Quebec money will offset higher food, transport, gasoline costs

Nunavik gets gift of lower prices


KUUJJUAQ – Nunavimmiut will likely see prices drop at local stores and gas stations over the coming year.

That's because some of the money doled out at last week's Katimajiit meeting on Nunavik's social and economic development is intended to improve living conditions in the region by reducing the cost of transportation and lowering the cost of food, goods and gasoline.

Low-income families in Nunavik will also receive more money, thanks to an increase in Quebec's refundable tax credit for northern residents.

This increase will raise the amount for adults from $40 to $60 a month and for children from $15 to $25.

In the case of a couple with two children and a family income below $28,710, the tax credit will rise from $1,320 to $2,040 a year for 2006, a yearly increase of $720.

Eligible households will receive part of the increase during the last week of September. The second half will be added to the tax credit payment in December 2007.

This improved tax credit program is part of the new multi-million-dollar package Quebec announced last week in Kuujjuaq.

Quebec will give the Kativik Regional Government and Makivik Corporation $3.1 million over the next two years to offset the high costs of food and gasoline and $9 million over the next three years to lower the cost of transportation.

Exactly how this money will be divvied up is not yet clear, but Nunavimmiut will likely see some of this in the form of individual subsidies while part of the money will go towards efforts to cut overall prices.

Part of the money will pay for a study on the cost and feasibility of a transportation link between Schefferville and Kuujjuaq, which would lower the cost of transportation to Nunavik's largest community.

Quebec will also give another $8 million towards the $20 million cost of expanding the Puvirnituq airstrip so jets can land there.

Air Inuit has already bought two 737s, with the expectation that the federal government will find the other 80 per cent of the money needed to lengthen the runway.

The jet service is expected to greatly lower the cost of food and other goods along the Hudson Bay coast.

A recent survey by Laval University found food, on average, costs far more in Nunavik than in Quebec City.

For example, potatoes cost more than twice as much in Nunavik. White flour and milk are almost twice as much. Only green cabbage costs less in Nunavik than in Quebec City.

With food taking up 40 per cent of household budgets, the survey suggested that "the cost of living in Nunavik is, in all likelihood, higher than anywhere else in Quebec."

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