An arbitrator has ruled in favour of a Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. suit that alleges the Nunavut and federal governments’s plans to increase Inuit employment in the territory do not comply with the Nunavut Agreement. (Image courtesy of the GN)

Arbitrator rules Inuit employment plans breach Nunavut Agreement

Ruling in response to NTI suit against GN, federal government

By Madalyn Howitt

An arbitrator has ruled that the Government of Nunavut’s and federal government’s plans to increase Inuit employment in the public sector don’t comply with the Nunavut Agreement.

Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., the organization responsible for ensuring commitments made under the agreement are upheld, announced the decision on its website Wednesday.

NTI alleged in 2018 the governments plans do not meet expectations of the Nunavut Agreement — that Inuit employment in the public sector be representative of the fact Inuit make up 85 per cent of the territory’s population.

A vast majority of public-sector positions — 92 per cent — in Nunavut are with the GN, according to the arbitrator’s decision.

The GN made public detailed plans for every department in 2020 that aim at gradually increasing the proportion of Inuit employed in territorial government jobs over several decades. Its 2017-2023 plan, for example, sets targets of 58 per cent Inuit employment by 2023 and 55 per cent Inuit in GN executive positions by the same year. 

The federal government has prepared nine Inuit employment plans for each of the departments operating in Nunavut, two plans for federal agencies in Nunavut and a draft “whole-of-government” Inuit employment plan, states the arbitrator’s decision.

ITK Job Opportunties, Senior Policy Advisor, MMIWG

Arbitrator Constance Hunt said in her ruling this week that the governments’ plans fail to detail how each department will increase and maintain Inuit employment at a representative level; the plans fail to report goals and action plans for achieving fully representative Inuit employment; and that they fail to address regular part-time employment status, among other shortcomings.

In response to the ruling, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said the Government of Nunavut is “committed to building a workforce that represents the population of Nunavut.”

“The GN will continue to develop and implement detailed, specific and ambitious Inuit employment plans aimed at increasing Inuit participation in government employment to a representative level,” he said in a statement.

Akeeagok pointed to the recent creation of associate deputy minister positions, intended to bring more Inuit into the senior ranks of the territory’s public service.

The federal government is reviewing the ruling, said Kyle Allen, press secretary of Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal, in a statement.

“Increasing Inuit employment remains a priority for our government and we understand its socio-economic impacts, as well as its important role in addressing Inuit self-determination,” Allen said.

Every Child Matters, National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

In a statement shared by NTI, the organization’s managing legal counsel Marie Belleau said all parties are now in a stage of the arbitration process where they will discuss remedies on a confidential basis until approximately June 25. 

“NTI is focused on remedies that are ambitious in putting us back on the path towards a fully representative public service,” Belleau said. 

“We are also looking for monetary remedies, to make sure we are fairly compensated for the breaches of our treaty and the delay in meeting our treaty objectives.”

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout said she “wasn’t surprised” at the arbitrator’s ruling.

“It’s been 30 years since the agreements have been signed and the governments [have] basically had 30 years to do better to ensure that they have a representative workforce,” Idlout said on Friday.

She said she hopes both governments accept the arbitrator’s ruling after the 60-day window to respond is reached. 

Idlout said in order for the governments’ Inuit employment plans to become compliant with the Nunavut Agreement, better efforts should be made to improve the Nunavut curriculum and include more Inuktut education, help graduates secure employment, create better capacity development programs to ensure that Inuit can enter senior level position or more specialized positions, and that government employment opportunities should also reflect the expertise that many Inuit have, such as professionalized hunting and sewing opportunities.  

“The government of Nunavut right now is the largest employer and one of the only sources of stable reliable income per family,” Idlout said. The GN employs roughly 4,000 people in the territory. 

“I really do hope that Minister Vandal sees the problem when Inuit employment is low,” Idlout added. 

“I hope that he does act like it’s a priority instead of just talking about it.”

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(37) Comments:

  1. Posted by Oh? on

    “government employment opportunities should also reflect the expertise that many Inuit have, such as professionalized hunting and sewing opportunities.”

    Ok now how do we go about creating a department of professional hunting and sewing? That’ll surely help build houses, bolster the economy and teach inuktitut.

    • Posted by SARCASM on

      Wonder , if there is a opening for a cobbler ?.

  2. Posted by What? on

    “professionalized hunting and sewing opportunities”

    Well, that should prove useful. Not enough medical professionals, tradespeople, teachers, but hey, the Nunavut Department of Amauti Production is on the case!

    And we’re worried about caribou herds. Solution? Shoot more!

  3. Posted by Decades and Decades of Work on

    Reaching an 85% Inuit employment rate in the government of Nunavut is a complex, long-term goal requiring various strategies. Education and training initiatives, mentorship and internship programs, infrastructure improvements, career advancement programs, partnerships with Inuit organizations, and regular monitoring and feedback are all crucial. These efforts should be comprehensive, tackling different aspects of the issue concurrently, including education, employment, infrastructure, and policy changes.

    The timeline for achieving this goal, especially in areas like education, infrastructure, and policy reforms, can take decades to fully implement and yield the desired results! Some of strategies, might offer more immediate band-aid increases in Inuit employment, but this is a long-term commitment that requires ongoing evaluation and adaptation. What has NTI done to ensure Inuit are ready to be part of that work force? What solutions other than “monetary compensation for breaches of the agreement’?

    Does NTI just want to put untrained and unqualified individuals into roles within the government of Nunavut? This will come with severe risks! Including inefficiency and poor service quality (to the majority Inuit population the Government serves) due to the lack of necessary skills and knowledge. Safety concerns may arise in certain sectors like healthcare or infrastructure, and unqualified employees could face high stress levels, leading to high turnover rates. There also could be legal and ethical implications associated with hiring unqualified individuals for certain roles.

    This process needs to take into consideration that Nunavut is 20 years old, and this type of transformation that NTI is asking for will most likely take another 20 years, if not longer, if we do not increase Inuit getting post secondary education that is not just NS. We need Inuit with University Degrees in a variety of professions. We have already packed the DM first line with many Inuit, but now we need depth in the directors, managers, and frontline staff in the departments, otherwise we will just end up here. So NTI lets stop wasting the Governments resources in court fights, and actually suggest some solutions, and help solve the problem!

    • Posted by Not My Usual Cynical Take on

      Nothing you say is incorrect, but there is a significant omission.
      The GN has precious little by way of “education and training initiatives, mentorship and internship programs…career advancement programs” at the DEPARTMENT level (and that’s where the responsibility lies in Article 23, not at the GN level).
      There are a small number of generic GN-wide programs, but that’s it. Without department-specific “measures”, or possibly job-specific measures (for job categories that more than one department has) the GN truly is neglecting a key piece of Article 23 and it shouldn’t be a surprise that progress has stalled.

      • Posted by Taxpayer on

        All true, but you have also omitted an important point and an advantage that GN has created for itself. The GN has completely subverted the public college system (Nunavut Arctic College) in order to create its own pipeline for entry level workers.

        The lion’s share of NAC resources are dedicated to Nursing, NTEP, Social Services, and ETP. These are the flagship programs for the college, designed, delivered and funded specifically to provide GN with a stream of local Nurses, Teachers, Social Workers, and Wildlife Officers.

        The thing people miss is that delivering these programs come at the detriment of any other program option.

        The Nunavut economy and local labour capacity has suffered significantly due to this focus. There is no, say a 2 year Municipal Administrator Program, nor a Heavy Equipment Operator Program that NAC delivers, is there? MTO and southern service providers have been left to struggle with those needs on their own.

        So, for whatever can be said of the failures on Inuit employment within the government over the past 23 years, it is doubly true for Inuit employment at the municipal and private sector level, as the GN has sucked up all the publicly available resources for its own purposes.

  4. Posted by Art Thompson on

    Every GN job lists essential qualifications required for a position. It also says that equivalencies will be considered. I’m fairly certain that sewing or hunting expertise aint going to cut it as an equivalency. That poor woman. LOL.

  5. Posted by UpHere on

    My spouse and I have worked for the GN and a related agency for over a decade and we’ve seen Inuit participation in technical fields decline. The only solution is for Inuit to graduate with much higher rates from secondary school with better grades and embark on career development in the south. Advanced administrative, health, education, and other technical professions cannot ever be brought up to Nunavut, nor can they ever be translated to Inuktitut. That’s a hard, inescapable reality.

    What I’ve seen in the last decade is a massive move towards outsourcing to down south consultants as a replacement for the lack of Inuit in technical or middle management. Look at the many vacancies in Iqaluit City for example. Down south consultants run much of the City. There is no qualified Inuit labour pool in the GN or City capable of assuming these positions unless education success, primarily in English language specializations, occurs. It will still take 2-3 decades for Inuit to reach anywhere close to 85% of the civil service. NTI has to put an effort into educating Inuit in specialized technical and management roles, or Inuit will only be low ranking bookkeepers and equipment operators, and the true decision makers will be down south consultants.

    I would be very happy to mentor Inuit in my field if only educated and qualified candidates were available. It would be so good for the territory and Canada.

  6. Posted by Flabbergasted on

    30 yrs …..another 30 to go maybe…before we see the 85% reached its maximum

    • Posted by Add A Bit On on

      More than 30, this is a multi-generational project. I’d say a century or so.

    • Posted by Taxpayer on

      In another 30 years the target will not be 85% because the goal is representative Inuit employment and we are now 85% of the population.

      It will be much lower in 30 years. Because Inuit are not getting educated and employed, not seeing opportunity here, many are leaving. At the same time, Non-Inuit are coming up to do the work, and many are staying.

      Our demographics will change over time and this may be the ultimate solution to this problem. Inuit employment in the GN is at 50%. Eventually, Inuit will only be 50% of the Nunavut population. Goal achieved!

      • Posted by Devil’s Avocado on

        It could also work the other way – as more Inuit take better jobs, non-Inuit leave or don’t come in the first place because there are fewer jobs available and the 85% creeps up to 90% or beyond, so as the Inuit employment increases the target moves further out of reach.

        I don’t have data one way or the other, but the key point is that it’s dynamic.

  7. Posted by Hunter on

    Aren’t we all inuit, during all seasons “Professionalized hunters” ? We get out on the lands and sea for our survival. Make that a job and see what happens .

    • Posted by No I Don’t Think That You Can Say That on

      Don’t think that you can say that at all.

      Among what seems to be a good number younger Inuit, particularly in the bigger communities, hunting is at best a sporadic hobby. It may be alive and well in the small communities, but I think that there has been a major generational change elsewhere.

  8. Posted by Also… on

    In 1999, did anyone have a plan to increase work ethic in nunavut? For inuit to be successful means a lot more than just showing up to work for a few hours here and there.

    Go ahead and make 85% of public sector jobs filled by inuit tomorrow. Ironically, this will just mean the need to hire a tonne more expensive southern consultants.

  9. Posted by Ned Flanders on

    How is NTI demanding more Inuit get jobs in their public service when there aren’t many qualified not educated.
    N.S.(Nunavut Sivuniqsavut) gets some “high school” graduates that barely pass the 3 “R”s in school.

    • Posted by That’s It on

      Well, that’s the issue. Remove the retired and under 18, those in post-secondary education, the infirm, the incarcerated, the already employed (hamlets and Inuit orgs, private sector etc), those with a grade ten or less education, and the chronically unemployable and there isn’t much of a pool left to pull from. Every qualified person who wants a job with either the feds or GN could have a job no problem.

      The only barriers are – qualified, and being willing to go where the jobs are, If you have grade 8 or won’t leave your hamlet of 800 then there isn’t much available.

    • Posted by Binky the Doormat on

      The sacrificial lamb is our tolerance for inompetence where it will arise, and that is destined to become part of our bureaucratic culture.

    • Posted by NTI and Inuit Orgs Can’t Meet 85% on

      How can NTI be critical of the GN and Feds when they cannot even meet these targets. NTI, QIA, KIA, KIA, and their Dev Corps and businesses don’t even meet this target. Pot calling the kettle black….

      • Posted by Exempt on

        These “orgs” are exempted from NLCA because they are not considered “public”. Loophole, so they can always get away with less, not be transparent about their salaries and spending, yet still point fingers at the Feds and the gn at any given opportunity.

      • Posted by Yep on

        Go to NTI’s website and look at the staff listing. Then notice how many positions are empty. They can’t find the qualified people to staff themselves.

      • Posted by Urban Commando on

        NTI is at 90% Inuit employment including vacancies.

        • Posted by Counting is obviously hard on

          On NTI’s staff listing right now there are 134 positions listed.

          – 24 are vacant (17.9%). Oops, there goes that “90% Inuit employment” figure right off the bat.

          It actually goes lower because there are several non-Inuit on the staff. But the point stands, they can’t find enough qualified or interested people to fill their own positions, including, and this is really funny, the assistant director of Inuit Employment.

  10. Posted by Ben Decko on

    Change the Nunavut curriculum some more? ?
    Ms. Idlout needs to look forward rather than regression. Unless Nunavut is regressing rather than progress.
    As the world moves forward, some want to look backwards and are being left behind.
    As global warming continues, hunting will no longer be a viable option.

    • Posted by S on

      Thanks, Ben; ya had me until the “global warming” thingie, cuz there is no ‘global warming thingie’ to concern us. None, nada, no thingie. That is incontrovertible presently. What future thousands or milions of years in the future bring is of no business or concern, but is always of interest to real scientists and science-fiction novelists. Beyond the latter: no interest at all, nada, nothing.

      • Posted by The opinion of S < Scientific concensus on

        There is unequivocal evidence that Earth is warming at an unprecedented rate. Human activity is the principal cause.

  11. Posted by Fake Plastic Tree on

    Article 23 is a well-intentioned, yet it’s hard not to notice the unintended consequence of entitlement and resentment it creates and the toxic effect that has on our bureaucratic culture, and on the psyche of its beneficiaries.

    Modern work environments are highly specialized and complex, robust labour mobility is a necessity that optimizes the distribution of labour across a global system to the benefit of economies, employers, institutions and workers.

    Engineering complex systems in accord with values that don’t adequately prioritize (real) diversity and skill and will yield a predictable, sub-optimal, and at worst, dysfunctional result. No amount of IQ values posted all over your staff lounge will change that (or much of anything).

    That said, we know Article 23 isn’t going anywhere. It is a sacred cow. As mentioned above, any possible downsides will be accepted as necessary for the larger, commonly agreed upon value of distributing wealth, status and benefits to Inuit, no matter the dysfunctionality that will at times be their result. This is our reality and it is not going to change.

    • Posted by Taxpayer on

      As hard as it may be for the younger generation in Nunavut to realize now, at the time the Nunavut Agreement was being negotiated and ratified, almost everywhere in Nunavut, school attendance rates were well over 90%.

      This was how committed Inuit were to education back then, even though these were unilingual parents who had seen their kids get sent to residential school.

      Trapping and Sealing were waning in the 70s and 80s. People knew their kids needed to make a living some other way. That meant learning English and Math.

      Article 23 today seems childishly naive in thinking we would have an Inuit representative civil service given current attitudes towards education and self-sufficiency. This is the fruits of 4-5 generations of Inuit living in a welfare state which is as damaging, if not more so, than residential schools because this has robbed Inuit of our agency.

      The problem is that it was assumed that Inuit would be as motivated and engaged in being educated and trained as we were in the 70s and 80s, which we are now not.

      We now have this current victim attitude and extreme social dependence which is so foreign to traditional culture, yet somehow openly accepted and validated. It is that simple. Solve that and 85% will be a cake walk.

  12. Posted by Northern Guy on

    “create better capacity development programs to ensure that Inuit can enter senior level position or more specialized positions, and that government employment opportunities should also reflect the expertise that many Inuit have, such as professionalized hunting and sewing opportunities.” Is NTI being serious? They want “capacity development programs” for specialized positions!?! Good luck with that! Nobody wants their doctor, engineer or accountant to get their position through the U of NTI! And what exactly can a seamstress or hunter contribute to a department that requires trained and educated biologists and geologists?

  13. Posted by Big Takeaways on

    NTI: make government 85% Inuit, even though if every Inuk eligible was hired it would not be sufficient unless we abolish child labour law prohibitions.
    Lori: create jobs there are no demands for.
    Arbitrator: I as a former judge with literally no private sector experience, including HR, will tell you how to best run a business and develop your business recruitment plans and show you how they should be written.
    GN: we agreed to hire a former ITK lawyer as our arbitrator and expected reasonable results.
    Canada: we are committed to the North and Inuit employment but are devolving all responsibilities to GN. En francais.
    City of Iqaluit: we need water!

    • Posted by Taxpayer on

      Practically Speaking:

      Create a giant refugee settlement in Nunavut that can house around 40,000 Ukrainians, Syrians, Sudanese, whatever. Make sure the settlement gets in the Land Use Plan. Save the Children and UNICEF will eat WWF and Greenpeace for lunch.

      Canada gets northern ec. dev., gets international kudos, gets to spend aid money in-country, and we get northern citizens that are willing to work hard because they are yet untainted by our tear streaked social democracy.

      Inuit population goes down to 50% of total Nunavut population. GN Inuit workforce stays at 50%. GN has now met its goal of an Inuit representative civil service. No more NTI lawsuits; spend that money instead for refugee settlement upkeep.

      High fives for everybody.

      • Posted by Social Anxiety on

        Effective tomorrow “employment” shall be defined to mean in receipt of any monies more than $100 per month from the Government of Nunavut. For clarity, all persons in receipt of social assistance shall be deemed to be employed by the government of Nunavut. Solved.

  14. Posted by Go away NTI on

    I hit Ctrl F on NTIs staff listing page for a laugh. 24 vacant positions.

    Guess you just need to revamp all those vacant positions to hunting and sewing.

    Our MP, NTI, they’re compeltly disassociated with Nunavut at this point. Just clueless.

    • Posted by John K on

      Idlout should have stayed a lawyer. She made much more impactful contributions in that capacity.

  15. Posted by John K on

    We hired a few Inuit women at my office before we moved.

    One women stopped coming to work 2/3 of the way through week one and the other was as good as illiterate. And I don’t say that to be cruel or disparaging … that is just the reality of hiring in Nunavut. The two southerners that replaced them are still there and doing quite well so what the hell are we supposed to do?

    Doing the workload of three people because the other two direct appointments are totally ineffectual at the job is explicitly why we no longer live in NU.

  16. Posted by Umingmak on

    With dropout rates of more than 50%, the employment targets in the NLCA are a pipe dream.

    To reach the finish line, you need to actually start the race, and ensuring that most children graduate high school is how you do that. Management positions can not simply be filled by drop-outs. Those positions require expertise. Most require post-secondary education. Would you want a nurse who isn’t trained? What about an accountant whose highest level of education was grade 8 math?

    These groups all have their priorities wrong. Stop putting all this energy into obsessing on the current employment situation, and start putting it into getting kids through school.

    • Posted by NTI Reply Forecast on

      If you follow this issue the answer NTI gives is: your standards are to high. TRAIN INUIT TO DO THESE JOBS. Yes, on the job training to become a registered nurse, teacher, engineer, lawyer, accountant. They will literally say this with a straight face. It isn’t enough to provide free education (often salaried education on GN education leave) apparently.

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