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

Member's Statement 1070-19(2): Rising Cost of Living
Members' Statements

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, you caught me off guard. Mr. Speaker, in Hay River, and throughout the NWT, residents have been shocked by the high utility costs. Yes, utility costs. And food costs to date. This, along with other rising costs, is having a significant negative impact on one's financial ability to meet everyday living expenses.

Mr. Speaker, residents of the Northwest Territories are deeply concerned as they see the cost of living rise and their spending power shrink. I am hearing it, and I am sure you are hearing it as well.

We all know of residents moving or considering moving out of the Northwest Territories due to the inflated cost of living.

With the loss of each resident, we are not only losing a per capita federal allocation of $34,716 annually, but considering problems of recruitment and retention we will also lose qualified individuals with skills and experience which will be difficult to replace.

Mr. Speaker, as with any decline in the economy, shock waves are felt long after the initial jolt, and what is being experienced post-COVID is further fueled by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. All is having a devastating affect on NWT residents' ability to meet their financial obligations while trying to save for the future.

For some, it may result in the loss of a business, loss of a home, loss of one's life savings, or not being able to place food on the table. If you are not living it, it is difficult to understand.

Mr. Speaker, we constantly hear government say there is limited resources available to financially assist residents beyond supports currently provided. This government and local governments are only adding fuel to the fire through increased taxes, increased business licence fees, increased utility costs, and increased service fees; All the while residents are hearing that other jurisdictions are finding ways to lessen the burden such as pausing collection of the fuel tax, offering rebates on electricity and fuel bills, suspending or lowering vehicle registration renewal and service fees, reduction of business licence fees, and other innovative solutions. It is solutions that residents are looking for from this government.

Mr. Speaker, residents need to know that we are here for them and that we are prepared to move forward with solutions that will lessen the impact of the rise in living costs.

When it comes to reducing the cost of living the question is - what is this government prepared to do to keep residents in the Northwest Territories? Thank you Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1070-19(2): Rising Cost of Living
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1071-19(2): Inuvik Airport Runway Expansion Project
Members' Statements

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to provide some clarity around the issues at the Inuvik Airport. Media has reported that the need to dig a trench is the issue; however, it appears upon further investigation this is not correct. The real issue with the airport project and why a delay now could cost this construction year has to do with the permafrost - our cold-hearted friend that causes so many headaches for engineers and contractors in the North.

Due to ground conditions, construction of the runway expansion in Inuvik requires that the design and construction factor in the protection of the permafrost. Similarly to how the ITH was constructed, the design calls for layers, or lifts, of granular material to be directly placed on top of the frozen ground. The layer then acts as a buffer, keeping the ground under the construction permanently frozen. This eliminates drainage issues and the ground heave that normally occurs with the freeze-thaw cycle of the active layer and provides a stable, frozen platform on which to execute new construction. If material is not placed this winter, under frozen conditions, the project will be delayed a year.

Mr. Speaker, it is my understanding that the execution of this project has been backwards. Rather than starting with a functioning design and developing a subsequent realistic budget, the GNWT has instead taken the $150 million offered by the federal government and are now trying to force the design to meet the budget. The $40 million "overrun" described in the press is in fact the additional amount of money required to meet the material specifications that the GNWT is asking for - specifications that may not align with conventional construction methods on permafrost.

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken about how decisions made by this department during the construction of the ITH have led to its degradation in only a few short years. Cuts and changes were made to material and design specifications based solely on budgetary considerations and now we have a road that doesn't function as designed.

Are these same senior bureaucrats now making engineering decisions, outside their capacity, which may result in our first major project with the DND going sideways?

I've often spoke about the need for 100 percent federal dollars and that the DND investment in infrastructure is a way for us to achieve this. Now I worry that, given how the project is shaping up, that the federal eye will wander to the east and west of us and, yet again, the NWT will be the losing territory while the other two benefit. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1071-19(2): Inuvik Airport Runway Expansion Project
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Colleagues, before we continue, I'd just like to recognize former Member, former Minister, and former Speaker, Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty. Welcome.

Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Member's Statement 1072-19(2): Thank-You Message
Members' Statements

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as today is our last sitting day of this session, I want to use my statement to wish my constituents a good spring break. This weekend, Fort Smith will be hosting its annual Wood Buffalo Frolics winter carnival for the first time in three years. The pandemic shut out this festival for two years, and this year the event will be organized by a new set of individuals from years past.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish all my colleagues a good and restful break from this House until the May sitting. I know that as Members we will not always agree on all things that come before us, but that does not mean we become enemies and work against one another. As Members of this House, we must always strive to put differences aside and work together in the best interests of our constituents and all the people of the NWT. That is how a healthy and functioning democracy works.

Also, to any of my colleagues who wish to visit Fort Smith at any time, I want to assure you that you will be treated like royalty. That is the courtesy which I extend to all holders of any public office or any dignitaries visiting Fort Smith. My family and my community and I always welcome all visitors to our community with open arms.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to wish all the amazing constituents of Thebacha a happy and healthy spring break. I know the effects of the pandemic are still present in our lives in various ways. But I hope we can begin to put all that behind us and move forward in a new and positive direction as a community.

Also, as always, I would like to wish my community team a special thank you. They know who they are. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1072-19(2): Thank-You Message
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Member's Statement 1073-19(2): Vaccine Equity
Members' Statements

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow the public health emergency ends but the fight against COVID-19 does not end, and we must not stop talking about vaccination, Mr. Speaker. We are in a privileged position, having 82 percent of our population vaccinated and that remaining percentage is not due to a lack of vaccines. And it is my hope, Mr. Speaker, that those people who have refused to be vaccinated, some of whom have convinced themselves they are in an idealogical battle for freedom, will see that tomorrow we have zero restrictions left and maybe they will go quietly, get vaccinated, and protect themselves and those who are most vulnerable, Mr. Speaker.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, we are lucky that we got early access to vaccines. Canada is lucky that it secured access to vaccines yet, Mr. Speaker, in low income nations around the world, only one in ten people are vaccinated and this is due to a shortage of vaccines.

Canada has not lived up to its international co-vax commitments. We have not lived up to global vaccine equity. And we may be a small jurisdiction but I believe we need to be adding our voice to the fight for vaccine equity and making sure that we, and the Government of Canada, are a leader in this area.

Mr. Speaker, this is not just about vaccine equity. It is about the fight against COVID. This is a global battle and if we do not help the global self and low income nations get vaccine in their arms, we will see new variants emerge. We will not win the battle against COVID.

Mr. Speaker, during our vaccine implementation, we were leaders. We were one of the lowest waste jurisdictions. We did everything we could to make sure we did not waste vials of that vaccine, and I am proud of that work. But, Mr. Speaker, I want to make sure that we continue that work. We continue to advocate for vaccine equity and we make sure that we do not let a single dose expire in our hands.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will have questions for the Minister of Health and Social Services.

Member's Statement 1073-19(2): Vaccine Equity
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1074-19(2): Pandemic Supports
Members' Statements

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I am grateful to be able to say that after two long years of living through a global pandemic, we are close to moving to an endemic stage. April 1st marks the end of a two-year long public health emergency.

As we emerge into the endemic phase of COVID-19, we are picking up the pieces, trying to figure out what moving forward looks like individually and collectively.

We all appreciate and acknowledge the importance of cultural, sport, and recreation events as gatherings begin again. Some are already planning big events while others aren't yet comfortable. And that's okay. The shift to endemic is going to be a unique transition for each of us.

But gathering once played a huge role in our territory both for our quality of life and the economic stability of our communities. Gathering restrictions meant lost revenue sources for municipalities and as a result they are emerging with empty pockets yet expected to play a vital role again in our quality of life.

Further to lost revenue, Mr. Speaker, many communities incurred significant unforeseen costs to respond COVID-19 safety and community outbreaks. Costs, we can all agree, are not found in the municipal funding formula.

The federal government's CanNor's Canada Community Revitalization Fund recently announced $3.1 million over two years to nine different NWT communities. These funds are to make public spaces more accessible and attractive as the territory opens up after the pandemic.

While these funds are much needed across the territory, 24 communities did not receive funds from this federal funding pot; notably are most remote communities in the Mackenzie and Beaufort Deltas. In addition, these funds do not kickstart the ability of municipalities to provide community activities.

Mr. Speaker, I recognize the government is still managing the costs of COVID-19 and there will be many more costs to incur as we continue throughout the endemic. But for communities who were issued public health orders by the GNWT and implemented those orders from their own internal resources is a cost those communities cannot incur in the face of an existing municipal funding gap. We are all coming out of this pandemic on uneven ground but our communities that provide central social gatherings and programs for children, youth, adults and elders need the supports in place to help their communities emerge healthy and with hope. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1074-19(2): Pandemic Supports
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Member's Statement 1075-19(2): Housing Expenditures
Members' Statements

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The communities of Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh riding have seen significant decrease in housing infrastructure dollars for the 2018-2019 to 2022-2023 budget. As a matter of fact, thank you Nedhe-Wiilideh's receiving only 1 percent of the overall capital budget.

Mr. Speaker, how can we be effective with 1 percent of the capital budget for all four communities in my riding?

Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, overall one-third homes in Dettah, N'dilo, Fort Resolution, Lutselk'e are in core need. How can I represent my constituents if the NWT Housing Corporation consistently ignores homeownership and home repair programs in their budgets? It is imperative that a portion of the homeownership and home repair program presented in this main estimate budget specifically address the core need of homes in the Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh riding.

I will have questions for the Minister of Housing or Minister of Finance later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1075-19(2): Housing Expenditures
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake.

Member's Statement 1076-19(2): Muskrat Jamboree in the Beaufort Delta
Members' Statements

March 31st, 2022

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As restrictions are being lifted, it's time to say good-bye to long cold winter and welcome the bright sunny days of spring.

The people of Inuvik are looking forward to celebrating the 64th annual Muskrat Jamboree on April the 8th to the 11th. We will gather safely in front of Inuvik of the east branch of the Mackenzie River to visit and spend time with our family and friends.

The festivities start with the crowning of our 2022 Muskrat Jamboree king and queen, and we will all enjoy our first traditional community feast since the start of this pandemic.

We will practice traditional skills like nature calls, harpoon throwing, log sawing, muskrat skinning, tea boiling, just to name a few. We will also enjoy an all cultures traditional dress parade, drum dancing, talent show, jigging, also an old time dance. And let's not forget about the food tents and the exciting dog teams and skidoo races.

I would like to acknowledge and thank the many volunteers and sponsors that work hard for -- hardworking committee members that make Muskrat Jamboree happen for everyone in Inuvik. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1076-19(2): Muskrat Jamboree in the Beaufort Delta
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake. Members' statements. Member for Hay River North.

Member's Statement 1077-19(2): Filming of “Cold Road” in South Slave
Members' Statements

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we have a lot of success stories here in the Northwest Territories, and it's important that we highlight those stories to show our residents, and especially our youth, what's possible.

Mr. Speaker, if you travelled to Hay River, or Katl'odeeche, or Enterprise lately, you may have been wondering whether you took a wrong turn somewhere and accidentally wound up in Hollywood. That's because for the past few weeks, Hay River has been serving as a filming location for the upcoming full-length film Cold Road. The man behind this project is Hay River's own Kelvin Redvers.

Filmmaking has always been Kelvin's passion and, beginning as a student at Diamond Jenness Secondary School, he spent countless hours writing, directing, producing, acting, and all the other things you need to do to make it in the TV and film industries. He's paid his dues, built a career, and has a number of successful projects under his belt. Now he's returned to Hay River to direct his first ever feature-length film and we're happy to have him back.

It's fitting that Cold Road is being filmed in the South Slave, as it was the long quiet highways of the region that inspired the film's story.

The original plan was to film the scenes in northern Alberta but it became clear, and only a couple months ago actually, that there were no suitable locations in Alberta and it just wouldn't work. With the end of winter approaching, the crew began to grapple with the reality that delaying the filming until next winter meant it was likely that funding would dry up, and the movie would never be made.

With only a few days before the fate of the film would be sealed, Kelvin began reaching out to the NWT Film Commission, the Department of Infrastructure, the Town of Hay River, and others, in the hopes of saving the production. Mr. Speaker, despite government's well-earned reputation of taking its sweet time, things moved quickly and within a matter of days the necessary elements were put in place to make filming in the NWT a reality.

I have to thank the film commission, the Minister of ITI, and the Town of Hay River for their support and their determination that was instrumental in bringing the production to the NWT.

Over the course of filming, roughly half a million dollars will be spent in the NWT. On and off, about 50 people will be brought up to work on the film - all staying in hotels, eating in restaurants, and contributing to the economy. The production is using local caterers, contractors, and other service providers, and is renting vehicles, facilities, and equipment to assist with the production. Dozens of local businesses have benefited, and four local businesses have been used as shooting locations. The crew has said that residents have made it easy for them to film in the NWT, and they would have no problem coming back to do it again. And Mr. Speaker, we'd love to have them back because they've proven to be a great group of people. I know the crew is grateful to many Hay River residents and businesses for the support and responsiveness, including Rick and Jane Groenewegen, Brent and Jackie Kruger, Ernie Pokiak, Shawn Buckley, Anne Peters, and the staff at the Ptarmigan. And Mr. Speaker, I have quite a list here but I see that my time has run out so I can't list everyone, they know who they are, and Mr. Speaker, I'll see you on the red carpet at the premiere of Cold Road. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.