Payments will finance infrastructure
Nunavut's gas tax share doubles to $15 million
Ottawa is topping up Nunavut's share of federal gas tax revenues, doubling annual payments from $7.5 million to $15 million a year, Leona Aglukkaq, the Conservative government's regional minister for the North, announced April 9 in Iqaluit.
The payments, which fund nuts-and-bolts infrastructure like sewage and water systems, will also be extended from 2010 to 2014, when the fund becomes permanent, Aglukkaq said.
"It's a fund communities can count on to plan their infrastructure needs," Aglukkaq, Nunavut's MP, said at a news conference at the Legislative Assembly, flanked by Premier Eva Aariak.
Aariak said Nunavut has been forced in the past to decline federal infrastructure money because it couldn't afford its share of the cost. Gas tax money is transferred in lump sums to each province and territory.
While most provinces get the money based strictly on population, Prince Edward Island and the three territories are each guaranteed a larger share: $97.5 million between 2010 and 2014.
The territories have long complained that they are shortchanged by per-capita funding arrangements because they have small populations but large infrastructure needs.
"Investments must be based on needs, not the number of people in our communities," Aariak said.
Aariak and Aglukkaq also celebrated news that the federal government and Nunavut will fund construction of the Piqqusilirivvik Cultural School in Clyde River to the tune of $32.2 million.
Ottawa is contributing more than $24 million to the project, while Nunavut will chip in the rest.
The money for Piqqusilirivvik will come from the Building Canada Fund, a separate infrastructure fund.
"These initiatives will help stimulate the local economy by creating jobs and getting shovels in the ground," Aglukkaq said.
Both the gas tax extension and cultural school funds were originally announced in January, when the Conservative federal government tabled its budget.
That document focused heavily on "shovel-ready" infrastructure projects the government could quickly pour money into as a way to stave off economic recession.