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Federal Budget Gets Mixed Reviews from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

NR 05-08 FED ENG Federal Budget.doc

(February 24, 2005 — Kugluktuk, Nunavut) Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Paul Kaludjak said that while he was pleased by certain aspects of the 2005 Budget tabled by federal Finance Minister Ralph Goodale yesterday, he was disappointed in other aspects.

Federal cash transfers for health care in the territories and provinces increased by six per cent for 2005-06, and I hope that will help Nunavut improve its health care system, said Kaludjak. It’s also good to see another injection of money into the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, which NTI has used to support our Qauma Mobile Treatment Project for victims of residential school abuse.

Kaludjak said he was happy to see $4 billion allocated to climate change to help Inuit address global warming problems in Nunavut.

Also in yesterday’s budget, First Nations were granted $200 million to build 6,400 new units and renovate 1,500 existing units over the next two years. Kaludjak said he hoped some of the remaining $95 million for Aboriginal housing in the 2005 budget would be used by the federal government to begin implementing the NTI-Government of Nunavut Ten-Year Inuit Housing Strategy. According to the 2001 Census of Aboriginal Peoples, Inuit in Nunavut live in conditions eight times more crowded than those of Southern Canadians.

Last fall, we asked the federal government to partner with us to end Nunavut’s housing crisis, but First Nations groups were granted the funds we asked for. We are happy to see them get this money, but Inuit also face critical housing shortages that must be rectified, not ignored. NTI represents thousands of Inuit who struggle to survive in over-crowded, substandard homes, and we want to be treated fairly, said Kaludjak.

In yesterday’s budget, $10 million dollars was allocated to the development of the Inuit Secretariat, and another $120 million was earmarked for the three territories in the development of the Northern Strategy. Kaludjak said he was concerned that Inuit might not support the development of the Northern Strategy if the government didn’t make real, concrete progress in providing the resources needed to implement the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.

Inuit in Nunavut may have difficulty endorsing the Northern Strategy if Ottawa continues to avoid meeting its commitments under our Land Claim. You cannot have a true Northern Strategy when Canada’s largest land claims agreement is not being fully implemented. The development of a strategy, and even these new program dollars, are not a substitute for the constitutionally guaranteed agreement we signed with Ottawa 12 years ago, said Kaludjak.

For further information:

Kerry McCluskey
Director of Communications
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated
Tel: (867) 975-4914