Canada’s Northwest Territories releases plan to hit 22 priorities in 4 years

The government of Canada’s Northwest Territories has released its 2019-23 mandate. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)
The government of Canada’s Northwest Territories has released its 2019-23 mandate, which includes details about how and when the government plans to complete the 22 priorities established by the Legislative Assembly in October.

The priorities include addressing the high cost of housing and food in the North, as well as increasing employment in small communities and investing in sectors of the economy outside mining and resource extraction. It also wants to increase the availability and affordability of childcare and transform Aurora College into a polytechnic university.

The mandate, released Friday, “describes what we will do, how we will do it, the time we think it will take, and how we will measure success,” reads the message from Premier Caroline Cochrane at the beginning of the document.

Below is a selection of the goals set out in the mandate.

Affordable housing and food security

One of the priorities laid out by the assembly is to increase the amount of affordable, energy-efficient housing units, especially for people who are more vulnerable.

Over the next four years, the territorial government is counting on funding, including from the federal and Indigenous governments, to build 100 new units.

For food security, the territorial government plans to create regulations by the spring of 2023 for people who want to sell locally harvested meat. It also wants to build a new fish plant in Hay River by the fall of 2023, and ensure the territory’s Northern Foods Development Program includes funding for greenhouses and community gardens.

Jobs in small communities

The territorial government wants to add 125 new jobs in small communities, whether they are seasonal, part-time, or full-time positions by the fall of 2023.

It also wants to immediately change the NWT Housing Corporation’s policies so people living in public housing have the option to run an in-home business.

It also wants to increase the number of journeymen and apprentices in small communities by 15 per cent. It says it will do that by getting the Housing Corporation to leverage opportunities for people in small communities to learn a trade.

Infrastructure and the economy

The territorial government has prioritized making infrastructure investments that will either expand the economy beyond the resource-extraction sector or reduce the cost of living.

Part of that includes increasing the tourism sector, encouraging entrepreneurship and creating economic development plans for all communities.

But the government also wants to increase resource exploration in the N.W.T., namely with natural gas. According to the mandate, the goal is to decrease the amount of gas that’s imported into the territory.

The territorial government also wants to increase the funding for mining incentive programs by 50 per cent over the next four years.

The government also wants to better the internet quality across the Northwest Territories by completing the Mackenzie Valley Fibre Link by the fall of 2021, and drawing up proposals by 2022 for why other N.W.T. communities should be connected to fibre link.

Climate change, land claims and a university

The territorial government also wants to prioritize bettering its leadership and considerations around climate change, starting this year. It wants to do this by creating a “climate change council.”

The mandate doesn’t include a specific year for when the territory will settle outstanding land claims, but it does say it plans to “demonstrate progress” by concluding two agreements.

The mandate also says the territorial government will create an action plan by the summer of 2022 for the changes required to N.W.T. legislation to better reflect the principles of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The territorial government also plans to move ahead with transforming Aurora College into a polytechnic university. It wants this to happen in six years.

During this government’s mandate, it plans to secure funding from the federal government to improve the campuses in the territory, create an implementation plan for the transformation from a college to an accredited university, as well as release a capital plan for the university.

Related stories from around the North:

Canada: Canada at “pivotal” moment when it comes to Arctic, says minister of Northern Affairs, Eye on the Arctic

Finland: The Arctic Railway – Building a future or destroying a culture? Eye on the Arctic

Norway: Novatek touts Arctic LNG projects at Norwegian conference, declines media questions, The Independent Barents Observer

Russia: Inuit from Alaska, Canada, Greenland & Russia condemn U.S. torpedoing of Arctic Council declaration, Eye on the Arctic

Sweden: Indigenous reindeer herders request emergency aid after drought, wildfires ravage Sweden, Eye on the Arctic

United States: Bill to protect ANWR passes early hurdle in Washington, CBC News

Alyssa Mosher, CBC News

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