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NTI Says Federal Government Short-Changed GN on Resources for Land Claim Implementation

NR 04-23 GNB ENG GN Budget.doc

(May 18, 2004 — Iqaluit, Nunavut) In assessing the Government of Nunavut’s (GN) Budget tabled today in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), charged Ottawa with continuing to short-change the GN on resources for meeting its obligations under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (NLCA), and particularly, on Article 23.

The GN Budget tabled today has pretty much managed to hold the line and maintain last year’s level of spending on Inuit employment and training in Government, said James Eetoolook, NTI’s Vice-President of Finance. But in order to fully meet its obligations under Article 23 and achieve a representative public service, the GN needs to spend a lot more money on training. There is no way the territorial government can do that under the current Formula Financing Arrangement. Ottawa has failed to provide the GN with the needed resources, said Eetoolook.

For nearly three years, NTI and the GN have been in negotiations with the federal government to conclude an agreement on funding levels for land claims implementation over the 2003-2013 period. The centerpiece of that negotiation is a request from the GN for federal funding to increase education and training under Article 23. According to research contracted last year by NTI and the GN, the failure to fully implement Article 23 costs Inuit over $100 million per year in lost income. In addition, government pays over $50 million per year in costs that would not be incurred if a representative work force were in place.

A year ago, we hoped and expected that these negotiations would be completed by now, and that there would be more funding for training and education in support of implementing Article 23, said Eetoolook. The fact that the 2004 GN Budget only manages to hold the line at last year’s level of funding for Article 23 is a direct consequence of Ottawa’s stalling tactics at the negotiating table. Inuit are getting impatient with this stalling, he said.

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