(June 24, 2005 – OTTAWA) In a letter to Prime Minister Paul Martin, Inuit leaders have requested that the Prime Minister personally intervene in the Inuit housing crisis, and instruct the Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to act on a 10-year housing plan that has been in the Federal Government’s hands for over 10 months.
The proposal, from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI) (and the Government of Nunavut (GN)), has plans to retrofit existing homes and to build new homes in Nunavut, and plans for training programs that would keep some of the social and economic benefit in the territory. Neither NTI nor the GN has received concrete plans from the CMHC regarding the proposal.
We need more houses in Nunavut, we need repairs to homes, and we need them today, says NTI President Paul Kaludjak. We need Mr. Martin to get action on our plan before it’s too late, before families have to live through another winter without the security of their own home.
The letter, signed by Kaludjak and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) President Jose Kusugak, requests a face-to-face meeting with the Prime Minister, and direct instructions from the Prime Minister to the CMHC for action on the plan.
Mr. Martin told me his first job was with the Eastern Arctic re-supply, says Kusugak. He knows better than anyone in his government how hard it is to get supplies to the Arctic. We’re running out of time for next year’s shipping season. Nunavut can’t wait until 2007. The crisis is now.
This plan from Nunavut can be a blueprint to addressing the housing crisis in all four of our Inuit regions in Canada, Kusugak continues. This is a very serious issue, and it needs the full attention of the CMHC, of Joe Fontana and, first of all, of Mr. Martin.
Prime Minster Paul Martin has certainly expressed his concern regarding the issue. At the May 31, 2005 Aboriginal Policy Retreat, Martin highlighted housing, with health and education, as key areas to be addressed in closing the gap in the quality of life for Aboriginal peoples.
The joint letter to Prime Minister Martin, from leading advocates for sufficient Inuit housing, is a reminder that the problem cannot be fixed with just words. Direction and action from the Prime Minister are needed to curb the Inuit housing crisis across the four Inuit regions.