Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) President Aluki Kotierk expressed modest optimism at portions of new funding promised in the federal budget released this week. Budget 2017 commits $240 million over 11 years for Nunavut housing. The budget proposes to invest $828.2 million over five years to improve health outcomes for First Nations and Inuit, and $89.9 million over the next three years to support Indigenous languages and cultures.
“These pots of money appear to signal that the federal government is aware of Nunavut’s housing crisis and its far-reaching impacts on the physical, mental and economic health of Inuit in Nunavut. NTI is pleased to see Inuit-specific housing funding” said Kotierk. “As a priority, NTI is keen to know when and how the health and language funding will apply to Nunavut.”
Kotierk said NTI is eager to learn the details concerning the $180 billion infrastructure fund plans that Ottawa promised to release on April 12 in Ottawa. Following that announcement, Inuit will have a greater understanding of the scope of the new infrastructure funding for Nunavut. While any new social or infrastructure investments are badly needed, Nunavut’s social and infrastructure deficits go much deeper.
Kotierk noted that two aspects of the federal budget are connected to the implementation of the Nunavut Agreement. The first is whether new funding identified in the budget for Indigenous and Atlantic fisheries will apply to Nunavut, thereby ending the breach of the non-discrimination guarantee in section 2.7.3 of the Nunavut Agreement. The other is whether the federal government will make use of training dollars and other resources to develop a representative government workforce as required by Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement.