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 indigenous.

Topics

Members Present

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

The House met at 1:30 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Minister's Statement 225-19(2): International Women's Day
Ministers' Statements

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, today is International Women's Day. Designated by the United Nations as an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of women, it is a day to raise awareness of gender inequality and reflect on the journeys we have all taken to get here. It is an opportunity for us to come together and to commit to continue the fight for gender equality.

This year's theme is Break the Bias. This is about breaking from the beliefs we have about what women are capable of. We must work together to break the bias in our workplaces, in our communities, and in our own homes so that all genders have the opportunity to flourish. Together we can create a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive - A world where difference is valued and celebrated.

This morning I had the pleasure of participating in a fireside chat alongside the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, as well as the Honourable Lisa Thompson, Honourable Margaret Johnson, and Honourable Lana Popham, Ministers of Agriculture from Ontario, New Brunswick and British Columbia. During this event we discussed the women and girls who inspire us through their leadership and contribution to the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, as I look around this room, I see courageous, intelligent, and powerful women, sons of mothers and fathers of daughters. It is an honour to be part of the first gender-balanced Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories. Across the Northwest Territories, voters have also elected women in unprecedented numbers at all levels of government including Chiefs, mayors, and councilors.

Mr. Speaker, these great achievements are cause for celebration because it is a sign that in the Northwest Territories, we are breaking biases. While I feel great pride for the progress we have made, I am also saddened by the discrimination that women and gender-diverse people continue to experience daily.

From unequal salaries and low representation in leadership roles to being victims of gender-based violence and domestic abuse, many women continue to face challenges that stem directly from gender bias and inequality. This is not the world I want to leave our children.

Mr. Speaker, although the last two years have been a struggle for everyone, they have been particularly challenging for women. During this time, women have suffered through what has been called a shadow pandemic. Data shows that all types of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, has greatly intensified since the start of COVID-19. At this very moment, there are women across this territory who are stuck in cycles of poverty and violence and forced to make difficult choices every day that put their safety at risk. This is not the world I want to leave our children.

Mr. Speaker, Indigenous women are 3.5 times more likely to experience violence, and we continue to hear reports of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls. And I repeat, this is not the world I want to leave our children.

Mr. Speaker, as the Minister responsible for the Status of Women, I reaffirm this government's commitment to addressing the evolving nature of work related to gender, including gendered violence and gender equity. One year ago, I stood in this House to announce the creation of the GNWT's gender equity division and today I am happy to share some of the important work that they are undertaking.

On December 8th, 2021, I tabled Changing the Relationship, a draft action plan in response to the Calls for Justice on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people. This comprehensive plan was developed by the gender equity division with support from all GNWT departments and key stakeholders. The plan includes 95 actions to address systemic causes of violence, inequality, and racism so that Indigenous women and girls can feel safe and empowered in our territory. So far, the Northwest Territories is one of only a few jurisdictions across Canada to develop an MMIWG action plan.

The gender equity division will also be responsible for implementing Gender Based Analysis Plus, or GBA+, to assess how diverse groups may be impacted by government policies, programs, and initiatives.

The gender equity division continues to support women in leadership initiatives including the Campaign School for Women, which encourages the participation of women in political leadership and equips them with tools and supports to run for elected office. If we want to measure success and importance of this program, we can simply look at all the women elected in this room and beyond holding office across the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, on this International Women's Day, we do have much to celebrate. It's important to acknowledge the work that has been done to honour and recognize those women who have gotten us here today. However, if we want a gender equal world, one that is free of bias, stereotypes or discrimination, we do still have a lot of work to do.

The time for gender equality was yesterday; it was last month, last year, decades and centuries ago. The time for gender equality is long overdue, Mr. Speaker, but today will have to do. Together we can forge women's equality and together we can Break the Bias. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 225-19(2): International Women's Day
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Minister's Statement 226-19(2): Housing Delivery Status Update
Ministers' Statements

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation is delivering an exceptional large capital program to cost share the delivery of 60 new single public housing units. 46 of those units are projected to be completed in 2022-2023, and 14 are projected to be completed the following year. The majority of this funding is coming from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation under the Co-Investment Fund.

In addition, Crown Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada is also contributing funding towards the delivery of 30 new public housing units. Seven are expected to be completed this year; 21 are expected to be completed in 2022-2023; two are expected to be completed in 2023-2024.

This will be the largest expansion of public housing units in the Northwest Territories in over 20 years. The annual capital delivery plan of approximately $94 million involves the construction and renovation of more than 364 housing units in the Northwest Territories. This represents almost a 100 percent increase in capital investment compared to the previous year's $47 million capital plan. This plan includes new and replacement public housing units, major retrofits, and a large biomass district heating project, market housing, and the remaining units for the RCMP housing initiative.

Mr. Speaker, the majority of this delivery is now either already completed or in the construction phase. Over the last year, the Housing Corporation has awarded negotiated contracts for the construction of 12 new housing units being delivered by the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, the Gwich'in Tribal Council (Delta North Alliance); Fort Smith Metis Council; and the Norman Wells Claimant Corporation. Under the Tlicho Infrastructure Corporation Agreement, the Housing Corporation has also awarded the construction of the local housing organization office in Behchoko. The NWT Housing Corporation is continuing its discussions with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations to support this extraordinary delivery.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to our own delivery, we will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, community governments, and non-profit organizations to help them access funding through the Government of Canada's National Housing Co-Investment Fund. The co-investment fund application process can be very time consuming and requires significant resources to move through the different application phases. There are currently ten active projects we are aware of in construction phase, two nearing completion of the application process, and more than 20 projects the Housing Corporation are engaged in supporting through the federal co-investment application process.

The Housing Corporation will continue to support applications from across the Northwest Territories as they move through this complex process.

Mr. Speaker, beyond the benefits of adding housing options in communities where new units are built, the economic benefits of the construction delivery can provide meaningful employment opportunities. The committed to working with northern contractors as much as possible to maximize the benefits of these projects.

To support these outcomes, on April 1st, 2020, the Housing Corporation amended its construction contracts to require general contractors to support at least one northern apprentice on work assignments for the duration of the construction project.

I am very pleased to advise that in addition to the dozen apprentice positions the Housing Corporation supports each year with local housing organizations, the new apprentice hire as required for general contractors has supported the creation of 33 new apprentice work assignments to date.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has made a commitment to increase the number of affordable homes and reduce housing core need. In this territory, with support from our partners, we have made and continue to make great progress towards fulfilling this commitment. From home repair and community housing plans to invest in new housing units and addressing homelessness through the Northern Pathways to housing programs, the Housing Corporation and its partners are taking big steps to ensuring residents most in need have access to comfortable, safe, and affordable homes.

Despite the progress being made, there is still more work to be done. The COVID-19 pandemic has amplified the need for affordable housing and shown us that adequate housing plays a critical role in the success, health, and wellness of residents and communities across the territory.

The Housing Corporation will continue to engage with the Government of Canada, Indigenous governments, and the stakeholders to help make housing in communities across the Northwest Territories more affordable and more accessible for the residents who need it most.

I'd also like to thank the staff at the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation and our Indigenous partnerships and our partners throughout the Northwest Territories for this collaboration and this work being done today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 226-19(2): Housing Delivery Status Update
Ministers' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Members' statements. Member for Hay River South.

Member's Statement 1008-19(2): Electric Vehicles
Members' Statements

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, with the rising cost of fuel and gas prices throughout the NWT, Canada, and internationally, we must consider alternate forms of transportation.

Mr. Speaker, Arctic Energy Alliance provides rebates for electric vehicles and charging devices. As an added benefit, these rebates can be piggy-backed with federal rebate programs as well. The reason for these programs is to reduce greenhouse gases through the use of zero emission vehicles. We are off to a good start. However, we can advance this by taking a page from our friends in the Yukon who have implemented rebates for electric bikes and electric snowmobiles.

Mr. Speaker, e-bikes are an excellent choice for commuting, exercise, and reducing the carbon footprint. The electric bike does not require one to have a driver's license while saving on fuel and insurance costs. What would excite my colleague from Frame Lake is that the electric bikes and snowmobiles benefit the environment as the release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is not an issue.

What excites me about the e-bike is the exercise it can provide. Although the e-bike comes with an electric motor for those steep hills, it does have pedals and if those pedals are actually used, it will benefit one's heart, lungs, muscles, and sense of well-being.

Mr. Speaker, we all know one cannot live in the Northwest Territories without owning a snowmobile. Or better yet, having a friend you can borrow one from at no cost. There are now electric snowmobiles available in Canada that have a range, on a single charge, of approximately 100 kilometers. In addition to being fully electric and not requiring fuel, the machines are quiet, have comparable performance with machines we are familiar with, and require minimal maintenance.

Mr. Speaker, one drawback in all of this is the lack of EV charging stations in the NWT however I understand there are plans to install more this year. Nevertheless, it is important we look to alternate EV modes of transportation beyond trucks and cars - electric bikes, electric cargo bicycles, and electric snowmobiles would be a good start. Each must be part of the list of equipment eligible for rebates in the NWT.

Currently, the Yukon government provides a rebate for electric bikes and electric cargo bikes of 25 percent up to a maximum of $750 and $2500 for electric snowmobiles. Let's not be left behind.
I will have questions for the Minister responsible for Infrastructure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1008-19(2): Electric Vehicles
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Member's Statement 1009-19(2): International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize International Women's Day, which is held on this date, March 8th, every year.

International Women's Day is celebrated globally to recognize the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. Today is also a Call to Action for accelerating gender parity which is working towards achieving equality with men and not to be discriminated against because of their gender.

Mr. Speaker, great strides and progress have been made since the days of just being a housewife or someone to send to the store to do the shopping. We have to recognize achievements made by women including in trades, management, business, and politically. We can look at the 19th Legislative Assembly, which is the first to have nine female Members of an Assembly. I believe this is a first for any Assembly anywhere.

Mr. Speaker, I have to note that a by-election held in the Monfwi riding, and with the election of a woman, this has now given the 19th Legislative Assembly a majority of women.

I also recognize the many achievements of women in leadership who have broken the glass ceiling. I congratulate and applaud all women who serve on local councils and the many other organizations for which they volunteer. Mr. Speaker, I would like to close with a quote from someone who states, "there's no evidence whatsoever that men are more rational than women. Both sexes seem to be equally irrational." Mahsi.

Member's Statement 1009-19(2): International Women's Day
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Member's Statement 1010-19(2): International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today is International Women's Day. The government of Canada's theme for International Women's Day is Women Inspiring Women. It celebrates all the women and girls who inspire us by demonstrating leadership and the choices they make in their day-to-day lives to contribute to the social, economic, cultural, and political spheres.

The international 2022 campaign is Break the Bias. Imagine a gender-equal world, a world free of bias, stereotypes, discrimination; a world that's diverse, equitable, and inclusive; a world where difference is valued and celebrated.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to point out that I stand in this House with a gender balance. Actually, majority of women representing this territory. We have a female Premier and a majority female Cabinet with most of our chair -- our special and standing committees are chaired by females.

As I stand here, I'd also recognize we have our clerks today that are both female sitting in the House today.

However, I want to express my thanks to our male colleagues who have treated me as an equal throughout my time as a sitting MLA. Never once have I heard a bias against any issue or idea that I have brought forward, unless they're scared to approach me.

Mr. Speaker, there are so many women who have inspired me throughout my life, each one of them has made me who I am. They're women in my life who have led the way long before women had a place at any table. Thank you for breaking this trail.

There have been women who inspired me to strive to be the mother and wife I am today. Thank you.

There are women and girls who continue to inspire me every day, and this gives me the energy and the courage to continue to do the work that they put me here to do. I hope this inspires them to follow in the footsteps, in many of the female footsteps before them. We need to ensure that days like today are not celebrations but are the norm in our world. So I would like to wish everybody a Happy International Women's Day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1010-19(2): International Women's Day
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Member's Statement 1011-19(2): International Women's Day
Members' Statements

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

I am also going to speak about International Women's Day.

Mr. Speaker, the Oxford dictionary defines bias as "a strong feeling in favour of, or against, one group of people, or one side in an argument, often not based on fair judgement."

Since time immemorial, women have faced bias, labelled as the "weaker sex", "hysterical", "emotional", and my personal favourite, Mr. Speaker, "angry". All words used to discredit opinions and lived experiences so that justice for women and girls remains difficult and we are taught to blame ourselves.

Mr. Speaker, this is the greatest example of gaslighting we can see in human history. And it has hurt all people, across the gender spectrum, as we now have generations of people, men, who struggle with expressing their emotions and showing vulnerability as society says those attributes are weak and belong only to the "fairer sex".

As we've heard, this year's International Women's Day theme is Break the Bias, something that I've attempted to do most of my life before I even knew what that word meant.

In 1991, I was the only girl in my high school's industrial education, or IE, class. This, after my antiquated school district finally stopped putting the girls automatically into home economics and the boys in IE.

As a child I was a "tomboy", another one of those biased words used to make women feel lesser than, implying if you don't fit into the traditional gender role you will be labelled as different and held out as an example. If I had a dollar for the number of times that I've been told that it would be hard for me to find a man, I'd be able to build housing for the entire territory, Mr. Speaker. And as I stand before you a single, never married woman, I guess they were right.

As sad as I am that I haven't fulfilled what society tells me is my purpose in life - to get married and have children - I have managed to fill my empty life with other matters, including my career as an engineer, my role as an MLA, and of course being a cool auntie.

Mr. Speaker, I may joke about this situation but as I've said before, humour is how I cope and cope I have, as women have coped for millennia. Never in my life have I so keenly been aware of being a woman, and I am proud to be part of the change that began for this nation when the legislature became the first with a majority of women. And I know the focus of this Assembly reflects our voices. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1011-19(2): International Women's Day
Members' Statements

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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