Federal budget earmarks $25M for housing in Nunavut

Money also allocated for Inuit women’s shelters, post-secondary education and broadband connectivity

Canada’s Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland presents the federal budget for 2021-22 on Monday in the House of Commons. (Screenshot from CPAC livestream)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Twenty five million dollars has been allocated to housing in Nunavut, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland announced in her budget address on Monday — the Liberal government’s first in two years.

Other budget highlights focused on life in the North include $1 billion for the Universal Broadband Fund, and more funding for Inuit women’s shelters, Inuit children’s early education and post-secondary education for Inuit women.

The $25 million dedicated to housing will go to the Government of Nunavut to support short-term housing and infrastructure needs, including about 100 new housing units.

The territory has an immediate need for 3,000 new housing units, according to a report by the GN.

Freeland said the government recognizes “access to safe and sustainable housing can be particularly challenging in the North.”

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, who recently released a report on the territory’s housing crisis, tweeted that the federal commitment to provide Nunavut with more housing money doesn’t go nearly far enough.

“In August, Nunavummiut shared their experiences related to housing … the devastating impacts of a lack of safe space results in frustration, stress and in the worst case, death,” the tweet read. “The federal government knows this, [Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.] asked for $500 million … what did Budget 2021 say? $25 million.”

Qaqqaaq, an NDP MP referred to a request NTI made in 2020 for its own Inuit-specific housing program, which wouldn’t be run through the GN — as the new funding will.

The federal government committed $1 billion for the Universal Broadband Fund over six years , to get high-speed internet in rural and remote communities. There are no specifics about how much will be allocated to Inuit or northern communities.

A fund of $18 billion will go towards supporting “healthy, safe, and prosperous Indigenous communities, and advance reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.” Details were not provided on how this money will be spent and how much will go to Inuit.

Over $6 billion was pledged for infrastructure in Indigenous communities, and $2.2 billion to help address missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

The federal budget also includes funding to construct and operate transition housing for Inuit women.

Pauktuutit Women of Canada president Rebecca Kudloo said she is pleased to see the funding for shelters for Inuit women.

“Overall, Budget 2021 demonstrates the federal government is accelerating action to address the urgent needs of Inuit women” Kudloo said in a news release.

The budget also includes Inuit-specific funding for children’s early learning and for post-secondary education for Inuit women.

“Pauktuutit can now work to secure more federal funding for training in midwifery for Inuit women … for the valuable role Inuit midwives can play in delivering safe and culturally respectful maternal healthcare services,” Kudloo said.

Budget highlights on the national level include $30 billion for a new child-care plan and increasing the minimum wage for workers in federally regulated industries to $15 per hour across the country.

This was the first budget since the COVID-19 pandemic began and the bulk of the spending was aimed at helping Canadians get through the pandemic, including wage subsidies and help for small businesses.

“Indigenous peoples have led the way in battling COVID,” said Freeland. “Their success is a credit to Indigenous leadership and self-governance”

The 2021 budget, called A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience, outlines $101 billion in new spending and a deficit predicted to drop from $354.2 billion to $154.7 billion over the next fiscal year.

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(12) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Yeah the last thing Nunavut needs is NTI being put in charge of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal housing funding. Just another example of Qaqqaq’s ongoing naivete. What say NTI take some of the millions of dollars they receive in royalty payments and expend that on Inuit housing rather than empire building?

  2. Posted by Wow, a reaction on

    Northern Guy, makes a lot sense what you stated; why isn’t NTI, Designated Inuit Organizations wealth not brought up –every time- when we talk about housing Inuit?

    Especially when you see the expected wealth–if Baffinland phase II passes- 1.4 bill into 2038 for NTI (over 80 mill/yr), and 1 bill to QIA (over 60 mill/yr) during that same period {not to mention Agnico royalities and what comes of the current, future gold developments in the Kitikmeot}

    Minister Netser asked of this in 2019, when he was housing minister; an Inuk directly asking NTI for help for funding housing, given NTI’s surplus…and what happened?

    It would be great to see though, nationally, this as part of the discourse for Housing Inuit, especially when NTI, DIOs might not be hamstrung the same way as GN in terms of having to go with Inuit-owned companies for labour, materials because of the NLCA {i.e. they could just pay the southern workers to stay south; build the units-regulated, of quality and to-spec, and not limited by climate, or work-schedules… imagine getting 3x more homes for the same price???, that, just might be a real delivery on the sealift of housing-on-up}

    Here’s to Mumilaaq championing those efforts, and getting all the players together, to help out;

  3. Posted by John K on

    Great news for NTI! I hope we can make it so they can give US (see Nunavut) the money to use effectively instead of the amoral corporation that we pretend is helpful.

  4. Posted by Consistency on

    Yes reliable cheap internet is important. However housing is more important. and since the Feds are set on going so far into debt why not just print out another $1 Billion for Housing. With a deficit of $354 Billion $1 Billion more would do nothing over all but would be huge for Nunavut. And I know that would not get us anywhere near where we need to be but it might even secure a Liberal vote for Nunavut for years to come.

    • Posted by Octagon on

      What’s the problem with printing another billion for Nunavut? It’s called inflation. It’s no secret that Nunavut’s never ending expectation of having “them” do it is a problem. Here’s yet another example of wanton disregard for basic economics so that YOU can have more NOW, provided by THEM.
      Save your money and go buy a house like most intelligent Inuit I know.
      When prices start noticeably rising (which has already begun due to inflationary pressures caused by exactly what you’re proposing more of), I hope you realize that you were part of the problem.

  5. Posted by Candace on

    The cost of construction has risen hugely over the last year. There is no way that Nunavut can build 100 units with $25 million. Maybe, maybe 50. Small units. I’m guessing fewer.

  6. Posted by tuktuborel on

    25 mil for housing in Nunavut! Thats like barely 40 units. And what 3000 units needed! Not much help there, not very serious funding to help the housing needs.

    • Posted by Truestory on

      Now, if N.I.R.B., and Q.I.A., put the royalties they receive(d) from B.I.M., should work with the Housing Association. I’m pretty sure the 2 said “Inuit” bodies can add more housing from all the royalties.

  7. Posted by David on

    Qaqqaaq, an NDP MP referred to a request NTI made in 2020 for its own Inuit-specific housing program, which wouldn’t be run through the GN — as the new funding will.
    This is a Territorial responsibility, not a Federal one. The Federal government is free to supply funding in this area, but the GN has complete authority over this area.

    The Feds cannot legally override the GN on this and grant NTI authority over housing. It isn’t legal or proper and an MP should know that.

  8. Posted by Is this a joke? on

    $25m is good for 5 houses in the north (cheap ones)

    • Posted by handout on

      It’s like $25 twenty-five dollars

    • Posted by Octagon on

      That’s unfortunate you see a $5 million build as cheap. Maybe just pass that along to people who see value in ANY contribution. Something good can be done with those funds other than complain about the sum.

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