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Keeping the road plans rolling

Calling the Kivalliq Intercommunity Road initiative a transformative project, Baker Lake MLA Craig Simailak asked how the Department of Economic Development and Transportation would participate in a review of the Nunavut Land Use Plan, with considerations to its impact on the road project.
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Baker Lake MLA Craig Simailak queried the minister of Economic Development and Transportation about whether the Nunavut Land Use Plan would impact hopes for an intercommunity Kivalliq road. NNSL file photo

Calling the Kivalliq Intercommunity Road initiative a transformative project, Baker Lake MLA Craig Simailak asked how the Department of Economic Development and Transportation would participate in a review of the Nunavut Land Use Plan, with considerations to its impact on the road project.

“Information published by his department indicates that the Kivalliq Intercommunity Road initiative is currently taking into account the proposed new Nunavut Land Use Plan,” said Simailak, referring to Minister of Economic Development and Transportation David Akeeagok in the legislative assembly Wednesday, Nov. 1. “It is my understanding that the proposed new Nunavut Land Use Plan will impact such issues as the route options for the intercommunity road. It sounds to me a lot like it could even have major effects to the idea of actually trying to build this road, which is concerning for me.”

He referred to the Nunavut Planning Commission’s 2023 submission of the Recommended Nunavut Land Use Plan to the federal minister of Northern Affairs, territorial minister of Environment and president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

“Can the Minister of Economic Development and Transportation clarify how his department is participating in the tripartite review of the draft Nunavut Land Use Plan?” asked Simailak.

Akeeagok responded with assurances.

“The land use plan touches on major developments, such as this road, all the roads that are being planned, or the fibre link,” said Akeeagok. “I want to assure the member that when our government is reviewing the draft land use plan, all of those will be taken into consideration. I work closely with my colleague who is taking the lead on this for the tripartite discussions that are taking place. Within our government, all of the government departments that are impacted do have processes in place to provide input into this draft and provide recommendations to the minister that is going to be the signatory to the document.”

Numbers don’t justify Rankin Inlet boarding home, according to minister

An idea to move resources from a Churchill boarding home to one in Rankin Inlet received little support from the minister of Health Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Arviat South MLA Joe Savikataaq asked for a comparison of numbers for people going through medical travel in Rankin Inlet compared to the boarding home in Churchill, Man.

Minister of Health John Main responded through interpretation that the boarding home, named Iglualuk, is generally used for dental patients and its under-utilization is a concern but the dental work for children was important.

“We need to keep providing dental services out of Churchill for surgical dental procedures,” said Main through interpretation.

Savikataaq contended that the direct comparison by the numbers wasn’t answered.

“I know that this is not the first time we have heard about Rankin Inlet wanting a health boarding home and the questions were posed to the Department of Health,” said Main through interpretation, adding that patients going through Rankin Inlet looked to be approximately three per day on average.

“The average number for the medical travel into Rankin Inlet, and this is the result of very close monitoring in recent times, is a nightly average of three medical travellers,” said Main.

He indicated that to set up a boarding home, the government would have to work with Indigenous Services Canada and prove the demand.

“I’m not sure what the member would like me to say, might like my staff to say, when we can quote an average nightly need for three rooms,” said Main. “What’s going to happen and what has happened is we are told to use hotels. That’s what we use in Cambridge Bay. That’s what we use in Rankin Inlet. We have a very important duty to take care of medical travellers and that’s what we do and we make sure that they are taken care of from when they leave their home, when they go to their appointment and when they come back.”

He went on to say there are other priorities in Nunavut.

“We’re trying to deal with mental health,” said Main. “We’re trying to deal with public health, tuberculosis. We’re trying to deal with many different things. If the member would like a boarding home in Rankin Inlet to be a priority, perhaps the member should suggest something that we should take off of our list to make room to address this need that is perceived.”

Savikataaq responded that his suggestion would be to shut down the Churchill boarding home and move it or establish one in Rankin Inlet.

“I believe the boarding home in Churchill is underutilized and the minister has stated that it’s only used for dental travel,” said Savikataaq. “I don’t know if there are three patients per night in Churchill where the government is operating a boarding home. If the numbers are the reason they can’t build a boarding home for my constituents for travel purposes when there are travel complications, the minister wanted suggestions, then I’ll ask the minister: will the minister shut down the Churchill boarding home in place of building one in Rankin Inlet?”

Main reiterated that shutting down the Churchill boarding home would impact important work on the backlog of pediatric dental surgery.

“These are children with very serious dental issues and so I don’t think that shutting down a boarding home would be a good idea,” said Main. “We are concerned with the underutilization of the Churchill boarding home and we are examining options with regard to the Churchill boarding home.”

He acknowledged that if the boarding home in the Manitoba community is underutilized, “We have to look at options.”