What the NWT heard
July 25, 2013
The NWT Economic Opportunities Strategy (EOS) Advisory Panel published a report on a strategy for developing an economic opportunities strategy for the NWT.
The main recommendations of the advisory panel:
a)People are essential – the NWT cannot grow its economy with a stagnant population. Similarly, community wellness will be reflected in a healthy economy;
b)The NWT’s potential, as it is represented in renewable and non-renewable resources, is largely unrealized – as are its people;
c)Economic incentives must begin with local entrepreneurs and community based businesses that provide sustainability and growth in community economies;
d)Economic opportunities and development must be considered and measured according to the benefits provided to the NWT and its people; and
e)The NWT’s dependence on southern resources and people is not conducive to the economic health of the NWT. NWT Residents were unified in their desire to realize more effective uses for northern resources like power, wood pellets, farm produce, fish – and especially people.
A few interesting tidbits:
- In 2012, NWT commercial fishermen harvested less than 20% of the available harvest. While Great Slave Lake holds a huge and sustainable resource capable of supporting many people, the industry barrier is not the number of fish but the diminishing number of individuals that can balance high operating costs relative to the revenue they realize from their day’s work. (p.6)
- Tourism was a dominant topic of discussion in all regions. There was a consistent“buzz” regarding the level of international exposure that the NWT is realizing from media and television programing. The universal enthusiasm for tourism is very much aligned with the opinion heard throughout our engagements that we should focus on sustainable industries based on our natural resources. (p.20)
- Our Panel visited the Sahtu during the peak of this year’s (2013) oil and gas “exploration boom.” Many in the region seemed surprised by the onset of activity. We heard that if oil and gas reserves are proven viable in the next 3-5 years, the Sahtu will be challenged to be ready for this development. There is a pressing need
to help local people take better advantage of such opportunities. (p.26)
- Surprisingly, the NWT is the only jurisdiction in Canada where the population is decreasing. Increasingly, young NWT residents and their families are choosing to leave their communities for the south. (p.30)
All tolled the report makes 90 recommendations for the territorial government.
The report focuses on what government can do to enhance opportunities for its citizenry. The emphasis on skills training is important.
The report glosses over the resource development projects that could come to fruition in the next 20 years. It would have been helpful to mention these in the context of government policies.