Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut February 23, 2017 - 7:00 am

New Nunavut police allocations based on crime stats, workload

Finance minister says tracking lost productivity from workplace stress a goal

Nunavut Finance Minister Keith Peterson stands in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Feb. 22 to deliver the territory's nearly $2 billion operations budget for 2017-18. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Nunavut Finance Minister Keith Peterson stands in the Nunavut Legislative Assembly Feb. 22 to deliver the territory's nearly $2 billion operations budget for 2017-18. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)

It’s not every day that the Government of Nunavut offers reporters access to officials from any department to answer questions.

But that’s exactly what the GN did during the 90-minute budget lockup Feb. 21 at the legislature in Iqaluit.

This rare access to senior bureaucrats revealed some insights not included in the official budget, which was released later that afternoon.

For example, during his budget address Feb. 21, Finance Minister Keith Peterson highlighted $1.8 million to be spent during the 2017-18 fiscal year to pay for nine new RCMP constable positions in seven Nunavut communities.

Those communities include Cape Dorset, Pangnirtung, Baker Lake, Arviat, Rankin Inlet, and Gjoa Haven, with each community slated to receive one new constable position—and Iqaluit, which is expected to receive three new constable positions.

The $1.8 million will be spent according to the current contract between the GN and the RCMP, one justice official said.

That contract sees the GN cover 70 per cent of the total cost of policing services in Nunavut with the RCMP, a federal agency, paying the other 30 per cent.

Another justice department official said the choice of which communities to received additional constable positions was not simply based on population growth.

“The commander of ‘V’ Division has ultimate authority of the allocation of officers. But I can say he chose them based on crime statistics in Nunavut communities, case load per officer in communities, in addition to community requests for more officers,” said Stephen Mansell, director of policy and planning.

Overall, the government’s budget for 2017-18 projects a modest surplus of $2 million on spending and revenue that each total about $1.98 billion.

Government officials at the lockup gave reporters advance copies of the 2017-18 territorial operations and maintenance budget in a secure room without access to electronic communication.

That lockup, catered with sandwiches, soups and desserts, lasted until Peterson delivered his budget address on the floor of the legislature later that afternoon.

Ten minutes before delivering the address, Peterson took questions from media in the lockup.

In his address, Peterson wrote that the human resources division within the finance department has made “several improvements” since the new human resource strategy was established three years ago.

The division has come under consistent fire in recent years and numerous civil servants have taken allegations of unresolved workplace harassment to the media.

Peterson said in his address that nearly 500 employees have taken an anti-harassment training workshop.

Nunatsiaq News asked the minister during the lockup if the government is tracking the loss of productivity due to unresolved workplace conflict.

“We don’t know. We have to encourage people to come forward with their complaints and we are seeing more of that happening,” Peterson said.

Peterson added tracking that loss of productivity is a goal, but the government is still in a building phase and “constrained by available resources.”

A human resource official at the lockup said the number of harassment complaints has increased steadily over the past three years, from 11 to 20 to 34.

But that doesn’t mean there are necessarily more cases of harassment, rather more employees could be taking advantage of the government processes to handle the complaints, said Alma Power, a deputy minister of human resources.

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