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    Delivered on September 26, 2017

    Mr. Speaker, infrastructure investments help connect residents to essential services, lower the cost of living, increase our resiliency to the impacts of climate change, and support economic development. Today, I want to provide Members an update on priority infrastructure projects being pursued by the Government of the Northwest Territories.

    Mr. Speaker, in 2017, the Government of Canada announced its Investing in Canada Plan, which includes over $180 billion in infrastructure investments over 12 years.  The Government of the Northwest Territories continues to work with our federal counterparts to receive more information on new federal funding program and to identify opportunities that will benefit our territory.

    On July 6, the Government of the Northwest Territories received a letter from the federal Minister of Infrastructure outlining our territory’s allocation under four funding streams being administered by Infrastructure Canada. These streams include investments in Green Infrastructure that supports the territory’s commitments to the environment, including those under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change; Public Transit infrastructure; Community, Culture and Recreation infrastructure; and a Rural and Northern Communities infrastructure stream that supports wide-ranging infrastructure priorities such as local roads, food security, and broadband connectivity.

    Also included under the Rural and Northern Communities stream is an Arctic Energy Fund for projects supporting more efficient and reliable energy in Canada’s North. This fund will provide $175 million to the Northwest Territories, which will be used to implement actions identified under the Government of the Northwest Territories’ new Energy Strategy to be finalized in the New Year.

    In this letter, the federal minister indicated that the Government of Canada would be initiating negotiations on bilateral agreements for this funding with the goal of concluding negotiations by March 2018 at the latest.  The Government of the NWT has already begun working to draft an initial list of infrastructure projects that could benefit from this funding and match these projects to the different federal funding streams. Infrastructure priorities will include those already identified under the Mandate of this 18th Legislative Assembly. The Government of the Northwest Territories will have to be strategic to maximize opportunities, and we look forward to working with Regular Members as we work for the benefit of all Northerners.

    In addition to the programs announced by Infrastructure Canada, there are a series of other national programs that have been announced by the federal government, including those that address social infrastructure such as housing, education, and long-term care. The Government of the Northwest Territories is awaiting further details. While, we are making progress to advance priorities, like the National Trade Corridors Fund and Low Carbon Economy Fund.

    Mr. Speaker, small jurisdictions like the NWT are still playing catch-up and require basic highway infrastructure to connect our communities and provide opportunities for economic growth. That is why our government made a commitment in its mandate to capture opportunities for investment in transportation infrastructure by working to secure funding for the Mackenzie Valley Highway, make an all-weather road to Whati and improve access to the Slave Geological Province. These projects were identified as top priorities for NWT residents during engagement sessions for the Government of the Northwest Territories’ 25-year Transportation Strategy, released in 2016, which included an online survey, stakeholder interviews, and public meetings in all regional centres. These investments will connect residents to new social and employment opportunities, reduce the cost of living in the territory, increase our resiliency and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and provide better access to natural resources.

    Consistent with this commitment, the Department of Infrastructure has submitted two Expressions of Interest to Transport Canada under the National Trade Corridors Fund for the Slave Geological Province Access Corridor and Mackenzie Valley Highway projects. 

    Projects under the National Trade Corridors Fund are intended to support the flow of goods and passengers and increase economic development. The program is merit-based, with up to $400 million of this funding being dedicated to transportation projects in the three territories.

    The Expressions of Interests phase represents a first step in a longer project approval process.

    Project proposals sent to Transport Canada under the National Trade Corridors Fund will also be shared with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which allows for an opportunity to fund these projects under the Bank instead. The Infrastructure Bank will focus on large, transformative, revenue generating projects, which could potentially include the Slave Geological Province Access Corridor and Taltson Hydro Expansion Project. It is expected that the Infrastructure Bank will be operational by the end of 2017.

    Mr. Speaker, we are currently very early in the process for developing these projects. Federal funding will allow the Government of the Northwest Territories to advance to next steps, which include additional planning and engineering work, environmental activities supporting the protection of wildlife such as caribou, and engagements with stakeholders, including Aboriginal governments and organizations.

    Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories has also submitted an initial proposal for funding under the Low Carbon Economy Fund towards a number of programs that would help reduce fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions in different sectors of the Northwest Territories’ economy. Government of the Northwest Territories staff met with officials from Environment and Climate Change Canada in August to discuss this draft proposal and we anticipate submitting a formal proposal by mid-October. Funding received under this Fund would support the implementation of the Government of the Northwest Territories’ commitments under the Pan-Canadian Framework on Climate Change and Clean Growth.

    Significant and meaningful investment in NWT infrastructure is needed. Creating the North our people want and need means working together with many partners: Canada, Indigenous governments, community governments, the Legislative Assembly, business and industry, to create and implement a clear plan for investing in our people in the long term.

    On September 21, I met with other federal, provincial, and territorial ministers in Ottawa to discuss early results and the next phase of the Investing in Canada Plan. This meeting provided a significant opportunity for jurisdictions to share their infrastructure priorities and discuss how federal funding programs can help maximize the benefits of these projects.   

    We will continue to keep Members apprised of the progress of submissions under the National Trade Corridors Fund and Low Carbon Economy Fund and any other federal programs.

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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    Delivered October 3, 2017

    Mr. Speaker, since 2013, September 30th has been marked as Orange Shirt Day, a day for all Canadians to remember the survivors of the residential school system.

    Organizers chose an orange shirt as the symbol for that day based on a story told by Phyllis Jack Webstat, a survivor of the St. Joseph Mission Residential School in Williams Lake, BC. In her story, Ms. Webstat tells of having the shiny, new orange shirt her grandmother had given to her being taken away on her first day at residential school.

    We remember residential school survivors and their families on all days but especially on September 30th because it was around this time of year that children were taken from their homes to residential schools. It is also a time when schools have the opportunity to implement their inclusive, anti-bullying practices and policies for the coming year, setting the stage for education and learning about the impacts of residential schools that continue to echo today.

    Mr. Speaker, we are living in a new world where the need for reconciliation with Indigenous people is receiving more attention than ever before. We welcome this attention in the Northwest Territories, where approximately half of our population is Aboriginal, many of whom are survivors of residential school.

    Our government has been proud to lead the way in forging new relationships with Indigenous people and has made dealing with the legacy of residential schools a priority, including introducing a mandatory residential schools curriculum in 2012.  We also remain committed to implementing the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

    Mr. Speaker, Orange Shirt Day is a reminder of the often troubled relationship between Indigenous people and the wider Canadian society, including governments, churches and schools. Repairing those relationships in a territory where many of us – including myself – have had experience with residential schools, will be critical to creating strong, healthy and inclusive communities.

    Orange Shirt Day took place on Saturday, Mr. Speaker. As we did not sit on that day, Members are proud to be wearing orange in the Chamber today out of respect for the survivors of residential school and as a symbol of our commitment to reconciliation.

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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    Delivered on October 3, 2017

    Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is nearing the successful completion of its first season delivering Marine Transportation Services to communities on the Mackenzie River and Arctic coast.

    The delivery of essential goods by tug and barge to our communities on Great Slave Lake, the Mackenzie River and the Arctic coast sustains the vital services that our communities rely upon.  Since early July when the first tug and barge tow of the season departed Hay River, GNWT Marine Transportation Services has successfully delivered all of the critical petroleum products and deck cargo to all scheduled communities and clients, and has met all of its commercial marine charter commitments.

    This season, Marine Transportation Services registered and reactivated six tugboats, transported more than 37 million litres of fuel and carried more than ten thousand tonnes of deck cargo to communities and industry clients.  This cargo includes diesel fuel, jet fuel, gasoline, construction materials, prefabricated housing units, heavy equipment, vehicles, and consumer goods.  At the GNWT Hay River Shipyard, they completed maintenance work on Canadian Coast Guard vessels that provide critical support to navigation and shipping on NWT waters.  Substantial charter work was also accomplished for large industrial clients.  In this way, Marine Transportation Services supports small and large businesses, industrial operations and stimulates economic development in the Northwest Territories. 

    Mr. Speaker, Marine Transportation Services also provides important employment opportunities to residents, supporting the development of a strong northern workforce. For the 2017 season, the Department of Infrastructure engaged a marine crewing contractor to recruit and employ capable personnel to operate GNWT Marine Transportation Services.  At the peak of the season, more than 140 people were employed, and 60 of those employees were Northwest Territories residents.  In addition to the employment generated, MTS has purchased more than $2.6 million dollars in goods and services from Northwest Territories businesses so far this year. 

    Mr., Speaker, this is a challenging business. To achieve these successes during its first operating season, Marine Transportation Services overcame many obstacles, including the challenge of moving the vessels necessary for community resupply from Inuvik to Hay River at the beginning of the season; and addressing several years of deferred maintenance of the tugs, barges, shipyard and terminals.  High water levels in the Mackenzie River delayed the Canadian Coast Guard’s buoy and navigation aid setup; and delays in supplier shipments of cargo fuel resulted in temporary delivery delays to two communities.  The Government of the Northwest Territories will use the lessons that we have learned this season to implement strategies to enhance our operations in future years.

    Drawing upon this experience, we are developing a long-term business and operating model for Marine Transportation Services; one that will best use business revenues to stabilize costs of essential marine services and enable the success of future operations. 

    Mr. Speaker, our investment in Canada's northernmost inland shipyard and in this tug and barge fleet signals that we value and support the Mackenzie River as a corridor for commerce and transportation.  At the Port of Hay River, the most northerly connection of the continental railway system meets Canada’s longest river. A reliable shipping route for generations, the Mackenzie River is the northernmost link of an intermodal supply chain that stretches from the Gulf of Mexico to the Beaufort Sea and beyond. The Mackenzie River is truly our marine highway to the Arctic Ocean. Continued improvement of marine operations in the territory depends upon investment in infrastructure, such as landings and wharves; channel maintenance through dredging; and improved charting and navigational aids.

    The Government of the Northwest Territories is pursuing opportunities for funding that may be available through initiatives such as the federal Oceans Protection Plan to improve the state of marine infrastructure in the territory.  The Department of Infrastructure has developed a list of priority marine infrastructure that requires improvement and has identified opportunities for investments to increase the safety and efficiency of marine operations. These include improvements to port and shipyard assets, intermodal facility improvements, harbour dredging, dock repairs, and maintenance at ferry landings and at all marine-served communities.

    Mr. Speaker, we will build upon the success of the 2017 season. The Government of the Northwest Territories is committed to ensure that residents who rely on marine transportation services will get essential goods at a reasonable cost, and get them without fail, while making strategic investments in marine transportation, creating jobs, and stimulating the economy of the Northwest Territories. 

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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    Delivered on October 17, 2017

    Mr. Speaker, more than 50 years ago Prime Minister John Diefenbaker announced his goal to connect Canada coast to coast to coast.

    Today, I am pleased to announce the official opening of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway will be held on November 15, 2017. Canada’s first highway to the Arctic Ocean will finally connect the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk to our all-season highway system, while allowing for new economic opportunities, increased tourism, improved accessibility to health care, and a lower cost of living for residents.

    The success of this project can only be attributed to the dedicated crews who have put in long days and nights during some of the coldest and darkest times of winter. Their dedication has allowed the project to proceed as planned. Before I get into the details of the official opening, I’d first like to reflect on the immense benefits the project has already brought to the Beaufort Delta region.

    Mr. Speaker, throughout the project up to 600 people have been employed, and 74 per cent of that total have been residents of the Northwest Territories, with an estimated 10 percent of the total people employed being women. Not only were we committed to hiring locally, we’ve also trained local. Roughly 185 people have received training and educational opportunities throughout the project, such as wildlife monitoring and heavy equipment operation. These training opportunities underscore our government’s commitment toward developing a strong Northern workforce.

    In total, there have been over 136,000 person days of employment since the start of construction, 98,000 of which were for NWT residents. This does not include employees who have worked for the 41 subcontractors, of which 83 percent were awarded to Northern companies.

    While construction of the highway has already benefited the region’s economy, this is only the beginning, Mr. Speaker. Through the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment our government is working to position residents and businesses in the Beaufort Delta region to capitalize on economic opportunities from year-round road access.

    The new highway will make exploration of oil and gas more feasible. In fact, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation is currently seeking federal funding to study the possibility of developing gas fields along the new route.

    From a tourism perspective, this new connection to the Arctic Ocean will attract visitors interested in exploring the natural beauty of the Beaufort Delta. The Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment is already planning to promote this spectacular experience, and is working with the community of Tuktoyaktuk on a proposed tourism-focused celebration of the opening of the highway during the summer of 2018, as well as to identify and fund tourism products and infrastructure needed to meet the increased demand and opportunity that more visitors will bring.

    Mr. Speaker, the opening celebrations this fall will be of national significance, as we mark the first time Canada will be connected by highway from coast to coast to coast. Significantly, the project has been designated as one of four Canada 150 signature infrastructure projects by the federal Government. As we approach the official opening on November 15th, the Department of Infrastructure is working closely with the Town of Inuvik and the Hamlet of Tuktoyaktuk, the Inuvialuit Regional Corporation, other GNWT departments and the federal government to prepare for this historic day.

    A multi-stakeholder committee has been meeting on a monthly basis to organize and prepare for the official opening of the highway.  Celebrations will start with opening ceremonies and a ribbon cutting, followed by a reception in Inuvik.  Those activities will be followed by a historic symbolic drive along the new highway to opening ceremonies, fireworks and a feast in Tuktoyaktuk. Our government is also proud to support a local documentary that will be screened at the opening celebrations. The film focuses on the history of the former ice road and the importance of the new all-season road. These celebrations in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk will ensure maximum participation from both communities. A separate ceremony will take place in the summer of 2018 to celebrate the tourism opportunities the road will provide.

    Mr. Speaker, expanding our transportation system will help us connect residents to new social and employment opportunities, stabilize the cost of living in the territory, increase our resiliency and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and provide better access to natural resources. We hope everyone will join us on November 15 in celebrating this national infrastructure achievement.

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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    Delivered on October 20, 2017

    Mr. Speaker, the Government of the Northwest Territories is following through on its mandate to strengthen connections with public sector partners in order to invest in strategic transportation infrastructure.

    Improving and extending our highways system helps connect communities, reduces the cost of living, improves the resiliency of our transportation system to climate change, and increases access to natural resources.   I am proud to say we have carried out improvements to almost every highway in the Northwest Territories over the past two years. These improvements have been possible thanks to continued investment by the GNWT and federal funding under the New Building Canada Plan.

    The first bundle of funding under the New Building Canada Plan was announced in 2015. The federal government provided $72 million, while our government provided $24 million.  Rehabilitation work was completed on highways throughout the Northwest Territories using the skilled workforces of a variety of northern contractors.  Examples of investments include widening sections of Highway No. 8, and work on Highway No. 7, such as resurfacing parts of the Liard Highway and chipsealing over 30 kilometres of Highway No. 6.

    A second bundle of highway improvement projects was approved in 2016, through which the federal government provided $60.7 million, while the GNWT contributed over $25.2 million for a total investment of $100.9 million.  Reconstruction work under this funding included the Nahanni Butte and Jean Marie River access roads.  This funding also allows the Department of Infrastructure to undertake several key projects, such as the rehabilitation of the Buffalo River Bridge and construction of the new Canyon Creek access road.

    Mr. Speaker, major rehabilitation works on the Buffalo River Bridge began in July 2016 and will be completed this fall. Originally constructed in 1964, improvements to the bridge will allow it to accommodate modern highway loads and extend its service life.

    The Canyon Creek access road will provide significant benefits to the Sahtu Region throughout all phases of construction. There will be many job training opportunities for construction, technical, and support positions. This training will allow residents to gain valuable skills that will be useful for future projects and opportunities. When the road opens, residents will benefit from improved access to traditional hunting, fishing, and other recreational opportunities. The new road could also facilitate the development of a wellness camp for the region and open up potential resource development south of Norman Wells.

    Going forward, the GNWT is seeking federal approval of funding for a third bundle of projects. This funding will extend the work done under the previous bundles to support safe travelling, community access roads, and resource development.

    The GNWT is also actively pursuing new opportunities to further expand our transportation system.  I am pleased to announce that the federal government has favorably reviewed our expressions of interest in securing federal funding for both the Mackenzie Valley Highway and the Slave Geological Province Access Corridor. They have now invited us to enter the next phase of their approval process. We will provide them with detailed project proposals during the first week of November.

     Our third major proposed corridor, the Tłı̨chǫ All Season Road, has received conditional funding from P3 Canada and is in the midst of the Environmental Assessment process under the Mackenzie Valley Environmental Review Board.  Finally, as I am sure you all know, we are getting ready to celebrate a highway milestone in Canada: the opening of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway, linking Canada from coast to coast to coast.

    Highways are the lynchpin of our transportation system.  They connect communities and unlock our economic potential by enabling exploration and development.   We are proud of our northern highway system that enables the movement of goods and people in exceptionally rugged terrain and a challenging environment.  We are excited about the new possibilities that will open up if our corridors become a reality for the North.

    Thank you, Mr. Speaker.


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  • 10/25/17--10:08: Liard River Ferry Notice
  • Fort Simpson (October 25, 2017 ) - The Department of Infrastructure (INF) advises that, due to low water levels, the Liard River ferry could close in 78 hours or sooner.  INF will continue to monitor water levels on a daily basis and will advise drivers should conditions change.   

    The public is encouraged to visit the INF website or Twitter, where regular updates are posted on ferry conditions.

    For more information, email Greg Hanna at or call 867-767-9082 Ext. 31046. 

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    YELLOWKNIFE (November 8, 2017) - The Department of Infrastructure (INF) advises that the Mackenzie River ferry crossing, the Liard River ferry crossing and the N’Dulee River ferry crossing are now closed for the season.

    The Peel River ferry crossing will close on Thursday, Nov. 9, or earlier depending on river conditions.

    The public is encouraged to visit the INF website or Twitter, where regular updates are posted regarding ferry operations.

    For more information, email Greg Hanna at or call 867-767-9082 Ext. 31046. 

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    TUKTOYAKTUK (November 9, 2017) - The Department of Infrastructure is pleased to announce that the official opening ceremonies of the Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway will take place in Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk on Wednesday, November 15.

    To allow residents of Tuktoyaktuk the opportunity to take part in the Inuvik ceremonies, the highway will open to southbound traffic at 6:00 a.m. on November 15.

    The maximum speed limit is 70 kilometres per hour, or as posted. Please drive safely. 

    For a full event schedule, visit

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    YELLOWKNIFE (November 14, 2017) - On average, five people die on Canada's roads each day. The National Day of Remembrance for Road Crash Victims is Canada’s way to remember and honour these victims and their families.

    It is commemorated the third Wednesday each November and is solemn reminder of the often preventative nature of these tragedies. When it comes to driving, avoidable actions can save lives.

    To learn more about Canada’s current strategy to reduce serious injuries and fatalities on our roads, please visit

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    Good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here today for this historic event, and the realization of the dream Former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker had to connect our nation from coast to coast to coast.

    Thank you to her Excellency the Right Honourable Governor General Julie Payette, for being here to celebrate with us today, and to Ministers Amarjeet Sohi and Carolyn Bennett. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the support of Canada.

    Creating the North our people want and need means working together with many partners to create and implement a clear plan for investing in our people in the long term. Canada, Indigenous governments, community governments, business and industry, all who are represented here today, play an important role in the future of our territory and this project is an example of that partnership, ingenuity and vision.

    Transportation has always been at the forefront of enabling Northerners to grow and develop our economy, and never has it been more important in guaranteeing our future growth and prosperity than today.

    Expanding our transportation system with the opening of the Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk Highway will help us connect residents to new social and employment opportunities, stabilize the cost of living in the territory, increase our resiliency and adapt to the impacts of climate change, and provide better access to natural resources.

    It cannot be overstated the role our partners play in helping to shape the Northwest Territories today, and into the future. This project reflects the dedication of many people who have worked to improve the lives of our residents, and contribute to building a strong and prosperous Northwest Territories for generations to come.

    Thank you.