Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Nunavut November 08, 2018 - 8:30 am

Nunavut MLAs, minister debate Inuit job numbers on new jail build

“I’m going to continue to push for the 20 per cent"

SARAH ROGERS
The new Qikiqtani Correctional Healing facility will host a 112-bed facility with separate medium- and maximum-security wings adjacent to the current Baffin Correction Centre, pictured here.  (FILE PHOTO)
The new Qikiqtani Correctional Healing facility will host a 112-bed facility with separate medium- and maximum-security wings adjacent to the current Baffin Correction Centre, pictured here. (FILE PHOTO)

The future of Iqaluit’s new jail appeared to be in jeopardy for a moment on Tuesday afternoon at the legislative assembly, when an MLA moved to delete the Qikiqtani Correctional Healing facility’s $3-million budget allocation for 2019–20.

Nunavut’s justice minister and MLAs tussled Nov. 6 over the number of Inuit employees set to be hired to help construct the new facility, which will replace the aging, scandal-ridden Baffin Correctional Centre.

The new project, originally set to break ground this past summer, aims to build a 112-bed facility with separate medium- and maximum-security wings. But the new facility has already faced delays.

When the Government of Nunavut issued a tender for the project earlier this year, it received a single bid that ran over budget, at $76 million.

Justice Minister Jeannie Ehaloak said the department is now negotiating a lower cost with the same bidder, the Inuit-owned firm Pilitak Enterprises Ltd. “We’re asking them to reduce their bid,” she told committee of the whole, as members reviewed capital estimates for her department.

But as part of those discussions, it’s likely the contractor will lower its minimum for Inuit employment hires from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, Ehaloak said.

The minister said with so many other projects on the go in Iqaluit, there is a shortage of skilled Inuit workers and a shortage of housing to bring Inuit in from other communities.

That didn’t sit well with some MLAs.

If housing was an issue, Arviat North–Whale Cove MLA John Main questioned why it would be any easier to acquire transient, non-Inuit workers.

“We’re imprisoning largely Inuit into a jail or a correctional facility for societal reasons, which include high unemployment,” he said. “It seems to be like a ridiculous Catch-22 situation that we’re stuck in here.”

Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk then presented a motion to delete the $3-million allocation to the facility, as included in the Appropriation Act for 2019–20.

“We’re all aware that Nunavummiut have the highest unemployment rate and this has to be revisited by the government,” Joelie said.

“The government keeps stating that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is their base and the people believe that.”

The overall cost of the new jail is pegged at $84.8 million, while $78.8 million is budgeted for construction.

The federal government has already committed $56.6 million toward the project, but Ehaloak said that removing the $3-million budget item could result in the cancellation of the project.

“We could lose the federal contribution of $57 million,” she said in response to the motion.

“[The contract] is still under negotiation and we will ask for the 20 per cent [minimum Inuit employment rate].”

With the promise to revisit the Inuit employment rate, Kaernerk then withdrew the motion.

If Ehaloak’s pledge reassured MLAs who are keen on promoting jobs for Inuit, she didn’t sound confident those negotiations would end in their favour.

“I’m going to continue to push for the 20 per cent, but you have to understand that this company is 100 per cent Inuit owned, so it’s going to be hard for a small company like that to build a huge facility like this,” she said later in an interview.

“It’s going to take a lot of work and commitment on their part to reach the 20 per cent.”

The 15 per cent minimum is not uncommon; in both Iqaluit and Pond Inlet’s marine infrastructure projects currently underway, the GN set the 15 per cent minimum in the RFPs.

Ehaloak said she hopes to finalize that contract with Pitilak Enterprises Ltd. by the end of the year, with tentative plans to break ground on the project next summer.

Pitilak Enterprises Ltd. is listed on the Nunavummi Nangminiqaqtunik Ikajuuti, or NNI, registry as based in both Hall Beach and Iqaluit, with the same contact information as Kudlik Construction.

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(10) Comments:

#1. Posted by Joe on November 08, 2018

This is easily solved; an average project list this wages are around 25-35% of overall cost. So that is roughly $30 million in wages. Of that 15% is for Inuit = $5 million. If they are meeting and exceeding their 15% that they revise their Inuit content to 20%. Don’t stop this project and the possibility of jobs, influx of revenue, training for Inuit over 5% when that can be pushed during construction phase. As for the minister saying this is a “small company” that’s not really true as Kudlik and Pillitaq are the same company and the last time I looked they owned two jets so not what you should call a small company. As for 100% Inuit owned i think not; maybe a name on the papers to get that adjustment.

#2. Posted by Baffin on November 08, 2018

if there is a lack of housing then how can non Inuit get the extra 5% hire?  what is your view?  your ideas as a constituent?  have your voice.

    you have the right to representation in the Legislature and have a voice there who votes and speaks. 
have you followed due diligence by letting your MLA know?  to publicly criticize on various media or social media sites as can be noted that some constituents, could cause defamation of character on a specific person which perhaps could make you liable in court.  write to your MLA as proof first.

#3. Posted by Positive Solutions on November 08, 2018

Post and share positive solutions to help Nunavut achieve better results.  Stating and rehashing the obvious negative will not allow movement forward.  Let us make change for good or we remain as we are.

#4. Posted by Fix NNI on November 08, 2018

NNI is great in principle but in reality as #1 pointed out Pillitaq is a company set up and being used by Kudlik to meet hat NNI Policy,

Not only that, but as a policy, it basically says the GN is willing to pay up to 25% more if you meet the NNI. Well how is that sustainable? If we pay up to 25% more for every project because a company meets the NNI. Not only they the contractor want the Inuit employment target to be lower, because for every Inuit hire he has over that target they get a bonus!  If they don’t meet the targets there are penalties. But guess what? They are building the cost of those penalties into the job! So what this means is we get less inuit employment, and less value for dollar when building in Nunavut under Gov Contracts.

NNI in principle is a good idea, but in practice it hurts just about everyone! Time to overhaul and come up with a meaningful replacement that focuses on apprenticeships, long term penalties, and stoping these paper companies!

#5. Posted by Radio Wave on November 08, 2018

“The government keeps stating that Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit is their base and the people believe that.”

Nah, no one really believes this, though we are forced to pretend.

#6. Posted by Common Sense on November 08, 2018

You can try to hit that 20% all you like but you can’t make people show up to the work site. Good luck.

#7. Posted by Paul Murphy on November 08, 2018

What astonishes me is that negotiations that should be extremely confidential at this point are being openly discussed in public meetings at the LA

#8. Posted by Inuit Employment on November 08, 2018

If you fail to maintain Inuit employment targets set out in the contract you lose the ability to bid on the next big contract, keep it at 20% and encourage local Inuit to remain employed.

#9. Posted by Response to #8 on November 08, 2018

#8 Hence the need to have a new 100% inuit owned firm to bid on it! The whole processes is messed up. Needs to be overhauled cuz this policy is not creating a larger Inuit workforce!

#10. Posted by Inuit Employment on November 08, 2018

For what this project costs, the government will want training ppl a focused portion of the investment, in any rate the incentive to exceed the dictated Inuit employment % allows for a portion of wages paid out to Inuit employees extra money in the prime contractors coffers.

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