Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut November 05, 2018 - 10:30 am

Nunavut MLAs keep beavering away at next year’s capital budget

GN seeks non-government partners for elder care

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
Nunavut cabinet minister Lorne Kusugak appeared before the Nunavut legislature's committee of the whole to present 2019-20 capital budgets on behalf of the two Government of Nunavut entities with the largest capital spending plans: the Nunavut Housing Corp. at $47.1 million and the Department of Community and Government Services at $39.9 million. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Nunavut cabinet minister Lorne Kusugak appeared before the Nunavut legislature's committee of the whole to present 2019-20 capital budgets on behalf of the two Government of Nunavut entities with the largest capital spending plans: the Nunavut Housing Corp. at $47.1 million and the Department of Community and Government Services at $39.9 million. (PHOTO BY COURTNEY EDGAR)
Nunavut Health Minister George Hickes said his department's main capital priority right now is to replace the territory's collection of aging community health centres. As for extended care centres for elders, Hickes said the territorial government will not build and operate such facilities on its own, but will seek partners, such as local societies, hamlet governments, Inuit organizations, and private corporations, to offer care under a fee-for-service basis. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)
Nunavut Health Minister George Hickes said his department's main capital priority right now is to replace the territory's collection of aging community health centres. As for extended care centres for elders, Hickes said the territorial government will not build and operate such facilities on its own, but will seek partners, such as local societies, hamlet governments, Inuit organizations, and private corporations, to offer care under a fee-for-service basis. (PHOTO BY BETH BROWN)

Despite the recent political conflicts that grabbed most of the headlines last week, Nunavut MLAs have been quietly beavering away at the Government of Nunavut’s capital spending plans for the next fiscal year, 2019-20.

So far, they’ve looked at GN plans for new community health centres, a fibre-optic telecom link, public housing construction and mould remediation, as well as numerous small pieces of municipal infrastructure.

They also received confirmation that the GN wants to create badly needed new elder care centres by teaming up with non-GN partners, such as corporations, Inuit organizations, hamlets and local societies.

Through Bill 9, the vessel that contains next year’s capital estimates, the GN wants MLAs to approve $177.5 million worth of capital spending for the 2019-20 financial year, which starts next April 1.

The biggest-spending departments and agencies are the Nunavut Housing Corp., with $47.1 million in proposed expenditures, the Department of Community and Government Services at $39.9 million, and the Department of Health at $35.6 million.

New health centres on the way

The Health Department’s biggest capital priority remains the replacement of Nunavut’s aging stock of old community health centres, Health Minister George Hickes told MLAs in committee of the whole last week.

To that end, the Health Department’s construction wish-list includes new health centres in Sanikiluaq and Cape Dorset.

This means the people of Sanikiluaq will likely see their new $30.2 million health facility up and running by September of 2020, Hickes said.

That project has already cost $17.65 million in past spending, and for the upcoming year, the GN asks MLAs to vote another $12.3 million, with an additional $250,000 for 2020-21.

And in Cape Dorset, the GN wants to award a contract for construction of a new $33-million health centre well in advance of the 2019 sealift season, Hickes said.

“Currently the detailed design phase of the project is nearing completion, with the construction tender package scheduled to be issued before the end of January 2019, permitting contract award in advance of 2019 summer sealift scheduling,” he said.

To make that happen, the GN wants $18.5 million for 2019-20 and will request $12.8 million in 2020-21, with another $250,000 in the following year.

In developing replacement health centres, Hickes said the GN has learned from the construction of new health centres in Naujaat, Taloyoak, and Arctic Bay.

That includes incorporating spaces to “assist in the management and treatment of tuberculosis as well as providing secure calming rooms to facilitate acute mental health services for those in immediate need,” Hickes said.

The next replacement health centres on the GN’s future to-do list are set for Qikiqtarjuaq, where planning work will be done by March 2019, with planning work starting later for Baker Lake and Kugluktuk.

Also, the GN wants to expand existing health centres in Rankin Inlet and Arviat in 2023-24 and 2024-25 respectively, he said.

GN seeks partners for elder care

As for the construction and operation of new extended care homes, a major issue in last year’s territorial election and a big priority for the current territorial government, Hickes said the government is still looking at “options.”

But he made one point clear: the GN will not, by itself, own and operate any new elder care centres.

Instead, the GN will look for partnerships with societies, corporations, municipalities and Inuit organizations, “using a fee-for-service model like is done everywhere else in the country,” Hickes said in reply to a question from Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone.

He said that’s because it would be financially imprudent for the GN to get into the business all on its own.

As for the Hamlet of Kugluktuk’s $21.4-million proposal to build a 24-bed extended care home for elders in their community, Hickes was non-committal when asked about it by Kugluktuk MLA Mila Kamingoak.

But Hickes didn’t say no either.

“I’m looking forward to working with my cabinet colleagues and our process to seek out partnerships with, like I said earlier, hamlets, municipalities, corporations, and Inuit organizations to provide elder care,” he said.

The Hamlet of Kugluktuk had committed $1 million of its own money and was prepared to complete construction of its centre by 2019, and then operate it under a fee-for-service contract with the GN.

But the GN said last May they want to put out a request for proposals first.

Hickes said cabinet has made no decisions on elder care yet, but has been digesting information provided by a company the GN contracted to look at the issue.

The war on mould continues

Lorne Kusugak, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., asked MLAs to approve $49.1 million in capital expenditures for the NHC.

That represents GN spending only, and does not include carryovers of money voted in previous years, or new contributions from federal pots of money like the National Housing Strategy.

One of those carryovers is a $14-million fund for “public housing modernization and improvement.” Much of that fund appears to be going into mould remediation.

“Recent mould remediation activities are rapidly bringing down the balance,” Kusugak said.

In response to questions from Aivilik MLA Patterk Netser, Kusugak said the housing corporation is looking at its housing designs, including ventilation, and is trying to understand what causes so many mould infestations in Nunavut.

And he said the NHC is trying to inform tenants on how to get rid of mould and has trained 196 employees of local housing organizations in mould remediation.

“We want to eliminate mould in our houses. This work will not just stop,” Kusugak said.

He also said the NHC will build 19 new staff housing units and, with the GN capital funding money to be voted during this sitting, 35 new social housing units.

However, the actual number of social housing units to be constructed next year appears likely to exceed that amount, due to the use of carry-over funds and money from the federal government.

“With this construction, as well as new funding that will be coming to the NHC from the federal government, through the National Housing Strategy, we are steadily working to address Nunavut’s severe housing crisis,” Kusugak said.

A document on public housing allocation among Nunavut communities, dated Sept. 28 and tabled at the legislature his session, said the NHC anticipates building as many as 100 new housing units next fiscal year.

The allocation by community would work like this: Iqaluit, 20; Kugaaruk, 10; Igloolik, 20; Arviat, 20; Gjoa Haven, 10; Rankin Inlet, 10; and Cambridge Bay, 10.

Those allocations are carried out on the basis of need—by comparing the total housing stock number in a community with the total number of applications on the housing wait-list.

Iqaluit, with a total housing stock of 540 units and a wait-list of 360 applications, has a need equal to 67 per cent, the highest in Nunavut.

While wearing his other hat, as minister of community and government services, Kusugak fended off questions about a plan to spend $5 million on a future fibre-optic telecom link that would potentially connect Iqaluit and three other communities with Nunavik and Greenland.

Kugaaruk school to be finished next year

As this article was being prepared, MLAs had just started looking at the Department of Education’s $20-million capital budget.

They heard Education Minister David Joanasie confirm that in Kugaaruk, where the former school was destroyed by a spectacular fire in 2017, a replacement school will be completed by August 2019.

Also, Igloolik’s new high school is nearly completed.

And the GN is also designing a replacement for the mould-ridden Sakku School in Coral Harbour and planning an extension to the École des Trois Soleils in Iqaluit to eliminate the need for space-sharing at Inuksuk High School and Aqasarniit Middle School, Joanasie said.

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(9) Comments:

#1. Posted by Staff House Rat on November 05, 2018

I’d like to know if there are any strategies being developed to help incentivize private home ownership and a private market. I live in staff housing but would prefer to own my own home.

#2. Posted by Ooloota on November 05, 2018

@ #1, This year, the NHC just sold 60 condominiums to GN staff at a very reasonable cost. You should have lined up for those units (assuming you didn’t). Furthermore, the NHC has 9 homeownership programs that you are eligible for if you earn below a certain income threshold. So there already are several incentive programs to help you move out of staff housing into your own home. The NHC has programs to help you to maintain your home and these funds are free funds. They are not loans. Lastly, you should visit your bank and get pre-approved for a mortgage because ultimately you will need to borrow money from a bank to finance the bulk of the purchase.

#3. Posted by Iqaluit Resident on November 05, 2018

Nunavut Tourism ???
Just saying !

#4. Posted by NU on November 05, 2018

The GN had what they are asking with the Kugluktuk Elder’s care facility.  Come on already lets take care of our elders, no more stalling.

#5. Posted by Suqa on November 05, 2018

NTI can be a partner to Elder Care if they care about Elders.

#6. Posted by Comadoof on November 05, 2018

Praise the Lord. More health centres, work on mould and some PPP efforts.

#7. Posted by NU on November 06, 2018

NTI supported training for the Elder’s Care facility in Kugluktuk.

#8. Posted by Putuguk on November 06, 2018

Using the same old materials, waiting for a building envelope to fail (which it will), discover that mould is making occupants sick, then coming along and gutting the building to start all over again is not a reasonable or cost effective way of eliminating mould.

It is a recipe to never, ever eliminate mould.

It is time for Nunavut to switch to closed cell spray foam insulation. It is Mike Holmes’ favorite for a reason.

It does not sag, it does not bunch up, it does not retain water, it fills all air voids, and will save so much heating costs over the long run. 

It lasts decades longer, ships in drums that would save on bulk on shipping coming north, which both soften the normal southern 3x cost premium between foam and batt.

Switch from training people on how to remove mould to training them how to spray foam.

Build it as well as you can the first time.

Capital $ are precious. Health is precious. Do not squander this money or continue to risk people’s health.

#9. Posted by Fred on November 06, 2018

Build houses with proper vents the old way-a hole in the roof that can be opened and closed. Just like in the old matchbox houses.

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