This is page numbers 6647 - 6720 of the Hansard for the 19th Assembly, 2nd Session. The original version can be accessed on the Legislative Assembly's website or by contacting the Legislative Assembly Library. The word of the day was know.

Topics

Members Present

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

The House met at 1:30 a.m.

---Prayer

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Page 6647

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Members, before we start today, I would like to make an announcement regarding the Legislative Assembly's scholarship. This scholarship was established in 2014 and has been awarded to 17 northern recipients. Many of you will remember Haylee Carlson who worked at the Legislative Assembly for over 16 years. Haylee passed away from breast cancer in February 2020, and we wanted to find a way to acknowledge the impact she had on the staff and Members alike.

Haylee was instrumental in the creation of this scholarship which has helped so many students pursue their dreams of furthering their education. Today, I would like to announce that the scholarship name has been changed to the Haylee Carlson Memorial Legislative Assembly Fund. This fund will continue to assist individuals pursuing studies in political science or a related field.

Please help me in welcoming Haylee's family to the public gallery. Mike, Shanli, Trina, Kristin, Shelby, Dave, and Jude, brothers watching on TV. Also welcome to the representatives from the Yellowknife Community Foundation. Thank you for your work on this. Thank you.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, the regulations for the Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act define the first made-in-the-Northwest Territories approach to governing mineral development. That is not the only thing that makes them historic. They are the first legal instrument to be developed in their entirety under the legislative development protocol set out by the Northwest Territories Intergovernmental Agreement on Lands and Resource Management.

Later this afternoon, I will be tabling a report highlighting the status and success of the Intergovernmental Council's collaborative process. This collaboration, Mr. Speaker, is deliberate and methodical. The legislative development protocol that is being followed by the Intergovernmental Council formalizes seven steps for the development of regulations. Work is ongoing, and as of this June 2023 I am pleased to say that the development of regulations for the Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act was in the sixth of these seven steps.

The goal is consensus, and consensus takes time. The policy decisions that must anchor the development of regulations require not only hearing but understanding and trying to reconcile wide-ranging perspectives, interests, and approaches. Very often technical topics may first require participants to have expert subject-matter support so that discussions lead to the best solutions.

The subject of benefits is a good example and was a topic with high interest from all parties. In the last year, the Intergovernmental Council technical working group was successful in reaching consensus on 54 subtopics under the otherwise broad subject of benefits. Benefits are only one of many high-level matters relevant to these regulations. In all, the Intergovernmental Council technical working group considered 112 public comments from 11 separate submissions, along with input and feedback from multiple targeted surveys, presentations, and face-to-face meetings. Approximately 90 percent of this input has now been captured by the comprehensive policy intentions document that will guide legal drafters tasked with creating the regulations required.

The next step will be to finalize these draft regulations and post them publicly for review. Formal Section 35 consultations will also need to be completed with Indigenous governments. Once these steps are complete, the proposed regulations can be enacted.

Before the new Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act comes into force, extensive work is also happening to update the associated business processes, implement complementary software changes, and introduce the organizational change that will be needed to administer the new Act.

Mr. Speaker, resource availability, technology, market demand, and global interest are aligning to create extraordinary opportunities for investment in the Northwest Territories' mineral resource sector. The implementation early in the 20th Legislative Assembly of a new, clear, modern, and streamlined legislative environment, grounded in the consensus of northern governments and Indigenous and industry partners and focused on the priorities of Northwest Territories residents, will be unique in Canada.

Thank you to the collaborative approach in which it was developed and the leading-edge policies that it is founded on, the Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act will be a milestone in the evolution of the Northwest Territories that we can all look back and take pride in. Thank you, 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

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories remains committed to transforming the child and family services system to better serve children, families, and communities. Our primary concern is addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth within the child and family services system. We have made progress on this issue through quality improvement plans starting in 2019, but there is still more to do to ensure the child and family services system is culturally safe, that it supports children and youth in a meaningful way, and helps more families stay together.

Later today, I will be tabling the 2023-2028 Child, Youth and Family Services Strategic Direction and Action Plan. This plan will guide the work to fundamentally shift the child and family services system towards the goal of cultural safety. Achieving this vision will require sustained engagement with Indigenous governments, communities, and other partners. To uphold transparency and accountability, we will continue to report on our progress through a public action tracker and on service delivery trends that appear in the child and family services director's annual report.

Mr. Speaker, it is vital to ensure children and youth feel connected to their family, community, and culture. As a society, we share a collective responsibility to ensure that each child and youth is nurtured in a safe and secure environment that enables them to reach their full potential.

The stark overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth within the child and family services system demands we make a paradigm shift in our approach. We need to think differently and act collectively to create a service framework that responds to the needs of Indigenous children, youth, and families.

The plan lays out seven priority areas that will guide our transformation. They are:

  • Working collaboratively with Indigenous governments and organizations;
  • Designing, implementing care rooted in Indigenous practices;
  • Providing support to care providers and caregivers;
  • Strengthening youth supports and transition to adulthood;
  • Providing specialized services closer to home;
  • Strengthening human resources recruitment and retention efforts for an inclusive and representative workforce; and finally,
  • Reducing administrative demands for increased opportunities to connect with families.

Mr. Speaker, the development of the Child, Youth and Family Services Strategic Direction and Action Plan was informed through a comprehensive approach. It drew insights from a diverse range of guiding documents, focused discussions, internal reviews, and the recommendations of the Legislative Assembly's Standing Committee on Social Development.

The onus to lead these strategic priorities within the child and family services system falls on the Department of Health and Social Services. A collaborative effort and commitment from within and outside the Government of the Northwest Territories is required to create sustainable change to address the diverse needs of children and youth.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the child and family services staff, caregivers, care providers, community partners, Indigenous governments, and community leaders for their passion and dedication to the well-being of children, youth, and families. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission.

Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Rick Hunt as the new president and chief executive officer of the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission, effective yesterday, October 2nd. This morning I met with Mr. Hunt and officially welcomed him to the position.

Mr. Hunt is joining the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission after almost 20 years of service with Nunavut's Qulliq Energy Corporation. His experience and depth of knowledge in the occupational health and safety field is extensive, and we are pleased to bring him on board.

Mr. Speaker, this will mark the first time that the WSCC's president and CEO will be based in Nunavut instead of Yellowknife. I am very proud of the partnership we have formed with our territorial neighbour and welcome the opportunity to work together to advance work safety across both territories. Nunavut Minister responsible for WSCC Margaret Nakashuk and I are equally supportive of Mr. Hunt's appointment and trust that he will do right in both jurisdictions.

This is an exciting time that will allow us to form an even deeper bond with our partner. We are also excited to have Mr. Hunt lead the WSCC through the next phase of our organization as we begin a new five-year strategic plan that will guide us through annual planning and reporting processes until 2027. The new strategic plan, called Paths Towards Safety, which I previously tabled, identifies a number of paths to improving safety culture through shared responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hunt is a champion of respectful workplace culture who values his colleagues' and employees' well-being at work. He is a strong advocate for collaborating and supportive relationships across all organizational levels. As a public servant, he also recognizes that he works for and ultimately the public. Understanding the needs and expectations of the public is a vital piece in providing quality services.

Since its inception in 1977, the WSCC has covered the same geographical territory When Nunavut was created in 1999. The governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut agreed to continue forward as a common agency. Maintaining this partnership between our territory is key in supporting the safety and care of workers in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I remain very proud of this partnership and our shared commitment to workplace safety. I hope this historic appointment for the WSCC, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, benefits both workers in both territories for years to come. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

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. Mr. Speaker, residents who covered their own evacuation costs continue to request financial support. As such, I have requested each to provide me with copies of their receipts and to sign a statutory declaration stating they have not received funds from other sources to cover those costs. These documents will be provided to this, and the federal government, for reimbursement consideration.

Mr. Speaker, I will provide context as to why residents may have covered their own costs and not followed MACAS's direction to use a designated evacuation centre. Mr. Speaker, let me start off by saying that on August 12th, Fort Smith residents were in the process of evacuating to Hay River where they were registered and were provided temporary accommodation and meals. At the same time, the hamlet of Enterprise was hosting their annual Gateway Jamboree. There was no concern of fires as it was understood the fire was still a long way from the community and posed limited risk - how mistaken we were - as what was to be unleashed can only be likened to a terrifying nightmare.

Mr. Speaker, for residents of Hay River, K'atlodeeche, and Enterprise, it was on August 13th, an evacuation alert was issued and soon followed by an evacuation order at 3 p.m. Residents, along with evacuees from Fort Smith, were directed to leave as soon as possible and all were told that ground and air transportation would be provided for those who had no other way out. All this was unfolding very quickly.

Mr. Speaker, some residents who were able to leave immediately with their own vehicle made their way out prior to the nightmare that was about to be become all too real. Day turned into night quickly as smoke blackened the sky and made visibility nonexistent. Drivers were unable to see as they headed directly into the path of the fire and had to drive with their vehicle door open as they tried to find a center line to confirm they were still on the road and not in the ditch. The heat from the fire was so intense that it melted the plastic and paint off the vehicles. Vehicles that hit the ditch were quickly enveloped by flames with passengers barely escaping with their life as pets and possessions were consumed by the heat and fire. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, as the fire was rolling over the treetops and consuming homes and equipment in Paradise Valley, residents were forced to take refuge in the river by sliding down a steep embankment and standing in the water for safety while others drove into the firestorm. Along Patterson Road, a similar picture emerged. With the fire burning all around them, residents were quickly gathering up personal items to take with them, all facing a darkened sky and flames which caused breathing and visibility issues and forced residents into the water while others jumped into their vehicles and drove onto the highway and into an inferno.

Mr. Speaker, if you were not there, if you were not one of those leaving by vehicle, if you were not one in the heart of the fire, and if you did not see the aftermath firsthand, then you would not understand why evacuees, at their own cost, took shelter at the first safe place they came to. Shaken and traumatized, with their lives at risk, with the mental and emotional anxiety of it all, their first thought was preservation and the safety and well-being of their families. They had no idea how long this evacuation would last. The sad part is that this government expected these evacuees to be thinking rationally about accommodation and meals.

Mr. Speaker, this was the reality that took place on August 13th, 2023. I will not have questions for the Minister of MACA or the Minister of Finance on this issue today but I do ask them, and all of Cabinet, to reflect on the terror these evacuees went through and come back prior to the end of this session showing compassion, empathy, and a commitment to support those left out of any financial compensation. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak about the future polytechnic university and some of the actions taking place at Aurora College as it transitions into a territorial university.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to once again reiterate that there are several positions within Aurora College that are currently on loan to the Yellowknife campus but, in fact, they belong to the headquarters office in Fort Smith, and that includes the office of the president. All of the positions in question are entitled to be based in Fort Smith, and they must be returned as soon as possible. In addition, Mr. Speaker, one of the pillars of the 19th Assembly has been for our government to decentralize jobs and services away from the capital and back into the small communities and regional centres. We are not properly serving the people of the NWT when we have everything concentrated in the capital.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, last week, on September 28th, the Government of the Northwest Territories announced that it is seeking input on a post-secondary institution application that would deliver a new diploma program on Indigenous environmental studies and sciences beginning in the fall of 2023. The program is being put forward by Trent University and is being developed in partnership with YKDFN.

Mr. Speaker, while I certainly do support the people of the NWT having more program options to consider for post-secondary at Aurora College; however, I do not want new education options to be coming at the expense of existing programs that the college delivers. I am worried specifically how this new program might affect the world-renowned environment and natural resources technology program that has existed for many years at Aurora College Thebacha campus. I do not want the ENR technology program to be threatened, undermined, or replaced. Period. I especially do not want to see Fort Smith lose yet another highly valued and popular program that is taken away from our community. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

In closing, Mr. Speaker, given our current circumstance of an upcoming territorial election happening very soon, I want to urge the college itself, along with the minister of ECE, to hold off on rolling out this new program at this time. I believe it would be a better decision to wait until after the next government is formed in the 20th Assembly before any new major programs or changes occur within Aurora College. I will have questions for the minister of ECE later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Finance tabled the government's What We Heard report on the policy review of the Affirmative Action Policy. Additionally, on our one-day emergency sitting in August, the GNWT tabled the response to the Standing Committee on Government Operations report on Indigenous representation in the NWT public service and the recommendations of that.

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee of Government Operations and the GNWT both consulted the public separately and, Mr. Speaker, both the government and standing committee have concluded that, overall, the 34-year-old Affirmative Action Policy is not working as it was originally intended to, which is to successfully increase Indigenous employment across the Northwest Territories -- or across the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, the committee's report did a deep dive into the history of the Affirmative Action Policy and provided 12 recommendations on how the government could improve the policy to realize its intended effect. We can all agree that the Affirmative Action Policy isn't working and that it is outdated and needs to be replaced. To quote the GNWT, Mr. Speaker, the review has concluded that GNWT should introduce a new policy prioritizing the hiring and career advancement of Indigenous persons. This policy would replace the Affirmative Action Policy and would forward preferred hiring status, first, to Indigenous persons connected to the NWT, then to all Indigenous Canadians. The new policy being referred to here is the newly developed Indigenous Employment Policy which the government announced back in February.

Mr. Speaker, the spirit and intent of the Affirmative Action Policy is very important to Indigenous people of the Northwest Territories. Therefore, it's vital that if and when the GNWT decides to replace the policy then the overall intent of the affirmative action cannot be lost. Any replacement policy must ensure to continue that Indigenous people have priority hiring in our public service. I will have questions for the Minister of Finance. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time I have spoken in this House about the administrative burden with income support program. The government creates such an onerous process for residents that it becomes challenging to access resources.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about people who are unable to work because of a disability.

Mr. Speaker, we have many people across the NWT that receive disability benefits but also access programs and services through income support. Mr. Speaker, there should be a more streamlined way for these individuals to access benefits without following the complex process that they follow today. These people's incomes are already below the poverty line and are some of the most vulnerable people in the communities.

Mr. Speaker, some of these people have disability which make it difficult for them to complete complex paperwork or participate in the workforce. The process, as it is today, puts more work on the income support staff and caregivers. These processes do not benefit the GNWT or the residents of the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, each month I receive concerns about income support from people with disability. Often the issue is late payments due to paperwork problems. We know these people are eligible for benefits each and every month. ECE should find a simpler way of processing benefits for these individuals. If we know someone has a disability, then they should be able to receive support and not have to continue to provide proof of that disability.

Furthermore, income support is often asking for bank statements. They ask for clients to share their bank account password to go into the online account to see if the clients are telling the truth. They also tell the clients if we don't have access to your bank account, you're not getting help. I'm sure the income assistance workers do not like it but they are bound by the privacy policy in place. This is a breach and invasion of privacy, especially for the most vulnerable. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to complete my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, a more holistic approach to program and services are needed in small communities. It is difficult for people trying to access programs and services to be sent from building to building, office to office, trying to access services, especially for those with disabilities. I will have questions for the minister of ECE. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, since June of this year Live Power, a Canadian exploration company with its head office in Vancouver, has been drilling for hard rock lithium on the mineral leases near Yellowknife and N'dilo and Dettah. Live Power has one of the most exciting exploration portfolios of hard rock lithium projects globally, with Yellowknife lithium project being the flagship project. Live Power commenced a 45,000-meter drill program, and the drill result for 40 drill holes. It illustrates extensive width and excellent grades of lithium in the Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh riding. The NWT lithium outcrop are so large and extensive that it can be seen from space via satellite. The Yellowknife lithium project is one of the largest private sector exploration projects in the riding, and it is having significant job and business impacts for us. Live Power has opened a camp at the Hidden Lake area that is accessible via winter road for the Ingraham Trail. It also has a core cutting and lodging facility in Yellowknife providing more job and training opportunities for Northerners. Live is very proud of its strong collaborative relationships with the local Indigenous communities and Live prioritizes local Indigenous employment and procurement with 28 percent of Indigenous employees and 25 percent of northern employees working on its Yellowknife lithium project at the peak of the summer drilling program. Live's commitment to providing employment opportunities for Indigenous workers parallels the achievement of operating mines in the territory. This is another impressive feat for an exploration company.

Lithium is exceptionally important in the world as it's used in several industry applications, including electric cars. And lithium is ion batteries which plays an important role in the global transition to an economy that runs on a green energy.

Mr. Speaker, this project has a potential to be the NWT entry into the global lithium market. We must of course remember that the Live Power Yellowknife lithium project remains at an early exploration stage project at this time. Live is also that this valuable NWT resource will be mined and processed in Canada. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my Member's statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Live Power is committed to the NWT and to providing positive socio-economic impacts. Live will continue to employ and train Indigenous and local people as the workforce grows. It will also continue to partner with Indigenous businesses, such as the Yellowknives Dene that own Deton Cho Corporation with whom Live is already working closely to collect environmental and socio-economic and baseline data.

Mr. Speaker, the potential of moving from lithium exploration to mining will have welcome, long-term benefits for the NWT mining economy that come at a critical time as the diamond mine industry winds down. At the appropriate time, it will be my pleasure to introduce Live Power executives to the Assembly and ask questions to the Minister of tourism and investment regarding our government's role in enabling this project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the territory desperately needs to strengthen and diversify our economy. Our residents must have access to healthy and affordable food, and the need for mental health supports is at an all-time high. There is one sector that can help us improve in all these areas. The agri-food industry provides residents with opportunities to grow their own healthy produce and to open small and medium-sized economic ventures while reducing stress and improving mental health.

Mr. Speaker, our infrastructure gap and limited supply chain leave us vulnerable to food insecurity as was clearly demonstrated during the pandemic. When it took great pressure by myself as the Minister of ITI, with the Minister of Finance, to get flexibility in the federal funding to keep our small airlines alive. If the GNWT can begin to provide a better support system to boost community gardens, encourage residents to start growing their own food, and build capacity throughout the territory, we can directly reinforce our food security efforts through increased community capacity.

I cannot stress this enough, Mr. Speaker. The federal government is not thinking of us when it comes to food security and the GNWT is not giving this topic the attention it deserves. The food security file bounces between departments, with no clear ownership, and I don't see an appropriate nor established path forward. Residents are constantly reaching out to find support to feed their families and social media groups are often full of such pleas.

Mr. Speaker, through coordination, collaboration, and clear responsibility of duties, we can move forward with a solutions-based approach to help build our agri-food sector. There is a lot of federal money available to the agri-food area which could help all our residents; first, by increasing money into the territory and bolstering economic activity but also by providing residents with a reconnection to the land - a reconnection that has been shown to improve people's mental health and well-being. We should be building green houses, investing in fertilizer production, and establishing seed sharing programs. We should connect those with land to those who don't have it that want to garden. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it does not take much to start something positive and build the capacity within the NWT to feed ourselves. Steps must be taken now to support our agri-food industry, an industry that has been battered by two years of flooding and fires. I know that the GNWT can do more in this area, and it often only takes a small investment to see huge local results as demonstrated time and time again by the growers of our territory. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members before we continue, I'd like to draw your attention to the presence of a former Member, Mr. Jackson Lafferty. Mr. Lafferty was a Member from 2005 to 2021. Mr. Lafferty was a Regular Member, Minister, and Speaker of the House, and now grand chief. It's always good to see former Members come and cheer on the Members of today. Thank you.

Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this Assembly, Northerners have navigated crisis after crisis that started with a global pandemic. But during COVID, some monumental things happened to support residents' basic needs. This government payrolled income assistance clients, implemented harm reduction programs, found housing solutions for vulnerable residents, and equitably distributed laptops to students for access to education. These are huge, Mr. Speaker. And they happened in short order.

This bold action, and a need for fiscal recovery, offered a path forward to a common-sense approach to allocating government financial resources based on how effectively programs and services give value to residents.

Mr. Speaker, government renewal was sold as a review to better provide transparency to territorial priorities and how services and programs contribute to those priorities, evaluate the true cost and benefit of programs and services, and build more accountability for results into funding decisions.

In the life of the 19th, finance has changed FMB program evaluation metrics for new spending, how it deals with short and long-term budgeting and reviewed its approach to capital budgeting. But this does not address the status quo spending of this government and, for four years, life has been anything but status quo.

I believe in the value of government renewal, Mr. Speaker. The public service continues to grow as do resident priorities. Budgeting and spending patterns have impaired the GNWT's long-term sustainability. Planning and spending are often reactive, and capital continues to drive debt.

We are three years into the life of the government renewal initiative and anticipating its successes. We have yet to see the completion of a single department. And with nine departments and nine agencies to get through, I'm worried about the effectiveness of this process given its pace. The GNWT needs a stable fiscal footing to support the territory's sustainability and increased value for dollar for the money it spends. But, Mr. Speaker, residents can't afford to carry the cost of getting there and rely on the creative and innovative internal efficiencies promised through government renewal.

In 2020, the finance minister rightfully said, quote, if ever we needed creative problem solving to achieve responsive and effective results, it is now, end quote. We are still there, Mr. Speaker, and one could say it is even more relevant today. I'll have questions for the Minister of Finance at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Met. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I have been pushing for some time for a public review of GNWT's failing climate strategy which is really three separate and uncoordinated programs. These are environment and climate changes' climate change strategic framework, infrastructure's 2030 energy strategy, and finance's carbon tax.

As one of the final gasps during the current phase of the climate crisis, GNWT staff put on a three-day conference attended by about 150 participants in July. I want to give credit for the large gathering as there was a diverse set of interests and participants from all parts of the NWT and various sectors of the economy and voluntary sector. There was lots of good people at the conference, but I am not sure what will come out of the other end for the next Legislative Assembly and Cabinet. I am hoping that the next government takes the climate emergency much more seriously and puts in place legislation that will establish clear leadership and priorities.

I have continued to hear people say they don't understand GNWT's carbon tax, where the money goes and whether it is actually working. Persistent questions were also raised about our antiquated net metering approach and caps on renewable energy use in communities. The role of and governance at the NWT Power Corporation remains a lively source of discussion.

The GNWT's approach to climate change is failing again so here's some free advice for my Cabinet colleagues: We need a declaration that there is a climate emergency. The current forest fires might even convince Cabinet that climate change is an emergency now. We need legislation to back that up where one department is in charge and coordinates a whole-of-government approach. Integrated public reporting is needed, not three separate and disparate reports. We must focus on community-based energy solutions, not mega projects with no investors and no public support. And make the NWT Power Corporation part of the solution, not part of the problem, as it shifts to building energy self-sufficiency and doing itself out of a job with public governance. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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