Debates of May 28, 2024 (day 17)

20th Assembly, 1st Session
Members Present
Hon. Caitlin Cleveland, Mr. Edjericon, Mr. Hawkins, Hon. Lucy Kuptana, Hon. Jay Macdonald, Hon. Vince McKay, Mr. McNeely, Ms. Morgan, Mr. Morse, Mr. Nerysoo, Ms. Reid, Mr. Rodgers, Hon. Lesa Semmler, Hon. R.J. Simpson, Mr. Testart, Mr. Thompson, Mrs. Weyallon Armstrong, Hon. Caroline Wawzonek, Mrs. Yakeleya


Colleagues, I'd like to thank Lillian Elias for the opening guiding words. It's greatly appreciated, and sets the tone for the day.

On a personal note, I'd like to thank you guys for yesterday for your indulgence with me as I had to leave and deal with my son, who had an accident, and to the Infrastructure staff in Fort Providence, the RCMP detachment, and the Fort Providence Health Centre, you guys done an amazing job and I have to thank you very much from the bottom of my heart.

Ministers’ Statements

Minister’s Statement 34-20(1): Indigenous Government Partnerships and Capacity Building

Thank you, Mr. Speaker Mr. Speaker, I rise today to discuss a significant issue affecting the Northwest Territories: The historic low water levels that have been observed over the entire Mackenzie River Basin. Over the last four years, we have seen extremely variable water levels, likely related to climate change, from historic highs in 2020 and 2021 to record lows in 2023 and 2024. In this time of unprecedented variability, we are committed to giving residents, communities, and stakeholders the best information and tools we can to inform planning and decisionmaking.

As the ultimate downstream jurisdiction of the Mackenzie River Basin, we are also working with neighboring jurisdictions to ensure shared waters of the basin are managed in a way that maintains the ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystem.

Current low water levels in the NWT result from a number of factors in the last two years over the entire Mackenzie River Basin, including high temperatures, low rainfall, and high evaporation rates. The consequences for residents and communities have included disruptions to marine transportation, reduced hydroelectricity production, and visible changes to aquatic ecosystems.

To inform the decisions and planning of NWT residents, communities and stakeholders, the Government of the Northwest Territories proactively provides uptodate information. The Department of Environment and Climate Change closely monitors water, snow, and meteorological conditions and publicly shares important monthly and annual updates, including NWT Water Monitoring Bulletins and the annual NWT Spring Water Outlook. During the spring breakup period when there is a risk of flooding, and the department also provides regular, almost daily, spring breakup reports. Staff are also working with academic researchers and federal scientists to better understand how climate change and increased variability is expected to impact Great Slave Lake and the Mackenzie River in the future.

Mr. Speaker, communities at risk of flooding in the NWT are very interested in understanding how more variable water levels may impact their community's risk of flooding. In the ten NWT communities that are at high risk of flooding, Environment and Climate Change is working with Natural Resources Canada and Environment and Climate Change Canada, as well as the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and the Department of Finance's geomatics division to create new flood inundation and flood hazard maps.

Preliminary flood inundation maps, which can be used to inform emergency planning, have already been developed for Hay River, K'atlodeeche First Nation, Fort Simpson, and Aklavik and are currently being updated based on the review and input of community leadership.

Mr. Speaker, current low water levels serve to remind us that water in the NWT are affected by conditions in upstream jurisdictions. The Government of the Northwest Territories actively negotiates and implements transboundary water management agreements with neighboring jurisdictions in the Mackenzie River Basin. These agreements play a crucial role in protecting the quality, quantity, and aquatic ecosystem health of waters flowing into the territory.

Our ongoing collaboration with the Yukon, British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan, through bilateral transboundary agreements and the Mackenzie River Basin Board, underscores our commitment to protecting our shared waters. These are venues by which we can expect early and effective engagement, notification and sharing of information on developments and activities that might affect the ecological integrity of the aquatic ecosystem.

Mr. Speaker, through data analysis, research, information sharing and partnerships, the Government of the Northwest Territories is actively working to address the challenges low water levels currently pose for residents, communities, and stakeholders. We are committed to safeguarding our water and supporting community resilience in the face of environmental change. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Members’ Statements

Member’s Statement 189-20(1): Wildfire Review

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, yesterday my honourable friend opposite, the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs, spoke to the need to go for residents of the Northwest Territories to follow trusted sources when emergencies occur. And I think that is one thing we need to be very mindful of, is trust in government. When I talk to constituents, friends, and family, many of them tell me if there is another state of emergency, they will be reluctant to follow orders to evacuate. And I think that comes to the fundamental issue here. If citizens do not trust in their government to take care of them during an emergency, what do we have to do to restore that trust.

A motion was brought forward in the last sitting of this House to establish a public inquiry. That passed in February 22nd. Since then, we have had a we've seen the establishment order a draft establishment order tabled on the floor of this House, but what we have not seen is the efforts of the government to bring forward an after-action report. Residents of Yellowknife, at least, have seen their city take on an after-action report for an independent contractor. Many people have been interviewed, and many people have gone to public engagements. But they're still waiting to see what this government is going to do.

We had not heard an update about when the after-action report is going to come forward. The Premier has been silent on this issue. And I'm hoping today we can get some clarity on this, and we can see how far the government has come along to restoring trust. Because at the end of the day, if we are in an emergency, in a life or death emergency, and this government is not someone the public will respect enough to listen to, we will have an even worse crisis on our hands. We have to get this right. We have to respect our citizens, and we have to ensure that there's transparency, fairness, and accountability over how last year's crisis was handled. And I hope that the Premier will have good answers for me so we can move forward together on this. Thank you

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Range Lake. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife North.

Member’s Statement 190-20(1): Family Medicine Residency Program

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to share a story about health care staffing that's a good news story for a change our family medicine residency program.

Since 2020, the program has accepted two doctors in training each year. They train as residents in Yellowknife with mandatory rotations to Inuvik and Nunavut. This is Canada's first ever family medicine residency training site north of 60. It's a partnership between the university of Alberta and the three local health authorities in the NWT, and the program was dropped with advice from the Indigenous Advisory Committee. It includes critical education on the importance of cultural safety in health care in the NWT.

So having these family medicine residents present in our system has decreased appointment wait times for some teams by as much as 60 percent. It's improved primary care screening and helped us continue offering medical services at critical times like during the height of the pandemic. As of summer of 2024, six residents will have graduated from the family medicine residency program. One of the very first graduates was YK North constituent Thompson Gaunt who is Metis and born and raised in Yellowknife. Importantly, all of the graduates have gone on to practice medicine in the NWT. That is because young people who spend time living and working in the NWT for an extended period of time, and they get involved in community life and the diverse cultures and experiences the territory has to offer, are more likely to identify themselves as a northern physician and want to stay here and work.

So a very defeatist narrative that keeps popping up is that we'll never be able to fully staff our health care positions locally because health care workers just don't want to live in the NWT. Mr. Speaker, that is just not true. And this program shows that. The NWT Family Medicine Residency Program is one of the most popular residency programs in Canada. It has been very successful at attracting students. It even won the Premier's award for excellence in 20212022.

The NWT Medical Association recently wrote a letter to Ministers recommending that we work towards expanding the Family Medicine Residency Training Program from two to four residents per year. Mr. Speaker, I ask for unanimous consent to conclude my statement. I'm so close.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

So close, but not there yet. Getting better.

---Unanimous consent granted

Okay. So expanding the program would help ensure a steady pipeline of new northern trained physicians who understand our system and our patients into our health care workforce. So I'm eager to see this government heed that call and build on this shining success story. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 191-20(1): Public Safety Communications

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Today I'd like to talk about how we communicate. I'm going to talk specifics. The Northwest Territories emergency plan from April 2024 has an appendix B, which is the emergency communications protocol. One sentence on page 6 of the protocol reads: Within this model, departments and agencies are expected to implement their own communications tactics based on their own business continuity needs during an emergency.

Mr. Speaker, I'm hearing general concern that this will give GNWT departments the leniency to silo themselves in future disasters down the line. It's also a concern that coordinated communications only comes into effect during a state of emergency. As we all saw in 2023, coordinated communications is crucial before the state of emergency to better speak to concerns and help maintain public confidence in times of uncertainty.

Mr. Speaker, for many, it was felt that there was no certainty on who to get key information from in the government. It was incredibly frustrating having to jump around between department websites looking for relevant information. Even the new improved public safety page manages to maintain silos. It's just links to separate websites.

I think the GNWT tends to forget that the general public does not know how the government operates internally, and it's not reasonable or realistic to expect the public to know details regarding which department is responsible for what functions. A page of links that directs you to another list of links is a nightmare for anyone, let alone someone with limited literacy skills. The NWT alert page is a great concept but so far, the execution has lacked luster. When media asked about it at the first wildfire season briefing with the Premier and wildfire staff, the question was not truly answered. Mr. Speaker, I will have questions for the Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs at the appropriate time. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Great Slave. Members' statements. Member from Sahtu.

Member’s Statement 192-20(1): Sahtu Resupply

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, over the past weekend, I had the opportunity to have preliminary discussions with the principals of Buffalo Airways. Instructions to stakeholders on the Sahtu resupply is as important as the plan itself.

Mr. Speaker, we can no longer deny the reality of low water levels only minimizing repercussions of it. To bring into perspective, Mr. Speaker, last fall's barge delivery to Fort Good Hope seen a topup to the winter road resupply season of 600,000 litres of fuel.

Mr. Speaker, January the 8th, 2024, Sahtu seen the costs of aviation fuel delivered to Norman Wells and emergency carryover to the heavy tanker winter road season delivery at a cost of $1.75 per litre . This amount cost to Norman Wells was $1 million. Now, adding further costs to transport the product on to Fort Good Hope, if it's the same volume as last year.

Mr. Speaker, this only one of many products essential cargo destined for the Sahtu. The Mackenzie River communities of Fort Good Hope, Norman Wells, and Tulita rely totally on the affordable Mackenzie River Marine Transportation. We have five grocery stores, schools, and health centres within these communities, and commercial projects, certainly an endless of customers and clients.

Mr. Speaker, MTS cancelled a 2024 sailing season. The Government of the Northwest Territories, an ambitious resupply plan, and in collaboration with Buffalo Airways' air barge, we cannot afford to miss the boat.

Mr. Speaker, in the Sahtu resupply, is the Sahtu resupply an emergency one? Myself, recognizing this, I cannot emphasize enough the extreme magnitude of the situation and, more importantly, the immediate need for a sound, logistical resupply plan. This approach is a shortterm one. What is your government's longterm one? My conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I foresee the immediate need and critical

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Member from the Sahtu, your time is up.

Oh, thank you, Member from Sahtu. Members' statements. Member from Frame Lake.

Member’s Statement 193-20(1): Northwest Territories Emergency Management Plan for Municipalities

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, MACA has recently released a new emergency plan, which seeks to better clarify roles and responsibilities for the GNWT, NGOs, and municipalities during emergencies and evacuations. I appreciate the department's work on this, and having read through the plan, I acknowledge that it is clear about roles and responsibilities; however, in terms of current reality, I think there is still a fair bit of work to do to figure out the fine details of how this plan will work on the ground, particularly in relation to local emergency management organizations. I also understand that some gaps still exist that we need to address, particularly who will be funding emergency response capacity building for these organizations and who will pay for it and coordinate evacuation of one community to another?

It is worth noting that the overarching assumptions of this plan were established in a time when community evacuations were relatively infrequent. That reality is changing, Mr. Speaker. And as evacuations and emergencies due to extreme weather increase, I think we need to step back and reassess whether we have all the pieces in place for this plan to work or whether changes to the plan or increased resources to implement it are needed it.

As has been discussed extensively in this House, many of our communities, particularly our regional centres identified in the plan as host communities, are underfunded. They don't have additional capacity to take on the responsibilities laid out in this plan, either for building up capacity to respond to emergencies within their boundaries or to host evacuated neighbours. The plan speaks to how communities should look to local businesses and contractors where necessary to expand capacity to respond. But, again, building capacity within those businesses to be able to answer the call will cost money the communities don't have.

With regard to hosting evacuees, I think we need to step back and assess whether this really is something we can download on to local EMOs or whether we need to be seeking federal funding to establish resource reception centres for the regions.

Mr. Speaker, I believe we can identify a path which works for communities and the territory, but I don't think it involves leaving municipalities to do this work alone. We need to fund communities to build and maintain emergency response capacity. We also need to work with municipalities to identify how regional evacuation hosting is going to work and openly acknowledge that they can't take on that task alone. I'll have questions for the Minister at the appropriate time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Frame Lake. Members' statements. Member from Inuvik Boot Lake.

Member’s Statement 194-20(1): Aurora College Transformation

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, as brought forward by my colleagues in this House several times over the past week, the transition of Aurora College to a polytechnic is in jeopardy of not reaching some of its milestone commitments. Mr. Speaker, as a government, we must ensure that we continue our commitment to this important work. One of those commitments, Mr. Speaker, should be to fund the centre for learning, teaching, and innovation, an initiative that the Aurora College brought forward during the transition process, and, Mr. Speaker, this program provides expertise to develop new quality control programs that will ensure the college meets the quality assurance requirements to become a polytechnic. It will allow the college to develop madeinthe North programming, Mr. Speaker. This important work was started through funding through CanNor but, unfortunately, that funding has come to an end.

Mr. Speaker, there was a transition team, as we're all aware, consisting of GNWT employees, senior employees, and college staff but, Mr. Speaker, once the new legislation was introduced and the new board of directors put in place, this team was this team was deemed unnecessary by this government. This team was funded, Mr. Speaker, through the surplus budget of the Aurora College but this funding has also been exhausted.

I can't help but think, Mr. Speaker, that if we continue to fund this important transition work either through additional funding allowing the college to have the necessary expertise or through continuing the transition team as it was initially designed, the milestones we were hoping to accomplish would be more attainable. Mr. Speaker, if you're a jet, you're a jet all the way, and if we want this transition to be a success, we must commit to it. And, Mr. Speaker, that will have to come with money. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Inuvik Boot Lake. Members' statements. Member from Monfwi.

Member’s Statement 195-20(1): Increase of Drugs and Crime in Northwest Territories

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I'm going to be talking about drugs and crime.

Mr. Speaker, today I want to talk about the increase of drugs and crimes in the NWT. It is disturbing to acknowledge there is a rise of homicide in the NWT right now related to drugs. There is more violent crimes, and the RCMP acknowledge the link between drugs and the unprecedented number of homicide that have occurred. I want to offer my condolences to all the families and friends who have been impacted by drug crime in our territory. There is one I do send my condolence to the families in Behchoko that are affected by this as well, and they are we're having a service today.

Mr. Speaker, we see the RCMP is trying to respond to these crimes and illegal activity. When dealers are arrested or charged, parents and grandparents are so relieved and so happy. Mr. Speaker, this is what we want to see. We want to see is the RCMP take control of the drug trade in the NWT. We want our communities to be safe. We want our children to grow up without being influenced by drug by fast cash and addictions.

Mr. Speaker, the drug trade is destroying the lives of our peoples. Our people are being shot, assaulted, abused, and intimidated. When are we going to stand up and let drug dealers know the NWT is not a place to do business? Right now, there are homicide cases linked to drug dealing with no updates. And in other cases, when charges are laid, they get off on technicality.

Drug dealers come to the NWT and pray on our vulnerable people. They take over people's homes and set up businesses in the NWT, which leads to more crimes like theft and assault. It leads to more addictions. It leads to more destruction, trauma, chaos.

Mr. Speaker, people in small communities are scared. Our communities do not feel safe. I am very concerned about communities without an RCMP detachment. Gameti chief and council had to take it upon themselves to remove a person who was known to be selling drugs. Mr. Speaker, can I have unanimous consent to conclude my statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Without a consistent RCMP force, drug dealers with easily take advantage of small communities. This rise of drugs and crime is debilitating our communities and our territory. Mr. Speaker, who runs this territory? We need to make laws and take actions today because right now in the NWT, the drug trade is winning, and our people are losing. I will have question for the Minister of Justice. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 196-20(1): Fort Resolution house Fire

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, in 2023 fire season, I stood in front of the House here and thanked all the first responders in the Northwest Territories, including YKDFN and Lutselk'e Dene First Nation, for protecting our homes and community, and I thank you for your continued service.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I spoke about emergency planning and the devastation caused by a recent fire in Fort Resolution. There is certainly much to discuss in this Assembly regarding community administrator situation. But today I would like to revisit those events to highlight how well we all worked together despite the circumstances to save lives and to protect homes. I want to start by start off by thanking ministerial colleagues, MACA Minister, and ECC Minister, for doing their best to get, gather, and deploy all the resources they could promptly and effectively at a moment's notice. I want to thank the local community leaders, Deninu Kue First Nation chief Louis Balsillie and Fort Resolution Metis President Arthur Beck for all the work they done in those organizations' effort as well. I also want to thank the Housing NWT Minister as well for helping getting those displaced families into temporary housing quickly.

I want to thank the first responders, deputy fire chief Louis Balsillie, fire fighter Jessica Sanderson, Captain Joseph Ortea, Braden Lafferty, and lieutenant Sam O'Reilly. I also need to thank the hamlet staff Dave Pierrot, Don Pierrot, Louis Edjericon, Derrick Cross, Lyndon Stratmursch of the GNWT highways has provided the community with vital support as did the staff from ECC, including Scott King, Greg Lafferty, David Cardinal, Sammy Hunter, Joe O'Reilly, and of course the helicopter pilots who rushed to the scene. And, Mr. Speaker, including the RCMP in Fort Resolution.

I also appreciate the Northern store, the Deninu Kue store for their donation of water and sandwiches. I know Bedessa Sanderson and Crystal Bougie and Eric Lafferty brought food and water to the first responders as well.

The health centre also did a great job assisting those who were injured fighting the fire. So I wanted to say thank you to all their staff as well.

While the community is devastated, this disaster shows us once again the bravery of our first responders and the unlimited compassion of ordinary community members. It was Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my Member's statement.

Unanimous consent granted

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Thank you, colleagues. While the community is devastated, this disaster shows us once again the very bravery of our first responders and their unlimited compassion of ordinary community members. It was also an opportunity for these different levels of government to show how they can come together to meet any threat to the safety of the Northerners head on. Thank you, all, for this hard work and dedication to making the North a safer place, and thank you for your service. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

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

Member’s Statement 197-20(1): Health Promotion in Schools

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, during the last sitting, I did several statements regarding health wellness and health promotion by our government. My statement today will be similar with particular focus on health promotion in schools.

Mr. Speaker, it is critical that our government support the healthy learning and development of all our young people within every school across the NWT. Our government needs to ensure that our future generations develop skills and education necessary to have good healthy lives as they develop from adolescents to adulthood.

Mr. Speaker, as our children and our youth go through our education system, from code of conduct to high school, we need to instill in them such things as the importance of healthy, well balanced, nutritious meals, and about the dangers of harm of drugs and alcohol use, and to ensure they have sports and recreation so they stay out of trouble. In addition, Mr. Speaker, we need to ensure that students feel supported in terms of mental health.

There is a vacant counsellor position in my region right now. It is very important that our government works to fill those positions as soon as possible to ensure the students there have the mental health supports they need whenever they need it.

Moreover, Mr. Speaker, if a school is lucky enough to have a counsellor, high turnover rates for such positions makes it difficult for a student to feel motivated to seek help because it makes it that much more challenging for students to establish a rapport and build a positive therapeutic relationship with the counsellors.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, as a government, we need to ensure that all students in every region are supported physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. We must do more to help our students thrive and help lead them into futures they are proud of to look forward to in life. I will have questions for the Minister of ECE later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from the Deh Cho. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife Centre.

Member’s Statement 198-20(1): Funding for Midwives

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, midwives are more than just baby catchers. As a matter of fact, they provide counselling, they provide information on pregnancy, sexual health, they order tests, they provide order ultrasounds, they do PAP smears, prescribe medication. Mr. Speaker, the list goes on.

Mr. Speaker, they also provide continuing education during and after the birth. Mr. Speaker, they help with lactation consultation, infant feeding. And, Mr. Speaker, they have truly become a continuation of the health care system.

Mr. Speaker, if you're not convinced by the human side, well, maybe you're a dollar and cents person. I'm okay, I understand that. So here it is.

In Alberta and in BC, they respectively have saved $7 million and $60 million with the savings by using midwifery. But it doesn't just stop there. According to the Association of Safe Alternatives for Childbirth, they say they save $540 per birth. And then they go on to the overall continuation using the versus the obstetrics program, it's $2,000 cheaper. Midwives save money.

Mr. Speaker, Parkland Institute, which is associated with the University of Alberta, says you can save $1,200 per birth. And in BC, they even say over the 28day postpartum process, it's over $2,000. This all adds up, Mr. Speaker. There's not a health care system that isn't evaluating itself asking how can we do business better? Heck, let's consider midwifery.

I'm a very pragmatic person, Mr. Speaker, as everyone knows. Health jurisdictions are asking themselves what's important. It's not midwifery versus obstetrics, Mr. Speaker. It's about the right fit in partnerships. There is money to be saved. Families, mothers, children receive less trauma. Patient care is increased. And sometimes, if not most times, medication is decreased, Mr. Speaker. All good things. It makes you wonder why the GNWT isn't do more? Oh, but they are, Mr. Speaker. On page 136 of the business plans, they're actually reviewing the regulations, Mr. Speaker. If you go to the mandate, the second bullet on page 5 sorry, page 5 on the fifth bullet, it points out that they want to continue the implementation of things like the Missing, Murdered, and Indigenous Women's Call to Inquiry, and 7.4 of that inquiry also talks about engaging the teachings of midwifery.

Mr. Speaker, I can't tell you any more than the fact it's that simple. Midwifery works, and we'll talk about why it's so important later today. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife Centre. Members' statements. Member from Yellowknife South.

Member’s Statement 199-20(1): Youth Parliament 2024

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, back in April, the Legislative Assembly played host to youth from across the Northwest Territories for our annual Youth Parliament, something I look forward to every year as we get to hear voices from youth and to hear what they feel is important to the next generation.

The following words in my Member's statement today are those that were written and read in this Legislature by Kagen Ball who represented Yellowknife South as the Minister responsible for Infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, today I would like to talk about plans for the Mackenzie Valley Highway. The Mackenzie Valley Highway is a project that has been talked about for decades and will connect the Northwest Territories providing the possible expansion of communities and an increased stability to resupply those communities. So far in the project, 40 of the 42 bridges have been completed, and it is in the coming construction season we will begin construction on both remaining bridges. The planned distance for the highway is only going to be from Wrigley to Norman Wells, but once this project is completed it will be expanded to cover the communities and towns all the way up the highway, InuvikTuktoyaktuk Highway.

This highway will give vital allseason supply routes to the smaller communities without the need to worry about low water levels where the barges might get stuck or how the big airport or landing strip for the supply planes is to land on, and it will help with further development and reclamation of old projects and infrastructure. My main focus with this project is connecting the Northwest Territories and giving the necessary supplies and assistance to communities that are currently hard to reach without large shortterm investments, such as for crews and fuel for the barges and the planes that resupply communities along the Mackenzie Valley and further.

Another concern that is driving my wanting to focus on this project is climate change and how it is causing disruptions in the resupply routes through wildfire, low water levels that I mentioned in my concerns about the barges, melting permafrost, damaging the airports, and more. This highway will eliminate some of the problems faced by the existing resupply routes.

I know that for a few more years while we continue to work on this road, we will need to use the barges and planes to resupply unconnected communities, but the highway will connect them and eliminate the need for current methods used to resupply the communities along that route. Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank Kaegan for letting me bring his voice, once again, to the halls of this legislature. Thank you.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Yellowknife South. Members' statements.

Member’s Statement 200-20(1): Billy Alfred Deneyoua Celebration of Life

Good afternoon, Colleagued, today, I would like to celebrate the life of Billy Alfred Deneyoua. He was born on March 9, 1968, to Henry and Bella Deneyoua. He was one of eleven children in their family. Billy attended Thomas Simpson School and was one of the lucky ones who did not have to attend residential school. Billy was taught to hunt, trap, and set snares by dad. They would go out to their cabin for weeks at a time where they would trap and bring home furs.

When people spoke about Billy, they would always say that he was a hard worker who loved to be outdoors. In the summertime he would be seen mowing the lawn, harvesting and chopping wood for the fall and winter seasons. As well, you could see him in the evening or on weekends working on his 4wheeler. This was his mode of transportation to get around town and to get to work.

Billy worked for many years at Simpson Air with Ted and George. He was a fixture at the company. Passengers from the communities loved to chat and catch up with him. Billy was very happy with his sisters, or helpful with his sisters every year with their gardening. He would help them turn the soil, dig up the garden, sometimes he would help plant potatoes. In the fall time he enjoyed digging up fresh vegetables.

Billy loved his nieces and nephews as they were his own children. In return, they loved him so dearly. They appreciated that he would joke around with them, and he told them great stories. One of the stories was when two of his nieces saw his skidoo and try to start it. After a couple of pulls, it started and took off straight toward a tree. They could be heard saying Billy's gonna be mad, so they pulled and tugged on the machine until they finally managed to get it back to where they found it. They covered and hid the skidoo tracks and took off. A bit later, the girls ran into him, and he asked them why they bumped into the tree. Then he started to laugh about it. This was Billy always looking at the brighter side of things.

Billy was an amazing man who was understanding and when you needed a hand, he would be there for you. His family and friends are going to miss him. It is very hard to say goodbye to an amazing angel; they were lucky to have him in their life.

The family would like to thank everybody for their condolences and for coming out to say their final goodbyes. He is now with his parents and family members watching over the family, especially the young ones. He will be sadly missed.

Oral Questions

Question 193-20(1): Public Safety Communications

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My questions today are for the Minister of MACA.

Under the NWT Emergency Plan, the communication incident management team is only activated in state of emergencies. Can the Minister speak to what coordination will be stood up when communities have urgent concerns on public safety that may not yet be classified as emergencies? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Speaker: MR. SPEAKER

Thank you, Member from Great Slave. Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs.

Thank you. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are many levels of community or sorry, emergency situations and for that, every level has a different stage that they will go in for what they're going to stand up and what they're going to need at that time. So depending on what stage it might be in, us as MACA may not fully be involved but we would be there to observe and assist with the department regional superintendents and the manager of EMO. But for the most part, at every stage MACA will be involved to assist any community emergency whether they fully need us or not, but for the most part, just there to be there if it's needed. So at a local emergency level, we might not be involved at all. It would just be the local community involvement, and they would be doing their own thing, as I've witnessed many time inside Hay River, that not too many people outside of Hay River would hear of or see of, but when it goes down to the regional area of the regional emergency measure organization, MACA would have more involvement and the ability to step in more resources as would the territorial emergency measure organization when it gets to that level. So hopefully that answers your question. Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Could the Minister speak to whether he'd consider expanding or reenvisioning the NWT alert page to draw from GNWT corporate communications or any centralized mechanism that would be able to consolidate all relevant and robust public safety information in a mobile app, like the BC wildfire app. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. MACA has been working to expand the NWT alerting system. They've worked with the RCMP recently for the ability for them to send out alerts. MACA's always looking at improving the way we communicate. When it comes down to a territorial emergency, right now I think we're at the stage where we're using the NWT alert system. There's also other apps and devices out there, like Alertable, for an example where you can set your region for your ability to pick up those kinds of emergencies if there is any. But there's locally, I would have to say the best resources are your local community agencies, whether it be the community government, your community emergency response teams, whatever that might be. And for that reason is that's where you're going to get your experienced knowledge people for that area communicating and those that information would be utilized also for MACA to share or the territorial emergency measures organization to share if need be. But for the most part, when it's a local state of emergency and local EMO organization is running it, it would be the local governments, like a town or municipality doing the communication that may not go out everywhere on, like, the NWT alerting device. Thank you.