‘We’ll have no hold on our region or our community,” says Rankin Inlet Mayor Harry Towtongie.
photo courtesy of Noel Kaludjak

Rankin Inlet Mayor Harry Towtongie is criticizing the Government of Nunavut for its plans to award a contract to run a community group home to Shift, a Nova Scotia company.

“It’s a community type contract that can be run by the community,” he said. “Not from an outside firm that nobody knows about. They could be the best company in the world but we don’t know them. The people that are living there don’t know them. The people that are working don’t know if they’re going to be laid off.”

Rankin’s municipal government has been running the Rankin Inlet Adult Group Home on behalf of the Department of Family Services for the last six years, he said.

In a follow-up statement, the mayor’s office said: “The care of the individuals under guardianship was significantly improved during the Hamlet’s management. This is reflected in the positive reviews the operation received each year as well as on the faces of the group home’s seven full time residents. The group home employed on a full and part-time basis 14 residents of Rankin Inlet.

The contract to run the group had been extended a number of times. The final extension expired on March 31, it continues.

The hamlet is waiting on the Department of Family Services to complete a transition plan for the new contractor, it continues.

“We were thinking that we were doing a really good job and it’s a disappointment to lose a contract like that,” said Towtongie.

“I hope the government will take note that we are concerned about this,” said Towtongie. “We’re concerned more of this may happen in the future. If the government is going to start turning around and start giving out these contracts from places who knows where, we’ll have no hold on our region or our community.”

Towtongie noted that the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti (NNI) procurement policy is supposed to help Inuit companies bid against larger southern companies, but it does not apply to municipal governments.

According to the company’s website, Shift was founded in 2011 and “manages and staffs complex care facilities in some of Canada’s most remote locations.”

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