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This is from the 20th Assembly, 1st 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 housing.

Topics

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to the Member for the question. The Member was able to provide some of the information ahead of time so I was able to collect some information for the Member.

Since 2021, and based on publicly-available information, Housing NWT estimates that the Government of Canada has committed more than $400 million in direct funding to NWT Indigenous governments for their housing and infrastructure priorities over the timeframe for the next seven years. The details of these funding amounts are subject to bilateral agreements between the Government of Canada and the receiving Indigenous government. This amount does not include application-based funds from the federal government, which to NWT Indigenous governments have been very successful in accessing for specific projects. A very rough estimate of funding provided to Indigenous governments and NGOs out of the co-investment and Rapid Housing funding initiatives is over $130 million, in addition to the $400 million that I mentioned previously. We recently saw an example of this January when the federal government announced almost $19 million in funding from its Rapid Housing initiative for five NWT Indigenous governments.

Since 2021, Housing NWT has received $25.5 million from CMHC and a further $55 million from CIRNAC that assisted in resourcing a hundred new public housing units being delivered outside the city of Yellowknife. In addition, Housing NWT received a further $30 million in 2023-2024 from CIRNAC under the budget 2022 that is being used to support the replacement of 17 aged public housing units and various modernization and improvement projects throughout the North. Most recently, in partnership with the city of Yellowknife, Housing NWT received under the CMHC Rapid Housing Program a further $5 million to renovate Aspen Apartments for use of public housing program and a further $20.8 million to assist with the delivery of a new public housing 50-plex in Yellowknife. Housing NWT received $1.3 million under the federal government's Reaching Home Program to support the purchase and renovation of a transitional housing project in Yellowknife. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Daniel McNeely

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thanks for that lengthy detailed reply there. It's very overwhelming to see the amount of millions of dollars and resources come into our 44K population here and the significance of this is the benefits of construction, which is another joint contribution there for land tenures and so on.

My next question there, Mr. Speaker, now that this money has come in, what roles and responsibilities would Housing NWT offer to these recipients of this contribution? Mahsi.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. With the housing renewal process, we've established a housing forum. So we meet with Indigenous governments. We talk about various subject matters, and housing is the key topic with this housing forum. So it gives us an opportunity to talk about partnerships and how we can do things better. Instead of working separately, we work in partnership.

So I've advanced, and I've talked to Housing NWT staff, saying we work in partnership, we support each other, we provide them what resources we can provide them. If it's architectural, if it's engineering, if it's land tenure, let's talk about what we can do together to get homes on the ground in the communities. That's the most important thing. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Daniel McNeely

Daniel McNeely Sahtu

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm glad to hear that the housing Minister is sharing the table saw and the Swede saw and the skill saw with the Indigenous partners. That leads me into my third question here.

Will the Minister of Housing NWT commit to meeting with me and discuss two issues: Number 1 is the last government SSI MOU and trades training, a component within the MOU? Mahsi.

Lucy Kuptana

Lucy Kuptana Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. On my way up the Mackenzie Delta, I'll stop by the Sahtu and sit down and have this discussion. But absolutely, trades and training are really important throughout the North. We need more apprentices. We need more journey people. We need more people with capacity to maintain homes throughout the North so more than willing to have this discussion. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Minister. Oral questions. Member from Great Slave.

Kate Reid

Kate Reid Great Slave

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, although I'm sure she's tired of repeating herself, can the Minister of Finance please briefly explain to the House why the GNWT's carbon tax legislative regime is the better option for Northerners? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Member from Great Slave. Minister of Finance.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'll try to be brief. Mr. Speaker, it maintains flexibility in how the revenues are used by the Government of the Northwest Territories, in short. So much as I had feared, the federal government, of course, once again changed their goalposts first back in April, which is what led to some lengthy discussions in this House in the last Assembly, and then again in the fall. And they changed those goalposts based on political priorities. They're set from Ottawa and by a different government.

By hanging on to the system by administering it ourselves here, we were able to do the tiered approach which means that rather than allowing the calculation of what amount should go to residents done elsewhere, it is done by our government and it's done to align and accord with the amounts of tax being paid by residents in different regions. It allowed us to use 10 percent of our net revenue and share that directly with communities, which is something unique to our system. And it's also allowed us to maintain a system that recognizes how our industrial system works, how our industrial part of the economy works; namely, the three operating diamond mines, which really are the revenue generating source here, yet they will be probably submitting less under the federal system but have a significant administrative burden and any incoming mines that we might have would not see the benefits of that system. So maintaining that control here, Mr. Speaker, has allowed us to ensure residents are seeing their carbon tax burden offset while also ensuring that we have an economy for tomorrow. Thank you.

Kate Reid

Kate Reid Great Slave

Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. And thank you to the Minister for that answer. As I'm sure the Minister's aware that constituents are confused. My constituents who thought they were making greener, smarter moves by switching to propane are, to put it mildly, frustrated by this carbon tax exemption for just diesel-based home heating fuel.

So my question to the Minister is will she commit to seeking exemptions from the federal government for all home heating options in the North? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I think people across Canada expressed frustration at the decision to exempt only one form of heating fuel and not others that are arguably greener. And, again, this is where I suggest that that's a question to take up with the federal government, not us. We find ourselves operating within that system. And where I'd like us to get to, Mr. Speaker, while we want to ensure that residents of the North, where our alternatives can sometimes be costly and few between, aren't facing an unnecessary carbon tax burden. We want to ensure that our offset payments continue to cover the anticipated average amount of carbon tax no matter the heating fuel. We want to get to a place where we're providing more options and encouraging people to use those options so they can get to a place where they're using greener options for heating, whether it's propane or LNG or whether it's biomass, but also looking at their transportation use. So what are we doing in terms of finding greener and cleaner ways? Transportation is one of the biggest sources of carbon tax because it's one of the biggest sources of GHG emissions. So, again, certainly don't want to discourage people from doing that. Long term, that's how we're going to see bigger savings. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Oral questions. Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is probably the second time I'm bringing this issue up for the winter road for the community of Lutselk'e. And I'd like to see if we can try to get Cabinet on side to finally realize the high cost of living in Lutselk'e is very important to people in the community. So my question to the Minister is will the government commit to building a winter road from Yellowknife to Lutselk'e? Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Minister of Infrastructure.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I was in the House over the last Assembly when this issue came up. I want to start by acknowledging it is a challenge with a community that is isolated and not on the winter road resupply right now. The safety of residents as they travel remains top priority for everyone and building a winter road across Great Slave Lake certainly is not without some significant challenges. And while I acknowledge there was a road out in that region, as the Member noted, it would be an additional 100 kilometres to actually make that accessible and with no guarantees as to what that would do. So at this point, looking at a winter road across Great Slave is not something that's in our capital plans, but I certainly would like to continue to have conversations to make sure that resupply does happen in a timely and reliable fashion to this community. Thank you.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know, I brought this up a few times already, and I still haven't got no correspondence back to me in writing on this subject. You know, we got a budget of $2.2 billion, and my constituency of Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh we get less than half a percent of that.

And so my question is will this government commit to building an all-season road to Lutselk'e connecting it through Hay River; is that possible? Right now I don't see any plans from this government to address the high cost of living in Lutselk'e. Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of any studies or plans that would propose an all-season road to Lutselk'e. But I do want to address the other comment that there's been nothing in writing. I'm new to this portfolio, and I'll certainly commit to making sure that we do provide the information that I have available regarding what studies have been done, what efforts have been made, and some of the challenges that are faced so that there's a thorough understanding of that. But from that point on, we can hopefully get to a conversation about what is possible in these next four years, and I'm committed to getting that to this Member. Thank you.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. And, Mr. Speaker, things we take for granted in bringing in supplies into Lutselk'e, for example just a bed is about $600. And you know, small communities do matter, and I kept saying that in the last Assembly, and I'll say it again in this Assembly. Will the government commit to more -- to getting more barges or air flights to the community of Lutselk'e to help reduce the cost of living? Thank you.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, again let me take a look at what number of barges we have going in, when or if they were missed, and what we need to do to make sure that that doesn't happen again. I certainly can't promise that low water levels won't necessarily interrupt the barging season again but what we can do, and I know that this was something that I saw discussed from afar last time, was ensuring that the timing and the planning around when those barges arrive aligns in accordance with what the community needs and the timing of their resupply. So I certainly will commit to sitting down to make sure that that coordination happens early and that we all do our best and hopefully Mother Nature will comply. Thank you.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Final supplementary. Member from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh.

Richard Edjericon

Richard Edjericon Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to talk about, again, small communities really do matter. I hear from my constituency on the high cost of living. What is this government going to do to help lower the cost of living in the community of Lutselk'e? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Caroline Wawzonek

Caroline Wawzonek Yellowknife South

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. No hesitancy required. Bringing down the cost of living is something that, I think as perhaps Minister of Finance as well as infrastructure, I'm certainly alive to and keen to see happen for our residents across the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, that is a bigger, much bigger conversation. It's not only about corridors for roads, barges, ensuring our airlines can land in small communities. That is something top of mind for me. Perhaps focusing on my transportation portfolio, which I think is where the Member's at, I can say I'm at a transportation Ministers meeting next week. I'm actually the co-chair with the federal government, and I can assure you I've been working to get some discussions going between other colleagues attending because I want to put the issues that are relevant to northern communities, northern small communities, rural communities, top of mind for all the Ministers that are there to hopefully bring down costs through some better options. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Minister of Infrastructure. Oral questions. Member from Inuvik Boot Lake.

Denny Rodgers

Denny Rodgers Inuvik Boot Lake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as a follow-up to my statement this morning on the Supreme Court of Canada decision on Indigenous child welfare, I'd like to ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, what is the Premier's plan to ensure the principles of the Supreme Court's decisions are upheld?

The Speaker

The Speaker Shane Thompson

Thank you, Member from Inuvik Boot Lake. Mr. Premier.