As of mid-June, there was still no word on the status of airport terminal building projects in Chesterfield Inlet, Naujaat and Whale Cove, a bundled tender that had closed early May.
Rankin Inlet North – Chesterfield InleT MLA Alexander Sammurtok queried Minister of Transportation David Akeeagok about that in the legislative assembly June 13.
“My staff are currently still meeting with Transport Canada,” said Akeeagok through interpretation. “We still haven’t concluded. Although the tender has closed, we still have some work to do, but we haven’t finalized our plan yet.”
Sammurtok said that Chesterfield Inlet mayor Tony Amauyak had brought forward concerns about the placement of the airport terminal building in his community.
“The mayor has requested that the government issue a separate tender for the Chesterfield Inlet airport terminal building replacement project, in the event that the most recent procurement process is unsuccessful,” said Sammurtok.
Akeeagok responded that the tender is closed and government wants the project to succeed, but if it cannot, would have to figure out acceptable alternatives.
“In working with Transport Canada, we want to see this move forward, but currently we cannot say that we are going another route,” he said through interpretation.
Sammurtok also asked for confirmation that the Rankin Inlet airport terminal building project is on schedule.
Akeeagok said that project will be proceeding, with his department seeking supplementary appropriations in 2024-25.
“We will let Transport Canada know about this intention and that we expect that the infrastructure projects will be a bit more expensive,” he said through interpretation. “I can confirm that we are still currently proceeding with this project in Rankin Inlet.”
No time change on the horizon
Aivilik MLA Solomon Malliki’s push for the Government of Nunavut to consider doing away with time changes isn’t making much ground.
Malliki had asked in the winter sitting of the legislative assembly if the GN would consider it, and he followed up with new Minister of Justice Craig Simailak in the spring sitting June 13.
“As the minister is aware, his department is responsible for time zone regulations made under the authority of the Legislation Act,” said Malliki. “These regulations state that the clock currently needs to be changed in March and November of each year. Both my colleague and I suggested that the government should consider ending the practice. What is the new minister’s position on this issue?”
Simailak’s answer was short: his department is not engaging in any discussions regarding changing the protocol around daylight savings time.
In 2020, the Yukon ended the practice of changing the clocks twice per year, and other jurisdictions in North America have been considering it.
“Our neighbours in the Northwest Territories have recently undertaken the public consultation process on this issue,” noted Malliki, asking Simailak if he had any discussions with his NWT counterpart.
Simailak responded that he had not. Malliki then asked if he would commit to undertaking a formal public consultation on this issue, which Simailak quickly denied as well.
Coral Harbour, Naujaat
Malliki, who represents Coral Harbour and Naujaat, directed a question in the legislative assembly to Minister of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs PJ Akeeagok about the government’s plans for further decentralization.
“Neither of the communities that I represent are decentralized,” said Malliki. “I am wondering whether the government is planning for more decentralization to the smaller communities.”
Akeeagok responded that the government had no plans for that currently but in the coming months would be looking at it.
“The smaller communities need to benefit,” responded Malliki. “We fall behind larger communities in Nunavut. Why is the government, or the Premier, not planning to support the smaller communities and why is this not a priority?”
Akeeagok responded that the government recognizes the importance of the issue.
“Currently, we are negotiating devolution, and it has been a priority to date, and we are following this process,” he said through interpretation. “We are looking at it, and once we agree on a plan to acquire some positions in the coming months, we will then be reviewing the model to see where and if there are any changes that can be made.”
Malliki pointed to unfilled positions in the GN and the potential for people to work remotely.
“The pandemic illustrated that this was possible, so I would like for the government to consider that the location of jobs can be done anywhere now,” he said through interpretation.
Akeeagok agreed and said the government would be reviewing that potential.
“We are looking to fill as many positions with Inuit as possible, and it’s clear that Inuit in the communities want to work,” he said through interpretation. “We understand your concern, and expect to be able to report to you in the near future.”