NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Nunavut MP Lori Idlout came together in Iqaluit on Friday to announce proposed solutions for two key issues related to the high-cost of living in the North.
“Food, and a home,” said the New Democratic leader. “Those are the two most important things, and those are two things the people of Nunavut have been struggling for.”
Singh promised $500 million of “dedicated funding directly to Nunavut” to build 3,000 homes by 2030, which would meet a housing goal set by the territorial government.
“There’s so much need in Iqaluit and Nunavut,” he said. “We want to see immediate investment… to build more homes immediately here in Nunavut.”
Next, he addressed the cost of groceries and directly criticized the federal government’s Nutrition North subsidy program.
“It does not work. It does not reach the people who need it… we need a full overhaul of the program. We’ve long been calling for it and ramping up pressure.”
During his fourth trip to Nunavut, Singh went on to propose that grocers “pay an excess profit tax,” putting that revenue “back in people’s pockets so they can afford their groceries. We can do this. We can take on the corporate greed. We can take on these grocery store companies that are ripping off people.”
Idlout, who introduced Singh in Inuktitut, said afterwards in English that she believes Singh to be a great leader because he fights for “Indigenous peoples’ rights. When it comes to Indigenous peoples, he makes sure that we’re all working harder to make sure that we’re making progress for Inuit, First Nations and Metis.”
Singh praised Idlout in turn, saying, “We’re so lucky to have Lori Idlout on our team as our Member of Parliament for Nunavut. She is someone who is incredibly capable as a lawyer, as an advocate for human rights, as someone who’s fought for people being able to have a better quality of life. She is a strong champion for Nunavut, I want everyone to know she is there every day in Parliament making sure that your concerns are listened to, and that we get action. And she has delivered!”
Singh went on to list Idlout’s past accomplishments, such as championing water infrastructure in Iqaluit, doubling the GST rebate and protecting the rights of Indigenous people to use firearms.
“Now we’re up against some major challenges, and Lori as your MP has been raising this again and again. We know the cost of living is hard across the country, but it is much harder in the North. Every single thing that we think about is hitting people in the North a lot harder, and the people of Nunavut are feeling that pain.”
Citing the cost of groceries — triple that of the south — or the cost of rental housing, Singh emphasized that this is simply “outside the range of most people. We know that we need to see immediate action, and that’s why we’re pushing back… so, here’s what we’re proposing at a time when Liberals are just not doing what people need. Every single thing that has come out of government recently, has come out because we have forced them.”
The NDP has been involved in an unofficial alliance with the governing Liberals over the past year and a half.
Singh concluded, “You know you can count on me. You can count on my entire team. You can count on Lori Idlout, your Member of Parliament. You can count on the New Democrats, we’re on your side, and you can count on these two concrete things we’re going to do to make sure people’s lives are better.”