North will see part of latest $4B Indigenous housing strategy, says federal minister
By Emily Haws · CBC News · Apr 03, 2023
The North will receive a specific amount of the government’s multi-billion dollar strategy aimed at addressing Indigenous housing needs off-reserve, according to Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal.
Vandal is in Iqaluit this week to highlight the federal budget, which included $4 billion over seven years to implement an urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy.
That commitment led the territory’s MP Lori Idlout and Senator Dennis Patterson to question if territorial governments will have to compete with all other urban and rural communities for funding.
Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok told CBC News last week that while he was optimistic about the commitment, he was disappointed there was no specific Nunavut allocation.
Vandal says he’s spoken to all three territorial governments as part of the consultation process.
“We are going to make sure that the North gets a carve out that is enough to continue the progress that we’ve made,” Vandal said, while also pointing to funding commitments from previous budgets.
The Nunavut government and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) announced the Nunavut 3000 housing strategy last fall, which aims to build 3000 housing units by 2030. They had jointly asked for $500 million before the budget to help implement the strategy.
Vandal said he was “impressed” with the program, and is looking to partner with Nunavut and NTI on it.
Overall though, Vandal says it’s too early to know how much of the $4 billion envelope the North will get.
In 2021, census data said that Nunavut’s core housing need rate is about 33 per cent, compared to about 10.1 per cent nationally. It was 13.1 per cent in the Yukon and 13.2 per cent in the Northwest Territories.
Federal budget commits about $16M to fight tuberculosis
Last week, Akeeagok told Qulliq host Teresa Qiatsuq that housing investments are key to addressing the territory’s tuberculosis outbreaks. It’s an airborne disease that often thrives in overcrowded housing.
Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu told APTN on March 30 that “housing is actually one of the factors that can reduce the spread of tuberculosis most effectively.”
When asked why the Nunavut 3000 strategy wasn’t specifically funded, given the federal government agrees housing can help solve tuberculosis outbreaks, Vandal pointed to previous federal investments.
That includes $845 million over seven years for housing in Inuit communities, which was announced in the 2022 federal budget, and the National Housing Strategy, which invests more than $70 billion over a decade.
“We are making some progress. I know it’s not enough, I know there’s lots of work to do,” he said. “We need to continue partnering with the territorial government as well as the rights holders to deliver more safe and affordable housing for the people of Nunavut.”
The budget also included $16.2 million over three years for “interventions to reduce rates of tuberculosis” — though Hajdu has since told CBC News that using the word “reduce” was an error, and that the government is still committed to eliminating TB from Inuit Nunangat by 2030.
Budget 2023’s funding towards that goal is about a quarter of the $131.6 million that Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), the national Inuit organization, had asked for.
Despite that, Vandal reiterated his government’s commitment to eliminating the disease. He called the file a priority and said he has confidence in the partnerships has with ITK, Inuit rights holders and the Nunavut government.
“It may be that not all of the money that was earmarked in this budget is satisfactory to everybody, but there’s previous funds that were announced,” he said.
- Federal budget makes little specific mention of the North
- Housing a key priority for Nunavut politicians ahead of federal budget
- Nunavut declares tuberculosis outbreak in Pond Inlet
In 2018, the government committed $27.5 million to eliminate the infectious disease.
Last month a TB outbreak was declared in Pond Inlet, while there has been an ongoing outbreak in Pangnirtung since November 2021.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Emily Haws , Reporter / Editor, CBC North
Emily Haws is a reporter with CBC North, based in Iqaluit. She was previously a producer with CBC News Network’s Power & Politics. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.