Nunavut MLA slams Nutrition North consultation in Pond Inlet
“I found the way that the meeting was organized to be chaotic and undisciplined”
The federal government’s public engagement session in Pond Inlet late last month for the Nutrition North Canada program was a failure, Tununiq MLA Joe Enook said Oct. 19 in a member’s statement.
Using a management consulting firm called Interis to do the work, the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs held the session on Sept. 28, part of a big effort by the department to consult northern communities before introducing reforms to Nutrition North.
But Enook said the session was ineffective—and he wants the Nutrition North Canada advisory board to attend such consultation meetings in the future.
“I was extremely disappointed at what took place. Mr. Speaker, I found the way that the meeting was organized to be chaotic and undisciplined,” Enook said.
He said that, as the MLA who represents Pond Inlet, he was prepared to make a presentation to the NNC advisory board.
But no one from that advisory board attended the session.
“Mr. Speaker, I found it outrageous and unacceptable that not one member of the advisory board attended the public meeting. That would be like a committee of the House of Commons or this legislature holding a public meeting but only sending consultants and staff,” Enook said.
The six-member NNC advisory board is supposed to consult the public and give advice to the federal government on the workings of the NNC program.
But they haven’t issued a report since March 2013 and they haven’t met in a community since July 27, 2015, when they met in Kugluktuk.
“It is important for the advisory board itself to be accountable, and I am disappointed that it has not produced an annual report on its own activities since the 2011-12 time period, almost five years ago,” Enook said, referring to the report that was issued in March 2013.
Also, one seat on the advisory board is vacant and there are no Nunavut representatives on it right now.
Enook also said the so-called botched session in Pond Inlet calls into question “the extent to which the federal government takes the work of the advisory board seriously.”
And Enook said he wants the federal government to look at the affordability of non-food items such as diapers and women’s personal care products.
“In the end, it [the NNC advisory board] may conclude that although the former Food Mail Program was not perfect, it may have done a better job of achieving the key objective of making food and other essentials affordable for the tens of thousands of Inuit, First Nations, and other Canadians who live in remote regions and communities,” he said.
The legislative assembly’s fall session started Oct. 18 in Iqaluit and will likely continue until early November.