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Nunavut’s ‘ugly’ double-digit unemployment rate must come down, says Main

Nunavut’s unemployment rates by community are as high as 40.2 per cent in Clyde River, 39.7 per cent in Taloyoak, 35.8 per cent in Gjoa Haven and 34.9 per cent in Arviat.

Arviat North/Whale Cove MLA John Main said there's no room for "crazy talk" in the attempts to bring the Kivalliq's polar bear problem under control on Sept. 6, 2018. Darrell Greer/NNSL photo
“I am extremely disconcerted by the lack of employment opportunities and able-bodied workers who face employment barriers that they keep running into,” says Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main. NNSL file photo

“Looking at the other jurisdictions within Canada, they get worried when the unemployment rate in the provinces is seven per cent… meanwhile here we are in Nunavut with 30 percent and over 30 percent unemployment,” said Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main, who requested Nunavut’s unemployment statistics from the Department of Economic Development. "Looking at these numbers, it is very ugly to look at when we’re in Canada."

Nunavut’s overall unemployment rate for 2018, the most recent year available, was 14.1 per cent, lowered by the 9.6 per cent figure in Iqaluit.

“We know that there are 15,000 income support recipients in Nunavut,” Main said in the legislative assembly on Wednesday. “Think about the unemployed people. We know they’re not working and we want to make sure
that our government is doing right about these numbers. I don’t know if the government
is doing the right thing.”

Economic Development Minister David Akeeagok noted that the 2020-21 budget, released last week, includes $6 million designated for communities, and $12 million for the regions.

“The communities and the regions are familiar with the factors that can help us develop economically, said Akeeagok, who added that his department is going to begin targetting communities with the highest unemployment rates when prioritizing project approvals.

“I have directed my staff, whenever they are reviewing through this criteria, to look at the
unemployment rates for the communities as part of our grants and contributions,” the minister said.