The Government of Nunavut’s 2022-23 budget’s primary focuses will be on housing, Elder care and healthcare, Finance Lorne Kusugak stated during his May 26 budget address, which opened the Legislative Assembly’s spring sitting.
New investments expected to be introduced in the 2022-23 budget, subject to Legislative Assembly approval, include $21 million for public housing units, $6 million for staff housing and $15.1 million to go toward improved financial management tools, in addition to various other investments.
The Government of Nunavut expects a surplus to come from this year’s budget with forecasted revenues of approximately $2.6 billion and total expenditures expected to leave close to $40 million leftover.
“With this budget, we are laying a new foundation for the future of Nunavut — one that improves the quality of life in all communities and that diversifies our economy to ensure that the abundance of our land and water is shared by all,” said Kusugak in his budget address in the House.
An additional $19 million is to be invested in the ongoing construction of the $60-million long-term Elder care facility in Rankin Inlet, and $500,000 will be devoted to improving access to country food for Elders.
“Mr. Speaker, our Elders are Nunavut’s living memory, and our government is committed to honouring them in their later years and showing them the respect they deserve,” said Kusugak.
Elected on Oct. 25, 2021, the current Nunavut government’s Katujjiluta Mandate has set out one of the most ambitious goals of any territorial government by aiming to develop of at least 1,000 housing units in the territory over four years, be it through helping private developments, through federal investments or additional territorial funding injections.
“Such an ambitious goal will require significant federal and territorial funding and you will see these commitments in our capital projects over the term of this government. Plans are already under development that could see proposed incremental spending of more than $200 million on housing and housing programs during our mandate with the support of this assembly,” said Kusugak.
The Nunavut Government also proposes to include funding for 75 new healthcare support positions, including $2.1 million for 31 new medical travel clerks, $1.6 million for 25 new housekeeping staff and $1.3 million for 19 new registration clerks.
Iqaluit’s new jail, the Aaqqigairvik Correctional Healing Facility, is also expected to get $2.8 million to help hire 28 new staff. Development of the Nunavut Recovery Centre will get $2.1 million from the territorial government, which will be included with the $42 million already committed by the federal government this past summer.
Other new investments include $17.2 million toward the a high-speed internet fibre project, $500,000 for the Department of Environment’s Renewable Energy Support Program, $2.5 million over the next five years for small craft harbours in the territory and $320,000 to initiate a marine infrastructure project in Qikiqtarjuaq.
“Although our goals are ambitious and require much hard work and new investment, I am optimistic that we will achieve all we set out to do,” said Kusugak. “If the past is any indication of the future, we will continue to achieve great things, for we have already come far in a short amount of time.”