Ottawa, GNWT not committed to Inuit workforce, NTI says



Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated says the GNWT and federal government aren’t committed to developing a training plan for an Inuit workforce for Nunavut.

NTI made the comments in its response Tuesday to the Nunavut Implementation Commission’s Footprints 2 report, the blueprint for the structure of the Nunavut government.

“People tend to talk about results in the end without an actual plan in the beginning,” said NTI President Jose Kusugak in an interview this week. “The whole idea is we (NTI) put emphasis on planning.”

While NTI says it agrees with about 90 per cent of the NIC’s recommendations in Footprints 2, they did outline several areas where they differ

One key area is NTI’s insistence that Yellowknife and Ottawa become more aggressive in providing training and employment plans that will see at least 50 per cent of the jobs in the Nunavut government held by Inuit by 1999, as agreed to under Article 23 in the Nunavut Act.

“There is no real human resource statement, staffing or otherwise, on the actual Nunavut Act,” Kusugak said.

Must respect land claim

The NTI response repeatedly states that meeting the goal of having the Nunavut government’s workforce filled with representative levels of Inuit isn’t just a “desirable goal” but is legally and constitutionally entrenched in the Nunavut land claims agreement.

NTI wants the interim commissioner, expected to be appointed within the next several weeks, to oversee a comprehensive recruitment and employment plan by May of this year.

That plan should address both regional and headquarters positions within government and have as its primary objective to recruit an Inuit workforce.

“As much as we’re talking about training and we expect training to be well planned and happen, there’s also the element of hiring practices,” said Kusugak. “I honestly don’t believe that a lot of people in the territorial government are necessarily qualified if they were Inuit.”

Priority on jobs

Kusugak said the 600 new jobs that become available through the formation of Nunavut must go to Inuit, especially since he says about 400 of the 500 positions expected to be cut by the GNWT before division of the territories are staffed by Inuit.

That means the majority of the staff left to make up the Nunavut government will be non-Inuit.

“That’s where the problem is,” Kusugak stated. “We have to insist that the new 600 jobs have to be Inuk priority, as well as all the subsequent jobs coming up. If they don’t want us to touch existing jobs, we want priority on new jobs.”

NTI accepts NIC’s recommendation that all current GNWT staff at regional and community levels be offered comparable positions within Nunavut, yet Kusugak wants staff in those positions to be reviewed after three years.

NTI expressed concern that current GNWT initiatives, such as downsizing and devolution, are determining the size of the Nunavut government.

NIC recommends a smaller regional public service workforce in Footprints 2 than it did in Footprints in New Snow, its original document. NTI rejects that recommendation, stating it was based on the policies of the GNWT.

“NTI’s responsibility in planning for Nunavut is to focus on the needs of the future Government of Nunavut for the delivery of an acceptable level of programs and services, not on the needs identified by the GNWT in 1996 to 1999,” stated the report.

NTI called on the other two parties of the Nunavut Political Accord, the GNWT and the federal government, to reject NIC’s recommendation.

NTI also urged the GNWT to refrain from changing policies that would affect the approved design model of the Nunavut government leading up to 1999.

NTI called upon NIC to provide a detailed analysis of the proposed distribution of government departments as an aid to future planning.

Power with no money?

Tuesday’s response expressed concern that a ‘patchwork’ of responsibilities will exist at the community and territorial levels after the GNWT has completed its devolution and community empowerment phase.

Here are some other points raised by NTI in its formal response:

NTI wants the GNWT to prepare a standard package of initiatives because now communities can choose to opt out of taking responsibility to deliver certain government services.

NTI is also concerned that communities may have received the power to deliver services without receiving the necessary financial resources.

NTI wants to be involved in discussions with GNWT and the federal government regarding devolution of federal responsibilities to the territories prior to 1999.

NTI rejects NIC’s model for grouping some government departments., particularly the “super department” of Sustainable Development, which may cause conflicting mandates.

NTI wants a department for industry and small business separate from one concerned with wildlife, parks, conservation and environment.

There should also be a separate Department of Housing to address housing problem in Nunavut and education and training should be under the umbrella of Human Resources and Education.

Eleven government departments should be established as proposed by NTI in response to Footprints in New Snow.

The Workers Compensation Board and the Power Corporation should be shared between the Nunavut government and the western government, but the future share ownership and structure of the power corporation should be further investigated.

No steps should be taken in relation to the Nunavut Health and Education boards in the absence of further research and public input for NIC’s recommendations.

Standardizing the three time zones across Nunavut should be considered. Currently there are only four common work hours among the three regions of Nunavut.

Further exploration of telecommunications issues should be considered, specifically exactly what is being recommended by NIC and what it means for Nunavut communities.

An information broker should be hired to plan and manage the information needs of the new government, taking into consideration the cultural and social impacts and the role of Inuit languages.

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