Legislative Assembly Briefs

Nowhere to go

New NWT Housing Corporation policy, exercised through community housing associations, means renters in arrears will not be eligible for subsidized housing if they move to another community.

Iqaluit MLA Ed Picco said the new policy may force people in arrears into tents and shacks, and suggested it include a provision allowing housing to those who secure a job in the community they move to.

Housing minister Goo Arlooktoo said the policy is designed to have tenants "live up to their obligations and paying their rent," and noted local housing associations have the right to make exceptions.

Arlooktoo said the waiting list for territorial public housing is 3,500 names long.

Fumbling feds

Yellowknife North MLA Roy Erasmus last week said the ongoing houseboat dispute is an example of how federal inaction is costing the North time and money.

"It is ridiculous that so much time, energy and dollars are being spent on this issue in Yellowknife," said Erasmus in a members statement Thursday. "Once again, the lack of decisive action by the federal government is causing trouble for Northerners."

Slow progress on the question of who has jurisdiction over Yellowknife Bay mirrors the pace of federal progress of treaty land entitlements and self government, said Erasmus.

East but not west

The 1997-98 budget provides for divisional issues facing the Eastern Arctic, but what about the West?

The division review secretariat, part of the cabinet secretariat, established a new office with a budget of $300,000 in Iqaluit at the start of this year. It is overseen by former deputy minister of safety and public services John Quirke and includes a contract worker in Ottawa.

Yellowknife South MLA Seamus Henry last week asked if such an office existed in the western territory.

"We do not have a specific body working on those issues in the west," responded Premier Don Morin. "We have Aboriginal Affairs, which consists of many PYs (person years). They work on western issues as well as eastern issues."

Morin noted $1 million had been budgeted for GNWT involvement in western land claims and self-government negotiations.

Morin agreed to provide a report on how much of the division review secretariat's resources are devoted to each territory.

Pre-implementation plan

Finance minister John Todd has assumed responsibility for making the transition to division as smooth as possible.

He said in the assembly last week Premier Don Morin had appointed him, working with the division secretariat, to develop a plan for the fiscal transition to division.

"We cannot wait until April 1, 1999, and turn on the lights," said Todd.