October 14, 2010 - In his Sessional Statement to Members of the Legislative Assembly, Premier Floyd K. Roland today highlighted the many initiatives and investments that have been put in place by the Government of the Northwest Territories to build the foundation for future decisions and opportunities.
Mr. Speaker, I spent a great deal of time this summer talking with NWT residents and organizations about their vision and priorities for the future of our Territory. I was pleased and challenged by the many conversations that I had in various Creating Our Future Together roundtables – but even more so by the passion and commitment that NWT residents have demonstrated by their participation.
I have been particularly inspired and rejuvenated by the discussions I enjoyed with our Territory’s youth.
Today’s youth are ready and eager to meet the challenges of the future. They do not back down from tough issues. They state their positions clearly, listen respectfully to each other, and always work hard to find common ground.
I can assure Members, our future is in good hands.
Mr. Speaker... Since our election three years ago this Government has remained focussed on the future.
A future articulated in the goals set by this Assembly:
- Healthy, educated people
- A diversified economy
- Sustainable, vibrant, safe communities
- Effective and efficient government
- Strength and independence - built on partnerships; and
- An environment that will sustain present and future generations.
For three years, the work that we have done - and the initiatives that we have put in place - have been firmly focussed on serving and benefiting our Territory and its residents long past the term of the 16th Assembly.
We have ensured our capacity to face the future – taking a hard line on managing within our means and maintaining a tight control on costs.
We have made unprecedented investments in key infrastructure projects for the future – making capital spending a priority, expected to exceed $1 billion in the life of this Assembly.
Building, Mr. Speaker, not only bridges, roads and facilities – but capacity in our communities, businesses and people.
We have invested heavily in alternative energy options that will help mitigate the impacts of climate change going forward and help reduce the cost of living. We have invested in education and training programs to support an expanded labour market – providing skill development, literacy programs and increased support for apprentices – to ensure that our residents will be able to take advantage of and the opportunities and choices that will come their way in years to come.
We have moved forward with pivotal initiatives such as the Water Strategy, Land Use Framework and the Species at Risk Act to guide future decision making and sustain our environment into the future.
We have increased the profile of our Territory on the national and international stage, promoting the NWT as a great place to live, work and invest through the highly successful NWT presence at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games and building on that effort through our national marketing campaign.
And, all along, we have invested in the long term well being of our people.
Expanding programming for children and youth, encouraging healthy choices with health and physical activity programs.
Improving our continuum of care for seniors with the development of the Territorial Assisted Living Facility in Hay River and the Territorial Dementia Center in Yellowknife.
And addressing the unfortunate realities of issues like addictions and family violence that threaten the wellbeing and health of our families and communities.
We have made considerable investments to support policing in smaller communities - implementing the new back-up policy, and instituting programs aimed at reducing alcohol and drug related crimes.
Along the way, Mr. Speaker, we have encountered challenges and issues that threatened our government’s capacity and ability to look to the future.
In these cases, we have also acted decisively and effectively to protect the future we think is possible for our Territory.
In the early days of our term, our immediate challenge was the reality of our fiscal situation – and the need to find more efficient and effective ways to do business.
Later, it was the reality of worldwide economic recession – and the need to support our businesses and economy through a period of decline.
The proactive and immediate actions that we took, as a Government to secure and distribute H1N1 vaccinations last year proved to be an example for all of Canada. We achieved the extension of critical health care funding at a time of broad government fiscal restraint across the country.
We took timely but essential steps to protect our Caribou for the generations that will follow ours.
Earlier this year, circumstances surrounding the Deh Cho Bridge required us to take extraordinary measures to carry this debt in the interest of protecting this project for the future.
Earlier this year, we announced that responsibility for public housing rent assessments would be returned to Local Housing Organizations. Investments in affordable housing are among the most significant actions taken by this government during the 16th Assembly – expected to exceed $155 million by the end of this Assembly.
Meanwhile, our proposed electricity rate changes represent the biggest single effort to reduce cost of living in rural and remote NWT communities that has been undertaken in recent history.
Mr. Speaker - the vision, mission and goals of the 16th Assembly – the strategic Initiatives of this Government - the work that we have done - the decisions we have made - the over 142 initiatives and investments that we have put in place with the support of this House.
Together, they offer a strong track record focussed on building a stronger Northwest Territories, a foundation that will serve us all well long past the term of this Government.
As important as the work itself has been the manner in which it is been undertaken. Our collaborative approach with Members of this Assembly, our work with Canada and the relationships that we continue to build with our Territory’s Aboriginal and regional leaders and governments, demonstrates our continued and firm commitment to proactively working with these partners to build the new Northwest Territories – the Northwest Territories of the future.
That said, some very serious and immediate challenges are still before us.
- As is the case across the country, and indeed across the globe, escalating health care costs threaten our capacity to invest in other priority areas;
- The supply of adequate housing continues to be a concern;
- High energy costs remain a challenge to the affordability and viability of living and doing business in our Territory; and
- Our complex regulatory environment creates very real challenges for industry and investors, which must be balanced with the need to ensure adequate environmental protection for our lands and waters.
We all know that this work of creating a strong foundation for the future is not easy. But we have all worked to put in place the resources, tools and processes that will allow us to realize the unprecedented opportunities that are still before us.
Mr. Speaker, in this last year of our government, we must build on what we have done and finish what we started:
- Secure the fiscal foundation that we have protected and put in place;
- Advance the benefits of our resource sector and the nation-building potential of infrastructure projects;
- Further advance our relationship with Aboriginal Governments established under the Regional Leadership table; and
- Secure the authorities and resources from Ottawa with which future Governments and leaders will shape and continue to realize our future.
I would like to thank my Cabinet and all the Members of this House for your hard work, collective vision and commitment to the future of the Northwest Territories. I look forward to making further progress toward our future during the coming months.
For more information, contact:
Office of the Premier/Cabinet
Government of the Northwest Territories
Phone: (867) 669-2302