Wally Schumann: Investing in Diversity

Yellowknife — October 24, 2018
Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Mr. Speaker, the sustainability and growth of the NWT economy requires strategic investment and diversification.  The mandate we set for our 18th Legislative Assembly highlights the importance of investing in renewable resources, agriculture, arts, fisheries, forestry, manufacturing, tourism, traditional harvesting and the knowledge economy.   

The foundation for much of this work was set out in the 2014 NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy with its goal to establish an environment in which NWT businesses and entrepreneurs can take the lead in identifying, pursuing and realizing economic opportunities.  In addition to providing individual livelihoods and jobs, these opportunities will contribute to the grass-roots growth and diversity we need to maintain our territory’s overall economic health and stability.

Mr. Speaker, in coming weeks, I will be releasing a Progress and Performance Measures Report for the NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy.  Of the 117 recommendations, included in the 10-year plan, almost all have now been actioned or completed.  Many were directly incorporated into our government’s mandate.

Thanks to performance measures laid out in the Strategy, Mr. Speaker, we can say with assurance that our investments in diversity are already helping our economy to moderate what has been a time of tough commodities markets. As the results of our investments and initiatives take hold, they are also confirming that our mandate is meeting the economic goals and objectives set out by our Legislative Assembly.

Today, I would like to share, and celebrate some notable successes. We have seen growth in almost every one of our Renewable Resource sectors over our four years of investment.  It is no surprise that this growth has been led by our booming tourism sector. Investments in marketing, tourism facilities, parks infrastructure, training and various local operator supports have helped drive tourism to new levels.  Since 2014, every indicator has improved. Visitor spending is up 37%; 30% more people have visited; 28% more tourism licenses were issued. It means our approach is working, that our strategic investments are having a tangible impact across-the-board.

The arts sector has also surged with a 78% growth in artists registered through the NWT Arts program.  Registered film and media practitioners, in particular, have increased by more than 150%. They are contributing to a film industry now worth around 6.7 million dollars, a 38% increase spurred in-part by an investment plan recommended by the Strategy.

The centre of our commercial fishery is also on the upswing. Compared to four years ago, we have issued 27% more commercial-vessel licenses. Harvests for our fishers are up by 42%; and they are collecting 55% more for those fish.  These positive results underpin the importance of continuing to invest in diversity.  We will do so through the strategies and plans that we have in place, our Agriculture strategy; Film Strategy, Great Slave Lake Fish Revitalization Strategy; Immigration Strategy; and Tourism 2020.  We will also be adding to our suite of investment plans with a new Manufacturing Strategy, and a renewed approach to supporting and advancing our arts sector.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the Economic Opportunities Strategy Governance Committee who oversaw the development and implementation of this Strategy and who has now fulfilled its mandate. I would like to extend my appreciation on behalf of the Government of the Northwest Territories for their guidance. The collaborative approach taken to the implementation of the Strategy confirms that all government departments, strategy partners and stakeholders have a key role to play in developing economic growth and diversity in the Northwest Territories.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.