Nunavik’s NDP MP slams federal minister for ignoring housing crisis
NDP leader Thomas Mulcair to visit Kuujjuaq in June
KANGIQSUJUAQ — Romeo Saganash, the New Democratic Party MP for Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, in a May 30 news release slammed the federal aboriginal affairs minister, Bernard Valcourt, for his “lack of responsiveness to the serious housing crisis affecting Nunavik.”
With the release, Saganash attached a May 2 letter from Valcourt’s chief of staff to Makivik president Jobie Tukkiapik, which said Valcourt was unable to meet with him, as Tukkiapik had requested.
Tukkiapik had asked for a meeting to discuss Nunavik’s housing shortage on April 8, shortly after the region was passed over for new social housing money in the March 21 federal budget.
But Steven Hobbs, Valcourt’s chief of staff, said Tukkiapik’s request would be kept on file and that his office would “look for a mutually convenient date in the future.”
“The Makivik Corp. is dealing with a serious housing crisis,” said Saganash, who is also the New Democratic Party critic for intergovernmental aboriginal affairs. “The aboriginal affairs minister, however, seems too busy to even accept a simple request for a meeting, a request made on April 8.”
According to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, the federal government is responsible for the funding of housing in Nunavik, Saganash said.
“It has been almost two months, but the request has still gone unanswered,” he said. “Why does the minister refuse to meet with the Makivik Corp. representatives?”
Saganash said NDP leader Tom Mulcair will visit Kuujjuaq at the end of June to meet with Makivik officials.
According to 2006 census numbers that Saganash cited, Nunavik suffers from the highest proportion of households living in overcrowded conditions.
In Nunavik, more than 4,700 Inuit, 49 per cent of the population, lived in crowded dwellings, Statistics Canada said.
A 2010 survey by the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau showed Nunavik needs 995 social housing units just to meet its current needs.
On May 30, regional councillors at the Kativik Regional Government meeting in Kangiqsujuaq will decide what communtiies will receive new social housing in 2014 — a process that’s never easy because the demand always exceeds supply.