February 10, 2023


Normally, in the NWT and across Canada, when a government introduces its spending plans, it’s a pretty big deal. Especially during an election year, such as 2023 is for the NWT. The public gallery would be full of not just invited guests, but a host of other observers, media, and political junkies, as the words spoken by the finance minister of the day would have real impact on the lives of residents, businesses, and the organizations who rely on some level of government funding.

But the sparse attendance at Wednesday's 2023-24 Budget presentation was quite apparent and noticed by many during the reception afterwards. So what's going on? See the NWT Chamber;'s column Monday on the NNSL website, a News/North print edition or a link will be provided here next week. In the inset photo above, NWT Chamber President Yanik D'Aigle can be seen in the light coloured jacket.

Photos by James O'Connor

Don't worry, be happy

The recovery from the pandemic returns the economy to its pre-pandemic path of slow decline, stated Finance Department documents issued with the budget.

Maturing diamond mines, labour shortages, and a lack of economic diversification will continue to dampen economic growth.

These challenges are heightened by high inflation and higher interest rates. Most pressing is the lack of workers that is putting a brake on private sector activity, as well as the impending closure of the Diavik diamond mine.

There are currently no other projects on the horizon large enough to fill the economic gap that will be left by the closing diamond mines.

But Finance Minister Carolyn Wawzonek delivered a much more optimistic message in her Budget address:

"Focussing on our myriad of economic challenges can become self-fulfilling inertia at best and an excuse for paralysis at worst. Instead, we can put emphasis on the economic opportunities around us and focus attention on what we can do to realize our potential. 

"The Northwest Territories’ economic indicators are positive, and our future should be bright. This is a bold statement but it needs to be said."

Inuvik hotel purchase part of 'investment, growth and reinvigoration' strategy for Inuvialuit communities

Just as an MLA from Inuvik was lamenting in the NWT Assembly today over the lack of a restaurant in that regional hub, a media release was issued with news that should cheer her up:

The Inuvialuit Corporate Group (ICG) announced it acquired the Mackenzie Hotel last month and has begun hiring a restaurant manager and cooks.

The hotel’s restaurant and lounge closed at the end of August, the owners citing a lack of available workers.

The ICG is eyeing a spring opening date, hoping to provide employment opportunities for Inuvialuit beneficiaries and residents and to provide a family-friendly establishment that can be enjoyed by all, stated the media release.

The purchase of the hotel and restaurant by IRC is part of a larger strategy of investment, growth and reinvigoration of Inuvialuit communities.

"We look forward to sharing more news in the coming weeks and months as our community and economic investments continue in our communities," stated Duane Smith, Inuvialuit Regional Corporation chair.

“Sharing meals, country food, and time with family and friends is a key part of health and mental health in our communities.”

High interest rates stunt SMEs growth in Canada

Canada’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are facing numerous challenges that impede their ability to scale up, stated the C.D. Howe Institute this week.

The non-profit influential think tank has launched a policy working group that suggested SMEs growth rates have been hampered by access to financing.

One explanation, states the article, is the interest rate Canadian SMEs face on their loans relative to loans to large enterprises – the interest rate spread – is higher than a number of our traditional OECD comparator countries (the US, France, Sweden, UK, Italy, Australia, and the Netherlands.)

Recruit workers from France

The IRCC office at the Canadian Embassy in France in collaboration with Tourism HR is organizing an online recruitment fair to connect you with qualified French-speaking and bilingual international candidates in the Tourism-Hospitality-Culinary sector.

Employers with job openings in one or more of the following National Occupational Classification (NOC) codes in provinces or territories other than Quebec, you are invited to apply here to participate.


Topic: Member confidence in territorial government

In her Sessional Statement this week, Premier Caroline Cochrane said: "Based on our mandate progress to date, I am confident and optimistic that by the end of this government, the Northwest Territories will be better positioned for a brighter future."

Question: Do you agree with Premier Cochrane?


Do you support small-scale nuclear power and heat generation in the NWT?

  • YES 92%
  • NO 8%


"The last time I was in Yellowknife, you could see the construction going on and the dollars that were in the queue. Because of the short construction season and the supply chain issues, it is difficult for construction to keep up with the dollars that are allocated."

— Federal Minister of Northern Affairs Dan Vandal in Ottawa.

"I don't have a restaurant, I don't have anything in my community because it's (already) too expensive with the overhead costs."

— A frustrated Inuvik Twin Lakes MLA Lesa Semmler, expressed concern today in the Assembly over how the incoming federal Carbon Tax will further impact her town's economy, adding:

"If Justin Trudeau wants to hear me — this is not working in the Northwest Territories!"


Following up on a piece in last week's newsletter on the GNWT receiving national recognition for its efforts to cut red tape, plans are in the works on an incentivized opportunity — a reward — for public servants to raise the alert of red tape they encounter when serving residents and businesses.

Quite interesting.

A reminder, if you encounter any baffling bureaucracy, email: [email protected]

Friday Futures:

The NWT Chamber's 2023 AGM will be held Thursday, April 13 at 11:30am in Yellowknife at the Explorer Hotel. A video link for those who can't attend will be made available. More details will follow.

To celebrate the NWT Chamber's 50th anniversary this year, a conference and evening reception is tentatively being planned for the fall, likely in October shortly after the Territorial General Election.

Meanwhile, work is being done right now on our new website. Should be up in a couple of weeks. It will be a thing of usefulness and beauty.

The next NWT Chamber Board Meeting is February 15 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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