This is page numbers 6869 - 6942 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

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now, I'm not an expert on those class action lawsuits but from what I understand, they were filed against the Government of Canada. Chief Jimmy Bruneau opened, I believe, 1971, and at the same time, it was -- there was the Rae-Edzo School Society was created. That was the first ever Indigenous run education board in Canada from what I understand. And that was the body that was directing and controlling the school. And so it was not the Government of Canada. It was the Rae-Edzo School Society. And that is why, from what I understand, they were not included. Thank you.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, the GNWT educated these students. What is the GNWT and ECE taking to take responsibility for the abuses that happened at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School? Thank you.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, I just have to reiterate the Premier's comments from yesterday, when she suggested that anyone who feels that they have a claim against the school should seek legal advice. That's the appropriate recourse in this situation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Okay, yes, I understand. So, but I'm still going to ask these questions. What compensations or any help is being discussed to support former day school students and residential school survivors at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School? Thank you.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And so I don't have any specific programs for former students of Chief Jimmy Bruneau that I can point to. But there's definitely a recognition in the Northwest Territories of the effects of colonization and residential school and just the Western ideologies that underpin, you know, the Northwest Territories. And so everything that this government does or tries to do has a focus on reconciliation and supporting the residents who were impacted by things like residential school. 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. I'm feeling pretty good considering I got some answers to the changes to BIP. Maybe I can get a number now, Mr. Speaker, a number that will save me speaking for quite length of time at third reading as I vote against the capital budget, a number I've been asking for for years, Mr. Speaker, and is -- can the Minister of Finance give us a cost estimate of what we think the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project will cost. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I think I have said before, we do have a final business case. The final business case does go to our steering committee first. This is the Indigenous government partners who are members of that watershed of the Taltson region who are still choosing to participate in the steering committee process. Mr. Speaker, so that work has been done. It is a lengthy, complex, and detailed. When while we may be able to share documents like that through the confidential processes of the House, I will not be in a position to put those numbers out forward on the floor of the House. But obviously being able to share those kind of information and details should allow Members to ask questions in an informed manner and to consider the issue in an informed manner without me having to necessarily speak to a number that, quite frankly, is a number that is a point in time on a very large project. So thank you, Mr. Speaker

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think there's some argument not to share the entire business case. I think there is a zero argument not to give an updated cost estimate. What's going to happen is we're going to have an election and everyone's going to say should we build the $1 billion Taltson Dam. And they say $1 billion because we released the business case in 2014, and that was the cost then. And, Mr. Speaker, it is a lot more than a billion dollars. So when we go into a democratic election, I would just like people to say the correct number. I understand there's this confidentiality around the business case and who may be buying power and those negotiations, but can we update that number.

So can the Minister give me a date at which the government will feel comfortable giving us an updated cost estimate on the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Infrastructure and I sit on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories on the steering committee, but we are, really, Members of that steering committee. We don't -- we're not leaders. We're not the sole proprietors of this project. We are part of that committee. So I can't, and I won't, give a date without consulting.

What I will do, Mr. Speaker, is direct our departments to ask the steering committee members with which we participate whether or not we are in a position to share a number. But if not, Mr. Speaker, at the very least, whether we can share some update as to the scale or magnitude of the project. I can say there's still at least one fairly critical decision that needs to be made before we can determine the final number. And there's sort of an A choice -- choice A or choice B. So it's going to be difficult to say. I do think it is possible in the course of an election to speak to whether or not we are investing in a billion or more than a billion-dollar mega project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

You know, I -- well, I think it would be inappropriate to say during an election that we're investing in a billion-dollar project, Mr. Speaker, because it's going to be a lot more than that. And I'm very confident that the government's number is already outdated and underestimated based on construction inflation costs. So I guess I'll try one last time. Can I get an over/under on $3 billion, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, you know, I do -- I guess maybe this is where we will disagree. So there was at one time an estimate of a billion dollars. There's been inflation. There's been the passage of time. There's costs of fuel. So it is pretty easy to see that we are looking into the stage of being well past the billion-dollar mark. And as I've said, there's still one critical business decision to be made by potential steering committee meeting group as to the routing, and that will impact the costs. So I'm not in a position to say on my own which of those two choices it will be. The steering committee needs to make that choice before the number can be finalized. As I've said, as far as giving a sense of what those two numbers estimated as of now are, I will commit to going back to the steering committee, asking if we want to put that out. But I do think that the members of the public in the territorial election should be talking about for the future of energy. They should be talking about if we want to invest in a billion dollar or more billions of dollars scale hydro project or if we want to be looking for other options, and what those options are and what the megawatts are, and what our megawatt needs are.

Mr. Speaker, I didn't put him up to it, but I'm talking about the Commissioner's address later so I'm going to stop now. 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. You know that I couldn't squander this last opportunity to go back to my favorite Minister, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, on one of my favourite topics, Cameron Hills remediation. So here goes, Mr. Speaker.

You know, so I want to ask about -- the last report I can find of anything happening at the Cameron Hills abandoned sour gas field is dated March 2023 when well remediation at about 44 sites was winding down. There has been no reports about the court -- from the court-appointed receiver now for ten months. I want to ask the Minister what's been going on at the site since March of this year. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Minister responsible for Environment and Climate Change.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to take 16 minutes and 5 seconds to answer this question. I guess I can't. Mr. Speaker, phase 1 of the environmental assessment -- site assessments were completed on 20 wells. Inspection of the sites were conducted by GNWT and OROGO. Most of the production and significant discovery licenses have been surrendered. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Okay. Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. So we've had some inspections done. But it doesn't sound like much work is actually happening at the site. So, you know, given this lack of activities and reporting on the site over the last seven months, I'm hoping that the Minister can explain the schedule and remaining work to be done at Cameron Hills. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, remaining work under OROGO order includes gas mitigation testing on 24 wells. Upon conclusion of the fire season, cut and cap four wells that require gas mitigation testing and removal of pipeline segment attached to two quad bridges, removal of bridges, a culvert, and main camp buildings.

All this may have been impacted by the fire over the summer. Removal of the intergovernmental -- or sorry, interprovincial pipelines. However, the Canadian energy regulator has -- does not want it removed yet. Conduct phase 2 environmental assessment -- site assessment and ground truth inventory environmental liabilities remain at the sites, such as contaminated soil, sumps, and site infrastructure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Merci, Monsieur le President. I want to thank the Minister for that. Wow, that sounds like there's still a lot of work that needs to be done. It's going to cost a lot of money, and we want to make sure there's some local benefits there. But when I look at the public registry for the Mackenzie Valley Land and Water Board, there's still no submission of a final closure and reclamation plan or even a cost estimate of the environmental liabilities. So I'd like to know from the Minister when that plan and cost estimate will be submitted to the land and water board, and why it's been delayed for years. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Strategic Oil and Gas Limited has been under receivership since 2020, and the receiver is legally responsible for managing the site and all regulatory requirements. The receiver reports to the Alberta Court of King's Bench. The land and water board approved conceptional closure and reclamation plan in 2020. A revised closure and remediation plan with other work at the sites is required by June of 2024. 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. Just one more question of -- for my favorite Minister, and I'm sending it with love, the site is located in the Northwest Territories but the first phase of the remediation work was awarded to an Alberta company with no local benefit requirements, even though some Indigenous governments wanted to do the work. So I'm going to ask the Minister if he can explain how GNWT is going to ensure local benefits moving forward, you know, -- we're trying to build a remediation economy, so how are we going to get local benefits from our remaining work? Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I feel the love from the Member. I greatly appreciate it. And it's the last set of questions, so thank you very much.

On a serious side, Mr. Speaker, ECC is working with ITI and various levels of governments on building a remediation economy that includes capacity building for Indigenous businesses. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.