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Crucial Fact

Last in the Legislative Assembly September 2019, as MLA for Inuvik Boot Lake

Won his last election, in 2015, with 89% of the vote.

Statements in the House

Question 821-18(3): Housing Needs in Mackenzie Delta August 16th, 2019

One of the objectives that we had when we did the housing summit was that we can bring all of our Indigenous leadership together throughout the Northwest Territories, so that we can actually go and lobby the federal government, as well as our national Indigenous organizations, to see how we can get some of that funding here in the Northwest Territories.

As I have mentioned in this House before, the Inuvialuit has a good partnership with ITK, and they are doing some really good work up in the ISR region. We want to make sure that we can ensure that our other Indigenous organizations throughout the Northwest Territories have that same opportunity, and we will continue to work with our leadership to try to access that kind of funding.

Question 821-18(3): Housing Needs in Mackenzie Delta August 16th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To our agreement with the federal government, our obligation is to provide public housing to just over 1,300 units. Currently, we go above and beyond that and provide about 2,400 units in public housing, plus market rent and other projects that we do within the Housing Corporation.

Most recently, when we were at the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association conference in Victoria, we did give that information to the membership there and talked about how we are making those strides to address housing in the North. We also know that there is a national Indigenous Housing Caucus that, as the Housing Corporation, we are going to be looking at providing possibly a couple of memberships for people that really need it. As the speaker knows and Members know, I did make a statement in the House yesterday on the community housing plans and how we address those.

There are numerous programs that we do throughout the Housing Corporation, and I think that it is through the leadership of the MLA, and the leadership of the chief and mayor, that we can sit down and start working on how we can address this and inform everyone on the programs that we do, which we did do during the first housing summit that we had up in Inuvik earlier this year. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition Of Visitors In The Gallery August 16th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to welcome Mr. Robert Bouchard, who was part of the Fab Five in the 17th Assembly. I'm really, really glad that he's joining us here today; it was a pleasure working with you in the last government. Even though she's not a constituent of mine, but a childhood friend and supporter, Lesa Semmler, I welcome her to the House and hope she's enjoying the proceedings.

Lastly, I would just like to thank former Chief Felix Lockhart and his family for being here today. I know there was a great statement from our MLA from Tu Nedhe-Wiilideh for Sandra Lockhart. In my previous life working in the health field, I did do some good work with her, and I just want to say thank you, and I'm glad that they're here. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 806-18(3): Municipal Funding Gap August 14th, 2019

Yes. You know, you have got to look at the priorities for each community. Do you want sewage and water, or do you want a nice gym? You know, we are all elected leaders here across the Northwest Territories. Do you want safe water, or do you want a nice swimming pool? If I can put it in that context, then I will. You know, do you want a nice track and field, or do you want people provided with the essentials? You know, we talked about housing earlier today, and we just want people to have a roof over their heads, but, when we have municipalities that are asking for above and beyond what the essential needs are for our people just to have a normal type of life, I mean, those are the decisions that we have to make. As elected officials in territorial government, as elected officials throughout the municipalities and the hamlets, those are the discussions that we need to have, and we all have a responsibility to address that.

Moving forward, we will continue to have those discussions. We are not passing the buck, Mr. Speaker. If we had an endless credit card, sure, yes, but right now, we don't. It is not just the territorial government. It is right across Canada and globally, and really affects how we do our business in the North.

Question 806-18(3): Municipal Funding Gap August 14th, 2019

Yes, I have met up with the NWTAC executive on numerous occasions since I have been elected, and I did let them know that the funding that we provide through our capital planning programs is for priorities in the communities. I did let them know that we also need to lobby the federal government and that we continue to need to work together to address the funding gap issue. It's something that's not going to be easily fixed, and I think everybody in this room knows that it's not going to be easily fixed. We need to work together to see how we can find a solution, but it's going to be something that this government within the two weeks we have left is not going to be addressing. I will let the Member know that I have met with them on numerous occasions, the executive, and we did have this discussion.

Question 806-18(3): Municipal Funding Gap August 14th, 2019

I do apologize. You know, I did laugh, but, at the same time, it does not fall only on us as a territorial government. There has also got to be responsibility in terms of the priorities that our municipalities have in their communities. We made some big announcements today. We made some big announcements yesterday with the federal government, and we are addressing some of these issues, and they are big issues. In terms of the funding gap from our territorial government, we will continue to work with our partner, which is the NWT Association of Communities. You know, like I said, I do apologize that I did laugh, but we are doing things, we are working, we are investing, and, as Members know, as all leadership know, we are in a four-year cycle, and, at some points, it doesn't always fall on the same timeline, but we all have to work together to address the needs. In some cases, these needs were not addressed in the past, but we are working with our mayors, or leadership, and we all have to work together to see where our priorities are, and we will continue to do that.

Question 806-18(3): Municipal Funding Gap August 14th, 2019

Let me catch my breath. No, just kidding. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The funding strategy will be released prior to the end of this session. I do know that Members are being, I won't say "pressured," but I know they are getting questions on how do we address the funding gap. We will be releasing a funding strategy prior to the end of this session. We have taken input from the NWT Association of Communities since I have been in this position. We have had meetings with the executive. We have let them know that this funding is really for, I won't say the core need, but, you know, what are the priorities for their communities. We will continue to work with them.

In terms of the strategy right now, I think that is going to be something that the 19th Assembly is going to have to really take a hard look at and continue to work with the federal government on how do we address municipality shortfalls. The climate change is going to be a big one, especially up here in the North, that we need to address. We are already seeing it. We have met with the NWT Association of Communities, and we will provide feedback by the end of this Assembly on how we are moving forward. In reality, Mr. Speaker, this is going to be something that is going to need to be addressed in the next government.

Question 805-18(3): Northern Housing Summit Outcomes August 14th, 2019

We have had meetings with various federal Ministers across the board on funding for on-reserve, off-reserve. In terms of housing, we have worked with, I have said in the House before, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation. They were successful working with ITK to get funding to do some work, and then they partnered with us to look at our capital planning and our strategy, and that came right from the federal government. That went to the national Indigenous organization. One of the, I won't say the "priorities," but focuses out of that summit that we did up in Inuvik was to bring all of our Indigenous organizations together to lobby not only the federal government but the Assembly of First Nations and the national Metis organization to see how we can be recognized here in the Northwest Territories, because we are an over-50 percent Aboriginal population, that we should get some of the funding that the federal government gave to the NIOs and see how we can use that funding to address our housing issues across the Northwest Territories. We will continue to lobby not only the federal government but our NIOs, as well. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 805-18(3): Northern Housing Summit Outcomes August 14th, 2019

As Members know, initially, when we were doing these community housing plans, it was a pilot project and something new to the Northwest Territories. I think that it is something that should be pushed right across Canada, especially in our rural and remote communities, on how we address housing issues.

Initially, we had three that we wanted to pilot. To date, I can tell the Member and all Members in the Legislative Assembly that we have 12 that we are working on. I made a statement earlier today that Whati, Paulatuk, and Liard are communities that we are working on. I think that it is going to be a good news story, and it is going to help us learn how we invest our dollars into community housing plans and encourage all leadership to approach us, work with CMHC, and work with our leadership here at the Legislative Assembly and in our communities to work on seeing what our priorities are in our communities across the territory.

Question 805-18(3): Northern Housing Summit Outcomes August 14th, 2019

As I mentioned in a Member's statement in the House during a previous session, we did negotiate a $60-million carve-out of the co-investment fund. I would like to let all leadership across the Northwest Territories and other partnerships know that we can go above and beyond that and still put in an application to the federal government to access more dollars.

We also have a strong partnership with the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. We have been working with them to work with our local leadership and our Indigenous leadership to access that funding. We have been pushing that during the summit, as well as in our bilateral agreements. Hopefully, we will see more access and more applications to the program to make sure that our communities can access some of this housing funding moving forward.