N.W.T. MLAs vote down call for austerity in assembly mandate
'When we keep on hearing doom and gloom, why would anybody want to be living in the Northwest Territories?'
Regular MLAs in the Northwest Territories have voted down a call for austerity in the proposed mandate of the 18th legislative assembly.
The mandate's "fiscal context" called for the government to make "difficult decisions to ensure the GNWT's long term fiscal sustainability," including "recognizing we can no longer afford the suite of programs and services we have been providing to our residents at the levels we have been providing them."
Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne introduced the motion to scrap the fiscal context.
"I'm not comfortable with our broad long-term statement of vision containing such a restrictive, temporary assessment of current economic conditions," said Vanthuyne.
"I understand we're in a fiscal situation," echoed Nahendeh MLA Shane Thompson, "but when we keep on hearing doom and gloom, why would anybody want to be living in the Northwest Territories?"
Other MLAs pointed out factual inaccuracies in the fiscal context, such as the assertion that the N.W.T. government's federal transfer payments will be reduced annually by $33 million.
Last week Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod confirmed the reduction would only be $9 million.
"This could have been corrected before it was tabled in the House, but it wasn't," said Kevin O'Reilly, MLA for Frame Lake.
McLeod called on MLAs to reconsider their position before the vote was recorded.
"I would ask the members to remember as they make their vote that removing an issue from a document does not make it go away," he said.
"The government still faces difficult challenges to finance existing programs and services that will not change."