Capital budget, Steve Norn likely to dominate N.W.T.'s fall assembly sitting

·3 min read
The N.W.T. Legislative Assembly reconvenes on Monday and budget talks are front of mind, along with the report recommending MLA Steve Norn's expulsion and the territory's many other ongoing issues, from housing to climate change. (Richard Gleeson/CBC - image credit)
The N.W.T. Legislative Assembly reconvenes on Monday and budget talks are front of mind, along with the report recommending MLA Steve Norn's expulsion and the territory's many other ongoing issues, from housing to climate change. (Richard Gleeson/CBC - image credit)

The N.W.T. Legislative Assembly reconvenes on Monday and budget talks are front of mind, along with the report recommending MLA Steve Norn's expulsion and the territory's many other ongoing issues, from housing to climate change.

Cabinet will be tabling the capital estimates budget for the year ahead — a document focusing largely on infrastructure.

Last year's capital budget was the largest the territorial government has ever passed on record and Rylund Johnson, caucus chair and MLA for Yellowknife North, said the public can expect something similar.

"Largely just because it has carry-over in it," Johnson explained, noting there is money that wasn't spent in previous years which has to be re-approved by the legislature.

The assembly will go through each department in detail to review what infrastructure they're planning to build in the next fiscal year.

Johnson lists the Inuvik wind project, power corporation infrastructure and the Yellowknife day shelter as projects as examples in the budget.

In tabling the budget the minister of Infrastructure and minister of Finance will make statements that include highlights in the document.

Johnson said there will also be a conversation about vaccine mandates for MLAs and their staff in the next session. Though the territorial government has already adopted a mandatory vaccination policy, the Legislative Assembly is a distinct body.

For his own priorities, Johnson is committed to advocating for public housing and childcare.

"The details of that plan are, I think, high on everyone's priority list," he said of discussions on a childcare agreement with the federal government.

Steve Norn report to be tabled

The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly will table the sole adjudicator's report recommending MLA Steve Norn's expulsion on Monday.

Johnson said they don't yet have a date on when the matter of his expulsion will be called but that it would be "sooner rather than later."

"My initial reaction is that I actually feel sad that we got here," Johnson said of the adjudicator's report.

"I think there are many paths that we could have taken and Mr. Norn could have taken where it did not get to such a state and we're now having a conversation about removing a member, I really wish we didn't get here."

House Leader R.J. Simpson and Premier Caroline Cochrane were not available to comment on the upcoming session prior to deadline.

The Assembly reconvenes at 1:30 p.m. Monday. It will be live-streamed on the assembly's website and on its Facebook page.

Climate change and mental health

Katrina Nokleby, MLA for Great Slave, said she will be raising issues on infrastructure and climate change.

Returning from the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Nokleby said she'll be thinking about "trying to learn those lessons that we maybe didn't plan for well in the last flood season and ensuring that we don't make those mistakes again."

"The conference really impacted me on how close we are getting to the point where our ice roads may not be viable anymore," she added. "With the rising waters and flooding and thinking about all of that for the territory and what it means for smaller communities."

Nokleby said that advocating for more mental health support is also top priority. She plans to press the health minister to advocate to the federal government for more support for N.W.T. residents.

"I really feel like we're in our second pandemic with mental health and stress."

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting