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Money would come from Quebec and Ottawa to Makivik Corp.

Hundreds of housing units likely for Nunavik

By JANE GEORGE

KUUJJUAQ – A whack of new social housing units likely lie in store for Nunavik.

A meeting of Nunavik's regional organizations on Feb. 27 in Kuujjuaq is expected to pave the way for the announcement of a multi-million-dollar package of deals at a news conference March 6 in Montreal, according to information from the Kativik Regional Government in Kuujjuaq.

A social housing deal, which will involve the federal and provincial governments as well as Makivik Corp., could be worth as much as $230 million over five to 10 years.

This figure represents about the cost of 900 social housing units, which are needed to meet Nunavik's current housing shortage and fulfill the governments' obligations under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

An amount specifically earmarked for social housing for Nunavik was not included in the last federal budget.

The Hudson Bay community of Puvirnituq is also expected to get the word that it will receive $12 million from Ottawa's airport capital program. This money – along with $8 million from Quebec – will pay for an extension of its airport runway, the construction of a new terminal building and enlargement of a pad to allow the parking of jets, which Air Inuit already bought two years ago.

Makivik Corp., the KRG, the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services, the Kativik School Board and Avataq Cultural Institute are to attend the Feb. 27 closed-door meeting of the organizations in Kuujjuaq, where the region's leaders will discuss the deals.

Quebec premier Jean Charest, Pierre Corbeil, the provincial native affairs minister and federal Indian and Northern affairs minister Chuck Strahl may also quietly attend this working meeting in Kuujjuaq, although no official confirmation was forthcoming before Nunatsiaq News deadline.

However, leaders from Nunavik, Quebec and Canada will meet again next Friday, March 6 in Montreal when an insider source told Nunatsiaq News that they will meet to finalize and reveal a number of funding announcements.

The money comes as a follow-up to the Katimajiit meeting in Kuujjuaq two years ago where cabinet ministers from Quebec City and Ottawa announced more than $200 million to improve social and economic conditions in Nunavik.

Then, the largest amounts went towards building and maintaining social housing and community infrastructure, lowering the region's high cost of living and improving access to high-speed internet.

Many of the expected package of announcements on March 6 will be confirmations or follow-ups on these promises.

More new money is also likely to go for staff housing for Nunavik teachers and health workers in an effort to boost recruitment and retention.

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