Debates of October 4, 2023 (day 166)

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 388-19(2): Residential and Recreational Public Land Leasing Pricing Revisions

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the cost of living challenges have been raised by Northwest Territories residents and Members of the Legislative Assembly in both the 18th and 19th Legislative Assemblies One of those challenges is rent for residential and recreational public land leases, including those that support traditional harvesting activities. The lease rent minimum increased to $840 annually for residential and recreational leases in the last Legislative Assembly, implemented over the last five years, has proven to be challenging for many residents given our current economic situation. To help ease financial pressures and assist with costofliving challenges for leaseholders, lease rent rates will be reduced for all residential and recreational leases. Lease rent minimums will be reduced for all residential lessees from $840 to $800 annually. We are also reducing the percentage of assessed value charged to residential leases for Commissioner’s land from 5 percent of assessed value to 2.5 percent of assessed land value.

Mr. Speaker, we will also reduce lease rents for recreational leases. The Department of Environment and Climate Change will implement a threetier system for all recreational leases with rates reduced from a minimum of $840 to fixed amount of either $600, $400 or $300 annually depending on access to the leased parcel. This approach will ensure that those with limited and seasonal access will pay less than those with yearround access.

Residential and recreational leases will see these savings at their next rent review period. These changes will not only result in lower lease rates for all individuals but will also make rent more comparable between Commissioner’s and territorial land until the Public Land Act comes into force and creates a single public land pricing regime.

Mr. Speaker, we also tabled a response to Motion 7719(2) related to lease rents for Indigenousowned cabins. Significant work and engagement are ongoing to develop a longterm approach which will address concerns expressed by Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations regarding the management of rightsbased cabins on public land. Our government is committed to working with Indigenous governments and Indigenous organizations to resolve this issue in a collaborative way that considers and respects Aboriginal and treaty rights.

While this work is underway, the rent reductions being put in place will help reduce the financial burden for all residential and recreational leases, including Indigenous leaseholders that have asserted or established Aboriginal and/or treaty right to harvest in that area. We will also be pausing collections on lease rent arrears and will consider forgiving arrears on a casebycase basis for these Indigenous leaseholders. The Department of Environment and Climate Change remains committed to working with Indigenous leadership to develop a longterm approach that meets the interests of Indigenous governments, Indigenous organizations, and the Government of the Northwest Territories for rightbased cabins on public land.

Mr. Speaker, today I have made important commitments to finish our work on collaboratively developing a policybased approach for rightsbased cabins with our Indigenous government partners and to lower the cost of living for residents. Reducing rents for residential and recreational leases will help address the cost of living for individuals with public land leases, including Indigenous land leaseholders. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Minister’s Statement 389-19(2): Early Learning and Child Care

Mr. Speaker, this Legislative Assembly has made it a priority to advance universal child care for residents of the Northwest Territories. In December 2021, we signed the Canadawide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement with the federal government, and since then we have worked closely with licensed early learning and child care programs and early childhood educators to advance this mandate. As of April 1st, the average cost of licensed child care for children five years of age and younger has been reduced, on average, by 60 percent. This means that families in the NWT are now saving up to $545 a month per child in child care fees. Families can expect to see further cost reductions until we reach our goal of an average of $10 a day child care.

Mr. Speaker, amendments to the Child Day Care Act and two related regulations came into force on May 1st, 2023. These changes establish limits on child care fees charged to families by licensed programs receiving government subsidies and increased reporting provided by licensed programs in response to our commitments within the Canadawide agreement. We are taking a phased approach to updating the regulations to take the time to consider our next action as we change the early learning and child care system. Later this year, we will continue engaging with the sector on more changes to regulations as we work to introduce a wage grid for educators, a certification process, and establish a new funding process for licensed programs in response to a program review that was completed in spring 2021.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this summer we gathered feedback on these initiatives by engaging with Indigenous governments, the Northwest Territories Early Childhood Association, licensed early learning and child care program operators, and early childhood educators working in licensed centrebased programs. We know that the NWT needs a flexible certification process that recognizes and considers postsecondary education equivalencies, as well as a wage grid that is comparable to other positions within the early learning and child care sector and will attract and retain educators. Participants appreciated our proposed shift away from basing operating subsidies on attendance and highlighted the need for additional funding to support longterm sustainability. The full What We Heard report summarizing the GNWT's findings is posted on the Education, Culture and Employment website.

We continue to collaborate with the Government of Canada to help achieve our shared vision of a Canadawide system that meets the needs of our communities, families, and young children. I am pleased to share that at the end of June, the Government of Canada announced the new Early Learning and Child Care Infrastructure Fund to help deliver affordable child care for families by funding the cost of physical infrastructure needed to create more spaces like real estate and building materials. Through this fund, provinces and territories will receive $625 million over the next four years, which will take into consideration the unique infrastructure challenges in the three territories. I look forward to sharing more details on what this means for the NWT as we work collaboratively with the federal government to implement this funding.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to support our licensed programs to create welcoming and inclusive early learning environments that incorporate local cultures and languages and support the developmental needs of all children in their care. To ensure early learning environments in the NWT are a place where all children are welcomed and supported, we are reviewing how children from vulnerable or equityseeking families, including those with specific developmental needs, are included in early learning opportunities across the territory. The aim is to identify strengths and barriers that exist within the early childhood sector, enhance the overall quality of licensed programs throughout the NWT, and support the creation of new licensed spaces so more families have access to quality early learning and child care in their community.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize the need for flexibility as we continue to build the foundation for the NWT's early learning and child care system and are working to address affordability for families, develop the early childhood workforce, and improve wages and incentives for those employed as early childhood educators. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Minister’s Statement 390-19(2): Improvements in Mental Health Supports

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to share the progress we have made in strengthening our mental health support services. Our focus is on the pressing issue of suicide prevention as well as our ongoing efforts to enhance the mental wellness and addictions recovery system.

Each suicide and suicide attempt has a profound impact on friends, families, and communities. The distressing surge in suicide rates during 2022 has underscored the urgent need for a renewed approach. In June, I had the privilege of travelling to Iqaluit with key staff from of the Northwest Territories Health and Social Services Authority, and the department, to discuss suicide prevention with our counterparts in Nunavut. Our goal was to exchange insights, experiences, and best practices.

Mr. Speaker, our discussions highlighted the importance of a collaborative response. Suicide prevention is complex, and no single solution can fully address it. To that end, we've formed a GNWT working group to establish guiding principles for a collective suicide prevention approach as well as a renewed commitment to support communitylead initiatives.

Budget 20232024 allocates an additional $500,000 to the community suicide prevention fund, bringing the total annual funding to $725,000 for communities and organizations to access. Our conversations with colleagues in Nunavut emphasized the importance of supporting communityled, grassroots approaches to suicide prevention. The enhancement of this fund is an important step towards that goal.

Mr. Speaker, supporting regional and communityled initiatives beyond providing funding is equally important. When the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation released its suicide prevention strategy last September, officials from department and the NTHSSA traveled to Inuvik to meet with the IRC staff to offer support for their work. Together, they came up with tangible ways that the health and social services system can reduce barriers to help the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation help individuals and families.

The same spirit of collaboration and commitment underpins our efforts to enhance the mental wellness and addictions recovery system, with a particular focus on the community counselling program.

Mr. Speaker, in 2020 we introduced the Stepped Care 2.0 approach in the community counselling program, tailoring support to individual needs. Collaborating with partners such as the Mental Health Commission of Canada, Stepped Care Solutions, and the health and social services authorities, we have expanded our services to reduce wait times and improve accessibility. We have achieved remarkable outcomes, including sameday counselling, and a noteworthy 79 percent reduction in wait times. Furthermore, we have launched emental health options and established the mental wellness and addictions recovery advisory group to guide our efforts based on lived experience.

Mr. Speaker, additional work is underway to further transform the way mental health and addictions counselling services are being delivered. This work is being led by the Beaufort Delta region. There was extensive engagement with residents on what services they need, how they want to receive them, and who they want delivering them. This work highlighted that educational qualifications are not what is most valued by residents, and so changes will be made in job descriptions and hiring practices to reflect this. The lessons learned from this work are being shared with other regions to inspire similar shifts in approach.

Mr. Speaker, it is also key to ensure that there are relevant, culturallybased child and youth mental health services in the territory. We strive to evolve to a model that aligns and supports this goal as we move away from the historical institutional model of child and adolescent treatment facilities such as Trailcross and the Territorial Treatment Centre.

While a review is underway to provide longer term recommendations to ensure programming is available, there are two youth wellness camps scheduled for pilot in the 20232024 fiscal year. These camps are landbased with culture, individual and group counselling embedded throughout, as well as a threemonth aftercare component. Following this pilot, there will be a review to assess the effectiveness of this approach.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I want to emphasize our unwavering commitment to these crucial issues and to continue to grow and learn from the people we serve. I am looking forward to hearing about new community and regionalbased suicide prevention strategies that affirm the value of every life. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Minister. Ministers' statements. Minister responsible for the Status of Women.

Minister’s Statement 391-19(2): Reclaiming the Capable Person – A Strategic Framework for Addressing Family Violence in the Northwest Territories

Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories recently completed a comprehensive strategic framework aimed at addressing the concerning rates of family violence in the Northwest Territories. The framework is called Reclaiming the Capable Person: We Are All Capable Persons When We Have Community. In it, elders from communities across the territory provide their definitions of a capable person based on traditional knowledge passed down from generations. Their knowledge teaches us that every child and every person is born capable and that we all share the responsibility to nurture and provide opportunities and guidance to help everyone become their own capable person.

Mr. Speaker, all survivors and perpetrators of family violence are capable persons. The Government of the Northwest Territories can best support them by assuming a role that better equips them to make empowered decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities. We evoke the idea of a capable person to emphasize that this strategic framework focuses on individual agency and the importance of programs and services that support the empowerment of individuals affected by family violence so that they can make decisions for themselves that build resiliency and the capacity to heal so they can lead fulfilling lives.

This strategic framework focuses on people, adopting a holistic approach to prevention and intervention measures across all levels of government and nongovernmental organizations. This approach calls for a significant shift in the way we perceive the collective healing needs of all residents, including survivors, their families, and those who use violence in their relationships.

Earlier this summer, we shared the draft framework with Indigenous and community governments as well as key stakeholders for input. And, Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time today,I will table the feedback we received. Now that the framework has been finalized, we will create an action plan to implement new initiatives and enhance existing programs and services, including a monitoring and evaluation framework to assess and adjust our efforts along the way to ensure that our approach is effective and responsive to evolving needs.

Many of the implementation actions relate closely to A Way Home: A Comprehensive Strategy to Address Homelessness in the Northwest Territories. It is well known that family violence is among the primary issues that cause people to experience homelessness. Advancing these strategies creates an opportunity to better coordinate personcentered services across departments and address some of the Northwest Territories' most urgent social needs.

Mr. Speaker, to be effective, our strategy to address family violence must also take into consideration genderbased violence, elder abuse, and the problems underlying gender inequality and discrimination against 2SLGBTQQIA+ individuals.

Today, I particularly note the tragic and nationwide issue of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, which must also be considered in any strategies addressing domestic and family violence. I emphasize today due to the new monument unveiled honouring the lives of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. This monument is nestled in the woods just to the right of the entrance pathway to the Legislative Assembly building. It is located in a quiet place, surrounded by trees, which will allow people and families time and space to reflect on losses and, perhaps, experience a little hope. The national conversation on MMIWG has reached a critical mass and while there is so much more to do, I, like so many others, have hope that we are starting to see awareness walking side by side with reconciliation.

Mr. Speaker, by adopting an inclusive, comprehensive strategy, and a coordinated approach to implementation, we will promote gender equality, protect the rights and safety of all individuals, and work towards a society free from violence and discrimination. This approach reflects strong commitment to recognizing the diverse needs of different communities and ensuring that the solutions put forward are genuinely transformative and inclusive. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 1630-19(2): Business Support for 2023 Wildfire Evacuations

Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by first congratulating Wab Kinew of the NDP on being elected as the next Premier of Manitoba. I know he will be a great leader for the province and its people.

Mr. Speaker, over the last 16 months, businesses in the communities of Hay River, K'atlodeeche, and Enterprise, have been affected by floods and fires. They are now asking for reasonable and timely financial support to rebuild or reopen. Mr. Speaker, to put some perspective on this, I want to provide examples of affected businesses:

Firstly, Castaways Cottages & Campground, a tourist destination, was flooded in 2022 and now lost several cabins because of the wildfire.

Patterson's sawmill and Patterson's firewood businesses were decimated by the latest fire. The damage was so extensive, not only did they lose their businesses, but all the homes along Patterson Road were consumed by the fire.

The heart of our agriculture sector, Paradise Valley, experienced damage from flooding last year, now it was wildfire damage; the more reason to use the property acquisition program offered by the federal government.

In Enterprise, we have Sunrise Cabinets, a supplier of cabinets throughout the North and a major supplier to this government. Their building and equipment is gone.

The Gateway Motel was also consumed by the fire along with the building housing Winnie's Dene Art Gallery and Darcy Moses Fashion Designs.

Mr. Speaker, there are other businesses that are still standing but nevertheless were impacted because of forced closures. These businesses, in a sixteenmonth period, lost approximately two to four months of revenue, however, fixed business costs continued and needed to be met. As government, we must do our part. It is our responsibility to assist those businesses whether it is with general advice, DAP, BDIC, ITI, or ECE financial supports.

Mr. Speaker, I ask this government to consider the overall impact and severity that flooding, wildfires, and evacuations had on Hay River, K'atlodeeche, and Enterprise over the past 16 months. We need financial supports that take that reality into consideration. It was not once; it was not twice; it was three times that our communities have been dealt a blow by Mother Nature. We need that financial support not to be limited in scope but must consider the effects of lost revenue, lost labour, lost equipment, lost infrastructure, and the reality of business devaluation. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, due to the magnitude of financial support required for businesses in Hay River, K'atlodeeche, and Enterprise, these supports cannot come from the GNWT alone. We need the federal government to step up and provide some serious investment to support those business impacted, and we need it now. And I will relay that message to our MP as well. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1631-19(2): Medical Travel

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, the health care system is failing our Indigenous population from access to quality and timely care. Our residents face systemic barriers, and more work is needed to break through the red tape to improve accessibility to programs and services. Many community members in my region travel to Yellowknife to get health care services. I am disappointed to hear from constituents who travelled to Yellowknife who feel their concerns are not taken seriously. I have also heard concerns that some people have been told they cannot book appointments in Yellowknife.

Mr. Speaker, recently I had two constituents informing me of their concerns with the care they received in Yellowknife. They felt their concerns were dismissed with multiple attempts to access service. They chose to travel on their own to seek medical attention in the south. Both constituents were diagnosed with serious illness; illnesses that required immediate medical attention.

Mr. Speaker, it is very unfortunate. My condolence to the family. One of my constituents, after 19 days in the hospital, died in Edmonton without the opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends.

Mr. Speaker, the existing medical travel policy has failed the people of my region and other NWT small communities. Both of my constituents, even after receiving a critical diagnosis and being hospitalized, were refused any type of support from GNWT medical travel.

Mr. Speaker, we continue to see more community members accessing services outside of the NWT. We need to review and change the medical travel policy to be more flexible, especially in cases that are serious enough to warrant admissions and/or treatments that are unavailable in the NWT. Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Mr. Speaker, this is an unbelievable situation. If my constituents would have received a timely diagnosis in Yellowknife, they would have been sent south to access treatment and been covered by medical travel. But because they chose to travel on their own, they cannot receive any support from medical travel even after being diagnosed with a serious medical condition that resulted in specialized treatment.

Fundamentally, Mr. Speaker, there should be no barriers to access health care for the residents of the NWT. Interpreterstranslators are also denied for the most vulnerable as well. Mr. Speaker, this is unacceptable. I will have question for the Minister of Health and Social Services. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1632-19(2): Northwest Territories Power Corporation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to speak once again about a major infrastructure project that our government has been pursuing for years and has committed to construct at some point in the future. The project I'm talking about is the Taltson hydro expansion.

Mr. Speaker, I know that there are some Members from past and present in this House who are strongly against the expansion of the Taltson dam, and each Members' reasons are varied. I, however, wanted to stand up here today and state once again, as I have on numerous occasions, that I am somebody who is strongly in favour of the expansion of the Taltson expansion dam.

Mr. Speaker, there are tonnes of potential that a mega project such as the Talston hydro expansion can bring to the economy and the residents of the NWT. For example, given that such a large project would require significant investment, there is a high likelihood that along with those new investments, there will also be increased economic development within the NWT by spinoff industries that is created as a result of the project's construction and maintenance.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, some people are wondering who we're going to sell all the new excess power that will be generated from the expanded Taltson dam. Well, Mr. Speaker, provinces and territories make crossborder deals all the time on various matters, such as pipelines, fibre optic lines, and yes, hydropower too. For instance, just a few months ago Quebec signed a deal with New York state to sell them excess hydropower that's worth billions of dollars. This would be no different. We could do the same with Alberta and Saskatchewan. Plus, the federal government has longterm goals to make Canada netzero on greenhouse gas emissions. But in order to do so, there must be more green energy projects built across the country.

Mr. Speaker, I know there is still work that needs to be done with the Indigenous groups whose lands are nearest to the Talston Dam to ensure they will get their fair share in the benefits of this project. I know that our government will continue with the work on the Taltson steering committee and in bilateral meetings with the affected Indigenous groups. I will have questions for the Minister of NWT Power corporation later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1633-19(2): Environmental Guideline for Contaminated Sites

Merci, Monsieur le President. I have been waiting patiently for almost eight years for this government to do something, anything, to prevent and better manage contaminated sites that have cost us literally tens of millions of dollars. With little to no fanfare, Environment and Climate Change has finally released a new environmental guideline for contaminated site remediation with a public comment period of about six weeks less the evacuation period. While the steps and process laid out in the document appear to be sound, there are some critical admissions and failures. It is hard to believe that it is the best that we could do nine years after devolution.

It's not clear whether this guideline is legally binding or enforceable. It has no specific legislative authorization as cited. It's also not clear whether it would apply to contaminated sites on privatelyowned lands. Once again, the department has completely forgotten any role for the public in the process other than as a recipient of some vague notice if a site is found to be contaminated. The document is completely silent as to whether any of the information and approvals generated would be publicly disclosed. It is not clear to me whether the department is attempting to set up a parallel unlegislated process for contaminated site management when some sites are under active remediation and are regulated by the land and water boards. This could be a parallel GNWT system for contaminated sites with no role for the public and no public information. There is also no mention of working with Indigenous governments in the document. The guideline is not consistent with Cabinet's socalled open government policy, but it is what I have come to expect as a pattern of Cabinet not acting as a public government.

A few other problems with the guideline: Site restoration is completely optional but no one will know anyway. Under this guideline, the department can accept sites with known liabilities and perpetual care requirements without any public knowledge. There are no provisions, or even consideration in the document, of an institutional control program like Saskatchewan's where owners could put up money and GNWT would assume liability for sites, something that standing committee recommended but was ignored.

I am frustrated and disappointed that after eight years, I have failed to move this government towards any meaningful legislated or policy approach to prevention and better management of contaminated sites. I will have questions later today. Mahsi, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1634-19(2): National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today we commemorate the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, and GenderDiverse People. My heart and prayer goes out to the families who have lost loved ones.

Mr. Speaker, it was an honour to be able to take part in unveiling the monument in front of our Legislative Assembly with you. This monument represents our missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls, twospirit sorry, LGBTQQIA+ people. And I would like to thank the people who participated in the ceremony:

President of the Native Women's, Grace Blake for her opening prayer and her words that she shared;

Rassi Nashalik for lighting the kudlik;

Yellowknife's First Nation Dene drummers for their opening prayer song;

The Mandevilles for their playing of the Red River Jig;

William Greenland for his music with his flute throughout the ceremony and during the feeding of the fire ceremony;

Gerri Sharpe, the president of Pauktuuti Inuit Women of Canada for her words and her closing prayer.

I'd also like to recognize and thank the artist Myrna Pokiak who designed and constructed, with her team, the monument. Her design into the monument reflects the Northwest Territories as a whole, and she explained it very well. I thank you for this beautiful piece of art. Quyananni, Myrna.

As I mentioned in my comments at the ceremony, since becoming an MLA I more thoroughly understand the importance of our roles as a Legislative Assembly and to make and introduce laws and rules that affect people of our territory. Walking past this monument every day will remind us of the work that is done and continues to be done for our Indigenous women, girls, and twospirit people but also of the work that still needs to be done to protect them. The work has just begun, Mr. Speaker. It's just begun. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1635-19(2): Inadequate Housing in Nunakput

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today my Member's statement is on homelessness in Nunakput and water delivery schedules in the communities. Homelessness is a hidden burden in communities in my riding. Communities are most likely residents that had fallen on hard times. Inuvialuit values and tradition make everyone to take care of one another, to keep each other safe, but it brings a lot of stress on the family and sometimes elder abuse. Today we have three governments in the systems in Nunakput the Inuvialuit government, the territorial government, and the federal government. Each of these governments play a role to keep Nunakput constituents safe and healthy and a roof over their head.

The NWT government is in power to look after housing and homelessness throughout the NWT. The NWT government has housing and homeless legislation as their power means to look at housing and homelessness in the NWT. The NWT needs to step up to power to keep the NWT residents in safe and healthy houses. Us as a territory, we need to keep residents in home. I want the NWT government to step up and start taking care of residents who are homeless. And I have two constituents that I know of right now living in tents.

Also, Mr. Speaker, water delivery in public housing units across my riding. The concern is rationing of water being delivered to housing units and the households that many tenants run and are well overcrowded. Before the next water delivery, they have no choice but to wait for water delivery on delivery time. And if they want water delivered to the unit, they have to pay for the water to be delivered at their own expense. There's a fee and the water rate and they have to pay it to run out. They have to get a call out and then they'll have to pay for the water. Some tenants cannot afford to pay these fees, Mr. Speaker.

The majority of residents in Nunakput live in public housing. These public housing units get their water delivered by trucks in public housing units as it's like all housing businesses in Nunakput. In Nunakput communities, it become a health and safety concern. Because some of the public housing units run out of water before next water delivery schedule, that means no water to wash themselves. When they get up in the morning, no water for breakfast, no water for washing clothes, no water for doing dishes or home cleaning. Mr. Speaker, this is unacceptable in the NWT right now.

It's my recommendation that the housing review and change their policy and budget to ensure public housing in Nunakput receive adequate funding for the LHOs for potable water and daily use. Without water, it becomes a health and safety concern. Let us find the means and address these health issues and safety and provide adequate in the NWT Housing Association. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1636-19(2): Imperial Oil Tailings Pond Seepage

Mahsi, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I previously spoke on the subject of the Alberta oil sands tailings ponds spills, perhaps several times in the life of this 19th Assembly. This House has heard of a couple of incidents of tailings ponds breaches. One was 5.3 million litres of industrial wastewater in February 2023 and another one in May 2023. The tailings ponds contain hazardous chemicals used in separating the oil from the sand. Both incidences were not reported to our territorial government although there is a bilateral agreement with Alberta.

I would like to reiterate the current bilateral water management agreement with Alberta. It's not an effective mechanism to protect our waterways.

Now there is a news article claiming that Imperial Oil and the Alberta regulator knew for years about tailings seepage at the mine. It is reported the Alberta regulator had reports of seepage as early as 2019. Both Imperial Oil and the Alberta regulator knew the Kearl oil sands mine was seeping tailings into the groundwater for a number of years. They decided not to notify the public and tried to manage it internally. Substances found at the tailings ponds include naphthenic acids, dissolved solids, and sulfates. Oil sands tailings are considered toxic to fish and other wildlife.

A spokesperson for the Alberta regulator has stated that the agency is committed to strong oversight of the Kearl site. Yet, the tailings seepage continues. The Mikisew Cree First Nation chief has stated the regulator did not stop the seepage in 2022, and they didn't acknowledge it since 2019. The chief went on to state, They say they have contained the seepage. They have not. The fact that they did not tell us about the seepage for nine months is the tip of the iceberg.

Mr. Speaker, this issue and actions by regulators, oil companies, and the Alberta government are blasphemous, outlandish, and sickening in that they won't take simple regulatory measures in the face of known human and environmental health problems. Mahsi.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1637-19(2): Appointment of Administrator for Hamlet of Fort Resolution

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I rise to bring a serious concern before the House. It has been over three months since the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs dissolved the elected Fort Resolution council and then appointed an administrator to oversee the local government.

Mr. Speaker, at this time MACA Minister said that this appointment was a significant step to the hamlet of Fort Resolution towards having a strong and stable community government. But, Mr. Speaker, isn't it ironic that the Minister's actions have done just the opposite? Instead of a stable community government with local leaders chosen by local people, the community has been totally uninformed about this decision and is awash with rumors, instability, and serious concerns about the future.

Mr. Speaker, when MACA Minister invoked section 159.2 of the Hamlet Act on June 5th, 2023, the purpose was to appoint an administrator who shall perform the duties of the council. The Hamlet Act is very specific about the duties of the council and core elements of the council administration is that it is business to be carried out in the public. This is why this is in clear rules about public meetings, for example.

Section 25, 27, and 28 state that notice to a public must be posted in advance. Agendas must also be posted in advance. Public meetings must be scheduled at least on a monthly basis. All bylaws must be passed in public meetings. Mr. Speaker, all these public meetings, the residents of Fort Resolution would have the opportunity to be informed about the business of their community. Normally, the meeting would include various reports such as public safety, financial reports, and operational reports. So why have there been no public meetings since Fort Resolution was placed under an administration by the Minister?

The statute requires public meetings and public disclosure of the hamlet documents but despite the legislative imperative, Fort Resolution's currently under the shroud of secrecy with the community unaware of even basic decisions that have been made on their behalf. Mr. Speaker, this must change immediately, and I'm calling on the MACA Minister to direct his administrator to follow the Hamlet Act and initiate a public meeting that the community originally deserves. This is an unacceptable situation and is continuing to hold the Fort Resolution back from the path to full selfgovernment. It is time. It is time that the Minister corrects this issue and ensure that all our communities are made to follow the laws of the Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1638-19(2): Violence against Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQIA+ people

Thank you. Mr. Speaker, the abuses and violations committed and condoned by the Government of Canada against Indigenous people and, in particular, women, girls, and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people, is genocide. These abuses and violations have resulted in the denial of safety, security, and human dignity for Indigenous people and are the root causes of violence against Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people. Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBFQIPA+ people are forced to confront violence on a daily basis and live in a world where perpetrators act with impunity. The steps to end and redress this genocide must be no less monumental than the combination of systems and actions that has worked to maintain colonial violence for generations. We must address the historical, multigenerational, and intergenerational trauma, and social and economic marginalization of Indigenous people. We must break the status quo and stop ignoring the agency and expertise of Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBTQIPA+ people.

The Calls for Justice arise from international and domestic human and Indigenous rights laws, including the Charter, the Constitution, and the honour of the Crown. As such, Canada has a legal obligation to fully implement these Calls for Justice and to ensure Indigenous women, girls, and 2SLGBFQIPA+ people live in dignity. First Nations, Inuit, and Metis families can raise their children with the same safety, security, and human rights that nonIndigenous families do.

Mr. Speaker, past efforts in this area have been reactive rather than preventative, which is a significant barrier to addressing the root causes of violence. Further, insufficient political will continues to be a roadblock. Proper prioritization and resourcing of solutions by governments must come with real partnerships with Indigenous peoples that support selfdetermination in a decolonizing way. The Calls for Justice represent a path forward towards ending Canada's genocide and to transforming the systemic and societal values that have worked to maintain colonial violence. The Calls for Justice aren’t just about institutions or governments, although they do have foundational obligations to uphold. There is a role for everyone, both in the short and longterm. Individuals, institutions, and governments must all play a part. I encourage everyone to read the Calls to Action and to understand and, most importantly, to act on their roles in them."

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1639-19(2): Settling Land Claims

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think we can all agree we hoped that progress on land claim and selfgovernment agreements went differently in the life of this Assembly. Even in our own mandate, we weren't all that inspiring, hoping to settle two of those agreements. And here we find ourselves four years later with zero agreements concluded and many outstanding implementation agreements in ones that were settled over 20 years ago, Mr. Speaker.

Last time I asked these questions, Mr. Speaker, the Premier said she was hopeful that perhaps in the life of this government, a Norman Wells selfgovernment agreement could be signed and an Akaitcho AIP agreement was out for consultation and, pending any issues, the AIP could be signed. I'm still hopeful. We got a one-month extension on this Assembly so perhaps some signatures were reached. I'll have questions for the Premier about whether there has been any progress on outstanding land claims and selfgovernment agreements. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1640-19(2): Safe and Affordable Housing for Women

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, homelessness prevention is not a passive process. It needs aspiration, and it needs action. Today is the National Day of Action for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. On this Day of Action, where better to start than safe and secure housing.

Lack of housing and lack of affordable housing has an accumulative impact on the health and safety of Northerners, especially women and especially women with children. Indigenous women, girls, and twospirited people experience disproportionately higher rates of violence, marital assault, familial violence, and sexual assault. Persistent gaps in living standards between Indigenous and nonIndigenous peoples in Canada, along with disparities in education, transportation, and employment, contribute to high rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls.

Across this country, women living off reserves are more likely to live in poverty even more so than women of visible minorities, women with disabilities, single parent women, and single senior women. Many women have shared with me that they are one missed paycheque away from homelessness.

If housing truly is a human right, and we mean no more stolen sisters, this government needs to actively increase the number of, and access to, affordable housing, promote strong social networks for women, increase efforts to prevent family violence through healing, recognize and address intersectionality of women experiencing or at high risk of experiencing homelessness, and expand and enhance social support systems.

Mr. Speaker, too many NWT residents find that to gain support they need to fall through the cracks at the right time to the right depth and ask the right questions to the right person to access social supports. This year, after a fiveyear wait, this government tabled its homelessness strategy. Members on this side of the House demanded accountability and eventually used tabling this strategy as a bargaining chip. The strategy we did get was a framework. It lacked data to inform who was being impacted and in which NWT communities to inform policy and budgetary decisions. It was silent on the funding deficit to maintain a fleet of aging assets and the influx of dollars needed to address housing in core need and lack of housing.

Mr. Speaker, we need aspirational goals that address the housing needs specifically of those Northerners experiencing or on the brink of experiencing homelessness, especially our youth who continue to put themselves in vulnerable situations in exchange for a roof over their heads. Mr. Speaker, if this territory is to reach zero homelessness, bold, aspirational, targeted, funded, actions specific to those who need it is required because all of us know someone who depends on it. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 1641-19(2): 2021 and 2022 Band Manager Mentor Award Winner

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to attend part of the previous NWTAC and LGANT AGM. Part of the agenda was their awards ceremony. NWTAC was pleased to present the first of two 2022 community service awards. The first award winner was Soham Srimani. They spoke about his commitment, drive, and creative skills that has nurtured the community of Nahanni Butte. Through his administrative efforts and drive, the community has received funding for various projects, some which include housing projects, infrastructure projects, tourism, and marketing projects. All of this has benefited the community of Nahanni Butte. He has also done a commendable job in conducting mental health and youth development programs in the community. Nominated by several members of the Nahanni Butte's council, the NWTAC was pleased to present the community service award to Soham.

Mr. Speaker, LGANT presented the 2021 and 2022 Band Manager Mentor Award winner to Soham, the band manager from Nahanni Butte Dene Band. This award was given out by the band managers working group and encourages professional learning and peer support among First Nation administrators in the Northwest Territories. The award goes to the band manager that has exemplified the spirit of the band managers working group by offering support and advice to their colleagues in the past year.

Mr. Speaker, I realize that I am not going to do justice to Soham's nomination, but I did take a few paragraphs from many of the letters of support for him from the community and their leadership.

Before Soham took the job, they had six band managers over a four-year span. This resulted in a lot of administrative issues for the community. Thanks to Soham, he managed these issues well, created a proper record management system in both offline and online module and took care of past due reports for various funding received, even pending reports dated back to 2014. He has proved his administrative, managerial, and reporting skills and the community is very fond of him.

Apart from his regular band management duties, he is also involved in the community youth training, conducting seminars, and helping out community members in various capacities. His involvement in housing projects, infrastructure projects, tourism and marketing projects, coordinating with various government departments for funding proposals, approvals, implementation, and team management have been commendable and the community is very happy to have him.

Mr. Speaker, I realize my time and I would like to thank Soham for great work and ask that the rest of this statement be deemed as read. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Soham was instrumental in securing funding for a 4plex residential construction project (funded by NWT Housing Corporation), a 10plex residential construction project (SEED funding approved by CMHC), Arbor construction project (funded by CanNor), an allweather stage construction project (funding approved from Infrastructure Canada), a new boat ramp project (funded by Department of Infrastructure, GNWT) and getting a Canada Post office in community with a dedicated postal code. He has done commendable job in conducting mental health programs and youth development programs in the community. He had helped to restructure our development corporation this year and getting approval from Nutrition North for our general store. Apart from being one of the best band managers Nahanni Butte ever had, Soham has been instrumental in restructuring the Naha Dehe Development Corporation. He has hired people to operate the corporation from community and training them inperson. The development corporation, under his guidance, started generating income in less than three months. In previous years, the corporation was suffering loss after loss, but thanks to Soham, we have taken the necessary actions to make the corporation operational and profitable.

Mr. Speaker, as I said previously, the nominations and letters of support came in from members of council, their employees, and residents of the community. One of the key themes in all the letters of support were Soham's willingness and eagerness to help people. He is patient and willing to invest the time in training and involving himself as part of the training process. He has made a great impact on the community in many various ways including financial, mentoring, teaching and learning from the community.

Mr. Speaker, Soham was a worthy winner for the awards by both organizations. As the MLA for the riding, I am very proud to recognize him here today. Mashi cho, Soham.

Recognition of Visitors in the Gallery