Government of Northwest Territories News/* ES HIDE ALL TABS FOR KUOOT php print render($tabs); */ ?>
Mr. Speaker, as many Members will have seen earlier today in the Great Hall, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs and Canadian Tire Corporation announced a new partnership to support physical activity and sport opportunities for NWT children and youth.
Canadian Tire Corporation has committed to providing up to $225,000 over three years for equipment, training and capacity building to support MACA’s After School Physical Activity Program.
As Members may recall, this program supports local programs that get school-aged children and youth more physically active in every NWT school.
On behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories I want to thank and recognize Canadian Tire for their generous donation and for their commitment to assist in improving opportunities for our children and youth.
I would also like to thank Minister of State for Sport, the Honourable Bal Gosal, for connecting us with the Canadian Tire Corporation, during NWT Days this past January and getting the wheels in motion for the fantastic announcement earlier today.
I also want to recognize all schools in the Northwest Territories and the NWT Teachers Association, which represents teaching staff, for their support. Most of our programs are run in schools or have volunteer teacher support. We simply could not offer these opportunities without you.
Mr. Speaker, sadly up to 85 percent of NWT youth are not physically active enough to gain any significant health benefit. This is slightly better than the Canadian average but very disappointing when it means that nearly 9 out of every 10 youth are at risk.
In these times of tight financial resources, it is incredibly important for government to join forces with the corporate sector and others to help make a difference. Canadian Tire has led by example. In future, I hope we can encourage others to join the cause.
In closing Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Landon French, Vice-President of Community Relations for traveling to Yellowknife to help me make the announcement. Together we can make a difference.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to welcome members of a federally appointed arm’s length panel undertaking a statutory review of the Canada Transportation Act. They are visiting the Northwest Territories this week to gather feedback from Northerners into new federal transportation policy and program development.
The Panel will conduct a comprehensive examination of how the Act operates as it relates to the economic regulation of transportation.
Mr. Speaker, this is a valuable and unique opportunity for Northerners to provide our perspective on how the transportation system can be leveraged to support economic growth with nation-building projects, such as the Mackenzie Valley Highway to Norman Wells, or an all-weather road into the Slave Geological Province or the Tłįchǫ̨ region.
The review is also an opportunity to examine the role of transportation in supporting sustainable economic development, in the Northwest Territories.
Unfortunately, the lack of infrastructure is creating obstacles to exploration and development in remote areas. The challenges are most acute in regions where residents, businesses, and industry depend on air or barge transportation to receive essential goods and services.
Mr. Speaker, officials with the Department of Transportation have been working in partnership with the NWT Chamber of Commerce to coordinate a roundtable discussion in Yellowknife this afternoon with the Review Panel.
The Roundtable involves approximately 35 representatives of the NWT transportation sector such as industry representatives, users, experts, and others who represent a broad range of perspectives and experience on northern transportation.
The discussion will examine how changes to federal policy and programs can help to resolve current and emerging transportation challenges in the NWT.
Mr. Speaker, Review Panel members will be visiting Hay River tomorrow where they will meet with representatives such as NTCL, Coast Guard, and the Great Slave Harbour Authority. These meetings will provide Panel Members with first-hand information on areas of concern that involve the federal government, such as dredging the Port of Hay River and critical sections of the Mackenzie River to accommodate fully loaded tugs and barges, fishing boasts, and the Coast Guard fleet.
Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation’s involvement in the federal review of the Canada Transportation Act aligns with the 17th Assembly’s goal of realising a diversified economy for Northerners by making strategic investments in infrastructure.
YELLOWKNIFE (June 2, 2015) – Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) Robert C. McLeod and Mr. Landon French, Vice-President, Community Relations at Canadian Tire Corporation, announced a new partnership agreement which will provide $225,000 towards equipment training and capacity building for after school physical activity programs through ACTIVE AT SCHOOL.
“Building partnerships to provide better services to Northwest Territory residents is one of the strategic goals of this government,” said Minister McLeod. “Working with Canadian Tire via ACTIVE AT SCHOOL to improve existing programs, including MACA’s own Active After School program, will benefit youth across the Northwest Territories and improve opportunities in the after-school time period.”
Canadian Tire is the founding member of ACTIVE AT SCHOOL, a partnership of more than 80 influential sport, wellness and health organizations from across Canada. Launched in 2013, the initiative supports Canada’s provincial and territorial governments in their goal to reverse the trend of inactivity among Canadian youth.
“We are proud to partner with Minister McLeod to help get all 50 schools and over 8,500 students across the Northwest Territories active for 60-minutes every day,” said Landon French, Vice-President, Community Relations, Canadian Tire Corporation. “Through ACTIVE AT SCHOOL, Canadian Tire will work with local government to build on existing programs to provide kids with the opportunity to develop essential life skills like teamwork and leadership through quality, physical activity.”
Part of the Healthy Choices Framework, the Active After School program supports schools, and community organizations that work with schools, to create or expand on programs that get school-aged children and youth physically active. The funding and materials provided by ACTIVE AT SCHOOL will help expand these programs and provide enhanced opportunities for youth in the Northwest Territories.
Corporate Affairs Division
Department of Municipal and Community Affairs
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 920-8059
Canadian Tire Corporation
Mr. Speaker, this is National Tourism Week and across the NWT we are celebrating with events ranging from the “Be A Tourist In Your Own Town” promotion here in Yellowknife to community picnics, film screenings, open houses, and complimentary tours of local attractions.
There is much to celebrate and I would like to take a moment to highlight some of the recent successes and milestones this vibrant sector of our economy has achieved.
Last October, I shared with Members that over 90,000 visitors travelled to the Northwest Territories in the 2013-14 fiscal year. That is the highest number of visitors that we have welcomed to our territory in a decade. Visitor spending also rose dramatically – increasing by 24 percent in 2013-14 – to over $132 million dollars.
Growth and success seems destined to continue in 2015. Web traffic to the NWT Parks online reservation system doubled over last year when it opened on April 15th. Over $100,000 worth of reservations were generated within the first five hours it was open.
Less than a year after its establishment, the NWT Conference Bureau has secured four conferences worth an estimated $1 million dollars in future business for the NWT’s tourism sector. An additional six conference bids could double this estimate by year end.
Mr. Speaker, these numbers tell us that our tourism industry is building momentum. It is vital that our government continue to support and grow this sector through the development of new products, community infrastructure and training and mentorship opportunities.
Tourism 2020, an extension of our two previous five-year tourism development plans is expected to launch in the 2016-17 fiscal year and will guide the next chapter of our government’s work and investments to grow and advance tourism in our territory. It will focus on creating exceptional visitor experiences in the Northwest Territories, enhancing the skills of the tourism service sector, and supporting communities to develop attractions, products and services for visitors.
Mr. Speaker, strengthening and growing our tourism industry is a collaborative effort.
Investment and funding leveraged from Canada’s Northern Economic Development Agency serves to build community tourism capacity and create new tourism products. Destination marketing is expertly accomplished by Northwest Territories Tourism. Advice and guidance flows to our decision-making processes from the Tourism Marketing Advisory Committee and the Aboriginal Tourism Champions Advisory Council.
Above all else, our tourism sector succeeds on the basis of the hard-working individuals who operate and deliver our territory’s tourism products and services – and provide the face and friendly smiles that welcome the world to our North.
Men and women, Mr. Speaker, like Toni and Henry Heron whose effective management, special brand of hospitality and willingness to share in their Aboriginal culture has contributed to the recognition of Queen Elizabeth Territorial Park near Fort Smith as one of the Top 25 Campsites in Canada by Explore Magazine.
Collectively, we are working to ensure that the NWT tourism sector will grow, continue to thrive and provide economic benefits across the NWT.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I rise today to inform Members about changes to how the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation calculates rent for public housing tenants.
In the coming months, Canada Child Tax Benefit payments, and payments to foster parents will no longer be included as sources of income for the purpose of calculating public housing rents. I believe this change properly reflects the values of our people by supporting families who fulfill their responsibility to care and raise our children. In order to implement this change, I have directed the Northwest Territories Housing Corporation to update their policies and procedures and develop training material for Local Housing Organizations to allow for full implementation by October 1st of this year.
As Members are aware, the public housing rent scale was revised at the beginning of this government to improve consistency and fairness and address any disincentives to work. The further changes we are announcing today in the public housing program builds on that work through improved consistency in our government’s approach to social programming. This treatment of income aligns closely with the policies of the Department of Education, Culture and Employment and the Department of Health and Social Services.
In addition, Mr. Speaker, the NWT Housing Corporation will begin using the total income reported on the income tax returns of household members to calculate rent. This approach will reduce the burden of monthly reporting for tenants and is consistent with the decision to not include Child Tax Benefit and foster parent payments in rent calculations, as the Canada Revenue Agency does not consider them as income.
Reducing the reporting burden is especially important for tenants such as seniors and single parents. Not requiring income verification every month respects the dignity of public housing tenants by treating them more like other tenants and supports their self-reliance.
Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that we can continue to make the public housing system responsive to the needs of our people and through this change further support our families and seniors, improve the consistency of government and foster self-reliance.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Glen Abernethy: Working Together: An Action Plan to Reduce and Eliminate Poverty in the Northwest Territories
Mr. Speaker, at the appropriate time today I will table “Working Together: An Action Plan to Reduce and Eliminate Poverty in the Northwest Territories.” This collaborative Action Plan demonstrates our government’s commitment to work in partnership with other stakeholders to tackle poverty in the Northwest Territories. It builds on the great work that produced “Building on the Strengths of Northerners”, the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework, in 2013. Like the Strategic Framework, this Action Plan was developed by all levels of government working together with representatives from the private sector and non-government organizations.
In 2014, I tabled the Government of the Northwest Territories’ Anti-Poverty Action Plan, which outlined our Government’s commitments to act and invest in this important area. But we already knew that government can’t do it alone. We also committed to work with non-government organizations, community and Aboriginal governments, business and industry, and other stakeholders to develop a multi-stakeholder territorial Anti-Poverty Action Plan.
That work has rolled out over the last year. I want to recognize the efforts of all the partners who participated in two Anti-Poverty Round Tables over the past 18 months. The perspectives, knowledge, passion and commitment of all participants were instrumental in the creation of the Action Plan, and will be critical to its implementation.
Mr. Speaker, the completion of this Territorial Action Plan is not the end of a process, but the beginning. The Action Plan outlines priority areas for action under the five pillars of the Anti-Poverty Framework, and demonstrates how these priorities link to those identified in community wellness plans. It outlines work under way in each priority area, setting the stage for annual updates. This living document will help all of us work together to ensure our actions have the maximum impact on tackling poverty across the Northwest Territories
I particularly want to thank the members of the Advisory Committee who took on the work of leading the development of this Action Plan. They include Co-chair Bronwyn Watters, and members Julie Green, Mark Heyck, and Bob Simpson.
I also want to make special mention of the late Liidlii Kue First Nation Chief Minnie Letcher, who as Co-Chair of the Advisory Committee was passionately committed to ensuring the community voice was represented in this Action Plan.
Mr. Speaker, this Action Plan is just a start. As our collective efforts evolve so will this Plan. I am confident that, working together we can begin to truly make a difference to improve the quality of life of all residents of the NWT.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, I do not wish to be the bearer of bad weather reports but as Mother Nature may have it, and based on the reports from our meteorologist, we will once again experience drought over the summer of 2015.
The prediction for this fire season is for another year of hot, dry weather. The downturn in weather for the next two days is unlikely to make much difference. It will be getting warmer and drier in all regions starting on Wednesday.
This is the first time since 1998 that an El Niño winter is followed by an El Niño summer. In general, El Nino is known to produce warmer and drier weather.
The Northwest Territories has been under the effect of a blocking ridge through the month of May. All regions have been snow-free since mid-May, except for some areas in the Inuvik regions. This is very early.
All regions witnessed record-breaking temperatures and very little to no precipitation through the month of May.
Most of our long-term seasonal forecast models indicate a high probability that these drought conditions will continue through August over at least portions of the southern Northwest Territories.
Indeed, five of seven weather models show very dry conditions across either all, or portions of, the Deh Cho, North Slave and South Slave.
These conditions will likely result in extreme fire behaviour and intense wildland fires, which can be difficult for crews to extinguish.
Everyone has a responsibility to prevent and protect their homes, cabins and communities from the risk of wildland fires. Property owners and communities should be using FireSmart tools to reduce their risk of loss from wildland fire.
FireSmart homes, cabins and neighbourhoods allow firefighters to concentrate on fighting the wildland fire, which ultimately protects more homes and lives. Information on FireSmart is available from local Environment and Natural Resources offices and local community governments.
As of today, 51 fires have been reported in the Northwest Territories affecting 69,320 hectares. Thirteen of those fires are out. Four were person-caused. This time last year, six fires had been reported with 31.5 hectares affected.
Environment and Natural Resources brought on its human and aviation resources early to deal with fire starts. Most crews had an early start in the southern regions.
Helicopter and air tankers have already been brought on to ensure wildland fires threatening communities or other values at risk are dealt with swiftly and aggressively. Infrared scanning of critical areas is being done to ensure these fires are out and there are no holdover fire surprises.
As in previous years, we will continue to provide regular updates about wildfires both on our website and Facebook page.
Mr. Speaker, last summer was record breaking. There were 385 fires, 3.4 million hectares of forest land was affected by fire and several communities were threatened. The overall cost was over $56 million.
Environment and Natural Resources will be acting upon lessons learned from the 2014 fire season.
Work on several of the recommendations of the 2014 Northwest Territories Fire Season Review Report, which has been shared with Members of the Legislative Assembly, has begun. Most of the work will be completed this summer or through the next year.
Areas recommended for improvement included public engagement, safety, human resources, fire management strategy and policy, operations, and procurement and financial resources.
Despite the unprecedented challenges Environment and Natural Resources faced last summer in managing the wildland fires, there were no serious injuries or fatalities to firefighters, residents or visitors.
Environment and Natural Resources continues to actively monitor the fire environment and has plans to assess and respond to new wildfire starts.
Mr. Speaker, I know we all hope Mother Nature will cooperate this summer by providing much-needed precipitation in regular intervals.
In the meantime, Environment and Natural Resources will continue to work with other departments and communities to improve the GNWT’s response to emergencies.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will be holding its closing events from May 31 to June 3 in Ottawa. This is time to reflect and I would like to express my appreciation for the great work accomplished by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The work that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has done in the Northwest Territories and across Canada has been a critical step in the healing process for people suffering from the abuse and trauma of residential schools.
It has been no small task. The Commission visited our communities, set up supports, and provided a forum where survivors could share their pain and begin to heal.
I would like to thank the members of the Commission, and in particular Commissioner Marie Wilson, a fellow Northerner, for her dedication and commitment during this process.
Residential schools have been the source of much of the pain and loss that many generations of Aboriginal people experienced. At the same time, schools can also be where some of that past is reclaimed, where some of the reconciliation that is needed can happen, where some of our hope for the future can be found.
There must be places dedicated to exploring this learning and reconciliation. Truth and Reconciliation Commission events and school curriculum are two examples of those places.
I am proud to say that the Government of the Northwest Territories has been a leader in Canada with the development of the Residential Schools curriculum in partnership with the Government of Nunavut, the Legacy of Hope and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
A significant part of our history is in this curriculum and the coursework and resources provide a deeper understanding of the impacts of residential schools on the Aboriginal peoples of Canada. This will give our students insight into the challenges faced by survivors, and a context for healing and reconciliation.
Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Northwest Territories, I want to thank the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for helping us to put the events and the effects of residential schools into their proper place in Canada’s history. From now on, all people who go through our school systems will know what has happened and the impacts on the Aboriginal peoples of Canada.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
INUVIK (June 1, 2015) A successful second construction season has come to a close on the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway in the Northwest Territories. Once completed, this important piece of northern infrastructure will provide all-weather access to Tuktoyaktuk, which is currently only served by ice road, barge, and air. It will also be the only public road to the Arctic Ocean in Canada.
At the peak of the winter construction season in 2014-15, substantial progress was made on 65.1 kilometres of the120.4-kilometre all season highway project that employed over 600 people, 78% of which were from the North. The contractor hauled and placed 2.1 million cubic metres of embankment material, and installed one new bridge and 20 large culverts during this past construction season.
This project is generating numerous socio-economic opportunities for the region. The new highway is the most northern section of the envisioned Mackenzie Valley Highway, which will connect Canada’s highway network from coast to coast to coast. It will decrease the cost of living in Tuktoyaktuk by enabling goods to be shipped by road year-round, increase opportunities for business development, reduce the cost of job-creating onshore and offshore oil and gas exploration, and strengthen Canada’s sovereignty in the North.
- The Government of Canada is contributing up to $200 million towards this project.
- The Government of the Northwest Territories is contributing $99 million towards this $299-million project.
“Our Government is pleased to see the tremendous progress made on the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway. This historic project is creating jobs and ensuring continued economic growth and long-term prosperity in Canada’s North. Our Government will continue to work with the Government of the Northwest Territories to promote social and economic development in the North and across Canada.”
The Honourable Leona Aglukkaq
Minister of the Environment,
Minister of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency,
Minister for the Arctic Council and Member of Parliament for Nunavut
“Strategic investments in territory-building infrastructure projects will help us better achieve our government’s vision of a strong, prosperous Northwest Territories. We are very pleased with the contractor’s progress and achievements with local employment, training, safety, and quality under difficult conditions. The project is proceeding as planned and we are looking forward to the highway’s opening.”
The Honourable Tom Beaulieu
Minister of Transportation
Minister of Public Works and Services
Minister of Human Resources Government of the Northwest Territories
For additional information on the New Building Canada Plan, visit: http://www.infrastructure.gc.ca/plan/plan-eng.html.
To learn more about the Government of Canada’s focus on jobs and the economy consult Canada’s Economic Action Plan at http://www.eap.gc.ca.
Learn more about the innovative engineering techniques used during the winter construction of the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway at www.ith.dot.gov.nt.ca.
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure, Communities and Intergovernmental Affairs and
Minister of the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec
Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway Communications
Department of Transportation
Government of the Northwest Territories
Follow us on Twitter at @GNWT_DOT
Mr. Speaker, ensuring Aboriginal languages survive for future generations is a key priority for our government and the Members of this Legislative Assembly. One of the most effective ways to ensure the continued use of all of the NWT’s 11 official languages is simply using and hearing these languages as part of our day to day interactions. This theme of “use it or lose it” resonates through the regional Aboriginal language plans now being implemented by Aboriginal governments, the 2009 Committee Report on Official Languages and the Government’s 2010 “Aboriginal Languages Plan – A Shared Responsibility”.
Broadcasting in the official languages is one way all of our official languages are in use and heard by our listeners in all of our communities. Stories and important information are shared with one another over the radio and television in not just English, but the other ten official languages. In fact, many of our unilingual listeners rely on the radio as the primary source of information to receive the news in their language.
Mr. Speaker, this invaluable service is provided to us in part by the Native Communications Society and its broadcasting arm, CKLB. They have provided cultural and language programming since 1982, with broadcasts in English, French, Tłįchǫ, South Slavey, Gwich’in, North Slavey and Chipewyan. In recognition of their important contribution to Aboriginal language revitalization, the Government of the Northwest Territories has long provided core funding to NCS and the Inuvialuit Communications Society, who provided programming in Inuvialuktun and Inuinnaqtun. This is in addition to Federal Government funding they are eligible to receive under the Northern Aboriginal Broadcasting Grant.
Over the past few years, they have experienced some operational challenges, culminating in CKLB having to stop live broadcasts and programming in July 2014. Aside from going off the air, it also meant a loss of jobs for people in many of our communities.
Mr. Speaker, as is true for Aboriginal language revitalization generally, it is truly a shared responsibility and for that reason I continue to lobby the federal government to increase their funding for Aboriginal and French language programming in the current round of negotiations of the renewal of the Official Languages Agreement.
Aboriginal language broadcasting contributes to both our oral traditions and recording languages for those future generations. Having them on our radios, computers and televisions ensures that the North continues to hear, read and explore our languages that are so closely connected to our cultures.
This is why, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that this government will reprofile $500,000 annually, found from within, on an ongoing basis, for aboriginal broadcasting. Of that amount, $400,000 dollars will be provided to the Native Communications Society and $100,000 dollars will be provided to the Inuvialuit Communications Society.
The funding will allow NCS to be up and running by June 1st, broadcasting first in Tłįchǫ and South Slavey. They have plans to resume live broadcasting of North Slavey, Gwich’in, Chipewyan and will be adding French later on this year.
We will also continue to make every effort to secure funding from the Federal Government to sustain Aboriginal language broadcasting in the NWT. Our funding will complement the Federal contribution of approximately $700,000 to Aboriginal broadcasting.
Mr. Speaker, we have worked closely with the Native Communications Society to discuss how we can help support the organization with a better financial and operating model. NCS and CKLB play a critical part in promoting and sustaining our Aboriginal languages across the NWT and it is our priority to support them. Our languages are a foundational part of our heritage and the cultural mosaic of the North, and we must support every avenue we can to keep them alive for generations to come.
Masi, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to achieving this Legislative Assembly’s vision of strong individuals, families and communities. By working together in partnerships we can reach our goal of healthy and educated people in sustainable and vibrant communities throughout our territory.
To help promote, preserve and manage the long-term health and social well-being of NWT residents, the Social Envelope Committee of Cabinet and the corresponding Deputy Minister Committee have introduced a number of initiatives and actions. We have previously talked about some of them, such as our actions to help reduce poverty in the NWT, promote community wellness and better address mental health and addictions issues. Today I want to tell you about some of our actions to ensure stronger coordination and collaboration in the delivery of social services and supports for NWT residents.
A number of our recent strategic frameworks, including the Early Childhood Development Strategy, the Anti-Poverty Strategic Framework, and the Addictions and Mental Health Action Plan, speak to a more integrated approach to service delivery. The shift to more consciously coordinated service delivery is also evident in the 2015 -2016 budget which included investments to support integrated approaches to case management and initiatives to improve integration of services to people with a variety of needs.
We recognize the need to examine programs and make sure that we are taking a client focused approach to service delivery. We are seeing many successes in this work. This includes proposed changes to the way the NWT Housing Corporation will calculate rent for public housing clients. Minister Robert C. McLeod will have more to say about this later during this Session.
Different departments are working closely together to promote healthy living for our youth. The Department of Municipal and Community Affairs has established a new Children and Youth Resiliency Program to support community programming that helps our youth build resiliency and be more physically active. A healthy snacks component has also been added to this popular after school, physical activity program.
Progress has also been made on protocols and training for support service delivery staff when it comes to referrals or support to clients with apparent mental health issues. The Mental Health First Aid program teaches GNWT front line workers how to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental health disorders, how to provide initial help and how to guide people to community mental health resources and professional help. Mental Health First Aid training has been provided to staff in the Corrections Service as well as to staff of the departments of Education, Culture and Employment; Municipal and Community Affairs; Health and Social Services and Justice. In addition, the Department of Justice has Mental Health First Aid instructors in-house. The Integrated Case Management team has two instructors available to deliver the three-day Mental Health First Aid workshops to employees and the public.
We are also making progress on services and supports to seniors. In collaboration with the NWT Seniors’ Society, the Seniors Information Handbook has been updated. This valuable resource for seniors provides a comprehensive list of government programs and services that seniors and their caregivers can access to help them make informed decisions and remain independent and active in their home communities. A companion booklet for caregivers is being developed and will provide information to assist families caring for their loved ones. The Government Service Officers have received training on the Handbook and are using it as a resource to support effective service delivery to residents.
Mr. Speaker, these are just some examples of our work to improve the coordination of service delivery and supports to NWT residents. We will continue to advance this important work in the belief that better coordination and collaboration across GNWT departments and agencies that offer social services and supports will lead to improved access and outcomes for NWT residents.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, today I am very proud to rise and recognize that two of our very own have been elected to Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame.
I am, of course, speaking about Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson who will become the first Northwest Territories residents to be inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony later this fall in Calgary.
Sharon and Shirley captivated the North and Canada from the late 1960’s through the mid-1980’s with their incredible sporting exploits. They first entered the national scene in 1968 when they won medals at the Canadian Junior Cross Country Ski Championships.
They went on to compete in four Olympic Winter Games including Sapporo, Japan in 1972; Innsbruck, Austria in 1976; Lake Placid, New York in 1980; and Sarajevo, Yugoslavia in 1984.
In many ways, they were trail blazers for women, for Aboriginal Canadians and for all Northerners in the rest of Canada and around the world.
Although Shirley is no longer with us, Sharon continues to be a role model and inspiration for hundreds of young people in her current work as a Youth Officer with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs.
Mr. Speaker, Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame recognizes our country’s finest athletes as role models for Canadians of all ages and sharing their stories unites our country and reminds us of the core values that help define our people.
All Northerners are extremely proud of Sharon and Shirley’s accomplishments. We only wish that Shirley could have been here to receive this national recognition of her contribution to Canada’s sport history.
Sharon and Shirley Firth have certainly inspired all of us. They will now take their place at Canada’s Sport Hall of Fame where their stories can encourage all Canadians to strive to be the very best they can be.
I invite all Members to join me in congratulating Sharon Firth and Shirley Firth-Larsson’s family on this wonderful honour on behalf of all Northerners.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker I would like to take a few moments to speak to the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link project or MVFL.
On January 12, 2015 the Government took the first step towards removing the limitations of our current communications infrastructure. The Fibre Link project will allow Inuvik to become a global remote sensing site, enable our Government to improve our programs and services, particularly in the areas of education and health; and allow many more of our residents and businesses to join the 21st century and communicate in real time, with the rest of the world.
Mr. Speaker, the first winter construction season of the MVFL project has concluded with over 430 km of fibre optic cable installed. Though this construction season faced some initial challenges, it was successful with just over one third of the route completed. The project remains on time, on budget, with a startup date of the second quarter of 2016.
Winter construction activity took place between Tulita and Inuvik and employed approximately 112 local residents and used over 21 local contractors and suppliers. With the economic challenges facing the many of our Sahtu and Gwich’in communities, this past winter I am happy to report the Fibre Link project was able to contribute to the local economy in these communities.
Mr. Speaker, the summer build between McGill Lake and Wrigley is set to begin in late June. The MVFL Project Team is eager to being summer work and will continue engaging local residents and businesses on project progress over the coming weeks and months.
Mr. Speaker, since construction commenced, we have experienced increased interest, nationally and internationally, in the growth of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility. Since its official inauguration in 2010, a total of three 14 metre receiving antennas have been installed on site. An additional dish has been committed for this summer; with the site preparation work for the installation is currently underway. A fifth dish is being planned for summer/spring 2016.
The Premier Robert R. McLeod, the Honourable Robert C. McLeod, Mr. Robert Hawkins, MLA from Yellowknife Centre, and myself will be travelling to Europe in June with officials from the Federal Government to continue to promote the Fibre Link project and increase utilization of the Inuvik Satellite Station Facility.
We have seen first-hand the significant positive benefits the satellite ground station and remote sensing industry have had not only on the economy of Kiruna, Sweden, but also the important role they play in facilitating advanced learning at the Institute of Space Physics. The potential impact of an expanded satellite ground station in Inuvik on the Aurora Research Centre is significant and could make this facility one of the “the places to be” to conduct space-based Arctic research.
I would like to conclude my statement by thanking the sustained efforts and support from our residents, businesses and community leadership throughout the Mackenzie Valley to ensure the continued success of the project.
I also want to thank all my colleagues of this Assembly for their support in advancing the project.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, economic opportunity comes in all shapes and forms. This summer, it is coming to the Northwest Territories in the form of morel mushrooms – a delicacy highly sought after by food markets around the world.
Ultimately, Mother Nature will have the largest role in determining the success of our harvest. However, under the right conditions, we anticipate this harvest could generate as much as ten million dollars in the NWT this summer.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has been working to prepare NWT residents to take advantage of this opportunity and keep some of these revenues within the territory.
In preparation, we have hosted 19 morel mushroom information sessions in communities where the impacts of the anticipated season are expected to be greatest. These sessions were overwhelmingly popular, with nearly 1,200 residents participating.
Those in attendance learned of potential harvesting areas, methods for gathering and storing morels, and best practices for selling and marketing their harvest.
The sessions also emphasized the message of harvesting in a way that is safe, legal and respectful of the environment and Aboriginal peoples, whose lands some of these mushrooms will be on.
The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment has worked with the NWT Association of Communities and the Government of Canada to produce a Morel Mushroom Harvester’s Handbook and field guides to ensure pickers have adequate information at their disposal when they venture into the harvest areas.
On-site walking workshops have also begun and will continue until mid-June in areas where the mushrooms have appeared to provide hands-on experience for those interested in harvesting.
I would like to extend my appreciation to the Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for assisting us in also providing safety information for prospective harvesters venturing out this summer.
All of this information is now available in French and English on the Industry, Tourism and Investment website.
Mr. Speaker, while ITI has worked to prepare residents for this opportunity, it cannot guarantee a bountiful and prosperous harvest. Many other factors can and will impact the success of this year’s harvest.
Morels will need to meet or exceed certain standards of quality and consistency. Rain, the lack of rain, fire and cooler temperatures will have influences on the crop and the length of harvest that can be realized in our territory; and prices, determined by buyers, will similarly be affected by these elements and the economic principle of supply and demand.
Our territory has a proud history of resourcefulness and innovation. The quick development of a strategy and plan to realize the benefits of what could be a multi-million dollar morel mushroom harvesting opportunity this summer is a good example.
We are also a territory that believes in working together – as Northerners – and in partnership with those from outside of our territory.
I would like to recognize today Chief Lloyd Chicot and the people of Kakisa. In the face of concerns about the impacts that an influx of people will have on their community, they embraced the occasion – throwing a welcoming community barbeque for as many as 50 pickers in the area, and sharing with them their traditional practice of catching and drying fish right out of the river.
It was an opportunity for pickers and residents to meet and learn more about each other, and to agree on boundaries and practices that could be followed in the mutual realization of benefits from this most unique and economic opportunity that has come to the NWT this summer.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
YELLOWKNIFE (May 29, 2015) – A wide variety of events and activities are taking place across the Northwest Territories in celebration of National Tourism Week, which runs from May 31 to June 6 this year.
In the 2013/14 fiscal year, the tourism industry contributed a staggering $132.5 million in visitor revenue and attracted 90,000 visitors from around the world – the highest number of visitors in a decade.
“We owe the success and growth of this industry to the tourism workforce that creates memorable experiences for visitors,” said Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment (ITI) David Ramsay. “As we increase training opportunities, tourism programs and services, and community infrastructure, we are building a bright future for this industry and the economy.”
Tourism Week activities in the NWT include:
North Slave Region:
- June 2: Visit CDETNO at the Yellowknife Farmers’ Market as they launch the bilingual Balado Discovery App “Old Yellowknife walking tour”, which features 33 points of interest around Old Town.
- June 5 at 4:30pm: Grand Prize Draw for the “Be a Tourist in Your Own Town” Campaign at the Northern Frontier Visitors Centre.
- 1st prize – two-night, all-inclusive stay for two people at Hearne Lake Lodge
- 2nd prize – a weekend camping package at Prelude Lake Territorial Park
- 3rd prize – a six-person Oldtown Glassworks Workshop
- 4th prize – a gift basket showcasing local arts and crafts
- June 6: Second Annual World Shore Lunch Championship
Location: Northern Frontier Visitor Centre, begins at 3:30pm
Deh Cho Region:
- June 5: Fort Simpson: Tourism Community BBQ – Door prizes to be won
Location: Fort Simpson Visitor Information Centre, 12:00 pm
- June 3: Fort Simpson: Tourism Week Open House. Snacks and refreshments available
Location: Simpson Air, 1:00-3:00pm
Beaufort Delta Region:
- June 1: “Inuvik Eats”: lunch specials and discounts available at local restaurants
- June 2: Picnic and Parks Day at Jim Koe Park
- June 3: Images and Film (20×20 film exhibit, film screening, Arctic movie night)
- June 4: Shop and Explore Local (Free local tours including the Inuvik Greenhouse, Church, Ingamo Hall, free swimming, visitor centre, and kennel tours)
- June 3: Community Cook Out, Norman Wells Historical Society
Enter the raffle to win some great prizes:
- 1st prize – a weekend fishing trip for two to Grey Goose Lodge
- 2nd prize – a day on the river and a shore lunch for four with Mountain River Outdoor Adventures
- 3rd prize- $500 gift certificate to the museum gift shop
South Slave Region:
- June 1-5 Open house at the Northern Life Museum in Fort Smith.
- NWT Tourism is hosting a “BestOfNWT” contest. Share what you think are the best tourism experiences in the NWT and it could be featured on the cover of the 2016 Explorers’ Guide. GoPro cameras are available in Hay River, Norman Wells, Yellowknife, Inuvik and Fort Simpson to help you capture the spectacular NWT. The contest website, BestOfNWT.com will launch June 1 at noon and submissions can be made throughout the summer.
By supporting the economic opportunities within the tourism industry, ITI is helping to build a strong and sustainable future for the NWT, a priority of the 17th Legislative Assembly.
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Industry, Tourism and Investment
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 920-8696
Mr. Speaker, in October 2014, I tabled Building Stronger Families – An Action Plan to Transform Child and Family Services supporting the Government’s commitment to improve the quality of child and family services for those receiving services under the Child and Family Services Act. I am pleased to provide an update to Members on the progress to date and implementation of our Action Plan to Transform Child and Family Services.
The Action Plan outlines 12 major initiatives in response to the many recommendations made for system-wide change. These initiatives support our goal to provide more assistance to families at risk. Increased early support will reduce child apprehensions and the need for court proceedings. The initiatives contribute to a flexible approach to service delivery, grounded in collaboration and building on family strengths and needs.
In order to transform child and family services we must ensure staff have the tools required to assess risk and improve practice and service delivery.
In the past year, we have taken a number of steps to increase staff capacity. We have begun to adapt Structured Decision Making tools that staff can use when screening reports of child protection concerns to help them assess the immediate safety and long- term risk to the children and families involved. We have revised the Child and Family Services Standards and Procedures Manual, ensuring it reflects best practices and provides increased resources to support children. We have brought forward amendments to the Child and Family Services Act that, if passed, will extend child protection services to the age of majority and the provision of services for children in permanent custody to the age of 23.
Work in areas of risk management and quality assurance focuses on the systems in place to support the work of our staff. In the past year, we redesigned the Child and Family Services annual file audit process by introducing a revised audit tool, establishing a regular annual audit schedule, and creating regional audit teams with a collaborative approach to the audit process. We are also replacing the current Child and Family Services information system, with a new system that will provide enhanced case management capabilities and improved data reliability.
In the area of Program Administration and Management, we have strengthened accountability by appointing Chief Executive Officers as Assistant Directors of Child and Family Services and have provided training on their responsibilities under the Child and Family Services Act. These appointments ensure there is direct accountability to the Director for the delivery of services.
Last year the Auditor General recommended improving leadership and communication within child and family services. In response, the Directors of Social Programs Forum has been reconvened. This group brings together senior staff from each region who deal with child and family programs, meets by teleconference monthly and face-to-face twice a year to discuss Building Stronger Families and the variety of initiatives guided by the Action Plan.
We have enlisted the Child Welfare League of Canada to complete the first phase of a workload management study. We worked with Child Protection Workers and other Authority staff to identify significant workload drivers that impact their ability to efficiently provide services. We now better understand the primary drivers we will address to create an effective and efficient workload management process in child and family services.
Finally, Mr. Speaker, as we move forward with the system transformation outlined in Building Stronger Families, we will continue to work with our partners at regional and community levels to ensure these changes acknowledge and reflect the many participants in the delivery of programs and services. We are committed to working together and understanding the unique interests and challenges throughout the NWT as we improve our delivery of child and family services.
Mr. Speaker, our government remains committed to realizing this Assembly’s goal of healthy, educated children. The steps we are taking will help ensure NWT children and families get the services and support they need. I look forward to working with Members as we continue our work to transform child and family services in the NWT.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, the cost of energy continues to be one of the leading contributors to the high cost of living in the Northwest Territories. This past winter, a drop in wholesale prices for heating fuel and gasoline gave the Department of Public Works and Services the opportunity to pass savings on to the residents of some of our most remote communities.
Through the Petroleum Products Program, the Fuel Services Division of the Department of Public Works and Services provides essential fuel services to 16 NWT communities where the private sector does not. Fuel is supplied via winter road to nine of these communities. This year, thanks to lower market costs, the Department was able to reduce retail heating fuel, diesel fuel and gasoline prices from four percent to more than 18 percent per litre.
With this in mind, Mr. Speaker, the Fuel Services Division is committed to passing on cost savings on fuel products it provides wherever possible. We anticipate that with the present stability in the market price for fuel, the Department will be able to pass similar savings on to those communities resupplied by barge this summer.
Lower fuel prices have provided some relief from the high cost of living to residents in Whatì, Gamètì, Wekweètì, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, Trout Lake, Wrigley, Délįnę, Fort Good Hope, Colville Lake and Tulita. As residents and as a government, we must continue to improve our energy awareness, promote energy efficient behaviour, and seek out affordable alternative and renewable long-term energy solutions in order to achieve our vision of an environmentally sustainable and prosperous Northwest Territories.
The Fuel Services Division is a key function in the newly established Energy activity within the Department. The Energy activity is also actively engaged in identifying renewable and alternative fuels and energy solutions to better support the GNWT’s goals of energy efficiency, sustainability and greenhouse gas reduction.
Thank you, Mr. Speaker.
Mr. Speaker, on April 22, 2015, the federal government announced a $500 million increase to the GNWT borrowing limit, bringing the federally imposed borrowing limit to $1.3 billion as well the definition of self-financing debt is being revised. Post devolution this increase in our borrowing limit gives the Government of the Northwest Territories increased flexibility to invest, in consultation with Members of the Legislative Assembly, in much-needed infrastructure that will support the responsible development of the NWT and its economy and bring down the cost of living for communities and residents. The federal government has recognized both the positive economic outlook for the territory and our disciplined fiscal management that this increase represents.
We, as an assembly, must remain vigilant. As Members will recall, one of the more important fiscal planning principles adopted at the start of the 17th Assembly, was ensuring the Government had the fiscal capacity to respond to revenue shocks and in-year expenditure pressures by maintaining at least $100 million in borrowing authority at the end of the 17th Legislative Assembly.
The Government will continue to face flat revenue growth and expenditures pressures due to low water levels, health and forest firefighting costs during the 18th Assembly. To ensure we maintain the fiscal discipline required to be able to respond to these issues even with the added borrowing room, the fiscal strategy will be revised to ensure that at least $160 million in borrowing authority is retained going into the 18th Assembly. This will provide sufficient flexibility to allow the 18th Assembly to undertake targeted projects, and participate in the Build Canada Plan and other critical projects like Stanton Territorial Hospital Renewal while also providing the financial capacity to respond to any further one-time revenue or expenditure shocks.
Mr. Speaker, the increase to the borrowing limit does not however address the fiscal issues facing the Government. Over the next five years, revenues are forecasted to be flat growing by only 0.44% over the next four years or about 0.1% per year. There are limited options available to raise revenues from own sources in the short term, without impacting the cost of living or curtailing our economic growth potential. Furthermore, if the increased borrowing limit is used to enhance programs and services through our Operations and Maintenance budget, the GNWT may be forced to cut spending in other areas in order to finance the debt service payments associated with this debt.
It is therefore important to start thinking about the fiscal parameters to guide the development of the fiscal strategy to be considered by the 18th Legislative Assembly. This includes linking net operations and maintenance expenditure growth with the growth in the Territorial Formula Financing Grant. This will likely require the Government to undertake reductions to operating expenditures to ensure we can continue to finance at least 50 percent of our capital expenditures with operating surpluses and start to return the Government to a cash surplus position.
As we move into 2015, there are signs that some parts of the NWT economy are beginning a modest recovery from the financial and economic crisis, but our current real Gross Domestic Product remains 25% below its pre-recession peak in 2007.
More importantly, Mr. Speaker, the NWT has experienced no population growth for several years. We have initiated steps to address this trend and start growing the NWT population. We will continue to pursue our population growth strategy to increase the NWT population and work with the mining industry and other business sectors to encourage rotational non-resident workers to reside in the NWT.
Till these efforts show success our fiscal capacity will continue to be vulnerable due to declining revenues from Canada under Territorial Formula Financing.
An adequate borrowing limit based on affordability, while critical, will not mean the fiscal challenges of this Assembly or the next will disappear.
Even though the increased limit allows us to invest in key infrastructure priorities, we still need to maintain control of expenditures to adhere to the Fiscal Responsibility Policy and maintain a fiscally sustainable operation. This government secured an increase in our borrowing limit and we have begun planning on potential projects to responsibly increase economic growth and attract investment and people to our territory. The final decision on what projects to invest in to secure our economic future belongs to the 18th Legislative Assembly.
Our fiscal challenges are not unique and we will not be shrinking from them. Recognizing our reality prepares us for the tough choices we will have to make now and in the future.
Thank you Mr. Speaker.
YELLOWKNIFE (May 28, 2015) – The Slave River Rapids, wildlife viewing opportunities and a diverse landscape have earned Queen Elizabeth Territorial Park near Fort Smith recognition by Explore Magazine as one of the Top 25 Campsites in Canada.
“As this year’s camping season begins, it is great to see the NWT’s parks system garnering national coverage and attention,” says Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment David Ramsay. “This recognition will serve to attract even more visitors to our spectacular facilities as well as our communities and is a tribute to the great team that keeps the park running, the community’s support for it and its beautiful location.”
Explore Magazine is in its 34th year of publication. It has a readership of over 500,000 and is the number one selling outdoor magazine on Canadian newsstands.
In its article featuring Queen Elizabeth Territorial Park, the magazine highlighted paddling the world-class whitewater of Slave River, hiking along the riverside trail and venturing into Wood Buffalo National Park among the many opportunities and activities available to visitors.
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Industry, Tourism and Investment
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 920-8696
YELLOWKNIFE (May 27, 2015) – Nine Northwest Territories residents were honoured this morning as inductees into the Education Hall of Fame, which recognizes the important and lasting contributions of those dedicated to education in the North.
“Healthy, educated people is a goal of this Assembly and the foundation of a happy and successful life,” said Minister of Education, Culture and Employment Jackson Lafferty. “Inductees to the Education Hall of Fame have all made positive and lasting impressions on the lives of countless NWT residents, and I thank them for their commitment and passion for education.”The Education Hall of Fame identifies and celebrates outstanding commitment to education in the territory from educators, Elders, administrators, volunteers, coaches, students, advocates, sponsors and businesses. A selection committee chose inductees from eight nomination categories with a ninth inductee chosen to receive the Minister’s Choice Award.
The 2015 Education Hall of Fame inductees are:
- Lea Lamoureux – Significant contribution to attendance initiatives in schools
- Ted Blondin – Significant contribution to student learning by an Elder
- Doris Camsell – Significant contribution to traditional learning, language and culture in schools
- Dean MacInnis – Significant contribution to safe and caring environments for students
- Reanna Erasmus – Significant contribution to early childhood program support and inclusive education
- Bruce Green – Significant contribution to innovative approaches to teaching and learning
- Carole Bachand – Significant contribution to excellence in teaching and supporting literacy
- Marja Van Nieuwenhuyzen – Significant contribution to excellence in teaching and supporting numeracy
- Michel Louis Rabesca – Minister’s choice
More information on the 2015 inductees is available in this backgrounder.
Education, Culture and Employment
Phone: (867) 920-6147