Member’s Statements

February 3rd, 2017

Member Statement: Recognition of Carolyn Carroll, Laura Rose, Jackie Milne, and Lynne Beck

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, today I want to recognize the accomplishments of 4 outstanding women from Hay River, and to thank them for going above and beyond to serve their community.

Carolyn Carroll is the principal of Harry Camsell Elementary School and Princess Alexandra Middle School in Hay River. This week she was recognized as one of Canada’s Outstanding Principles, along with 39 other principles from across the country, by The Learning Partnership, a national organization dedicated to publicly funded education in Canada. She’s been teaching in the NWT for 30 years, the last 20 in Hay River. Mr. Speaker, I’ve seen her passion for what she does, and how much she cares about the children, and I hope we can hold on to her for another 20 years.

Laura Rose is the driving force behind – and really the heart and soul of – the Hay River Soup Kitchen. For her work with the Soup Kitchen, she was recently awarded the Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers from the Governor General of Canada. This official Canadian honour recognizes exceptional volunteerism, and is awarded to those who have made significant, sustained, and unpaid contributions to their community. Rose has been managing The Soup Kitchen for 21 years, almost from its very beginning, and the enormity of her contribution to Hay River can’t be quantified. Our community is truly blessed to have her.

Jackie Milne is the president of the Northern Farm Training Institute in Hay River. She was recently awarded the Meritorious Service Medal by the Governor General of Canada. This award highlights remarkable achievements for exceptional deeds that bring honour to our country. Jackie has dedicated her life to restoring food independence in the North, by working to develop food production systems for our unique environment, and by training the citizens from across the North to not only farm, but to turn their farms into viable commercial enterprises that create local, sustainable employment. What she’s created has the potential to change how we think about food in the North.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I’d like to recognize another principle from Hay River, Lynne Beck. She recently received the Ministerial Restorative Justice Award, from our own Minister Sebert, for her significant contributions to establishing restorative justice practices in her school as an alternative form of discipline. She  was nominated by her peers to acknowledge the positive difference and change for the better within the school through policies she has instituted. She recognizes that punishment does not work, so her policies focus on mediated conversations that result in concrete plans to move forward and restore the dignity of both sides in a conflict. And it’s been working, because in the last 2 years there have been zero suspensions.

Mr. Speaker, I hope the assembly will join me in recognizing these accomplishments, and thanking these women for their service to the community.

Questions: Junior Kindergarten Confusion, Part 2 of ?

MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Back to junior kindergarten. There’s still a lot of confusion about this program, and I’d just like to try and clear it up for my constituents. I’d like the Minister of Education to just let us know what’s the difference between junior kindergarten programming and, say, the programming at daycare and the difference between junior kindergarten and kindergarten. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Masi. Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The difference is junior kindergarten will be a free play-based program that’s offered to all communities across the Northwest Territories. Currently, there are 11 communities that don’t have any licensed daycare programming, and we want to fix that. Daycares and day homes, they do their own programming; we also work with them to provide some programs, but junior kindergarten will be one that’s offered throughout the whole Northwest Territories. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SIMPSON: So is the level of education going to be higher in junior kindergarten than a child could expect in a daycare, in a playschool, something like that? That’s really what I’m getting at.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: The NWT JK curriculum for four- and five-year-old children is play-based and supports children’s cognitive, social, emotional, creative, and physical development, as well as cultural. As I mentioned, the EDI results that we’ve been seeing with the programs that already run in the Northwest Territories, we’re seeing a big improvement in the communities that are offering junior kindergarten that are entering into the kindergarten system.

MR. SIMPSON: I realize that there are some communities who have no daycare, no playschool programs, so I’ll confine this to Hay River. Can I tell my constituents that, if we’re going to put daycare, playschool operators out of business, that it’s for the benefit of our children because they’re going to be getting a higher education in junior kindergarten?

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Mr. Speaker, junior kindergarten’s going to be optional to families, and secondly I also mentioned that we enhanced our early childhood programming to daycares and day homes. We see that there’s a lot of waiting lists across the Northwest Territories for daycares and day homes that offer programming for zero to five, and the infants we’ve increased the funding. So I think that those messages need to be put out there for daycares and day homes and that it is optional for families.

MR. SPEAKER: Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

MR. SIMPSON: The Hay River Playschool takes three- and four-year-olds. It’s probably going to shut down after decades. That’s an option. That’s a real option that could happen. So I just want to make this as simple as possible: are kids coming out of JK going to be smarter than if they were in a playschool or a daycare program? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Any early childhood programming that’s offered to our children, we have in partnership with the Department of Health and Social Services. We’ve developed right from the start a strategy, an action plan. Any early childhood programming is going to benefit the children, going to benefit the families, and is going to benefit the communities for the children. Any children that go through an early childhood program are going to see results, whether it’s through junior kindergarten, through a day home, or a day program. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Questions: Junior Kindergarten Confusion, Part 3 of ?

MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Back to junior kindergarten again. I understand, and the Minister can correct me if I’m wrong, but in daycares and day homes, there needs to be a ratio of 8:1 when it comes to children to adults, supervisors. Yet, the four-year-olds who are being put into junior kindergarten, that ratio is going to be 12:1. What is the rationale for significantly reducing that ratio when it’s essentially the same children that we’re dealing with? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Minister of Education, Culture and Employment.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I mentioned earlier in one of the other questions, that JK will be delivered in the school setting. It’s both practical as well as fiscally responsible. It also utilizes already maintained, inspected, and publicly funded available school space. Students that enter the junior kindergarten system will also have access to more support from the JK to 12 system that daycares don’t have right now, and that was the rationale behind it.

MR. SIMPSON: The fact is, in the classroom or in the room that these children are in, there’s going to be less supervision. Will the qualifications for a JK teacher be any different than our other elementary school teachers because we are dealing with an age with different challenges than any other age in the school system?

HON. ALFRED MOSES: With the consultation that we’ve had with residents of the Northwest Territories as well as our school boards, we have made those changes to ensure that early childhood educators can be part of instructors within the JK system and doesn’t necessarily have to have a degree. It’s the flexibility of the school boards to determine whether the JK instructors can be an early childhood educator or have to have that degree in education.

MR. SIMPSON: I thank the Minister for clearing that up. About the capital upgrades, I brought this up before; I was looking for a dollar amount or a percentage amount. The Minister mentioned there’s money for the upgrades needed to turn kindergarten or elementary classrooms into JK classrooms. What dollar amount is associated with the monies that EC has pledged to support school boards with? Is it going to cover all of the capital upgrade costs, and if not, what percentage does it cover and what percentage will the school boards have to cover?

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Currently we run junior kindergarten in 20 of our 33 communities. We did go out and do that inventory stock. We did the discussions with all the schools to look at what was needed. A lot of our schools have the utilization available; space, classroom space, that’s available. Hay River is one that we do have low utilization rates in some of the schools. There are some infrastructure costs that are associated with implementing junior kindergarten. The number that we’ve looked at allocating is over $3 million, and that’s for infrastructure needs as well as looking at resource materials that are needed for schools to implement junior kindergarten.
As I mentioned, out of the 33 communities there are 13 right now that we need to work with; work with our education authorities to look at the resources that are needed, plus any renovations that are needed, and that amount, the figure that I mentioned, was just over $3 million.

MR. SPEAKER: Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I’ll be following up with the Minister to get some specific numbers for Hay River. Another issue is that in Hay River the buses are full; there’s not room for another 30 kids. So is that factored into the funding for JK or is that something the school board is going to have to deal with either by cancelling busing or buying a school bus or some other means? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Just following up into answering another similar question earlier, that the Department is working with the education authorities to address things such as busing, such as school safety and making sure that the implementation of junior kindergarten in all our communities is a smooth transition. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

February 2nd, 2017

Member Statement: Is the GNWT giving up on the fishery?

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday I spoke about the commercial fishing industry. The proposed budget released today means that I’m talking about it again. Noticeably absent is the $1.4 million dollars that had been set aside for the last 2 years to revitalize the commercial fishing industry, and to build the fish processing plant in Hay River. The Minister told me yesterday, in this House, that there were plans for that money. Today, we see that it’s not included in his Department’s proposed budget.

Does this mean that revitalizing the fishery is no longer a priority of the Department? Or are they just giving that particular line item a rest for a year? I don’t know why it would need one, it hasn’t been doing anything for the past two years. Whatever it means, the Honourable Minister of ITI owes an explanation to his community, and especially to the fishermen who’ve partnered with ITI in the Revitalization Strategy, and have been working hard and doing their part.

If the Department just needs ideas on how to spend the money, I’ve got plenty: we need strategic investments to help bring back the winter fishery; we can start providing fishermen with affordable financing, which is hard to come by in their profession; we need to provide administrative support so that the fishermen can get out on the lake and fish, and don’t have to deal with filing paperwork and returning emails; and, so we can end the subsidies and let the commercial fishery thrive on its own, we need to work with the fishermen to develop markets so they can sell their product once they decide to leave Freshwater.

Mr. Speaker, I’m very confused. I sought, and was given, assurances from the Department during the business planning sessions for the this budget AND the capital budget, that the money would be carried over into 2017 – 2018. One way to avoid these types of miscommunication might be to make some internal reorganizations in ITI.

I suggest moving the Manager of Fisheries and Agriculture out of Yellowknife, and into Hay River – the heart of the fishery and agriculture in the Territory. The Manager is responsible for developing, expanding, and setting the direction of these sectors, and for consulting with industry organizations while doing so. Mr. Speaker, the President of the NWT Fishermen’s Federation had no idea this position even existed. If this position was in Hay River, where it logically should be, I’m confident that we’d be much further along with the revitalization strategy. At the same time, we should probably also move the Agricultural Consultant position in that unit BACK to Hay River, and while we’re at it create a Fisheries Consultant position. I appreciate the great work the ITI employees in the South Slave do, but if there are positions dedicated to particular industries, they should be where the industries are.

At the appropriate time, I’ll have questions for the Minister of ITI. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

Questions: Is the GNWT giving up on the fishery?

SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In regard to the money that the government had put aside to help revitalize the commercial fishery, two days ago when I questioned the Minister of ITI about this he said, “The important thing about the $1.4 million is for the Department of ITI to use that as leverage for the funding that we are putting forward to CanNor to give us the best potential to help build that plant in Hay River,” and he said, “We’re getting very close to an agreement with Freshwater regarding the plant.”

So, Mr. Speaker, because this $1.4 million isn’t in next year’s budget, is it because the Minister is confident that, before the end of this fiscal year, that money will be spent because we will have a deal for a new fish processing plant in Hay River? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SPEAKER: Masi. Minister of Industry, Tourism and Investment.

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That is exactly what I’m hoping is going to happen with our deliberations with CanNor and Freshwater Marketing Corporation. Things are moving along, and when we make a deal I will announce it in the House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR SIMPSON: He had me pretty nervous, there. If this deal isn’t struck and this money isn’t spent by the end of this fiscal year, can this community have a guarantee that this $1.4 million will be put back into the 2017-18 budget?

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: As this is a mandated item for this Government of the Northwest Territories and it is my file and it’s very important to me, if we don’t make a deal before the end of this fiscal year I will be asking to carry this over the summer.

SIMPSON: An ask isn’t a guarantee. I assumed the Ministers had the power to do more than just ask, but I’ll take it for now. ITI has an Agricultural Consultant position. I spoke about it earlier. It’s located here in Yellowknife. You know, with the beautiful, fertile ground in Yellowknife it only makes sense, right? Well, no, this used to be back in Hay River, you know, the heart of agriculture. I don’t even know why I have to ask this, but can I get a guarantee from the Minister that this position will be moved back to Hay River? Better yet, can it be re-profiled so it’s agriculture and fisheries, because we do have the two big industries in Hay River?

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: First of all, this position still remains in Hay River (NOTE: Despite the Minister’s statement, government records indicate that as of Feb 2, 2017 the position is staffed in Yellowknife), and to update the House, actually this job is at Human Resources. It’s looking to become filled in the coming weeks, and with consultation on the job description moving forward we want to switch this job to an analyst position where it can look after agriculture and fishing. So this job remains in Hay River and it will look after both strategies.

SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My final question. I won’t put the Minister on the spot by asking him to justify why the manager of Fisheries and Agriculture is in Yellowknife. We know it can’t be justified. So can I get the Minister to not just look into moving this position? It doesn’t even need to be looked into. Can we just have this position moved to where it logically should be, in Hay River? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This manager position is located in Yellowknife. Its duties are a pan-territorial responsibility and it’s best fit here in the ITI headquarters, and we have no plans on moving this position to Hay River.

 

February 1st, 2017

Member Statement: Junior Kindergarten Confusion

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I’ve heard more about junior kindergarten than any other issue in my 14 months as an MLA. There are people in Hay River who are philosophically opposed to junior kindergarten or believe it is not needed in Hay River, but I found that most residents are in support of JK. Only if it’s fully funded, however.

Today, we heard from the Finance Minister that junior kindergarten will be funded by the end of this Assembly. While I’m glad to hear that the government has moved from its position of drastic under-funding, I’m still concerned about the adequacy of this commitment. I’ve seen various estimates for the cost of implementing JK, all greater than the amount committed today. It’s also unclear if that amount includes all the costs associated with the renovations and equipment that will be needed to accommodate four‑year-old children. For schools that expect only two or three JK students, there are minimal costs associated with implementing it. However, for Hay River there are significant capital costs, operating costs and logistical challenges. In a CBC article today, the Minister is quoted as saying that although the committed to fund JK by the end of the Assembly, school boards can apply for the money and receive it in the fall; however, I’m not convinced it’ll be that simple.

School boards have to keep a small amount of money in the bank, a rainy day fund, so if there are unforeseen circumstances they can still make payroll, keep the buses running, and keep the schools open. I’ve been told my multiple school boards that these are the funds that ECE wants school boards to dip into to top off JK funding, and I’m concerned that ECE will deny the additional funding unless the school boards do so.

Mr. Speaker, I’m trying to get a handle on this JK situation, but it’s turning into a he said, she said situation. I’ll have some questions for the Minister of ECE later today and hopefully we can clear some of this up. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

Questions: Junior Kindergarten Confusion

SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I spoke earlier about junior kindergarten. I just have some questions for the Minister of Education, Culture and Employment. I’m sorry to spring this on him, but I had to change my topic at the last minute.

I’ve heard varying numbers about what it’s going to cost to implement junior kindergarten. I was wondering what’s behind this disparity? There was a press release by the South Slave District Education Council that quoted a significantly higher number than the $2.7 million that Minister McLeod today said would top off funding for junior kindergarten, so I would like to hear from the Minister what is the number and what is the reason for these disparities. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

SPEAKER: Masi. Minister of Education, Culture, and Employment.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before the meetings that we had with all the board chairs and superintendents in December, there was a request for all our education authorities to come back and find money to help implement junior kindergarten. We’ve made an additional investment that brought the numbers down, so it is the 2.7 that we are looking for, thank you, just for confirmation.

SIMPSON: This highlights the problem with this whole junior kindergarten debate. I’ll go back to the boards, and they’ll come back to me with a different number, and so it’s just he said/she said, so it’s going to take some digging here. I’m not saying the Minister isn’t truthful. I’m just saying I’m getting different answers from different people.

So how will this $2.7 million roll out? Is it going to be $1.5 million the first year, $1.2 million the second year? Is there a plan for that yet?

HON. ALFRED MOSES: As you heard in the Budget Address, we have that initial investment of $1.5 million this year, and then we will be rolling out the 2.7 before the end of the 18th Legislative Assembly.

In terms of some funding, that other funding, working with our education authorities, we do fund our education authorities $152 million every year. We’ve asked our education authorities to look within their budgets to find about 2 per cent to help offset the costs. We believe that the education authorities have the leadership, the fiscal management skills, and the financial flexibility to be able to cover the remaining costs. As I mentioned to the Member and as we sent out letters to community leadership, all our education authorities have an accumulated surplus of over $10 million, and we’re also asking them to look within there, as well.

SIMPSON: From what I understand from the boards, this surplus is to cover unexpected costs, make sure they have a payroll for, you know, a month or whatever may be, so how are they expected to dip into these “rainy‑day” funds to cover the cost of implementing junior kindergarten? It’s a contingency fund. It’s not an operating fund.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Schools will be making their own decisions regarding the details of the classes, the teachers, and the programs that best meet the needs of their students. As I mentioned, we believe that our education authorities have the leadership and the financial management skills. They do it on a regular annual basis when enrolments are low, that they were able to shift things around, and we believe that our school authorities have the tools to do that.

SPEAKER: Masi. Oral questions. Member for Hay River North.

SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can tell the Minister has had to answer a lot of these junior kindergarten questions.

‑‑‑Laughter

My final question is: what about the capital costs associated with implementing junior kindergarten? Is that coming out of this $2.7 million, or is there additional money that ECE has that will cover the full capital costs of implementing this? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. ALFRED MOSES: Yes, we do have additional money specifically for the play‑based learning resources as well as infrastructure. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

 

January 31st, 2017

Member Statement: Commercial Fishing Industry -Infrastructure Deficit

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. There are a lot of issues at the forefront  right now that I could speak about on,  but I’m going to start with an issue that I need to keep at the forefront: commercial fishing. Since 2014 the Department of Industry, Tourism, and Investment has been talking about a strategy to revitalize the commercial fishing industry.

This is exactly the type of work the ITI should be undertaking. They are not trying to create an industry from nothing: we have a resource, there are markets for that resource, and there are entrepreneurs to drive the industry. There are many positive signs that the industry is, and will continue to grow. So far this season, commercial fishermen have brought in 1.2 million pounds – double the catch from only 3 years ago, and there is a course in the works to train the next generation of commercial fishermen. While there are undoubtedly positives, there is still work to be done, especially in addressing our infrastructure deficit.

We are no further ahead with either refurbishing the existing fish processing plant or construct a new one. This is an essential element to the Government’s strategy. Decades ago, the Territory entered into a deal with the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation, which reports to the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans, so that our fishermen would be guaranteed resources and a buyer for their fish. However, Freshwater has failed to hold up their end of the bargain and let our certified fish processing plant fall below CFIA standards and turn into a receiving station, all for the sake of Freshwater’s bottom line.

I mentioned that the fishermen have doubled their catch in the past 3 years. However, there is a limit to how much that number can grow unless we have more access points on the lake, and redraw the lines of the existing quota zones. These are both the responsibility of DFO.

So, Mr. Speaker, what this all means is that we’ve gone from having 4 active packing plants, a modern processing facility, and 5 landing sites 25 years ago, to one receiving plant, one landing site, and an out of date zoning system.

This Government will be happy to know that I’m not looking for money to fix these issues, other than the $1.4 million already committed. I’m looking for political support. The Fishermen’s Federation engage DFO on a consistent basis, but they’ve hit a wall. They’re told by bureaucrats that in order to allocate the funds, and to make the changes needed to allow our fishing industry to grow, word must come down from the top. I know that the Minister of ITI has discussed the fishery with the Minister of DFO, but whatever came from that meeting did not trickle down. We need continuous political pressure, and follow up, so that we can support the fishermen who have been doing everything they can to rebuild an industry that was once the pride of Hay River, and I know can one day become the pride of the NWT.

Questions: Commercial Fishing Industry -Infrastructure Deficit

MR. SIMPSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Earlier, I spoke about the infrastructure deficit when it comes to commercial fisheries in Hay River, so I have some questions for the Minister of ITI. As far as I understand, the Freshwater Fish Marketing Corporation is responsible for maintaining their commercial fishing infrastructure in the territory. Somehow, we let them shirk their responsibilities, and the fishermen are the ones who ultimately suffered. Now we’re left with a packing plant that needs about $2 million in upgrades to bring it up to code. I’d like an update on the status of the negotiations with Freshwater and when we can expect work to begin on our processing plant in Hay River. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As the Member knows, because we are both from the fishing community of Hay River, how important to get this file moving is. The department is working closely with fresh water on trying to move this file along. As of the latest briefing that I’ve got, they were still in discussions with Freshwater Marketing Corporation on getting an MOU and business plan together, and like I say, on my latest briefing, I believe they’re going to try to bring something forward here within the next week or so for us to consider. So that’s where that’s at.

MR. SIMPSON: It’s good to hear that we’re moving and it should be in within a week. If a deal can’t be struck with Freshwater — given their track record, I’m not sure one can be, but I’m still hopeful — will the GNWT take the initiative and dip into that $1.4 million they’ve had set aside and build a fish processing plant in Hay River?

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: The important thing about the $1.4 million that’s been carried over from last fiscal year to this fiscal year is for the Department of ITI to use that as leverage for the funding that we are putting forward to Cannore to give us the best potential to help build the plant in Hay River. That being said, the Member actually had two questions there, if we weren’t able to make a deal with Freshwater on that moving forward, what could we potentially do with that money. Well, that would have to be a discussion along with myself and our colleagues in this House if we want to wish shift the priorities of the use of that money. Right now it’s designated to use to leverage Cannore towards a position of potential completion of a fishing plant in Hay River.

MR. SIMPSON: I also mentioned that the Great Slave Lake has been neglected by DFO when it comes to the investment in harbors. You look at any lake in the south that’s utilized by the commercial fishing industry, especially one of comparable size, you’ll see just how bad our deficit is. This lack of access points combined with the outdated quota zones means that fish around the Great Slave Lake have to travel much farther than competitors in the south, it means their wages and the cost for equipment is much higher. It puts them at an immediate disadvantage. Because of the low-level engagement to address these issues, as in the Fishermen’s Federation talking to bureaucrats at DFO hasn’t been working, I’d like to know how the Minister is engaging the Department of Fisheries and Oceans so that we can move forward with this revitalization strategy in terms of harbor investment and rezoning.

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: I guess previously when I was on the Metis Government Council we have a seat at the board of GSLAC, and GSLAC is a governing board that puts advisory suggestions along with DFO on how we’re going to use the lake, and this is one of the areas of discussions how we can re-divide up the lake and make better access points to be considered for the fisherman to access and make a little better living and be able to raise their quota on the lake. These discussions are ongoing. They recently had a meeting as early as last month, and there’s discussions still going on. I can state in this House when we were in Ottawa and I met with the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans that this was a point that was brought up at a political level when we were there and we will continue to try to move this forward.

MR. SIMPSON: As MLA for Hay River North, I regularly attend GSLAC meetings, I meet privately with the NWT Fishermen’s Federation president, I attend the NWT Fishermen’s Federation meetings, I talk to fishermen in Hay River. I know that these types of issues are brought to GSLAC, but aren’t addressed. When I went to my first GSLAC meeting, they brought up issues. We I to the second one, there were the same issues with absolutely no movement. If anything there was a denial of doing anything. I’ve also heard from the federation that when they talk to the bureaucrats they tell them, we need the word to come from the top down to make these changes. You know, we have a little bit of a constituency budget here, not much; it mostly goes to salary and running an office, but I would like to use that constituency budget – if the Minister would help me set up a meeting with the Minister of DFO – I’d like to take him, and I’ll take the NWT Fisheries Federation president and myself and we’ll go down there and we will meet with the Minister so we can start making progress on these issues. If the Minister insists on flying business class, maybe I can just send him and the president. How does the Minister respond to that?

HON. WALLY SCHUMANN: I thank the Member for his eagerness, but there is a process that we have in place here, and we’re engaging Freshwater Marketing Corp., we’re engaged with the federal government at our level, we have our colleagues on the other side of the House through committee. There’s a number of things that we need to do, and I think if time permitting let this process work its way through the system here for the next little bit. As I said, we’re getting very close to coming to an agreement with Freshwater, with an MOU and a business plan that we start moving on. As he stated, we are both from Hay River and this is an important file to us and we need to keep it moving. Just I ask the Member for a little more patience and we will consider what we’re doing moving forward.