Infrastructure key to NWT’s economic recovery: GNWT budget estimates

GNWT is spending $451 million on capital projects. Photo supplied by GNWT.
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The GNWT says infrastructure projects will play a significant role in the GNWT’s economic recovery, as the territorial government announced their capital estimates for the year ahead.

Members of the Legislative Assembly approved the $451 million capital estimates for the 2021-22 fiscal year. 

The budget is split into two halves, capital and main estimates. Capital estimates is money spent on infrastructure projects. Main estimates is the budget for everything else, operations, payroll and other costs associated with running the government.

The main estimates won’t be confirmed until after MLA’s have debated them during the winter session, set to start in February.

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The biggest spending item will be on maintaining and expanding the territory’s roads, highways and bridges, with $61.3 million going towards the Tłı̨chǫ all-season road project. The territory approved more than $180 million in spending on roads.

There’s also $41.8 million for energy projects, including $5 million for the Taltson Hydro Expansion project.

“As Northerners, we are resilient, and our government is committed to investing in our people and businesses,” Caroline CochranePremier of the Northwest Territories. “This is one of the largest capital investments in the history of the territory, and we acknowledge that the health and well-being of all communities and residents is best served by maintaining a stable economic environment.”

More than half of the money came from the federal government, or federally administered programs.

“By investing in large-scale infrastructure projects we are able to help bridge the substantial infrastructure gap that exists here in the NWT, as well as kick-start the territory’s economic recovery,” said finance minister Caroline Wawzonek.

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Renée Comeau, president of the NWT Chamber of Commerce, said kickstarting the economy by investing in infrastructure is the approach many Canadian provinces are taking this year.

The focus on investing in infrastructure will definitely be beneficial in the short term, and can have long term benefits if done properly, Comeau added.

“If the majority of these contracts do go to northern companies the ramifications in the communities, especially outside the northern hubs could be very positive,” she said.

This spending also provides opportunities for job training. Ensuring the money stays in the north and that predominantly northern workers are hired, this could lead to long-term positions being held by northerners, added Comeau.

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