This is page numbers 4497 - 4544 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. C. Cochrane, Mr. Edjericon (remote), 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 10:02 a.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 4497

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Housing NWT.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, today I am pleased to acknowledge the efforts of Indigenous governments and the federal government on their approach in addressing housing and infrastructure needs.

I would like to congratulate the Gwich'in Tribal Council, the Tlicho government, and the Deline Got'ine government, on the recent federal funding announcement of $78.6 million for community infrastructure and housing. This funding includes:

  • $11.4 million for the Deline Got'ine government;
  • $25.1 million for the Gwich'in Tribal Council; and
  • $42.1 million for the Tlicho government.

Mr. Speaker, the success of these Indigenous governments in accessing this funding directly from Canada is to be celebrated. It will allow them to chart their own course and address the areas they decide are their top priorities.

Mr. Speaker, this funding does not in any way reduce Housing Northwest Territories' obligation and commitment to providing housing supports in the regions receiving funding. This funding is in addition to Housing Northwest Territories' unprecedented new public housing delivery across the Northwest Territories.

If and when called upon, Mr. Speaker, I want to confirm that Housing NWT looks forward to working collaboratively with these Indigenous governments to realize their housing-related goals, whether this involves sharing blueprints, expertise, or other assistance.

We also stand ready to support Indigenous governments with applications for other available funding that can be accessed for housing priorities, such as the Rapid Housing Initiative and the National Co-Investment Fund.

Mr. Speaker, consistent with Housing NWT's strategic renewal, we support all approaches to increase the total funding for housing to serve citizens of the Northwest Territories. The GNWT will continue to advocate for direct housing funding to all territorial Indigenous governments for funding.

We cannot address the territories' extensive housing needs alone. In collaboration, we need Housing Northwest Territories to stand to work with our partners, whether that be Indigenous governments, the federal government, private industry, or non-governmental organizations to address the housing needs of the territory.

Mr. Speaker, it is my hope and expectation that I will have the opportunity to highlight and celebrate the successes of other Housing Northwest Territories partners here in the Legislative Assembly in the future. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Good morning, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to update Members on the work being done to recruit and retain health and social services staff in the Northwest Territories. This work responds to the mandate commitment of the 19th Legislative Assembly to increase the number of resident healthcare professionals by at least 20 percent.

The recruitment and retention of health and social services professionals has become increasingly high profile over the past year, as the COVID-19 pandemic has made shortages of health and social services personnel across Canada worse. The department has identified several reasons for the shortages we are experiencing here in the NWT, and they are working hard to address these issues.

Mr. Speaker, the market for nurses and other health professionals has become increasingly competitive across the country. The result is staff shortages and service reductions or closures in many jurisdictions, including our own.

Within the Northwest Territories, these challenges became more serious last summer and led to the temporary closure of the obstetrics unit for three months for the first time in 20 years.

Despite these challenges, I am pleased to report that the most recent vacancy rate data is trending downward for positions that the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority is actively recruiting. These positions include child and family services positions, licensed practical nurses, and registered nurses. Still, we recognize that the recruitment and retention of health and social services professionals requires a sustained effort.

The health and social services system human resources plan, which will be tabled later today, provides a roadmap for how we will continue and enhance recruitment and retention efforts over the long term. Several of the plan's initiatives are specifically designed to attract Indigenous and northern residents to pursue careers in this field.

Mr. Speaker, our vision is to establish a robust and representative workforce supported by strong leadership and an organizational culture rooted in the principles of cultural safety and anti-racism. I believe achieving this vision will allow our workforce to thrive and, in turn, support continuous improvement in the delivery of health and social services to meet our goal of best health, best care, for a better future for NWT residents.

The plan's overall success will be measured through improved employee engagement and satisfaction, decreased vacancy and turnover rates, and increased representation of Indigenous and northern employees.

To attract more Indigenous people and Northerners into these careers, we have created the Annual NWT Health and Social Services Career Guide, with the 2022 edition launching this month. We are also rolling out the Graduate Transition Program to support new graduates moving into permanent positions within the health and social services system. The clinical observership and job shadowing programs will provide additional tools to encourage youth to explore health and social services careers.

The Family Medicine Residency Program begins its third intake of doctors this July, with our first two residents graduating from the program this month. This vital program is helping to develop, recruit, and retain local family physicians committed to living and working in the Northwest Territories.

To better understand why staff are leaving, we began conducting exit interviews and staff movement surveys over the past year. We also began sending new staff entry surveys three months after their start date to help us understand their experiences and address their concerns early in their career with us.

Using the data and insights gathered from these interviews and surveys, we have been able to prioritize certain action items within human resources that focus specifically on employee engagement and are key to addressing a decline in staff morale and overall staff retention.

This summer, we will launch an updated orientation program, as well as a strategic onboarding framework for all new staff, as well as for those who are new to their position. These programs welcome new employees and help them integrate into their role and environment. They also provide new employees with development opportunities and mentorship.

The launch of a system-wide learning management system to support equal access to mandatory and job specific training is still on track for this summer.

Mr. Speaker, in addition to the launch of the Elsevier Clinical Solutions in November 2021, two new programs have recently launched to support nursing and nursing development.

The Specialized Nursing Transition Program will assist registered nurses who wish to expand their scope of practice into specialized areas. It will start as a pilot program within the obstetrics unit at Stanton, and then expand to all specialty areas within the system.

The Community Health Nursing Competency Program provides training to nurses to develop the competencies required for practice in a community health nurse setting.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would once again like to express my gratitude to the staff within the health and social services system for their continued hard-work and dedication to the well-being of residents of the Northwest Territories. The entire health and social services leadership team recognizes and appreciates their tireless efforts during challenging times. We remain committed to providing the tools and supports needed for our workforce to thrive and succeed. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, today is the third-year anniversary of the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. I wish to honour the Indigenous women and girls and gender-diverse people who have lost their lives or who have experienced or continue to experience trauma and violence.

Mr. Speaker, most people in the Northwest Territories, and certainly everyone in this room, knows someone who has attended a residential or day school, whose grandparent lost a family member during the 50s and 60s tuberculosis outbreak, or whose sibling was taken away during the 60s Scoop. We may also know someone whose friend, sister, or mother, suffered from violence or who was taken away from her family too soon.

Rooted in systemic factors, this violence is often the results of economic, social, and political marginalization, as well as racism and discrimination. The emotional and psychological effects of these events and actions manifest into the present day, with multi-generational and intergenerational trauma continuing to impact Indigenous people in the Northwest Territories and across Canada.

I have said this before, and will continue to say, violence against Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people is a crisis that demands an urgent response. Those words come from the Native Women's Association Northwest Territories' first of four core recommendations to the national inquiry calling on all levels of Canadian leadership to acknowledge this crisis.

Mr. Speaker, despite the increased attention being paid, the crisis is far from over and, therefore, we must continue to meaningfully and sincerely acknowledge.

In December of 2021, I tabled the GNWT's draft action plan in response to the Calls for Justice on the missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. Entitled "Changing the Relationship," the draft action plan aims to transform the GNWT's approach to service delivery and begin to undo the effects of colonialism and racial and gendered discrimination from all levels of government and public institutions.

The gender equity unit is expected to begin visiting communities in the spring to talk to people about our draft action plan and how we propose to respond to the Calls for Justice. Our territory's gradual emergence from the pandemic stalled our progress in gathering people together, but we are making important progress.

Just this week, the GNWT and the Native Women's Association of the Northwest Territories co-hosted an Indigenous language terminology workshop with interpreters and elders on common terms related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and gender-based violence. The purpose of the workshop was to address potential language barriers that may prevent residents from providing feedback on the draft action plan.

The terminology workshop was an important first step ahead of further community engagement on the action plan. Over the summer, we will visit communities throughout the Northwest Territories to engage with Indigenous governments, community governments, and all Northwest Territories residents about the Calls for Justice and our draft response. The work done at the terminology workshop will be incorporated into the development of Indigenous language materials for community discussions, leading to more meaningful engagement with elders and people with lived experience. Materials will also be available online and distributed in advance of all public engagements.

Earlier this week, I had the honour to share lunch with the participants at the translators' workshop. It was a deeply moving experience. When I walked in, the room was almost literally buzzing. Groups of elders, knowledge-keepers, and language experts representing almost all of the official languages of the Northwest Territories were each gathered at tables. They were not merely asking how to explain a particular word in a different language. They were discussing the root meanings of those words and the cultural understanding or expression underlying it.

When I was there, the group was wrapping up discussion around the translation of 2SLGBTQ and QIA peoples. Representatives from several tables stood to summarize their discussions.

From one table, I heard that historically sexuality, sexual preferences, and gender expression was more fluid and that discrimination against 2SLGBTQQIA peoples was something taught or imposed by colonialism.

I learned that there were traditional words for people whose genders had changed after birth and there was no disrespectfulness associated with this. Rather, it reflected the individual as a person.

From more than one table, I heard sadness and frustration at the cultural loss of the traditional esteem once accorded to two-spirited people. The speakers described that people who were gifted with elements of both genders were revered because having gifts incorporating both genders placed them closer to the Creator.

Mr. Speaker, imagine the impact as communities reclaim this kind of knowledge. Imagine the impact when leadership and governments reflect these kinds of cultural and social understandings. This is a reminder of why our draft action plan must be more than a collection of discrete actions department by department but, rather, a way of thinking and serving that builds on seeing people as they are, where they are, and builds trust.

Mr. Speaker, the release of the final report of the national inquiry was momentous and brought to the forefront the need for change in all levels of leadership, all governments and across society. Social change takes time, but we have an opportunity to take an active role in a process of change to improve the safety and well-being of Northwest Territories Indigenous women, girls, and gender-diverse people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, as another school year comes to a close for students across the Northwest Territories, I would like to recognize this year's graduates. Whether they are graduating from kindergarten, high school, or a post-secondary institution like Aurora College, the territory's graduates have a lot to be proud of.

---Applause

The pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions in every sector of society. The last two years have posed great challenges for residents, with the impacts of COVID-19 taking an emotional, mental and physical toll on the health and well-being of NWT residents, communities, businesses and industries, and these impacts extend to NWT's students and educators.

Mr. Speaker, during the pandemic many educational institutions in the NWT closed their doors for in-person learning with lessons moving online and in-person exchanges replaced with virtual interactions. Teachers had to change the way they taught and students had to change the way they learned. It was a challenging time, Mr. Speaker, and this year's graduates persevered and have shown resiliency and dedication, skills that will help them achieve even more success in the future.

Despite the excitement of graduation, it is important to acknowledge that the impacts of COVID-19 on students and educators are still very real and may be felt for months and years to come. The Department of Education, Culture and Employment has been compiling information on school closures and remote learning to inform future decision-making. We are currently using existing wellness data, referrals for school-based mental health and wellness services, and academic progress reports provided by education bodies to monitor the needs of NWT students and guide future decisions and supports.

While there is not a single solution to the challenges that result from school closures and remote learning, ECE provides support services that can help, including mental wellness counselling through the child and youth care counselling initiative and career and education advising to help our students prepare to take their next life step. In addition, the annual territorial teachers conference this fall will focus on how to best support learning and instruction post-pandemic.

Mr. Speaker, as part of the NWT's graduation ceremonies, in the coming weeks eight deserving individuals will be inducted into the NWT Education Hall of Fame for 2021 and 2022. Reading the nomination letters was a wonderful reminder of the important role that educators play in students' lives and careers. Not only do they equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to pursue their education and career goals, but they also help students build the confidence to dream big and set high expectations for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, pursuing any level of education is never easy, but we do it because it is important. It is important to each of us as individuals, and it is important to all of us as a community. The knowledge and skills we gain through education benefit everyone, and create a stronger and more resilient territory.

Mr. Speaker, congratulations to the graduating class of 2022. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to let you know I wrote that statement for the Minister.

No, just kidding.

Mr. Speaker, as this school year ends, I would like to recognize and congratulate all those students from Hay River, Enterprise, West Point First Nation, and K'atlodeeche First Nation, who are graduating from Ecole Boreale, Diamond Jenness Secondary School, Chief Sunrise Education Centre, and Aurora College. I know that each of the graduates will not forget the year they graduated. This year it will not because of COVID but it will be remembered as the year of extensive flooding.

Mr. Speaker, we can all appreciate and acknowledge the commitment, sacrifice, and the years of hard work these students put in to achieve their status as graduates. These students started their educational journey as young children and have now finished as young adults. That chapter has now closed and it is time to take that next step, whether it is to further their education, join the workforce, or travel the world. It is only the beginning of their new journey.

Mr. Speaker, the only advice I would offer each student is show respect to others, show compassion to others, and always be open to new ideas. And most importantly, follow your dreams and passion as it will be each of you who will shape the future.

Mr. Speaker, for the graduates to achieve the success each celebrates, we must recognize the parents, caregivers, family, and those teachers who, throughout the years, supported and encouraged each of you to succeed. In the future, I hope that each graduate will look back and understand the importance of this achievement and, in turn, convey the importance of education while sharing their experience with others as they move forward in life.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I congratulate the graduates of 2022 and wish them all a bright, successful, and healthy future. Thank you Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Here, here. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in June of 2020, I raised the impact of flooding that caused many of my constituents and at that time, I was advised that the hunters and trapper disaster compensation could help. This program, harvesters must earn at least 25 percent of their gross income from renewable resource harvesting to be eligible, and they could be eligible up to a maximum of $4,500 per occurrence for damage or loss by natural disaster other than forest fires according to the guidelines by ENR at this time.

Mr. Speaker, on February 12th, 2021, there was a news article quoting that the department has increased its harvester disaster compensation and in this article, the article stated that the residents that were impacted by the Taltson River flood could be eligible for up to $40,000 in financial relief.

On March 4th, 2021, the Minister committed to a commitment to review the hunters and trappers disasters compensation as well. Mr. Speaker, this year, the water in Inuvik area is higher than any previous year. So those ones that were not affected two years ago by the flood were pretty much all were affected this year. And now we're in the process of assessing the damage.

I would like my residents the same opportunity that was given to the residents impacted by the Taltson River flooding to ensure that ENR regional office in Inuvik has clear direction from the deputy minister's office and the Minister's office that they will be given the same consideration.

Mr. Speaker, with the cost of building supplies and the increased fuel costs, as well as inflation, $4,500 is not going to go a long way.

I will have questions for the Minister of ENR. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to rise today and speak about transparency in infrastructure budgeting.

Last fall in this House, we passed a confidential amount for the Whati Power Project. We're not allowed to say how much we passed. We also know the total amount of that project but it's confidential information. And when you ask the government why we can't talk about how much a specific project says, they say oh, it'll affect tendering. Yet, Mr. Speaker, I just don't believe that is remotely true.

A comparable project, the Fort Providence Transmission Line, we know costs $60 million. In fact, we knew that one year before any money ever came to this Assembly because the federal government announced it. And every time the federal government gives us money, they announce the total cost they are providing to the GNWT and the total project cost, and it takes about a year, actually, before that money ever even gets approved by the Assembly. So it's announced as if it's a done fact, and we're just going to rubber stamp whatever amount is.

Additionally, Mr. Speaker, at a municipal level, it would be impossible to ever approve a project without talking about the total project cost. The vast majority of infrastructure is actually municipal, and often whenever a council is approving a project, not only is the total project cost there, but actually the design and a cost estimate.

Mr. Speaker, I have never seen a public GNWT cost estimate. Every once in a while, we're lucky if we get a business case. I know we are all eagerly awaiting the Taltson business case, but I strongly doubt we will ever see a Fort Providence Transmission Line business case or a Whati business case.

And Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House, the government let $125 million in infrastructure spending lapse. And they didn't think it was important to tell the public which projects they are letting lapse. Perhaps there is a very important infrastructure project in your community that you were previously told was going ahead has now disappeared off the books, and there is no public record of what those projects are, Mr. Speaker.

$125 million, of money that this House previously approved, has now just been removed without telling the public what actually happened.

Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Infrastructure about how we can get some more transparency in our budgeting.

This is a uniquely GNWT project. You can go to almost any other jurisdiction in Canada and look at their long-term capital projects. You can look at their long-term needs assessment. You can see the cost estimates for individual projects. You can see what years that money will be dispersed, and then you can track through time whether it's on time and on budget. We have asked repeatedly for staff to try and find out if projects are on time and on budget, and with publicly-available information, Mr. Speaker, it is an impossible task. And given we are letting about half of our capital budget get carried over or lapsed, it's very clear that consistently the GNWT's projects are not on time and not on budget.

I'll have questions for the Minister of Infrastructure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, for my statement today, I want to wish all the Indigenous leaders across the NWT a wonderful summer. I know it is difficult for anyone to put their names forward for elected office. So as a former chief, I want to wish all my former colleagues well and I hope they, and their constituents, all have great assemblies this year in person.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, I would like to wish all my colleagues here, including you, Mr. Speaker, a good and restful summer break. I also liked to wish all the staff of the Assembly for keeping us on track and making sure we follow protocols and their continued support for our work as leaders, including my own staff member, my CA, a good and happy summer as well.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I want to wish all the amazing constituents of Thebacha a great summer season.

I would also like to extend this message to all the leadership of Fort Smith, which includes the Salt River First Nation, the Fort Smith Metis Council, and the Town of Fort Smith. Thank you to all the leadership and to my constituents for your continued support in me as MLA for Thebacha.

Thank you as well to my community team for always being there for me and for the people that I serve in our community. You know who you are. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also wish you a very good summer.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Skills Canada is back. Last week, the medal results of the 2022 Skills Canada national competition, held in Vancouver were announced. From May 27th to the 28th, 350 students and apprentices from across Canada competed for the title of national champion in 45 skill areas, both in person at the Vancouver Convention Centre, and virtually from their home territories and provinces. Team Northwest Territories is proud to announce they have taken home five medals in skilled trade areas.

Over 3,000 student visitors, industry leaders, government officials, and industry celebrities participated in this national event. HGTV's Kate Campbell; the Honourable Anne Kang, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Training,
and the Honourable Andrew Mercier, parliamentary secretary for skills training, all took part in the event.

Skills Canada NWT's team consisted of seven competitors in a variety of skilled trade competitions, working hard over the two-day competition. These competitors set a record for percentage of a team medaling on the national stage when they brought five medals home to the territory. As well, two of the secondary school competitors did a fantastic job considering it was their first time virtually participating in a skilled trade competition.

Team NWT's competitors included:

  • From St Pat's, Kaitlyn Stewart, who competed in fashion technology; and,
  • Jaida Dowe, who competed in hairstyling and won a bronze medal.

In the post-secondary and apprentice categories:

  • Adam Nitsiza of J&R Mechanical won a bronze medal in plumbing;
  • Deanna Buckley of Gahcho Kue Diamond Mine/DeBeers Canada competed in the industrial mechanic/millwright category, also taking home a bronze medal;
  • Connor Fleming of GAP Electric competed in electrical installations; and,
  • Teammate Austin Brown of Aurora Ford/Ekati Diamond Mine won a silver in automotive technology; finally,
  • Emma Taylor of Mint Hair Salon, who is currently attending school at Madam Chair College brought gold home to the territories.

Skills Canada Northwest Territories' mission is to engage Northwest Territories youth to explore career opportunities in skilled trades and technologies. Engagement through workshops, presentations, and competitions gives secondary, post-secondary students, and apprentices a chance to learn more about these lucrative and viable career options in the Northwest Territories. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you. The good news is I won't do this again this session.

Contributors to the event include the Government of Canada, ECE, the Royal Bank of Canada, Rio Tinto Diavik Diamond Mine, and WSCC.

I want to send an extra special thank you to the school districts, educators, and volunteers throughout the Northwest Territories that support this fabulous organization. I personally had the opportunity to participate several times in their Power Up Youth Mentorship Workshops hosting a water treatment filter building workshop with 13-year-olds. It was always the highlight of my year as a consultant, and I'm excited for the organization to get back to all the important work they do.

Additionally, like my colleagues, I would like to congratulate all the graduates in the NWT, and specifically those in my riding. The fact that you have persevered over the last few years is a testament to your resilience and strength. Congratulations. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. In July 2021, the Minister of Finance was undertaking public budget consultations. I want to compliment the Minister for this important initiative, which has happened in each of the last three years. Despite urging from Regular MLAs, the last Minister did not do this.

For the 2021 budget consultation or dialogue, the Minister of Finance posted a revenue options discussion paper just the day before public engagements. I would certainly encourage that the discussion paper be refreshed, with a more balanced approach to taxation, and be released well in advance of any meetings.

I am quite concerned about what it will cost us to ensure our residents in Hay River can recover quickly and fairly from the devastating flood in May, the need to rebuild GNWT infrastructure there, and any further preventative measures such as relocations or diking. With inflation running at 6.8 percent nationally and 7.1 percent here in Yellowknife compared to April 2021, we must find more revenues to maintain the same programs and services.

In the past I've suggested a number of ways to raise more revenues including:

  • Adding at least one more high-income tax bracket to personal income tax;
  • A capital tax on financial institutions as we are one of only five jurisdictions in Canada without such a tax;
  • Raising more revenues from mining royalties which are comparatively low against most other regimes; and
  • Negotiating a new fiscal relationship with Ottawa where we get to keep more, if not all, of our own source revenues.

The current fiscal path is completely unsustainable. Now is the time to examine our core values of sharing, justice, equity, and whether these are truly reflected in our revenue efforts as we recover and rebuild.

Another way to spend more on our programs is to reduce our capital spending. As shown in the supplementary appropriation we just dealt with, we could not spend the money in the last capital budget. We need to become more realistic and focused on those projects that provide real benefits to our people, especially housing.

I will have questions later today for the Minister of Finance on preparations for Budget 2023-2024 later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, and TGIF to everyone.

Mr. Speaker, in June of every year, we celebrate National Indigenous History Month. During this month, we celebrate the rich history, heritage, resilience, and diversity of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis peoples across Canada.

There's a writer who shared that since time in memorial, our oral traditions have been passed from generation to generation, teach our beliefs, history, values, practices, customs, rituals, and relationships. Mr. Speaker, this goes across all nations.

Our elders, also known as knowledge-keepers, pass on our culture and teachings so we will not forget our roots to Mother Earth and to preserve our way of life.

The drum is a gift which enlights us all and it is through this unity that we form a circle of life allowing us to share the drumbeat of a nation in dance. Go out and enjoy life with Indigenous people, and feel the connection. Taste the traditional foods of our people. Feel the spiritual connection with the feeding of the fire, and let your troubles soar away.

Mr. Speaker, June 21st is recognized as National Indigenous Peoples Day across this country and here in the North. We celebrate this day in many of our communities so come on out and get your drum dance on. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, spring is a beautiful and powerful time of transition, both in season and in the lives of many Northerners. Our pride of northern graduates and the anticipation of summer adventures are putting bounce in our step so this feels like an opportune time to work with housing to make some of our own transitions.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this week the Minister identified the delay of the 2018 commitment of a homelessness strategy was a needed all-of-government approach and to avoid any unintended consequences. I agree with the need of government integration, shared accountability, and mechanisms for a person-centered approach. In addition, I agree that good policy means considering, weighing, and evaluating unintended consequences.

The Minister also said the delay was due to a desire to bring forward an approach that can be resourced but later said "once the document is implemented, we need to find resources."

Mr. Speaker, as a Regular Member, at this point I have no idea what this strategy will include or the action it will compel from the government but I know that after four years of drafting and redrafting, my expectations are big. One of my biggest frustrations, Mr. Speaker, is that in the four years of drafting this strategy, the government has not made efforts to evolve policies with unintended consequences of homelessness.

The Housing NWT Community Residency Policy as unintended consequences that do cause homelessness. It requires an NWT resident to live in a community for a predetermined number of months before they can then add their name to the public housing waitlist.

Mr. Speaker, if implementing the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the MMIWG Calls for Justice, and the TRC Calls to Action are a priority of this government, they need to flip policies and ask if the unintended consequences are justifiable. And they need to do that now, not sitting with them for four years. If the government spends its entirety reviewing, reflecting, and strategizing without the action, nothing will change.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to listen to NWT residents during the anti-poverty round table focused on housing and homelessness. One resounding theme was a call to action to stop researching and planning and to start listening, acting, and then evaluating, because then we have at least tried to change.

This policy keeps people from jobs, family, and autonomy. But even more jarring, Mr. Speaker, it prevents Northerners from accessing resources, prevents parents from leaving violent relationships, and jeopardizes a parent's ability to keep their children out of the child welfare system.

This policy, Mr. Speaker, causes homelessness. Housing NWT needs to stop upholding a policy that limits a person's self-determination in health, economic, and social sufficiency through housing. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Minister of Monfwi.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My statement is on a summer message to my constituents and others.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say thank you to all the pages here, especially to Nate Simpson, Alexis Kotchilea-Judas, from Alexis Arrowmaker School, for a job well done and to have a good, safe summer.

Mr. Speaker, I want to wish all the students in the Tlicho regions and in NWT for completing this school year. Also a big congratulations to Grad 2022 from Chief Jimmy Bruneau school in Behchoko, Jean Wetrade in Gameti, Alexis Arrowmaker School in Wekweeti, and Mezi Community School in Whati for reaching this important accomplishment in their lives. I know it was challenging at times due to COVID. I wish them all to have a good, safe summer.

Additionally, Mr. Speaker, I would like to extend my congratulations to all Tlicho citizens who are college and university graduates for the Class of 2022. It is important to recognize the success of all Tlicho citizens, no matter how big or small they may seem.

I would also like to extend my thanks to all the family, friend, educators, and staff who help support all graduating students get to this milestone moment.

Mr. Speaker, I want to wish all the Tlicho citizens, all our elders, they are the true knowledge-keepers, they are our teachers and professors; I want to wish them all to have a happy, safe summer.

I would also like to wish all my colleagues here in this House and all the staff, the interpreters of the Legislative Assembly, to have a good summer break as well. May God bless you, keep you and your family safe on your journey. I look forward to continue my travel to all the Tlicho communities over the summer and attend the Tlicho Annual June Assembly as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker; you, as well too, have a good, safe summer.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Mahsi cho, Member for Monfwi. Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When I first came to serve here, I was proud to continue the tradition begun by the honourable men and women that came before me. I was just as proud of the consensus government that has set us apart from the rest of Canada. This institution has incredible strengths for its foundation, our people, and aspirations. Yet somehow we have forgotten this strength and instead have turned our Assembly against itself.

We find excuses instead of action. We carry out infighting instead of cooperation. We choose to establish core order ambition for the future.

Mr. Speaker, I have remained steadfast in my belief that our consensus system is the best way to govern our people, lands, and resources. However, when our government's resolve was tested by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, sadly our consensus government has demonstrated its inability to move past its flaws and build a future that will lead to growth and opportunity and wellness.

If our system is truly rooted in Indigenous traditions, then why do Indigenous people bear a disproportionate burden of social ills and economic depression compared to the rest of the territory? How can this be our system was designed to elevate Indigenous people who have been the stewards of the NWT since time in immemorial. How can we claim that this is partnership within these walls and truth are deeply-divided.

Between Indigenous and non-Indigenous, Yellowknife and small communities, Cabinet and Regular Members, instead of stepping up and coming together to solve problems, we keep our heads down, our mouths closed, and think I'm just here for my riding, I don't need to worry about anything else.

Mr. Speaker, it has been only three months since I've been elected to this House. I was sad to learn that there's no (audio). Our government seems ready to pass on along our most pressing issues as our territory to the next Assembly. We only need to look at the most recent report of the Auditor General of Canada into addictions to see the costs of continued inaction and passing the buck. Despite continued advocacy for better mental health, our leaders then and now insist there's nothing more that we can do.

The latest report provides otherwise a report that joins along this stuff escaping audits. This serves as a solemn reminder that despite repeated inquiries to long-standing problems, consensus politics hasn't been able to muster the collective political will to solve them.

Mr. Speaker, I ran for office for my constituents to help and be part of this institution that's greater than some of its Members. Something must be done to change how we work in this government because what we have isn't working well. We risk leaving our people a little more than frustration and despair if we do not act. I, for one, keep the promise I made to my constituents and find the best path forward for my people even if it means leaving old traditional ways. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Social networking or social media are a great way to keep in touch with friends, family, or just a way to keep up with the social life of everyone around you. Unfortunately, as we all know there are consequences to our online networking such as cyber-bullying.

Mr. Speaker, cyber-bullying is bullying with the use of digital technology. It can take place on social media, game platforms, gaming platform, and mobile phones. It is repeated behaviour aimed at scaring, angering, or shaming those who are targeted. Examples include:

  • Speaking half-truths or opinions that may or may not support the evidence out there;
  • Sending harmful, abusive, or threatening messages via various messaging platforms;
  • Impersonating someone and sending mean messages to others on their behalf or fake accounts;
  • Saying and implying comments about the person without using the person's name.

Face-to-face bullying and cyber-bullying can often happen alongside each other but cyber-bullying leaves a digital footprint that can be seen for a long time or can be reproduced.

Mr. Speaker, cyber-bullying is one of the worst things that we live with today, not only for teens but for society in general. It is a very stressful and dangerous way to deal with issues and can have some very bad consequences including, mainly, such things as depression, even suicidal thoughts.

Mr. Speaker, as we all have experienced, there are individuals out there using Hansard as a platform to get their opinions across and saying things without consequences. As a politician, we get individuals out there that don't agree with your decision or of this government. I once asked an individual why they took to social media to express their frustrations and their response was it is a way to say things that are on my mind without no one arguing with us. I tried to explain that this was not the best approach to go about. The response I received is you should be doing the same thing. You should be out there disagreeing with and arguing with the people on that platform. At this point in time, we agreed to disagree and move on to another topic.

Mr. Speaker as Bono says, be kind to one another. I hope and pray people actually follow through on this. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife South.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today is the one year anniversary of the release of the national action plan to address the crisis of missing and murdered women, girls, and 2SLGBTQ and QIA+ peoples.

I chose this day to acknowledge the work of Yellowknife South Youth Parliament participant Aubrey Sluggett. Aubrey stood in this Chamber on May the 12th and gave a Minister's statement. As the representative of Yellowknife South, she was able to pick any topic she felt was important to her and the youth of the North and within the portfolios of Finance, Industry, Tourism and Investment, or Status of Women.

Mr. Speaker, Aubrey used her words and her platform here to bring attention to the national inquiry movement in the Northwest Territories, the public benches that the Yellowknife Women's Society has placed in honour of missing women, and the monument that we built on the Legislative Assembly grounds. She also spoke to what she felt we could be doing further to enhance the work that we are already moving forward on.

Mr. Speaker, further to this, she spoke of the importance of women in political office and how happy she was to point out that our legislature is a majority female and that the Youth Parliament had 14 female parliamentarians and one nonbinary parliamentarian.

Mr. Speaker, I was very proud to be a resident of Yellowknife South on May 12th represented by Aubrey Sluggett. It is not only the future that is in good hands, it is our present leadership who are pushed to live up to the example and the expectations of those who will ultimately inherit these roles. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife South. Members' statements. Returns to oral questions. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Acknowledgements. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this past week, I received many emails from teachers, parents, and students complaining about a long-standing issue with the plumbing at the Ecole Boreale portable in Hay River.

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister of ECE confirm if his department has looked into the issue and determined what the cause of the problem is? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also received dozens and dozens of emails from students, staff, parents, perhaps other people in the community who were concerned about this issue, and I appreciate those emails because it brought it to my attention.

The Department of Education, Culture and Employment became aware of this issue just prior to the flooding in Hay River, and that was really the first time that we knew about it.

So the issue that we've learned, in consultation with the Department of Infrastructure, is that there have been ongoing sewage backup issues. This goes back to -- the original issue goes back to when the portable was installed. The sewer line was hooked up to an abandoned sewer line. The sewer line from the building was hooked up to an abandoned sewer line instead of the newer sewer line which it should have been hooked up to. There has been a temporary fix in place for many years and from what I understand, it had been working but over the last -- over this year in particular, and perhaps over the last few years as well, there have been increasing issues. Thank you

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this issue has been a long-standing one, as the Minister said.

Can the Minister confirm how and when this plumbing issue will be addressed to the satisfaction of the Ecole Boreale staff, students, and parents, as those students, staff, and parents accessing the building have a right to a safe place to learn and work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I agree, students need a place to learn that is supportive of that learning. And in a supportive learning environment, staff need a safe supportive workplace as well. And so as soon as we learned about this, we started working with the Department of Infrastructure, and there will be a permanent fix in place over the summer. So in the next school year, it will no longer be an issue. It would be great if we could fix this issue before the summer, fix it now, but it's a very disruptive process. I believe it involves digging up the parking lot and, you know, the smell of sewer would be far beyond what it is now. So we have to wait until the summer to get it done but it is getting done. Thank you.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, can the Minister confirm if there are issues other than the plumbing, such as heat and cooling, as those were mentioned as recurring issues that need to be addressed as well.

Will the Minister also commitment his department to following up on these issues and remedy any issues found before the start of next school year? Thank you.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And there have been concerns about the classrooms being too hot in the late spring/early summer. As a result, Infrastructure has installed portable air conditioners. There isn't a plan to connect the portable building to the main air handling unit but we do have the portable air conditioners in place. And I will say that, you know, this issue brought to light the fact there needs to be a little better communication. So I've reached out -- or I've had conversations with the president of the CSFTNO, the French language school board, and I've had conversations with the Minister of Infrastructure, and we are going to ensure that if there is an issue that the school board is encouraged to bring it forward. I want to hear from the president when there's these issues, and I told the department they need to have that discussion at the officials level as well because we don't want these to become long-standing issues; we want to get them fixed as soon as possible. I'm here to advocate for those education bodies and advocate for the students, and I need to know what's going on in order to do that. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when this portable was first put in place, I think it was supposed to be a three-year fix. It's probably been ten years since it was actually, you know, installed. So, Mr. Speaker, when the portable was constructed, like I said it was a short-term solution to address lack of space in the main building, is it the department's intent to look at an expansion of the main building to eliminate the requirement for the portable? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So currently there is nothing on the books to build a new permanent facility at Ecole Boreale. As the MLA, I advocated for, you know, that in the past, advocated for a gym, advocating for all of these issues as the Member is doing now. Unfortunately, there was a decision made, you know, 15 years ago that we are now dealing with. It would have been great if they had just built a permanent building at that point. But now we're at the point where we have many schools that are in need of repair. There's 49 schools in the territory, you know, over 50 years old some of them, in desperate need of repair, and so it's a very competitive environment. So there is nothing on the books. But I hear about those issues. I hear about the desire for a gym at Ecole Boreale. And I would love to give them one. I'd love to give a gym to Jean Marie River as well, to N'dilo, to Dettah - to a number of different schools - but the fact is it's tough to get together the money to serve all the needs in the territory. But I am going to work with the Minister of Infrastructure and with my department to determine what the needs are at Ecole Boreale and see what we can do in the future. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In my statement I talked about transparency in infrastructure budgeting, and I want to use the Whati Transmission Line as an example.

The Whati Transmission Line has been debated for years in this House. It's clear that millions of dollars have been approved because it appears in the main estimates debates year after year. It's clear that millions of dollars have been spent because there's talk of geotechnical and reporting and a feasibility assessments being done. Some Members have oft-repeated that it would be cheaper to introduce three hydro projects as opposed to one transmission line, which is a statement you can't evaluate because there's no public figure telling you how much the transmission line actually costs.

So my question is, after years of talking publicly about this line and the different costs and weighing the benefits, can we finally have an estimated cost of the Whati Transmission Line? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Whati Transmission Line is a key initiative, and I'm going to keep saying this, under our 2030 Energy Strategy. This proposed project will occur 100 percent on Tlicho lands, and the GNWT and the Tlicho governments are committed to advancing this important project together.

The Department of Infrastructure and the Tlicho government recently began working together to be able to determine an acceptable routing corridor for the transmission line between the Snare Forks hydroelectricity facility and Whati. The tentative date for the completion of this part of the work is in fall of 2022. Once this routing corridor for the project is known, infrastructure and Tlicho will collaborate on preliminary engineering and design. This work will include internal preliminary capital costs estimates that reflects the design work and the routing corridor. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, a "no" would have sufficed. I actually don't have any idea how much this project costs, and what we're talking about.

Can the Minister tell me how much money we've spent to date on this project and how much money this Assembly has approved? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I will go back to the department and see how much of that was spent. We're so early in the stages of this project, we're still working with Tlicho. We haven't decided on a route. There's so many different factors that are involved. Without us knowing that, we don't know how much it's going to cost. Thank you.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I get that, you know, there's different classes of cost estimates and they have different specificity. You know, we know that the Fort Providence Transmission Line costs $60 million. The GNWT doesn't have that publicly anywhere but the federal government told us that when they gave us the money. So I'm just assuming we're in about the $60 million range of public money here. That's the assumption I operate on. But I would like to understand the reason when we pass money in this House for infrastructure projects we are not told the total cost publicly is that it would affect the tendering. And in this case, I want to know for a transmission line that is going to cost 10s of millions of dollars, and I think might even be a P3, whether there is in any actual real concern that the public figure of the total cost will affect tendering of this? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, releasing internal construction costs estimates publicly before procurement has a strong potential to influence that process and could result in higher costs to the government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Yellowknife North.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to point out that every single municipal project ever has the total public amount released before tendering because it's approved by council. I want to note that every time the federal government announces money, we have the total amount because they announced it. Did we get mad at the federal government when they told us how much the Fort Providence Transmission Line was going to cost, which has not yet been tendered?

Mr. Speaker, additionally, we don't give public estimates and we don't give business cases. I don't know if there's actually a business case for this transmission line. And so my question is, is there a business case and is that something that could be shared publicly before we spend or approve millions more of public money? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Whati project is not being developed using a traditional business case. This project is part of an initiative under our 2030 Energy Strategy, to use federal dollars earmarked to displace diesel in our remote communities.

Fortunately, typical maintenance costs for a 60-kilometre transmission line are significantly less than the annual diesel fuel savings. That will result from converting the community of Whati from diesel to hydro power for the next 50 years.

As I mentioned, Mr. Speaker, in my response to the first question, this is an important investment that will reduce GHG emissions in the community and help stabilize the costs of energy going forward to the community of Whati. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions are for the Minister of the Department of ENR.

Has the Minister's department completed the Hunters and Trappers Disasters Compensation Policy and when can we expect this policy publicly? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister responsible for Environment and Natural Resources.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before I answer that, I'd like to thank both the MLAs from Yellowknife and the Speaker for keeping constant contact to me as we watched the river break up there. I mean, it was devastating. And my condolences to the residents that have been impacted.

Mr. Speaker, ENR is currently conducting review of the current Hunters and Trappers Disasters Compensation Policy, including program criteria, eligibility, and scope of operational guidelines. This review will build on past experiences, including recent flooding events in a number of communities across the Northwest Territories. The review is currently underway and will be shared publicly once updated. And I can guarantee the Regular Members will be getting that information as soon as it's ready to go. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And the Minister alluded a little bit of the changes but are you able to share what some of these significant changes that may be when this policy comes into effect? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the current review of the Hunters and Trappers Disaster Compensation Policy is being assessed all aspects of the program including eligibility, amount of compensation that will be available for harvesters. Any changes are intended to help people engage in traditional economy, support access to country food, and support people being on the land. ENR will engage with key partners before final changes are done. So the policy is open and we're trying to improve it globally. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is for the Minister about past experiences.

So I mentioned in my statement that the Taltson River, when it flooded, a lot of the hunter and trapper cabins, there was increase in compensation during that flood to those hunters and trappers. So will my constituents now, and any other hunters and trappers impacted by floods, be eligible to the same compensation that was given to those in the Taltson River as it was referred to in some news articles, up to $40,000? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, and I thank the Member for this very important question. The Taltson River flooding event resulted in significant damages to cabins out there, and we viewed applications individually to look at how best to support the applicants. So there is an exception to it, in that process there. We will again review application on case-by-case basis and suggest that affected hunters and trappers reach out to their local ENR office. Again, just so the impacted people out there, please reach out to our regional offices. We're willing to work with you and, again, there will be exceptions that we need to look at. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you for that, Minister. As many people supplement their income by offsetting food costs now with harvesting fish, ducks, geese, moose, berries -- not everyone does this -- by selling furs or calculating how they're harvesting. So I think I heard in his statement in the review that some of this stuff would be added into the review. And they do this from their cabins out on the delta. So how does ENR or how will ENR, or is this going to be in the review, how they are measuring earning 25 percent and will they do -- will they ensure that there's a way to include this, measure this kind of offset? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And Mr. Speaker, I thank the Member for a great question.

ENR relies on hunters and trappers to provide evidence that 25 percent of their income comes from harvesting. At this point, no decision has been made on possible changes to eligible criteria under the new program but this aspect is under review. So we are working with impacted residents, hunters and trappers, as well as Indigenous governments to work on this, and committee. Hunters and trappers, again, can reach out to our local ENR office to get assistance to complete their applications. So we're there to help. And more than willing to work with the individuals but also the Members that have affected constituents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions.

Colleagues, before we continue, I'd like to welcome back our former Premier, Mr. Bob McLeod, and his wife Melody and the rest of his family. Welcome to the Chamber. Welcome back.

Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, my questions today are for the Minister of Housing. It just wouldn't be a normal session if I didn't ask for them to remove the community residency policy.

So, Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Housing remove the community residency policy? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister responsible for Housing NWT.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Right now the Housing Corporation has taken direction into reviewing all policies within our department. Right now we are working with the Council of Leaders, which is a respected working arm for us throughout the territory. We had brought this to their table as well. I just want the Member to know that we are having those discussions, and we are going to be bringing that back to committee before the end of this government for committee to have their opportunity to make their suggestions and their comments on those changes to those policies. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I fear that while the people of the Northwest Territories have waited four years for a homelessness strategy and no changes have happened that there are policies that can change in the meantime.

If the reason the Minister says that she needs to hold on to the policy is for fairness and housing can't be distributed fairly without this policy, then why hasn't the Minister updated the point rating system to ensure fairness when housing is distributed to residents? Thank you.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to the Member for her question as well too.

Throughout my time holding the portfolio, I'm confidently wanting to say that I went to every region throughout the Northwest Territories, and I was able to speak with a number of the LHOs. I think the last number that I had was 20, and there's 23 throughout the Northwest Territories. So I had brought this up as well too, talking about the point rating system, and the LHOs didn't have too much comments to wanting to change the point rating system. And also I did speak about the residency requirements which where the LHOs do have a service agreement that is performed on behalf of Housing NWT.

The comments for that as well too is that they found that policy fair.

But I will bring that back to the LHOs. Housing NWT will be meeting with the local housing authorities regionally in the next coming months, and I will bring this back. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Yes, thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm kind of confused then. If Housing NWT has gone to LHOs and they have said that they don't want to change their policies but Housing is speaking with the Council of Leaders about changing policies, what power does Housing NWT have then over LHOs to change policies? Thank you.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The policies are administered by Housing NWT. But I'm looking for fairness and consistency throughout the Northwest Territories and having the Council of Leaders at the table and having these discussions, looking at these policies, we have made great movement with them in talking with the federal government as well.

I did make an announcement this morning that I acknowledge what they had received throughout the territory, and I'm looking at this as a positive way to be doing and addressing housing in smaller communities as well.

And we are not waiting for the Council of Leaders to make the decision. We are looking for the recommendations and the comments from that table and the recommendations and comments from the local housing authorities. I would like to highlight their work and bring them to the table and update those service contracts as well too.

Mr. Speaker, there's a lot of work to be doing when I'm speaking about local housing authorities, and I respect the questions coming from the MLA because it really provides a lot of good feedback for us to be bringing that back. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Minister keeps speaking about fairness. But if a policy goes against the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the MMIWG, on the anniversary that it was tabled, if it goes against the TRC Calls to Action, then it's not fair; it's not a fair policy, and this is not a discussion about fairness. This is a discussion about Housing having a prioritization tool that doesn't work, and they won't change it. So at what point will Housing realize that this policy has unintended consequences and they need to step in and create policies that work? Thank you.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And like I have said, we are right now, in the current time, we are reviewing those policies. As we speak, the department is working on them, and I am confident that we're going to be looking at future changes. And I know that -- you know, I've had the portfolio for three years. We are seeing significant changes throughout the Northwest Territories. And I know the Member's very passionate about this policy. She would like to see the changes made. The policy right now is out there for recommendations, for comments, and bringing that back. But I really want to stress to the Member that I did not hear any concerns from the local housing authorities when looking at the residency policy. But my commitment is to bring this back to those meetings that are happening and looking at further changes. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. My questions are for the Minister of Finance about preparation of the 2023-2024 Operations Budget.

This Minister's carried out budget consultations each of the last three years, and I support that initiative. Can the Minister tell us whether there will be public budget consultations again this with year and whether there will be any serious discussion of the need for more revenues? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Minister responsible for Finance.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would be interested to hear what one of the other colleagues might have to say about preparation of the operations budgets. But I'm happy to answer it.

And Mr. Speaker, before I do, let me just note that this process of doing the budget dialogues, or what's become budget dialogues, did come originally from other MLAs. So, you know, I do want to acknowledge that that idea came from them and it's been a helpful experience every year. We are doing it again. I had hoped to have it out a little earlier but with all the work that's happening with the impacts of the floods, it didn't get out yet.

I can say, and I'm happy to have the opportunity to say this here, is that we are looking at public engagement on July the 8th and the 19th. Again, as a virtual town hall. Likely to keep it virtual for now, Mr. Speaker, so that we can be accessible to all residents across the Northwest Territories. Then, as in keeping with prior years, we will be doing some targeted sessions in Indigenous governments, Indigenous government organizations, the Northwest Territories Association of Communities, the nonprofit sector, and business and chamber organizations. And those will be taking place over July 4th to 8th.

And Mr. Speaker, I take note of the comments around having information out early. The target for getting the materials out is June 20th. So definitely looking to be a few weeks ahead of the engagements.

There was a second question in there, Mr. Speaker, I think with respect to around discussion of the need for revenues.

Mr. Speaker, the budget dialogues presents and outlines how the budget is created, what's in the budget, tries to give a sense of where revenues come from, makes note of the fact that roughly 80 percent come from the federal government, but certainly with respect to that remaining portion, there's materials within the discussion papers that will allow some discussion around what other options there are. Thank you.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I love when I get announcements in the House. It is good news, and I thank the Minister for that. But, however, I have been disappointed over the last six years at the lack of analysis and serious consideration of new revenues for the NWT.

Can the Minister tell us whether she will revise the revenue options paper with more recent numbers, especially in light of inflation and some of the factors that I had discussed in my Member's statement, and ensure it has a more balanced approach for these budget 2023-2024 consultations. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the revenue options paper does get looked at and reviewed every year. I'm not sure that we'll ever get to a point perhaps about bringing all of us as to what should be in there or what it should say. But we do look back at it every year. And there's been changes made, thanks to the feedback that I've received specifically from the MLAs before it goes out.

With respect to this year in terms of revenue forecasts, again, certainly the point is to take into account what's happening in the world at any particular time, including this year where although we may be through the pandemic, there are quite a number of factors impacting on economics and economic circumstances not only for our government, for other governments, and for the business community.

So we'll be doing our best. Obviously that is to -- literally in the midst of happening in the moment, but we're doing our best to reflect that in the materials. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for those comments to look at the revenue options paper. I hope to get a new one. And of course the Minister's no doubt well aware of the devastating impacts of the Hay River flooding. And I'm hearing that there could be as many as 350 or 400 applications under our Disaster Assistance Policy. Government infrastructures going to require serious remediation. And, you know, we may even need to relocate folks or West Point First Nation.

So can the Minister tell us whether there is a preliminary estimate for the Hay River flood recovery costs and what impact is expected on budget 2023-2024? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance and Municipal and Community Affairs are working together along with other impacted departments to look at the numbers, to have numbers tabulated. Registrations are still coming in, and the impacts of each of those registrations are still coming in. Not everyone is seeking the maximum. There's still parties who are inquiring as to their insurance circumstances. The pathfinders are in the communities working through those questions.

So, you know, I don't want to say that we don't have preliminary numbers because we do have certainly numbers that are being collated and tabulated along the way. But until we're in a position where there's some certainty around those numbers at least to the point of being able to give an estimate that is somewhat meaningful, then, Mr. Speaker, we're not going to be putting those out at this point. They're not helpful. They are not helpful numbers for the purpose of communicating the circumstance. But I just don't want to give the impression that we aren't already running numbers and looking at what the impacts will be because we certainly are.

And, you know, I will say we have over the last year been communicating on a monthly basis with MLAs providing some updates on what was happening in response to last year's floods. Mr. Speaker, it's my expectation we certainly will continue to do the same for the next year with respect to the recovery from the current year's floods. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. I mentioned in my statement that inflation is expected to continue at record levels probably for the foreseeable future. I'm starting to get concerns from constituents about the impact of inflation on their quality of life, particularly those on fixed incomes.

Can the Minister tell us whether there will be increases to any NWT tax credits, increases to income support programs, or other measures to assist those NWT residents on fixed incomes as part of the budget 2023-2024? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the concerns around inflation are not limited to only those on fixed incomes. I'm certainly also hearing from all residents, from the business sector, from the non-profits concerns around inflation, rising costs, cost of fuel. They are live considerations. I'm well aware. The department's well aware. The government is well aware that these are concerns and that people are worried, and that's quite fair.

At the moment and in light of that, Mr. Speaker, there's certainly not any expectation for tax increases. With respect to tax credits, that's not under consideration at this time. I would note for folks that may be on income support or other fixed measures, other subsidies, when there's increased demand on those programs, that does come to the Financial Management Board, and in general, that would be considered more forced growth.

So, you know, there certainly is still the ability there to continue to support the people who are already receiving support type programs or support type subsidies.

With respect to whether there needs to be an entirely new type of relief, I'll continue to say what I've said in the recent days which is that when we say we're monitoring a situation, it doesn't literally mean just reading the newspapers. It does mean, in fact, monitoring the situation actively to determine at what point some other sort of additional or new relief does get to be introduced. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Colleagues, before we continue, I'd like to recognize our Languages Commissioner, Ms. Brenda Gauthier. Welcome to the Chamber.

Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to continue the conversation the Member of Kam Lake was having about what housing authorities and LHOs do. I think, you know, a fair characterization of our LHOs is that they are property management companies; they are responsible for the maintenance of the units, and they are responsible for the intake. But they have no control over policies. That is directed to them by the Housing Corp. They are agents of the policies of the Housing Corp. They're not capable of doing anything that the Housing Corp does not want.

So it kind of seems to me that an odd thing to prioritize at the local level of control housing maintenance was what we really wanted.

I'm just wondering as part of the review whether we are conducting a review that would look at what the proper function or perhaps some alternative models of local control would be. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister responsible for Housing NWT.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, I could read off of my notes, but, you know, coming from a smaller community and looking at the actions of the local housing authorities and the boards, the chairpersons that are active at the ground level, they do provide a significant service. But it is identified there needs to be huge improvement. We need to look at those service agreements. We need to update them. We need to have more collaboration and more communication with them as well. And since having the portfolio, I recognize the gaps that are there as well.

Looking at the policies that are there and that they operate under, this is what I would like to do as a Minister: I brought the policies to the Council of Leaders. Myself and the Premier have identified that there is a need to have the Council of Leaders throughout the Northwest Territories look and review our policies, and also that I recognize that we need to give a lot more understanding and a lot more power back to the LHOs so they can challenge us with those policies and challenge us with those changes that are required. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to hear that answer from the Minister that we're looking at this. One of the issues that I've heard from Yellowknife's LHO is that they would like a little bit more autonomy to apply for federal funding, and they've been approached by Indigenous governments who have asked if they would maintain and operate their buildings, something that, you know, would be doing work outside of the purview of their agency agreement with the NWT Housing Corporation.

So I think we're kind of in the worst possible situation where the LHOs do not have autonomy to go out and get money, but they are also not centralized so we are not having any of those economies of scale.

So I think we have to go one way or the other. And I'm wondering if we were reviewing areas to increase their autonomy such as applying for funding.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The local housing authorities are a contracted arm of Housing NWT. And looking at those authorities and, I guess, organizations that are wanting to apply for funding, we apply for funding on their behalf. This year we have a 90-unit housing delivery throughout the Northwest Territories. And not only that, we are looking at increasing the -- increasing the education and training as well too for our maintenance as well. I've recognized that the units that we are building are not -- I want to say they don't -- they don't compare with the amount of -- the type of training we have at the ground level with the type of furnaces, the type of boilers that we are putting in. So there is a lot of changes that are happening. I am recognizing that we need to support them in many different ways. So I'm bringing that back to the department. But I want to reassure the Member that that work is taking place. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I think we have to be conscientious here that there is a cost to the local housing organizations. Each one has its own buildings, its own board, its own executive directors, which means that they are not providing housing; they're providing administration.

And, you know, I know in Yellowknife, there's a great maintenance staff, but they're not allowed to go do work in Behchoko. They just do work for the Yellowknife local housing authority. There's no territorial coordination of maintenance contracts.

And so I'm wondering if any analysis has been done that could be shared that speaks to some of the efficiency or centralization that could happen or what is the cost of having LHOs, you know, all be operating independently from each other. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Right now I'm looking at opportunities for the LHOs as well too. I recognize throughout the Northwest Territories that we do have Indigenous governments that are entering into self-government as well. I'm looking at those opportunities, whether they would be able to operate on our behalf, but also looking -- going back to looking at the maintenance, that what the Member had expressed as well too. This is something -- this is an area that strongly needs to be recognized, and we need to work within this area differently.

And I hear the Member where we do have maintenance staff in Yellowknife, and we need work done in Behchoko. Right now the Housing Corporation is operating and maintaining 2,600 units in the Northwest Territories. But when you're in a smaller community and you're a homeowner, the LHOs are expected to come, and they're expected to provide that service as well too.

So I hear where the Member is coming from. I will bring that back to my department. And like I have said, it's encouraging to hear these questions come forward because it really drives change within how we do business within Housing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also would like to recognize the former Premier Bob McLeod and his wife Melody McLeod, also Brenda Gauthier and everybody else in the gallery.

Mr. Speaker, in recent years both the courts and political leaders have recognized the need for reconciliation between Indigenous people and the Crown. Generally in the First Nations Treaty 8s and Treaty 11s, it says that their aboriginal rights and titles were not affected by making those treaties. Unfinished treaty business has yet remained a cloud over much of our territory while the treaty First Nations are deprived of the benefits and recognition they deserve.

Mr. Speaker, is the Premier prepared to commit the resources and mandate necessary to complete the outstanding business with our treaty partners in the Deh Cho, Akaitcho, and Indigenous governments? Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The finalization of self-government agreements and land claim agreements are a trilateral agreement. It's done with the federal government, the Government of the Northwest Territories, and the Indigenous governments. We are dedicated, though, Mr. Speaker, to doing our best to make sure that the agreements are finalized; however, I'm respectful of the Indigenous governments, and the work shall be done on time on their time as well as -- so that everyone feels that they got a fair shake of it.

So it's not about rushing the agreements. It's about doing them right. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you Mr. Premier -- I mean Madam Premier. Does the Premier recognize the treaties as the reconciliation of pre-existing sovereignty of Indigenous people on this territory and the Crown. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Absolutely, within the United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People, which is a priority of this government, there is a recognition of Modern Treaties and self-government agreements, and so I will continue to uphold that agreement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Does the Premier agree that our laws and policies need to respect the inherent sovereignty of the treaty First Nations and to reconcile our authority with that of First Nations and Indigenous governments. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We wouldn't call them self-government agreements if we didn't believe in the concept of them being able to self-govern. Within all self-government agreements, there is clauses within each chapter that identify the paramountcy of laws. And many of those chapters, Mr. Speaker, the Indigenous government has paramountcy over the territorial government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Final supplementary, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you Premier. Does the Premier support the initiative to periodically review and update all treaties and modern land claim agreements in this ongoing spirit of sharing, reconciliation, and mutual respect. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker, and thank you Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Actually I do believe that within the agreements, there is a clause that states that they can be reviewed and updated as necessary. There is a commitment to that. Again, Mr. Speaker, though, in recognizing that I am willing to work with Indigenous governments, but really, the priority, Mr. Speaker, is to try to get all Indigenous governments into a place where they have land claims that are settled and self-agreement -- self-governing agreements that are settled so that they do take their rightful place at the table. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Oral questions. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. Yesterday the Minister of Lands made a Minister's statement in the House enhancing transparency and client experience. This was about the administration of lands in the Northwest Territories in something called ATLAS, which is a pretty cool computer based information system about land here in the Northwest Territories.

So I commend the Minister for this effort in bringing more transparency to ourselves as a, you know, manager of lands. But I want to ask some specific questions about whether this new information available through ATLAS includes information about financial security that our government might hold. So if I could get the Minister to answer that, I would appreciate it. Thanks, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Minister responsible for Lands.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Lands recently expanded the information and data related to land administration and is available to the public and as part of our efforts to increase transparency. The Department of lands currently tracks the form, the amount, and expiry dates for security and is working on how to make this information transparent through the public lands regulation.

At this point, lands has not included financial information related to the leases on the ATLAS system. We are looking to do this into the future.

I agree that accountability of land manages; we should be open and transparent. The Department of lands is currently reviewing the on land platform -- online platform to make -- to best make this information publicly available. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that information. And of course the reason why I raise this is our government, when we had the surface lease for the Giant Mine, we had zero dollars in financial security, zero dollars, which we actually -- we ended up on the hook for $26 million in an agreement with the federal government as our contribution because we had zero dollars for financial security on that property. Ptarmigan Mine, zero dollars for financial security for the surface. It's going to probably cost us more millions of dollars.

So can the Minister tell us when this information -- this kind of information is going to be publicly available. I know he's looking at it, but is there a date by which this information on financial security can be made available to the public. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I wish I could give the Member and the public a confirmed date, but presently, we don't have that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. Of course I might be back here in October asking when it's going to be done. But can the Minister confirm that this information is actually tracked already by the department. So it's not a question of having to go and comb files to find this information. We already have it. It would be just adding additional attribute data to ATLAS. Can the Minister confirm we have this information already. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I can confirm that the annual security reporting requirement is a part of the Public Land Act, and we do have that information. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. Of course the difficulty with the annual reporting requirements of the Public Land Act is that that act is not actually in force yet. So we're waiting for regulations. So is there a way in which this information on financial security held by our government can be made available even on an annual basis in advance of the Public Land Act coming into effect. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The department participates in the GNWT open data initiative to increase government transparency and accountability while maintaining the government's responsibility towards privacy, security, and legal obligations.

So we are working on it. The Public Land Act, as the Member said, isn't in force because we're doing the public land regulations on that. So until that is done, we're not able to provide that information publicly. We are working on it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions are for the Minister responsible for Housing. About 18 months ago, her and the Minister of Health opened the Fort Good Hope Seniors Centre, but then it didn't open. And the Minister said she would open it in the summer, and then it didn't open. And then in the fall, the Minister said it would open in the new year, and then it didn't open. And in the last session, the Minister didn't give a date when it would open next, but it was clear the lawyers were getting involved.

So my question for the Minister of Housing is when will the Fort Good Hope Seniors Home, centre, open.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister responsible for Housing NWT.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the Member for the question as well too. We did end up with technical issues with the final build of this, of the construction of the nine-plex in Fort Good Hope. We're looking at hopefully a date of December of this year for the nine-plex to be open. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Mr. Speaker, that's approaching about two years since it officially opened. Perhaps the Minister could just provide a bit more of an understanding of what the technical issues are or whether this will cost us more money. Is there a new tender going out. You know, and if this can be provided at a later date, that's fine. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Once the nine-plex was completed, we did end up finding some issues when reviewing those plans and those final statements.

But I want to also say that, you know, we had just finished with our COVID-19 pandemic, and we did have a delay in responding and looking at the repairs for this, for the nine-plex. And it was -- at that time, we weren't able to get contractors in as soon as we should have been able to.

So I'm hopefully -- I'm hopeful for December of this year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member for Monfwi.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This question is for Premier. Mr. Speaker, this is international news. July 2022, Pope Francis is going to be in Canada to make formal apology to the Indigenous people for the trauma experienced in residential school.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to know what is the GNWT plan in this process. What action -- assistance will the government do to help the survivors and families. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think it's the right thing for the Pope to come to the Northwest Territories, to Canada to speak to the people that are survivors. I think that the Pope does deserve to give -- or the people deserve to get an apology from the Pope. However, the GNWT, Mr. Speaker, is not taking a forefront role in this visit from the Pope, but we are here to support Indigenous governments in any actions that they wish to pursue as this work goes forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you. Well, I was hoping that the GNWT would acknowledge and recognize the trauma the Indigenous people experienced. And we have a lot -- there's a lot of mental health issues. And I was hoping the GNWT would acknowledge and recognize.

And this is where I was going -- I was hoping that they were going to send delegates. The Indigenous government council from NWT, I was hoping that they will be attending and that they will be in charge of leading, bringing delegates to Edmonton, and that they will be paying for the full cost for people attending because that's -- I think that's the only right thing to do is for this government is to recognize and acknowledge that the trauma the Indigenous people experienced. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That's just for comment. She doesn't need to reply. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. I'll give the Premier an opportunity to respond. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again, recognizing that the GNWT does stand with the Indigenous governments on the actions with this, my understanding is the Dene Nation has taken the lead in this work. And I will make a commitment that I will reach out to the leader of the Dene Nation, Grand Chief I believe, to be able to see what kind of assistance that he needs from the GNWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Oral questions. Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, further to the questions just asked by my colleague from Yellowknife North, the Minister responded -- sorry. These questions are for the Minister of Housing NWT. The Minister responded that they found issues with the plan. But the building was already built by that point. I've been in it. I had the honour of going to see the building with the Minister of Housing NWT. And it's a beautiful, beautiful building, and I think, you know, every community in the territory would love one.

But the building was already built, Mr. Speaker. So why were the issues with the plan not caught before the building was built. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Minister responsible for Housing NWT.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to the Member for the question as well too. Those issues were discovered after the building was built. Right now we are dealing with those -- with this within the corporation -- within Housing NWT. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, what lessons has Housing NWT learned result of this, or what are they doing to ensure that this does not happen again. Thank you.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Once that -- I discovered that we had issues with the final completion of this building, looking at the plans that had come forward, and looking at the comments made by the -- sorry. I just -- I can't remember at the top of my head. The building inspectors. The final inspections, we did have issues with that after the building was constructed.

I brought this back to Housing NWT. And we need to work more closely when we are looking at these contracts, we are putting them out for tender. Contractors need to be better supported. And looking at the phases where they are constructing our buildings, our assets, we need to be further more involved so we could avoid something like this happening again in the future. It's really unfortunate that we had gotten to this stage. But housing needed to be involved a lot more. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The question was already asked, but I'll ask it again. What is the anticipated additional cost of this, and is this expected to come forward in a sup or be funded from within. Thank you.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't have those details. I'm not prepared to be answering these questions right now. But I'm just going on the briefing that I've had recently. I don't have those final numbers. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary, Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My final question is, will the Minister provide this information to Members on this side of the House. My concern is that Members recently negotiated additional funding for the NWT Housing, and the intent of that money is not to go towards stuff like this; it's to open up more housing and to repair houses that need repair so that people can get housing. And so I'm hoping that this doesn't come at the cost of that. Thank you.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I hear the Member when it -- you know, we're looking at putting more housing on the ground. And I want to make sure that, you know, I'm clear when we are looking at the housing delivery throughout the Northwest Territories that we are committed to putting those units on the ground.

And I do appreciate the advocation on the other side, providing additional funding to this portfolio for us to enhance our housing delivery as well.

But in this case for the nine-plex in Fort Good Hope, it had come up with a number and several issues once the building was completed. And there are further technical issues as well where we had to get outside contractors to come in as well.

The community has expressed a lot of interest. They have expressed further updates as well. We do have a housing waitlist. I know the impacts of a nine-plex in a smaller community is -- it's really top of the discussion at the ground level, and people are waiting to be moving into these units as well. I do understand the urgency to get this nine-plex up and going and having the transfer of elders into these units as well too. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I apologize to the Minister of MACA for not providing these questions, but I've got to take one more shot at plugging questions.

Mr. Speaker, the floodplain in Hay River has just been expanded both in Hay River and K'atlodeeche. Has the Minister of MACA and his department considered how the department will proceed with future mitigation support measures based on this new reality. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister responsible for MACA.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

I'd like to take it under notice being the last question of the day here. I respect the Member.

Yes, in the conversations with the Member on this is this is part of our learning process. We learnt from our last flood and the situation from Little Buffalo, Jean Marie, Fort Simpson, and Fort Good Hope, and a little bit Aklavik. So we learnt from that. We started working on that.

But as we move forward, we are going to be doing this in the future. This is part of our learning experience. Thank you. And it will be addressed in the next unfortunate flood situation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I realize we're just now completing, you know, assessments, but it's important to begin to look forward. And what, if anything, is the department doing to start talking mitigation. I'm hoping that, you know, they keep talking about learning from one flood to another. So, you know, after this flood, I'm hoping they learned quite a bit and they have some type of idea of how they're going to look at mitigation. Thank you.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I said before, we work with the residents; we work with the communities. As well as we move up the river, we start working with the communities as well that have -- who weren't impacted so far this year. But we are working with them. We are seeing what -- there's some needs.

One of the questions that was proposed [sic] to me today was if a resident is impacted and we have to do some mitigation for them but the resident next door doesn't, what can we do with that. So we are going to reach out to the federal government. We're going to work with the communities.

We're also working with the residents to see if they wish to move. And if they do wish to move, then that there is part of the process there.

So each community has some challenges, and we work with them throughout the process. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the reality is is that, you know, you might have one House that got hit by flooding and the one next to it didn't, and for what -- you know, for whatever reason, and, you know, the people now who are -- probably have homes that are below the flood risk elevations that were set years ago, they may be looking for supports. So will any support be provided to those in the floodplain that want to access funds to put in place mitigation measures, such as rising their -- raising their homes or, you know, berms or whatever to protect their homes, and will moved flood risk elevations be set as part of this process. Thank you.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you. 3 A, B, C, and D questions. I'll try to get them all answered here. And if I don't, I apologize to the Member.

Unfortunately, no. If the residents have not been impacted by the disaster, then we don't have funding for them. But it's something that we are going to reach out to the federal government to have that conversation with them, to ask them if we can make that part of the federal government's program. So we are going to work with them on that there.

And I apologize. I missed the other questions. So you may have to ask them again. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, climate change and flooding has been a reality here for the last while. So I'd ask the Minister will he consider bolstering his staff complement to deal with climate change and flooding. So, you know, what I'm looking for is, you know, we need expertise on climate change, on hydrology, and flood mitigation. Thank you.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we actually just hired our climate change specialist in the department. He has vast experience in climate change, and he is now in place with the department. In regards to the bolstering other staff, like, we've had our EMO staff; we've created five new positions; we have three positions at headquarters. So we're working on that.

With ENR and that department there, we've also worked on creating and finding positions that will help deal with this. We've bolstered some of our staff as the government across the Northwest Territories. So we are looking at where we can help and that.

And as the Member said, climate change is the reality. We're living it. Not when it's going to happen. We're living it. It's impacting us. And so we're trying to move forward on this. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Colleagues, our time for oral questions has expired. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to go back to recognition of visitors in the gallery.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Honourable Premier.

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Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to recognize the former Premier Bob McLeod, who is in the gallery. Today the Legislative Assembly will be unveiling his portrait to join the other previous Premiers.

Premier McLeod dedicated his life and career to making the Northwest Territories a better place for residents and businesses. He worked in civil service for 28 years, including serving as a deputy minister in three different departments as well as secretary to Cabinet during the 15th Assembly.

He was first elected in 2007 as the MLA for Yellowknife South. In his first term as MLA, he was elected to Cabinet and became the Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Premier McLeod was acclaimed in 2011, easy ride, and put his name forward for Premier, defeating two other candidates to become our 12th Premier of the Northwest Territories. In 2015, Premier McLeod made history, becoming the first two-term Premier of the Northwest Territories.

Premier McLeod was always willing to do what was needed to make the Northwest Territories a better place for current and future generations, and we thank him for his dedication to the people of the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, on a personal note, though, I have nothing but respect for Premier McLeod and I am honoured that I was a Member of his Cabinet. Premier McLeod never told me what not to do. He never had to. When he felt I was off track, he only had to give me "the look", and I knew he was not happy. Mr. Speaker, I know Premier McLeod is a quiet, humble man, and probably not comfortable with being formally recognized in the House. So I purposely am not looking at him in the gallery for fear of once again getting "the look" he's so famous for. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Honourable Premier. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Deh Cho.

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Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. I too would like to applaud former Premier of NWT, a two-term Premier, Mr. Bob McLeod, and I applaud the Premier for her tribute to Mr. McLeod for his service to the Northwest Territories. And also the fact that Bob McLeod is from Fort Providence. His friends and everybody lived there. There was a rumour that his prolific hockey career began on an ice puddle with one skate and a willow stick. So I believe he carried it on to his son, Warren, who is also here, and to his grandsons. I think Carter is down in a recognized hockey school so we wish him the best. I hope to see him in the NHL at some point. And from my aunt's, on my extended family's side, he's in the building somewhere, he's the Metis president, Mr. Clifford McLeod, and also Languages Commissioner, Brenda Gauthier, is here with us. They're all from Fort Providence. And Lorraine Whitman who is also here, moved back to Providence after a long GNWT career. I'd like everyone to join me in a round of applause for all these people in the visitors gallery. Mahsi.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Thebacha.

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Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I too would like to recognize former Premier McLeod and his wonderful wife Melody. I graduated with this couple from high school, and so I know all the secrets of the past.

And I also want to thank Premier McLeod. When I was in leadership with the Salt River First Nation, Mr. McLeod and other ministers, that are still here in this House, helped that file greatly, and I really appreciate that leadership. Thank you so much.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Great Slave.

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Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad that I ran out to use the washroom because I was able to actually look back at the gallery, and I would like to recognize Father Joe Daley, one of my constituents, here in the gallery. Thank you.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Hay River North.

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R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I also want to recognize my former colleague, former Premier Bob McLeod. And now being on this side of the House as a Minister, I also want to apologize to the Member, former Premier; I'm getting my comeuppance. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River North. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

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Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I too would like to recognize our former Premier. Although I was not in his Cabinet, or in his Assembly, you know, I've heard a lot of great things about him and his leadership. And welcome to his family as well.

But I'd also like to recognize Shannon McLeod. Her and I went to the Aurora College, graduated from the nursing program. And she's still doing that and now I'm doing this. So maybe I can convince her to come down on the floor with me. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Yellowknife South.

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would also like to recognize Melody and Bob McLeod. They continue to be residents of Yellowknife South. I didn't have the honour or the pleasure of working in this House at the same time as Bob McLeod, but I can say that the very first time I ever walked down the executive hallway was with the gracious welcome of the then Premier to welcome me into his office and give me a few words of wisdom for which I was always very grateful. So welcome back.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member.

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

(audio)...in the House. Mr. Speaker, I am always very pleased when young residents from Yellowknife South attend the House. And this morning I have young Abigale Unka here in the House, who is my next door neighbour. Also with her, Mr. Speaker, is Dora Unka who I think is almost like a resident of Yellowknife South given how often she is there next door also taking care of my children at times. Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if my colleague can see or not, but I understand young Laila Pegg is also in the House. It's wonderful to have the young people here watching what we do so that they can come and fill our shoes some day. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife South. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Nahendeh.

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Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to recognize a former constituent, Father Joe Daley. I've had numerous conversations with this very intelligent person, and he's given me some good wisdom and advice as we moved forward, even before I got into politics.

As well, I'd like to recognize former friend of mine and former recreation professional, Clifford McLeod.

Now I'm going to thank, of course, Mr. Bob McLeod and Melody. Mr. McLeod, I had the pleasure of actually working him as my deputy minister. So I've had the pleasure of watching him work at the bureaucratic level and now I've had the opportunity last Assembly to watch his leadership and his ability to make differences for the residents of the Northwest Territories, and that's what we all try to achieve for us. But I'd also like to thank him and recognize that he now gets to spend the time to watch his grandchildren play hockey there. So welcome to the House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Kam Lake.

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Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I always love when there are additional children in the room with us today. And thank you very much to the Member for Yellowknife South. She is right - there are blind spots in this room, and I can't see. So welcome to Laila Pegg for being in the House today, and thank you for joining us. Thank you.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery.

Once again, I'd like to thank everybody for coming in today. It really lightened the atmosphere in the room today. I hope you all enjoyed the proceedings. And always good to have an audience. Mahsi.

Colleagues, we will call a short recess. Thank you.

---SHORT RECESS