, lease rent payments due between March 17, 2020, and December 31, 2020, were deferred for one year from the day the rent would have been due.

The Prospector Support Program helps local prospectors by investing in the tools, equipment, and activities necessary to prospect. This funding program is provided under the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development Policy.

The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment also delivers an Introduction to Prospecting course, which is designed to increase the number of NWT residents who have both the knowledge and basic skills to begin working as a prospector. Each participant, in the four-day course, not only learns the key techniques essential to a successful prospector, but also is provided the basic equipment to start their prospecting work.

The Work Credit Program provides mineral claim holders 150 percent credit for eligible exploration work in order to keep minerals claims in good standing. This program has run from April 2015 March 2017, April 2017 March 2019, and April 2019 March 2022.

The Work Credit Program was amended for fiscal year 2021-22 to include an application-based program to provide relief on refundable extension deposits. With an application, clients were eligible for a reduced deposit of 25 percent, which is refundable if work is completed, in order to extend the anniversary date of their claims by one year; with the GNWT waiving 75 percent of the deposit amount. This relief assists claim holders that are unable to work their mineral claims during the continued COVID-19 pandemic.

The WCP encourages exploration at a time when companies are struggling to raise capital for their exploration work. Changes to this program are being looked at in light of the current industry needs and the easing situation coming out of the COVID pandemic.

I would also like to answer the specific questions raised by the Member, including:

1. What are the calculated costs to the GNWT for each of the above programs, including administrative costs since devolution?

The MIP currently has a $1 million annual budget. For fiscal years 2014-15, 2015-16, and 2016-17, the program budget was $400,000. Subject to budget approvals, the current budget is planned to increase to $1.3 million in 2022-23. Under the mandate priority to increase resource exploration and development, the MIP funding is planned to increase by 50 percent by the end of the life of this Legislative Assembly;

Administrative costs for the MIP include site visits and program advertising; these costs are allocated from the annual program budget and typically represent less than one percent of the overall program budget;

ITI administers the delivery of an Introduction to Prospecting Course through an annual contribution to the Mine Training Society; and,.

The WCP is administered by the Mining Recorder's Office within the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Division of ITI. There is no cost and no revenue loss for the GNWT. It is an administrative exercise by the MRO.

2. What are the lost value of exploration expenditures and work as result of the waivers, WCP and other subsidies since devolution?

Since program inception, more than $11 million in extra work credit has been granted on 600 mineral claims under the WCP. Financial data related to the WCP elements are summarized in the Tabled Document;

For 2021-22, the WCP was revised to include relief on refundable extension deposits for the year, for 2021-22 to date totals $181,477 on 63 qualified mineral claims;

A 2020 ITI Economic Analysis Unit study of the MIP's effect on diamond exploration investment found that from 2014 to 2019 the MIP created at least $2.1 million in diamond exploration that would not have taken place otherwise;

The one-year deferral of mineral lease rent payments for mineral tenure interest holders enabled 39 clients to defer this payment until 2021-22, this totaled $1,238,517 for 538 leases; and,.

The Prospector Support Program is managed from within the overall SEED Policy program and budget. The Department does not breakout the costs associated with the delivery of each specific program under the Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development Policy Policy.

3. What is the direct and indirect economic impact of the GNWTs' programs and subsidies for mining?

Based on full reporting years, more recent years are incomplete due to pandemic- related delays, between 2014-15 and 2018-19, the MIP has invested $2.98 million in NWT exploration. This investment has leveraged over $11.79 million in additional exploration expenditures by MIP recipients. Direct and indirect benefits from these projects include training, employment, and work experience for NWT employees, industry contributions and donations to local organizations and community programs, improved relationships between NWT communities and NWT explorers, increased perception of the NWT as a jurisdiction to conduct exploration, increased knowledge of NWT geology and mineral deposit occurrences, and testing of innovative new techniques such as enhanced geophysical detection of mineralized rocks in the subsurface.

4. Provide an explanation of how the costs and economic impacts of the mining programs and subsidies will be considered during the development of regulations under the Mineral Resources Act.

ITI is writing regulations keeping in mind the current issues and challenges. The MRA enables the development of Zones. One potential use of zones is the ability to determine targeted areas for incentives through collaboration with Indigenous governments. As we look forward to the Mineral Development Strategy renewal, we explore strategic planning options that will work within the MRA framework to promote the NWT as an attractive and competitive jurisdiction for mineral development.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Return to Written Question 39-19(2): Mining Programs and Subsidies
Returns To Written Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Mr. Clerk. Returns to written questions. Replies to the Commissioner's address. Petitions. Reports of committees on the review of bills. Reports of standing and special committees. Tabling of documents.

Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Tabled Document 627-19(2): Northwest Territories Action Plan for Promoting Critical Minerals: What We Heard - A Summary of the Discussion from a Virtual Workshop Held to Discuss Critical Mineral Development in the Northwest Territories Tabled Document 628-19(2): Northwest Territories Action Plan for Promoting Critical Minerals Appendix: Participant Comments from Critical Minerals Workshop, November 9, 2021 Tabled Document 629-19(2): Value of Work Completed Under the Work Credit Program 2015-2022
Tabling Of Documents

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to table the following three documents: Value of Work Completed Under the Work Credit Program 2015-2022; Northwest Territories Action Plan for Promoting Critical Minerals: What We Heard Report; and Northwest Territories Action Plan for Promoting Critical Minerals Appendix: Participants Comments from Critical Minerals Workshop, November 9th, 2021. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 627-19(2): Northwest Territories Action Plan for Promoting Critical Minerals: What We Heard - A Summary of the Discussion from a Virtual Workshop Held to Discuss Critical Mineral Development in the Northwest Territories Tabled Document 628-19(2): Northwest Territories Action Plan for Promoting Critical Minerals Appendix: Participant Comments from Critical Minerals Workshop, November 9, 2021 Tabled Document 629-19(2): Value of Work Completed Under the Work Credit Program 2015-2022
Tabling Of Documents

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Tabling of documents. Minister responsible for Environment and Natural Resources.

Tabled Document 630-19(2): Environment and Natural Resources Strategic Plan 2022-2026 Tabled Document 631-19(2): Waste Reduction and REcovery Program 2020-2021 Annual Report Tabled Document 632-19(2): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 1028-19(2): Access to Clean Water
Tabling Of Documents

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following three documents: Environment and Natural Resources Strategic Plan 2022-2026; Waste Reduction and Recovery Program 2020-2021 Annual Report; and the Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 1028-19(2): Access to Clean Water. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 630-19(2): Environment and Natural Resources Strategic Plan 2022-2026 Tabled Document 631-19(2): Waste Reduction and REcovery Program 2020-2021 Annual Report Tabled Document 632-19(2): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 1028-19(2): Access to Clean Water
Tabling Of Documents

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral Questions -- tabling of documents. Minister responsible for Justice.