During the March sitting of the legislative assembly Baker Lake MLA Craig Simailak asked Premier PJ Akeeagok if the Government of Nunavut would be signing a new memorandum of understanding with Manitoba, noting that the last one was signed in 2015 and expired in fall 2020.
Akeeagok responded that the GN was reviewing the issue and expects a new agreement will arise.
Simailak followed up by emphasizing the importance of the proposed Kivalliq Hydro-Fibre Link and asked Akeeagok what discussions he has had with the Premier of Manitoba on that initiative.
Akeeagok responded that he has not spoken with Premier Heather Stefanson yet, but that he expects in the near future he would raise that and other issues with her and pursue a new memorandum of understanding.
Housing shortages in Coral Harbour and Naujaat
Aivilik MLA Solomon Malliki asked Lorne Kusugak, minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, for an update on Nunavut Housing Corporation’s planned constructions of new units in Naujaat and Coral Harbour, which he said were put on hold last summer as a result of supply chain and cost issues.
“I have no knowledge of any delays or postponements occurring for housing construction,” responded Kusugak through interpretation.
Malliki followed up by asking if the minister could clarify what Inuit labour content requirements are in place for the Coral Harbour and Nunavut construction projects going ahead.
Kusugak responded that he didn’t have a particular percentage or a breakdown per community, but the government tries to maximize the Inuit labour content during construction of housing as much as possible.
Kusugak added that the federal government’s Rapid Housing Initiative funding would provide an additional 101 housing units in the territory on top of what the GN is pursuing.
Medical boarding home deemed unfeasible
Rankin Inlet North/Chesterfield Inlet MLA Alexander Sammurtok asked about the feasibility of a medical boarding facility for travellers coming through the Kivalliq.
“For some flights to Kivalliq communities, the stopover is longer than two hours,” he said. “Occasionally the delay becomes an overnight stay. Many medical travellers do not feel comfortable staying at the airport for such a long period of time. They would prefer to stay and wait at the health centre. Our Elders in particular need a comfortable place to rest.”
As the population grows and more patients travel through Rankin Inlet on their way to receive medical care, the Department of Health must ensure they have appropriate accommodations while they wait, he said.
Minister of Health John Main said the department offers day rooms for travellers with stays longer than two hours.
“However, during the extraordinary times that we have been going through over the past few months during the Omicron wave, the department has had some issues with the day room service,” he said, adding that it was his understanding that the issues related to the hotel operator wanting to follow public health guidance.
He couldn’t offer much more detail, but said the department was working to re-establish the day room service for travellers through Rankin Inlet.
Main added that the current approach is to use commercial accommodations and private billets for medical travellers, with a preference for a hotel with a restaurant.
Main noted that Indigenous Services Canada has indicated its support for a potential boarding home in the Kivalliq region but said that the GN has no indication that the federal government would be willing to support the capital funding for it.
“Information the Department of Health has examined has indicated that a boarding home in Rankin Inlet would not be feasible at this point due to the average number of clients overnighting in Rankin Inlet being low,” he said, adding that in the two fiscal years prior to Covid the nightly average of travellers in Rankin Inlet was about four people.
Kivalliq highway study pursued
Simailak emphasized his support for the proposed Kivalliq intercommunity road initiative in questions to Minister of Economic Development and Transportation Lorne Kusugak.
Kusugak said the study looking into the the all-season road would commence this summer and conclude by next year, with $4.5 million earmarked from the federal government to support that activity.
Asked about the request for proposals for the road initiative study, Kusugak added that the project is three-phased, beginning with assessing the technical viability of the proposed corridor and moving to consulting with stakeholders in the second phase.
“Finally in Phase 3, they will conduct the geotechnical investigations and complete 30 percent of the design, prepare cost estimates for roadway development and class ‘C’ estimates, prepare order of magnitude cost projections, administration of road, environmental impact and so on,” said Kusugak.