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Nunavut residents ‘being left behind’ on infrastructure, Conservative critic contends

Nunavummiut are “being left behind, and serious investments will be needed for them to catch up,” says MP Eric Melillo, Conservative critic of Northern Affairs.

Melillo made his comments shortly after land claims organization Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated released a 205-page report on Oct. 21 that provides an in-depth analysis of the territory’s infrastructure gap compared to the rest of Canada.

Nunavut’s remote communities are lacking in many critical forms of infrastructure, and federal leaders have provided feedback to Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated’s study outlining the deficits.
NNSL file photo

“The inequalities revealed by this report are stark,” stated Melillo, an MP in Kenora, Ont. “A Conservative government will invest in critical infrastructure, transportation routes, and internet connectivity to unlock the potential of Northern Canada. We’ll also allow the territories to keep 100 per cent of their resource revenues, enabling territorial governments to invest in local priorities.”

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq described housing and infrastructure in Nunavut and across the North as being in a “crisis state.”

“I recently did a housing tour of both Kivalliq and Kitikmeot regions and what I saw was was inhumane. The amount of major repairs needed was staggering. I saw homes with babies and young children that were overcrowded, mould-ridden and hadn’t had the resources renovated in years. This NTI report just confirms what I witnessed. The Nunavut housing corporation is severely underfunded by the federal government. It is well past time they invest and take Nunavut housing seriously,” Qaqqaq said shortly before announcing that she would be taking at least eight weeks off from work, as advised by her doctor, due to health concerns. “Adequate housing is the least that can be done after years of federal government neglect, colonization and oppression.”

Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal welcomed NTI’s infrastructure study.

“I think anything that helps us draw a better roadmap towards how we address that issue is positive,” Vandal told Nunavut News.  “I’m looking forward to working in partnership with NTI and with the Government of Nunavut on how we address the infrastructure deficit going forward. I see this as a good initiative and one where we can partner in the future together.

“I think there’s always room for improvement and, as you know, our government is committed to improving the infrastructure in Nunavut and the infrastructure across Canada. We’ve known for a long time that there was a tremendous infrastructure deficit in Nunavut, including housing.”

NTI’s report indicates that 41 per cent of Nunavut’s housing is in need of major repair; only 14 per cent of Nunavut residents have a regular healthcare provider (compared to 85 per cent of Canadians overall); water infrastructure and waste management facilities are largely in poor or very poor condition; transportation infrastructure is lacking such as highways, ports and harbours; Nunavut is the only province or territory without access to internet speeds over 25 megabits per second; communities are reliant on diesel power generation, with little development of renewable energy and no regional power grid.