Debates of September 28, 2023 (day 163)

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 378-19(2): 2023 Energy Strategy Implementation

Mr. Speaker, delivering the energy Northerners need, in our climate and territory as large as the Northwest Territories, is challenging. We must constantly maintain and improve the territory's energy systems, so our people and businesses have the energy they need when they need it.

Throughout this Legislative Assembly, the GNWT has made significant progress on a number of energy initiatives and on our mandate commitment to increase the use of alternative and renewable energy that is guided by the 2030 Energy Strategy. We are making great strides in developing secure, affordable, sustainable energy for transportation, heat, and electricity across the territory.

Since 2018, this government has invested approximately $165 million across the NWT to improve our energy systems, stabilize our energy costs, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We continue to advance the planning of transformational energy projects, such as the Fort ProvidenceKakisa and Whati transmission lines and which will help decrease reliance on diesel generation in those communities. Work also continues on the Taltson hydro expansion project, which will provide the clean energy we need to fuel our natural resources industry and connect our two hydro systems in the South Slave and the North Slave regions.

Mr. Speaker, we celebrated a big milestone this summer when I attended the Inuvik Wind Project ribbon cutting on July 31st. A key initiative of the 2030 Energy Strategy, Canada's northernmost wind turbine will offset diesel consumption in the town by an estimated three million litres per year and will reduce the territorial greenhouse gas emissions by 6,000 metric tonnes. This project is critical to helping us meet our objectives of reducing emissions from electricity generation in diesel communities by 25 percent, and it will continue to provide positive benefits to the Beaufort Delta Region over the coming decades.

Last year, the Department of Infrastructure also released an energy action plan which outlines plans to invest approximately $194 million to advance the objectives of the energy strategy for the 20222025 period. Through 68 proposed actions and initiatives, this new plan provides a roadmap to push forward key projects and provide financial support over the next three years.

Mr. Speaker, another important aspect of the 2030 Energy Strategy is finding ways to reduce our GHG energy use and operating costs. The GNWT is leading by example in this area through its Capital Asset Retrofit Program. Since the program began in 2007, we have completed 102 energy retrofit projects for GNWT facilities in 23 communities across all regions. In 20212022 alone, these projects reduced the GNWT's energy costs by $4.1 million.

The Arctic Energy Alliance’s programs and services are central to meeting the 2030 Energy Strategy's goals and objectives. During the last fiscal year alone, 2,656 rebates and incentives provided through the AEA resulted in the reduction of 1.1 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and 1400 megawatt hours of electricity use in the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, the world is changing, and our energy and climate change strategies must as well. When the 2030 Energy Strategy was released in 2018, the GNWT committed to reviewing in 20232024, along with completing a similar fiveyear review of the Climate Change Strategic Framework. A review of both strategies over the next two years will determine what changes should be made based on lessons learned, access to new information and opportunities, as well as the feedback we received.

On October 12th, we will complete an over threemonth long engagement period on the review of the 2030 Energy Strategy and Climate Change Strategic Framework. As part of this review, the GNWT hosted a threeday inperson event in Yellowknife involving 150 representatives from Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, energy and climate change partners, and stakeholders. We have also engaged with energy utilities and industry, the Northwest Territories Climate Change Council, Indigenous governments and organizations through inperson meetings and targeted communication.

Mr. Speaker, our future energy and climate plans need to be ambitious and effective, but they must also be reasonable so that we can ensure we achieve the strategy's vision of secure, affordable, sustainable energy systems in the NWT. I am glad to report that we have successfully struck that balance over the life of this Legislative Assembly. Quyananni, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Minister’s Statement 379-19(2): Building Capacity in Small Communities

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Minister’s Statement 380-19(2): Northwest Territories Fiscal Update

Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to update the Legislative Assembly on the Government of the Northwest Territories' fiscal situation since the tabling of the 20232024 Budget. It goes without saying this has been an extraordinarily difficult financial year not only for the government but for many Northwest Territories' residents and businesses. Despite the challenges, our actions to address fiscal pressures, combined with federal disaster assistance, means that our fiscal outlook remains stable over the medium term.

We will end 20222023 with an operating surplus, despite last year's expenditure shocks of floods and high inflation. Unfortunately, this year's expenditure shocks are even more significant.

The wildfire season will cost approximately $100 million for fire suppression. Low water levels have forced significant additional costs for transporting goods to many communities and caused increased pressure on electrical systems, which are pushed backed to diesel, another a high cost item. High inflation continues affecting Northwest Territories supply chains, which in turn impacts our capital budget.

As of now, these natural disasters have reduced our projected operating surplus in 20232024 from $178 million to approximately $5 million. By the time we know the final actual costs of a prolonged firefighting season, there is a risk that the Government of the Northwest Territories could realize an operating deficit this fiscal year. Operating surpluses are used to fund the capital budget. Without a larger operating surplus, we will likely need to incur more debt in order to invest in the muchneeded infrastructure outlined in this year's capital budget.

Part of what is helping to keep our mediumterm outlook stable is that federal disaster assistance programs should help us recover the majority of emergency expenses related to the wildfires and last spring's flooding. As a result of the anticipated federal recoveries and our actions to defer some expenditures, we are confident that the Government of the Northwest Territories will remain in compliance with the Fiscal Responsibility Policy this fiscal year. While shortterm borrowing is expected to increase this year, the Government of the Northwest Territories is projected to be $192 million below the federally imposed $1.8 billion limit at March 31st, 2024.

Although the unplanned response to this summer’s wildfire season has challenged the 20232024 Budget, actions we have taken during the 19th Legislative Assembly should return operating surpluses to more robust and sustainable levels by 20252026 and provide the fiscal flexibility to take steps to reduce our shortterm borrowing and total debt.

This stable mediumterm forecast is mainly due to rightsizing the capital budget this year, which now better reflects the Northwest Territories' capacity to complete infrastructure projects, which improves the cash balance and debt outlook. We also strengthened the Fiscal Responsibility Policy so that the government's total borrowing is more closely linked to the federallyimposed $1.8 billion borrowing limit and establishes our own internal monitoring threshold $120 million below the federal limit.

The mineral resource industry, which accounts for almost onefifth of the Northwest Territories' economy, is in a position to benefit from strategies happening at the national level, like the focus on Canada's critical minerals action plan. This in turn would boost prospects for other Northwest Territories businesses and employment. That said, our economy is also precarious with diamond mines having set closure dates and other industries experiencing their own financial shocks as a result of the wildfires, evacuations, low water levels, seasonal resupply challenges, and a lack of labour supply. A strong public sector across all levels of government mitigates some of this risk on a territorywide level by providing employment across the territory and contributing income to the territorial economy. Adopting proactive approaches to issues such as climate change, supply chain disruptions and cyber security, to name a few, will allow us to confront and wisely manage strategic risks.

As we move into 2024, the 20th Legislative Assembly will benefit from the fiscal decisions made in the 19th Legislative Assembly. That said, Mr. Speaker, we are not ending the 19th Legislative Assembly in a fiscal position that allows the 20th Legislative Assembly to relax on fiscal discipline.

Going forward, it will be important to consider that if revenue growth is forecasted to be limited to 3.8 percent growth per year, expenditure growth will need to be capped at an amount lower than this if we are to remain fiscally sustainable over the long term. As well, the current mediumterm outlook assumes capital investment continues to be restricted to $260 million annually. Further, our projections are also subject to changes in interest rates as shortterm debt will need to be used until the Government of the Northwest Territories starts recovering its cash resources from the federal government under federal disaster assistance programs.

Clearly, prudent management of the government's fiscal health must continue to be a priority. By this path, the Government of the Northwest Territories can start to reduce its shortterm borrowing and free up more space between its ability to borrow and the federallyimposed borrowing limit. This approach will allow us to continue to address our significant capital requirements without compromising much needed programs and services. That, in turn, can help stimulate the economic potential we have throughout the Northwest Territories and make it more accessible to the private sector.

I believe we have overcome many critical challenges during the 19th Legislative Assembly, establishing a good foundation for the 20th Assembly to confidently address future challenges and help build opportunities on behalf of Northwest Territories residents. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Minister’s Statement 381-19(2): Historic 2023 Wildfire Season

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I would like to recognize this year's historic wildfire season, the challenges faced by so many NWT residents and others across Canada, and the heroic efforts of firefighters and emergency management personnel to protect our communities.

Before the 2023 wildfire season began, weather forecasts predicted an early start to the season and a high risk for many areas in the NWT. We saw record temperatures, little rain, and severe drought throughout the summer and fall. All of this resulted in extreme fire conditions for most of the season.

Based on the forecasts, the Department of Environment and Climate Change brought on fire crews, air tankers, and helicopters earlier in the season than normal, and added additional resources. Unfortunately, all of our wildfire personnel and aircraft were put to work right away.

We saw our first wildfire of the season on May 4th, almost a month earlier than normal, which was followed by a record number of fires, area burned, and community evacuations because of fire.

The first major fire followed on May 14th, threatening K'atlodeeche First Nation and Hay River. By the end of June, four NWT communities had been evacuated given the threat of wildfires, including K'atlodeeche First Nation, Hay River, Sambaa K'e, and Wekweeti.

In July, residents of Behchoko, and people living along parts of Highway No. 3, also had to leave their homes, and by midAugust the residents of Kakisa, Enterprise, Fort Smith, Yellowknife, N'dilo, Dettah, the Ingraham Trail, and Jean Marie River had been evacuated. Additionally, Hay River and the K'atlodeeche First Nation had to evacuate for a second time this summer.

As of this week, 299 fires have burned over four million hectares across the NWT this season. These fires resulted in 12 community evacuations, displacing more than twothirds of the NWT residents from their homes.

Mr. Speaker, we have heard from some people that wildfires are not managed like they used to be 40 or 50 years ago and that with more initial attack, we would have avoided the worst of this. I want to be clear: We monitored for new fires throughout the season and responded to every wildfire that was threatening an NWT community.

These fires grew not because of a lack of action or resources but due to the perfect storm set in motion by nature. With record temperatures and severe droughts in the Deh Cho, South Slave, North Slave, and Sahtu regions, we had fires that burned deeper, hotter, and faster.

With the buildup of forest fuel twice which is considered extreme, the forests were primed for explosive fire growth. This, combined with relentless wind events, intense smoke, and proximity to communities, made conditions very difficult for our crews. On the most difficult days, there was no amount of firefighters or aircraft we could have put in front of these fires to stop them.

Mr. Speaker, behind this year's response are people, people who are our friends and neighbours, making critical decisions and are working hard to keep the places we care about safe.

Over the course of the season, more than a thousand wildfire experts and crew members were brought in from across the NWT, Canada, and around the world. Hundreds more structural firefighters helped to protect our communities. Hundreds of armed forces members, workers from communities and private companies joined the effort, and dozens of additional aircraft and heavy equipment also assisted.

Crews did an incredible job FireSmarting and building fire breaks that will now serve as longterm protection for many of our communities. Thousands of homes, cabins, camps, and businesses were saved thanks to the help of so many. Everyone who rose to this occasion deserves the deepest gratitude of this House. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, House and colleagues.

Mr. Speaker, as the fire response slows down, we will turn our attention to learning everything we can from this year's wildfire season. Over the fall and winter, we will conduct an afteraction review of this year's fires that impacted communities and apply these lessons to our operations as we do every year. Some lessons we can immediately take away including:

Continuing to invest in wildfire and climate resilience to get ahead of challenging seasons;

Ensuring we all play a role in FireSmarting; and,

Strengthening coordination between local firefighting forces and wildfire management teams.

Mr. Speaker, I want to close by acknowledging the immense human toll of this season. This has been the most damaging wildfire season the NWT has ever experienced. The community of Enterprise has been devastated. More than twothirds of all NWT residents were separated from their homes for weeks. Some people lost their homes, cabins, and others had their businesses or livelihoods impacted by wildfires.

We also lost a firefighter when Fort Liard’s Adam Yeadon tragically passed away while protecting his community earlier this summer. My thoughts remain with his family, his friends, and his colleagues.

To everyone who was impacted by this year's wildfire season, our government gives not only our heartfelt thoughts but our commitment to help you as we work to rebuild. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 1592-19(2): Union of Northern Workers Bargaining

Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak about the ongoing negotiation regarding the new collective agreement for the Union of Northern Workers, UNW.

Mr. Speaker, all throughout my life I have always been someone that is workerfriendly. I have always cared deeply for my community, and for the wellbeing of all my constituents and for all the people of the NWT. Plus, the Government of the Northwest Territories, the major employer of many NWT residents, so it is extremely important that the new collective agreement is fair and beneficial for all employees. That is why I am concerned about the status of talks between the UNW and the Government of the Northwest Territories which seem to have halted and broken down for some reason.

Mr. Speaker, I understand the Government of the Northwest Territories expressed to have a tentative agreement in place before the upcoming territorial election. However, at this juncture, it appears that this desired timeline will not be achieved. I also understand that as of mid July, a mediator has been called in to help facilitate both parties into a mutually agreedupon collective agreement. I am also told, Mr. Speaker, that a thirdparty lawyer from Vancouver has been hired to help with this process as well, which is an aspect of this process that I have a problem with.

I do not understand why the Government of the Northwest Territories always seeks help from outside the territory, outsourcing work and paying people to come to the NWT to try solving these types of matters. That's not always the right decision to do. The people of the NWT are very much capable of making their own decisions, especially in decisions that affect people's livelihoods and everyday lives. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, the cost of living in the NWT is always rising, particularly over the last year and a half. According to the bureau of statistics, within the last year alone the price of food in Yellowknife has gone up 10.7 percent; the price of clothing has gone up 7.6 percent; electricity has risen by 3.4 percent; and, fuel oil has risen by 7.3 percent. Also, the key interest rate from the Bank of Canada is at its highest rate in over 20 years. All of these factors are making it increasingly harder for people to put food on the table and get by.

Lastly, Mr. Speaker, I know that many Government of the Northwest Territories' employees are wondering when a new collective agreement will be finalized and signed by the Government of the Northwest Territories and the UNW. I certainly hope that the negotiations will not be drawn out too long, and I also have hope that these negotiations do not break down entirely and result in strike action as we have seen recently with many industries across the country and around the world. I have questions for the Minister of finance at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1593-19(2): Federal Disaster Assistance Funding

Mr. Speaker, the communities of Hay River, Enterprise, and K'atlodeeche have been through not one, not two, but three evacuations in 15 months. This fact is not lost on me, nor should it be on this government.

Mr. Speaker, we have not recovered from the 2022 flood or, for that matter, from the 2023 spring fire, and now we add to that the most recent fire and the extensive damage it caused in Enterprise and Hay River. Considering the rate of which government moves, in addition to the lack of labour, trades, and contractors, I see flood and fire recovery going beyond the life of the next Assembly unless we do things differently. We need to add a level of support with sufficient financial resources to action each file in an efficient and timely manner. We need a clear, concise, and transparent process for those impacted.

Mr. Speaker, there are residents who have been living in motels for over a year and who have been asking for our help to either provide them with a replacement home or more suitable longterm accommodation. These are people who have lost everything; they are people who may not know how to navigate a system we have created; they are people who may not have the financial resources to find a temporary rental home; they are people who want their life back. Let us provide that help.

Mr. Speaker, we have residents in Paradise Valley who, rightly so, are concerned that property values have substantially declined to the point that their properties are unsaleable. Many are at a loss on what to do. Do they walk away from their properties and mortgages; do they push for property acquisition or buyback which some residents consider as the only viable option, an option that is allowed and set out in Section 3.4.1 of the federal "Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangement Program, which states that, "any solution that reduces or prevents recurrence of damages up to an equivalent of the cost of repairing and replacing actual damaged facilities, plus mitigation enhancement values as appropriate, will be considered for eligibility…" a program this government refuses to use.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1594-19(2): Gender Equality in Politics

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the 19th Assembly made history when a record number of women were elected in 2019. With the subsequent election of my colleague, the Member for Monfwi, our small Legislative Assembly broke through the glass ceiling to become a legislature with a majority of women. This is one of our achievements that I am the most proud of. As a result, this Assembly has addressed critical issues impacting women, youth, 2SLGBFQIPA+ people, and families. Issues such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, intimate partner violence, universal child care, suicide, fertility, mental health, and family wellbeing among many others. And Mr. Speaker, I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank you, and the rest of our colleagues, for not only allowing us the space to do so but for also taking up the mantle for issues that have typically been considered only for women. While the Northwest Territories made huge strides electing record numbers of women, the work to support gender equity and gender equality cannot stop here.

Mr. Speaker, people who identify as women, or are from the 2SLGBTQIPA+ community, face serious barriers to running, including financial barriers as men are typically better poised to self-fund their campaigns or to solicit funds from others. Colonial political environments have traditionally been patriarchal and unfriendly to those who do not identify as male. Women and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people are discouraged from putting their names forward as candidates because of the threats of violence and verbal attacks that often use social media to target, bully, and demean. Many women and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people also face negative perceptions of competency and qualification despite our intelligence, experience, and education.

The Legislative Assembly and our territory need to take bold steps to overcome these challenges for women and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people to have full and effective participation in politics and our democracy. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and my colleagues. So the Legislative Assembly and our territory need to take bold steps to overcome these challenges for women and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people to have full and effective participation in politics and our democracy. They must be sitting at the table and in this very room to share their perspectives, values, and goals to ensure that decisions made will support gender equity efforts and achieve gender equality.

With the end of this Assembly and the election around the corner, it's an important time to remember the political and social barriers that prevent women and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people from entering politics. I hope that the momentum for a more diverse group of MLAs will continue beyond this Assembly as we will continue to see complex economic, social and environmental issues impacting our communities over the next four years, however, through a diverse leadership group and new perspectives we can inform how we address those issues in a more holistic way. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1595-19(2): Wildfires

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the NWT has faced a truly historic wildfire season. This has put all of our communities at risk, tested all of our communities, and displaced 70 percent of the entire population. This has also shown how vulnerable we are. I want to first talk about my communities, but I recognize that this has impacted all residents of the NWT in some way. We will need to further discuss what has happened here and make sure this does not happen again.

Mr. Speaker, Fire No. ZF015 which began in Awry Lake area spread to Behchoko, and towards Yellowknife. This fire destroyed millions of hectares of land and made countless animals suffer a painful death. These lands are very important to the Indigenous people of the region. That is where people practice their culture, language, and way of life. Many people have used those lands as a source of income for trapping and hunting. Many residents also use these areas for spring hunting like trapping for beaver, muskrat, fishing and duck hunting. The impact of this destruction will help to destroy our culture and language.

Mr. Speaker, on July 24th, 2023, the community of Behchoko was issued an evacuation order due to wildfire. This was the first time in the history of Behchoko, residents were forced to leave their homes. This tragic event resulted in four houses and 15 traditional cabins destroyed.

On June 28th, 2023, Fire No. ZF015 was ignited due to lightening. This fire was reported twice but deemed not a threat and it was left alone to burn itself out. Like all fires, this one began small but grew much larger over time. But soon enough, this fire grew so large and got out of control, it threatened to wipe out much of Behchoko's key infrastructure. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So, it threatened to wipe out of much of Behchoko key infrastructure like the fibre optic, Frank Channel Bridge, and the highway itself. Then it began to threaten the city of Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, in my view, though, the action taken to deal with this forest fire done was too late. The policy of letting fire take care of themselves in the hottest driest year on record makes no sense.

In talking with the Minister of ECC, he made reference to his experts and their management of the fire. Well, Mr. Speaker, fire management is not the word that I would use to describe this year's fire situation in NWT. It is clear to me that anyone with a little common sense would reach the conclusion that these fires should have been fought much earlier before they had a chance to get out of control.

Mr. Speaker, I will continue with this tomorrow, thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1596-19(2): Regulatory Capture

Merci, Monsieur le President. Yesterday I tabled a report and legallybinding order from our Information and Privacy Commissioner on the summaries of the secret meetings held between GNWT and the Chamber of Mines. It proves regulatory capture is alive and well in the Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment. If you don't believe me, read the Commissioner's reports. These were secret meetings with summaries that the department then tried to heavily redact to keep much of the content secret.

There's nothing wrong with GNWT officials meeting with the mining industry. In fact, I have encouraged this practice. However, when information is kept secret and shared only with selected groups, that is simply wrong.

Here's what the Information and Privacy Commissioner said: "The department seems to say that it is appropriate to share policies with select members of the public before the policies are known to the general public. The rationale offered so industry can "prepare" does not appear to appreciate the dangers inherent in giving private individuals or organizations privileged early notice of government policy before it is made public. It is concerning to see that the department redacted not just the information about a policy decision but also redacted the admonition to the working group members not to discuss it until it was announced publicly. This is the sort of behaviour that could lead to the perception of regulatory capture."

This is a recurring pattern with this department. Discussions about COVID recovery quickly evolved into a highlevel lobbying campaign to fundamentally change the way the mining industry is regulated. More than 25 secret meetings were also held on the new mining regulations with the mining industry. The Minister refused to make ITI presentations at those secret meetings public. As part of the socalled targeted engagement on the mining regulations, 21 surveys on mining administration and policy were only open to those with prospecting licenses. The public should not have to buy a prospecting license to participate in the development of the mining regulations, Mr. Speaker.

Regulatory capture is rampant in this department. The interests of the mining industry have replaced the public interest. The culture of secrecy within the department must stop and that clearly requires direction from the Minister. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes.

Member’s Statement 1597-19(2): Inuvik Wind Project

Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Premier made supportive comments on the Inuvik high point wind turbine and some of the benefits that it's bringing. Today, Minister Archie praised this project as she has done many times in this House. I am in full agreement with this project. There are many benefits of this project from jobs to clean energy. Not only will this help our energy needs, but it will help our greenhouse gas emissions as we have seen climate change devastation continue to get worse every year in this our territory. But, Mr. Speaker, I am concerned to hear that some of businesses in my region have yet to be paid for actually installing this road to the high point wind turbine. From the reports that I have received, there are payments that are just almost $1 million outstanding, by some of our local and regional contractors. I'm sure that these contractors would feel the same as the Premier and the Minister do on this project if they were paid for their work. So, Mr. Speaker, today I will have questions for the Minister responsible for this project as to when our local and regional contractors can expect to be paid for the work that was completed. While we can stand in this House and praise the benefits as government are starting to experience from this project, I think it's also very important that the businesses actually who built that road get paid for their work. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Inuvik Twin Lakes. Members' statements. Member for Deh Cho.

Member’s Statement 1598-19(2): Community Fire Breaks

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, every year we are at the mercy of the Mother Nature as we face one disaster after another. One moment we have floods and then the next we have wildfires. What we know and have experienced is that these disasters are as unpredictable as to when they will strike.

Mr. Speaker, we may not prevent or predict all natural disasters, but perhaps we can be proactive to prevent most. I believe the department of ECC promotes fire breaks around communities and FireSmarting within communities.

It is shown that fire breaks around the perimeter of the community can prevent wildfires from reaching and destroying valuable infrastructure such as homes and businesses. I believe the south end of Enterprise had been widened an extra 50 to 100 feet which saved that end of the community, so it goes to show that fire breaks can quite possibly save a community. The challenge here is funding specifically aimed at creating wide enough fire breaks around the perimeter of communities. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the ECC minister in this regard. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Member’s Statement 1599-19(2): Government of the Northwest Territories Crisis Communication

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, every evacuation story is different. Residents had access to different levels of public or personal support, and sometimes it came down to where they stood in a line. The government supplied air charters for residents to leave and return to the territory and, because of this, will not reimburse evacuation airfare costs. But the finer details of accessing those flights matter.

Yellowknife's evacuation day buzzed with evacuation rumors that Regular MLAs were never able to verify. By 9 a.m., multiple NGOs were told to move their clients because of the impending evacuation order. By 9:30, residents were told by connected East Coast friends, quote, "you're being evacuated at seven, hit the road now", end quote. By 10, people in with the right meetings knew and told friends. By noon, multiple families hit the road, and some got on flights. By 2, banks and city facilities had closed. This is all before the 7:30 p.m. press conference announcing the evacuation order. My point, Mr. Speaker, is that multiple people knew before 7:30 and got out before discussions about government support.

During the press conference, the Premier asked residents who could get on a commercial flight and leave town to do so. And they did.

On Thursday, August 17th, a kilometrelong line for evacuation flights formed at Sir John Franklin High School. Three evacuation flights left that day. Many people waited in that same line through the night to save their spot. Some were elders, many were children, some with health conditions, and some pregnant. People who could opted instead for the certainty of commercial flights.

Mr. Speaker, people didn't pay for flights because they could afford it. On the heels of watching Hay River drive through literal flames to get to safety and while expecting the fires to reach Yellowknife by weekend, they paid for flights out of fear they couldn't afford not to.

Mr. Speaker, this government also provided reentry flights. Some residents are still waiting to hear what flight they're on. They watched as multiple flights left half empty while they were desperate to get on, but they couldn't afford to wait. They had businesses to open, employers needed them, and they had a role to fill in our community. Some needed safety of home, or simply couldn't afford to be away any longer. There's so many stories and nuances as to why evacuation flights didn't work for everyone. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to my colleagues. Mr. Speaker, I have the honour of serving many newcomer Canadians whose immigration status relies on their employment. Without employment, they risk deportation. Some support essential services and many received undue pressure from employers to get home now. Like many, they needed those empty seats. Another was a teen moved from a safe hotel to an unsafe one. She was alone in Edmonton while her older siblings returned to postsecondary. Getting on that flight was a massive safety concern for her. Mr. Speaker, we eventually showed up and waited until they put her on a flight.

The government's insistence on hand holding all residents, rather than supporting those who actually needed it, meant that they did not have the capacity to serve Northerners equitably. Many things went right in this evacuation, but others did not work. This is an opportunity for this government to acknowledge that by reimbursing airfare costs of residents who worked to support the government's evacuation orders and then tried but could not be served by the GNWT's reentry flights. Mr. Speaker, it is clear not every evacuation support system was built the same. Unfortunately, for some it came down to where they stood in a line. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Members' statements. Member for Tu NedheWiilideh.

Member’s Statement 1600-19(2): Impact of Taltson Expansion on Rocher River

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the ongoing discovery of unmarked graves throughout Canada only further highlights the atrocities of a colonial system which has negatively impacted Indigenous people since European contact. The community of Rocher River was abandoned in order to provide a clearer path for the Taltson Hydro Electric Dam. This is a sad tale that can be told across Canada where the scores of Indigenous nations forcibly evicted from their ancestral homelands to make way for industrial development to benefit incoming colonial settlers. The history of Rocher River is complex. With the school burning down in 1950s, which triggered the sole deportation of residents from the community. The government did not support the community of rebuilding the school, which ran programming since the 1920s causing people to leave in order to receive education for their children. Those that stayed faced additional challenges as the Taltson River Hydro Project was greatly impacted impacted the hydrology of the area, impacted traplines, known trails, and their overall environment. These changes resulted in the history of losses to our residents making the practice of the traditional way of life near impossible.

The history of Indigenous people and colonialism and of the people not being able to return to their homelands and traditional lands use areas. Elders in my communities tell me these stories and how the Taltson dam is the reason the school was never rebuilt and why the community was lost.

Mr. Speaker, residents of Fort Resolution are still impacted by the loss of that community. The land has changed. The hunting and trapping has changed. Our people are still going into the area, or they speak of unmarked graves and need to ensure they are protected given the sensitive history of that region.

The government has made steadfast its plans to grow the size of the Taltson dam to further its industrial ambition in the Slave Geological Province. This type of major project requires a massive investment of infrastructure and risks further altering the landscape that people live in their traditional lifestyle. In addition of all of that, there is a risk of disturbing the important historical sites to Indigenous population throughout this region. We need to know that all the risks are being considered and mitigated. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my Member's statement. Mahsi.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you, colleagues. As the government continues to advance the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project, however, I'm unclear if the overarching impacts that such expansions are understood being properly explained to the public. These grave sites of our ancestors are a critical part of our people's history. Right now as it is, those grave sites that were flooded when the Government of Canada made a decision to build this dam, it went ahead without consultation and accommodations with the people in that area. We got graves that are 60 feet underwater right now.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Tu NedheWiilideh. Members' statements. Member for Yellowknife North.

Member’s Statement 1601-19(2): Taltson Business Case

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In today's Minister's statement, the Minister of Infrastructure tried to paint a rather rosy picture of our energy future, and I'm quite at a loss of why we would do this because, Mr. Speaker, I think we need to be honest with the public that our energy future is looking pretty grim. I think the statement should have started with, the first thing, we subsidized our power corp $15 million this year because of a record low water year and an underestimation of the cost of diesel in current rates. Mr. Speaker, those problems are not going anywhere. The reality is is that our rates are going up, and people in the North will continue to pay the highest rates of power in Canada. None of the projects that the Minister listed today are going to fix that, and I think that needs to be the starting point in this conversation.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, we have a problem building projects on budget and on time. The Minister celebrated the Inuvik Wind Project, a project that came in at almost double what we initially expected. Mr. Speaker, that was a 3.5 megawatt project for $70 million. People down south are building wind projects at $2 million a megawatt. We're ten times what we're building in the south. This shouldn't be celebrated. This was one of the most, if not the most, expensive wind project ever, Mr. Speaker. And I get it is expensive in the North, and I get it's hard to build. But with that project doubling in cost, the business case is very questionable whether it's saving those 3 million litres of diesel a year on a 20year project, that's the estimated life span of a wind turbine, will actually pay itself off.

Mr. Speaker, we need to level with people that perhaps a lot of the renewables we want to build just aren't there in the cost for the North yet.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister spoke about the Whati Transmission Line, a line that was supposed to be starting building in 2021, now estimated to be completion in 2028. We still don't have a cost for that project. We don't even have a route for that project.

The Minister spoke of the Fort Providence Transmission Line, supposed to be completed in fall 2023, pushed back to 2027. It is clear that it is well over budget, and the $60 million the feds initially gave us for that Fort Providence transmission line isn't going to cut it. We have not been provided with an updated figure.

The Minister spoke about the Taltson Hydro Project, a project the Minister refuses to tell us how much it's going to cost. We have a 2014 cost estimate that includes the transmission line going to the diamond mines, something the Minister has said we are no longer doing. Mr. Speaker, the Minister refuses to tell us what the cost of power will be sold out of Taltson and who's going to buy it mostly importantly, Mr. Speaker. We need mines to buy it.

Mr. Speaker, there is a complete lack of transparency from the department and the power corporation about what's going on with our energy future. I'll have questions for the Minister.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Yellowknife North. Members' statements. Member for Nahendeh.

Member’s Statement 1602-19(2): Eulogy for Melvin Sake

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, Melvin Sake was born on April 21st, 1996, to Willy and Rose Sake in Fort Providence, NWT. This is where he was raised until the family moved to Mile 80. Then the family moved to Hay River and on to Fort Smith. During the move to Fort Smith, he'd attended school in Breynat Hall. He stayed in school until grade 7, then he moved to Jean Marie River, the home community of his father. Melvin liked to spend a lot of time with his father in the bush. This is where he enjoyed being especially at the family's cabin that he helped build on Sanguez Lake. Just his time there, he helped his family harvest moose, beaver, rabbits, and fish. On top of this, of his harvesting skills, he had his own trapline around the lake. He considered Jean Marie River his home even when he left three years ago. He moved to Fort Simpson to be close to his friend but was always in touch with his family.

Mr. Speaker, when the family and friends spoke about Melvin's hobbies and his past time, it was his love to be out snowmobiling in the winter and springtime and, again, it was about being on the land and fresh air. Growing up, he enjoyed playing volleyball, broomball, softball, swimming and, of course, boating. When people described him, it was what a kind person he was. He would always be willing to lend a helping hand, especially when it came to family. He was a loving and protective brother and uncle to everyone. People said that he never got angry with people, and he always had a smile and kind words for others. He really enjoyed talking and meeting new people.

Mr. Speaker, he was very proud that he knew, understood, and spoke his language. He learned it from his dad when they were on the land. He especially liked to speak to elders and hearing the stories from the past. One of the things the family and friends will miss from his passing was the way he would get people to laugh. He had the ability to make any situation to a laughable moment, and people appreciated this. Another trait was his willingness to sing a song or two or maybe even ten at any given time.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that he's going to be sadly missed by the family and friends. The family would like to thank everybody who was able to attend his funeral, those that passed on their condolences, and those who helped them with his celebration of life. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Members' statements. Member for Nunakput.

Member’s Statement 1603-19(2): Eulogy for Noah Carpenter

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Noah Henry Carpenter an lnuvialuk from Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, known by, in lnuvialuit, as lkaahuk. He was the son of Fred Carpenter and Ada Gruben. He was known as Dr. Noah Carpenter. On behalf of his family, friends and relatives, I would like to share a part of his story of his life.

I begin with some excerpts from CBC Canada. Dr. Noah Carpenter was a highly skilled surgeon, the first lnuvialuk surgeon in Canada. He passed away recently, leaving behind a legacy of hard work and inspiration to many fellow Northerners. Originally from Sachs Harbour, Northwest Territories, Dr. Carpenter defied expectations throughout his life. He studied chemistry at the University of Manitoba before deciding to pursue his career in medicine. In 1971, the first Inuk doctor in Canada and later specialized in thoracic surgery. Dr. Carpenter's dedication to his profession and determination to succeed made him an inspiration to all and many. He will be remembered for his significant contributions to the medical field and the impact on the community.

In 1983, CBC profiled Dr. Carpenter, an lnuvialuk man originally from Sachs Harbour, lkaahuk, spoke about the arrival in Winnipeg years before as a young student from the North enrolled in the University of Manitoba. They had a welcoming party, he recalled, in amusement, and wanted to greet him. They were expecting someone with dark hair and Orientallooking features wearing a fur parka and carrying a big spear. It must have been great disappointment, he says, that they didn't find that.

Dr. Carpenter, who died this month, was being remembered for his lifetime of hard work and determination, his accomplishments, and skilled surgeon, and the inspiration he gave to many fellow Northerners. He was always on top of his game in every way, said his brother Joey Carpenter in Sachs Harbour. He was always somebody to look up to.

Noah Carpenter went to residential school in Aklavik in 1960 before moving to Inuvik for high school, later the University of Manitoba to study chemistry. In 1983, a TV profile said the original goal was to become a high school teacher to teach science. Somewhere along the way, he decided to go to med school. In 1971, he was said he was the first Inuk doctor in Canada.

His education, his training, didn't stop there, though. He would go on to study surgery and to go to school in Scotland to specialize in thoracic surgery. You know, 50 years ago, you couldn't imagine any one of us becoming a doctor. You know, times are different, and it was an aspiration that most of us couldn't even dream of, his brother Joey said. Noah would later describe how his father Fred Carpenter a successful trapper in the North expected Noah to follow in his footsteps in what was then still a booming business in the North. He didn't understand his own son becoming a doctor instead, Noah recalled. As the years went by, I think and understand perhaps I made the right move, Noah said, in 1983. He was quite proud actually of being a doctor; I am a doctor.

In the profile, Noah would reflect more on his decision to carve a different path for himself and the compromises it required. He spoke bluntly about surrendering to the system and often at odds with Northern culture and tradition. You can't expect to devote a lot of time hunting and fishing and maintaining the old ways of life and expect to become a firstclass thoracic surgeon, he said. There's always talk about breaking through and beating the system. Well, you know, the system isn't out to beat you. I think you have to just accept it, surrender into it and that's the way you'll succeed. You have to work at it. And to do your studies, you don't do things it halfheartedly. Dr. Carpenter became the first Inuvialuit doctor in 1971 to focus on a segment in 1983, his education changed his life but led him south. One of the tragedies about the North, after trying for so long I hadn't worked out, working.

In 1995, Dr. Carpenter was recognized through an Indspire Award and many groundbreaking accomplishments, the Inuvialuit specialist surgeon to emerge from the Northwest Territories. He has been an inspiration to many and returns there to speak to the youth, motivating to understand the importance of achieving higher education, reads the Indspire website.

Dr. Carpenter would now enjoy a long career as a surgeon in Comox, BC, and later Brandon, Manitobe. He also maintained his connection to the North.

His last visited in 2019 at the high school reunion. He would have liked to have worked in the North, he said in 1983, but described it never had the opportunity. I don't know what it is about me and the North and I. It's certainly something that I wanted to do, he said. The fact that not working there will always remain a mystery.

Note the bold lettering in regards to Dr. Noah Carpenter's website. September 27th. Inuvialuit Regional Corporation remembering the great success and strong determination of Dr. Noah Carpenter from Ikaahuk (Sachs Harbour), son of Ada and Fred Carpenter. Noah is believed to be the first ever Inuvialuk to become a medical doctor to push even farther into medicine becoming a leading general surgeon and to specialize in the field. The Inuvialuit Regional Corporation said it is sad to learn of recent passing and would like to offer comfort to the family and his communities on our significant loss.

Dr. Noah Carpenter is an inspiration to all Inuvialuit. We are proud beneficiaries who have since followed and pursuing areas of medicine and science, like Noah Carpenter, who dedicate themselves to complete advanced schooling and show Inuvialuit what they can achieve in life and careers, said chair Duane Smith.

Noah Carpenter originally furthered his education beyond a medical doctor while working and advancing techniques in thoracic surgery, vascular surgery. Noah was given a Indspire, an aboriginal achievement award. We have enjoyed listening to Sallirmiutun songs and never forgot his traditional Inuvialuit upbringing.

Noah was a survivor of residential schools starting in Aklavik and welcomed back his family visited and SAMS school reunion. He is an inspiration and will be remembered.

Speaking to CBC last week, his brother Joey Carpenter, who lives in Sachs Harbour, brother to Noah, says I am still absorbing the news of my brother's death. He was always on the good side of everything. We looked up to him. It's gonna take me a while, you know, to think about it. It never really hit me yet. And I, all Inuvialuit and fcountless others who knew Dr. Noah Carpenter, will echo these words from his brother Joey. It's gonna take me awhile to, you know, to think about it. It never really hit me yet.

On behalf of the family, friends and relatives of Dr. Noah Carpenter, an Inuvialuk from Ikhaahuk, my words are too weak to express my respect my respect and gratitude of what he's done. Dr. Noah Carpenter blazed a wonderful way and inspiring trail for all Inuvialuit and all Northerners. Noah Henry Carpenter will be missed. Thank you for the trail you left us. Thank you for the memories and deeds of a wonderful man. Dr. Noah Carpenter was a fine doctor, a kind friend, a dear brother, and a steadfast son. Thank you, Dr. Noah Carpenter. God bless us all.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Nunakput. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and community at this time. And the region as well. Members' statements. Member for Range Lake.

Member’s Statement 1604-19(2): Reflections on the 19th Assembly