The new legislative assembly is branding itself as the turning point for Nunavut. “Each successive government has added to the understanding of what we must do to address the social and economic challenges and opportunities in Nunavut and how we can best do it,” said Premier Paul Quassa, as he tabled his government’s mandate document in the assembly March 20.
“The 5th Assembly is bold and positive in our vision for Nunavut, practical in the priorities that we have chosen for the next four years, and oriented to action.”
But now comes the hard work: assigning resources.
“We recognize that Nunavummiut have a desire to see new projects, services, and initiatives in a variety of sectors, regions, and communities in Nunavut. As we begin our budgetary processes to determine how best to use our territorial resources, both financial and human, we will do so through the lens of Turaaqtavut and the priorities that we have outlined within it,” said Quassa.
“If Turaaqtavut is our map toward where we are aiming to go, then our budgets will be the steps that get us there.”
Turaaqtavut is a slim document with 10 pages in each of Nunavut’s four official languages. As previously announced, the mandate is divided into five priority areas: well-being and self-reliance; infrastructure and economy; education, training and employment; strengthening Nunavut’s identity; and partnership to advance the goals and aspirations of Nunavummiut.
Under the umbrella of each of these, further priorities are identified. For example, well-being and self-reliance encompasses elder care, safe and affordable housing, food security, health care services, family violence and sexual abuse, and mental health and addictions. Each main priority has several such sub-priorities.
In Turaaqtavut’s introductory letter, Quassa acknowledges lives and communities has seen “some improvement … but much too slowly.”
Finance Minister David Akeeagok’s budget is set to be released at the next sitting in May and will outline where and how this government will prioritize its resources.
Upon the release of Turaaqtavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) president Aluki Kotierk said the Inuit organization would be “acutely observing” that process.
“Focus and investments in mental health, Inuktut as a working language, and Inuit employment and training are paramount to achieving social, cultural and economic well-being of Inuit,” Kotierk stated in a news release.
NTI also intends to advocate for infrastructure investments including housing, telecommunications, and ports and roads, according to a release.
Savikataaq, Sheutiapik trade portfolios
The day after tabling the mandate, Quassa switched the portfolios of two of his cabinet ministers.
Joe Savikataaq, formerly Minister of Family Services, takes on Elisapee Sheutiapik’s responsibilities as Minister of Economic Development and Transportation and Minister of Environment and vice versa.
Savikataaq is also responsible for Nunavut Business Credit Corporation, Nunavut Development Corporation, Energy, and Mines, and remains Deputy Premier, while Sheutiapik takes responsibility for Homelessness, Immigration and Poverty Reduction, and remains as Government House Leader.
Quassa himself is now minister responsible for Seniors’ Advocate.
See the mandate here.
Turaaqtavut’s five priorities:
- work towards the well-being and self-reliance of our people and our communities through Inuusivut.
- develop our infrastructure and economy in ways that support a positive future for our people, our communities, and our land through Pivaallirutivut.
- provide education and training that prepares children, youth and adults for positive contributions to society and for meaningful employment through Sivummuaqpalliajjutivut.
- strengthen Nunavut as a distinct territory in Canada and the world through Inuunivut.
- work in partnership to advance the goals and aspirations of Nunavummiut through Katujjiqatigiinnivut.