The federal government has announced $566-million in infrastructure funding for Nunavut over 10 years in a bilateral deal with the territorial government.
The money is targetted at green infrastructure; community, cultural and recreational infrastructure; and rural and Northern community infrastructure, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Amarjeet Sohi said Wednesday afternoon.
Lorne Kusugak, Nunavut minister of Community and Government Services, who was on hand for the announcement, spoke bluntly of the different approach required to tackle Nunavut’s “daunting” infrastructure deficit, especially in light of the territory’s vast geography, high cost of construction and demographic constraints.
Despite past investments, “Nunavut’s infrastructure needs in 2018 remain overwhelming,” Kusugak said.
He added that the new legislative assembly’s recently announced priorities include improvements in roads, telecommunications and transportation. A specific list of projects that will benefit from the $566 million in federal money is being drafted and will be made public in the future, Kusugak said.
Sohi added, “This is a 10-year plan so there’s plenty of time for our provincial and territorial partners to engage with local communities and then prioritize funding required under (this plan).”
Sohi reflected on $300 million invested in 18 Nunavut projects over the past two years such as clean water supply initiatives in Pangnirtung and Iglulik as well as Kimmirut’s improved waste water system that will prevent sewage from draining into the Arctic Ocean.
The Government of Canada is trying to build an equal, sustainable and fair country that addresses the “unacceptable inequalities” faced by Inuit, First Nations and Metis people, Sohi said.
The federal minister added that territorial and provincial governments have been seeking predictable and sustainable funding for long-term planning “that gives them the ability to have that dialogue (with communities) to understand what the needs are.”