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Mr. Speaker, the knowledge and skills of professional engineers and geoscientists are vital in meeting the priorities of our government and in supporting the quality of life for Northerners.
As Minister of Infrastructure, I know how important these professions are to achieving our Mandate priorities, especially in making strategic infrastructure investments that connect communities and increasing the use of alternative and renewable energy.
The work of these professionals informs the location and design of new structures, assists in responsibly extracting energy resources, and contributes to the development of climate change adaptation strategies for Northern communities and those building infrastructure in the territory.
Mr. Speaker, engineers are essential in developing infrastructure in the NWT. This is evidenced by the 27 airports, over 115 bridges and several thousand kilometres of paved and gravel roads that carry people and critical supplies to our communities, all designed by engineers.
Energy conservation initiatives are key in reducing energy costs and greenhouse gas emissions in the NWT. Replacing the primary heat source for GNWT buildings across the territory with wood pellets is a government success story. The team of mechanical and energy engineers at the Department of Infrastructure has converted over 40 GNWT facilities, including schools, health centres, airports, and others to biomass since 2007. Biomass now represents 36 percent of GNWT’s overall heating energy.
Mr. Speaker, because designing, building, and maintaining infrastructure that is safe and reliable is so important, it is crucial there is a strong regulator to oversee these professions. The Northwest Territories and the Nunavut Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists, NAPEG for short, is that regulatory authority for practicing engineer and geoscientist professionals in both the NWT and Nunavut. It establishes and maintains the standards and ethics of engineering and geoscientist professionals to maintain integrity and public safety in these respective professions.
Over 2,000 practicing engineers are active and registered with NAPEG, with approximately 400 of being NWT residents, and approximately 120 of them employed within the GNWT. These professionals design, build and maintain the infrastructure that support our daily lives, and the foundation for the industries that drive our economy. They are also the geoscientists supporting our territorial mineral and mining sector.
Along with being the regulatory authority for these professions, NAPEG is also focused on the future. Attracting and retaining talent to the North is a challenge and so is building professional diversity. NAPEG recognizes the importance of increasing diversity among professional engineers and geoscientists in the North and attracting underrepresented members of the population. That is why NAPEG is an active participant in the Engineers Canada 30-by-30 initiative, which is an effort to increase the number of newly licensed engineers who are women to 30 percent by 2030.
Mr. Speaker, the public infrastructure we all use and depend on is there in part, because of the hard work of engineers and geoscientists.
March is National Engineering Month in Canada, I would ask the House to join me in recognizing the contributions of engineers and geoscientists to the planning, design, building and maintenance of infrastructure in the North.
Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker.