The “deplorable” state of Nunavut’s infrastructure has been documented in a new 205-page report by Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated (NTI), and that research will be used to make advances in negotiations with the federal and territorial governments, says NTI’s president.
“Significant and quantifiable” disparities exist between Nunavut and the rest of Canada in all 18 of the priority areas measured, according to the report’s findings.
The document states that “attention, investment and action” are needed to close the gap in areas such as housing, broadband internet, health care, power, drinking water, roads, and ports and harbours. The purpose of NTI’s analysis is to measure the size of the infrastructure gaps to help define the level of investment required.
“The research shows that Nunavut’s infrastructure is commonly inadequate, in poor repair, or altogether absent when compared with the Canadian baseline,” the document states.
The report also indicates how Nunavut’s infrastructure affects Inuit equity and wellbeing relating to economic opportunities, food security and families being forced to separate for a variety of reasons.
“Nunavut Inuit are not asking for special treatment. We are asking for the same level of infrastructure and services that other Canadians expect across the country. The size of this gap isn’t a surprise to Nunavut Inuit: we live it every day. The gap is a barrier to our potential, and closing it is a necessary task of reconciliation,” NTI President Aluki Kotierk stated. “Inuit have been clear on our aspirations: we want, among other things, a robust and sustainable harvesting economy. We expect to have banking and health services in Inuktut. We expect to have an education system that supports Inuktut and our world view as Nunavut Inuit. Like the average Canadian, we want to ensure that we can provide for our families, our loved ones, and contribute to our communities.”
The emergence of Covid-19 also helped to put focus on Nunavut’s inadequate infrastructure, such as the limitations of trucked water when greater handwashing – and consequently more water consumption – was strongly advised for households. The cancellation of school classes due to the threat posed by the coronavirus reinforced that the territory’s broadband system doesn’t allow all students to instead learn lessons online. Overcrowed homes increase the risk of rapid spread of Covid-19, like any infectious virus.
“Inadequate infrastructure was put in place decades ago when permanent communities were created in locations determined largely by Canada’s trade and military interests. There was inadequate infrastructure when the Nunavut Agreement was signed. And there remains a gaping inequality today in the quality and quantity of infrastructure provided to Nunavut Inuit as compared with that provided to other citizens of Canada,” reads the report from NTI, the land claims organization that represents 33,000 Inuit in the territory, who comprise close to 85 per cent of Nunavut’s population. “The legacies of colonial approaches and decades-long underinvestment affect Nunavut Inuit to this day. By partnering with Nunavut Inuit, Canada can live up to the promises of the Nunavut Agreement, build social equity, expand economic opportunity and show real leadership as an Arctic nation.”
-Nunavut has the highest rate of overcrowded housing in Canada, and the largest proportion of housing in need of major repair (nearly six times the national average).
-Nunavut has the fewest staffed and operational hospital beds per capita in the country (1,095 persons per bed, compared to a national average of 409).
-Approximately half of the children born to Nunavut Inuit are delivered in southern hospitals, and most major health care treatments must take place out of territory.
-The fastest possible internet speed available in Nunavut is eight times slower than the Canada-wide average.
-Nunavut is the only province or territory with no central museum or heritage centre.
Source: NTI’s Nunavut’s Infrastructure Gap report