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NTI President Calls for Transparency in NNC Program

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. President Cathy Towtongie today called on the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to immediately make changes to their Nutrition North Canada program to make it more transparent and accountable to Inuit. Towtongie’s comments followed today’s release of the Report of the Auditor General of Canada. Chapter six focused on AANDC’s Nutrition North program.

“NTI’s main concerns with the Nutrition North program and the former Food Mail program have always been transparency and accountability to Inuit. As required by Article 32 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, Inuit were not afforded the opportunity to participate in the redesign of the program. NTI plays no role in appointing people to the program’s advisory board. NTI does not have any say in how the education program funding is allocated to Nunavut, and NTI did not participate in the restructuring of the eligible items list,” said Towtongie. “This means that the Inuit right to participate in shaping this program and its design has not happened. In terms of monetary investment, the Nutrition North program is the second largest social program delivered in Nunavut. Income assistance is the largest. This is why it is so important to Inuit,” said Towtongie.

The Auditor-General was particularly critical of AANDC’s inability to illustrate how the federal government subsidy passes from the retailers to the consumer. Without transparency from start to finish, there is no way to tell whether or not the subsidy is being passed on in its entirety to the consumer. Towtongie said NTI would raise the issue with AANDC Minister Bernard Valcourt during their next meeting. In the meantime, she encouraged Minister Valcourt to make immediate changes to the program to make it more accountable to Inuit.