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

Oral Question 1146-19(2): Housing Northwest Territories Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

Page 4512

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.

Oral Question 1146-19(2): Housing Northwest Territories Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1146-19(2): Housing Northwest Territories Community Residency Policy
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

Page 4512

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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

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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.

Oral Question 1147-19(2): 2023-2024 Government of the Northwest Territories Budget Preparation
Oral Questions

Page 4514

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.

Oral Question 1148-19(2): Functions of Local Housing Authorities
Oral Questions

Page 4514

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.