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This is from 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

Member's Statement 1459-19(2): Polar Pond Hockey
Members' Statement

March 9th, 2023

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Blue skies and warmer weather. Mr. Speaker, it is the time of year for events meant to welcome warmer weather. Last weekend it was K'amba Carnival. Now in Hay River, on the 17th to the 19th is now time for Polar Pond Hockey.

Mr. Speaker, to bring this event together requires a lot of work from a lot of dedicated volunteers, along with sponsorships from a great number of local businesses. It means clearing massive amounts of snow off the river down by Fishermen's Wharf, then it is on to laying out ten rinks and preparing them for flooding. As all that is happening, a setup crew is installing Big Blue, which is a covered structure where food and beverages can be had while warming up between games. In the evening, Big Blue is a venue for live bands to entertain all into the early morning hours.

Mr. Speaker, the event draws teams from throughout the NWT, Alberta, and Nunavut. There are three divisions which include ladies, open, and seniors. Playing hockey in this event is not only competitive and fun but for those of us who knew nothing else but outdoor rinks when we were young, a long time ago, taking part in this event for, but a moment, brings us back to the time of our youth and the pure fun of hockey on an outdoor rink. Mr. Speaker, I welcome all of you to Hay River to either take part in the event, cheer on friends and family, or just enjoy the festivities. Thank you.

Member's Statement 1459-19(2): Polar Pond Hockey
Members' Statement

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1460-19(2): Northwest Territories-Alberta Transboundary Water Agreement
Members' Statement

Ronald Bonnetrouge Deh Cho

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have spoken several times of my concerns with the Alberta tailings ponds and the toxic sludge contained within them. Tailings ponds are manmade open reservoirs, the size of lakes, that hold toxic waste from the oil extraction, and they contain arsenic, dissolved heavy metals and hydrocarbons. These tailings ponds are large enough to be seen from space and are some of the biggest human made structures on earth.

Mr. Speaker, many First Nations downstream from the Alberta tar sands tailings ponds have expressed time and time their concerns with the tailing ponds breaching their dikes.

Unbeknownst to any First Nations, nor the Government of the Northwest Territories, this is exactly what occurred in May 2022. This government only found out last week, and the information did not come from the Alberta government nor the Alberta premier. This information came from the affected First Nations near the tar sands tailings ponds in Alberta.

Mr. Speaker, there's a story in the Edmonton Journal newspaper dated March 6th, 2023, in which the Alberta premier states not only her concern with the spill but to also state that Alberta had no obligation to notify the Government of the Northwest Territories of the spill.

Mr. Speaker, this is preposterous. In this day and age of supposed collaboration between the governments of the province and the territory, and the territory gets the rotten egg. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions not for the Minister of MACA, not for the Minister of ENR, not for the Minister of Lands, but for the Premier of the Northwest Territories and how she will stand up and defend our most precious resource - the water. Mahsi.

Member's Statement 1460-19(2): Northwest Territories-Alberta Transboundary Water Agreement
Members' Statement

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1461-19(2): Rights-Based Cabins
Members' Statement

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, public lands in the NWT is something that we all enjoy and have access to as Northerners and Canadians. We use these lands for a variety of reasons like recreation, travel, and often to just get closer to nature. These public lands are something that we all cherish. Public lands in my riding, and as well as my colleagues' ridings, are deeply connected to the culture of Indigenous people of the North. In fact, Mr. Speaker, in my riding there are two land claim agreements in place; three if you include the transboundary nature of the Sahtu, Gwich'in, and the Inuvialuit agreements.

Mr. Speaker, in these agreements, it speaks to members of these agreements being able to access public lands in their respective areas for the purpose of harvesting. Part of these harvesting rights include the right to establish camps for the purpose of harvesting. In the case of the Inuvialuit, for example, that agreement says that beneficiaries should not be charged fees for exercising their rights like the establishment of camps under these leases. Mr. Speaker, I've had concerns raised to me by numerous people that they are being charged fees to exercise their right in the way of lease payments. In some cases, people have asked to surrender their lease and want to fall under rights-based rights designation. These leaseholders are told they need to remove everything from the land and inspect and done before they can surrender their lease even though these may be rights-based camps and passed through generations, Mr. Speaker. In other instances, some people have been threatened to be taken to court or collections for nonpayment. And in another case, full fees have been charged even though the land, or most of it, is gone because it eroded away by the mighty Mackenzie River, Mr. Speaker, and the structure was moved before they even received the bill. Mr. Speaker, today I will have questions for the Minister of Lands and why his department is charging fees to Indigenous people to exercise their right to establish camps and if those fees go against the land claim agreements that we as GNWT are party to, Mr. Speaker. I will also be asking the Minister to commit today to pausing all current Indigenous lease fees and collection actions under a more detailed review can be done on this issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1461-19(2): Rights-Based Cabins
Members' Statement

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1462-19(2): Tlicho Youth Gathering
Members' Statement

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure I would like to recognize the efforts from our Tlicho youth who are working to host the second Idaa Ts'ade Youth Gathering with a big focus on the wellness and Tlicho way of life. This event is a youth-led initiative for Tlicho youth ages 16 to 35 years old living in Canada. Young people have decided to gather again to share ideas, learn new information, engage in traditional activities, and network with various people and organizations. I applaud these young people for recognizing the need to come together to deal and address social issues young people face every day of their young life.

This is a challenge. In many cases, it prohibits young people from moving forward. The need to come together is rewarding. It will help with healing and begin a new journey for the next generations.

The Idaa Ts'ade Gathering will be held on March 20th to 24th, 2023, at Chief Jimmy Bruneau School in Edzo. They are anticipating about 150 youth to be present at this event. Therefore, I want to send my appreciation to this wonderful youth-led project, led by Antonia Dryneck-Black, Janelle Nitsiza, and Jodie Zoe, and their committee members for their commitment to work with the youth. And I would also like to acknowledge the committee members Tiana Steinwand, Lydia Rabesca, Jocelle Zoe, Michelle Zoe, Justine Sarasin, Edie Erasmus, Francis Sheft, Stephanie Rabesca, Debbie Simpson, Belinda Blackduck, Antoine Scott-Ennis, Shania Clarke, and Mercedes Rabesca. Thank you.

Member's Statement 1462-19(2): Tlicho Youth Gathering
Members' Statement

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1463-19(2): Carbon Tax
Members' Statement

Jackie Jacobson Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I spoke in the House about impacts on carbon tax. Carbon tax is going to increase the cost of living in the Northwest Territories, Mr. Speaker, in my riding by 17 percent on heating fuel, and every year after is four cents added on to that. Mr. Speaker, how are we going to tax people when we're already stretched to the limit to put food on the table and have nothing to give? Why are the people who are living in the highest Arctic communities, who are most impacted by climate change, having to pay climate change tax? On top of all this, now we have to pay more. Already we pay more, two cents a litre on heating fuel, which is about $2.24 a litre for heating fuel in the community already, and it's going to get stretched, impacted, more impact to the people, more impact to private homeowners. Families could barely afford to buy food, Mr. Speaker, in the highest food prices across the food index in the NWT. Over 50 percent Nunakput residents are worried about having enough money to pay for food to put on the table for their families, Mr. Speaker. Why we have to hunt to put food on table. It's not only our culture, it's a way of life. Hunting alleviates the pressure on putting expensive food on the table when we -- subsistence hunters. Price food bills, but it's so expensive the cost of gas. It's dangerous on changing climate. Our power bills in the communities continue to go up as well. We pay some of the highest rates in the power. In Sachs Harbour, it's $2.20 a kilowatt. And the housing the government provides our people through public housing are paper-thin walls, cracks in the doors, walls that bring snow right through our homes, floors that have to have blankets put down to save energy and to keep their feet warm in the unit.

Mr. Speaker, people in my riding have very little employment opportunities. Nunakput families earn an average $50,000 less than the NWT family. It's almost 20 percent of income assistance; 10 percent of families make less than $30,000. There's an offshore moratorium and on shore resource development dragging on. There's no way out to get ahead, Mr. Speaker. There's no way to pay the bills the residents already have now that they're going to be taxed more.

Mr. Speaker, I oppose Bill 60. I want to kill that bill. It's pretty simple. Can't tax people who have nothing to give. Over the next two weeks, I encourage everyone in the communities to rally against, talk to their MLAs, and encourage them to talk to their MLAs in regards to Bill 60 and why are they going to support to it if they're going to support it, and please don't support Bill 60. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1463-19(2): Carbon Tax
Members' Statement

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1464-19(2): Federal Day School
Members' Statement

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I stand before you to remind this government the dark chapter in Canadian history of the devastating issue of child abuse and genocide that took place in Canada's day school system. This systematic culture devastation committed against Indigenous people in our country for far too long. It is time for us to acknowledge the damages done and make amends to the atrocities committed.

Our government is not innocent in this matter. The federal Indian day school and the Indian federal day school were transferred to the GNWT on April 1st, 1969, and the territorial government continued these programs until April 1st, 1996, for 27 years under the GNWT system, and the abuse continued throughout the NWT, including in the Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh riding of N'dilo, Dettah, Lutselk'e, and Fort Resolution.

The discovery of the remains of hundreds of Indigenous children at a residential school across Canada is a stark reminder of the horrors that these children and their families suffered. The scars of this traumatic experience still run deep. It is time for us to take action to help those affected to heal and move forward. The Government of the Northwest Territories must step up and advocate for the victims of the day school system. It is their responsibility to ensure that the Indigenous children and their families receive compensation from the federal government in resources for the abuse and harm they have endured after April 1st, 1969 to 1996.

We must stand together as a nation and work together in healing and reconciliation for all Indigenous people. We need to ensure that all Indigenous people receive the care and support and resources needed to heal and recover from this. We cannot allow survivors and their families to suffer in silence and must do everything in our power to support them. The Government of the Northwest Territories must take the lead in advocating for the victims of the day school system after April 1st, 1969 to April 1st, 1996 and ensure that they receive the compensation they deserve similar to the federal day school compensation prior to 1969. Together we can work together at a brighter future for all Indigenous people in Canada. Let's stand together and make a difference for the survivors and their families. I would have questions for the Premier, Caroline Cochrane, at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Member's Statement 1464-19(2): Federal Day School
Members' Statement

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Member's Statement 1465-19(2): Sir John Franklin School
Members' Statement

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Mr. Speaker, my riding is unique in Yellowknife in that it consists mainly of residential homes and apartment buildings with a few exceptions. There is the Catholic Church and the City of Yellowknife's water treatment plant as well as the NWT Geological Survey, Taiga lab, and Con Mine. And Mr. Speaker, there is one school, Sir John Franklin High School.

Sir John was first constructed in the 1960s with additional phases added and renovations carried out over the years. The building is also home to the Northern Arts and Cultural Centre, or NACC, one of the few theatrical arts spaces in our capital.

While operated by the Yellowknife School Board YK1, Sir John is unique as the board does not own the asset. Rather, Mr. Speaker, YK1 maintains and operates the school under agreements with the GNWT. This is likely due to the school being on the site of the former Akaitcho Hall residential school, further complicating issues.

When insurance costs escalated during the pandemic, an MOU was signed between the school boards and ECE for the GNWT to insure the schools, easing some of their financial burden. In return, the boards agreed to maintain the schools to GNWT standards. However, these standards are more stringent than their previous level of maintenance and it is costing them money. Since 2019 there has been a 30 to 40 percent increase in material costs to maintain the operations of YK1's buildings. Sir John has a chronic leaking pipe that became an emergency around Christmas and YK1 was left scrambling to find funds to pay for the patch job.

Mr. Speaker, $1 million in maintenance is required for this leaking pipe alone. Who is going to pay for that? Will YK1 have to take it out of their programming budget to fix this issue in a building they don't even own? Additionally, $100,000 in upgrades is required for Sir John's internal phone system, a safety issue when inoperable. But there aren't any funds to pay for this either. In total, YK1 needs $1.4 million for the maintenance of their schools. The ECE Minister said he would investigate this pre-COVID but nothing has been done.

Mr. Speaker, we need to support our schools and ensure that all children in the NWT have safe spaces in which to learn and play. It is their right, and I hope that the department will help out our school boards with their ongoing maintenance woes. If left on their own, programs will be cut, and children will suffer. And Mr. Speaker, NWT children deserve better than that. Thank you.

Member's Statement 1465-19(2): Sir John Franklin School
Members' Statement

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Member's Statement 1466-19(2): Pharmacy Act
Members' Statement

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Canadians en masse are working to access health care. They are waiting for elective surgeries, access to specialists, testing and treatment requirements of cancers, chronic disease, and STIs, and a surge in addiction and mental health support needs. In addition, special treatment programs like audiology, speech pathology, physiotherapy, and occupational therapy appointments put off over the pandemic further bottleneck our already fragile system. The catchup, Mr. Speaker, will take years, and some national experts speculate that the Canadian health care system may never catch up under its status quo approach. Today, to help alleviate the pressures of our health care system, many Canadian jurisdictions expanded the scope of practice to pharmacists. And I say many, Mr. Speaker, not all, because it is all except the NWT and Nunavut.

This term brought minor amendments to the Pharmacy Act and a promise of more ambitious legislation, but with five sitting days left in this month I am doubtful that I will see this promise realized.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about three examples of what this really means. Pharmacists can't prescribe medications for simple things like smoking cessation, minor ailments or conditions like chronic UTIs, or adapt a prescription to suit the needs and reactions of a patient. From flu shots to routine immunizations and travel vaccines, pharmacies can't offer convenient access to injections. NWT pharmacists have no injection authority. Beyond flu vaccines and COVID vaccines, a pharmacist can't even administer the medications they have handed to a patient. This means taking their medication, booking an appointment with primary care, and then having their medication injected by a nurse or physician, further straining our system. Patients can't work with pharmacists to sort out medication amounts or source alternatives.

An example of this is a Parkinson's patient who worked for two years to stabilize their medication. The current system forced a harmful back and forth between a taxed locum reliant system with zero continuity of care rather than empowering managing prescriptions with the pharmacist.

Mr. Speaker, this also causes a barrier to Indigenous residents covered by NHIB for things that should be easily accessible, like birth control, Tylenol, and diabetes devices like glucose test strips. With the current Act, residents need to request a prescription from a doctor and then go see a pharmacist to source these items. Canada's pharmacists are doing more for their patients than ever before, but they continue to be an underutilized health care resource in the Northwest Territories. When they can't practice to their full scope, Mr. Speaker, it means that patients aren't receiving the best possible care and the system can't work to its full potential. Thank you.