This is page numbers 6089 - 6140 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. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Ms. Weyallon Armstrong

The House met at 1:31 p.m.

---Prayer

Prayer
Prayer

Page 6089

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Ministers' statements. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, homelessness is a reality that far too many people experience. The factors that contribute to homelessness are complex and unique to each individual who experiences it. The challenges and solutions vary by community and differ in the Northwest Territories compared to urban centres in the South. That is why we need an all-of-government strategy to address homelessness in the Northwest Territories.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, or even a suite of approaches that work for every individual and family. Multifaceted, person-centered approaches, sustained effort, and collaboration among governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector are all required to address the needs of individuals and families living without a stable, safe, and appropriate place to call home.

Mr. Speaker, later today I will table a draft of A Way Home: A Comprehensive Strategy to Address Homelessness in the Northwest Territories. The Government of the Northwest Territories' homelessness strategy is being released as a draft so we can continue to incorporate meaningful input from stakeholders prior to finalization. The proposed actions focus on individuals and families who are chronically homeless however the actions lend themselves to prevention wherever possible therefore residents in precarious living situations will also benefit from this strategy.

The homelessness strategy identifies nine areas of action and puts forward the ambitious goal to achieve functional zero homelessness. A functional zero target recognizes that homelessness will never be eradicated completely but that action can be taken to prevent it wherever possible, and homelessness can be brief, rare, and non-recurring.

The strategy recognizes the crucial role frontline service providers, both within Government of the Northwest Territories and community partners, serve in supporting vulnerable community members and the need for ongoing, solutions-oriented conversations, and actions. We recognize the need to ensure shelter services have appropriate resources, reflect the needs of their users, and identify potential solutions such as multi-year and better coordinated funding, on-going training, and Government of the Northwest Territories support.

We know there is a need for wraparound services and this strategy aims to improve access and use of culturally safe mental health and addictions services for residents, especially those experiencing chronic homelessness. This strategy also identifies the need for transitional housing and supported living arrangements as well as other actions that are already underway in this area.

Mr. Speaker, our government recognizes that we need to do a better job at coordinating the delivery of our programs and services aimed at addressing homelessness. This strategy is intended to create an environment for positive change and a shift in organizational culture towards more person-centered services and improved collaboration between the Government of the Northwest Territories and service providers. We want to ensure that our actions to address homelessness align with the needs of communities and Indigenous governments. Individual communities and regions may have their own solutions and the Government of the Northwest Territories has a role in supporting those initiatives. As well, we must review our own programs and policies, and the renewal of Housing Northwest Territories, as well as the review of the Government of the Northwest Territories Income Assistance Program are examples that promise to contribute to the desired outcomes of this strategy.

Mr. Speaker, we also recognize the need for better data collection, respectful information-sharing, and evaluated results. This strategy incorporates regular meetings with community partners and will be subject to periodic review and updating starting three years after its implementation.

Mr. Speaker, over the coming weeks, we will further engage with Indigenous governments, community governments, non-profits, researchers and academics, those with lived experiences, and the broader public, to seek their input and suggestions. Before the end of this government, we are aiming to finalize a strategy that reflects the wisdom and sets out the direction for community members who are experiencing homelessness to find a way home. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Colleagues, before we continue, I'd like to recognize Mr. Robert C. McLeod, former Member of the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th Assemblies, former Minister and deputy premier. Welcome back to the Chamber. Also his wife Judy, welcome. And also Mr. David Brock, the NWT's former chief electoral officer, welcome.

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. At a recent Council of Leaders meeting on mental health and addictions, I heard from Indigenous governments about what is working well in their communities as well as some of the challenges. There are many successes, and it is truly inspiring to hear about the programs and initiatives going forward in communities across the NWT.

One of the challenges leaders identified was the administrative burden of applying for multiple funding pots for mental wellness and addictions recovery funding. In response to this feedback, I am pleased to advise that the department will be combining the On the Land Healing Fund, the Addictions Recovery and Aftercare Fund, and the Addictions Recovery Peer Support Fund, into one fund called Mental Wellness and Addictions Recovery Fund.

This combined fund will continue to prioritize Indigenous governments and will help reduce the burden of compiling and completing multiple applications and reports. Bundling the funds will also provide Indigenous governments with greater autonomy over the kinds of mental wellness and addictions recovery projects they offer and how funding is allocated. This change will take effect on April 1st at the start of the new fiscal year.

In addition to the proposed combining of funds, the department will be revising the application process in 2024-2025. Applications will be accepted prior to the start of the next fiscal year so Indigenous governments can receive early confirmation of funding which will support program planning, provide stability, and enable funds to be spent earlier.

Mr. Speaker, this is a positive step forward in our ongoing partnership with Indigenous governments, and I look forward to continuing to work closely with them to meet the mental wellness and addictions needs of NWT residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Lands.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to provide an update on the ministerial mandate and commitments to review the Government of the Northwest Territories Land Lease-Only Policy.

Mr. Speaker, the Land Lease-Only Policy was initially established in 1987 to ensure ongoing Aboriginal rights agreement negotiations were not impacted through the sale of land. Since then, our territory has changed in many ways. Our population and economy have grown, our communities are more developed, and the GNWT is responsible for most of the land and resources. While this progress is welcome, this growth comes with an increased need for land for housing, businesses, and community development, including in areas with ongoing Aboriginal rights agreement negotiations.

Despite these changes in our territory, the Land Lease-Only Policy has not been updated since the mid-1990s. The recent review of the policy concluded that the policy prevented the GNWT from meeting the land needs for housing, business, and community growth.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure everyone in this House would agree that government policies should be dynamic and responsive to the needs of all our territory. I share this belief.

Following the initial review, the Department of Lands engaged with the Intergovernmental Council Secretariat, Indigenous governments, and standing committee to resolve issues found during the review. I thank everybody who participated for providing valuable feedback. I can confirm that the department has reviewed all the feedback and completed updated that necessary all views and needs.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that effective April 1st, the Land Lease-Only Policy will be replaced with the Limitation of Land Sales Policy. This new policy will continue to meet the intended goals of restricting the sale of the most vacant land within and outside communities in the areas with continuing Aboriginal rights agreement negotiations. It will also support other policy goals of the GNWT related to housing, business, and community growth by changing the outdated conditions for titled land. Going forward, I am confident the new Limitation of Land Sales Policy reflects feedback received through the engagement process. The revised policy will also meet the needs of many of our residents and communities now and into the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, the availability of healthy, affordable food is a fundamental requirement for a good quality of life and a strong, healthy territory. The Government of the Northwest Territories mandate reflects this and commits to addressing food security while also investing in Northwest Territories agriculture as a growing sector of our economy.

Since 2003, the GNWT has partnered with the federal government to provide financial resources and cross-jurisdictional supports to encourage the growth and sustainability of the agricultural and agri-food sector in the Northwest Territories. A succession of formal five-year agreements has resulted in renewed agriculture development in the Northwest Territories, evidenced by the growth and diversity of producers and processors, and a rise in local production and sales.

On April 1st, the fifth such bilateral agreement will come into effect, titled the Sustainable Canadian Agriculture Partnership, or the Sustainable-CAP. The Sustainable-CAP will see an investment of $7.6 million in the Northwest Territories agriculture and agri-food sector over the next five years. Canada will provide 60 percent of this funding annually with the GNWT making up the rest. Overall, the new agreement represents a 25 percent increase in the government's investment in agriculture across Canada, with funding organized in five priority areas:

  • Climate Change and Environment;
  • Market Development and Trade;
  • Building Sector Capacity, Growth and Competitiveness;
  • Resiliency and Public Trust; and,
  • Science, Research, and Innovation.

The Sustainable-CAP emphasizes a commitment to strengthening relationships and increasing Indigenous participation in the sector while improving access to funding. As with previous multilateral agriculture partnerships, the Sustainable-CAP confirms the exemption of the Northwest Territories from requirements of proportionate spending and from the accounting of federal attributed funding, where required.

Mr. Speaker, the summer flooding of 2022 was devastating for many residents in the South Slave and Deh Cho regions and, among them, members of our territory's agriculture sector. With that in mind, and in response to what we heard from engagements with the Northwest Territories agriculture community last year, the GNWT, with this new agreement, will leverage its participation in the Sustainable Canadian Agriculture Partnership to provide access for Northwest Territories producers to two key business risk management programs.

  • AgriStability is a whole-farm margin-based income stabilization program that aims to protect producers against large declines in farming income due to production loss from unpredictable weather, crop or animal disease, poor yields, increased costs, or adverse market conditions.
  • AgriInvest is a self-managed producer-government savings account designed to help manage small income declines and make investments to manage risk and improve market income.

Coming out of last year's tragedy, Mr. Speaker, we hope that the addition of the AgriStability and AgriInvest programs will serve to increase the confidence of Northwest Territories producers and agri-food businesses as they look to rebuild what was lost.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT's support for regional agriculture programs is doing more than encouraging local food production. It is promoting economic development and diversity and, in time, will help us to address food security especially in our small and remote communities. The sustainable agriculture partnership will help us realize this vision. Thank you, 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, yesterday we voted to continue collection and administration of the carbon tax on behalf of the federal government. Although it divided this House, I believe we are all in agreement that the tax itself is bad for the NWT and should be eliminated or an exemption provided.

Mr. Speaker, we heard a passionate plea from the Member of Nunakput who's constituents, and who I believe are the most impacted by this tax - a tax that only increases the cost of living for residents and drives away development. The people who live in and make the northernmost communities home, have been forced to rely heavily on both this and the federal government just to survive. This tax pushes residents' reliance on government even further and as the cost of living increases, many are forced to go without.

Mr. Speaker, our reliance on fossil fuels continues and will continue well into the future while this tax continues to punish a limited population who have limited to no immediate choice for cheaper green energy. As the carbon tax increases, it only works to strand an important resource which is northern oil and gas. This tax, coupled with the moratorium placed on northern oil and gas development, is only strangling any opportunity northern residents have for employment or business opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, this government cannot sit by and watch the unfairness unfold without our own backstop to assist the most vulnerable who will feel the greatest impact. We may not be able to change the tax itself, however, we do need to change the mindset of those in Ottawa when it comes to the reality of living in the North. Southern and federal politicians need to realize that our presence in the North has value.

When one talks about Arctic Sovereignty, we are talking about residents who are on the frontline. When we talk about the untapped resources, we are talking about potential benefits for all Canadians. When we talk about Indigenous people, we are talking their homeland.

Mr. Speaker, stranded resources not used should be recognized as keeping our carbon footprint in check. Our forests and peat lands capture more carbon than we produce. So when the government discusses targets and carbon tax with the federal government, they must consider natural carbon capture and by not using stranded oil and gas in the Beaufort Sea, we are not adding to carbon increases. And this should be enough to eliminate or reduce the carbon tax for NWT residents - otherwise we may have to wait for the Conservatives to axe the tax.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the Department of Lands set out on their unauthorized occupancy quest, we were told that anyone with an Indigenous right would be put in a separate category and dealt with later. And, Mr. Speaker, recently one of my constituents, who is an Indigenous fisherman, was kicked off of public land. And I'm trying to understand why this happened. I don't want to get into specifics of this one case, but I would like the Department of Lands to give us some guidance here. And, Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, I think we all have to recognize how complicated Indigenous rights are. This case raises a lot of questions. It raises questions such as when does an Indigenous right end? Does it end when there's commercial activity? Does it end when there's a cabin built and it becomes a permanent structure? Do the Metis have rights on this side of the lake? Do the YKDFN have rights on that side of the lake? These are messy questions, Mr. Speaker, and they're questions best left to the courts and land claim processes. They are questions that the Department of Lands said they would not be answering and should not be answering, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to have questions for the Department of Lands on what exactly they are using as a test for Indigenous rights to harvest on Great Slave Lake. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Spring has sprung. According to some calendars, spring arrived last week however to those of us living in the North, it usually waits a little bit longer. We are blessed with the return of longer days, and spring is a beautiful yet challenging at this time of year. As the snow melts on the streets and in our yards, on community trails and on ice roads, it reveals how we weathered the winter season.

Spring can be a metaphor of the past season. Potholes are a given. It is a right of passage of living here however as the snow slowly melts away, we see our beautiful Mother Earth littered with garbage and illegal dumping in the night that is akin to the illicit drugs that are after our most vulnerable. Abandoned items lean against garbage bins like the unkept promises to those suffering from trauma, addiction, and homelessness. Fast food containers and plastics are strewn about like the unhealed careless comments to family and friends and the endless trail of broken glass, cigarette butts, and dog waste, like the demands, wants, and needs of the entitled and privileged.

In the past few months concerns of the pandemic have taken a back seat to the challenges of debt, finances, cost of living, employment, addictions, mental health, housing, homelessness, violence, and premature death. Once again, we will spring clean as we always do. We will continue to take care of ourselves, our families, our communities, and our Mother Earth the best we can. We will discard that which is no longer useful and donate that which others can use. We will encourage that which will bring us together, to watch out for each other, to listen and be kind if that is all we can offer. We know that what we do to each other, we do to ourselves.

The opportunity is ours in this new season, to get out of our own way and create more meaningful relationships with each other, to engage in mindful and respectful dialogue. We can make the foundation, the ground, clean again as we intentionally prepare for the planting of seeds, seeds of growth and change. Our collective consciousness, connected like a dream catcher or a spider web, will set in motion how this upcoming season will be for everyone in our communities. How we choose to do this will be evident in the new growth that comes with the melting of next spring's snow. I wish everyone the best in this changing of the seasons. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to talk about trust. We are in a mental health crisis. The NWT has some of the highest rates of substance abuse and intimate partner violence in Canada. Young people are losing their lives to suicide.

In October of last year, we passed a motion on suicide prevention, asking for each region to have $250,000. This is $1.75 million for our youth, families, and communities. This represents seven regions, including Tlicho. It is upsetting because this government said no and decided to ignore the motions to provide additional support for our young people. Their life is priceless, and they are our future generations. We are the people of this land, and this is what we have asked for. When we say no to support, we are saying no to our youth. They already have limited resources in the communities. It is very sad we are losing young people to addictions and suicide.

This motion would have helped our young people. A regional fund would have given each region the power to make their own decisions on how the money should be spent and where it should focus. The Government of the Northwest Territories is supposed to be a consensus government. The Cabinet needs to listen and work with us, not against us. We all have common interests serving the people of the NWT and in our regions. When we, the majority of the MLA, vote in favour of something, we are representing the view of the people. It should be respected and acted on. This is how consensus government works. It works together in collaboration.

Mr. Speaker, we are elected into being an MLA to serve our people. Our people want funding at the regional level to provide mental health support and prevent losing our youth. Mr. Speaker, can I have unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

---Unanimous consent granted

Why does the Government of the Northwest Territories keep preventing this? Whenever we ask for this funding, the Financial Administration Act, legislation and policies, are always referred to as why we can't. We have to answer to the people, not to the bureaucrats, and find ways we can work to make this happen. This can happen. The Government of the Northwest Territories just has to do it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, of the many things I've discovered as a Member of this House, there's one thing that sticks out to me all the time, which is the slow pace of conducting government business. It takes so much time to simply make a decision about anything and to get things done in this building, which can be frustrating at times because I'm a very busy MLA and I'm used to getting things done at a faster pace. But regardless, I persevere, and I continue to press forward because I know that the work we do here is important and it does impact the people of the NWT, whom we represent.

Partially for that reason, Mr. Speaker, I feel that my work here at the Legislative Assembly is not yet complete, which is why I will take this opportunity to publicly announce my intention to run for re-election as the MLA for Thebacha in the 2023 territorial election. Mr. Speaker, if I have the privilege to be re-elected as the MLA in the 20th Assembly, I will continue to work hard, as I always do, for the constituents of Fort Smith, as well as all the people of the NWT. I take my oath of loyalty very seriously. So as a Member of this Assembly, I will always be loyal to the people of the NWT, and I'll always honour and respect the treaties and land claims signed with Indigenous peoples.

Mr. Speaker, as we near the end of the 19th Assembly, I want to take a moment to thank all my colleagues in this House, both on the Regular side and on the Cabinet side for all the work we are able to do throughout this term. It was difficult at times; there's no doubt about that. But we were still able to get many things done for the people of the NWT, which is a very good thing. I want to wish all my colleagues good luck in their re-election efforts this fall. However, for those not seeking re-election, I want to thank each of you for your service in this House, and I wish you all well in your future endeavours. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement

---Unanimous consent granted

Also, Mr. Speaker, today this Assembly is going to lose a very special person. Today marks the last day of employment of our long-time clerk, Mr. Tim Mercer, who after today will be retiring from the Legislative Assembly. I want to thank Mr. Mercer for all his 20 years serving this House. His presence will most certainly be missed in this building. I wish him all the best with whatever life brings him next.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank all my amazing constituents of Thebacha for their continued support. I also want to thank all the Indigenous leaders throughout the NWT for their continued support in me and for them always reaching out to me to share their concerns. And lastly, I would like to thank my family for always supporting me in my work, which includes my husband Peter, my two sons Jerry and Mickey, and my dog Rambo. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Ronald Bonnetrouge

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, spring is in the air, the sun is out in full force. Well if it isn't, it will be once I part the clouds. It won't be long before we have to don our Comashores, the old gumboots, as we traverse the many potholes.

Mr. Speaker, the Fort Providence Bison Jamboree is in full force and has been running all week filled with daily activities to welcome the spring. This yearly carnival gets everyone out of the house, and people are encouraged to participate in any event of their choice. There's three-on-three basketball, three-on-three volleyball, poker rally, and everyone's favourite cribbage tournament. Mr. Speaker, there are events for toddlers and tots at the school gym, youth movie nights, and youth outdoor events. Of course, all this activity brings on hunger pains so they will host a hot dog eating contest. If that is not enough to settle down the tapeworms, then check out the outdoor barbecues throughout the weekend along with the pancake breakfasts.

Mr. Speaker, this year they will introduce the Ultimate Bush Person contest, which is a traditional carnival event in which contestants will have to saw a log, haul and split the wood, and boil the tea. The winner will be crowned the 2023 Ultimate Bush Person.

No carnival is complete without an adult talent show and dry dance. So pull out your favorite uptown shoes and jig like your life depended upon it. Mr. Speaker, I'm all tuckered out and I haven't even entered an event yet. So come on by, don't be shy, make new friends, buy arts and crafts on Saturday, try out the three-on-three hockey out on the river, and there's something for everyone. So be sure to check out the Bison Jamboree at Fort Providence. Mahsi.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. And I'm sure you'll get some very nice pictures over the weekend. Mahsi.

Members' statements. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today the Vatican development and education office released a statement formally reputing to the doctrine of discovery. These theories, backed by 15th century Papal Bulls, legitimize colonial era seizure of Indigenous lands and formed the jurisdiction for the forceful disposition of sovereign Indigenous nations from their territories. The doctrine of discovery interbills are based on the presumed racial superiority of European Christians people and has been used for the -- to dehumanize, exploit, and subject Indigenous people and dispose Indigenous peoples of their land and rights for over 500 years. This statement said was right to recognize these errors and acknowledge the long-lasting effects of colonial era and assimilation of policies of Indigenous people and asked for their forgiveness. This statement recognizes at least these Papal Bulls or decrees did not adequately reflect the equal dignity and rights of the Indigenous people and that the documents had been manipulated for political purposes of colonial powers to justify immoral acts against Indigenous people that were carried out at the time without opposition of -- from ancestral authorities.

The Catholic Church therefore repudiates in these concepts that fail to recognize the inherit right of human rights of Indigenous people. In reviewing this release, this is not quite the level of relocation of the doctrine of discovery that was requested by the survivors during the Papal visit in 2002, visit to Canada, during which he apologized to Indigenous people for the church's role in the residential school system. Of course, the path of reconciliation is long and winding, and this is just one small step. However, this is without a doubt a breath of fresh air for over 500 years that's overdue. Our people have experienced relentless and deliberate attempts of colonization over hundreds of years, the intergenerational impacts of our brothers and sisters, our parents, and our children are significant and long lasting. But together we can make a rapid stride towards addressing historical injustice and moving forward in meaningful truth and reconciliation. While we cannot change the past, we will live in present; we must look forward to creating a future for our children and that will walk that we can all look forward to. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

---Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. We will continue to call on the Government of Canada to implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada 94 Calls to Action in order to redress the legacy of residential school and advances the process of Canadian reconciliation. We must be steadfast in confronting these truths in order to find a better way forward. In the words of the Dene National Chief, Gerald Antoine, who is the AFN national portfolio holder for the residential school, family, like a branch on a tree, we all grow in different direction, yet our root remains the same. Let us find comfort and strength and shared values, nourish and strengthen our root and reconnect with energy and determination to this critical work. I would have questions for the Premier at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Mr. Speaker, as this is our last day of this sitting, it's been a long two months. We'll be back in the May-June sitting, but I hope all my colleagues get a good couple days of rest before you get back to all the other work that you do as MLAs and Ministers.

I want to end this session on a good note. So this weekend is the beginning of many communities' spring celebrations in my region, and I would like to point out that in my community of Inuvik, we'll be celebrating the 65th Inuvik Muskrat Jamboree on April 21st to 24th, 2023. And I hope that we have some beautiful weather and that everybody enjoys their time visiting friends, family, taking part in all the community events. And I thank at the volunteers that make this happen every year.

I also want to wish those heading out to their camps for the annual spring hunt over the next two months, safe travels to them and their families.

I'd like to thank my CA Brenda Bernhardt for holding down the fort over the last two months and the reminder to my constituents that the coffee is always on. And, Mr. Speaker, I too want to wish Mr. Clerk, Mr. Tim Mercer, on your retirement, and it was great work working with you; it was great to meet you, to know you, and I wish you'd come back to visit us before the end of our term, and I wish you nothing but the best. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, anybody that was either present or listening to Committee of the Whole yesterday may have noticed that it was basically an extension of a Standing Committee on Social Development meeting here for most of the day. And two of the things that we covered in Committee of the Whole yesterday were reports that were done by the standing committee, but those reports could not have been in the way that they were done without the participation of the residents of the Northwest Territories. They really are the voices of the residents of the Northwest Territories. And one of the things that we have tried to do different this term in the Standing Committee of Social Development is ensure that we really elevate the voices of youth from around the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that we've done in order to do that work through our priorities with the youth of the Northwest Territories is to step outside of this building and to meet youth in spaces that they find or feel are safe for them. So the work that we have largely done with youth has not happened in the Legislative Assembly. It has happened in places like a youth centre. Those are places that youth have identified are more comfortable for them. So it found committee members sitting on couches, eating doughnuts, drinking hot chocolate, and being able to hear true, valid, lived experiences from youth from across the territory, not just youth from Yellowknife.

The reason that committee has done this is to capture voices that are incredibly powerful to the work that we do and incredibly insightful and important to the work that is done by our committee.

Mr. Speaker, the voices of youth give our work more strength and more depth and the stories and lived experiences that they have so bravely shared with committee members have truly captivated committee members because they have been honest, and they have been brave. Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the youth who have shared their stories and lived experiences with committee members in the work that we have done, but I also want to extend a huge thank you to the staff and the executive director of the Foster Family Coalition of the Northwest Territories and Home Base YK. Those staff members have created a lot of those safe spaces through their existing relationships with youth from across the territory. And I'd like to thank youth for participating and look forward to one day seeing them sitting in these seats here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I rise in the House to recognize and share some, I repeat some, amazing things about Ms. Joanne Deneron during her public life. I can say I have the pleasure of knowing her and have had some very amazing conversations with her since moving to Fort Simpson in 1992.

Mr. Speaker, Joanne is a resident of Fort Liard, is nominated for work and community leadership. Joanne has been selected for or elected to many positions in the community of Fort Liard where she served with distinction and gained recognition for her community, whether it was on the band or hamlet council, or local DEA. For an NWT perspective, Joanne has served and held many board and community positions. These include chairperson of the Aurora College, chairperson of the Workman's Compensation Board, board Member of the NWT Science Institution, board Member of the Canadian Polar Commission, president of the Literacy Council of the NWT, board Member of the Business Development Investment Corporation, executive Member of the Deh Cho First Nation, and board Member of the Development Bank. Currently, Joanne is on the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Impact Review Board, serving her third term as a chairperson.

Mr. Speaker, when you ask Joanne why she took on these roles throughout her life, she explained it was about wanting to learn good new things, meet new people, and have the desire to make her home a community region and the NWT a better place to live.

Mr. Speaker, Joanne has been and always will be a very dedicated and humble person. When she heard that she won the award, her first thought was they must be talking about somebody else; they can't be talking about me. Well, Joanne, they were talking about you.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that Joanne is known throughout the NWT for -- or Northwest Territories -- North, for her strong commitment to her family. Just ask her kids, who had the opportunity to make a number of those trips with her throughout the years so she could attend and be with them.

To her community and to the NWT and Nunavut, I can tell you that Joanne's contributions have been recognized by the Government of the Northwest Territories, First Nations governments, and related organizations who continue to request her participation at high level boards and committees.

Mr. Speaker, when you ask what message she would like the next generation on why it's important to get involved, she would say it's about making a difference in the community, improving the life of your family, friends and residents. It is also a great time to get to know the issues and meet new people.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the nominators and the committee for selecting and honouring her as part of the Order of the Northwest Territories. She is a well-deserving recipient of this award. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Members' statements. Returns to oral questions. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake.

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Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the former Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes Mr. R.C. McLeod as well as his wife Judy, and they are now constituents of mine in Inuvik Boot Lake. I'm told it's his first time back in this building since he ran screaming out of here almost four years ago. Mahsi, quyananni, welcome back. Mr. Speaker, I'm going to take this opportunity now to also recognize our Inuvialuktun interpreters Lillian Elias and Valerie Steffanson. Quyananni, thank you for all the work that you do for us. Mahsi.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake. That was actually Mr. McLeod's chair in the last Assembly, same seat.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Honourable Premier.

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Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also want to take a moment to recognize Mr. R.C. McLeod. He foolishly took on in the last Assembly trying to be my mentor, realized I was the wild child, and still kept trying. I have a lot of respect for the Member; couldn't have done it without him. But I also want to say, Mr. Speaker, behind every good man is a good partner. So I also want to recognize his wife Judy. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

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Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Yeah, it wouldn't be proper of me if I didn't recognize my predecessor, past honourable R.C. McLeod, and welcome you back, and to his wife Judy. I used to work with Judy. We ran all of the health centres and the hospital nurses. We were pretty busy back then. She kept herself busy while Robert was down here working. So I'd like to welcome them here.

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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 Nahendeh.

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Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you. I guess I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and recognize my former boss. He was my Minister when I worked for the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs. And his great leadership for the stuff that we're able to do during that time working from them. And as an advisor and -- I say somebody that would be able to give you sound advice throughout the time of my first four years as a Member, and his wife for putting up with him being gone for so long, Judy; thank you for much for being here today. 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.

Oh since it's his first time back, we'll do this again. I'd like to welcome back Robert C. McLeod, former Member of the 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th Assemblies, former Minister and deputy premier, also his wife Judy. Thank you for all the support you've given Robert over the years. I know he needed it, kind of a stressful job at times and, you know, it's always good to have somebody to talk to and thank you for all our service, Robert. You're greatly missed here, and I know you're enjoying retirement. I see all the pictures building cabins and on the land. Never seen you smile so much I always tell myself. I hope you enjoy your retirement and, you know, like I said, thank you very much.

And also Mr. David Brock. I haven't seen him for a number of years. He was the chief electoral officer at the time when I ran. Welcome back to Northwest Territories, or the Chamber anyway. And I hope all is well.

If we've missed anybody in the gallery today, I'd like to welcome everyone and hope you're enjoying the proceedings. Today is day last, as Doug Schauerte would say.

Okay, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Acknowledgements. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I said in my statement, it was my understanding that as we proceed on unauthorized rights, it was essentially if it was an Indigenous person and there was a potential rights case, we weren't going to evaluate it; we were just going to put it in a box and to the side. I've recently learned that that is not the case and there are cases where we will go forward with eviction for Indigenous peoples unauthorized using public land.

My question is for the Minister of Lands. Can he just tell me what exactly is the test being used? Are there some sort of hard limits here for when we are using a test for when an Indigenous person has a right to be on public land? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the department is not taking enforcement actions on potential rights-based cabins at this time. The department is working with Indigenous governments on an approach to manage rights-based cabins on public land. The department won't be defining Aboriginal rights through this process.

Mr. Speaker, it's about also self-identifying. The individuals need to self-identify. There was a process that's explained on the post, please come into the office and self-identify. If they don't do that, then we do not know if it's a rights-based cabin. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I think that may be where this problem lies in that there's a lack of trust and some people are not talking into a Department of Lands office any time soon, Mr. Speaker.

Can the Minister tell me whether Indigenous fishermen have a right to set up harvesting camps on the shores of Great Slave Lake, and what exactly that right would look like? Is there a limit to it? Are they allowed to set up a fish harvesting camp, but they're not allowed to do any commercial activity? Are they allowed to set up a fish harvesting camp, but they can't leave an ice shack there over time? Can the Minister tell me what the department's current interpretation of that right is? Thank you.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, first and foremost, if the individuals do not want to talk to us and come into our lands, they can go in, talk to the Indigenous governments, and they can reach out to us. So we do have a process there.

In regards to his question, commercial operators occupying public land are required to have tenders. So they need to apply through a process. The department currently approached our -- the department's current approach to managing rights-based cabins is not considering commercial harvesting or operations. So thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would really encourage the department to take a look at that. I think our Indigenous harvesters have a right to commit some sort of commercial activity on the lake. I know that's a complicated question, but I think it's a very kind of similar case to Miqmaq fishers with the lobster fishery, where the Supreme Court gave them essentially a moderate livelihood test. They were allowed to go out and do as was their tradition. I've spoken to many fishers on the lake. They will get licensed, they will go through the commercial applications, but they do view it as their rights.

Mr. Speaker, a couple years ago, the Department of Lands kicked commercial fishermen's boats off of the Giant Mine dock as being remediated but now there are commercial fishers who have nowhere to store their boats. And these aren't small boats, Mr. Speaker, they're 40-foot boats. Can the Department of Lands look for somewhere that commercial fishermen can store their boats legally in Yellowknife? You know, I note on this side of the lake we don't have a fishermen's wharf; we don't have a fish plant -- well, we have a fish plant but it's a houseboat, Mr. Speaker. So my question is can we find somewhere for the commercial fishermen to legally store their boats in Yellowknife, which is pretty essential to make sure the fishery survives on this side of the lake. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And, Mr. Speaker, I can honestly say we've had this conversation with the Member, and I greatly appreciate him asking this question in the House.

All available public land can be viewed on Atlas, the department website management system. If that's a problem, they can go into the department and talk to the staff there and check the website itself and we are more than willing to help there. Commercial operations interested in public lands may work with land administration to determine the land availability as well. An application may submit lease applications for any available land to, you know, if it's available in the lease. But also what we need to be aware that we still have to go through the review and consultation process that we follow. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

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Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, will the Minister of Finance confirm if she plans to meet with the federal government to relay this government's opposition and concerns around the carbon tax. Thank you.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Yes, Mr. Speaker. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I've already conveyed that message today to one minister, Minister Vandal. I intend to convey that message to Minister Guilbeault. I will hopefully convey that message to Minister Wilkinson. And it's my hope that it's not only about the opposition; it's time for them to help us find solutions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Will the Minister also relay to the federal government the negative impact the carbon tax has on all residents and businesses in the Northwest Territories? Thank you.

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I'll be doing that as well. But more than that, Mr. Speaker, it's about the fact that there are a total lack of alternatives to fossil fuel use here in the Northwest Territories, and if this is how the federal government wants to respond is through a carbon tax, then they need to help us find the alternatives to it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Will the Minister of Finance also relay to the federal government the value that the Northwest Territories adds to Canada? Thank you.

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Absolutely, Mr. Speaker. And in fact, Mr. Speaker, in my view the value we add can only grow. If the Northwest Territories, a remote region, rural High Arctic, if this is a place that the Canadian can come and make us a shining example of how to get off of fossil fuel use, then they can stand up internationally and truly be a star. So they should come here, and we should be the shining example of how to get off of fossil fuels. I think we add a tremendous value to the Government of Canada. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

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Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Will the Minister also ask the federal government to consider exempting residents and businesses of the Northwest Territories from carbon tax? Thank you.

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, this one we've tried. We've tried. I've tried. Other jurisdictions facing similar situations have tried. Other territories have tried. And we haven't gotten very far. Mr. Speaker, I want to look forward, and I want to find solutions that's going to reduce our carbon tax costs in the North because we have less reliance on fossil fuel use. And that's the point of the carbon tax, is to get people off of fossil fuels. We don't have alternatives in the Northwest Territories. But if that's the federal government's goal, then the federal government needs to help us get off of fossil fuel use, provide reliable and responsible alternatives to fossil fuels here in the North. It will dramatically change our energy situation. And if this is the situation we face ourselves in now with the carbon tax, it's time for them to come here and help us get there. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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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. Mr. Speaker, I would like to apologize to the Premier for not getting my questions to you a little bit earlier. Since the Vatican announced -- announcement, I only found out this morning of this announcement. Today the Vatican development and education office released a statement formally reputing, or in other words to reject or untrue or unjust, the doctrine of discovery.

Going forward, Mr. Speaker -- and I'm sure the GNWT Premier and the federal Government of Canada will need time to review the Vatican's announcement to reputing the doctrine of discovery and how this announcement will have significant impacts on the Government of the Northwest Territories and Indigenous people in the Northwest Territories as well.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, you know, this thing is long outstanding, and my question is what -- you know, what took so long? It's more than a little rich for the Vatican to insert now that the Papal Bulls were manipulated for political purposes by competing colonial powers. The Catholic Church and the federal government have known for hundreds of years the extensive and negative long-lasting impacts of these doctrines.

Instead of waiting for this repudiation to come from the Vatican, what have the federal government and the territorial government done to denounce the doctrine and introduce legislation specifically reputing the doctrine and committing to the abandoning of and opposing all policies based on the doctrine? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. A couple questions in there. What took so long, that I can't speak for. I can't speak for the Catholic Church and I can't speak for the federal government, although I'd like to sometimes. But I can say that the Northwest Territories, what we're doing is I think that in the Northwest Territories, we're one of the most progressive jurisdictions in working with Indigenous governments and, honestly, in all the whole of Canada. We were one of the first, I believe, to accept the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 2016. We're very ahead of the game when we're working with self-governments and land claim agreements. We did devolution where Indigenous governments get a say with that. We have the Arctic and Northern Policy Framework that we sat together and identified our chapters and our needs. This government brought forward the Council of Leaders where we share the chair. And just recently, as Members know, today I'll be tabling -- or doing the second reading of the bill for the United Nations Declaration for Indigenous People. So, again, Mr. Speaker, I can't speak for the federal government or the churches, but I can say that the Northwest Territories recognizes the impact that colonization has had on Indigenous people, and we're doing whatever we can to support our people. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the Premier. Yeah, this is -- it's a very tough subject to talk about but at the same time it's really a big topic because I know when -- even as the Premier going to continue to work with your colleagues and also the chiefs and leaders in the Northwest Territories, it's going to come up now. And those are some of the questions. But some of the questions that may come is -- come up is what will the GNWT do to identify and remove policies and procedures which are influenced by the doctrine? So they're going to be a lot of questions like that, so I just want to just throw that out there and put that to you as Premier. Thank you.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the Member for giving me a heads up that there will be questions, and I don't blame them. There should be questions. There was a lot of harm done. Again, I can't speak for the churches but what I can say is hopefully those days are done in the Northwest Territories. The United Nations Declaration for Indigenous People, the active past in this government, will make things different. No longer will the GNWT get to define what's best for people. It'll be working together with the Indigenous governments hand-in-hand to actually define what our Acts look like, our programs and our policies. I know, Mr. Speaker, it's not going to happen overnight; it's going to take years. But we're starting the process. And I believe in my heart, Mr. Speaker, that is the right way. So like I said, I can't speak for the churches but I can say that the implementation of the United Nations Declaration for Indigenous People with Indigenous governments is the one thing that will change the dynamics of politics in the Northwest Territories for decades to come. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Yeah, thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you, Premier. You know, I, you know, we're getting land claims done here in the North, across Canada and, you know, a lot of this is based on treaties and, you know, took a long time to get to that point. Especially here in the Northwest Territories, now they're coming together. But this recent announcement now that just came out, you know, I know for sure it's going to get talked about. It's going to be talked about in days to come. And I just want to know how we're going to probably -- with the help of the GNWT, what can you do to pressure the Catholic Church and authorities to return the lands of -- and sacred belongings to Indigenous people here and First Nations and treaty people in the Northwest Territories? Thank you.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think the Member kind of identified it. We're not -- I'm not going to wait. Indigenous people have been waiting way too long to get apologies from the Catholic Church, from federal governments, etcetera. I think that land claims is the way to go. I think that does give the land to Indigenous governments and so we're continuing with that process as well. I do know, Mr. Speaker, that the Dene Nation is all over this and working with them. We're there to support them. And contact me, I'm more than willing to support them.

But I guess, Mr. Speaker, I do know that the federal government listens when we mention their name. I'm not sure if the Catholic Church does. But I'd say the same thing to the Catholic Church as I would to the federal government. It's do the right thing. You recognize the harm, you see the impacts of the harm, do the right thing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Yeah, I'll try to make it short. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. What will the GNWT do to help survivors, including intergenerational survivors, to ensure that they are able to access resources and compensation and assistance they deserve and are entitled to? Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you (audio).

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There's a few things. Like I said, there's many survivors and people think that it's only the survivors that were impacted back in the day or people that went to residential school. But we see the effects in generation after generation, and I still see them in my own family even. And so, you know, I think that we do have to do what we can. That's why the GNWT, we have the Truth and Reconciliation Commission that was set up to guide the work aimed at this very issue. And we'll continue to advance that work as we go forward. We're working with the Calls for Justice, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous National Inquiry. And the big thing, Mr. Speaker, again, is the United Nations Declaration for Indigenous People. I think that we're trying to give as much support as we can. We've -- I know Education, Culture and Employment has worked to provide a list of residential schools, support people whenever possible. We're always reminding the federal government of the seriousness of what's going on in the North and for Indigenous people. We're working with Indigenous governments as closely as possible to address their health, their social, their economic needs. And, again, I think that the work, again, that we will be taking forward, in governments to come around the United Nations Declaration, is one of the most progressive things that we could have done and the right thing to do. Like I say, do the right thing, and I think we're trying to do the right thing. But it's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take years but we're on the right path. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No way I'm letting 42 minutes left on the clock.

Yesterday in the House, I asked the Minister of Infrastructure to provide an update on how much we estimate Taltson to cost and she refused to do that. And my concern here, Mr. Speaker, is the last cost estimate we have is $1.2 billion from 2013. I think it's fairly safe to say that in the last nine years, construction costs have increased. And I am really worried that this project is going to have a bit of sticker shock. It's going to be similar to Giant Mine which we were all talking about costing a billion dollars which became $4.38 billion. So, I think that we have right to know in this House how much we currently expect this project to cost. Is it $1 billion, $2 billion, 3, 4, 5? I really have no sense of how much this has increased since 2013. So can the Minister of Infrastructure provide us a rough estimate of how much the current Taltson Expansion is going to cost. 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 very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we have got -- our Minister Vandal just walked in the door there so I'm really happy to hear that he's able to join us. So I do want to say the future spend will depend, again, on how commercial negotiation advance between the parties, including the Government of Canada, the Canadian Infrastructure Bank, and our Indigenous partners, as the work we define, the project footprint, our progress will also depend on any issues that emerge during the regulatory approval process. So Mr. Speaker, the Member is wanting to get a number out. I just can't do that right now. I did commit yesterday to looking at a business case and be able to work with the Member, so. He wants me to say a number, I just can't say it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think it's a point to know that yesterday the Minister committed to a non-public business case. Mr. Speaker, there's a public debate that needs to happen here of whether we are spending billions of dollars. I actually have no sense of how much this project is going to cost. Can the Minister give us a timeline of when an updated figure can be provided? I just think it is inappropriate for us to be using 2013 figures and keep saying this is a $1 billion project when we all know it isn't anymore. When can we see that? Certainly if you go through the environmental regulatory process, that's going to come out. You are going to have pretty detailed applications once you initiate that process. So when can we expect to see an updated figure? I am not looking for complete details on everything that we are going to tender, I am just trying to figure out whether we're at $1 billion or $5 billion or somewhere in between. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The business case is on track for completion within the life of this government. I said that yesterday, and I will say that again today. We are in progress of updating a number of things. Our capital costs, examining some of our routing options, the updating some of our project revenues. Advancing commercial discussions between partners, investors, in preparation for this regulatory application for the whole project. So we are looking at the life of this government to be able to share, not publicly, but share with the Members the business case. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. For change of protocol a little bit, I would like to -- I'd seek unanimous consent to return to item number 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Okay, the Premier is seeking unanimous consent to return to item 5. Are there any nays?

Sorry, Premier, it's nayed.

Oral questions. Member for Yellowknife North.

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To clarify, once oral questions is concluded, I am more than happy to go back to anything but returning now ends the time on the clock and I am going to use it.

My question, Mr. Speaker, is for Minister of ITI. We have been waiting years for a new procurement policy that will finally give us a new definition of northern business and hopefully that definition you will remove Walmart from BIP. When are we going to see that definition? 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

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have answered that question this session already. It's part of the work that's underway right now. I can already say to the Member that we do already now have unified policies and objectives for procurement. That's a huge step forward. That is certainly a good starting place. There's a lot of information on the websites right now. New manufacturing guidelines, new manufacturing policy, new guidelines under BIP. And the definition right now, part of the delay there, is we are also working on an Indigenous procurement process with Indigenous partners. That work is still underway. We are not going to wait entirely for that finish before finishing the northern definition, and that will be worked on right now in the life of this government. 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. This is a question for the Minister of Finance. What in the federal budget will support an offset for the added cost of the carbon tax increase? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it's not my place necessarily to speak to what is or is not in the federal budget. What I can say, Mr. Speaker, having spent a lot more time studying in depth what was in Budget 2022 of the federal government is that there is still opportunities to use that money towards addressing the fact of the carbon tax. In addition to which is they're only just starting to roll out what's happening in Budget 2023. We want to strike while we can, Mr. Speaker. I am glad there's a minister in the House from the federal government. We want to use all of the resources of the federal government 2022-2023, and we want to get the North off of fossil fuels. This is our opportunity, and I'm glad they're here to hear it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I'm pleased to hear that there's a minister -- a federal minister in the gallery. I didn't even know that.

Mr. Speaker, residents and businesses in the NWT are struggling. How does this government expect to provide immediate support while we are waiting on this cheap green energy that's supposed to show up at some point? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There continues to be, Mr. Speaker, a number of different initiatives -- well, before I go any further, I want to give a shout out to the Arctic Energy Alliance. They do a lot of work in this space, and they receive a lot of funding from our government to continue the work that they do in this space in terms of energy audits and ensuring that there's alternatives and paths forward and to help chart those paths forward. So I'd certainly encourage everyone to reach out to them. There are also funds within our government, again, to help support businesses in their changeovers. And, Mr. Speaker, as we've always done, and as we continue to do, ITI, there's a lot of supports in the business space through SEED in terms of helping businesses to grow their capacity. If they're growing their capacity, if they're growing their business, then they certainly will have more funds available to them. The COLO payment that we have, Mr. Speaker, built in purchasing power for residents so that they can help address the fact that they may be facing higher costs from businesses. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think I'm going to ask this question again, and there's something wrong with my earpiece so I didn't hear the answer.

Will the Minister ask the federal government to consider exempting residents and businesses of the Northwest Territories from carbon tax, because I understand the agricultural sector is looking for that in southern Canada. Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, let me sneak this one in first and just say that there is the GHG grant program for buildings and industry that does give a 25 percent eligible project cost for business and industry applicants. I want to sneak it in so that the business community does hear that and does access those funds.

Mr. Speaker, we've asked, other governments have asked, a number of Ministers have asked, hasn't gotten us very far in terms of being exempted from the carbon tax. So the Minister here has heard it himself. What I'd like to do, though, moving forward, let's get ourselves off fossil fuel, let's have more reliable energy, let's have energy alternatives. We can't do that alone. We're working off of old infrastructure. We're working in communities that don't have road access. These are things that are going to take serious dollars; they're going to take federal dollars. And if that's a commitment of the federal government, we've heard it again in this budget, they need to come to the North, they need to see the realities of the North. We are more than prepared to work with them. We're more than prepared to help communities with the federal government. And we can then be leaders in Canada and stand up and say that we've got these communities off fossil fuels. It's time to make that change, Mr. Speaker. We're here to help out. 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. One other question that I had trouble hearing as well. Will the Minister relay to the federal government the negative impact the carbon tax has on all residents and businesses in the Northwest Territories, because people are suffering right now, especially in the northern part of the territory and we need some type of support. Like, I know that green energy is the way of the future. That's what we're looking for. But it's not going to be here today; it's not going to be here tomorrow, it's going to take a while. And so I'm hoping that, you know, federal government hears the needs that we have and the urgency of it and that, you know, we need to do something and I'm hoping that this government relays that message and makes it a strong message. Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We'll certainly be carrying the message of the North forward as we do, as all my colleagues as Ministers do. We want to see the North prosper. We want to see businesses prosper. We want to have residents to have -- be able to put food on their tables. In the context of the carbon tax, Mr. Speaker, I realize it creates a burden and it's creating a burden at a time where times are already tight, inflation is high, interests rates are high. We're all seeing it in the North. And we want ministers to come from Ottawa and actually see it themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to be, along with my colleagues, extending invitations out to the ministers who have their hands on, whether it's carbon tax dollars, environment dollars, energy dollars, we want to bring them here, have them in these communities so they can actually see the realities of a large proportion of Canada's -- 40 percent of Canada's land mass in fact, here in the North across three territories. Let's bring them to the North, and I'm going to make that commitment. We're going to make those offers and try to get them here so that they can see it themselves and we can then all work together. 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 Infrastructure. I raised this numerous times in the House on the Dempster Highway and I want to know where is this Minister at with discussions with the Yukon about improving the Dempster Highway. This is the vital link to our region. We need to ensure that this goat trail is corrected, and we don't have the money on this side so it's on the Yukon side. So where is the Minister in this discussions on getting this money? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, maybe perhaps I shouldn't have mentioned that the Minister Vandal is here because now everyone's hands are going up.

Mr. Speaker, the Member from Inuvik -- and, you know, I'm a Member from Inuvik Boot Lake and we both have an interest. So do yourself, Mr. Speaker. The Dempster Highway is a critical -- I won't call it goat path, but it's a -- goat trail. I won't call it that. But other than to say that we have invested money on the NWT side. I made a commitment to the Member from Inuvik Twin Lakes that I would meet with the Minister, Minister Nils Clarke, which I did. We had discussions on perhaps partnering to look at joint proposals going forward to work on perhaps some of the things on the Yukon side. So we had that discussion, and we will further that discussion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Well, I'm glad to hear that. And I'm just wondering if there's -- is there any plans on a joint submission because there's not just the road that needs to be repaired. There's two bridges. There's the wooden bridge, there's the small bridge that's -- like, you can't get wide loads up that highway. We have a housing crisis, we can't get anything wider than 14 foot 5 inches up that highway because of that wooden bridge in the Yukon. Those are all in the Yukon. And I need this Minister to advocate so that we can get more in our region. Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we have been having this discussions with the Yukon. You know, we did talk about having -- continue to make the case with the federal government for the Dempster Highway. It is important to a number of things. Canadian security, sovereignty. We need to invest in this on a national basis. Mr. Speaker, my mandate right now is the Mackenzie Valley Highway. I'm trying to do both, but there's only so much that we can do. I'm all about the Dempster Highway as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad that the Member had brought up the Mackenzie Valley Highway. Like, I'm sitting here and I'm asking the Member over and over again about dollars to fix a road that, you know, we have a plan to go down the Northwest Territories. So is the reason because we want this money in the Northwest Territories for the Mackenzie Valley versus the Yukon? So is that the reason why we're not getting any agreements? Can the Minister explain. Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, there's both discussions going on. I am meeting with the Yukon government and having discussions on some of the work for the Dempster Highway as well as, you know, we're expecting that this mandate of the 19th Assembly is to advance the Mackenzie Valley Highway. It's not going to happen overnight. Perhaps it's not going to happen in five years. It's going to take time. But for now if we can have this discussion with the Yukon to be able to look at some of the things we can do on the Dempster Highway.

I also want to mention that I had an opportunity to speak with parliamentary committee just a couple weeks ago. I brought that up to the committee. The Yukon has -- you know, that was one of my discussions with the parliamentary committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Final supplementary. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I know in the same discussion that we were having with the Dempster Highway and the Mackenzie Valley Highway, the Minister committed that we would be having an assessment for how much it was going to cost to get the road from Inuvik down into the Sahtu. And is that work being done and if there's money, have you requested for that work to be done? Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I had an opportunity in February, during our break, to drive the Mackenzie Valley Highway from Fort Simpson to Norman Wells. And, you know, it was great to see a lot of work happening on the Norman Wells side with the Prohibition Creek Access -- Prohibition Creek Road. So I mean, there were a lot of people, businesses. There were workers from the Sahtu, small communities. It was really great to see some that work being done. It is being advanced. We're also having discussions with some of the Indigenous group that are along the alignment, such as the Pehdzeh Ki First Nation as well as, you know, Tulita. So we are furthering that discussion. 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. Mr. Speaker, I am pleased with the Frank Channel Bridge moving forward, which is an important piece of infrastructure for the NWT. We all know that that infrastructure is over 50 years old and liability is great. Our young people from Behchoko and Edzo travel on that bridge every day to attend Chief Jimmy Bruneau school in Edzo, which is over 50 years old as well, and our day care in Behchoko. Therefore, will the Minister of education commit to ask the federal minister of infrastructure commit to billion a new school in Behchoko as soon as possible, maybe within the next fiscal year. Thank you.

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. And so as the House is aware, we have committed to working with the Tlicho government on procuring a new school for Behchoko. The federal government does not billion schools generally and so in our discussions with the Tlicho government, it's been determined that they would be the best to approach the federal government. And we are fully supporting them once they do that. Thank you.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, where does this government get their money from? From the federal government. So therefore he can ask the federal government, probably not this one or whoever, but to commit that if we can -- if they can billion or help us billion a school. So I'm just asking the federal -- the Minister of education, wherever they're getting their money from, to ask those government to help us billion a school in Behchoko. Thank you.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There has been a plan in place for quite some time now to approach the federal government, ask them for money to billion a new school in Behchoko. As the Member is aware, it was the federal government who built this school outside of the community many years ago because it was cheaper. But obviously that is not in the spirit of reconciliation. So we have committed to working with the Tlicho government on approaching the federal government hoping that they will be supportive and that they will rectify, really, the mistake that they made 50 some years ago. Thank you.

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, that is good. I know that when the school was first built in 1969, you know, and it opened in 1972, that was not the will of the people, of my people. It was the will of the government of the day, which is that two government: The territorial government and the federal government, they thought it was -- because of the infrastructure and, you know, whatever of the -- the government decided to do at the day and they're trying to move people away, they thought that, you know, that they can do better, that our life was going to improve better than in Behchoko at that time. So that was their will, not our will. So I'm just making a statement because I don't have any questions, and he already said it and so they admit that there is a problem, and it was not our will to billion the school in Edzo as well. So thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Taken as a comment. Oral questions. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yeah, I'm glad the Minister's here; we're all going to take advantage of that.

Mr. Speaker, like, I mentioned this year I've been trying to get a winter road to my communities but, again, it just still goes to show that, you know, we got winter roads to Colville Lake, Deline, Gameti, Nahanni Butte, Norman Wells, Somba K'e, Tulita, Wekweeti, Whati, Wrigley. And then we got ice roads. We got Aklavik ice road, Dettah ice road. Ice crossings. Liard crossing, Mackenzie River crossing, Peel River crossing. And then we got a road to Tibbitt Lake. And this year I asked for help to get a winter road built to my community of Lutselk'e. We have the high cost of living there. To bring in a vehicle is crazy, to bring in material, homes into the community, just really, really at a very high cost. So and, again, I was told that it's going to cost about $2 million to put a road in on an annual basis. So I'd like to take this opportunity to direct my question to the GNWT Infrastructure Minister, Diane Archie, to see if we could work with the Government of Canada to help find $2 million a year just for the winter road on an annual basis, plus additional barging that we could do to provide services to the community of Lutselk'e so that we could help reduce the cost of living in our communities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Member and I have had discussions in the past on the Lutselk'e ice road request. We did look into it. The Member's correct, it was going to cost about $2 million annually to have a look. And with that, there was a number of things. You know there's a short window. There's a number of risks going across that lake. And, you know, we will continue to discuss. I know the Member's wanting to have further discussions with perhaps the federal ministers on how we can work together, perhaps find some funding, to be able to look at, you know, other ways to get -- get the road done. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And my invitation to all the Ministers and Premier still stands to coming to the community of Lutselk'e and Fort Resolution and Dettah and N'dilo. I think we had some kind of commitments in April and May so we look forward to that. But when you come to the community of Lutselk'e, again, the issue of winter road is still going to be there. The high cost of living, like I said, to bring a bed frame into the community costs $600. Things we take for granted living in a community like Yellowknife or in places where they have winter road, ice road, all-season roads, there's good. But, again, people in Lutselk'e are very concerned about the high cost of living. So I'm hoping that when we go to the community, we're going to be talking about that. But at the same time, I encourage you to continue to lobby on behalf of my community and the people in my community to the Government of Canada to see if they could get them on board to help start planning, do the feasibility study, and then start looking at putting an all-season -- I mean, a winter road, ice road, and also look at barging. We only get one barge a year, but we need probably a couple more. Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Member is correct. We do have the communities currently serviced by marine transportation services for the annual supply of fuel, construction, marine, and dry goods. Trucking fuel on the ice road over the Great Slave creates significant environmental risk, which would increase cost of fuel. So there are technical challenges, Mr. Speaker, of building an ice road across the lake. As I mentioned earlier, I understand where the Member's coming from and wanting to look at, you know, future development -- future road into the community. You know, we do have capital processes that we do as a government. So I hear where the Member's coming from. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I want to thank the Minister. And I look forward to working with you and also with the federal counterparts to, again, find money for our community. And the sooner the better. And I think when we come to the community of Lutselk'e, we're going to have that discussion. And there's other opportunities. Like, you said as well is that there's housing; there's materials in the community, the Co-Op, and everybody could all have a hand, including the parks. So I think if you all got together and had that discussion, I'm sure we could reduce that cost as well. But, again, we just got to do that homework and I look forward to sitting down with you. And that was just a comment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Taken as a comment. Oral questions. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we know that what happened last year in Hay River. There was flooding, major flooding. And we're looking at a cost of probably $175 plus million. And another issue that we seen happen last year was supplies not getting into northern communities and part of it, I think, was because of, you know, the harbour -- access to the harbour in Hay River, and the problems with the coast guard grounding and other boats as well. So even though I didn't get these questions in advance to the Minister of Infrastructure, she's answered them prior anyways, so. I would like to ask the Minister of Infrastructure if she can confirm if there was any funding for harbour remediation for Hay River in the federal budget. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when I was in Hay River in the fall, we had a community meeting. We talked about harbour restoration, otherwise known as dredging, but I'm not going to say that today. I'm going to call harbour restoration just for sake of having our Minister here. We did send -- we did some work, Mr. Speaker. We had money. We had bathymetric studies done. We spent over $150,000 to get some of this work done, mostly because it helps us set a business case to put towards the ocean protection plan. So I'm going to just stop right there in case the Member has more questions. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No, I appreciate what the Minister and her department have done. They've done a lot more than we've seen in the past and I think we're on the right track. And I guess I'd have to ask what is the status of this business case submitted to the federal government, and where are we with it? Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, everybody was tuned in on Tuesday to the federal budget. And I was very happy to see a number of things mentioned, more specifically the Taltson, which I was excited to see, but we did put in a funding proposal under the Ocean Protection Plan. You know, I met with Minister Alghabra when I was in Ottawa for FPT. We had one-on-one discussions on, you know, the need to have the Hay River harbour restoration completed so that we can get our tugs all the way up the valley into Nunakput. You know, we had struggles this year. We were late. We had, you know, a number of issues trying to get our supplies of fuel, equipment, into the communities. That's important for us. We put this proposal together. Going back to the budget, I was really excited to see that Mackenzie River was on one of the -- one of the listed projects for the budget. So I'm hoping that's what that is. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I'm hoping the dollars for the Mackenzie River included Hay River. And I'm just expecting that, you know, since the people doing the budget are from southern Canada, they may not know kind of where the Mackenzie River is and where the Hay River is. They may be mixing them up and I'm hoping that's what's happening.

I'd asked the Minister what is the status on the permitting which will allow work to happen on the channel where coast guard has repeatedly been grounded? Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, we have the proposal in under the Ocean Protection Plan. We had a lot of community support up the valley, all the way from Aklavik. So I mean, this is a priority. Once we get a response on the funding, then we will start some of the work that's much needed to complete the harbour restoration as well as, you know, in our funding proposal, we asked for some money for double haul barges. We asked for four years of funding for the Hay River restoration. So, I mean, once we get that approval, that sets the stages on how we proceed with this project. 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, I think it's important to note that how important that harbour is to Hay River, how important MTS is to Hay River, how important coast guard is to Hay River. You know, if we happen to lose those, basically Hay River's going to slowly disappear. And I think, you know -- and also the service that it offers to northern communities for supply, to northern businesses, to mining companies, it's very important. So we have to ensure that that harbour is in good shape. And I know that in the past there when the dredging ceased, I think it was because they went to a, you know, a user pay system. But we can't afford to pay that in the Northwest Territories.

So I guess what I'm looking for is what's the realistic timeline for start of remediation for the channel coming into the Hay River? And if we don't get federal dollars, we have to get this done. It has to get done this year. And if it's not this summer, which I hope it is, and then it's going to have to be off the ice in the winter. Thank you.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, that is my hope too, and that is why I continue to have this conversation with the federal minister to perhaps give us a response. Once we get the response, then we're able to set timelines. I know we talked about perhaps starting this summer to be able to get some of the work done.

I do want to highlight, Mr. Speaker, that we've been working -- we did this bathymetric study. We're currently looking at some of the data, the water elevation information indicate we have 200,000 cubic metres of sediment that has to be removed to be able to have normal navigation of that harbour. It's extreme, Mr. Speaker. You know, we recognize that once we get the funding, we will be able to start some of the work, get the regulatory permits in place, get federal -- our licenses. There are a number of things that we have to do. But I understand the Member's concern about how immediate this is for not only the community in Hay River, but for the communities up the valley. 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'm trying to -- I got nine minutes. I just got one -- I mean, a question to the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment, Mr. Simpson.

Now that we have the federal minister here for infrastructure, I just thought maybe I'll take this opportunity to remind you if we could work together trying to get a new school for Dettah. And it's been the 1970s when that school was there. And it needs to complete the school in Dettah. They've been asking and asked that question this year. So I just thought maybe if we could work together in trying to get the Government of Canada to buy into this so that we could try to get some money to start looking at building a new school in Dettah. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And just to clarify what I said earlier, education is in the purview of the province and the territories and when there is a sort of this constitutional split of responsibilities, we try to stick as closely as we can do that split and so the provinces and territories are generally responsible to billion education infrastructure. That being said, as I stated earlier in my comments to the Member from Monfwi, if there's an Indigenous group that feels like these types of initiatives are part of reconciliation, then that's something we can work on. So I'd be happy to work perhaps with the Member and leadership in his community if that is their interest. Thank you.

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. These questions will be for the Minister of MACA. Mr. Speaker, again, the flooding in Hay River, you know, it was devastating, and it's going to take a few years to recuperate. And so far, you know, I think that this government and the federal government has stepped up. They provided funds. They've done a good job. You know, it takes time. You know, we lack -- you know, we lack, you know, the contractors in the community to do all the work all at once. And, you know, and then the supply chain, that's still a problem. So there's a few issues.

But one real issue is in areas such as Paradise Valley and there's another location where they had seven to eight feet of water. And for them to mitigate damage, they've got to billion a -- say, a pad probably ten feet in the air, or they've got to put their houses up ten feet in the air with, you know, on steel piling. So one of the options within the DFFA -- or DFAA, was properties -- or was property acquisitions, which would allow this government or the community government to buy back properties where building should not be put on. So I'm just wondering -- I'd asked the Minister has his department considered this. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Minister responsible for Municipal and Community Affairs.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I got six minutes and 28 seconds, so I'm going to take the time to answer this question.

Mr. Speaker, when the Member talks about maybe putting houses up eight to ten feet, I can tell you right now in other communities that had the same flooding the previous year in 2021, that's what we had to do. We had to put homes up eight to ten feet. In my riding, in Jean Marie River, we had to actually do that.

In regards to the question that the Member has asked, he's asked this numerous times in this House, we're looking at the various options available for the residents and we're working with the federal government on how we can move forward. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I left five minutes and 40 seconds on the clock.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And I appreciate the Minister giving me a little more time here. And, you know, when I talk about putting those houses up, but these are properties primarily where there's agriculture going on, where this government has supported them through ITI and all of a sudden they're going to have to move, or something's going to have to happen. They've got greenhouses. And I don't expect those greenhouses to be 10 feet in the air. And so it's a bit of a different -- different than just putting somebody's House in the air. So I think that that's got to be given some consideration.

The area is mitigation. You know, what happened last year was an anomaly I guess, because I never thought it was going to happen and I've lived there for my whole life, 32 years -- oh sorry, 66. So anyways, like mitigation, we've got to look at doing something. And so I'd ask the Minister what mitigation measures are we looking at that will be supported by the federal government? Thank you.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I live down the street from the Member so I guess I've been there for 32 years too. So I appreciate that.

Mr. Speaker, we've been working with the federal government to come up with what mitigations are available. The Member needs to understand, and as I said this previously in conversations with other residents, and Pathfinders have talked to residents, if it's not impacted, the disaster did not impact them, ie the roads and stuff like that, the disaster assistance policy doesn't work for that. So as for the mitigation, we've reached out to them. We've had conversations. And each individual has a different situation. So they work on that. When he talks about agricultural land, we have in -- coming in April, ITI and Municipal and Community Affairs staff will be reaching out to those impacted so we need to work with them on that. The other challenges that we need to understand, though, is in Hay River and on the reserve, we don't have as much land available. We have, the KFN and the Metis trying to get their land in negotiations, so withdrawn lands. We have that impact. So we are working with them. The mitigation part is -- again, it's very specific to each individual. So we need to work with each individual to have that opportunity to help them move forward on that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And, Mr. Speaker, I understand, you know, what's required for mitigation in Hay River. And it's a very -- variety of things. For instance in one area, which is known as Cranberry Crescent, they -- there's houses there, and they're pretty expensive houses and they've all got basements. And they got flooded. Yet, there's no way they're going to lose their basements and raise their houses up. So what they need is a berm and raising the road. So in that sense, what is the government doing to ensure that's done? Thank you.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, when we talk about Cranberry Crescent, so when we talk about mitigation, sometimes it's not about the berms; sometimes it's about the ability to move the furnace or the boiler up on to the next floor there on that. So we're working on that.

In regards to the question that the Member has asked, because the road wasn't impacted by the flood, we are now working with the community. We are actually doing a survey on that road and seeing how we can work with the federal government on other programs that are available. If we're able to access that funding, then we're going to be able to work on that road. It's not -- we're not going to be building a berm. We're going to be looking at enhancing that road, making it bigger, taller, whatever, wider, whichever you want. And it's going to be a little bit longer because right now people are heard saying it's only needs it for, you know, a kilometre. It actually -- if you look at it, it actually goes down to the pump House station. So it goes that far so we need to look at building that road. And we're working with the Infrastructure on this to get this job done. So, again, it's a collaborative approach. We are working with -- our staff are working with the Town of Hay River. But we're also working with Infrastructure because that's the department that's working on that road there so we are working with them on that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Final supplementary. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, again, mitigation. Like, you know I understand that there's -- you know, for private homes, raising the furnace, okay, that's fine, that's easy enough to do. And, you know, there's some other things they can do. It's mitigation for places like Cranberry, like the road. That's great. But we're coming into a season where breakup's going to happen here at the end of next month and we have done limited work within the town. If the same thing happened, people who had fixed up their houses are going to be in the same -- basically, you know, in the same position. So, you know, what is the timing to actually look at kind of an overall mitigation plan for Hay River? And I know you've got to work with the town, and you've got to work with K'atlodeeche as well, and I think it's important that, you know, it's got to be collaborative. But, you know, we need some type of timeline because we don't really hear -- get the information back. So can you provide that. Thank you.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we been working with the Town of Hay River and K'atlodeeche First Nation on things moving forward. In regards to mitigation, as long as there's a plan in place, then we're able to use our disaster assistance policy if the situation happens. The old adage is prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So we are working on that. The timeline, we're working with the town and the reserve, and it's with them. We have to be able to work with them to come up with a timeline. That's on their speed. We're not going to rush and do it wrong. As the Member said, we're getting close to breakup, but we are working on it, and I've had the opportunity to be in Hay River as they're prepared for their flood preparation. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to try one more time. I seek unanimous consent to return to item number 5, recognition of visitors in the gallery with unanimous consent. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. The Premier's seeking unanimous consent to return to item 5. Are there any nays? There are no nays.

Madam Premier.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

March 30th, 2023

Page 6099

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

That was a long wait, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by recognizing one of my favourite federal ministers. It's true. It is true. Minister Dan Vandal is the Minister of Northern Affairs. He's the Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency and the Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development in Canada. Minister Vandal is not from the Northwest Territories but he's an Indigenous man, and he, like grand chief once told me, he not only listens, he hears our needs. And so he's always welcome to the Northwest Territories, and we'd love for you to move here if -- any time you want. We need the income from the capita.

I also want to recognize some of the staff that came with him, the director of communications, Mr. Ryan Potter, excuse me if I say that wrong. Senior policy advisor Anna Bodnar. And the MLA who nayed me I believe, this guest here is not from -- I don't think he lives here but he owns a house in the MLA's riding, Mr. Matt Spence, the regional director general, is with us today.

I made a commitment, I believe it was yesterday or the day before, that I would bring to the attention that MLAs did want to meet with ministers. I followed through with that commitment this morning. I did ask him after what he just experienced being nayed in the House and being slaughtered -- I'm not sure if he'll take them up on it anymore, but I did fulfill my commitment. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you for coming to the Northwest Territories.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

Page 6099

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Welcome, federal minister, Mr. Vandal. It's always good to have ministers -- federal ministers in the House. It's probably the first time I think in our Assembly here. So welcome, and I hope you're enjoying your visit to Yellowknife and you're welcome any time.

Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

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Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I also want to say the same thing as the Premier, welcome everybody from the -- the Minister and all his colleagues and staff here to the House. And I'm glad that they were able to listen to what we have to say in our riding. And it's very important. Also I just want to say that, you know, you come out to Dettah this coming weekend and enjoy your time out there. Mahsi.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

Page 6100

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Thebacha.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

Page 6100

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I too would like to recognize Minister Vandal to the House. And just to acknowledge that the two oldest federal day schools that are left standing in the Northwest Territories are both from my riding. One is 64 years old and the other one is 60 years old. And they were connected to the residential school situation. But just for acknowledgement that, you know, we talk about all these things, but I always do it through process. You know, I want to -- there's processes that we have to follow here, and I adhere to that, and I want to just thank him for coming to visit Yellowknife and the Northwest Territories. Thank you so much.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

Page 6100

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Thebacha. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Monfwi.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

Page 6100

Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge Minister Vandal. And I'm sure he -- I know he has -- they have a good working relationship with the Tlicho government. And I just want to acknowledge him that he is here in Denendeh and that I want to ask -- just let him know that we do -- you know, like, one of the questions that I was going to ask was that, okay, we have a lot of aging infrastructure in Tlicho region as well. We need a new school and a water and sewer line. I'm sure he probably heard from the community government of Behchoko. So I just wanted to, you know, to say that. But I would like to welcome him. Thank you.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)
Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery(reversion)

Page 6100

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Written questions. Returns to written questions.

Colleagues, we will return after a short recess. Order.

---SHORT RECESS

Returns to written questions. Replies to the Commissioner's address. Member for Yellowknife North.

Mr. Johnson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6100

Rylund Johnson

Rylund Johnson Yellowknife North

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Technically there is no time limit on the reply to the Commissioner's address. My life is in your hands, but I will try to keep this brief.

Mr. Speaker, as March madness comes to an end, and we have passed our last budget, it is time to celebrate fiscal new year's, when all those lovely program budgets get replenished. Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this time to use my reply to the Commissioner's address to state that that will be my last budget as I will not be running again in the upcoming general election. Band before I leave, Mr. Speaker, I will try to impart some wisdom on the priorities for future Assemblies and the remaining 150 days or so we have left.

Mr. Speaker, you may assume I'm not running because I am fed up with the GNWT and frustrated at how hard it is to get things done but, in fact, Mr. Speaker, I'm not running because I'm really starting to understand and appreciate the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, as we saw yesterday with the carbon tax vote, I'm now voting with Cabinet. Mr. Speaker, I think it's time to get out of here. Mr. Speaker, I'm worried if I stay any longer, they might make me a Minister and then I'll be saying things like, well, first we need to complete a review, a "what we heard" report, four strategies and an action plan before I can make a decision on that. Jokes aside, Mr. Speaker, I remain radically optimistic about politics in this territory, and I believe consensus government has never been stronger. This Assembly has navigated conflict - COVID, floods, and record inflation - and the system held up pretty well, Mr. Speaker. Consensus government ensures that Ministers continue to have individual responsibility in their portfolios, something that is being eroded in party systems as premier's offices and prime minister's office centralize power.

Mr. Speaker, we have a Cabinet that works with Regular MLAs, something that is almost nonexistent in opposition parties down south. Mr. Speaker, even when our system wasn't pretty, it held strong and proved that the way we govern here is better than party politics and all Members have a voice. Now, certainly, Mr. Speaker, this is a lot we can improve about the system and I will speak to those things another day. But let us all remember that it's far more important than the system of governments is the people in the system. And, Mr. Speaker, I believe this House's priorities are in the right place.

Mr. Speaker, the key example is housing. This Assembly, with help of the federal government, has done more for housing than any other. I am truly proud of the pressure and nonstop advocacy to house our most vulnerable. It was the theme of this Assembly, and that can't stop, Mr. Speaker. It needs to be the top priority in the next Assembly, and the next, and the next. We got the ball rolling, but it needs to build momentum and it requires relentless advocacy.

Mr. Speaker, I also believe that many of the great work of this Assembly is in driving a culture change in the GNWT. Not an easy task, but I believe we in this House are all genuinely committed to ending a culture of backroom contracts being awarded to friends and to actually think about in how we review our policies and legislation using evidence and data. I believe we in this House are committed to budgeting in a coherent and sustainable manner. The non-glorious work that is at the heart of good governance has been strengthened by us all, and we must let it continue.

And so with that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleagues, all of the great staff, and my constituents. And before I go, Mr. Speaker, I would like to finish my priorities for the last 150 days by describing what my ideal fall looks like.

First, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to go to Walmart and I'm going to smile knowing that they are no longer a BIP'd company. And then I'm going to walk up to that cashier, Mr. Speaker, and I'm going to feel great that they have five guaranteed paid sick days, Mr. Speaker. And then, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to do some winter camping, ideally at a leased cabin that the Department of Lands lets people AirBnB now. And then, Mr. Speaker, in the fall, miraculously, nothing is going to happen to the clocks. The time change will not happen at all. And then, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to go to the DMV on a Saturday and finally renew my license after four years. And after I walk out with my new license, I'm going to look up at the Yellowknife skyline and take comfort in the fact that it is not all owned by one company because the GNWT has stopped giving so much money to Northview. Those are my priorities. That is my dream for the next 150 days. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, all.

Mr. Johnson's Reply
Replies To The Commissioner's Address

Page 6100

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Replies to the Commissioner's address. Petitions. Reports of committees on the review of bills. Reports of standing and special committees. Tabling of documents. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

R.J. Simpson

R.J. Simpson Hay River North

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following three documents: Plain Language Summary for Bill 81, An Act to Amend the Education Act, No. 2; Plain Language Summary for Bill 82, Legal Profession Act; Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 1402-19(2), Cooperation Between Income Support and Child and Family Services. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Minister responsible for Finance. Oh sorry, tabling of documents.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm not answering any more questions today; I'm done.

Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the following four documents: Plain Language Summary for Bill 83, Liquor Act; Plain Language Summary for Bill 84, An Act to Amend the Northwest Territories Business Development and Investment Corporation Act,
2022 Socio-Economic Agreement: Social Data Report; and, Let's Talk Agriculture: Have Your Say Online Survey Results. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister. Tabling of documents. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

Mr. Speaker, MLA Johnson spoke about his accomplishments, what he was proud of this Assembly, I am really proud to table the following two documents: Plain Language Summary for Bill 85, United Nations Declaration on the Rights Of Indigenous Peoples Implementation Act; and,
A Way Home: A Comprehensive Strategy to Address Homelessness in the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. Tabling of documents.

Colleagues, pursuant to section 5 of the Indemnities, Allowances, and Expense Regulations of the Legislative Assembly and Executive Council Act, I wish to table the summary of Member's absences for the period October 13th, 2022 to February 6th, 2023.

Tabling of documents. Notices of motion. Motions. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I MOVE, seconded by the honourable Member for Hay River North, that when this House adjourns on Thursday, March 30th, 2023, it shall be adjourned until Thursday, May 25th, 2023;

AND FURTHER, that at any time prior to May 25th, 2023, if the Speaker is satisfied, after consultation with the Executive Council and Members of the Legislative Assembly, that the public interest requires that the House should meet at an earlier time during the adjournment, or at a time later than the scheduled resumption of the House, the Speaker may give notice and thereupon the House shall meet at the time stated in such notice and shall transact its business as if it had been duly adjourned to that time. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. The motion is in order. To the motion.

Some Hon. Members

Question.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. All those in favour? All those opposed? Any abstentions? The motion is carried.

---Carried

Motions. Member for Thebacha.

Frieda Martselos

Frieda Martselos Thebacha

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is an expression of gratitude to clerk Tim Mercer for dedicated and exemplary service.

WHEREAS Tim Mercer was appointed Clerk of the Northwest Territories Legislative Assembly in August, 2003;

AND WHEREAS Mr. Mercer has provided devoted and outstanding public service to the Legislative Assembly and its Members for 20 years;

AND WHEREAS during Mr. Mercer's tenure as Clerk of the Legislative Assembly he was a strong advocate for Indigenous peoples, languages, and culture;

AND WHEREAS during Mr. Mercer's tenure as Clerk, the Legislative Assembly has undergone rapid and significant change;

AND WHEREAS Mr. Mercer will retire as the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly on March 31, 2023;

AND WHEREAS it is customary for Legislative Assemblies to recognize and express their gratitude for such long and distinguished service.

NOW THEREFORE I MOVE, second by the Honourable Member for Hay River North, that the Legislative Assembly expresses its sincere gratitude to Mr. Tim Mercer for his dedicated and exemplary service to this House.

Thank you, Mr, Speaker -- oh, I didn't see the back, sorry.

AND FURTHER, that the Legislative Assembly designate Mr. Tim Mercer as an honourary officer of this Legislative Assembly with an entree to the Chamber and a seat at the table.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

The motion is in order. To the motion. Honourable Premier.

Caroline Cochrane

Caroline Cochrane Range Lake

I need my glasses, sorry.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise to recognize Mr. Tim Mercer, who is retiring from his role as the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly after serving our territory with distinction and dedication for almost two decades. Today marks his last day in the House with us in that capacity, and it's an honour to acknowledge his significant contributions to our parliamentary institution.

Throughout his 20-year tenure, Mr. Mercer has overseen and facilitated several significant improvements and modernization efforts for the Legislative Assembly, including adapting to the pandemic-related challenges. His leadership and guidance have been instrumental ensuring a team of impartial and professional staff who provide outstanding service to both Members of the Legislative Assembly and the broader parliamentary institution, ensuring that the voice of the people is heard loud and clear.

Recently, Mr. Mercer led the development with the Intergovernmental Council Secretariat members of a consensus government process convention that guides how land and resources legislation, drafted collaboratively with Indigenous governments, will be introduced, considered, and enacted in the legislature. This is a huge accomplishment. This process convention completes the process of collaborative drafting and ensures it applies to all phases of the legislation. This process convention is unique and historic and will remain a significant accomplishment.

Mr. Mercer's professionalism and dedication to duty have earned him respect and admiration. He's been a role model for many and set a high bar for those who will come after him.

On behalf of the government and the people of this territory, I'd like to express our sincere gratitude to Mr. Mercer for his years of service. We recognize and appreciate his dedication to ensuring that the business of the Legislature is conducted with the highest level of professionalism and integrity.

On a personal note, Mr. Speaker, I never had to use Mr. Mercer's services a lot because I was always a Minister and the Premier but when I did, he was always honest and sincere in his answers. I may not have always liked the answers, but he was always honest and sincere. We wish him well in his retirement and hope he will enjoy this new chapter in his life. Thank you. Mr. Mercer, Tim, thank you for your service to our territory, and we wish you all the best in your future endeavours. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Madam Premier. To the motion. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake.

Diane Archie

Diane Archie Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I too would like to join my colleagues in acknowledging the service of Mr. Tim Mercer to this institution and Members of the Legislative Assembly, past and present. When I first met Mr. Mercer, as a newly elected MLA three and a half years ago, whereupon he tried to jam 500 years of western parliamentary procedures and 60 years of NWT Legislative Assembly procedures into my brain over a course of a week, my brain still hurts, Mr. Speaker. Sitting on Board of Management, I saw firsthand the quality of work that Mr. Mercer and his staff produce for our consideration, and I always saw his advice as sound and reasoned, even when I didn't necessarily agree with the proposed course of action.

Politics -- Mr. Speaker, politics is a contact sport. Bruised egos, hurt feelings abound. Mr. Mercer acted as a father confessor, as an impartial referee, and a procedural guide to all of us either at one point or another and while keeping in the best interests of the institution and this consensus government in the forefront.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, it is clear that Mr. Mercer, the Assembly's respected gratitude and admiration for an excellent job as clerk over the past 20 years. Personally, I would like to wish Tim all the best in any future endeavours and thank him for his service. Quyananni. Mahsi cho, Tim.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Yellowknife Centre.

Julie Green

Julie Green Yellowknife Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As is the case with the Member for Boot Lake and for all of us here, the first -- probably one of the first people we met was Tim, and one of the first things we did was look inside the sausage maker that is politics and try and understand how we fit into this very process-oriented and pretty rigid institution. As a person who has a brand-new job, a very responsible job, having just been elected by the voters, it is truly daunting to come through the door and to try and understand which way is up. And so, you know, some of us were here in the 18th Assembly, and Mr. Mercer coached us through some of our learning curve.

I'm going to tell a story on Minister Thompson, has a lot of logo clothing from sports competitions and was always trying to sort of get away with wearing it by wearing a longer thing over it and being told no, that's not what we're looking for.

Soon after I started this job, I unfortunately had a huge burn and I had to spend weeks in bed. I had to spend weeks in recovery, and I couldn't have asked for a more compassionate and accommodating person than Tim to help me through that period. It was just such a difficult time of my life. I had just started this job, and then I was almost immediately out of action. And it turned out that that compassion was really a hallmark of the way that he treated Members and staff, you know, the -- we all lived through the death of Haylee Carlson. I saw great compassion in that and in other instances that were not as high profile. And I think that we've all benefitted from his generosity.

Certainly, as the Member for Boot Lake said, politics can be very rough and tumble and sometimes having a place to vent and trying to figure how to go for a different outcome is a very valuable thing, and Tim has always provided that for me and along with a lot of advice and guidance, which I truly appreciate and which I've benefitted from tremendously.

As far as I'm concerned, his greatest accomplishment was the assistance he gave the special committee on increasing the representation of women. It was he and the Speaker at the time who had gone to the commonwealth conference, had looked to the Samoan model for guaranteed seats for women and launched us on this process of how we could increase the representation of women, hopefully voluntarily, but if not voluntarily then with quotas. And then there were many iterations of that. There was a motion. There was an interim report. A final report. And I think that he deserves a lot of credit for the fact that we were able to really attract, through our efforts as the standing committee, a number of women to run in the last election who were successful and who are here today.

I also want to say that both of us are big fans of Arctic and Antarctic exploration, and that's been really fun to exchange articles and ideas about that, especially the infamous Sir Ernest Shackleton who went to the Antarctic, lost his boat, and came out alive, which is a pretty amazing story in itself.

I want to just note a few good changes. It's true that the focus on Indigenous languages, culture, and representation has really been heightened in Tim's time, and those are all very positive changes from my point of view when I see all the people in the interpretation booths. I'm very grateful that people throughout the territory have the opportunity to hear what we're saying in their own language.

I've also known him to provide opportunities for people to shine. He has been able to coach them to better things, to opportunities to attend conferences, training, to try new jobs, and to explore new boundaries and new successes.

And finally, I think we have with Tim our most foremost champion of consensus government, someone who understands it, somebody who's lived it, somebody who can explain it, somebody who doesn't give up on it when the going gets rough, which it certainly does from time to time. So I think that Tim's leadership here has really been transformative, and I would like to say how much I appreciate that. And I would also like to add that if Kevin were here today, I think he would say some of the same things, but he would argue with others. And he would want me, on his behalf as well as my own, to wish Tim the very best with his -- the rest of his journey in whatever that is coming forward. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife Centre. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Nahendeh.

Shane Thompson

Shane Thompson Nahendeh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to -- I had about five pages of notes, but my colleagues took a whole bunch from me and I started crossing them off. I got down two pages.

Mr. Speaker, my first four years being in this -- as an MLA, I had the opportunity to work with Tim during that time. I can tell you the new 11 of us probably aged him about 30 years because, you know, Oceans 11, we kind of had a whole bunch of questions and he turned on the fire hose but we kept on throwing about 11 other fire hoses at him. So he was able to help us there.

I'm very thankful for having him here, though. He was able to provide the history to some of the previous decisions and visions of past Assemblies. Throughout the four years, he provided me and us good advice, suggestions on how to look at things with different lenses that we normally don't use and had strong leadership.

When I first came into the Assembly, I can tell you a friend of mine and former colleague, Alfred Moses, sat me down and talked to me about Tim and all the help and support he received his first time during his first year. I can tell you his experience and support he received from Tim during his first time was the same as mine. In speaking with my other long-term colleagues that were there, it was the same as him. So Tim treated everybody in the same with respect and dignity that the office holds, and I thank him for that.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank him and wish him all the best on his next adventure called life. I believe the Assembly will miss his presence and service but like I've always said, if you can leave your job in a better place than it was when you first started, you've done a great job and I can say Tim has done that. Again, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to wish him the best on his retirement, you've earned it, and all the best. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. The motion is in order. To the motion. Member for Yellowknife South.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I don't have as long of a history with Mr. Mercer. I was only elected this Assembly and I haven't been a Regular Member but that's kind of a point that I want to make. As Ministers, we don't interact with the Clerk's office as much; I wouldn't have necessarily had a long history, knowing all of the many achievements I've already heard about today. I'm sure there's others. I know others may speak to those others. I actually want to speak to some of the day-to-day things, though, that I think are forgotten. They are forgotten by what happens with the public service. They forget the role of the public service in leadership because they're not the ones that get the glories. Sometimes it's us that get the glories and then there's us that don't get the glory. But the public service never does. And, Mr. Speaker, this House, this building, is actually the seat of the senior most level of the executive of the government, of the legislative branch of the government, and Mr. Mercer has now been at the head of this government -- of this institution, of this building. That's a pretty heavy place to be. But that role gets missed sometimes when we talk about who he gets the glory for the work that gets done around here. And I think we've already heard, and I know -- I do know, even from the side where we don't necessarily interact as often, that the role of the clerk helps us build relationships, keep relationships, manage relationships. It's work that often happens very much out of the spotlight but if it wasn't happening, I can't frankly imagine how any of the work in this building would get done.

And so, Mr. Speaker, although there's these very spot -- very, very key achievements - languages, the women being elected here, those are key things, there's a day-to-day function in this building that keeps democracy in the North going and it keeps democracy going in a consensus government. There's not a lot of examples to draw from. When you're in this role, in a consensus government, of how to do that job because we're special here. So when things go wrong, sometimes those are the things where leaders get highlighted. But when things go well, when things go smoothly, when work gets done, that doesn't necessarily get highlighted. But, Mr. Speaker, it's invaluable, it's the core functioning of government, and I think Mr. Mercer deserves a great amount of credit for that. And so what I want to leave him with is a little quote from Laozi //, which is this: A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say we did it ourselve