This is page numbers 3755 - 3792 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

Members Present

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

The House met at 10:04 a.m.

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Prayer
Prayer

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Speaker: Hon. Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Minister's Statement 221-19(2): Advancing Energy Infrastructure Projects
Ministers' Statements

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Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Quyananni. Energy is crucial to everyday life in the North, whether it's turning the lights on, TV to operating computers or equipment to get work done, residents and businesses in the Northwest Territories depend on access to reliable and affordable electricity. That is why the Government of the Northwest Territories has made it a priority to increase the use of alternative and renewable energy to help stabilize the cost of power.

The GNWT is making progress on key energy infrastructure projects that will assist us in meeting the needs of the NWT communities, residents, and businesses. To do this, we must continue to invest in the energy infrastructure that we already have to ensure we can continue to provide reliable and affordable electricity.

The overhaul of the Snare and Taltson hydro systems are two such projects. The Northwest Territories Power Corporation, which is a Crown corporation of the GNWT, is taking the lead on these two important projects.

Components of the Snare and Taltson generating facilities are approaching or have exceeded their expected lifespan. We need to upgrade these facilities and we need to do it now. This work will ensure continued reliability of these systems and avoid unexpected shutdowns that would result in burning diesel power to communities served by the Snare and Taltson, instead of using renewable hydroelectricity. The NWT has committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030.

In addition to the Inuvik Wind Project there are three other energy infrastructure projects that the GNWT is advancing to help meet these commitments identified in the 2030 NWT Climate Change Strategic Framework and the 2030 Energy Strategy are the Fort Providence-Kakisa Transmission Line, the Whati Transmission Line, and the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project.

Both transmission projects would essentially eliminate the use of diesel for electricity generation in these communities and displace up to 4,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions per year. The proposed 170-kilometre Fort Providence-Kakisa Transmission Line Project would use surplus hydropower from the Taltson system and $45 million in federal funding, in addition to the $15 million in GNWT funding, which have been secured to build it. We plan to submit a land use permit application for this project with the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board this spring.

As for the Whati Transmission Line Project, the proposed 60-kilometre transmission line will tap into the surplus hydropower from the Snare system in the North Slave. This transmission line would be located almost entirely on Tlicho lands and Tlicho government to support the project. The GNWT is committed to partnering with the Tlicho government on this project and a key next step is to develop a technical study that will identify an acceptable transmission line corridor for the project.

The GNWT also continues to work with Indigenous partners on the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project. The proposed project would connect the Taltson system to Yellowknife's Snare and Bluefish hydro systems as well set the stage for energy corridor providing clean and new existing industrial customers north and south of the Great Slave Lake.

The GNWT has signed a MOU with the Akaitcho Dene First Nation and NWT Metis Nation and work is progressing on a preliminary business case for the project and transmission route options.

These projects will help meet the energy needs of our territory by using clean renewable resources right here in our backyard.

As we enter the final two years of this 19th Legislative Assembly, the GNWT is committed to advancing energy infrastructure projects in partnership with communities, Indigenous governments and organizations, and in a way that maximizes benefits for Northerners. Quyananni.

Minister's Statement 221-19(2): Advancing Energy Infrastructure Projects
Ministers' Statements

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Speaker

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Lands.

Minister's Statement 222-19(2): Transfer of Lands
Ministers' Statements

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Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, building a strong local economy has been a significant focus of this Legislative Assembly. Making more land available to community governments means more business opportunities that help build stronger local economies.

This past December, the Department of Lands shared a process guide for transferring land within municipal community boundaries with the Northwest Territories Association of Communities. This was the essential step in support of this mandate commitment to reduce the municipal funding gap. This guide is also being shared directly with all NWT communities.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Lands initially created a process guide for the transfer of public land to the City of Yellowknife. That document has now been adapted for use by all communities in the Northwest Territories. As we know, each community's capacity to administer and manage land is different. The Department of Lands and the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs will continue to work together to ensure communities are set up for success.

Mr. Speaker, the value of land that has been transferred to community governments from 2017-2021 is approximately $5.2 million. Under the Land Pricing Policy, the GNWT transfers selected public land, for a nominal fee, to community governments. This is done so the maximum benefit of the land value can be realized by the community.

The GNWT understands and respects the importance of land selection when negotiating Aboriginal rights agreements. For this reason, the Department relies on interim land withdrawals and our consultation process to protect land selection and land interests.

Mr. Speaker, this process guide will help both community governments who can already accept land transfers, as well as those communities who are hoping to do so in the future. It is a supportive document that explains what is to be expected and outlines the process and the timelines. In some cases, there will be additional work needed before land transfer can happen, such as ensuring community plans are in place and bylaws are up to date. The Department of Lands works with other GWNT departments to ensure that parcels of land can be transferred as requested to community governments.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, we transfer the land for a nominal fee but the value is certainly not nominal when it comes to reducing the municipal funding gap. The Department of Lands looks forward to working with all community governments so we can better understand their land needs and interests. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 222-19(2): Transfer of Lands
Ministers' Statements

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Speaker

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Member's Statement 989-19(2): Canada-Northwest Territories Childcare Agreement
Members' Statements

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Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Since our last sitting, we've received the good news that a Canada-NWT Childcare Agreement has been reached promising $10 a day childcare for parents across the Northwest Territories. Excellent news, but how's it going to actually work?

The first big issue is putting money in the parents' hands who have continued to pay for childcare since the deal was signed. Ottawa requires that money under the agreement flow to the childcare providers. So how does it move on from there on to the parents who pay the childcare invoices? How will this affect the GNWT's existing funding agreements with providers? Will this create an administrative burden for licensed childcare providers?

Another big issue is infrastructure. Can any portion of these funds be spent on the construction or remodelling of facilities to create new childcare spaces? This agreement is only as good as the space available for the programming and we still have many communities without quality childcare. What's the story with this agreement and whether it includes infrastructure funding?

Roll out to communities is another area of uncertainty and possibly a source of real inequity. In the larger communities, it may be possible to retool existing spaces but in smaller communities, surplus or any space may be lacking. How many years will it take to ensure equitable access to childcare across all the communities of the Northwest Territories and will this new agreement actually help?

And finally, the long-term. The last Assembly committed in its original mandate to a plan for universal childcare before 2019 then rolled that commitment back halfway through the Assembly term and I was the only MLA to speak against this rollback.

The 2015 feasibility study of universal affordable daycare in the Northwest Territories pegged the cost of universal childcare, at that point, at $20 million a year. It's not clear whether GNWT's committed to maintaining the universal and affordable childcare after this five-year agreement ends. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment and how we make this a truly good news story. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 989-19(2): Canada-Northwest Territories Childcare Agreement
Members' Statements

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Speaker

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

Member's Statement 990-19(2): Salvation Army
Members' Statements

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Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I've now been in this role long enough that I've seen many of my constituents break the cycle of addiction and break the cycle of homelessness. And, Mr. Speaker, I cannot thank the work of countless staff in our non-profits who have helped my constituents along this journey. But, Mr. Speaker, our non-profits and NGO, who provide services that are essential to government, are stretched so thin you can see through them. And sadly, when we ask our non-profits to run these services, they are struggling to get staff as many of their staff are leaving for higher GNWT wage jobs, Mr. Speaker. We continue to see an uptake in clients needing mental health and recovery programs in the post-COVID world, Mr. Speaker. And many of our non-profits are picking up the slack on this, and we need to support them.

Today, on my statement I'd like to focus in on one nonprofit, and that is the Salvation Army, Mr. Speaker. The Salvation Army, they have the mental health program which helps the needs of 24 people with very complex mental health needs, and I know if this program didn't exist it's inevitably a bill that the Department of Health and Social Services would have to pick up at a much higher cost. However, Mr. Speaker, they have not seen an increase in funding for that program in eight years.

Just up one floor, they have their withdrawal management service, Mr. Speaker; a program that is essential in helping people get off alcohol, go to a southern treatment centre, and they've recently expanded it to have six months of support after. I know the priority of aftercare in this government, but that is another program that has not changed funding in over seven years, Mr. Speaker.

We can't keep asking our non-profits to run programs without an increase in funding and with support.

And if you go one building over, Mr. Speaker, there's the Bailey House. The Bailey House provides three years of transitional housing support. I have seen many of my constituents use the Bailey House as support to get into permanent housing and end homelessness. However, Mr. Speaker, that program has not seen an increase in funding since 2009.

Mr. Speaker, this is not just one nonprofit. This is how many of their budgets look. We do not increase their funding with inflation. We do not review these contracts. And at some point, if someone has been providing a service for over a decade and we know it's working, we need to turn that into block funding, guarantee it, and make sure it increases every year along with inflationary pressures. I'll have questions today for the Minister of Finance on how we can accomplish that goal. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 990-19(2): Salvation Army
Members' Statements

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Speaker

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Member's Statement 991-19(2): Arctic Inspiration Prize
Members' Statements

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Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, tonight I'll be tuning in to watch the Arctic Inspiration awards. Due to COVID, their event will be held virtually again.

Mr. Speaker, for those who do not know what the Arctic Inspiration Award is, if you look to their website it states the AIP is the largest annual prize in Canada by celebrating and providing SEED funding to northern teams with innovative projects. The AIP supports Northerners in bringing initiatives to life that bring about the changes they want to see in their communities.

The Arctic Inspiration Prize is by the North and for the North and is a community of people and groups including Indigenous organizations, academia, governments, nongovernmental organization, industry, philanthropy, media and arts, culture and organizations who share a common goal - to recognize northern innovation and excellence and encourage team work for the betterment of the life in Canada's north.

Every year, they have a million dollar prize awarded. Up to four awards for 500K and up to seven youth awards for $100,000. This year, there are two finalists for the $1 million prize - one from the Yukon and one from Nunavik. Good luck to them.

What I'm really excited is to watch the NWT projects. There are two youth finalists in the youth category, and they are both NWT projects:

  • Treaty Talks; and
  • Indigenous Youth River Guide Training.

In the AIP 500K category, there are six finalists with four from the NWT:

  • Support Well-Being;
  • Hope House;
  • Fish Camp at Happy's Landing;
  • Tuktoyaktuk Community Climate Resilience Project.

I'd like to say good luck to all the candidates and all the finalists.

Mr. Speaker, some of the laureate past winners that some may recognize and have made huge impacts in the Northwest Territories are Arctic Indigenous Wellness Project; Foxy, which is Fostering Open Expression among Youth; as well as Western Arctic Youth Collective, who's right now having a youth conference in Inuvik; Dene Heros Publication, just to name a few.

So make sure you tune in tonight and support our NWT finalists. Good luck to all, and I'm sure any project that wins will have a meaningful impact. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 991-19(2): Arctic Inspiration Prize
Members' Statements

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Speaker

Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Member's Statement 992-19(2): Raising the Roof Non-Profit Involvement of Sara Morris
Members' Statements

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Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to acknowledge outstanding Youth Ambassador Sara Morris, who proudly represents Raising the Roof. Raising the Roof is a non-profit whose vision is that all Canadians have access to a safe stable home and the supports they need to achieve their potential; a goal that is clearly lines up with the priorities of this Assembly.

In this job, where I hear of extreme need and so many desperate stories, Sara gives me hope. She shows me that youth care and want to make their communities better. Sara's passion is to improve the situation for people experiencing homelessness, and in particular youth.

As previously mentioned in this House, in 2018 there were 142 homeless youth under the age of 24 in Yellowknife, mostly Indigenous.

Sara's Support Team NWT campaign has raised $4500 from the sale of masks and toques to support Home Base Yellowknife. These funds are being used to pay down their operating deficit at their youth centre as there is no funding for that program.

With nearly 300 items sold, Sara now has St. Pat's involved in a fundraiser for Home Base until March 11th. For every toque sold, $5 will be going to provide emergency shelter for youth and programs for kids who find themselves with no place to stay at night.

Sara has learned that there are many stereotypes about the homeless, both about them as people and about how they got there. Sara has pushed herself to become more engaged about what is happening in her community and how she can make a difference.

Sara is a full-time high school student and advocates for youth in her spare time. She has found the opportunities in the North and through Raising the Roof mind-blowing. Sara knows that there is so much to be done but hopes that her dedication can speed things up. Sara realizes she has a chance to make a change and she is not passing it up.

Sara has always wanted to help and her mother has been an excellent role model, working at the YWCA for years. As a result, Sara spent a lot of time at Rockhill and when it burnt, she was very sad at the loss of the productive safe community space it was. As she gets older, she often thinks of the people from Rockhill and worries about where they're living and if they're safe.

I am so grateful for youth like Sara. Their big hearts and drive for change is what we need to make our territory prosperous and provide opportunity for everyone.

Find out more about Raising the Roof at www.raisingtheroof.org. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 992-19(2): Raising the Roof Non-Profit Involvement of Sara Morris
Members' Statements

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Speaker

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.