April 7, 2023


Regular MLA Caitlyn Cleveland (Kam Lake) presses ITI Minister Carolyn Wawzonek about the procurement review during question period March 27 in the Legislative Assembly. Image sourced from Assembly livestream.

Cleveland's plea for procurement panel's papers

The GNWT’s procurement policies have not been substantially updated since 2010. When formed in 2019, the 19th Legislative Assembly listed a review of how government decides who gets contracts as a priority.

The GNWT states that it wants to use taxpayers' money to support NWT businesses, which will nurture a strong, diversified economy. More people working, more training provided, stronger healthier and safer communities, more money circulating inside the borders of our territory.

But those lofty goals slide back down to earth when project costs are considered, budgets are created and the skillsets and capacity of the available Northern workforce is realized.

The review panel's work was supposed to have been completed last year. Or the year prior, depending how you interpret information provided. Then came the global pandemic, which certainly didn't accelerate the process.

As she questioned Industry, Tourism and Investment Minister Caroline Wawzonek late last month, Kam Lake MLA Caitlin Cleveland was well aware of the clock ticking down on the life of the 19th Assembly:

"NWT businesses continue to question why their businesses continue to operate north of 60 when significant contract dollars go south to where the cost of doing business is more affordable, and population decreases show that a significant number of Northerners are heading south.

"Northerners need certainty. Regular Members cannot continue to wait and see how long the work of the procurement review unfolds. This government needs to finalize this work and deliver it, along with certainty, to NWT residents. 

"So I'm wondering does ITI intend to table a fulsome response to the procurement review panel's 50 recommendations that the public can see where ITI stands on each of those recommendations?


"In the month of August and in the summer, there's about eight sitting days that we'll get to sit through roughly before we're done, and we're literally escorted out the building.

"That doesn't give me the time or my colleagues the time to really hold the government accountable to what those changes look like. 

"I'm really concerned with that timeline."

Minister Wawzonek said the intent of her department is to release the document in advance of the August session, "with a view to having it out so that if there needs to be some further debate about it in August that there's ample time for that to take place, and it won't just be happening on August 30th." 

The NWT Chamber's AGM is next Thursday!

Work to organize our 2023 AGM is well underway. The agenda is ready (draft form, subject to change), a media release is being written and speaking notes are being bullet-pointed. The AGM portion of the 90-minute event is for only for members, but anyone perhaps interested in joining our organization is welcome to attend. RSVPs would be great, please send to James.

The great retirement rethink

Given the rising share of older workers in the Canadian labour force, the number of retirements has trended upward over the past two decades, reports The Conference Board of Canada.

The lifting of pandemic restrictions drove a surge in retirements in 2022, as many who had delayed their exit from the workforce during the first two years of the pandemic seized the moment.

Today, continues the Board, market volatility and political uncertainty has rates of retirement appearing to be return to pre-pandemic levels.


Topic: To the Moon

The federal government's new budget proposes to spend $1.2 billion on a lunar utility vehicle. The Moon Program funding is in addition to commitments to the International Space Station and other programs.

Question: Is this a worthy use of taxpayers' money at this time?


Question: Why did the federal government not listen to concerns from Northerners about new Carbon Tax policy?

  • Our dire predicament was not properly explained to policymakers in Ottawa. 30%
  • They heard us, but the zeal to go green has overtaken common sense around the cabinet table. 66%
  • The Trudeau government will likely react only after it sees the harm done. 4%


"We don’t need little bits of money here or there. It costs a lot of money to build a mine, a concentrator and a refinery. We can raise a million dollars here or there, but that doesn’t move the needle."

Robin Goad, Fortune Minerals President and CEO, to Cabin Radio on working to find a major investor for the proposed Nico project, a proposed cobalt, gold, bismuth and copper mine northeast of Whatì.


The SME Institute by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is a first-of-its kind service that provides the training, support and advice your small business needs to adapt, grow and thrive. Along with being your one-stop shop for services and resources, we are a community of partners, mentors and peers who are committed to the collective success of SMEs

Innovation and sustainability was the topic by Arctic Energy Alliance’s Mark Heyck, one of the presenters at the start of the Tourism Industry Association of Canada (TIAC) Town Hall, on Tuesday at the Explorer Hotel in Yellowknife. Look for the NWT Chamber's next twice-monthly column in Monday's News/North on the NNSL Website for a story on another presenter at that day-long TIAC Town Hall who had some choice words for the latest federal budget.


Friday Futures:

If you know of someone who might be interested in our organization, ask them to have a look at our (brand spanking new) website to find out more about us.

After an absence of two years, the NWT Chamber's golf tournament returns Friday, August 18 at the Yellowknife Golf Club. After 18 holes, participants will be treated to a reception with a silent auction and a delicious meal. More details will follow, but please save that date and start thinking of teams to enter.

To celebrate the NWT Chamber's 50th anniversary this year, a major one-day conference and evening reception is being planned for Sept. 29. Stay tuned for information.

The next NWT Chamber Board Meeting is April 19 at 11am in-person or Zoom


Inquire with the NWT Chamber's Executive Director about sponsorship and newsletter advertising opportunities. We also offer limited numbers of EBlasts to members each month and promoted social media posts can be arranged.

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