Debates of May 30, 2023 (day 157)

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, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Rocky Simpson, Ms. Semmler, Hon. Shane Thompson, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Ms. Weyallon Armstrong


Colleagues, before we begin, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize an important visitor to the gallery today. As you can see, our table officers are wearing something a bit different than their normal barrister's robes.

Ms. Ann FirthJones, who is originally from Fort McPherson created these Gwich'instyle parkie covers representative of the Mackenzie Delta. These garments are a reflection of the Legislative Assembly's shared commitment to diversity and reconciliation.

It's important for me, as a Speaker of this House, to work towards changing the status quo and to incorporate our northern cultures and traditions in the work we do as elected officials. Thank you for attending today's proceedings and for creating these beautiful garments for our tables’ officers. It is a pleasure to have you here. Please join me in welcoming Ms. Ann FirthJones to the House today. Thank you.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 362-19(2): 2023 Emergency Response: K’atlodeeche First Nation and Hay River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to provide an update on the territorial emergency response that is underway to support K'atlodeeche First Nation and the Town of Hay River as some residents of these communities return home following a second year in a row of evacuations caused by natural disasters.

On behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories, I offer my sympathies to everyone impacted by this year's wildfire. I am personally familiar with this experience having been forced to evacuate my own home in 2021 due to severe flooding that year. I know what many of you are experiencing now as well as the path you are now on to repair damage and help rebuild your community.

I want to provide assurance that the GNWT is actively supporting community governments in their response to this wildfire while also continuing to monitor for potential flooding in other communities during this highrisk season.

It was a relief to residents of Hay River when they learned that they could return home last week. However, it must be stated that the town remains on evacuation alert and residents must be prepared to evacuate again on short notice. Unfortunately, evacuees from K'atlodeeche First Nation are still under an active evacuation order and cannot return home until it is safe to do so.

The evacuation centre in Yellowknife and all associated supports remain active until the evacuation order is lifted. A Pathfinder also remains in place to provide information and assistance to evacuees.

The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs is aware that other community governments have provided support to evacuees who choose not to go to the evacuation centre. I would like to thank all the community governments for the assistance they have provided and recognize that this help has come at a cost to you. To this end, the department has introduced the Community Government Hosting Evacuation Grant to provide financial support. I wrote to all community governments last week to advise them of this grant, and I encourage applications once community governments have had some time to rest and regroup.

There has been a tremendous amount of work undertaken in the past few weeks. While I do not have the time to mention everything now, I do want to highlight some of the key activities that have taken place. Municipal and Community Affairs and K'atlodeeche First Nation completed an initial assessment of the damages to the community last week. This assessment will inform the next steps in recovery planning and confirm how many homes have been destroyed, what homes have sustained damage, and what homes are fit for residents to return to. Work to provide detailed damage assessments started this week, and the results will provide information on the nature and extent of the repair work needed. Municipal and Community Affairs is also proceeding with an environmental review of the affected area on the reserve to identify where any spills may have occurred.

Discussions have taken place between Municipal and Community Affairs, K'atlodeeche First Nation, and Housing NWT to coordinate longterm accommodations for displaced residents. Housing NWT has already started work to replace their assets destroyed by the fire, including housing units and the Judith Fabien Group Home.

As the Department of Infrastructure makes repairs to the community access road, Municipal and Community Affairs will continue to support the K'atlodeeche First Nation and the Town of Hay River and meet regularly with administration and leadership from both communities.

As Northerners, we know all too well the devastating impact of natural disasters and the threat they pose to our communities and residents. I want to acknowledge and thank everyone on the front lines who have helped during this evacuation period and continue to lend their support. I also want to acknowledge the resilience of all those displaced by this wildfire. We know this is a challenging time and we are working with community governments' leadership to provide muchneeded assistance.

Lastly, I want to thank the GNWT departments and external partners and agencies who continue to offer their support. The response to a disaster of this magnitude involves many people from multiple departments and agencies, and we could not do this work to help the NWT residents without you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Education, Culture and Employment.

Minister’s Statement 363-19(2): Student Financial Assistance Review Update

Mr. Speaker, three years ago I was mandated to initiate a review of our government's Student Financial Assistance Program with the goal of improving access to postsecondary education for all Northwest Territories residents by reducing barriers and ensuring benefit levels are meeting the needs of students. I am happy to say that we have completed our review and are now taking steps towards implementing necessary, significant changes to the program to better meet the needs of students.

The review examined the Student Financial Assistance Program's alignment with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Calls to Action, the final report on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and analyzed feedback received through a client satisfaction survey. Based on the findings of the review, the department is proposing significant enhancements to the program.

Mr. Speaker, to improve affordability and accessibility to postsecondary education, the department is increasing the benefit levels for tuition, books, and monthly living allowances. To better assist students with disabilities, we are increasing the grants for students with disabilities to align with the Canada Student Financial Assistance Program and expanding supports to students with persistent or prolonged disabilities.

Mr. Speaker, this government recognizes that Indigenous students in the NWT may face additional barriers with accessing postsecondary education. To alleviate some of these challenges, the department is proposing to remove the semester limit for eligible Indigenous students to access the SFA program. This will better support Indigenous students with pursuing their postsecondary studies by increasing the flexibility to complete their postsecondary education without concern of maxing out on the number of semesters for which they can receive student financial assistance. This change will also encourage Indigenous students to pursue postsecondary education beyond undergraduate degrees, such as master’s.

Mr. Speaker, in an effort to ensure consistency on how living costs are determined, the department is aligning the monthly living allowance with the Canada Market Basket Measure and will continue to calculate rates based on family size. The department is also increasing living allowance rates for all NWT students, removing the semester limit for remissible loans and expanding remissible loans to all NWT residents regardless of any years of schooling completed in the territory. This change will improve accessibility and affordability of postsecondary education, allowing NWT residents to obtain the education to help them succeed and build the NWT workforce.

Mr. Speaker, this government is mindful that students may face unexpected challenges throughout an academic year, which could result in their withdrawal or failure from a course or program. The department recognizes that suspending students from receiving student financial assistance may add additional barriers in their ability to successfully complete their postsecondary education. So, we are proposing to remove financial assistance suspensions for failing or withdrawing courses. This will ensure that students continue to be able to access the SFA for the duration of a student's academic career, regardless of any setbacks they face.

Mr. Speaker, the department has been working diligently to ensure regulations and policies are amended along with developing a performance and measurement plan to evaluate the performance of the program. The regulations are currently posted for public review with feedback due to the department by May 31. I am pleased to advise that we are well on our way to having these proposed changes ready for students who are want to attend postsecondary studies this fall. I would encourage any students considering attending postsecondary schooling to complete an application prior to June 30th. A student does not need to be accepted into a program to apply for SFA.

Mr. Speaker, these changes will ensure that the Student Financial Assistance Program continues to be one of the best, if not the best, student financial aid programs in the country. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Environment and Climate Change.

Minister’s Statement 364-19(2): Water Monitoring

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Minister’s Statement 365-19(2): Made-in-the-North Solution for Electronic Logging Devices

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 1537-19(2): Evacuee Compensation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, we now have a picture of the devastation the fire caused to structures and homes on K'atlodeeche First Nation lands. This event follows in the footsteps of major flooding last year from which residents of K'atlodeeche and Hay River are still feeling the financial impact and are once again having to dip into what savings they may have to cover evacuation costs.

The current financial support of $750 per person offered up by this government, although welcomed, does not go far enough for those already dealing with the high cost of living. It excludes many and leaves many without. Residents are looking to the compensation package Alberta provided to evacuees, and our residents were expecting the same.

Mr. Speaker, throughout this event the questions on the minds of evacuees were:

Are family and homes safe?

When can we return home? And,

Beyond what has already been provided, what financial support is available?

The first two questions have been answered, and now the focus is on the financial support promised. Some residents have been notified to access personal insurance coverage to help offset costs. While income assistance clients were provided support, there are many outside that group who have limited support or no support at all.

Mr. Speaker, I have been receiving numerous calls from residents who are looking for the financial support payments promised. This government must inform those as to how and when financial payments will be made. It is a week since Hay River residents returned home and while K'atlodeeche residents are still waiting to return, both are saying although applications have been submitted, payments have not been received. Residents need financial support as soon as possible just to put food on the table, make rent or mortgage payments, and meet daytoday expenses.

Mr. Speaker, we also have the communities of Yellowknife, Enterprise, Fort Providence, Fort Resolution, Fort Smith, Fort Simpson, and others, who all welcomed evacuees with open arms and supplied services prior to any financial commitment from this government. Why did they do this? Because they knew it was the right thing to do.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased this government made a financial commitment to those communities who have supported evacuees. I will expect compensation for each of those communities to be equitable and timely. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, our failure to act quickly with adequate financial support will make people think twice about leaving their community next time an evacuation order is made which may result in loss of human life. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Hay River South. Members' statements. Member for Thebacha.

Member’s Statement 1538-19(2): Trailcross Centre

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak again about the need for more aftercare and detox services within the NWT. This is an issue that I've spoken about several times throughout the 19th Assembly because this is an issue that touches everyone in the NWT in some way.

Mr. Speaker, I cannot speak to the subject without also bringing into the conversation the old Trailcross Treatment Centre for youth that recently closed in Fort Smith last October. As I've said previously that building is wellsuited to be converted and repurposed to be used as some other wellnessbased facility. We all agree that there needs to be more aftercare and detox services made available in the NWT, right? So given the strong necessity for that, why not consider the availability of that building as an opportunity to fulfill some work on the aftercare front as well?

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is in the best interest of all the people of the NWT for that facility to continue to be used as some sort of healthbased or aftercare and detox facility. Overall, it's a great location and there's nothing physically wrong with that building that's preventing it from being used further.

I know that back in March the Minister of health said her department has done a preliminary assessment of Trailcross which, she said, had determined it did have some viable some life in it. I have yet to hear more details from the Minister about that.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I know that the Minister and I can agree on the fact that more needs to be done in providing additional supports to vulnerable residents in the NWT. And I know that there are many options that can be done with the old Trailcross Treatment Centre to ensure its continued use by the Government of the Northwest Territories within the community of Fort Smith. I know there's great potential to convert that building into a territorial aftercare facility. I still believe that is a good idea for all of us to consider because, once again, given the way that building was structured, it makes an ideal location to house both men and women clients separately under one roof. I will have questions for the Minister of health later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1539-19(2): Sport NWT

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I have spoken many times throughout this Assembly about the importance of sports and recreation in the lives of youth, especially in small communities. Today I want to continue speaking on that issue.

Mr. Speaker, according to a recent article from CKLB News, there were 101 athletes from the NWT who attended the Canada Winter Games in PEI between February and March. And of those athletes whose home communities are publicly available, 71 percent of them are from Yellowknife.

Now in a territory with 33 communities, does that situation seem fair to you, Mr. Speaker?

In addition, Mr. Speaker, there was a different article from Cabin Radio who interviewed the executive director of Sport North, which is the organization that oversees Team NWT at the games. And Cabin Radio asked about the number of Indigenous athletes on Team NWT. The answer to that question was that they do not track their athletes' ethnicities so therefore they did not know the number of Indigenous athletes.

In the territory that's half Indigenous, does that situation seem fair to you, Mr. Speaker?

Mr. Speaker, I'm pointing out these inequities because there is a clear disparity of opportunity here between athletes from small communities versus athletes from Yellowknife, particularly for Indigenous youth. As someone who's been involved in sports and recreation for quite some time, the state of sport is very poor right now.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to comment on the prospect of Yellowknife hosting the 2026 Arctic Winter Games.

First of all, I think that is a very good idea, and I had hope that the City of Yellowknife and the GNWT would accept and take on this major international sporting recent. Yellowknife has hosted the Arctic Winter Games four times now, with the last time being in 2008. So it's already proven that it's more than capable of hosting these games. The NWT last hosted the games in 2018, which Hay River and Fort Smith cohosted very successfully. I don't understand what the hesitation now is to host the games in 2026. This type of event is a huge opportunity for young athletes to participate in, and since it would be taking place within the NWT it would be easier for athletes from the small communities to participate as well. I could go on, Mr. Speaker, but I will leave it there. I will have questions for the MACA Minister at the appropriate time. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Tu NedheWiilideh.

Member’s Statement 1540-19(2): Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation Wildlife Enforcement Action

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise before you to express my grave concerns and utter disappointment with the lack of response to the unlawful raid conducted by the GNWT officers in Lutselk'e Dene First Nation Culture Camp at Timber Bay on September 13, 2022.

The failure to acknowledge this injustice is not only distressing but also raises serious concerns and questions about the actions and accountability of our government. The United Nations Declaration of Rights of Indigenous Peoples stands as a beacon of hope and justice for Indigenous communities across the globe. It affirms the inherent rights of Indigenous people to their lands and resources, culture, and selfdetermination.

The declaration emphasizes the importance of obtaining free and priorinformed consent before undertaking any activities that may affect Indigenous communities. Regrettably, the raid of the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation Culture Camp stands in stark contradiction to the principles enshrined in this international agreement. We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that this incident is not an isolated incident but rather a continuation of a pattern of disregard for the rights and wellbeing of Indigenous people in our territory. We have witnessed similar acts that were met with rightful criticism and condemnation from both within and outside of our jurisdiction. Yet, here we stand witnesses another violation of rights of our Indigenous brothers and sisters.

As Members of the Legislative Assembly, we have a solemn duty to uphold the principles of justice, fairness, and quality. It's incumbent upon us to ensure that this action of our government reflects these fundamental values. The unlawful raid of Lutselk'e Dene First Nation Culture Camp undermines the trust and relationship between the GNWT and Indigenous communities, making it even more challenging to forge new paths of reconciliation and meaningful partnership. We must recognize the strengths of our territory lies in our rich diversity of people and culture.

Our Indigenous communities have deep roots in their traditional lands and their knowledge and traditions are invaluable treasures that must be respected, protected, and celebrated. It is our responsibility to create an environment where Indigenous voices are heard, where their rights are safeguarded, and where their contributions are valued. I implore the Government of the Northwest Territories to take immediate action to rectify this grave injustice. We must hold these responsible for the unlawful raid accountable, ensure that reparation are made to the Lutselk'e Dene First Nation, and most important, to take concrete steps to prevent such violations from occurring in the future. We must work together in establishing a robust mechanism that prioritize free and priorinformed consent and empower Indigenous communities to shape their own future. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my Member's statement. Mahsi.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you colleagues. Let us not merely pay lip service to the principles of reconciliation and the right offence Indigenous people. Let us act with integrity, empathy, and humility, acknowledging the mistakes of the past and committing ourselves to the future built on mutual respect, understanding, and justice. Mr. Speaker, I would have the questions for the appropriate Minister of ENR, Environment and Climate Change. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Tu NedheWiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Great Slave.

Member’s Statement 1541-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Commitment to Implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In March, the government introduced legislation to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. The declaration sets minimum standards to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and to contribute to their survival, dignity, and wellbeing. The government says it wants to affirm the declaration as a universal human rights instrument that applies in the Northwest Territories.

Mr. Speaker, there truly isn't more important work for this government to do but I question this government's commitment to truly implementing the declaration. Recent government action makes the government's commitment seem more like symbolism. The gap between words and actions has been jarring. First, what my colleague from Tu NedheWiilideh just mentioned. Also In December, while EIA was finalizing the MOU to implement the declaration and inviting Indigenous governments to sign on, the Department of Justice intervened at the Supreme Court to dispute whether the Inuvialuit child and family services law should bind the government. And, in March, on the same day the Premier introduced Bill 85 to legislate the declaration, the Premier tabled a draft homelessness strategy that made zero mention of the declaration or the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

Mr. Speaker, how can this government say it will implement the declaration while at the same time pursuing policies and actions that ignore or outright reject the principles of the declaration? This type of behaviour erodes trust a trust that is already fragile and tenuous at best.

The Government has received only partial support in its approach to the declaration. Five of fifteen Indigenous governments and organizations have not signed the MOU, including:

The Akaitcho territory government;

Deh Cho First Nation;

The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation;

Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated; and,

Salt River First Nation.

And even if the legislation is passed, the work of implementation will have to wait. The legislation would allow the government two more years to develop a plan for implementation without requiring any concrete actions beforehand.

Mr. Speaker, true implementation cannot wait. It means respecting the rights, dignity, and selfdetermination of Indigenous peoples now. As a white settler, I acknowledge the privilege I hold in not being subjected to the historical and presentday injustices that deny Indigenous peoples their inherent rights. And I lend my support, as an ally, in advocating for true rightsimplementation in everything this government says and does. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members' statements. Member for Monfwi.

Member’s Statement 1542-19(2): Frank Channel Bridge

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the Dehk'e, or Frank Channel Bridge, is critical infrastructure linking Yellowknife and Behchoko. In October 2020, the replacement Dehk'e Bridge was included in the 20212022 capital estimates with a bridge to be completed no later than March 31st, 2024. In October 2021, the replacement Dehk'e Bridge was included in the 2022 and 2023 to be completed no later than March 31st, 2026. In October 2022, the replacement Dehk'e Bridge was included in the 2023 and 2024 to be completed no later than March 31st, 2027.

In other words, this critical infrastructure project has been delayed in every capital budget projection. Can we place any confidence in the government's projections? By the government's own admission, the project has been delayed by three years. Hopefully, there will be no critical failure of the bridge resulting from this delayed rebuild.

The Government of the Northwest Territories started making plans to replace the bridge in 2018. If the current trend of delays continues, the bridge will have taken ten years from the start of its planning to its completion. Mr. Speaker, this is way too long.

In February of this year, I emphasized that this project needs to be kept on track. It is clear I need to keep the pressure on. I recognize that when a project is significantly delayed, inflation and market increases impact the cost. The Dehk'e Bridge projection is no exception.

In March of this year, the federal government pledged another $15 million and the GNWT another $5 million to the project. The federal government, again, comes to the rescue of the GNWT. Does the department accept this failure to manage this critical infrastructure project?

Luckily, the feds are throwing in more money to salvage the situation. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Mr. Speaker, it is time to fasttrack the project to prevent additional budget increases and further delays to the completion of Dehk'e Bridge. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Infrastructure. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1543-19(2): United States Embassy Meeting regarding Northwest Territories Nunavut Highway

Merci, Monsieur le President. It seems to happen more often lately by this Cabinet that Regular MLAs learn about events and meetings through the media rather than directly from our colleagues across the floor. Scooped by Cabin Radio again, the Minister of Infrastructure seems to have been summoned by the United States Embassy for a meeting that was to have taken place on May the 4th, 2023. As Regular MLAs, we received nothing, either before or after this meeting. The Cabin Radio story was rather sketchy about the purpose of this meeting. It appears that there was some sort of discussion or presentations on the failed Grays Bay Road and Port Project and possibly the Tibbitt to Contwoyto AllWeather Road on this side of the boundary. Of course, this is a road where GNWT continues to bulldoze ahead with regulatory applications while ignoring the plans for a regional study as requested by the Tlicho government and approved by the federal minister of northern affairs. I will ask the Minister of Infrastructure why she went to Ottawa, who was there, whether she can give us some kind of report, and why the United States hosted such an event. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Member’s Statement 1544-19(2): Land Claims

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Committee has recently been travelling on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People legislation, and we've been getting a lot of feedback, a lot of feedback that I think many people in this territory have heard for years. But I have a growing concern that this government is kind of blurring the lines of truth and adopting symbolic statements that perhaps they don't fully need.

In that legislation, for example, it says the GNWT rejects all form of colonialism. Certainly a lofty goal but we heard that the GNWT is a colonial government; it is not a valid government. We heard that not one single inch of Dene land should ever go to the GNWT. I don't think the GNWT believes those positions and certainly some people would give us feedback that that is colonialism. In fact, our own Aboriginal negotiation policy makes it quite clear that the GNWT's goal is to get a share of the land. We typically ask for about half of the subsurface and half of the surface land in this territory when negotiating agreements. We typically ask that the MVRMA apply and that ministerial responsibility apply. There are quite a few things that many people would say are modern colonialism that the GNWT is not willing to budge on, and an honest debate has to occur about those matters.

Similarly, in the UN Declaration, the GNWT says that Aboriginal rights are not frozen in time and they are capable of evolution and growth, but this government has long taken a position not to reopen existing land claims, that land claims have cede and surrender language in them, language that once that agreement is done it is done, those rights are not growing any further. Perhaps the government's position is shifting on this but if we're going to go out and properly implement UNDRIP, we need to be able to give answers to citizens when they ask these questions what are we doing, where is our position? We don't have those answers.

Yesterday in the House, I heard the Premier speak to a number of agreements. In our mandate, they committed to completing two agreements. Unfortunately, I heard the word “draft” in front of all those agreements. They're trying to stretch the definition of “complete.” None of those are public documents, none of them have been signed. We don't know what's in them. We don't know if we're actually making progress on this. I'll note we have a number of agreementsinprinciple that are over 20 years old. I don't want to belittle the step of getting there, but it doesn't mean final. It doesn't mean done. And I'm concerned that we are simply not living up to this mandate commitment, and we're not being honest with our citizens about what we are willing to negotiate and what we are not leading to more broken promises, Mr. Speaker. I'll have questions for the Premier. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Member’s Statement 1545-19(2): Childcare

Mr. Speaker, to anyone helping to raise a child in this today's society, let's collectively take a deep breath. It's hard. From SnapChat to substance use, learning boundaries to learning algebra, and navigating the costs today while preparing them for tomorrow, and somehow in the middle of all that, trying to take moments of magic in their every day. It is hard.

My heart goes out to today's parents who have the added challenge of finding childcare and, in some cases, choosing between their career goals and their family goals. Accessible and affordable childcare is paying an oversized role in determining whether parents can return to their preCOVID employment and wage paths.

Under the guise of universal childcare, Canada is evolving the childcare industry into a sector similar to our education system, and there is much to be gained from that. But this transition is reliant on the buy in and support of the people who have built and sustained our existing childcare sector. For NWT day cares, the sustainability concerns center on covering unexpected operating costs while working with a capped revenue increase. You cannot have sustainability without certainty, Mr. Speaker.

In addition, low wages is one of the biggest barriers to recruiting and retaining workers, and the GNWT is working to establish a wage grid but advocates say childcare wages have to hit $30 an hour, average, across Canada to meet demand for the service. For the day homes, independent business owners are slowly losing their business autonomy without gaining the working conditions and benefits like pensions, paid time off, and a living wage afforded to their counterparts in education. This is driving qualified childcare workers out of day cares and day homes and into the classrooms as teaching assistants. But sustainability is one side of this council. Accessibility is the other.

Mr. Speaker, we need infrastructure and the land to put it on. We have seen other industries use innovative shared equity mortgage programs with success. This is a potential option to provide a much-needed boost to the childcare sector that stands to reduce the cost or barriers of providers looking to rent or purchase the physical space required to provide early learning and childcare. Mr. Speaker, advocates say the shortage of both childcare spaces and workers is creating a bottleneck that will take time to unclog, but parents can't afford that time. We need active solutions to tackle this challenge that prioritizes both the sustainability and accessibility of the NWT childcare sector. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1546-19(2): Youth Parliament

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I would like to rise in the House to talk about the Youth Parliament that was held April 17th to 20th here in Yellowknife. I appreciate the Legislative Assembly staff and the Speaker for putting on this amazing event.

As you are aware, the Youth Parliament provides our youth a unique opportunity to travel to Yellowknife to take on the role of an elected Member and participate in the daily workings of consensus government at the Legislative Assembly. What is impressive about this opportunity is for students in grades 9 and 10 from across the Northwest Territories.

The young lady that representing the Nahendeh constituency was Dejah Horassi from Fort Simpson. I have had the opportunity to know this young lady since she was a baby. Her dad and I have played hockey together for several years (wink wink) as defense partners. Because of each other's busy schedule, we had to move our meeting time to Tuesday at 12 noon. As she walked into the office, I asked her to take my chair behind the desk to get the full experience. To start the meeting off, she was a bit shy but as we talked, she had some amazing questions, such as:

What was your most challenging thing to do as an MLA?

Do I have challenges being a Minister and MLA at the same time?

How do you do public speaking, and do you get nervous?

We discussed the morning meeting and what motions would be coming into the House on Thursday.

Some of the tips on writing her Member's statement and how to present it in the House.

On Thursday, upon my return trip with Minister Savage, I had the opportunity to watch her do her Member's statement. She was a natural and did an amazing job.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to have Dejah's Member statement be deemed as read.

The other thing I witnessed and enjoyed watching was the youth passing notes between one another. They kept their Members, who were pages, very busy for the whole session.

Mr. Speaker, in closing I would like again to thank you and the Legislative Assembly staff for providing this opportunity for our youth. Mashi cho.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I rise today to make a Member statement on the Fort Simpson schooling system. In my community, both of the schools have the same issues, but I will be focusing on the Liidlii Kue Regional High School and not the Liidlii Kue Elementary School.

Three years ago now, before we all went into quarantine, I was a fulltime student at the high school. During my time there I was met with an unorganized agenda, disrespect between students and teachers, and being given the wrong work for my grade. I had to leave for a better education. And while I've been away from the school, I'm afraid that it hasn't gotten any better and in fact has only gotten worse. Students are reportedly walking in the halls in an attempt to not go to class, not listening to teachers when told to go to class and messing around going on to disturb their classmates.

There is also clear activity of students needing to upgrade after graduation to get into postsecondary education.

Constant disorganization for example: Is not having control over the classroom, giving students work meant for a grade under them, and teachers not showing up on time to their classroom. These characteristics feed into a cycle of disrespect. I believe that not taking control of your classroom has something to do with how you want your selfimage to look. I saw many teachers not correcting a student’s behaviour and, in my eyes, it was because they wanted to seem cool.

Mr. Speaker, not giving students the correct work for their grade simply to "get them used to the content" further states that you are not confident in your own course work. And not showing up on time to class as a teacher disrespects students’ time and shows that they are not as valued as you want them to think they are. I should mention that the classroom doors are locked in the morning and after lunch. Leaving students to have to wait for the teacher in the halls. Bad behaviour stems from these issues. As students think that is the school won't support them in the way they need, then what's the point of even participating in it. Disrespect from students comes from a cycle of toleration. I asked a current student "How would you describe the school system here?" And all they said was "unfulfilling."

When I was attending the high school, one of my teachers (they don't work there anymore) suggested that I work through online school instead. They said that I would go further in my academic achievements if I did. And so I listened to them and now I attend school through long distance, and it was the best solution for me. But not everyone has the same option I took.

As an Indigenous community I feel that the youth deserve a better education system. I believe that fixing these problems can lead to a better future with our schooling. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to recognize Iris Catholique, member from my constituency of Lutselk'e. She is the manager of the Thaidene Nene office in Lutselk'e. She is here for visits, so I want to welcome her in Yellowknife. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Tu NedheWiilideh. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Madam Premier.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to recognize the page for Range Lake this week, Kaylee Alacida; excuse me if I pronounce the last name wrong. And welcome to all pages. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Range Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Inuvik Boot Lake.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to recognize my nephew Brody AlexieBenoit who is the page here in the Assembly with us. Also, my brother Desmond was just sitting up in the gallery. It's always nice to have family here to support you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Boot Lake. Recognition of visitors in the gallery. Member for Nahendeh.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to recognize two pages from the Nahendeh, Addyson Erasmus, daughter of Alison Skinner and James Erasmus; and Sahtle Tsetso, son of Dottie and Joseph Tsetso. As well as I witnessed the chaperone Teena Lafferty and her daughter Mikayla here. So, again, I'd like to thank them. As well as our interpreter Mary Jane Cazon, and I appreciate all the work she's done. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.