Lucy Kuptana: Capital Delivery Status Update

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Check against delivery

Mr. Speaker, living and travelling throughout the Northwest Territories, I have seen first-hand the many housing challenges faced by residents. All people of the NWT deserve a quality standard of living.

During the 19th Legislative Assembly, Housing NWT consistently advocated to the federal government for funding to address housing needs across the NWT.

I would like to recognize the dedicated work of the 19th Legislative Assembly and former Minister Paulie Chinna in this area. The advocacy that took place in the 19th Legislative Assembly supported significant federal investments in housing, including money being provided directly to Indigenous governments through distinctions-based funding, as well as many other housing delivery agents having their projects approved for funding. Housing NWT recognizes the importance of working together with all partners to find solutions to the housing challenges here in the North.

Mr. Speaker, Housing NWT advanced a multi-year capital plan valued at $130 million which includes the construction and repair of approximately 500 housing units, with a combination of federal and Housing NWT funds.

In 2022-2023 Housing NWT held discussions with Indigenous governments and communities and did the planning and finalized construction contracts for 100 additional public housing units; 60 units designated for singles, 30 duplexes designed for families, and 10 units designated for seniors in communities outside of our regional centres. These seniors’ units are in line with our government priority to support aging in place.

These 100 units are the first expansion of the public housing stock made in decades. Now, as the 2023-2024 fiscal year comes to an end, all 100 of those new units are either complete or will be complete within the next six months.  These units were all constructed by companies from the North.

Mr. Speaker, this large construction commitment was achieved as a result of significant one-time federal funding support, which included a $25 million contribution from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation to construct 60 modular housing units; a contribution from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada for $25 million to construct 30 public housing units; and, an additional contribution from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to support 10 modular duplexes for seniors.

Mr. Speaker, to support small communities in developing skilled tradespeople, Housing NWT has leveraged every opportunity to help build and maintain this capacity. Housing NWT’s new construction contracts have supported 55 apprenticeship work assignments since 2020, thanks to our requirement for general contractors to hire at least one apprentice in new construction contracts.

The last few years have presented extraordinary challenges for housing due to impacts of climate change, disruptions to material supply chains, and increasing costs of fuel and construction materials. In addition, the marine transportation system experienced low water levels on the Mackenzie River which resulted in the cancellation and delays to barges. This delayed some projects as material or modular units had to wait until the 2024 winter road season to be sent into communities.

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the NWT construction sector on its ability to be responsive to these challenges by adapting to changing and challenging logistics.

Housing NWT considers climate resiliency in design to ensure appropriate foundation systems and low-maintenance climate-durable materials are chosen, as well as maximizing energy efficiency to reduce operating costs over the service life of housing units. Housing NWT continues to closely monitor the cost of construction and is implementing mitigation measures where possible, by looking at innovative and creative solutions to address the many challenges of building and maintaining homes in our environment.

Mr. Speaker, I support Housing NWT’s focus on increasing the well-being of individuals and communities by providing fair access to quality housing support for people most in need. I hope to build on this work by promoting a culture of working together as a community, focusing on partnerships to help foster innovation.

Looking forward, Mr. Speaker, there are many exciting projects on the way in 2024, including partnerships with Indigenous governments, the City of Yellowknife, the Department of Infrastructure’s Energy Division, the Department of Health and Social Services, the Arctic Energy Alliance, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and other federal funders. Through 2024, Housing NWT will continue to implement renewable energy projects, advance a climate change risk analysis, and continue research and development on technology. I look forward to continuing to update this House on the outcomes of these initiatives.

In closing Mr. Speaker, there have been many exciting outcomes from Housing NWT’s capital investment in recent years. I will work with Housing NWT’s staff and my colleagues around this House to continue to advocate for solutions to the NWT’s housing challenges, especially in our smaller communities. Together with Indigenous governments and other partners we can improve the lives of residents in the Northwest Territories by offering more quality affordable housing in every community.

Quyanainni, Mr. Speaker.