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

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was very proud to hold this summit up in the community of Inuvik, only because we have looked at some new initiatives and the way we do housing in the Arctic, especially with discussions around climate change. I think that this was the first one of its kind, in terms of where we had a lot of leadership right across the territory. We invited leaders to come to the forefront and discuss the issues.

We have identified four key outcomes in our report on the summit. I can, in due time, make sure that I can give the Members and the committee -- we did have committee there, as well -- and share with them some of the outcomes that came out of that summit. If anything, I think that I have put responsibility not only on the territorial government, but also federally and locally, in making sure that we all have responsibility in addressing housing across the Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 804-18(3): Housing Core Need August 14th, 2019

I had the opportunity to attend a conference in Victoria earlier this year. In our agreement with the federal government, we were committed to providing public housing units for our jurisdiction. I think it is about just over 1,300. We go above and beyond, and I made sure that everybody at the conference knew that we provide the 2,400, and we also look at market rent and other projects that we do.

We do have a number of programs that are going to address this need. For seniors, for singles, I made some comments the other day about the fuel tank replacement issues; Rapid Rehousing, our community housing support initiative; over the last three, four years, we have seen some very successful programs working with Indigenous governments and local governments, as well; we do have a new home program, which will address suitable housing concerns; and our community housing plans, as I mentioned earlier in my Minister's statement.

We need to work with local leadership and stakeholders to address what their priorities are and how we address the core housing need. I think that that is something that we will continue to focus on, work on, and I appreciate that all Members of the 19th Assembly bring that forward so that we can work with families and communities to address this issue.

We have been doing things. Like I said, being in the Assembly for eight years, two terms, right from day one, we have been seeing some changes, policies, and programs. We will continue to support them and also lobby our federal government. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 804-18(3): Housing Core Need August 14th, 2019

As I just previously said, we have a target of addressing 250 households every year, and we work with our local housing organizations to address any inadequacies, whether there are repairs, maintenance, as well as suitability and any issues that do come up. I know because I get those questions from Members almost on a daily basis. At this point, I think we are addressing the affordability, adequacy, and suitability problem. Being in the Legislative Assembly for the last two terms, the last eight years, I think we have made a very big impact on addressing core needs across the Northwest Territories, and that is not just me. It's the previous Ministers responsible for housing as well as getting questions from Members to address this. So, at this point, I want to say that I do believe that we are doing the best job that we can and we are addressing that issue.

Question 804-18(3): Housing Core Need August 14th, 2019

The Member and I had a discussion around this, and, you know, it can be a little bit complex in terms of what core need is. However, the definition of "core need" is a federal standard, and it is used by all jurisdictions right across Canada. The core needs survey does allow us to look at the number of households affected by each area, and, while the definition of "core need" includes affordability, the majority of our program is used to address adequacy as well as suitability, and that was the exact conversation that I had with the Member earlier today. That is something that needs to be addressed more, not only within the territorial government, but I think it's something that needs to have a bigger discussion with the federal government and our municipal leadership or territorial leadership.

Question 804-18(3): Housing Core Need August 14th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. When the Member did make his statement, I was waiting for some questions earlier this week. I want to let the Member know and all Members that have an interest in housing, which is every Member in this building, that the NWT Bureau of Statistics has been conducting the 2019 core needs survey, and it should be ready for release in November of this year. In the past, I have given updates in how we are addressing the core need with various programs. Looking at the target of 250 per year, I can share with committee and I can share with Members that I believe we are exceeding that, and we can show how we are doing that through the various programs that we are conducting.

Question 802-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Funding Support for the NWT SPCA August 14th, 2019

I think it comes to the responsibility of all parties involved. I know the Member asked me questions in an earlier session, and I did say the responsibility also falls on the municipalities and the hamlets. We need all leadership. We need the NGOs as well as ourselves as a government providing this kind of funding to work together to see how we can find that type of funding to address the issue. If anything, I will commit to the Member that we will have those discussions.

I think it is something that the next government coming in in the 19th Assembly is going to be something that needs to be talked about because, like I said, our NGOs across the Northwest Territories do invaluable service and they do a lot of really good work right across the territory. We will make that recommendation, but at this moment I can't commit to any ongoing continued funding or core funding, but that discussion needs to be still had. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Question 802-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Funding Support for the NWT SPCA August 14th, 2019

I don't want to single out just the SPCA, here. There are a lot of NGOs across the Northwest Territories that do a lot of really good work on behalf of the residents and work on behalf of government. That is something that I think, because we are nearing the end of this Assembly, that the new government that comes in in the 19th is going to have to take a hard look at and see how well we fund our NGOs and our partners and stakeholders moving forward.

At this time, I can't make that commitment to say that we are going to be looking at any kind of core funding or ongoing funding. I think that is something that needs to have a really good discussion, because it has come up on numerous occasions during this government.

Question 802-18(3): Government of the Northwest Territories Funding Support for the NWT SPCA August 14th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. To be honest, we have a lot of non-government organizations that do a lot of really good work on behalf of residents of the Northwest Territories, our municipalities, our communities, our governments. As a government, we want to make sure that we can also provide support. This was the case with the SPCA. Previously, when the program was not through the Department of MACA, there was a one-time funding, I believe, of $25,000. As the Member has asked me in a previous session, we did give a one-time funding.

Coming from personal experience, coming from Inuvik, we do have the Arctic Paws. The Arctic Paws does have a really strong relationship with the SPCA. We really appreciate the work that they do in terms of providing safety and the health of the animals across the Northwest Territories. They did fall under some of the criteria that allowed them to get the funding. We want to make sure that, working with our NGOs who do work on behalf of the government, we want to support that. I think, moving into the next government, we are going to have to come up with some criteria.

As I mentioned to the Member, it is not core funding, but how do we support our NGOs to support the work that they do on behalf of residents and the animal population in the Northwest Territories. I really appreciate the work, and I am glad that we have a representative here from the SPCA today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Minister's Statement 222-18(3): Community Housing Plan August 14th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Ensuring that housing programs and services reflect community values and priorities has been a key commitment of this government. Implementing Northern Solutions for Northern Housing also means working in partnership with other orders of government to develop more affordable housing. To meet these commitments, we have been working hand-in-hand with local governments to develop community housing plans that will guide and support their housing aspirations.

Mr. Speaker, the community housing plan process is well under way, with 12 communities across the Northwest Territories engaged in this work. We are close to celebrating the establishment of a community housing plan for the community of Whati, as well as Paulatuk and Fort Liard close behind.

We recognize that we have set ambitious goals for ourselves with this initiative. It takes time to do these community plans right. We are committed to working with our partners and residents in a meaningful and respectful manner. It is important that we take the time to listen and learn from each other, and sometimes that means that we cannot rush things.

This respect will ensure that community leaders and residents have full involvement in the creation of these plans, feel a sense of ownership, use the plans, and see them as a great tool to guide housing decisions in their communities.

In that spirit of respect, community leadership is critical and we are working closely with local leaders. Chiefs, mayors, and their councils have recognized from the beginning how important it is for their communities' voices to be heard.

We have also hired local housing facilitators to assist with the community planning and outreach to community residents. These contacts have been invaluable, and we could not do this work without their help.

Housing is one of the most important aspects of our lives. Having a roof over our heads is the starting point for successful, healthy living. Historically, our territory has faced many housing challenges, and talking about those challenges can be tough. Despite that, the turnout when we have our community meetings has been huge.

I am impressed by the broad participation. I want to thank everyone at the community level for coming out and sharing their knowledge and for working with us to develop your community plans.

Mr. Speaker, when I say that these plans belong to our communities, I mean it. Without the investment of time from community leaders and the residents, this would be a top-down exercise. We are taking the time to make sure these plans reflect local wisdom, experience, and a vision for the future. Several community housing plans will soon be complete, and I am confident communities will use them strategically to help meet local housing priorities. Mahsi cho, Mr. Speaker.

Tabled Document 483-18(3): Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 766-18(3): Aboriginal Sports Circle Funding August 13th, 2019

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I wish to table the following document entitled "Follow-up Letter for Oral Question 766-18(3): Aboriginal Sports Circle Funding." Thank you, Mr. Speaker.