Iqaluit Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak-Lightstone has been urging the government to make changes to tackle the the “inequity of staff housing and homeownership” since he was elected two years ago.
“Public housing and staff housing tenants have no incentive to transition into homeowners because there is no incentive,” he said in the legislative assembly on Monday.
Arreak-Lightstone describes the current system as “very unfair” and expressed frustration with ministers repeatedly telling him that existing arrangements are being reviewed, but no action has been taken.
Premier Joe Savikataaq didn’t have anything new to offer on Monday.
“We know there are inequities between subsidized public housing and subsidized staff housing to homeowners. We know that, but it’s being reviewed and looked at. We want to make sure any decision made by this government is fair, is reasonable and makes sense,” the premier said.
Arreak-Lightstone asked what’s taking so long. He noted that the housing minister last year referenced a cabinet document that’s exploring increases to household allowance for homeowners and private market rentals, the potential to expand income-based down payment assistance program and potential to develop a down-payment savings matching program. Why has that not moved forward, Arreak-Lightstone asked.
Savikataaq said it’s a complex issue.
“We hear that there are inequities between someone in public housing and someone in home ownership. We also hear from other members that public housing rents are too high,” he said. “We want to promote home ownership as you’ve heard that from the housing minister. He’s a big advocate of home ownership, because we know that once a person is in their own home, then the government subsidizes that a whole (lot) less.”
The premier added that the GN is currently in negotiations with the Nunavut Employees Union and “when you are in negotiations you can’t change the rules during those negotiations.”