Premier McLeod welcomes economic development report

YELLOWKNIFE (January 21, 2016) – Premier Bob McLeod welcomes the findings of the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board’s report highlighting the need for infrastructure investment that would contribute not only to resource development and economic growth, but support social development.

Released yesterday, Recommendations on Northern Infrastructure to Support Economic Development highlights the need for transportation infrastructure investment, increased connectivity, and investment in energy infrastructure as critical elements to the North’s economic and social growth.

“The call by the board for bold investment in nation-building infrastructure projects alongside community-level investment would make the Northwest Territories more inviting to the resource development sector, improve the quality of life for all Northerners through job opportunities and strengthen and diversify local economies,” said Premier McLeod. “The need for Federal investment in key infrastructure areas will improve Indigenous engagement in planning, decision-making and business development opportunities, making them true partners in our success as a territory now and into the future.”

The report indicates the Northwest Territories faces significant challenges to community development, socio-economic growth and the development of sustainable economies due to the lack of adequate infrastructure (port facilities, runways, roads, bridges, housing, energy), and also states for every $1 invested in the North there is a return of $22 in economic benefit. The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) will be working closely with Canada to access funding promised during the 2015 federal election by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for infrastructure, energy and housing.

“By securing federal funding in these key areas, the GNWT will be in a position to improve its economic situation moving forward,” said Premier McLeod. “While the need for small-scale, community-based economic development is an important part of the puzzle in diversifying our economy, the choice should be left to communities. Its contribution to our economic stability is important, but without infrastructure and a strong resource development sector small-scale economies become closed and stagnant.”

The report also states that settling outstanding land claims will create a stable investment climate and certainty about use and ownership over lands and resources  for much of the North. Premier McLeod agrees with the report’s findings that this certainty in the investment climate is a valuable asset to Northern  regions  in  terms  of  infrastructure investment as it is a critical prerequisite to private investment. Settled claims in several regions of the NWT already provide a strong foundation for Aboriginal and public governments to work together to promote economic and social development, and the Premier is committed to settling remaining claims.

“The GNWT doesn’t make assumptions about what Aboriginal people in the Northwest Territories and their governments want. We work directly with them to find solutions to the issues and challenges they face.”

Media Inquiries:
Andrew Livingstone
Senior Cabinet Communications Advisor
Department of Executive
Government of the Northwest Territories
Tel: (867) 767-9140 ext. 11091