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

Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954
Oral Questions

Page 6879

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't have information on hand of specific things we've done for specifically for the Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh righting regarding cancer. But I can say that I do know that the stats of people in the North, the stats of Indigenous people, do have higher rates of cancer. And that's concerning. It's concerning to me. It should be concerning to all of us in the North. The direct reasons for that could be varied. Definitely a link to smoking. You know, it was a lot of people back in the day that -- mining has always been a critical resource in the Northwest Territories. There were a lot of people that were exposed to substances that we didn't know much about, arsenic in the capital city. My father worked in the uranium mines and actually died of cancer himself, so. Never did tracing of that. But there were many things. So I think that what I want to say to residents is that it's really important that you do regular checkups. And, Mr. Speaker, I hate to preach, you know, and not do it myself because I'm conscious that I'm not -- the worst of taking care of myself but as soon as I'm done here, that will be one thing I do is a full checkup. And I would support any resident, especially Indigenous people because of the rates of cancer, please get regular checkups. Early detection when it comes to cancer is the key. So, Mr. Speaker, that's what I'd like to say. Thank you.

Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954
Oral Questions

Page 6879

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954
Oral Questions

Page 6879

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

It's our last day; we can't keep it short. Anyway, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, you know, when I was chairman for the impact review board, I chaired the Giant Mine Remediation Project. And, you know, that was a really big file for us and the impacts of that, the arsenic trioxide and, you know, even it was said that arsenic was underground. There's 237,000 tonnes of that, equivalent to seven and a half storey buildings in Yellowknife. But anyway, they called it the boogie man during the public hearings. And, you know, when we were going through that process, we brought expert people around the world that know arsenic trioxide, and it was a really good public hearing and process that we went through.

So, Mr. Speaker, you know, in light of the ongoing public concerns about the potential presence of radioactive material from Kosmos 954 crash, what actions are the Premier planning to take to ensure the health and safety of the people living in the affected area and to provide support to those who may have impacted by these intergenerational events over the 45 years? And to fix that, we need to bring this also -- again, you know, I'm calling for a public inquiry. I just want to know what the Premier thinks about this. Thank you.

Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954
Oral Questions

Page 6879

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I committed to earlier in the line of questions, I will follow up with the Prime Minister. I believe things that fly out of the sky are not the territorial government's responsibility. It's the federal government's responsibility. Again, it's -- it was horrible to hear the story of resident in Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh and what happened to them. As for a public inquiry, Mr. Speaker, on that I can't make a commitment. This is the last day of session. There's a protocol that no new initiatives unless given notice to Members. So I respect that. But I think that it is something that perhaps the Member, when he's re-elected again, should be asking the next leaders in Cabinet, if he's not a Member of Cabinet. If he's a Member of Cabinet, he's going to have to ask himself. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 1633-19(2): Kosmos 954
Oral Questions

Page 6879

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Oral questions. Member for Nunakput.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the finance Minister explain to me why our government did not push back harder against carbon tax being imposed on the NWT at the time? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Minister responsible for Finance.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, if the Member wanted me to run down this clock for 35 minutes by describing all the efforts that we've gone into, I'm certainly happy to do that. I won't, Mr. Speaker, though it is tempting.

Mr. Speaker, there was an extraordinary effort by a number of Members of Cabinet, and a number of Members of Cabinets across this country, asking the federal government to make changes to their policy not the least of which would be to allow heating fuel to continue to be exempted for residential homes, which would make such a difference in northern, rural, and remote communities. They denied that request, Mr. Speaker, or frankly, just simply ignored it and didn't respond to it. Mr. Speaker, we asked also about having different forms of allowances to exempt the North. Again, the best we could do, Mr. Speaker, is be able to hang on to our own program, which we also had to go and do and had to negotiate just to hang on to our program, which would give us the flexibility to be able to tier our own cost of living supports and give us the flexibility in order to ensure that we could continue to maintain a system that would respond to our industry in a way that is very different from what's happening down south. So those are just some of the efforts, again, Mr. Speaker. I've talked about them at length. We've written letters. I've shared those letters. I've raised the issue on numerous occasions at FBT meetings that are public or that are attended by groups. I raised it directly with Ministers. And here we are. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was the one that brought up the tiered system in regard to try to push it forward for having that in our territory under the carbon tax. Can the Minister explain to me why there are no -- virtually no exemptions on any of the items relating to the carbon tax in the communities? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I most certainly will not attempt to describe or explain what the federal government did or did not do with respect to the carbon tax. Mr. Speaker, I can say, just for the sake of information, that community electric power generation for communities is exempted. And obviously, again, our cost of living offset is meant to then adjust to the fact that we know that not only will expenses for -- in a household be going up, but business expenses go up and some of that will then spill over into individual consumers. And so what we tried to do was adjust our cost of living offset to acknowledge all of that. And, again, I have said before the consensus system here is such that we can make adjustments like having the tiered system. I think that was to the benefit of our system, and I'm glad that we have control of our system to be able to make that change. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Can the Minister explain why the government is no longer allowing rebates of carbon tax to be given to NWT residents? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. One of the changes that the federal government made was to remove the ability for point of sale rebates. We were not allowed to affect anything that would negate the carbon signal is what it is. So, essentially, they no longer want it to be a hidden thing. They want everyone to know exactly how much the carbon tax is. In theory, I believe, again, not wanting to certainly speak for the feds, but is the idea that this then makes us all more aware of how much fuel you're using. It doesn't do much good when you don't have any other choice of what you can use other than fuel to heat your homes. But there we have it, Mr. Speaker. Again, what we've tried to do is build it in to our cost of living offsets and our rebate programs, including the community government grants, something that will help offset those increased costs that we're no longer allowed to have a point of sale or the negation of the point of sale on. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Nunakput.

Jackie Jacobson

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, Mr. Speaker, can the Minister explain why there's no exemption on the carbon tax such as for transportation of food, airplane fuel, home heating fuels, and the federal government blaming everybody but themselves for this carbon tax when you got the biggest emitters, such as India, China, and the US not paying carbon tax, and Canada's paying the carbon tax and putting the burden on the people. I know this is out of our control but everybody's being blamed but the federal government. This carbon tax should have been a no-go in this House. And in regards to when we brought forward and we brought the big -- the argument, I guess, on the vote to take this on, there should have been a tiered system in place. There should have been airplane fuel, heating fuel, and the transportation being supplemented. But it's not.

Mr. Speaker, can the Minister just explain why there's no exemptions on carbon tax on such these -- transportation, airplane fuel, and heating fuels in our territory? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, aviation gasoline and jet fuel is exempted still for now. Who knows what the feds might do next? But it is exempted for now. But most certainly diesel, gasoline that powers all the trucks that carry a lot of our cargo, that carry the other fuel to heat the homes, that power the barges that bring our -- much of our resupply to communities, those fuels are under the carbon tax.

Mr. Speaker, I've said this before, that the federal government does go to international conferences, acknowledges the fact that other developing countries, developed without access to the kind of industrial processes that have benefitted western nations and is acknowledging that maybe there needs to be an adjustment on an international scale, and yet, here we are in the North where the more southern parts of Canada have benefitted from the ability to industrialize when they did and using all of the carbon fuels that they did, and in the North we don't have the same level of infrastructure, we don't have the corridors that they do, we don't have the energy corridors, we are disconnected from the northern -- North American energy system, and yet here we are paying that tax. I share the Member's frustration, Mr. Speaker. But in a jurisdictional system, the carbon tax was going to get imposed whether we liked it or not, and they would simply take it. So we've held on to our own system. We've carved our own path. We're not going to start finding ways to reduce our carbon usage because that ultimately is going to save money, but we're going to need the feds to step up and help. 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. We spent four years talking about the procurement review. We've had a number of recommendations to change the Business Incentive Policy over those four years. So one last time, for the Minister of ITI, will we see any changes to the Business Incentive Policy in the life of this government? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Yes, Mr. Speaker. Yes, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, all of the proposed revisions that were in the recommendations from the panel are going to be captured in a revision to the BIP. Thank you.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I believe that means we are getting a new definition of a northern business. Can the Minister just confirm that and, if so, what that division will be? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yes, that does mean that we are getting a new definition, but sometimes what's old is new again. And so, really, what has happened, and what the recommendation of the panel was, is to go back to an earlier form of definition. So that definition will consider -- well, and it has to adjust the BIP to the definition of a northerner, what defines someone who's a northern individual. And it's meant now to be for six months of residency, not 12, which is really looking at a way of increasing people moving to the North and opening businesses. We had some instances that came in the course of the review of people saying that they took their business elsewhere because it simply would be too long to be recognized as a resident here. But more importantly, to the point, Mr. Speaker, what we have now, in addition to the existing businesses, where beneficial ownership of 51 percent is considered, we are also now looking at businesses where the -- if it's a -- whether, you know, corporation, partnership, proprietorship, where the majority of the employees conduct operations here and there's a Northwest Territories based manager that oversees the operations. That's the change, Mr. Speaker. It really takes us back to what we were in a situation of before. Having gone through it before, we are well placed to know what was working with this old -- and now old version and what had worked previously. So happy to accept the recommendation of the panel on this. Thank you.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I feel quite confident that Walmart does not have the majority of its employees in the Northwest Territories or 51 percent of its owners do not reside here. And just to confirm, does this mean that Schedule 3, the old grandfathered southern businesses, including Walmart, are going to be removed from the BIP policy? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there will not be any need for a schedule anymore. However, whether the business is on that schedule, and there are a few, will or will now not be under the BIP, Mr. Speaker, they should go through the process if they want to fall under BIP, they should go back -- I, in fact, just received an e-mail this morning from a northern business but where the owner actually does live across the border, but it's an entirely northern-based business. I would encourage folks now to reach out to their ITI regional offices, let's take a look at whether or not they will fall under this definition. I'm not going to go one by one with them right now here. Thank you.

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. Mr. Speaker, this is important for my constituents because many were left out of the process. So the question is for ECE, or it could be for justice as well, and it's the same person, so.

Mr. Speaker, students who attended Chief Jimmy Bruneau school from 1972 and those students who resided at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School residence from 1972 to 1974 and from 1992 to 2004 were left out of the residential school and day school class action lawsuit. The students who attended these school experienced the same abuse. I have heard these students have been excluded, but I am uncertain why. Can the Minister of ECE clarify whether these students have been excluded due to the Society Act or for what reason? Thank you.