Wally Schumann: Ongoing Implementation of the Economic Opportunities Strategy

Mr. Speaker, as investment and residency in the NWT grow, we will be able to expand and diversify our economy outside of its resource sector, in areas like tourism, agriculture, fishing, manufacturing and the traditional economies.

While the GNWT is working to create investor confidence in the NWT, we are also investing to diversify our economy and to grow our communities.

This work is being guided by the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy, which we published two years ago.  The Strategy emphasizes increased support for entrepreneurs and opens the doors to new partnerships and ideas.  It highlights growth areas for regional economies and the investments and supports needed by NWT residents and their businesses.

The responsibility for guiding this work rests with the Economic Opportunities Strategy Governance Committee that contributed to its development: the NWT Chamber of Commerce, the Northern Aboriginal Business Association, the NWT Association of Communities, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, CanNor and the GNWT’s Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

The collaborative approach taken to implementing the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy confirms that all government departments and strategy partners have a role to play in developing a new economic environment for the NWT.

Mr. Speaker, of the 117 recommendations put forward in the Strategy, 92 percent have been addressed.  In fact, many of the actions and investments recommended in the Strategy are now part of our government’s mandate.  Implementing them supports our commitments and highlights the role that this Strategy can play in promoting economic growth and diversity in the NWT.

Earlier this year, the Economic Opportunities Strategy Governance Committee identified ten priority areas in which ITI will be advancing initiatives and investments.  I would like to highlight these for Members today.

Mr. Speaker, the GNWT has made a commitment in its mandate to expand the agricultural sector by developing and implementing an Agriculture Strategy.  Developing this sector is a priority and we look forward to introducing a formal strategy shortly to support and guide its growth based on our public and stakeholder engagements, and the direct input of this Assembly.

The GNWT has also made a mandate commitment to finalize and implement a Commercial Fisheries Revitalization Strategy. We will be advancing a plan for the Great Slave Lake fishery to promote and revitalize commercial fishing in our territory in response to this commitment.  

Mr. Speaker, our work to identify a viable, balanced and made-in-the-NWT approach to advancing oil and gas development in the NWT results from our mandate commitment to develop a long-term strategy to attract oil and gas development in the territory. Work is ongoing with the input of Members, Aboriginal governments and organizations, industry representatives and the public.

We have committed to developing a Northern Manufacturing Strategy and look forward to collaborating with industry and the NWT Manufacturer's Association to develop a formal strategy for the manufacture and sale of made-in-the-NWT products and to enhance the value-added processing of materials sourced in the NWT like diamonds and biomass fuels.    

We will complete and implement Economic Development Plans to diversify and capture community and regional economic opportunities in each of our five regions. We will work to advance economic opportunities made possible by the installation of the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Optic Line. 

Finally, we will continue to invest in the success of our Tourism 2020 plan, the NWT Mineral Development Strategy and the NWT Film Strategy and Action Plan.

Mr. Speaker, the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy was created to guide the government’s programs and actions to develop the economic potential in all regions of the NWT, to strengthen and diversify the NWT economy, and to advance an enhanced quality of life for all NWT residents.

The GNWT remains committed to this Strategy and its vision which continues to be reflected in our mandate activities.   

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.