Debates of March 27, 2023 (day 150)

19th Assembly, 2nd Session
Members Present
Hon. Diane Archie, Hon. Frederick Blake Jr., Mr. Bonnetrouge, Hon. Paulie Chinna, Ms. Cleveland, Hon. Caroline Cochrane, Mr. Edjericon, Hon. Julie Green, Mr. Jacobson, Mr. Johnson, Ms. Martselos, Ms. Nokleby, Mr. O’Reilly, Ms. Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Ms. Weyallon Armstrong


Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 339-19(2): Introducing the Department of Environment and Climate Change

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Lands.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in May 2022 our government announced the merger of the Departments of Lands and Environment and Natural Resources. Postdevolution, the merger is an important step to evolve the resource management, regulatory, and security responsibilities that are linked but currently split between the two departments.

Mr. Speaker, we have been hard at work since May 2022. Leadership in both departments have worked with staff to develop the merger organization structure for the new department. In midNovember 2022, the highlevel organization design was approved; and, on March 9th, the establishment policy for the new department was approved. Leaders continue to work with staff through workshops and information sharing sessions and regular engagements to make sure we collectively make the merger a success.

Managing change is crucial to maintaining a strong public service. To this end, we have contracted experts to help guide us through the first year of change. This process will create a resilient and focused organization ready to tackle the current and future priorities of our territory.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that Dr. Erin Kelly will be the deputy minister of the Department of Environment and Climate Change. Dr. Kelly is highly qualified for the role, with 21 years of experience in the environmental science and management sector, including nine years of progressive leadership within the environment and natural resources directorate. Her extensive knowledge and dedication to public service makes her an ideal fit for the position.

Mr. Speaker, we want to ensure we get this right. That is why the merger will be moving forward in two phases. April 1st will conclude the first phase of the work to align complementary program areas within both departments. During phase two, the new department will continue to enhance organizational structures to make the best use of human and financial resources so that we provide the most efficient programs and services to the residents and organizations of the NWT. This work is intended to align with the government's renewal initiative.

Mr. Speaker, with change comes uncertainty but it also provides opportunity. As we build the Department of Environment and Climate Change, we will take every opportunity to create an organization which will connect this territory's land, water, air, wildlife, and forest resources and continue to strengthen our leadership on climate change. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Industry, Tourism and Investment.

Minister’s Statement 340-19(2): Accelerated Digital Adoption Projects for Tomorrow Fund

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Northwest Territories Business Development and Investment Corporation, or BDIC, is excited about business development and digital transformation opportunities in the territory. As we shift to a digital economy where consumers are purchasing more goods and more services online, looking for ecommerce convenience and expecting vendors to personalize offerings, there is a greater need to support businesses to establish or increase their online presence. I am pleased to announce the introduction of the Accelerate Digital Adoption Projects for Tomorrow Fund, or ADAPT, at the BDIC.

The fund is a revamp of the BDIC’s contribution program to assist businesses with digital adoption. This fund can be used in combination with the Canadian Digital Adoption Program, for a total of $5,000 to get online, increase online presence, boost ecommerce or digitalize operations. The federal Canadian Digital Adoption Program provides qualifying NWT small businesses with up to a $2,400 in grants and ecommerce advice to help businesses build their digital capacity. The Accelerate Digital Adoption Projects for Tomorrow Fund is designed to complement the federal funding program with up to an additional $2,600 available in grant funding for a total of $5,000. To deliver its mandate to help create and develop business enterprises in all industries and promote economic development in the Northwest Territories, the Business Development Investment Corporation is committed to finding ways to create value for entrepreneurs that are entering the digital market or expanding their digital presence. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 1469-19(2): Land Leasing Policies

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Lands is currently running an ad campaign on the benefits of leasing. And, Mr. Speaker, I want to talk about the main benefit of leasing, which is one we all tend to ignore in this territory, and the main benefit is that at the end of a lease, a lessor can take the land back, Mr. Speaker. And, in fact, in the Northwest Territories, not only do we take the land back, we require the lessee to tear down any structures and remediate the land, Mr. Speaker. And yet everyone I talk to who has a lease does not seem to think this is at all a possibility.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have to ask ourselves are we actually going to take back any of the land and the structures that people live in under these leases? And, Mr. Speaker, if the answer to that question is no, there is a very simple and obvious solution. That is to give those people their land, Mr. Speaker, that we have no intention of actually taking back. And, Mr. Speaker, I believe it is time we get out of the leasing business.

Firstly, Mr. Speaker, I think we have to start with the hunters and trappers who are exercising a traditional right. I say the easiest and most simpliest solution here is to identify their cabins, give it to them in fee simple for a dollar, and leave them alone, Mr. Speaker. No more inspections.

However, Mr. Speaker, if we're not willing to do that, I think there is an elegant solution in some sort of tenure for Indigenous rights holders. May I suggest a 99year lease for $1, and then we leave them alone, Mr. Speaker. And we might just have to accept that our pages and pages of lease guidelines aren't the best fit. Mr. Speaker, we're going to have to meet our hunters and trappers where they are. The reality is they have cabins that are sometimes within the hundred meter set back from the high watermark, Mr. Speaker, and we might just have to accept that, Mr. Speaker, and give them some sort of tenure for $1, Mr. Speaker, and stop charging them lease fees, stop charging them taxes, and stop taking them to collections.

Next, Mr. Speaker, once we are in community boundaries, why do we have any leases? The key role of community government is to set bylaws that speak to setbacks, the size of structures, and to administrate their land in community boundaries. It is time we take every single lease we have in the community boundaries and either give it to the community government or the individual who lives in that house. The GNWT needs to get out of the leasing business and stop doubling down on the benefits of leasing if our intention is to not actually take the land back at the end of the term. I'll have questions for the Minister of Lands. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Member’s Statement 1470-19(2): Youth Leadership Gatherings

Good afternoon, Mr. Speaker. It's good to be back in the House after the Spring Break, and I rise today to praise the efforts of young leaders in our territory. Over the last few months, youth from around the territory have been organizing and hosting summits in their communities. These gatherings brought future leaders together to discuss the challenges they all face, to learn from each other and experts, and to share their solutions and ideas for a brighter future. Gatherings have been held in Behchoko, Dettah, and Fort Providence, to name a few, and saw youth gather, not only from the NWT, but from the Yukon and Nunavut as well. Events involved traditional hand games, crafts, and drumming, as well as workshops on communication skills and mental and physical health and wellbeing. Youth had the opportunity to try new things and make new friends, building relationships that will last a lifetime; Relationships I know will be crucial when these young people take their seats in this House and at the consultation tables across the regions. These youth are our future, and it heartens me to see their strength and resiliency, to see them take the reins of their own destiny. For that, I want to thank everyone who helped organize these events that give voice and opportunity to the youth of the territory.

Mr. Speaker, it's no secret youth are facing challenges. The reports being tabled by the social development committee show that youth are crying out for help and want solutions and our government is failing them. Whether it is youth aging out of care, children trapped in the endless cycle of care which is akin to the trauma of the residential school system, boredom due to the lack of resources in communities, no youth psychiatric facility, and no youth treatment centre. Why do we have a Minister responsible for Youth when there appears to be little to no advocacy from them in this area?

Mr. Speaker, we need to invest in our youth. This means actually taking care of them and providing the resources they need. When Ministers tell me that a 16yearold must find themself a new home or go to the overcrowded youth shelter that is barely funded by this government, it shows me that they don’t care. And more devastatingly, Mr. Speaker, it tells the youth that they don’t care, and that breaks my heart. We are role models. The youth are watching and learning what works, what doesn’t, and whose needs are actually being met. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Member’s Statement 1471-19(2): Alberta-Northwest Territories Transboundary Water Agreement

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it should be clear that the current bilateral water management agreement with Alberta is not an effective mechanism to protect our waterways. We have heard from the Minister that there have been two separate incidents at this oil sands mine between the 5.3 million litres of industrial waste spillover in February and then a separate incident where oil sands tailings ponds, with contaminants over the regulated guidelines, have seeped into the groundwater and surface water since May 2022. According to the news reports, the premier of Alberta has gone on record to state that the Alberta government, through the 2005 Bilateral Water Agreement, have no obligation to notify the Government of the Northwest Territories. Our ability to create stronger environmental protection mechanisms with other jurisdictions is very limited as noted with the current bilateral agreement.

Mr. Speaker, the impact to our watershed and aquatic life is at risk. Our way of life is at risk due to another jurisdiction's inactions to protect the waterways at all costs. The Alberta government do not believe that water is life and is sacred to the wellbeing of Indigenous nations that live on the waterways. The Indigenous nations have never been consulted nor have any meaningful consultations prior to the development of the tar sands for oil extraction. I will have questions for the Minister of Environment and Natural Resources at the appropriate time. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Member’s Statement 1472-19(2): Housing Northwest Territories Mortgage Arrears

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT has accumulated $16.5 million in arrears. Of that, $4.9 million is owed in mortgage payments. The role of Housing NWT is to provide safe and affordable housing to residents. It is not to set up people for failure, entering into mortgages with people only to evict them later because they cannot afford the mortgage.

Mr. Speaker, I have residents who renewed their mortgage with Housing NWT when it was clear they were unable to keep up with costs of that mortgage. I agree that we need to promote homeownership, but Housing NWT must consider a person's fiscal reality and enter into realistic contracts when doing this.

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT has a collection policy that it does not appear to use.

I have seniors who are being told they need to renew a mortgage they cannot afford to renew when they receive a letter saying they are behind on their mortgage payment. We have Housing NWT refinancing mortgages with young adults in their 20s upon getting their first fulltime job. This, again, is setting up our people for failure, Mr. Speaker.

The Government of the Northwest Territories needs to take responsibility and support our residents if Housing NWT mortgage arrears continue to grow. That means there is something wrong with the NWT Housing process for entering into mortgages or collecting payments or managing arrears. There is mismanagement on Housing NWT's side. This is not reflective of what residents need. Thank you. I will have questions for the Minister of housing. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you. Thank you, Member for Monfwi. Members' statements. Member for Frame Lake.

Member’s Statement 1473-19(2): Review of Fiscal Responsibility Policy

Merci, Monsieur le President. In the Finance Minister's budget address on February 8th, 2023, there was mention of a review of the fiscal responsibility policy. She said, quote, last summer, we evaluated this policy and its requirement that at least half of GNWT capital investments is financed by the operating surplus to ensure that it still is effective in meeting our debt management principles. We've already started changes in the reporting on the future debt implications in this budget, and in short order, we will be revising the fiscal responsibility policy to help decision makers better understand the implications of their budget choices, end of quote. The fiscal responsibility policy has failed to keep us out of growing debt. The 20232024 year-end debt projection is $1.5 billion, $65 million higher than that projected for 20222023. This policy also did not prevent the massive overbudgeting of capital projects that has finally been capped, at least in practice. I can confirm that there was engagement with Regular MLAs on the fiscal responsibility policy late last year. Unfortunately, I can't talk much about it, but I do think our feedback was amongst the best work we have ever done. It appears that the Minister has finally heard Regular MLAs' calls for the calculations associated with the determination of compliance or noncompliance with the fiscal responsibility policy that will now regularly be found in financial documents. We need more detailed financial reporting and accountability throughout the year to ensure that sound financial management continues. There needs to be some consequences, though, for noncompliance and at a minimum a requirement for a plan to be made public to bring our finances back in order. I'm particularly concerned with this government's increasing reliance on public, private partnerships or P3s as a way to finance larger capital projects. There's been little to no analysis or disclosure of the impact this has had on our operating budgets as P3 services costs eat away into our ability to provide programs and services. There should be firm caps on P3 servicing costs just as there are on debt servicing as part of the fiscal responsibility policy. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Finance. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Member’s Statement 1474-19(2): Aurora College Board of Governors

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, on March 6th, the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment announced the Members of the new Aurora College Board of governors. I was very pleased to hear the Minister's long-awaited announcement on this matter because I know that having a new board of governors for Aurora College is a vital step to advancing the transformation into a new polytechnic university.

Mr. Speaker, among the 13 appointees of this board, there are five people from the South Slave Region two Hay River residents, two Fort Smith residents, plus one student representative from the Fort Smith campus.

I am very happy to see that the South Slave is well represented on this newly appointed board. On behalf of the constituents of Thebacha, I want to welcome all 13 new Members into their new roles as the board of governors for Aurora College. I know that this new board will provide valuable input into the transformation and overall direction of the future polytechnic university.

Mr. Speaker, I am confident that with this new board, Aurora College will have a stronger northern influence, will work to decentralize, and will be in good hands as this process goes ahead.

Lastly, I would like to thank Denny Rogers for his service as the administrator of Aurora College for the last six years. I will have questions for Minister of education. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1475-19(2): Sport and Recreation Funding for Beaufort Delta Communities

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today before we start, I'd like to congratulate the Yukon Indian hockey tournament this past weekend and the K & D Outlaws from Aklavik for winning B Division down at the biggest tournament, the Stanley Cup of our hockey tournaments in the North, and I really want to congratulate Bodie and Johnny Elias. I was really proud last night, former our good friend Darius Elias, who passed away, former MLA for North Yukon. North Yukon Eagles won the A Division and Johnny's really looking like his dad and so when I watch we watched those kids grow up. So I'm really, really proud of them. So congratulations to all who participated in that tournament.

Mr. Speaker, today my Member's statement is on recreation funding. Accessing sport and recreation in my communities is not as easy as it is here in Yellowknife. My constituents travel from communities with larger centres is extremely expensive. Yellowknife will have Super Soccer shortly, Cager tournament, countless other tournaments in the South Slave, and being able to drive to Edmonton and Grande Prairie is very realistic for them. Mr. Speaker, the charter from my communities can cost up to $30,000 round trip. A round trip ticket from Inuvik to Yellowknife is costing now $1,400 on our local airline. Our current economic activity is crippling supporting our youth and ensuring the access of sport and recreation.

Mr. Speaker, I should not need to tell this House how the importance of sport is in building our youth our future leaders. Sports programming helps our youth grow mentally to become more confident, developing skills, having a physical outlet. Sports gives a chance for meeting new friends, a positive environment, and being able to travel outside of our home communities. All this goes a long way. It's not about going out and going into communities as well. We are not seeing our territorial sport organizations supported. They are facing inflation, high costs of delivering sports programs. We're not giving the strong foundation for our youth to travel to meet other athletes and themselves and try to excel themselves in sport.

I was told by the Minister $250,000 was budgeted for the Beaufort Delta, and MACA. That's not nearly enough as giving us what we ask for. The costs have been highlighted. I will have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Members' statements. Member for Tu NedheWiilideh.

Member’s Statement 1476-19(2): Alberta–Northwest Territories Transboundary Waters Agreement and National Water Strategy

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I come to you with a message of great concerns regarding our waters. As we speak, the Slave water system, which is a lifeline for many small communities in our region, is facing serious threats of downstream water contamination originating in Alberta. This contamination is a result of industrial development and has the potential to cause irreparable harm to our environment, our economy and, most importantly, the health of our people in the Tu NedheWiilideh riding and all residents of the Northwest Territories as downstream users.

The current transboundary agreement between the Government of the Northwest Territories and Alberta lacks the regulatory means to address this issue. This means that we are at the mercy of those who are polluting our waters system south of the 60th Parallel and the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act only addresses the commercial development north of 60 in the Northwest Territories.

We cannot allow this to continue. We need to take action, and we need to take action now. The Government of the Northwest Territories must lead a campaign with the federal government and provincial governments to create a national water strategy that ensures Canada's water system is protected for our future generation against any potential harmful effects as a result of industry development. We need to come together and demand that all government takes this issue seriously.

Our water is not just a resource; it's a fundamental right for all Canadians. And it goes without saying that for Indigenous people, water is life. Without it, communities cannot thrive and our way of life will be lost. We cannot allow harmful effects caused by industrial polluters south of the 60th parallel to threaten our health and wellbeing in my riding of Tu NedheWiilideh and all residents of the Northwest Territories.

I urge you to all join me in the fight. Let us make our voices heard and demand that our government take the necessary steps today to protect the water system with the Government of Canada. Let us work together to ensure that our children and our children's children can enjoy the same clean and healthy water that we have today. I will have questions for the Minister of ENR at the appropriate time. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Member’s Statement 1477-19(2): Improving Government of the Northwest Territories Procurement Policies

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the word "procurement" has been mentioned over 500 times in this House in the life of this Assembly, which is more than the previous two Assemblies.

Through conversations about procurement, we have advocated for increased northern procurement benefit retention, economic reconciliation, improved procurement transparency, and a general change in procurement accessibility. As elected leaders, we have all committed to making procurement improvements as requested by all Northerners.

In September 2021, the procurement review panel published its findings and 50 recommendations. According to the panel, this review provides the GNWT with an historic opportunity to establish a solid foundation for the strategic use of procurement and take full control of the opportunities to leverage public contracting to support economic and social objectives in the Northwest Territories.

This past fall, the GNWT tabled a work plan with a single table divided into four deliverable categories:

Administrative updates to make it easier to do business with the GNWT;

Actions to improve government procurements;

Transparency and accountability; and,

Efforts to increase the benefits of government procurement for Indigenous and NWT businesses.

But that is literally the extent of the work plan's detail.

Mr. Speaker, this work plan does not give certainty of whether or not the procurement review of the 19th Assembly will affect change or fall short of resident and northern business expectations.

In response to questions about the outcomes of the procurement review, this House has been told that, quote, "the work is underway, and we need to wait and see how it unfolds."

Mr. Speaker, we have limited time left in the life of this Assembly, and this Assembly needs the opportunity to review, question, and hold the government accountable to changes to the GNWT procurement policies. And as a Regular Member, I need the opportunity to advocate for the people and entrepreneurs I serve and ensure their voices, experience, and time given during the panel review are respected. NWT businesses continue to question why their businesses continue to operate north of 60 when significant contract dollars go south to where the cost of doing business is more affordable, and population decreases show that a significant number of Northerners are heading south. Northerners need certainty. Regular Members cannot continue to wait and see how long the work of the procurement review unfolds. This government needs to finalize this work and deliver it, along with certainty, to NWT residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Member’s Statement 1478-19(2): Eulogy for Jack Lee Mouse

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Jack Lee Mouse was born on May 15th, 1972, in Fort Simpson. He passed away on March 14th, 2023, at the age of 51. He was the son of Cecelia Mouse and Frederick Tonka. When we heard that he passed away, the family, friends and community were very shocked and saddened. Mr. Speaker, death has taken away a genuinely nice individual and, more importantly, a loving nephew, cousin, and brother. While the family and friends mourned the loss, they gathered in Fort Simpson to pay tribute and a celebration a life this past Tuesday. I can advise you that he had left a lasting impression in the minds of his acquaintances and others. People knew him as a pleasant, cooperative, helpful, and dedicated individual. Everyone at the service talked about how they always remembered his laugh and how it made them feel.

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of knowing Jack in 1993 on the ball field in Fort Simpson when we played the Roadrunners team. He stood out because of several things. He has a reverse grip when he went up to bat on the lefthand side of the plate. He could spray and hit the ball into whatever location he wanted, and he was very fast. He played right field and enjoyed the game. On top of those attributes, he always had fun and was an excellent sportsman on and off the field. His team gave him the nickname "Tamarack Jack."

Mr. Speaker, as time passed, and the more I got to know him, I had the pleasure of chatting with him off and on throughout the years, especially when he walked past my home when I was outside. I can tell you he was a very proud person who loved where he was brought up and his family. He was a very nice person that cared about his family.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that this is a particularly difficult and painful time for his family. In extending to them my heartfelt condolences, I wish them courage and strength as they deal with their loss.

Mr. Speaker, I received a beautiful writeup from his cousin Angela, and I would like it to be deemed as read and printed in the Hansard.

Mr. Speaker, the family would like to thank everybody for their support during this difficult time, especially Liidlii Kue First Nation and their executive director. He will be sadly missed by his surviving family and friends.

Hi Shane, Please find enclosed the letter about my cousin Jack, as promised. First off, we will miss him so very much, he was so young.

Growing up with Jack, he was no different than my brother Daniel. He was so funny, and his laugh was amazing. There were so many good memories of Jack that we all loved, especially how good he was at fishing and hunting. He would share the food he hunted for, and he'd give it to family. He was so kind and always cared about others before himself. We all are like Jack this way so much.

One of the amazing things I loved about my cousin Jack was how fast he was at running. We were at Gramma's cabin across the river, we were just little kids then, and I tried catching up to Jack as he was running from me in the bush. I called out for him but he was super fast and he was gone. I was amazed how fast he was, just like his nickname "roadrunner" like the cartoon.

Jack was so very traditional. He reminded me of my amazing uncles. He would always be speaking Dene, and this was so important to our culture and who we all are. Jack and my mom Elizabeth Mouse taught me, my brother Daniel, and my little sister MaryEllen how to go fishing the amazing way tie some fishing string on a stick with a simple hook holding a piece of bread or a small fish and it worked big time. I caught the biggest jack fish at ten years old with my amazing cousin Jack and my sister and brother.

Jack will be forever missed so much. Everyone loved Jack. He was such an amazing, good person. Thank you for the reading. Angela Elizabeth McGonigle.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Nahendeh. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and community at this time.

Returns to Oral Questions

Return to Oral Question 1404-19(2): Child Care Funding Supports for Teen Parents

Mr. Speaker, I have a Return to Oral Question asked by the Member for Kam Lake on February 28, 2023, regarding Child Care Funding Supports for Teen Parents.

The department will take the Member's suggestions into consideration, particularly as we advance the Child and Family Services Action Plan and explore ways in which we can work with other departments to provide integrated services.

As the department continues to enhance the delivery of services, we recognize there is a need for options. Currently, child and family services has two types of voluntary support services agreement options available to teen parents that can include funding for child care: the Support Services Agreement or the Voluntary Services Agreement. The difference between the two agreements is that one directly supports the youth while the other supports the family who is supporting the youth.

To access these options, the individual youth would meet with a community social services worker to determine the services that best meets their needs. The community social services worker guides the youth through the program options. All agreements incorporate a philosophy of maintaining family, culture, and community connections and can include support from relevant Indigenous organizations.

Mr. Speaker, child and family services acknowledges that colonization has created systemic barriers for residents. All NWT residents, including teen parents, deserve to feel safe, free from discrimination and racism when accessing health and social services. We are making some important progress in this area. For example, the cultural safety and antiracism team tailored the existing cultural safety and antiracism training specifically to focus on harmful historical and presentday child and family services policies that have contributed to antiIndigenous racism and systemic barriers for clients. This training was delivered to child and family services staff in November 2022 and will be delivered again in November 2023. As a second example, the department is developing cultural safety and antiracism principles in 2023 with guidance from the Indigenous Advisory Body. These principles will shape how we operate as a system, towards a culture of cultural safety. Child and family services continues to make improvements based on feedback from families, communities and stakeholders, and we are committed to continuing these discussions, no matter how uncomfortable they may be. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Returns to oral questions. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Return to Oral Question 1411-19(2): Taltson Hydro Expansion Project

Mr. Speaker, I have a Return to Oral Question asked by the Member for Great Slave on March 1st, 2023, regarding renewable energy.

Regarding the request for information about how much of the $20 million in funding secured for Taltson Hydro Expansion has been retained with northern businesses and how much has been sole sourced to former Government of the Northwest Territories, or GNWT, employees, I can provide some information in addition to what is already on the public record.

To date, approximately $11.5 million has been spent on prefeasibility work for the project. This includes activities related to regulatory planning, commercial development, forming Indigenous partnerships, and establishing the technical parameters for transmission and generation components of the project. Of this amount, approximately $6.2 million, or 54.6 percent, of spending has been distributed to northern businesses, residents, and Indigenous governments.

Regarding specific sole source contracts, a total of $167,000, or 1.4 percent, was paid to a single contractor over a fouryear term, from June 2019 to November 2022. The consultant was formerly an employee of the Government of the Northwest Territories whose experience was relied upon to build and coordinate working relationships between the parties involved.

The Taltson Hydro Expansion Project is being developed in partnership with the Akaitcho Dene First Nation, or ADFN, and Northwest Territories Metis Nation, or NWTMN. A key area of focus early in this project was the development of a guiding statement of principles and a Memorandum of Understanding to work together to advance the project. The success of a project of this scale hinges on collaboration and relationship building between the various parties at the table. Although it took some time to establish trust between the parties, this is a longterm project. An MOU was formally endorsed by the leadership of the ADFN and NWTMN at our first Taltson Expansion Steering Committee meeting which was June 2021. The consultant continued to support the MOU implementation until November 2022 and no further work is expected going forward.

Regarding the northern businesses, direct contracts have been awarded for services such as fixedwing and rotary aircraft consulting. Thus far, contract work has been awarded within GNWT procurement guidelines, which includes guidance of the business incentive policy and adjustments for northern and local content on bids.

The reality of this project is that prefeasibility work requires specialized and technical skills across a broad range of disciplines; accordingly, many technical aspects of this work are awarded to specialized southern contractors. We are seeing significant efforts by proponents to pull together teams that do include northern businesses wherever possible and expect northern spending to grow over time as we progress to a regulatory application and construction decision. This is good indication that the project is creating new opportunities for northern businesses, and the project will continue to prioritize the inclusion of northern businesses in the future. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Oral Questions

Question 1466-19(2): Sport and Recreation Funding

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The cost of living continues to rise across the North. Flying in and out of our communities are expensive. It cannot prevent our youth from accessing sport opportunities in Inuvik or further south.

Can the Minister explain what funding supports are provided to territorial sport organizations and organizations like BDSRA given the impacts of inflation; is there any increases on that? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Minister responsible for MACA.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we give about $1.561 million to TSOs to provide opportunities for youth and that. For the BDSRA, I believe it was $250,000 we talked about it in the last sitting here. But I'll have to get back to the Member for the confirmation of that number. Thank you.