(YELLOWKNIFE) February 6, 2017 – Members of the Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning today provided details of the changes they recommend to improve the GNWT’s proposed budget for 2017-18. In total, they amount to less than two percent of the budget.
“The lack of clear and adequate funding for junior kindergarten is a huge problem, but there are many other important items beyond that,” noted Committee Chair Tom Beaulieu. “We want the public to know exactly where we stand, and what we have been fighting for over the past four months.
“We are against making cuts that will hurt local economies, such as interrupting ferry services. We want to create jobs, and make strategic investments to social programs, such as home care, anti-poverty initiatives, housing, and mental health and addictions,” Mr. Beaulieu added.
The Committee includes all 11 Regular Members of the Legislative Assembly. Their position on these items was clearly communicated to Cabinet in December.
“The changes we want are very specific, right down to the dollar amounts,” said Kieron Testart, the Committee’s deputy chair. “We propose stimulus for business, improvements for housing, and we oppose reductions that could compromise the environment, among other things.”
Members also have many questions about the status of proposed reductions in the Main Estimates, first seen in annual business plans last fall. These will be raised when departmental budgets are reviewed in the Legislative Assembly.
In addition, Regular Members will individually raise other budget issues important to their constituents as debate on the budget continues.
For more information, please contact:
Chair, Standing Committee on Priorities and Planning
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
P: 867-767-9133 ext. 12185
Manager, Public Affairs and Communications
Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories
P: 867-767-9130 ext. 12017
Proposed initiatives and reductions opposed for 2017-18 Operations budget
Education, Culture and Employment
• Fully offset implementation costs of Junior Kindergarten, estimated by ECE as $5,100,000 (with $3,100,000 required beyond current commitments);
o The long-term savings to government from investments in early childhood development is well-known, and is cited in Right From the Start.
• Further enhance the Small Community Employment Support Program, $2,000,000 (total of $5,000,000).
o SCES, a subsidy program, must be modified to enable job creation.
Total department: $5,100,000
Reductions opposed: $600,000
• Schools, K-12 contribution, $600,000.
Environment and Natural Resources
Reductions opposed: $370,000
• Watershed management, $115,000
• Corporate services, $145,000
• Eliminate two positions, $119,000
Health and Social Services
• Youth In Crisis suicide prevention funding, $500,000;
o The NWT is facing a crisis of suicides and abuse of alcohol, prescription drugs, and crack cocaine by our youth. More prevention and intervention is needed.
• Anti-Poverty funding increase, $500,000;
o Too little is being done to reduce widespread poverty and support the work of NGOs in this area.
• Home care services, $1,500,000;
o It is essential to assist seniors so they can age in their own homes. Enhanced Home Care should be introduced as soon as possible to increase the number of home care workers in all regions, and improve “handy-van” transportation services for seniors. The avoided costs of long-term care will result in substantial long-term savings.
• Mobile crisis intervention team: Work with the federal government to bring one of its mobile teams to the NWT.
Total department: $2,500,000
Industry, Tourism and Investment
• Support for Entrepreneurs and Economic Development (SEED) program, increase by $1,200,000;
• Reduce tax on small businesses by 1%, $700,000;
• Fishing industry freight support increase, $225,000.
• Increase the Mineral Incentive Program by $600,000;
• Ensure continued support for the Prospecting Course jointly sponsored by ITI, ECE, Mine Training Society and other partners.
• Increase the maximum amount eligible for loans by BDIC.
• Take steps to reduce the administrative complexity of establishing new businesses.
Total department: $2,725,000
Reductions opposed: $519,000
• Reduce Community Futures contributions, $42,000
• Reduce BDIC annual contribution, $477,000
• Men’s healing program increase, $600,000;
o The Committee recommends a regional/mobile delivery model to expand access of the program beyond Yellowknife.
Total department: $600,000
Reductions opposed: $138,000
• Eliminate one position, $138,000
Reductions opposed: $572,000
• Reduce increase of Commissioner’s land lease rents (implement gradual increase), $78,000
• Reduce increase of Territorial land lease rents (implement gradual increase), $194,000
• Operations, decrease funds for lands inspections, $375,000
• Eliminate three positions, $313,000.
Municipal and Community Affairs
Reductions opposed: $265,000
• Eliminate one position, $115,000
• Transfer multisport games contribution to new Lottery Fund, $150,000;
o The Committee does not support a claw back of lottery money, and recommends that lottery funds be focused on youth programming in the arts, recreation, sports, and friendship centres.
NWT Housing Corporation
• Increase CARE program by $1,355,000 to provide repair programs to support seniors aging in place, (in addition to the $500,000 initiative for SAFE)
Total corporation: $1,355,000
Reductions opposed: $300,000
• Reduce Transitional Rent Supplement program, $300,000;
o If the program is not fulfilling its goals, this should be addressed. If the program cannot be made effective, the funds should be allocated to meet other housing needs.
• Increase Community Access Road Program, $700,000;
• Sambaa K’e winter road, $300,000.
Total department: $1,000,000
Reductions opposed: $1,800,000
• Discontinue winter ferry service at Tsiigehtchic and the Peel River, $1,800,000.
Public Works and Services
• Increase program funding for Arctic Energy Alliance, $1,500,000;
o Broaden access to programs to improve participation by lower income residents, and enable AEA to permanently expand its work in communities.
Total department: $1,500,000