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Election

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Get answers to all your voting and election related questions.

 

Federal Elections
Federal elections are held every four (4) years. The next federal election is scheduled for 2019.
Territorial Elections

Territorial elections are held every four (4) years. The next territorial election is scheduled for October 1, 2019.

Visit Elections NWT for more information.

Question #1 for Candidates running in the Territorial Election

COMMUNITY GOVERNMENT UNDERFUNDING

Background:

In 2014, the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA) and the Northwest Territories Association of Communities (NWTAC) completed a review of community funding policies with the participation of a stakeholders group of community leaders and administrators representing a cross-section of Northwest Territories (NWT) communities. The Funding review process was completed in a transparent, inclusive and comprehensive manner.

 

As the Minister of MACA noted in his Minister’s statement on February 27, 2019: “It started us on the path towards more accurate and detailed information for both the department and community governments, and a clear and defendable approach to calculating community government funding needs. The review also identified a large difference between current funding levels and full needs-based funding.” 

 

The review found that communities in the NWT were underfunded by $40 million annually. Since the review, there have been small increases but no implementation plan to close the underfunding gap. This shortfall makes it difficult for communities to effectively deliver essential services, maintain infrastructure and assets, and be resilient for future challenges. In addition, as the Conference Board of Canada’s 2015 report (Economic Impacts of Community Spending on the Territorial Economy) calculated, by closing the community funding gap, 220 additional permanent jobs across the Northwest Territories would be created.

 

Question:

What is your position on the current funding formula for community governments? What steps will you take to ensure that communities are funded fairly?

 

Answers:

FRAME LAKE:

  • O'REILLY, KEVIN
    • I am aware of the municipal funding gap review and I strongly advocated for a plan to close it during the 18th Assembly.  For example, see questions I raised in the review of the 2019-20 GNWT Budget:  https://kevinoreillyframelake.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/2019-02-27-COW-MACA-Municipal-Funding-Gap.pdf   Such a plan was never tabled, despite promises to do so.  I strongly support the recommendations of the review where no communities would lose funding, and future funding is related to infrastructure and operational needs.  I support an incremental annual increase in the total municipal funding transfer in the coming Assembly, with the shortfall being closed by the end of the term.  After that, I support allocations that allow municipalities to keep up with inflation and their operational and infrastructure needs.

 

  • RAMSAY, DAVE

 

GREAT SLAVE:

  • NOKLEBY, KATRINA

 

  • SCOTT, PATRICK
    • The formula financing for municipalities needs to be equitable.  It is not.  It needs to be changed.  I will work towards ensuring Yellowknife and other municipalities get the level of funding needed as MACA has already acknowledged.  Government has created a huge gap that continues to grow annually throughout the North, with Yellowknife taking the biggest hit.  GNWT should use some of the projected $60 million operating surplus to reduce this under funding.  ( See MACA report, "Focus on the Future August 2019 page 14 ""the 2019-2020 operating surplus is projected at $60 million representing an increase in revenues greater than the increase in expenditures."  MACA admits government is failing to provide adequate funding but is not making the changes.  This can't continue.  I have no problem to calling on government to "fix" this. 

       

KAM LAKE:

  •  AL-MAHAMUD, ABDULLAH

 

  • CLEVELAND, CAITLIN

 

  • HAWKINS, ROBERT

 

  • SILERIO, ROMMEL

 

  • TESTART, KIERON
    • I am committed to closing the municipal funding raising gap within the first two budgets of the 19th Legislative Assembly if I am re-elected by the people of Kam Lake. I have been a vocal advocate during my term in office calling for this funding to put in place and my record will show that I have always taken this matter very seriously. These funds are crucial to growing our territorial economy, providing growth at the local community level and will create more than 200 jobs in the NWT. This gap is not some external formula, rather it is the GNWT’s own responsibility and it is unacceptable that the government continues to plead poverty and avoid taking responsibility for its own policies. The final capital budget of the 18th Legislative Assembly was the largest of its kind during my term and yet still underfunded Community Public Infrastructure across the territory. I voted against this budget on principle as it continued to ignore the needs of our communities. Finally, I will not vote to support any cabinet minister who do not commit to closing this gap and will ask each candidate for Premier and Cabinet to commit to close the gap during the next Territorial Leadership Committee.

       
  • WINSOR, CHERISH

 

 RANGE LAKE:

  • COCHRANE, CAROLINE

 

  • GRAHAM, HUGHIE

 

YELLOWKNIFE CENTRE:

  • GREEN, JULIE

 

  • HACHE, ARLENE

 

  • JARVIS, THOM
    • The funding formula is not working. This does need to be corrected and as a Yellowknifer, I will work towards correcting this. As well devoting 25% of moneys coming from cannabis sales in NWT to community funding to be added to community base funding. Taking those monies into account, provide additional funding from the consolidated revenue to ensure a net 3% increase to community government funding each year, or 12% over the next four years.

       
  • KONGE, NIELS
    • From my experiences as a City Councillor, I can unequivocally state - the communities need to be funded properly. The funding formula was reviewed and revised jointly by the Government and the communities, and it needs to be upheld. Capital funding to all 33 NWT communities has not substantially changed from the $28 million that was confirmed in 2007.  Underfunding Yellowknife by $11 million annually meant that critical infrastructure is not being maintained or replaced, and ultimately, the infrastructure deficit is being borne on the back of Yellowknife tax payers.  The longer we let assets decline without proper care and maintenance, the faster they depreciate and the more expensive it will be to get them back online.  Let’s not kid ourselves, without the communities there is no GNWT- they need to be funded properly.

YELLOWKNIFE NORTH:

  • JOHNSON, RYLUND
    • We are in a funding deficit that needs to be addressed. I will take the necessary measure to address the gap to community governments. The Conference Board’s report stated (p.25) that addressing the municipal funding deficit could provide between 165 to 270 jobs per year.  This funding must be addressed within the next GNWT budget. Our municipalities are more flexible and in tune to the needs of their communities, we must enable them to fully implement their mandates.

       
  • VALLILLEE, JAN

 

  • VANTHUYNE, CORY
    • The GNWT’s approach to re-balancing funding, so far, has been to hold funding steady for small communities that are overfunded, while increasing funding over time to those that are underfunded, like Yellowknife.  While this is an approach that will reduce the shock to small communities finances, commitments need to be made with respect to how long it will take to achieve a fair balance.  As things stand right now, this issue represents a hidden subsidy from large communities to small ones.  If re-elected on October 1st, I will push for a firm commitment to an accelerated timeline for achieving infrastructure funding fairness.

YELLOWKNIFE SOUTH:

  • MACPHERSON, GAELEEN
    • Municipal and Community Affairs and NWT Association of Communities did an excellent job in 2014 of re-evaluating the community government funding formula, tying it more closely to the actual physical infrastructure in communities. I’m in favour of modernizing the funding formula for communities to better reflect the mounting pressures faced by community governments including the need to build and maintain essential municipal infrastructure. I would work with all other MLAs to ensure this is included as a priority for the 19th Legislative Assembly.
  • WAWZONEK, CAROLINE
    • I think it is a great sign of collaboration that the GNWT through MACA and the municipalities as represented by the NWTAC came together and determined a reasonable formula for community funding. Failing to follow through erodes trust between governments that need to work together to make communities better. The gap has been reduced but those reductions appear to be ad hoc, rather than in accordance with a plan that would help long-term budget planning on both sides. I would commit to support a plan to bring funding in line with the 2014 formula.
      Without knowing the potentially competing priorities of other MLAs or the complete picture for the next budget, it is irresponsible to say that the funding gap will be fully resolved within one budget cycle. I would support an approach that would see a gradual correction over the term of the Assembly.

 

Question #2 for Candidates running in the Territorial Election

TRANSFER OF COMMISSIONER'S LANDS TO COMMUNITY GOVERNMENTS

Background:

City Council recently established Goals and Objectives for 2019-2022 and specifically prioritized strategic land development and increased growth of development opportunities. Specifically, the City will focus on diversity of development options and promotion of development across the City. It is difficult for the City to achieve these objectives without fee simple tenure to public lands within municipal boundaries. Under the current regime, the City must apply to the GNWT for public lands within the municipal boundary and is often not granted the lands as requested.

 

The City of Yellowknife is home to close to half the population of the NWT, but has tenure to a very small portion of the land that is used to provide services for residents, businesses, industry, and visitors. While the City of Yellowknife is responsible for administering by-laws within the municipal boundary, the City only has ownership of approximately 9% of the land within the municipal boundary: 1% of land within the municipal boundary is vacant and available for development. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, for the City to be able to responsibly plan for and invest in future community development without fee simple title to lands within our boundary.

 

In addition, developers want certainty, consistency and reasonable timeframes to proceed with development and business opportunity initiatives. When most of the land within the municipal boundary requires a land application, consultation, survey and then transfer, the City is not in a position to facilitate timely development and therefore economic development is hindered.

 

Question: What steps will you take to ensure that communities have tenure to all public lands within their boundaries to meet community development needs?

 

Answers:

FRAME LAKE:

  • O'REILLY, KEVIN
    • As a former City Councillor (1997-2006) I am well aware of the land availability issue.  As an MLA, I sat on the Standing Committee on Economic Development and Environment which reviewed Bill 46 Public Land Act. I made sure that there is substantive coverage of the land availability issue in the Committee’s report on the Bill (see pages 12-16 of the report at https://www.assembly.gov.nt.ca/sites/default/files/19-08-19_cr_31-183_report_on_the_review_of_bills_46_-_public_land_act_-_final.pdf).

      I recognize that there is a need to consult and work with Indigenous governments regarding the transfer of Crown lands before final agreements are reached.  The recent collaboration with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation on City boundary revisions is a good example of how partnerships and cooperation can work. 

      The GNWT will continue to have major land requirements within City boundaries for its administrative and service functions.  The upcoming creation of a NWT Polytechnic University with student residences is an excellent example or expansion of the Yellowknife airport runways for greater access to Asian tourism markets.   Some GNWT-owned lands will need to be retained to meet long term needs but can be achieved through collaborative planning.

      I will continue to work on making more Crown lands available to the City in the 19th Assembly through appropriate policies, timelines for responding to requests and reasons for decision.

 

  • RAMSAY, DAVE

 

GREAT SLAVE:

  • NOKLEBY, KATRINA

 

  • SCOTT, PATRICK
    • I am not convinced a total transfer of commissioners lands to the Municipality is necessary at this time.  For example work must be done on identifying a campus location for a Polytechnic Institute.  Different potential sites need to be identified.  The Yellowknife Dene have not completed their claims negotiations.  If real reconciliation is to occur in this community then, in my view, land transfer decisions can only be completed with the involvement and support of the  Yellowknives Dene First Nation.  The three governments must work together to identify and transfer lands that are needed to address city growth.

 KAM LAKE:

  • AL-MAHAMUD, ABDULLAH

 

  • CLEVELAND, CAITLIN

 

  • HAWKINS, ROBERT

 

  • SILERIO, ROMMEL

 

  • TESTART, KIERON
    • My platform commits to transfer all uncontested public lands within municipal boundaries to local governments. This issue is one that I feel is sorely needed to provide economic growth, smart community planning and lower the inflated costs of land in some communities, such as Yellowknife, due to artificial shortages. I have advocate for this kind of land transfer during my time in office during business plan reviews, budget debates and on the floor of the House. I have spoken to Indigenous Leaders who have not taken objection to such a policy proposal and I have further confirmed with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs that they are capable of providing the support to communities to manage these new lands should they be transferred by the GNWT. The GNWT once offered a ‘New Deal’ to empower our NWT communities. Now it’s time for a ‘Better Deal’ that addresses the current needs of our cities, towns and villages. 

       
  • WINSOR, CHERISH

 

 RANGE LAKE:

  • COCHRANE, CAROLINE

 

  • GRAHAM, HUGHIE

 

YELLOWKNIFE CENTRE:

  • GREEN, JULIE

 

  • HACHE, ARLENE

 

  • JARVIS, THOM
    • I am in full agreement with this and it should be a high priority item. This should have been undertaken years ago. It will better enable municipalities to plan for future growth.

  • KONGE, NIELS
    • Basically, my plan is to collaborate with fellow MLA’s to collectively work to put control of vacant Commissioners Lands within community boundaries within the control of the municipal government. It’s clear that this is not just a Yellowknife issue. Yellowknife, itself has an $11 million funding gap, the GNWT needs to support local development by ensuring communities have access to land to grow the local economy in emerging industries such as tourism.  Right now, 31% of vacant land in Yellowknife is Commissioner's Land and could be transferred without including or impacting the interim land withdrawals identified for potential land selection by the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.

       

      The GNWT came forward with an exciting plan, "Come Make Your Mark," but was unable to get it off of the ground in a meaningful way largely because the communities are lacking viable housing options, or land to develop business.  People are not moving to the North without houses or land to build opportunity.  Access to lands, in my opinion, is a fundamental tool for healthy communities and a healthy GNWT.

       

YELLOWKNIFE NORTH:

  • JOHNSON, RYLUND
    • There is no reason that the City of Yellowknife should not have complete tenure to all land within its municipal boundary. There are far better approaches to limited land availability that have been undertaken with success by other cities, such as infill development programs in Edmonton and Vancouver, which make better use of existing and underused parcels, which Yellowknife has plenty of. Adopting a northern version of these infill programs could act as a proving ground for the City’s capacity for land management, and more dynamic zoning bylaws and decisions could help ease the land availability issue and create a more prosperous city. There have been numerous denials for city land use applications by the Department of Lands that were completely unwarranted (e.g. denying access to Con Mine dock when we are losing Giant Mine Dock). There is no reason for the Department of Lands to be playing such a role within the City of Yellowknife land use planning within its boundary, it is typical paternalistic interference and red tape created by the GNWT. Furthermore, if the Department of Lands stops dealing with land management within the City of Yellowknife’s boundary, they are free to go to develop and work with other communities to develop land use plans and work on ensuring all communities in time have tenure to their lands. We are continually denying entrepreneurs use of land because of this issue and losing economic development opportunities. This in turn has caused artificial inflation of the cost of land in Yellowknife which significantly increases our cost of living. There are huge parcels of developable land tied up in Yellowknife and the City having to navigate this approval process in turn is a waste of resources that could be better used. I will most certainly work with the city to ensure this happens. 

  • VALLILLEE, JAN

 

  • VANTHUYNE, CORY
    • Not all community governments have the capacity to take over land use planning from the GNWT, but Yellowknife clearly does, and the devolution of this responsibility is long overdue.  Our Territorial Government fought for the devolution of responsibilities from Ottawa for the exact same reasons that it must now devolve land tenure fully to the City of Yellowknife - most decisions are best made by those who do the work day in and day out. To suggest otherwise is to uphold a paternalistic way of thinking that does nothing but impede growth.  If re-elected on October 1st I’ll work with my colleagues to ensure that a commitment is made to providing tenure to all lands in within the municipal boundary early in the life of the next assembly.

 

YELLOWKNIFE SOUTH:

  • MACPHERSON, GAELEEN
    • It is clear that the process for transfer of lands within municipal boundaries is not working. As MLA, I would be committed to working to bring together the Department of Lands, NWT Association of Communities, the City of Yellowknife and other stakeholders to update and renew this process to
      allow better and more timely land access for municipal governments.
  • WAWZONEK, CAROLINE
    • The current system that the City of Yellowknife must navigate in order to access land within municipal boundary is cumbersome and inefficient. I see this is a barrier to development and growth. As a starting point, I support streamlining the process for approving city land use and, maybe more importantly, a simplified process for amending plans, if necessary, to be able to respond to emerging needs or innovative development proposals.
      Medium to long term, I believe transferring tenure to the lands within the City’s municipal boundary is a better solution to increase efficiency in both the city government and NWT land administration. I would support creating a plan for this to occur. Actions that can begin immediately include: 1) consultation with Indigenous governments; and 2) confirming whether existing land surveys are suitable for a transfer or whether new surveys will be required because if so, funding for surveys will need to be considered.

Question #3 for Candidates running in the Territorial Election

SOCIAL SUPPORT

Background:

The impacts of homelessness, addictions and mental health have always been present in Yellowknife, but recently, the impacts have become increasingly visible within the community. While significant work has been done to address homelessness, addictions and mental health issues in Yellowknife, individuals and families continue to struggle with these complex and often intertwined problems:

 

  • There were 338 people counted as experiencing homelessness during the 2018 Yellowknife Point-inTime (PiT) Homeless Count. Only 16% reported being from Yellowknife; about a third (36%) of survey participants had arrived in the past 5 years. The top reasons people reported for migrating is connecting with families and employment.

 

  • As identified in the GNWT’s Mental Health and Addictions Strategic Framework, alcohol and drug use is very costly to our system. Between 2008/09 and 2010/11, on an annual average basis, 429 NWT patients were hospitalized 615 times with one or more alcohol or drug related issue, resulting in 3,250 bed days at an estimated cost of $7.5 million to the territorial health system.

 

City Council recently established Goals and Objectives for 2019-2022, and specifically prioritized working with partners to address pressing social issues. In particular, our Objective 3.3 identifies:

 

  • Work with partners to address public disturbances.

 

  • Focus on bringing partners and funding to support the implementation of the City’s 10‐year plan to end homelessness.

Question: What actions and programs established so far do you think are working, and what needs to be done differently to address these issues of homelessness, addictions and mental health? How would you prioritize or sequence the actions you feel are needed, and how would you balance these with other GNWT priorities? How will you support the City’s 10-year plan to end homelessness?

 

Answers:

FRAME LAKE:

  • O'REILLY, KEVIN
    • The safe ride program is working well in terms of meeting peoples need and diverting people away from the RCMP and Stanton Territorial Hospital.  It does require continued GNWT support. 

      The Day Shelter and Sobering Centre provide a vital service both to the homeless and the community as a whole.  It is not the solution to the problem, but an effort to reduce harm and impacts.  The security issues around the facility should have been anticipated and dealt with before its opening.  A good neighbor agreement where the roles and responsibilities are laid out, frequency of patrols, hours of services, complaint procedures and dispute resolution can be agreed upon will be an important step towards better relationships. 

      Housing First programming has been successful not only in providing housing, but developing the residential skills needed to successfully maintain housing.  The last Cabinet failed to improve access to housing.  We must end the policy of no increases to the number of public housing units and better support the City’s 10-year plan by devoting a fairer share of capital dollars to human needs.  Housing needs to be a higher priority for the next Assembly.

      Residential addiction treatment will continue to be available through southern institutions but follow-up and after-care programs in the NWT can and should be improved.  On-the-land treatment like the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation's have proven to be very helpful and are worthy of further GNWT support.

      The next step is the introduction of a managed alcohol program.  These have proven successful in many other places including Thunder Bay.  Such a program has the potential to reduce unsafe activities associated with getting money for the next drink, reduce binge consumption and stabilize people for healing and treatment.  A trial or pilot project should be run and carefully evaluated with support from GNWT. 

 

  • RAMSAY, DAVE

 

GREAT SLAVE:

  • NOKLEBY, KATRINA

 

  • SCOTT, PATRICK
    • On page of the 10 year Homeless action it states: Homelessness in Yellowknife and the North is a legacy of Canada’s colonial past, intimately tied to the ongoing impacts of residential schooling and intergenerational trauma. As such, homelessness is much more than someone’s lack of housing or shelter – it is a manifestation of dispossession, displacement, and disruption for people, families, and entire Indigenous communities at a spiritual, social, and material level. Finding a way forward to end homelessness is therefore more than providing housing and shelter – as much as these remain essential. True wellness places importance on the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of people, families, and communities, and their interconnectedness with one another and the land.[Christensen, J. (2017) No Home in a Homeland - Indigenous peoples and Homelessness in the Canadian North. UBC Press]

       

      I agree with that analysis.  I will work as closely as possible with the City’s “Call to Action.,” by providing resource I will have access to and by advocating for the building of appropriate homes.  In part, the homeless crisis has continued because most  clients are placed in existing apartment building and are left with few supports.  Their lifestyle and often their preferences are not conducive to those living spaces.  Homeless housing needs, I believe, will be most effectively addressed when the homeless people have an equitable voice in what is developed.  We cannot set priorities in isolation from the clients.  Engaging them with other support workers would enable the development of an affective action plan.  Timelines must be defined so there is ongoing accountability.  In speaking with sone of those stuck on the street, they  indicated their interest in tiny home clusters.  Any housing must also be coupled with a both addictions rehab and mental health support programs.   Job mentoring and placement needs to be developed to help bring them when they are able, of unemployment and dependency.  Some may do better in their home communities at the appropriate point in their recovery.  Better community services and a relocation program may encourage some to return to their families.

       

KAM LAKE:

  • AL-MAHAMUD, ABDULLAH

 

  • CLEVELAND, CAITLIN

 

  • HAWKINS, ROBERT

 

  • SILERIO, ROMMEL

 

  • TESTART, KIERON
    • The state of our Capital’s downtown core is unacceptable, and that is an opinion shared by many at the doors in Kam Lake. Regardless of where you live in Yellowknife, our community cares about the state of our downtown and clearly the well-intentioned solutions of the 18th Assembly are not working to significantly reduce the issues of homelessness, addictions and public safety. My platform is committed to the creation of brick and mortar treatment facilities specializing in addictions detox and managed alcohol programs. I no longer accept the rational from Government insiders that local treatment centres won’t work in the NWT. We need more options to promote wellness in our communities and address the long standing substance abuse problems that seemingly affect our Capital the most. These facilities need to be accompanied with program funding for housing first and transitional housing that provide more dollars for staff that can provide wraparound services to clients and the entire continuum of care must be informed by culturally informed trauma based treatment. Addictions and homelessness are not a root causes, they are symptoms of deeper issues arising most frequently from intergenerational trauma created by the mistakes of colonization.

 

  • WINSOR, CHERISH

 

 RANGE LAKE:

  • COCHRANE, CAROLINE

 

  • GRAHAM, HUGHIE

 

YELLOWKNIFE CENTRE:

  • GREEN, JULIE

 

  • HACHE, ARLENE

 

  • JARVIS, THOM
    • The City of Yellowknife requires much more financial assistance from the Territorial government in this sphere. The city is the economic engine of the territory and has become the destination of many people with serious issues from across the entire territory. Although they are situated in Yellowknife this is a territorial issue and as such the territorial government should be obligated to assist with the heavy lifting.

       
  • KONGE, NIELS
    • I think we definitely have a responsibility to help the more vulnerable members of our community. There are a multitude of services being provided and I think that may be part of the problem. We need to look and see which programs and actions are being duplicated by multiple sources. Where this redundancy exists, it needs to be simplified giving opportunities to other service providers to concentrate on a connected but different issue.  We should have an emergency shelter(wet) and a treatment shelter(dry).  The treatment shelter would be for people who are trying to break the cycle of addictions and get back on their feet.  The emergency shelter would be for people who are not at that point in their lives.  Both programs are vital, but we need to see if they should be operating out of the same building.  We need to continually monitor to see what is working and explore new opportunities.

      One action that I would support is the cessation of the blatant open alcohol consumption on the streets of Yellowknife. Under current legislation, that can only be enforced by RCMP Officers. If this means hiring additional RCMP staff whose sole job is liquor enforcement and street violence, I would support that. It needs to stop.

      Another action I would support would be the ongoing partnership with the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Foundation, which is providing on-the-land opportunities for traditional activities and healthy living.  Connecting people to meaning in their lives can help them make better healthier choices.

      As for prioritization, I think we need to collaborate and get all the ground service providers together in a room and come up with a reasonable plan.  Integrated case management has been piloted within the GNWT and has seen great success, but getting Departments to get out of their stovepipes and work together has actually not yet happened effectively. Politicians have to find the money and hold the service providers accountable. For the City's 10 year plan to end homelessness, one of the initiatives that I believe has merit is the Yellowknife Women’s Society’s plan to acquire the Arnica Inn for transitional housing. I would certainly support a further investigation of this initiative.

       

YELLOWKNIFE NORTH:

  • JOHNSON, RYLUND
    • We’ve created the only real homeless supports in the NWT, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we now attract the housing-insecure from across the NWT. Only 16% of Yellowknife’s homeless population report being from Yellowknife, which means the issue is undeniably a GNWT area of responsibility. There is a real opportunity in having an epicentre to focus policy interventions on, but this is absolutely failing with current levels of attention and investments. I’ll do my best to rectify that in funding and program delivery. I will encourage early intervention, advocate for managed alcohol programs, and support the Housing First model. Ending homelessness directly ties into a key platform of mine, ending poverty. A guaranteed liveable income, as set out in my platform ensures we are spending money to end homelessness and poverty, permanently. As past chair of the Canadian Bar Association Aboriginal Law Section, NWT, and Vice Chair of the Public Lawyers Section, I have strong convictions on effective rehabilitation, Indigenous-led justice, and mental health supports, which you can find on my website, www.rylundjohnson.ca.

       
  • VALLILLEE, JAN

 

  • VANTHUYNE, CORY
    • Excellent work has been done by the GNWT and City in recent years to work together and introduce new services and programming.  Housing First, Street Outreach Services and support for programs like the Arctic Indigenous Wellness Fund are making a difference, but wait lists for housing keep growing and addictions issues seem more visible now than ever before in our city’s past.  I firmly believe that a managed alcohol program can make a difference and must be tried during the next four years, preferably in conjunction with the construction of a new, expanded Day Shelter and Sobering Centre. 

      Close co-operation must continue to be encouraged, in no small part because much of the new funding available through the federal government is only accessible through such partnerships.  At the same time, let’s not lose sight of the fact that housing and social services comprise a significant part of the GNWT’s mandate.  The GNWT must step up and re-affirm it’s leadership on these files.

       

YELLOWKNIFE SOUTH:

  • MACPHERSON, GAELEEN
    • I fully support the Arnica Project and have indicated that I would support the GNWT contributing to this project in a timely manner in the life of the next Legislative Assembly. At the same time, it is important that we build on the work that has been done to date and bring together government and
      other funding sources in a broader homelessness strategy that provides sustainable funding for projects such as the Arnica Project. As MLA, I would also be committed to the development and implementation of the broader homelessness strategy that builds on and complements the work that
      has been done in the City’s 10-year plan.

 

  • WAWZONEK, CAROLINE
    •   My answer is divided as follows:

      - Priorities: a safe, healthy and prosperous downtown

      - Making connections and building trust

      - Leadership engaged with front line service delivery

      - Responses to homelessness for both individuals and families

      - Responses to addictions: after care, community networks and patient advocates

      My priority: a safe, healthy and prosperous downtown

      I am hearing from my neighbors in Yellowknife South that even though we are farther away from the downtown where homelessness, addictions and mental health issues are more visible, these issues are impacting the Yellowknife community as a whole. Some people are worried about the very human impacts on people and families from homelessness, poverty and addictions. Many people worry that they no longer safe walking downtown. Others point out that there will not be any economic revitalization in the downtown unless these issues are addressed and that often includes people worried about the potential impact on tourism from a negative impression of our city.

      Taking action on economic growth and investment is my first priority. However, one of the ways that I want to do that includes supporting entrepreneurship and the growth of small and medium sized NWT businesses. Any hope of having a vibrant downtown where we can take our families to restaurants or out shopping means that these social issues must be addressed. Issues of homelessness, mental health and addictions therefore also need to be high priorities because our local economy is being impacted.

      I want to talk about my overall approach first and then discuss programs to address homelessness, addictions and mental health.

      My overall approach: connections and trust

      I think we need political leadership to acknowledge that many social issues are connected. For example, addictions can result in housing insecurity just as homelessness can impact addiction. I think we also need leaders to be realistic that many of these issues do not have just one solution and that we need to look to the “front end” of social problems before people end up on the streets. For example, I think we should support higher-risk families with young children and support mental health in young adults so that more young people do not end up on the streets. I also think we can encourage collaboration between corrections and health and communities to make sure people leaving the correction system can successfully reintegrate into their community. I think it is important for decision makers to acknowledge the connections between these problems so they can come up with meaningful long-term solutions and prioritize cooperation across departments and between governments.

      I believe in leading by example: political leadership needs to be aware of the needs at front lines of service delivery. I believe leaders should demonstrate that they understand what is happening at the front lines and, in doing so, show that they expect chains of communication between all levels of the government service to be open and healthy. Front line service providers often know the best, easiest and most efficient improvements for service delivery.

      I also believe in building communication and cooperation. I would encourage regular meetings between different providers of social programs including both from inside government as well as the many non-profit organizations working in the community. For example, semi-annual meetings for Income Assistance service officers, their supervisors and managers with their counterparts in Housing and Child and Family Services along with the community advocates who work with people accessing all of these programs. Also, the existing Integrated Case Management pilot program appears to be a successful way for people to access government programs and services. Expanding the intake to non-profit organizations could reach more people who need these supports. 

      Homelessness

      I support the proposed project to purchase the Arnica Inn and convert it into transitional housing. The proposal, led by the Yellowknife Women’s Society, would provide half of the spaces called for in the City of Yellowknife’s 10-year plan to end homelessness and fill a need for housing with built-in support for the residents. I understand that the City has already moved forward to re-zone the area and the Federal government is providing 75% of the cost. I believe the GNWT should support this collaboration with the City and one of our well-established non-profit organizations.

      I also want to see the GNWT work with the YWCA to respond to the gap in transitional housing for families that resulted from the Rockhill fire.

      Mental health and addictions

      My platform includes support for post-treatment, long term aftercare for addictions and mental health that includes relapse-prevention and community-based support networks. I know that some of these kinds of programs are starting to take shape in the mental health action plan released this past spring. I want to see this approach to long-term recovery continue and expand.

      Other potential responses:

      • • In order to help build and maintain community-level networks, I suggest renewing efforts to establish mobile units of mental health professionals to circulate regularly to communities and support local networks.
      • • I believe we need mental health-specific system navigators or patient-advocates (or both) so that patients and their families can easily access the best available programs and services.
      • • Encourage and support community-level programs that are demonstrating success such as the Artic Indigenous Wellness Foundation and FOXY/SMASH.

Question #4 for Candidates running in the Territorial Election

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Background:

Diversity is the key to a strong, sustainable and resilient economy. The sustainability and growth of the NWT economy requires strategic investment and diversification.

 

Mining and exploration has been a core part of our economy but diamond production has reached its peak and will decline in the next decade. In the Conference Board of Canada’s annual economic forecast (Summer 2019), economic growth in the NWT will be modest in the near term, hovering in the 2% range, but will subsequently ease sharply over the long term due primarily to weaker investment in the mining sector.

 

Earlier this year, Council identified growing and diversifying our local economy as one of the four goals that we’d like to achieve during our time in office. Actions to be taken to fulfill this goal include implementing a governance structure for a destination marketing organization that will maximize the economic benefits of tourism; working with partners to maximize the community and economic development benefits from an expanded post-secondary presence in Yellowknife; and updating the City’s economic development strategy.

 

 

Question: What is your overall vision for economic development in the NWT, and how does community economic development in Yellowknife fit with that? What will you do if elected to ensure that a stand-alone university campus is built in Yellowknife and the university is funded adequately to be successful? Cost and reliability of electricity is a major concern for businesses and residents; how would you work to address that?


Answers:

FRAME LAKE:

  • O'REILLY, KEVIN
    • In my first term, I was the Assembly’s most vocal advocate for greater emphasis on economic diversification and community-based economies.  I will pursue this balanced approach in my second term. The last Cabinet vigorously pursued mining investment.  The barriers to mining are largely based on commodity prices and financing that are outside of our control.  We can and need to market the NWT as a great place to live, work and do business.  Our NWT environmental and resource management regime is different by design and the result of constitutionally entrenched land rights agreements.  There is a lot of guidance and assistance for our system which creates certainty.  This can be enhanced with completion of the land rights agreements for the Akaitcho and Dehcho regions which must be a priority for the next Assembly.

      Tourism growth is a fabulous success story for Yellowknife that must be maintained and expanded.  GNWT needs to better protect our brand and experience with tougher licensing and enforcement in partnership with the City.  We need a new vistors centre with adequate GNWT support that is coordinated with the City’s destination marketing local operators and the retail sector.    

      I have always supported the concept of a post-secondary institution for the NWT, with a campus in Yellowknife.  This was part of my platform in 2015. Our campus will be part of a strong network across the NWT that includes the existing campuses in Inuvik and Fort Smith and the community learning centres.  The next Assembly and Cabinet need to keep a NWT Polytechnic University at the top of its infrastructure needs when seeking support from the federal government for transformative investment in the NWT.

      The NWT Power Corporation needs to be reoriented towards building community and household energy self-sufficiency.  Big grids and big projects are the old way of thinking.  The world is moving in the opposite direction with greater investment in renewables and energy storage.  I support the use of small hydro for communities such as Whati, Gameti, Wekweti and Lutsel K’e that have good potential.  Getting these communities off diesel can be accomplished efficiently and effectively, and will reduce power bills for everyone.  Large hydro project such as Taltson expansion are full of uncertainty as there is no money to build it, no buyers for the power have been identified, and large projects elsewhere have proven to be very controversial (e.g., Muskrat Falls, Site C and more).  However, existing Taltson power should certainly be used for regional development in the South Slave.  Arctic Energy Alliance energy retrofit programs can be expanded and improved.  These efforts can be coordinated with the City’s new authority to establish an energy revolving fund where the savings from reduced power costs are used to fund retrofits of homes and businesses.

  • RAMSAY, DAVE

 

GREAT SLAVE:

  • NOKLEBY, KATRINA

 

  • SCOTT, PATRICK
    • I want to see need more green initiatives.  This should include renewable energy developments.  Resource extraction projects must continue to work collaboratively with Indigenous governments and business.  Continuing to focus on Northern employment through training, education and mentoring are all part of the economic renewal cycle.  Means must be found to have workers living in the NWT regardless of where they come from.  This will require managing the cost of living better through utility cost reduction, and developing more efficient, less costly transportation of goods.

      Stimulating housing construction and refitting through a rebate or subsidy on the transportation of building materials. 

       

      I want to see the knowledge economy become a stable contributor to our development through Post secondary Education programs and E-commerce developments.  Improvements in internet infrastructure and costs would make Ecommerce more viable.

       

      I want to see better infrastructure and improved local services so tourisms continues to grow. Small businesses need some breaks!  Equalizing domestic and commercial rates would provide a direct benefit to the small business community.

      The “arts” thrive in the North but get minimal support - that must change. Research shows $1.00 spent in the arts generates $7.00 of economic activity.  We must diversify our economy!

       

      As we design a replacement for the visitors centre we could incorporate a visual arts centre and possibly a new library.  Making it a multipurpose which included a visual centre would provide opportunities for local artists to produce and sell their work.  Adding a new library would draw more people to use the space, giving a more aseptic gathering place for community members not just tourists.

       

      The development of a University in Yellowknife will not only be an economic stimulus, it will provide stability that the boom and bust cycle of resource extraction doesn’t provide.  The University must be independent from the GNWT.  This would facilitate corporate and foundation contributions to the development and operation of the University. 

       

      Government could help homeowners and business bring down their operational costs through better subsidies on renewable energy initiatives.  The develop of wind farms, solar farms like the ones in Fort Simpson and Coville Lake would provide long term stable energy costs. 

 KAM LAKE:

  • AL-MAHAMUD, ABDULLAH

 

  • CLEVELAND, CAITLIN

 

  • HAWKINS, ROBERT

 

  • SILERIO, ROMMEL

 

  • TESTART, KIERON
    • The economy does best when governments invest in Northerners and their communities. I have long shared this perspective and have advocated for economic stimulus during the 18th Assembly in the form of strategic spending that creates jobs and growth in local economies. Though I remain supportive of long-term strategic infrastructure investments, such as the Mackenzie Valley Highway, what our economy needs today is short to medium term growth to prevent a projected recession starting over the next four years. My plan is based on three primary areas of investment: cost of living offsets, Northern business development and local economic investment. My platform calls for the creation of new tax credits and benefits that will promote new growth and lower the cost of living and doing business in the North. The centerpiece of these new initiatives is the Northern Living Benefit, a tax benefit that will put cash back into the pockets of Northerners as a monthly or quarterly benefit. 97% of Northerners file their taxes, which means that this benefit will reach nearly every household in the NWT and provide real economic benefits, reducing the cost of living and injecting new spending into local economies. Perhaps most important to municipalities is my commitment to close the municipal funding gap and transfer all uncontested land with municipal boundaries to local governments. These actions will invest millions of infrastructure spending into our communities, create more than 200 jobs and drive new economic growth in larger centres like Yellowknife, while opening up new markets in smaller communities. The health of our economy is the most important election issue for me and I have the policies, experience and connections to get real results and get the economy moving forward.

 

  • WINSOR, CHERISH

 

 RANGE LAKE:

  • COCHRANE, CAROLINE

 

  • GRAHAM, HUGHIE

 

YELLOWKNIFE CENTRE:

  • GREEN, JULIE

 

  • HACHE, ARLENE

 

  • JARVIS, THOM
    • The territorial government needs to address the regulatory issues that are creating a disincentive to the future mineral extraction investment and developments. The industry is the base of our economy and has been in a state of decline for too long. Adoption of the NWT/NU Chamber of Mines proposal to create a new NWT Resource Vision – an “Improving Investor Confidence” Strategy would be a smart move towards this. Including the development of one clear set of rules for all projects with known payments and benefits provided to Indigenous governments and managed by one regulator under the GNWT. Assistance toward the creation of a new visitor’s centre is vital. Beef up ITI’s programs aimed at assisting entrepreneurs. This will greatly aid in the diversification of the economy. We have the mining sector as a base, we need to continue work on adding more layers to our economy. Diversification is not an either-or situation. It is about more overall, increasing the size of the pie itself.

       
  • KONGE, NIELS
    • Mining is one of the largest GDP contributors to our community and needs to be supported. Miners, regulatory boards, Indigenous and local governments need to come to the table to identify and address the hurdles we have.

      For Yellowknife, establishing the Polytechnic University is really the quickest short term investment for long term gains that we can make. Implementing this model must be a priority while Inuvik and Fort Smith need assurances that their programs will also stay intact. The infrastructure in those communities is valuable to all residents of the NWT.

      In terms of electricity and cost of living, the GNWT should continue to push for Talston or expansion of other existing hydro-damns. Territorially, we need to modernize power production and find ways to be more efficient in our usage. We live in the sub arctic and the heat waste at Jackfish ensures that the lake does not freeze in the winter - how can we be that wasteful? I definitely think that Green technology should continue to be explored, the City has invested in solar power and district heating which has been successful.

      Finally, in terms of tourism, we need to support the local opportunities through the transfer of all Commissioner's Lands to the municipalities and ensure that visitors services in Yellowknife, the gateway to the NWT, is supported effectively by the GNWT.

       

YELLOWKNIFE NORTH:

  • JOHNSON, RYLUND
    • The NWT has a long history of mining, and although our gold and diamond days may be ebbing, we still hold the largest known deposit of rare earth minerals outside of China, and expected major deposits throughout the Slave Geologic Province. Forward-thinking technology, such as solar panels and electric cars, will depend in part on the natural resources of the NWT.

      Our tourism market is booming, and warrants further investment while we have the international interest for our pristine wilderness, endless summer days, and amazing northern lights. Film and photography should also be further pursued – the “golden hour” (a time just after sunset or before sunrise when the ambient light illuminates subjects but does not cast a shadow, which is a time when many scenes for film and TV are shot) lasts much more than an hour up here due to our latitude, and as the only city in the NWT, we are uniquely prepared to host more arts investment.

      Cost (and environmental impact) of our power system are both very important. We pay over $0.30/kwh, compared to the Canadian average of $0.12/kwh, which is a sticking point for major investments and for cost of living. I support any improvement and shared investment, from linking the North and South Slave grids, to expanding the Taltson hydro system. 

      I will advocate building a campus that will serve as a cultural hub for the North. The GNWT's ongoing discussion around the University suffers from a lack of vision. To solve our existing issues, we can't just re-brand Aurora College — we need to do things differently. We need a physical campus located in Yellowknife, and it should be arms-length from GNWT interference. The new university needs room to grow into an institution that attracts students from around the world.  International students, who are then guaranteed post-graduate visas and a path to permanent residency, will bring in tuition money and ensure that the university funds itself. We need a university that trains nurses and social workers in ways of healing that are appropriate and specific to our communities. We need programs focused on skills such linked to industry such as mine reclamation and geo-sciences — which put people to work immediately within Northern organizations. Lastly we need trades programs to focus on green construction and retrofit techniques that are designed specifically for our infrastructure and climate.

       
  • VALLILLEE, JAN

 

  • VANTHUYNE, CORY
    • Indigenous governments that have settled land rights and self-government agreements are creating cultural, spiritual and economic antonymy quicker than those who have not. It will be a high priority of the 19th Assembly to work toward getting AIP’s and final agreements in place with the Dehcho, Akaitcho and Metis in order to bring certainty for all northerners. This will result in the largest positive impact on the economy, social development and environmental stewardship we have seen in decades and will elevate indigenous peoples that much more toward self-determination. The City of Yellowknife will be the hub for indigenous ingenuity and growth. A polytechnic university can be the cornerstone of that hub. Innovation and technology, impacts of climate change, self-determination and reconciliation, globalization, resource development, manufacturing and many other diversified industries will utilize, develop and apply initiatives that derive from the polytechnic university. The GNWT needs to recognize that a polytechnic university based in Yellowknife has the opportunity to be an international hub for circumpolar excellence in education, innovation, technology and research. The polytechnic itself will be significant economic driver but the creativeness, entrepreneurialism, artistry and academia the flows from the polytechnic will be the ultimate stimulator of economic development, with the Yellowknife being the largest benefactor.      

       

YELLOWKNIFE SOUTH:

  • MACPHERSON, GAELEEN
    • Although mining has brought many benefits to the Yellowknife region, too great a reliance on mining leaves us vulnerable to global economic trends that are beyond our control. While I think it is critical that we continue to support our mining industry, we also need to focus our efforts on diversification
      of our economy including the development of a sustainable tourism that attracts tourists to stay longer and spend more money in the north. The GNWT must shift focus from marketing to creating the right incentives for private sector tourism product development and improve our tourist infrastructure such as improving and expanding the airport in order to accommodate international flights. I also support the establishment of a Polytechnical University in the Northwest Territories with a stand-alone campus in Yellowknife. This can also be a great contributor to a further diversified economy in the North. This issue would be a priority for me as MLA. We need to make additional investments in renewable energy, such as wind, solar and biomass, both in the short and long-term. More importantly, we need to work with the next federal governments to expand our hydroelectric capacity. A grid interconnect between the North and South Slave regions, and ultimately between the NWT and the Southern Canadian grid will be one of my top priorities if elected. This will help to lessen our impact on the environment and to reduce our high cost of living

 

  • WAWZONEK, CAROLINE
    • I believe we need to revitalize our mineral resource sector, support growth among northern owned small and medium sized enterprise and continue to seek opportunities to help diversify our economy. It is valuable to have a strong capital city as an economic anchor while remaining aware that most of the resources of our resource-dominant economy are outside the city region so that we continue to support partnerships across the NWT. From my experience across sectors and industries, I know we have the ideas around us to make NWT businesses more competitive. It is time for political leadership to support those ideas, make decisions and act.

      Some of the specific ways I believe we can drive a strong economy include:

      1.            Infrastructure: We need to catch-up on infrastructure across sectors from communications to transport to energy. Our vision should be about nation-building and future-building for the NWT. I realize that major infrastructure projects involve significant capital so if asked to choose a priority amongst all of these needs, I would focus first on energy. Providing cleaner, less costly energy through Territory-wide projects including both large scale and community-level hydro, wind, solar or bio-mass could be itself a source of economic diversification, make resource development more economically feasible, reduce operating costs for all sizes of business and help companies looking to reassure investors about their carbon footprint.

      2.            Regulatory systems: Ensure that our regulatory systems are responsive and streamlined. Regulations impact business development at all scales and across industries. Being “streamlined” should means that small scale projects should comply with rules relevant to the scale of what is being proposed. Being “responsive” could mean that we commit to remove old rules before instituting new ones. I think this would support growth in the resource industry as well as small and medium sized Yellowknife businesses such as our local restaurant industry, small scale food production and home-based businesses.

      3.            Procurement: The current procurement systems such as the “Business Incentive Policy” are not effectively supporting northern managed and owned businesses. I believe tax dollars should be support northern managed and owned businesses who spend their wage dollars in the north.

                              a.            I would support an independent panel composed of business representatives from around the NWT tasked with a short timeline (120 days?) to deliver a proposal for change and improvement for GNWT procurement. I have heard from members of the business community about different options to improve this system to support NWT based businesses. For example, one suggestion is that rather than a government-contract bidding-advantage, northern businesses could receive a form of subsidy or contract-advantage based on the number of salaries paid in the NWT. Another idea is to reward companies for “performance” of work using northern labor rather that reward them in advance for the “promise” of northern employment.

                              b.            I also support identifying an incentive for local companies to partner together in order to have the capacity to bid on larger scale projects. Alternatively, or in addition, I believe we can find a way to support northern managed or led bids that keep the leadership of a project in the NWT while using resources from companies based elsewhere to help bridge gaps in experience or knowledge.

      4.            Provide better clarity about land access and certainty in land ownership to encourage entrepreneurship and investor confidence. I see two ways that the GNWT can support this: 1) by prioritizing the settlement of outstanding land and self-government claims and shifting focus towards partnerships with Indigenous governments; and 2) improve the efficiency of access to land within the City of Yellowknife’s municipal boundaries.

    • I support an NWT based university to anchor a knowledge economy, create opportunities for residents, and drive diverse partnerships between governments, industry and communities. I believe we should include programs in high-demand professions such as nursing and social work. I also think this is an opportunity to be a leader in our areas of particular strength such as rare earth minerals, technology metals, arctic climate science, permafrost studies and land-based programs. However, we also need to invest in early childhood education so that students have the tools to be ready for post-secondary. We cannot succeed in one without the other.
    • We need to catch-up on infrastructure across sectors from communications to transport to energy but in my platform, I decided to prioritize cleaner energy.
      Providing cleaner, less costly energy through Territory-wide projects in large scale hydro or connection into the southern grid could make resource development more economically feasible, reduce operating costs for all sizes of business and reduce our carbon footprint. In addition to large scale projects, I believe we need to take action supporting the development of community-level hydro, wind, solar or bio-mass options. In both large and small scale projects, I believe we should encourage equity partnerships with Indigenous development corporations.
      Which ever options we choose; I think the key is for political leadership to make choices and take action. We cannot afford to wait another four (or more) years. One reason we cannot delay is that it would be cost efficient to work with potential large-volume commercial consumers in order to spread out fixed costs but this kind of potential consumer will need to know what options will be in place when they design their own project proposals. Access to greener energy, will help companies looking to assure their investors about their carbon footprint as compared to being reliant on diesel.
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