Nunavut communities ordered to stop alcohol import fees
Cape Dorset resident highlights illegal practice
Nunavut’s Department of Finance ordered communities with restrictions on alcohol to stop charging import fees on April 22.
A complaint by Cape Dorset resident Jamesie Alariaq highlighted the longstanding practice, imposed by his community’s alcohol education committee, of charging a flat fee of $30 on liquor shipments to his community.
The committee “has been charging local liquor import fees for over a decade,” Alariaq said.
On receiving Alariaq’s complaint, the Department of Finance found the charges are indeed illegal according to the Nunavut Liquor Act.
“These fees have been long-standing practice, and we had thought it was covered in house rules,” said Chris D’Arcy, deputy finance minister
“We determined that those fees are not allowed to be charged.”
Eight communities had been charging import fees, determined by their own alcohol education committees, ranging from $1 in Igloolik, $2.50 in Repulse Bay and $5 in Baker Lake at the low end, up to as high as $30 in Cape Dorset, D’Arcy. said
Committees in Arctic Bay, Qikiqtarjuaq, Kimmirut, and Clyde River were also found to be charging unauthorized fees.
The department ordered all eight on April 22 to stop the practice, D’Arcy said, because the law doesn’t allow for it.
It appears that many communities had been charging such fees for many years, said D’Arcy, possibly even before the creation of Nunavut.
“It’s just not anything that was brought to our attention until this individual complained from Cape Dorset, which sent us to review the act and make a determination.”
The liquor act allows communities to control the sale of alcohol through alcohol education committees, which are made up of locally elected members. These committees also serve top educate residents on how to prevent alcohol abuse.
Even though the fees have been long-standing, alcohol education committees cannot lawfully charge them, D’Arcy said.
“I’m sure they were working in good faith,” he said. “And I’m equally sure that now that they are aware of this, they will not charge their fee in good faith.”