Evidence of meeting #122 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was north.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Wally Schumann  Minister, Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Department of Infrastructure, Government of the Northwest Territories
Hilda Broomfield Letemplier  Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board
Patrick Duxbury  Advisor, Nunavut Resources Corporation
Yves Robillard  Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Lib.
Tom Zubko  President, New North Networks Ltd.
David Ningeongan  President, Kivalliq Inuit Association
Don Rusnak  Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Lib.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We'll move on to MP Rachel Blaney.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you, everyone. Thank you so much for coming here and presenting to us.

David, if I could start with you, I'd appreciate it. You talked about the project, and I want to ask a few questions.

You talked about how this would include fibre, which would connect several communities. Could you share with us what other opportunities having that kind of connection could open up for those communities?

5:10 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

There are a lot of opportunities with this hydro fibre project. It will allow for more businesses to be developed in the region. Recycling, for example, or bakeries, which cost a lot of money to run, will be available for that opportunity.

Specifically on the fibre optic, education is a key thing. We cannot do long-distance training right now because of our satellite broadband issues. This will allow our people in the territory to have that option.

Specifically for health care, there is telehealth. We're having issues with telehealth being done regularly, because we do not have this fibre optic in the region.

Once we get fibre optic into the Kivalliq region, it will open up more bandwidth to the other communities in the territory for their use as well. It won't benefit just five communities or seven communities in my region; it will have a lasting impact on the whole territory to have that option.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

It's an important infrastructure investment and would probably allow you to not always have to fly to Ottawa when you come to these meetings. I bet you'd appreciate that.

I know this is concrete and you may not have an answer for it, but it would be great if you could give it to the committee. One of the things I'm wondering about is what the cost difference will be between having the diesel power as opposed to when you're put into this system so that you can get hydro. I think it would be really helpful for our committee to understand that as we are making recommendations. If you can't answer that today and if you could give that to the committee, I'd really appreciate it.

5:15 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

I want to touch on the diesel a bit. In my riding in southern British Columbia, we get snow like this and everybody stays at home because they don't know what to do, so I will never compete with you about those realities. One of the indigenous communities that I represent, Dzawada'enuxw, has diesel as well for their really remote community. Their infrastructure for diesel is wearing out. It's aging rapidly. They have significant concerns.

You mentioned that in your presentation. Could you talk about what the risks are with this aging infrastructure for diesel?

5:15 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

Not too many years ago in Rankin Inlet our power plant shut down. All the generators were out of commission. They had to fly emergency generators into our community. That had a lot of impacts on the people. Also, it's not just that in terms of our infrastructure. Our community is on a utilidor system, so once you have no power, the water lines start freezing.

With the aging power plants, the chance of that happening again is very real. It's going to cost millions of dollars per community to upgrade their power plants. Just as an example, for our westernmost community in the other region, the Kugluktuk region, it cost them $30 million just to upgrade their power plant not too long ago.

If you consider $30 million times seven, that's $210 million of potential investment the government is going to have to put in place in our region, because there is a 40-year life expectancy for any power plant, and all our power plants are past their life expectancy.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

You live in a very cold climate, obviously, so if the diesel power goes out during the coldest parts of the year, what kinds of risks does that mean for the communities you represent?

5:15 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

When we lost all our power, it happened in the winter.

The community scrambles to get temporary generators to be connected to the furnaces or a boiler. Not every house has that opportunity. Not every individual who owns a home has that option, and not even the public housing units have that option.

We do have issues with freeze-ups. It is a real challenge for our communities in the Kugluktuk region and in Nunavut, because it has happened in multiple different communities.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you.

You also talked about the gold mines and the work they've done, and also the work they've done in building infrastructure in the regions you serve. You also talked about how one-third of the employment for the Inuit in your region is work at that gold mine. With regard to the project you're talking to us about today, could you just talk a bit about having that infrastructure, what that would mean for employing more Inuit people in the region, and just what those impacts could be?

5:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

You have one minute.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

In one minute, let's just wrap it up.

5:15 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

Thank you for that question.

Housing is a real issue right now in all of the Nunavut communities, as you heard, but that is not allowing other people in the region to come to Rankin to work at the mine. We really appreciate, Agnico, as an Inuit organization, investing millions of dollars to put in private roads going to their mines, and being able to drive on these roads has helped our people and our harvesters as well.

It really benefits not just industry but the people in Rankin, for example. Instead of going for two weeks in and two weeks out, the people who are from Rankin will be able to go home at night to be with their families. I think if the option is there with proper housing in place in the community, other families will move to Rankin so that they can come home at the end of the day to be with their families. That is a real concern with regard to infrastructure as well.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I'm going to just ask you to provide us with the numbers when you get them, and we will try to incorporate them into your presentation.

Now, it goes to MPs Will Amos and Terry Duguid. Terry will be leading off this session of questioning.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

How much time is left, Madam Chair?

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

There's seven minutes or a little bit less, because we have a bit of committee business..

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

That's okay. I have just one question, Madam Chair. Hopefully, my colleague will come back.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Okay.

October 17th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

Those were a couple of very interesting presentations. Thank you so much for being here, and for coming a long way.

As Hunter knows, I've participated in the Hudson Bay round table for many years, and this issue has been on the table for a long, long time. I certainly understand your growing impatience. I've also been up to Rankin Inlet twice. I've stayed with Aunt Dorothy—Hunter's aunt—and I could get an NFL football game on the TV, but I couldn't get a YouTube video. I really experienced up close and personal just what a barrier that is to commerce, to starting small businesses and particularly to education and connecting young people to so much of what the world has to offer.

The new thing for me today is your private sector partner. Is there a danger, if we don't move quickly enough, that the private sector interest might go away? That's one issue. I'm wondering about the private sector interest of Agnico Eagle also chipping in, because they obviously have a commercial interest.

Also, can you maybe give me the latest on the Manitoba government's interest? I know I've heard before with the previous government that it's very expensive, and hydro seemed to be somewhat reluctant. Have you made the larger economic case? In the old days when I had something to do with the port of Churchill, the economic relationship with the Kivalliq was very, very strong. It's much weaker now. The fuel is now coming from Montreal, and construction materials because, of course, we didn't have an operating railway—

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I'd like you to really tighten it up, because we need five minutes for an in camera session.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

The questions are about the danger of private sector interest going away, and the interest of the Manitoba government.

5:20 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

Thank you.

The Manitoba government is basically waiting for the federal government signal on how we move forward with this project. I think our private sector partner is there to stay, as long as we get the federal support to move the project forward. Right now, as it is, without federal support, I don't think this project would be going forward, but we will make that—

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Terry Duguid Liberal Winnipeg South, MB

But, would you still say time is of the essence?

5:20 p.m.

President, Kivalliq Inuit Association

David Ningeongan

Absolutely. The urgency is that there will be renewable energy investments in the north. For us, the goal is to maximize community benefits, and this project does that. It gets five communities and two mines and fibre all in one shot.

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.