This is page numbers 6381 - 6416 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.

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Recorded Vote
Second Reading Of Bills

August 28th

Page 6393

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

The results of the recorded vote: 14 in favour, four opposed, zero abstentions. The motion is carried. Bill 98 has had second reading.

The Honourable Member for Monfwi.

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Second Reading Of Bills

August 28th

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Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Okay, yes, sorry about that. Thank you. Sorry about that, Mr. Speaker. So can you just give me a few minutes?

Recorded Vote
Second Reading Of Bills

August 28th

Page 6393

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Page 12.

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Second Reading Of Bills

August 28th

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Jane Weyallon Armstrong

Jane Weyallon Armstrong Monfwi

Page 12. Okay. Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I seek unanimous consent to waive Rule 8.2(7) and have Bill 98 referred directly to third reading. Mr. Speaker -- okay, that's you, okay, sorry about that.

Recorded Vote
Second Reading Of Bills

August 28th

Page 6393

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Monfwi. The Member is seeking unanimous consent to waive Rule 8.2(7) and have Bill 98 referred directly to third reading. Are there any nays?

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Second Reading Of Bills

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Some Hon. Members

Nay.

Colleagues, there is not unanimous consent to refer to third reading. The bill stands referred to the Standing Committee on Government Operations for further work to be done.

Second reading of bills. Minister responsible for Finance.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Mr. Speaker, I move, seconded by the Honourable Member for Nahendeh, that Bill 99 Supplementary Appropriation Act (Operations Expenditures) No. 2, 2023-2024, be read for the second time. This bill makes supplementary appropriations for operations expenditures for the Government of the Northwest Territories for the 2023-2024 fiscal year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Minister responsible for Finance. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Member for Frame Lake.

Kevin O'Reilly

Kevin O'Reilly Frame Lake

Yeah, thanks, Mr. Speaker. I had a few comments, some of which I may have made in Committee of the Whole, but, yeah, I want the public to know that I'm in Edmonton with my family. I recognize the hardship that the current situation has caused 70 percent of the Northwest Territories residents, but I believe that we need to continue to focus on firefighting and saving the communities, and I want to thank the firefighters, the contractors, the volunteers for the work that they're doing. Of course, I also want to thank the Albertans that have shown us tremendous support here in Alberta and thank the provincial government for all that they've done to support us. And I've already said I think there is going to be a time and a place to review and question what happened during the emergency and the response, but I don't think today is that day. And I think we need to pull together and focus on supporting those that are protecting our communities and helping our constituents here in the south. So I will support the supplementary appropriation, but in my view, clearly, it's not enough. This is an interim step, and I think the Finance Minister also recognizes that. She talked about bringing forward another supplementary appropriation if we get to a sitting in September that will deal with perhaps more of the emergency response side.

So I am worried about what this bill does not contain or what this bill does not authorize at least in terms of spending and, you know, that the Finance Minister did say that the firefighting costs, at least under the current arrangement with the federal government for disaster assistance, are not covered. And that's -- we -- we're not going to change that policy, that approach from the federal government unilaterally. That's something that's going to require some work, and I want to thank Cabinet for the work that they've started to do on that but also recognizing that if the vault -- the doors are opened for the Northwest Territories, I'm sure British Columbia will be right behind and other jurisdictions across the country that have had, you know, a horrific season of fires.

So I am worried about what this particular supplementary appropriation will do in terms of our Fiscal Responsibility Policy compliance and debt, and that's not to begrudge the firefighters or not supporting them in any way, but obviously these things do cause some financial implications and those need to be carefully considered and managed.

I think this is going to have implications, not just for the rest of this Assembly but the next Assembly, in terms of what infrastructure, what sort of projects should receive priority, and in my humble opinion, as I've always said in this Assembly, housing continues and should be the highest priority for our infrastructure and, of course, I think now there's going to be greater recognition and understanding that climate adaptation in response to the climate emergency also needs a lot of work as does telecommunications and making sure that we have access to and the same level of services as people in southern Canada and to make sure that if our future emergencies, we have ways to actually better inform people in a timely fashion. So that's going to mean that some infrastructure projects will probably fall off the radar, and I don't think that's a bad thing, but we need to focus on the things that matter and that count for our people moving forward.

I am a bit worried too that even I think some of the evacuation costs are not going to be recoverable from the federal government unless there's strictly damage to property and buildings and so on, but. So I think some of the evacuation costs will not be recoverable from the federal government. I do want to thank Cabinet for bringing forward the evacuation transportation -- transport assistance program, but it's not enough. We did have discussions about this. I think it -- the amount needs to be increased from $750 to a much greater level, and other Members have started to talk about that. I also think that the scope of the program needs to be broadened as well. Other Members have talked about how people paid out of their own pockets so that they could fly on commercial flights to avoid putting stress on the necessary government evacuation flights. And I think those people deserve some consideration and need to be treated fairly as those that drove out. I'm also aware of people that did take the government flights out to southern locations and, in some cases, were not able to access services or -- whatever. So I think we've got to find a fairer way to treat everybody who's been evacuated, and I think the current program as envisioned is a start but it needs some more work.

I don't think I really have much else to say so many of my concerns are about, Mr. Speaker, about what's not in this bill. I will support the bill, the money moving forward, but there's a lot more work that needs to be done in preparation for the supplementary appropriation that will likely land on everybody's desk in September, and I encourage my Cabinet colleagues to work with us as Regular MLAs as they did during this emergency and I want to, you know, congratulate them for those efforts and encourage them to continue to do work with us because we all have to work together in the interests of protecting and saving our communities across the whole NWT. So once again, I want to thank my colleagues in Cabinet, the Regular MLAs, the firefighters, and everybody that's working so hard to protect our communities, and people here in Alberta as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Member for Kam Lake.

Caitlin Cleveland

Caitlin Cleveland Kam Lake

Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to repeat a lot of what I've said during Committee of the Whole. I agree wholeheartedly with what my colleague from Frame Lake has said here today. My biggest concern right now as well is with residents who are currently evacuated, with businesses that are currently struggling while they're being evacuated, and with the businesses that are back home that are doing the work on the frontline right now. It's not lost on me that a lot of my constituents in Yellowknife are essential workers who are currently working on the frontline in Yellowknife, and this supplemental appropriation just cannot be the -- the be all end all cannot be it. To me, this isn't about making sure that the 20th Assembly is well set. This is about making sure that we are supporting the prosperity of the territory and that we are supporting residents because we simply cannot afford to not support them right now with where they're at in this emergency. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Member for Great Slave.

Katrina Nokleby

Katrina Nokleby Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I won't reiterate a lot of what my colleagues have said but I do want to also point out that given in the past that, as we dealt with COVID and the payments that came out around that, there were a lot of community promises made that communities would be paid back for costs they incurred, and then that was never followed through on when the federal money came through. So I just want to ensure that Cabinet realizes that that can't happen again this time and that any money and promises made to communities that, you know, they were going to have things paid back for or orders that they were given that they needed to follow that they be reimbursed for those costs and that communities that are underfunded are not the ones bearing the costs of the GNWT having their emergency response plan last updated in 2018. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Lesa Semmler

Lesa Semmler Inuvik Twin Lakes

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just wanted to speak a little bit in regards to being in support of this motion. You know, that we know that there's going to be continued efforts, there's going to be continued costs fighting this fire. We receive updates daily on the activity and it doesn't seem to be getting any better in some of our southern communities and for that, I'm fully support of this. But I too want to just raise a couple of issues that is not in this bill and that I hope that the Minister and their staff will hear, is that when the evacuation did happen, Indigenous governments did step up. People have connections to the North of the territory, people flew because there were flights north, and Inuvik is not an evacuation centre but many people flew here with the monies that they received from their Indigenous groups because they could afford to instead of being a burden on the south or going south where they're not comfortable, and so I just wanted to make sure that finance is hearing that because a $400 fee does not cover the cost for them to get back. It costs more than what their Indigenous groups to get them on that flight to get here, and they have their own accommodations and they're -- you know, and things like that because they're not an evacuation centre.

So I just wanted to make sure that those people are also being looked at that did do what the government asked, to make -- to get out if they can, you know, and they did go to other parts of the territory, and they did come home to the North. So I just wanted to make sure that that is being out there and that it's being -- going to be looked at as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. The motion is in order. To the principle of the bill. Member for Hay River South.

Rocky Simpson

Rocky Simpson Hay River South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yeah, I support the bill. You know, knowing how hard and the efforts that frontline workers and those that support them are -- you know, the effort that they're putting in to fighting this fire, not only in Hay River but throughout the territories. You know, to reach their goals, they need equipment, you know, they need supplies and that, and that all takes money, and then -- and we have to provide that to them so that they have what they need in a timely manner. I know I did send a letter to -- or an email to the Premier and, you know, and asked for more money be given to those that -- those evacuees that went out on their own and I said, you know, if it -- if they weren't going to give them anything, then, you know, I would not support this bill and I would try and convince others not to support it as well. But some money did go to the evacuees. Not as much I would have liked to have seen, and I'm hoping that, you know, the Premier and Cabinet can hopefully encourage, you know, the federal government to step up and to provide some additional dollars to the people who did evacuate on their own and took that initiative, so. But knowing, you know -- knowing the work and -- that's going on in Hay River especially and, you negotiation how delicate it is there in these last few days, the fire so close to town, you know, I've got to support this bill and make sure that -- or this appropriation bill and make sure that, you know, the firefighters and the department has the money it needs to win the battle. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

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

Some Hon. Members

Question.

The Speaker

The Speaker Frederick Blake Jr.

Question has been called. Pursuant to Rule 10.3(1), this will be a recorded vote. The clerk shall call out each Member. Please reply with your vote either in favour, opposed, or abstaining. Mr. Clerk.

Recorded Vote
Second Reading Of Bills

August 28th

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Clerk Of The House Mr. Glen Rutland

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This is a recorded vote on second reading of Bill 99. The Member for Yellowknife South.

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Second Reading Of Bills

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Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

In favour.

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Second Reading Of Bills

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Page 6395

Clerk Of The House Mr. Glen Rutland

The Member for Sahtu.

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Paulie Chinna

Paulie Chinna Sahtu

In favour.

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Clerk Of The House Mr. Glen Rutland

The Member for Range Lake.