The Government of Nunavut’s expectations to complete a devolution agreement with the federal government in two years and have all powers transferred within five years seems a little hasty to Iqualuit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone.
“I am very concerned about this expected completion date for a final agreement. Devolution is such an important topic, I understand, and I’m glad that an agreement-in-principle is signed and I look forward to the day that the transfer of responsibility does eventually fall under Nunavut’s jurisdiction, but I would hate to see this rushed,” Arreak-Lightstone said in the legislative assembly on Friday.
He pointed out that the territorial government has close to a 25 per cent vacancy rate over its 5,000 positions and there are “numerous other issues surrounding our program service delivery.”
“I feel that would only be multiplied once we take on these additional responsibilities,” Arreak-Lightstone said of devolution.
Premier Joe Savikataaq explained that with the signing of the agreement-in-principle last August, a $5 million annual training fund became effective.
“We have $5 million a year to train Inuit to take over the jobs that will be coming over. In terms of timeline, our goal is five years and that’s what it is, but it’s not ‘We’re going to get it no matter what.’ It’s a goal,” Savikataaq said. “We’re going to get the best possible deal that we can because, like I have stated before, this deal is forever. We are going to negotiate and get the best possible deal.”
Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated is also party to the devolution negotiations process, which will see federal authority over Crown lands, fresh water and resources in Nunavut turned over to the GN.