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 1076-19(2): Inuvik Wind Project
Oral Questions

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, Mr. Speaker, I understand that there's big projects, or P3 projects. This is a five-kilometre road, an access road. It's not even a road; it's an access road. So if this is the new process, it's the first time that I have heard of it. If we are negotiating with Alberta companies, then I think that it's time that we reviewed that process because I am sure that there are at least four other aboriginal road building companies in Inuvik, Fort McPherson, and Tuk, that could have been negotiated with. Not being led by an Alberta company where the money's going to leave the North in the time of economic recovery that is needed for our region. Thank you.

Question 1076-19(2): Inuvik Wind Project
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Question 1076-19(2): Inuvik Wind Project
Oral Questions

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this government, and this Assembly, had said we would work with Indigenous groups to look at ways of doing things differently. So the Inuvik Wind Project, we reached out to the Gwich'in businesses. The Gwich'in, and they provided us with their list, and that's how we were able to say do some of that work going forward. Yes, it is a five-kilometre work and you look at the total Inuvik Wind Project and that's probably just going to be one piece of the bigger work that needs to be done to complete the wind project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1076-19(2): Inuvik Wind Project
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions, Member for Hay River South.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

March 31st, 2022

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. These questions are for the Minister of Finance or ITI.

Is the department monitoring the increased cost of living in the NWT and if so, have there been any specific areas identified as worrisome? Thank you.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we are constantly revising both the fiscal framework for the GNWT and revising the general outlook for the economy. We are doing that work, both the Department of Finance's responsible in terms of understanding our revenue forecast, you know, understanding our growth and our expenditures, the impacts of, you know, fuel costs, inflation, interest costs on us. I know that that work also happens at ITI in terms of understanding costs to business, understanding impacts, again for instance freight costs, transportation costs. And similarly, Mr. Speaker, I know that the Department of ECE is also continuously doing work, looking at the space in terms of the employment market and what might be happening. So there is always examinations happening.

Cost of living involves all of those things. Cost of living involves fuel costs, heating costs, transportation, the impacts on, you know, the market basket measures so it's a difficult one for me then to sort of turn around and say are we going to have measures to respond to it. Reducing the cost of living is already a mandate item.

We have done a mandate review just this week, updating the public on some of the work that is happening to try to achieve that goal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I guess what I am trying to get at is, you know, people are struggling in the communities. And so what can this community do to lower the cost of living for residents considering other jurisdictions are taking actions to offset some of the costs? Thank you.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And without knowing exactly what measures are being referred to, I am assuming that this is in reference to the fact that Alberta is offering some money to folks to offset the fuel, as is the Yukon. And again, I have said this earlier in the House, Alberta stands to benefit from the rising fuel costs so it is not really the kind of comparison that is fair to be made here in terms of, you know, considering that we have to ensure that we are able to provide programs and services across departments to every community, to every resident in the Northwest Territories. And the need to continuing to do that responsibly throughout the entire year, not only as, you know, a handout for everybody.

So, yeah, are we going to be looking at initiatives over the course of the year? Well, Mr. Speaker, I will look at the last two years where we were struck rather significantly by the impacts of COVID-19. And the approach of this government was always that we would not -- look to see what the federal government is doing. I am not going to take -- you know, avoid any opportunity to have funding come from a much larger source but they were going to be there to full gaps and were going to be there to identify areas of particular need. There will be no change in that approach here. If in fact rising inflation does not slow down, if in fact the costs of fuel does not come down, then we will be doing what we have done in the last two years over the last crisis which is looking for the gaps and being there to make sure that we provide those safety nets. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Is the government working with private sector businesses or considering to assist with lowering their cost of doing business so that that can be passed on to residents? Thank you.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'll sort of reference again a bit of what happened more under COVID-19 not as a full response. I realize that what's happening now is different but I want to give the example so that folks know exactly the approach that this government plans to take and that I would it be taking with the departments for which I am responsible.

When we came back in January and omicron was still rearing its head, no one quite knew how that would unfold, I asked that we make a point to check in with the chambers of commerce so that we could better understand directly from them what impacts were being -- what the impacts were on the private sector from what was now clearly a bit of different type of COVID situation. So I had the opportunity to sit down with the chambers then, and now it's quite clear that we are looking at a whole another type of financial situation whether it be from inflation, from fuel costs, or both. So I will certainly commit that we can have that check in again with the chambers, with other organizations in the community, and hear firsthand from the business community where their pinch points are, what their challenge points are, and where they need government support, if they need government support. There is already quite a lot in the budget that we are hoping to see passed that is meant to ensure that there is stability, that there is stability in procurement, that there is stability in our programs. And if there is some that they see as being better tuned, then that's the end, that's the kind of approach we like to take. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we hear that, you know, people are considering leaving the NWT and we, and I know of some people that have left because of the cost of living.

Is the department tracking the number of residents living the NWT due to the cost of living? And can the Minister commit to providing those numbers as well? Thank you.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I don't -- to the best of my knowledge, we don't do exit interviews with residents as to reasons for their departure. I can say that the mining sector, who are also quite keen to keep their residents or keep their employees here in the North, they do do some work in this space. So what I will do, Mr. Speaker, is just check back with the statistics bureau, see if there are -- what data we do have around departures.

I know that questions earlier this week looked at our immigration and were looking at the growth of population. And it really has been sort of stagnant and just no matter efforts that have been made through past Assemblies, the population seems to be continually quite stable. As for the reasons to that, again, Mr. Speaker, I am not sure that we are going to have that. I will do my best efforts. As I say, I think that the mineral resource sector actually might be the best source. And if I recall correctly, it was a combination of factors, everything from, you know, concerns around costs to not having family to, you know, a number of different reasons that may arise from wanting to move somewhere; you know, other opportunities, etcetera. What we do want to do though, Mr. Speaker, this is always going to be a jurisdiction that likely has some higher costs. It also has much higher wages. And it has a way of living that we think hopefully will bring people to the North so I will also be following up with my colleague at ECE around our efforts on immigration, to see if there is things there that we can do to make -- to continue to bring people to the North. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1077-19(2): Cost of Living
Oral Questions

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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