Debates of October 3, 2023 (day 165)

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


Members, before we start today, I would like to make an announcement regarding the Legislative Assembly's scholarship. This scholarship was established in 2014 and has been awarded to 17 northern recipients. Many of you will remember Haylee Carlson who worked at the Legislative Assembly for over 16 years. Haylee passed away from breast cancer in February 2020, and we wanted to find a way to acknowledge the impact she had on the staff and Members alike.

Haylee was instrumental in the creation of this scholarship which has helped so many students pursue their dreams of furthering their education. Today, I would like to announce that the scholarship name has been changed to the Haylee Carlson Memorial Legislative Assembly Fund. This fund will continue to assist individuals pursuing studies in political science or a related field.

Please help me in welcoming Haylee's family to the public gallery. Mike, Shanli, Trina, Kristin, Shelby, Dave, and Jude, brothers watching on TV. Also welcome to the representatives from the Yellowknife Community Foundation. Thank you for your work on this. Thank you.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 385-19(2): Mineral Resources Act Regulations – Status Report

Mr. Speaker, the regulations for the Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act define the first madeintheNorthwest Territories approach to governing mineral development. That is not the only thing that makes them historic. They are the first legal instrument to be developed in their entirety under the legislative development protocol set out by the Northwest Territories Intergovernmental Agreement on Lands and Resource Management.

Later this afternoon, I will be tabling a report highlighting the status and success of the Intergovernmental Council’s collaborative process. This collaboration, Mr. Speaker, is deliberate and methodical. The legislative development protocol that is being followed by the Intergovernmental Council formalizes seven steps for the development of regulations. Work is ongoing, and as of this June 2023 I am pleased to say that the development of regulations for the Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act was in the sixth of these seven steps.

The goal is consensus, and consensus takes time. The policy decisions that must anchor the development of regulations require not only hearing but understanding and trying to reconcile wideranging perspectives, interests, and approaches. Very often technical topics may first require participants to have expert subjectmatter support so that discussions lead to the best solutions.

The subject of benefits is a good example and was a topic with high interest from all parties. In the last year, the Intergovernmental Council technical working group was successful in reaching consensus on 54 subtopics under the otherwise broad subject of benefits. Benefits are only one of many highlevel matters relevant to these regulations. In all, the Intergovernmental Council technical working group considered 112 public comments from 11 separate submissions, along with input and feedback from multiple targeted surveys, presentations, and facetoface meetings. Approximately 90 percent of this input has now been captured by the comprehensive policy intentions document that will guide legal drafters tasked with creating the regulations required.

The next step will be to finalize these draft regulations and post them publicly for review. Formal Section 35 consultations will also need to be completed with Indigenous governments. Once these steps are complete, the proposed regulations can be enacted.

Before the new Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act comes into force, extensive work is also happening to update the associated business processes, implement complementary software changes, and introduce the organizational change that will be needed to administer the new Act.

Mr. Speaker, resource availability, technology, market demand, and global interest are aligning to create extraordinary opportunities for investment in the Northwest Territories' mineral resource sector. The implementation early in the 20th Legislative Assembly of a new, clear, modern, and streamlined legislative environment, grounded in the consensus of northern governments and Indigenous and industry partners and focused on the priorities of Northwest Territories residents, will be unique in Canada.

Thank you to the collaborative approach in which it was developed and the leadingedge policies that it is founded on, the Northwest Territories Mineral Resources Act will be a milestone in the evolution of the Northwest Territories that we can all look back and take pride in. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Health and Social Services.

Minister’s Statement 386-19(2): 2023-2028 Child, Youth and Family Services Strategic Direction and Action Plan

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories remains committed to transforming the child and family services system to better serve children, families, and communities. Our primary concern is addressing the overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth within the child and family services system. We have made progress on this issue through quality improvement plans starting in 2019, but there is still more to do to ensure the child and family services system is culturally safe, that it supports children and youth in a meaningful way, and helps more families stay together.

Later today, I will be tabling the 20232028 Child, Youth and Family Services Strategic Direction and Action Plan. This plan will guide the work to fundamentally shift the child and family services system towards the goal of cultural safety. Achieving this vision will require sustained engagement with Indigenous governments, communities, and other partners. To uphold transparency and accountability, we will continue to report on our progress through a public action tracker and on service delivery trends that appear in the child and family services director’s annual report.

Mr. Speaker, it is vital to ensure children and youth feel connected to their family, community, and culture. As a society, we share a collective responsibility to ensure that each child and youth is nurtured in a safe and secure environment that enables them to reach their full potential.

The stark overrepresentation of Indigenous children and youth within the child and family services system demands we make a paradigm shift in our approach. We need to think differently and act collectively to create a service framework that responds to the needs of Indigenous children, youth, and families.

The plan lays out seven priority areas that will guide our transformation. They are:

Working collaboratively with Indigenous governments and organizations;

Designing, implementing care rooted in Indigenous practices;

Providing support to care providers and caregivers;

Strengthening youth supports and transition to adulthood;

Providing specialized services closer to home;

Strengthening human resources recruitment and retention efforts for an inclusive and representative workforce; and finally,

Reducing administrative demands for increased opportunities to connect with families.

Mr. Speaker, the development of the Child, Youth and Family Services Strategic Direction and Action Plan was informed through a comprehensive approach. It drew insights from a diverse range of guiding documents, focused discussions, internal reviews, and the recommendations of the Legislative Assembly’s Standing Committee on Social Development.

The onus to lead these strategic priorities within the child and family services system falls on the Department of Health and Social Services. A collaborative effort and commitment from within and outside the Government of the Northwest Territories is required to create sustainable change to address the diverse needs of children and youth.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the child and family services staff, caregivers, care providers, community partners, Indigenous governments, and community leaders for their passion and dedication to the wellbeing of children, youth, and families. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission.

Minister’s Statement 387-19(2): Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission’s New President and Chief Executive Officer

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Rick Hunt as the new president and chief executive officer of the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission, effective yesterday, October 2nd. This morning I met with Mr. Hunt and officially welcomed him to the position.

Mr. Hunt is joining the Workers' Safety and Compensation Commission after almost 20 years of service with Nunavut's Qulliq Energy Corporation. His experience and depth of knowledge in the occupational health and safety field is extensive, and we are pleased to bring him on board.

Mr. Speaker, this will mark the first time that the WSCC’s president and CEO will be based in Nunavut instead of Yellowknife. I am very proud of the partnership we have formed with our territorial neighbour and welcome the opportunity to work together to advance work safety across both territories. Nunavut Minister responsible for WSCC Margaret Nakashuk and I are equally supportive of Mr. Hunt’s appointment and trust that he will do right in both jurisdictions.

This is an exciting time that will allow us to form an even deeper bond with our partner. We are also excited to have Mr. Hunt lead the WSCC through the next phase of our organization as we begin a new fiveyear strategic plan that will guide us through annual planning and reporting processes until 2027. The new strategic plan, called Paths Towards Safety, which I previously tabled, identifies a number of paths to improving safety culture through shared responsibilities.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Hunt is a champion of respectful workplace culture who values his colleagues' and employees' wellbeing at work. He is a strong advocate for collaborating and supportive relationships across all organizational levels. As a public servant, he also recognizes that he works for and ultimately the public. Understanding the needs and expectations of the public is a vital piece in providing quality services.

Since its inception in 1977, the WSCC has covered the same geographical territory When Nunavut was created in 1999. The governments of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut agreed to continue forward as a common agency. Maintaining this partnership between our territory is key in supporting the safety and care of workers in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. I remain very proud of this partnership and our shared commitment to workplace safety. I hope this historic appointment for the WSCC, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, benefits both workers in both territories for years to come. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 1618-19(2): Evacuation Supports

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, residents who covered their own evacuation costs continue to request financial support. As such, I have requested each to provide me with copies of their receipts and to sign a statutory declaration stating they have not received funds from other sources to cover those costs. These documents will be provided to this, and the federal government, for reimbursement consideration.

Mr. Speaker, I will provide context as to why residents may have covered their own costs and not followed MACAS's direction to use a designated evacuation centre. Mr. Speaker, let me start off by saying that on August 12th, Fort Smith residents were in the process of evacuating to Hay River where they were registered and were provided temporary accommodation and meals. At the same time, the hamlet of Enterprise was hosting their annual Gateway Jamboree. There was no concern of fires as it was understood the fire was still a long way from the community and posed limited risk how mistaken we were as what was to be unleashed can only be likened to a terrifying nightmare.

Mr. Speaker, for residents of Hay River, K'atlodeeche, and Enterprise, it was on August 13th, an evacuation alert was issued and soon followed by an evacuation order at 3 p.m. Residents, along with evacuees from Fort Smith, were directed to leave as soon as possible and all were told that ground and air transportation would be provided for those who had no other way out. All this was unfolding very quickly.

Mr. Speaker, some residents who were able to leave immediately with their own vehicle made their way out prior to the nightmare that was about to be become all too real. Day turned into night quickly as smoke blackened the sky and made visibility nonexistent. Drivers were unable to see as they headed directly into the path of the fire and had to drive with their vehicle door open as they tried to find a center line to confirm they were still on the road and not in the ditch. The heat from the fire was so intense that it melted the plastic and paint off the vehicles. Vehicles that hit the ditch were quickly enveloped by flames with passengers barely escaping with their life as pets and possessions were consumed by the heat and fire. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, as the fire was rolling over the treetops and consuming homes and equipment in Paradise Valley, residents were forced to take refuge in the river by sliding down a steep embankment and standing in the water for safety while others drove into the firestorm. Along Patterson Road, a similar picture emerged. With the fire burning all around them, residents were quickly gathering up personal items to take with them, all facing a darkened sky and flames which caused breathing and visibility issues and forced residents into the water while others jumped into their vehicles and drove onto the highway and into an inferno.

Mr. Speaker, if you were not there, if you were not one of those leaving by vehicle, if you were not one in the heart of the fire, and if you did not see the aftermath firsthand, then you would not understand why evacuees, at their own cost, took shelter at the first safe place they came to. Shaken and traumatized, with their lives at risk, with the mental and emotional anxiety of it all, their first thought was preservation and the safety and wellbeing of their families. They had no idea how long this evacuation would last. The sad part is that this government expected these evacuees to be thinking rationally about accommodation and meals.

Mr. Speaker, this was the reality that took place on August 13th, 2023. I will not have questions for the Minister of MACA or the Minister of Finance on this issue today but I do ask them, and all of Cabinet, to reflect on the terror these evacuees went through and come back prior to the end of this session showing compassion, empathy, and a commitment to support those left out of any financial compensation. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1619-19(2): Future Polytechnic University

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak about the future polytechnic university and some of the actions taking place at Aurora College as it transitions into a territorial university.

First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to once again reiterate that there are several positions within Aurora College that are currently on loan to the Yellowknife campus but, in fact, they belong to the headquarters office in Fort Smith, and that includes the office of the president. All of the positions in question are entitled to be based in Fort Smith, and they must be returned as soon as possible.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, one of the pillars of the 19th Assembly has been for our government to decentralize jobs and services away from the capital and back into the small communities and regional centres. We are not properly serving the people of the NWT when we have everything concentrated in the capital.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, last week, on September 28th, the Government of the Northwest Territories announced that it is seeking input on a postsecondary institution application that would deliver a new diploma program on Indigenous environmental studies and sciences beginning in the fall of 2023. The program is being put forward by Trent University and is being developed in partnership with YKDFN.

Mr. Speaker, while I certainly do support the people of the NWT having more program options to consider for postsecondary at Aurora College; however, I do not want new education options to be coming at the expense of existing programs that the college delivers. I am worried specifically how this new program might affect the world-renowned environment and natural resources technology program that has existed for many years at Aurora College Thebacha campus. I do not want the ENR technology program to be threatened, undermined, or replaced. Period. I especially do not want to see Fort Smith lose yet another highly valued and popular program that is taken away from our community. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

--Unanimous consent granted

In closing, Mr. Speaker, given our current circumstance of an upcoming territorial election happening very soon, I want to urge the college itself, along with the minister of ECE, to hold off on rolling out this new program at this time. I believe it would be a better decision to wait until after the next government is formed in the 20th Assembly before any new major programs or changes occur within Aurora College. I will have questions for the minister of ECE later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1620-19(2): Affirmative Action Policy

Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Finance tabled the government's What We Heard report on the policy review of the Affirmative Action Policy. Additionally, on our one-day emergency sitting in August, the GNWT tabled the response to the Standing Committee on Government Operations report on Indigenous representation in the NWT public service and the recommendations of that.

Mr. Speaker, the Standing Committee of Government Operations and the GNWT both consulted the public separately and, Mr. Speaker, both the government and standing committee have concluded that, overall, the 34yearold Affirmative Action Policy is not working as it was originally intended to, which is to successfully increase Indigenous employment across the Northwest Territories or across the GNWT.

Mr. Speaker, the committee's report did a deep dive into the history of the Affirmative Action Policy and provided 12 recommendations on how the government could improve the policy to realize its intended effect. We can all agree that the Affirmative Action Policy isn't working and that it is outdated and needs to be replaced. To quote the GNWT, Mr. Speaker, the review has concluded that GNWT should introduce a new policy prioritizing the hiring and career advancement of Indigenous persons. This policy would replace the Affirmative Action Policy and would forward preferred hiring status, first, to Indigenous persons connected to the NWT, then to all Indigenous Canadians. The new policy being referred to here is the newly developed Indigenous Employment Policy which the government announced back in February.

Mr. Speaker, the spirit and intent of the Affirmative Action Policy is very important to Indigenous people of the Northwest Territories. Therefore, it's vital that if and when the GNWT decides to replace the policy then the overall intent of the affirmative action cannot be lost. Any replacement policy must ensure to continue that Indigenous people have priority hiring in our public service. I will have questions for the Minister of Finance. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1621-19(2): People Unable to Work Because of Disabilities

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time I have spoken in this House about the administrative burden with income support program. The government creates such an onerous process for residents that it becomes challenging to access resources.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about people who are unable to work because of a disability.

Mr. Speaker, we have many people across the NWT that receive disability benefits but also access programs and services through income support. Mr. Speaker, there should be a more streamlined way for these individuals to access benefits without following the complex process that they follow today. These people's incomes are already below the poverty line and are some of the most vulnerable people in the communities.

Mr. Speaker, some of these people have disability which make it difficult for them to complete complex paperwork or participate in the workforce. The process, as it is today, puts more work on the income support staff and caregivers. These processes do not benefit the GNWT or the residents of the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, each month I receive concerns about income support from people with disability. Often the issue is late payments due to paperwork problems. We know these people are eligible for benefits each and every month. ECE should find a simpler way of processing benefits for these individuals. If we know someone has a disability, then they should be able to receive support and not have to continue to provide proof of that disability.

Furthermore, income support is often asking for bank statements. They ask for clients to share their bank account password to go into the online account to see if the clients are telling the truth. They also tell the clients if we don't have access to your bank account, you're not getting help. I'm sure the income assistance workers do not like it but they are bound by the privacy policy in place. This is a breach and invasion of privacy, especially for the most vulnerable. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to complete my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, a more holistic approach to program and services are needed in small communities. It is difficult for people trying to access programs and services to be sent from building to building, office to office, trying to access services, especially for those with disabilities. I will have questions for the minister of ECE. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1622-19(2): Mining Promotion

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, since June of this year Live Power, a Canadian exploration company with its head office in Vancouver, has been drilling for hard rock lithium on the mineral leases near Yellowknife and N'dilo and Dettah. Live Power has one of the most exciting exploration portfolios of hard rock lithium projects globally, with Yellowknife lithium project being the flagship project. Live Power commenced a 45,000-meter drill program, and the drill result for 40 drill holes. It illustrates extensive width and excellent grades of lithium in the Tu NedheWiilideh riding. The NWT lithium outcrop are so large and extensive that it can be seen from space via satellite. The Yellowknife lithium project is one of the largest private sector exploration projects in the riding, and it is having significant job and business impacts for us. Live Power has opened a camp at the Hidden Lake area that is accessible via winter road for the Ingraham Trail. It also has a core cutting and lodging facility in Yellowknife providing more job and training opportunities for Northerners. Live is very proud of its strong collaborative relationships with the local Indigenous communities and Live prioritizes local Indigenous employment and procurement with 28 percent of Indigenous employees and 25 percent of northern employees working on its Yellowknife lithium project at the peak of the summer drilling program. Live's commitment to providing employment opportunities for Indigenous workers parallels the achievement of operating mines in the territory. This is another impressive feat for an exploration company.

Lithium is exceptionally important in the world as it's used in several industry applications, including electric cars. And lithium is ion batteries which plays an important role in the global transition to an economy that runs on a green energy.

Mr. Speaker, this project has a potential to be the NWT entry into the global lithium market. We must of course remember that the Live Power Yellowknife lithium project remains at an early exploration stage project at this time. Live is also that this valuable NWT resource will be mined and processed in Canada. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my Member's statement. Thank you.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. Live Power is committed to the NWT and to providing positive socioeconomic impacts. Live will continue to employ and train Indigenous and local people as the workforce grows. It will also continue to partner with Indigenous businesses, such as the Yellowknives Dene that own Deton Cho Corporation with whom Live is already working closely to collect environmental and socioeconomic and baseline data.

Mr. Speaker, the potential of moving from lithium exploration to mining will have welcome, longterm benefits for the NWT mining economy that come at a critical time as the diamond mine industry winds down. At the appropriate time, it will be my pleasure to introduce Live Power executives to the Assembly and ask questions to the Minister of tourism and investment regarding our government's role in enabling this project. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1623-19(2): Strengthen and Diversity Northwest Territories Economy through Agriculture

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the territory desperately needs to strengthen and diversify our economy. Our residents must have access to healthy and affordable food, and the need for mental health supports is at an alltime high. There is one sector that can help us improve in all these areas. The agrifood industry provides residents with opportunities to grow their own healthy produce and to open small and mediumsized economic ventures while reducing stress and improving mental health.

Mr. Speaker, our infrastructure gap and limited supply chain leave us vulnerable to food insecurity as was clearly demonstrated during the pandemic. When it took great pressure by myself as the Minister of ITI, with the Minister of Finance, to get flexibility in the federal funding to keep our small airlines alive. If the GNWT can begin to provide a better support system to boost community gardens, encourage residents to start growing their own food, and build capacity throughout the territory, we can directly reinforce our food security efforts through increased community capacity.

I cannot stress this enough, Mr. Speaker. The federal government is not thinking of us when it comes to food security and the GNWT is not giving this topic the attention it deserves. The food security file bounces between departments, with no clear ownership, and I don’t see an appropriate nor established path forward. Residents are constantly reaching out to find support to feed their families and social media groups are often full of such pleas.

Mr. Speaker, through coordination, collaboration, and clear responsibility of duties, we can move forward with a solutionsbased approach to help build our agrifood sector. There is a lot of federal money available to the agrifood area which could help all our residents; first, by increasing money into the territory and bolstering economic activity but also by providing residents with a reconnection to the land a reconnection that has been shown to improve people’s mental health and wellbeing. We should be building green houses, investing in fertilizer production, and establishing seed sharing programs. We should connect those with land to those who don’t have it that want to garden. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, it does not take much to start something positive and build the capacity within the NWT to feed ourselves. Steps must be taken now to support our agrifood industry, an industry that has been battered by two years of flooding and fires. I know that the GNWT can do more in this area, and it often only takes a small investment to see huge local results as demonstrated time and time again by the growers of our territory. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Great Slave. Members before we continue, I'd like to draw your attention to the presence of a former Member, Mr. Jackson Lafferty. Mr. Lafferty was a Member from 2005 to 2021. Mr. Lafferty was a Regular Member, Minister, and Speaker of the House, and now grand chief. It's always good to see former Members come and cheer on the Members of today. Thank you.

Members' statements. Member for Kam Lake.

Member’s Statement 1624-19(2): Government Renewal

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, this Assembly, Northerners have navigated crisis after crisis that started with a global pandemic. But during COVID, some monumental things happened to support residents' basic needs. This government payrolled income assistance clients, implemented harm reduction programs, found housing solutions for vulnerable residents, and equitably distributed laptops to students for access to education. These are huge, Mr. Speaker. And they happened in short order.

This bold action, and a need for fiscal recovery, offered a path forward to a common-sense approach to allocating government financial resources based on how effectively programs and services give value to residents.

Mr. Speaker, government renewal was sold as a review to better provide transparency to territorial priorities and how services and programs contribute to those priorities, evaluate the true cost and benefit of programs and services, and build more accountability for results into funding decisions.

In the life of the 19th, finance has changed FMB program evaluation metrics for new spending, how it deals with short and longterm budgeting and reviewed its approach to capital budgeting. But this does not address the status quo spending of this government and, for four years, life has been anything but status quo.

I believe in the value of government renewal, Mr. Speaker. The public service continues to grow as do resident priorities. Budgeting and spending patterns have impaired the GNWT's longterm sustainability. Planning and spending are often reactive, and capital continues to drive debt.

We are three years into the life of the government renewal initiative and anticipating its successes. We have yet to see the completion of a single department. And with nine departments and nine agencies to get through, I'm worried about the effectiveness of this process given its pace. The GNWT needs a stable fiscal footing to support the territory's sustainability and increased value for dollar for the money it spends. But, Mr. Speaker, residents can't afford to carry the cost of getting there and rely on the creative and innovative internal efficiencies promised through government renewal.

In 2020, the finance minister rightfully said, quote, if ever we needed creative problem solving to achieve responsive and effective results, it is now, end quote. We are still there, Mr. Speaker, and one could say it is even more relevant today. I'll have questions for the Minister of Finance at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member for Kam Lake. Met. Member for Frame Lake.

Member’s Statement 1625-19(2): Energy and Climate Crisis Conference

Merci, Monsieur le President. I have been pushing for some time for a public review of GNWT's failing climate strategy which is really three separate and uncoordinated programs. These are environment and climate changes' climate change strategic framework, infrastructure's 2030 energy strategy, and finance's carbon tax.

As one of the final gasps during the current phase of the climate crisis, GNWT staff put on a threeday conference attended by about 150 participants in July. I want to give credit for the large gathering as there was a diverse set of interests and participants from all parts of the NWT and various sectors of the economy and voluntary sector. There was lots of good people at the conference, but I am not sure what will come out of the other end for the next Legislative Assembly and Cabinet. I am hoping that the next government takes the climate emergency much more seriously and puts in place legislation that will establish clear leadership and priorities.

I have continued to hear people say they don't understand GNWT's carbon tax, where the money goes and whether it is actually working. Persistent questions were also raised about our antiquated net metering approach and caps on renewable energy use in communities. The role of and governance at the NWT Power Corporation remains a lively source of discussion.

The GNWT's approach to climate change is failing again so here's some free advice for my Cabinet colleagues: We need a declaration that there is a climate emergency. The current forest fires might even convince Cabinet that climate change is an emergency now. We need legislation to back that up where one department is in charge and coordinates a wholeofgovernment approach. Integrated public reporting is needed, not three separate and disparate reports. We must focus on communitybased energy solutions, not mega projects with no investors and no public support. And make the NWT Power Corporation part of the solution, not part of the problem, as it shifts to building energy selfsufficiency and doing itself out of a job with public governance. I will have questions later today for the Minister of Environment and Climate Change. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Affirmative Action Policy that the GNWT has been in place for about 40 years and has seen little improvement in increasing Indigenous people. And, Mr. Speaker, I think before any review is conducted by the government, they have to ask themselves whether they're willing to actually make changes.

The Affirmative Action Policy is a bit of a political bombshell, Mr. Speaker, because I think there is broad agreement that everybody wants Indigenous Northerners to be priority one. And then, really, the question becomes what to do about P2s. And if the government is going to remove P2s from the policy, then they have to go out and do that. Because, Mr. Speaker, at this point it's very unclear whether anything will result from the government's months and years long review of the Affirmative Action Policy.

We have seen different drafts of the policy. We've seen different versions of the policy. It is clear there are very strong divides and opinions in this territory on this but, at this point, we have to do something, Mr. Speaker. And, Mr. Speaker, if we are truly committed to increasing the number of Indigenous people in the public service in this territory, then I think the government has to look no further than the Standing Committee on Government Operations' review of the Affirmative Action Policy.

We had four simple recommendations:

Run P1 only hiring policies. Mr. Speaker, I have never seen a job advertised that was just open to P1s. That is a step we can take tomorrow. We should do that. It can rebuild trust.

Mr. Speaker, recommendation number 2 was around decentralization. It's not rocket science. If you want more Indigenous people in the public service, put the jobs where the Indigenous people are. You have to identify positions in headquarters, and you have to move them to communities, Mr. Speaker. That is how you increase Indigenous people in the public service.

Mr. Speaker, change the appeal process so that the appeal process can actually overturn a job. Mr. Speaker, right now the appeal process just kind of leads to this end thing where you may or may not be offered another similar position in the future. It does not overturn a mistake and give you the position that you should have got in the first place if you are an Indigenous P1 candidate who didn't get it.

Mr. Speaker, recommendation number 4 from our committee, guarantee one ADM position in all departments is Indigenous.

These are four tangible recommendations made by our committee after years of reviewing this. If the government is serious about this, they need to listen to that report and respond to them and make up their mind whether we're removing P2s or not, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1627-19(2): Special Olympics World Summer Games Gold Medal Winner CHELSEY MAKArO

. Mr. Speaker, today I am very honoured to be speaking about the first Northwest Territories female athlete to win gold at the Special Olympics World Games.


Mr. Speaker, this is Yellowknife South resident Chelsey Makaro. And if you have the chance or ability where you are sitting to look up, she has brought her medals with her.


Mr. Speaker, this past summer, Ms. Makaro traveled to Berlin, Germany, as part of Team Canada to attend the Special Olympics World Summer Games. The games are held every two years and offer athletes with intellectual disabilities an opportunity to compete in a variety of sports. She's a member of Canada's swim team. I first met her prior to her departure when we sent her with a Northwest Territories flag. Today, she has proudly returned wearing her Team Canada jacket to show me her medals. Because not only did she participate as a swimmer on behalf of Canada at the games, Mr. Speaker, she brought home two gold medals one for the 25meter backstroke and another as part of the four by 50meter freestyle team relay.

Ms. Makaro earned her medals. She worked tirelessly I have spoken with her and her father about her training seven days a week, in and out of the pool, all through the year, up at six in the morning, and working with a number of representatives from across Yellowknife for dry land training physiotherapy. Her parents supported her along the way, getting her to those 6 a.m. practices, and clearly it all paid off. As I said at the start, these medals have made her the first Northwest Territories female athlete to win gold at the Special Olympics World Games.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Ms. Makaro for representing the Northwest Territories on Team Canada. I want to thank her for carrying our flag with pride, with hard work, and congratulate Chelsey Makaro on her welldeserved and wellearned results at the Special Olympics World Games. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1628-19(2): North American Indigenous Games 2023 Participants and Experience of Athlete Ava Erasmus

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't know how we top that; that's amazing.

Mr. Speaker, as the House is aware, the North American Indigenous Games 2023 were held in Halifax and surrounding communities between July 15th to 23rd. The NWT sent a strong team, and I witness the support these athletes received from parents who traveled to Halifax to cheer them on. Most athletes were able to get to Yellowknife in a timely manner to join up with their teammates. Unfortunately, Ava Erasmus had a really interesting adventure to get to the games. As some of you may have heard from Cabin Radio, she had to get a working cabin in the Nahanni National Park to Fort Simpson, then to Yellowknife, for Saturday's flight to Halifax.

As part of her job, she would take regular trips into the park and help at Virginia Falls with tourists. Everything was going smoothly until a threat of a flash flood held up the trip in the park, tightening the timeline between finishing up work at the falls and getting back to Fort Simpson to catch the flight to Yellowknife and then to Halifax. Upon getting into the park, things were going well for the first two days, then storms started rolling across the park delaying her departure from the falls. Some of the other adventures included food supplies being rationed, have a prolonged visit from a passing grizzly bear, and growing wildfires further complicated efforts.

Later on during the week, there was a break in the smoke and a Twin Otter was sent to pick them up but like the adventure to this point, it continued. The plane could not land, and it happened the next day too. After this happened, they started thinking about how far they could make it down the river and if they could make it to Nahanni Butte so they could be picked up there. At last a small aircraft, a Beaver, made it in and after a brief scare of having to turn around, the plane landed in Fort Simpson. Her parents picked her up with a packed a bag for her and headed off to the main airport. Unfortunately as she got to the airport, they witnessed the plane leaving.

Mr. Speaker, this led to her next adventure, a sevenhour drive to Yellowknife. She made it in at around midnight to have a quick sleep and then she met her teammates at 6:30 as they head off to Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, I would like recognize the other athletes from the Nahendeh. We had 21 athletes and coaches represent the NWT and their community. I will add the list and request it be deemed as read. They were great ambassadors. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Ava Erasmus

Brittany Kendo

Christian CliHopf

Ryder Hardisty

Colton HardistyGillis

Tanner Isaiah

Ashanti Beaulieu

Nicholas Bilodeau

Amy Duntra

Kadence Norn

Javen Payou

Syles Timbre

Cadence Erasmus

Gina HardistyIsaiah

Helena Landry

Lydia Nelner

Blake Speed

Amaria TancheHanna

William TancheHanna

Jacqueline Thompson

Jaicee Tsetso

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1629-19(2): Frank Gruben

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, on May 6th, 2023, Frank Gruben was last seen in Fort Smith. Almost five months has passed. Mr. Speaker, where's Frank? I'm going to ask again: Where's Frank Gruben? He's not been found. There's no word from him. No one has seen a thing or heard something of him, or choosing not to speak.

Mr. Speaker, it's not to tell the somebody's not telling the truth. Frank's family and friends are hurting.

I held Frank as a baby. I know his mother Laura, and I know his fatherAsaaq. Really, I grew up with them. I was speaking to his mom today. Frank was such a loveable person, she says. Always laughing, having a good time. He loved the Gwich'in language. He loved his family. He was harmless. Frank would never hurt anyone. Mr. Speaker, for him to go missing without any reason doesn't make no sense. He's loved by his mom. He would never turn his back on his family. Someone knows something, what happened to Frank.

When I asked Frank's mother if there was something she wanted me to say on her behalf, she said please bring my baby home. I want answers. Please help me bring him home.

We have to help Frank's mother, Mr. Speaker, and the family and the community in the Beaufort Delta. If you have information on Frank but are scared to step forward, there's ways that you could be protected such as Crime Stoppers and calling the RCMP. And there's a reward out for $8,050 she told me today, and you could call the Fort Smith RCMP at 8768721111 or, Crime Stoppers, 18002228477.

Mr. Speaker, it's been five months since we last seen Frank. Frank's friends and family, I want to thank, first, Fort Smith First Nations and the community members who have searched for Frank. Thank you for searching for him. And we need to continue looking for Frank. We need to find him. We'll not forget, and we won't give up until we bring Frank home. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Justice at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge today our grand chief, our Tlicho Grand Chief Jackson Lafferty, to the House, to the Legislative Assembly. I would like to welcome him. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize Jackson Lafferty, grand chief of the Tlicho region. I just want to recognize him. Mahsi.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I also have with us today is Dr. April Hayward, the chief sustainable officer for Live Power. And Dr. Hayward has 25 years’ experience in the fuel environmental science. As well, and also, we have Mr. Daniel Gordon, the manager of investor relations for the company. Thank you and welcome. Mahsi.