Mould remediation off to a solid start in six Nunavut communities
“It’s a growing problem,” housing minister says of mould infestation
Of 35 public housing units flagged last year for “urgent intervention” over mould infestations, 32 of those units are now professionally cleaned up, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corp., Lorne Kusugak, told members of the legislative assembly on May 29.
Baker Lake, Cambridge Bay, Gjoa Haven, Igloolik, Sanikiluaq and Kugaaruk are the six communities that have now benefited from that work, Kusugak said in his update on the corporation’s remediation project.
The final three earmarked units will be remediated by September.
And, this spring, the GN will issue tenders for the remediation of 31 more housing units in Hall Beach, Iqaluit, Cape Dorset, Kimmirut and Arviat.
“It’s evident that in the coming months, the number of units that require mould remediation will increase,” Kusugak said.
He called the remediation project a “significant logistical and financial undertaking” and said actions by his department are done within constraints.
During the winter sitting in March, Kusugak said the NHC was training local housing staff in mould remediation, but in the meantime, he suggested that residents do their best to reduce the spread and use soap and water to clean up the problem.
That’s after Amittuq MLA Joelie Kaernerk said his constituents believe they are getting sick from mould in their homes.
In February, a concerned grandmother posted photos on Facebook of the home her son and his young family were living in. The photos showed black mould covering a doorframe and growing in large patches on the ceiling.
Now, 196 local housing employees in all of Nunavut’s 25 communities are trained in mould remediation, Kusugak said.
Contractors are also helping Nunavut’s housing corporation create design changes that will improve ventilation and air quality in homes built by the NHC from now on.
Kusugak is still encouraging residents to take part in daily mould prevention.
“If caught early, minor mould can be cleaned with unscented detergent and water. Maintaining good ventilation in homes is also important,” he said on May 29. “It is important to use bathroom fans and kitchen range hoods consistently and keep ventilation units on.”
Last week, on the first day of the sitting, on May 24, Kaernerk quoted a recent report by Canada’s auditor general, which states that problems with heat recovery ventilators in northern housing units are leading in part to mould growth.
Kusugak said then he is glad to see mould problems come up in public debate.
“It is a growing problem,” he said.