Ottawa eyes 1,000 social housing units for Nunavik

Federal government wants more info from Makivik


KUUJJUAQ — Ottawa is eyeing a plan to build 1,000 new social housing units in Nunavik, which could possibly see Makivik Corp. throw in some cash to see the deal move ahead.

A commitment from the federal and provincial governments to build 1,000 additional social units in Nunavik, where the current need is estimated at more than 750 units, was expected for some time in 2009.

But this announcement never took place, and discussions haven’t yet moved into negotiation, although Quebec and Nunavik have been ready for a year to negotiate this “catch-up” social housing program, Louis Mercier, the Kativik Regional Government’s political attaché in Quebec City, said this week.

That’s because the federal government still hasn’t given its representatives the go-ahead to negotiate, Mercier said, speaking on Feb. 23 to a meeting of Kativik Regional Government council in Kuujjuaq.

Many thought this major housing deal would be announced during a gathering last March that saw leaders from Quebec, Ottawa and Nunavik meeting in Montreal.

However, they only announced that there would be a Nunavik housing forum in 2009.

This forum was cancelled, rescheduled and then put off indefinitely.

The federal government officials have now asked for more details about exactly what kind of housing should be built in Nunavik and what costs this might produce in the future.

They also want to know whether Makivik Corp. is ready to contribute money to help build this badly-needed social housing.

With possible concessions from Makivik, cash from Ottawa and renewed political will, the new deal could move ahead quickly, KRG leaders hope.

Maggie Emudluk, the chair of the KRG, told regional councillors Feb. 23 that Inuit are a patient people whose leaders are in a difficult position because the needs of their residents aren’t being met.

Overcrowded conditions in Nunavik houses have been linked to high levels of abuse and crime in the region.

As it stands now, Nunavimmiut can only count on seeing about 350 new social housing units built in their communities over the next five years.

Quebec’s cabinet was expected to approve an agreement this week to continue building about 65 social housing units a year in Nunavik — basically an extension of the previous housing agreement, which expires March 31.

The federal government has already thrown in more cash for this deal, which was worth $14.2 million in 2009.

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