Feds should pay to overhaul Iqaluit water infrastructure, Singh says

NDP leader says $180M is needed

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh speaks in Iqaluit on Tuesday as Nunavut MP Lori Idlout looks on. Singh called on the federal government to help the City of Iqaluit overhaul its water infrastructure. (Photo by David Lochead)

By David Lochead

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh announced in Iqaluit on Tuesday his party intends to push the federal government to spend $180 million to address Iqaluit’s water emergency.

“In any major [Canadian] city, if there was a problem with the water, if there were hydrocarbons in the water, what would the federal government do?” Singh said at a news conference at the Iqaluit public library.

“They would act immediately to fix the problem.”

Singh was in town for three days to meet with local leaders, to discuss climate change and Iqaluit’s water emergency, and to attend the NDP riding association’s annual general meeting.

The mayor of Iqaluit and the Government of Nunavut have said that the cost of overhauling Iqaluit’s water infrastructure is $180 million, Singh said. He called on the federal government to provide the money.

That spending would also help the city avoid future problems caused by water pipes buckling due to thawing permafrost, he said.

“We need to make sure that the infrastructure is built in a way that it is resilient to this potential change [in permafrost],” Singh said.

He added that he has spoken to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau about Iqaluit’s water emergency in the past month.

Iqaluit’s drinking water emergency highlights the challenges smaller communities in Nunavut have with clean drinking water, Singh said.

The main obstacle to providing clean drinking water to all communities, he said, is “there is not enough political will.”

Asked about the territory’s challenges in delivering elder care, Singh said he supported increasing home care so that fewer elders have to leave their communities.

He also said that Nunavut’s geographically distant communities make a regional model difficult.

“It still means that families cannot visit their loved ones and elders, so that’s a serious concern,” Singh said.

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout added that better housing and healthcare services will make bringing elders back to the territory more feasible.

“It’s a matter of life and ensuring Nunavummiut are getting the services they need,” Idlout said.

Singh also spoke about the need to address Nunavut’s housing shortage and to better fund the territory to prepare its infrastructure for the effects of climate change.

Afterwards, Singh and Idlout were scheduled to distribute water with Mayor Kenny Bell at the city’s curling club. Singh and Idlout were then expected to meet privately with Bell, followed by a meeting with Nunavut Employees Union President Jason Rochon. At night, Singh is scheduled to attend a community feast with Idlout.

Singh arrived in Iqaluit on Monday and is scheduled to leave on Wednesday.

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(13) Comments:

  1. Posted by Money grows on trees in the tundra on

    In other words, the City should bear zero responsibility for their incompetence?

    Sounds like the typical NDP narrative.

  2. Posted by Sam on

    Thanks Ndp that was easy. Now get on with it and fix this water mess Justin.

  3. Posted by Untermensch on

    I like Jagmeet, but it’s hard to ignore the ease of committing to huge amounts of spending from the sidelines where little accountability resides, never seeming to take account of where those endless funds should come from. Though, I suspect with the NDP the answer would probably be in higher taxation directed at “the rich” (whatever that means exactly??) given that class warfare has been their gruel for such a long time.

    • Posted by NDP Problems on

      One thing I have noticed about the NDP over the years is that while they are always quick with solutions that appear to be easily resolved by more spending, they almost never address economic development. It is as if business and economics are dirty words to them, and that could very well be related to your observation that they seem to have located themselves in opposition to what they perceive are the interests of the upper-class, the hand that feeds their dreams and schemes, ironically.

  4. Posted by A Bargain on

    The GN receives $2 billion a year from Canada for its budget. Remember this territory has less than 40,000 people, not even a small town in most provinces in Canada. Ahh, but that is chump change I guess, we really need all that money to do things like overpay the RCMP, make multimillionaires out of Inuit corporations supplying services at outrageous rates, and pay Quebec construction companies who go way over budget on every build in the history of the territory.
    Yes, the taxpayers of Canada should throw another 10% at us too. I mean, we are all up here furthering Canada’s arctic sovereignty mandate so it is the least they can do.

  5. Posted by Bla Bla on

    Even though I hope some situations will change, but the NDP and our MP will not be able to steer them, not will they be able to convince our minority government to step it up. Going by the election campaigns, many items on the short list will be addressed (let’s hope). On another note, where were you last week when Lori was sworn in?

    It’d amazing to notice that handing out water is expected to increase popularity

  6. Posted by Every Politician Getting In on the Water Photo Op on

    I am sorry but the politicians needs to stop wasting their time for the photo op of handing out water. I expect them to be working on solutions and bringing a team together to do so. While its great they want to volunteer their time to help pass out water, it does not require being photographed and posted on your twitter or facebook page. Grow up!

    Mr. Singh thanks for the visit, but you need to be knocking on doors in Ottawa with our MP Lori to increase the transfers to Nunavut, while also requiring the GN to be more accountable on procurement, and ensuring Municipalities are in compliance with regulations. Mayor and Council need to stop just saying “we need more money” and actually draft a budget plan so they have a clear ask to the Fed Government. You cant just keep tossing numbers with no details!

    Stop handing out water and get to work on it!

  7. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    It should be apparent to everyone that Nunavut will never be self sustaining and that it started out with a massive infrastructure deficit to any southern location.
    As well, given that the GN obtains the majority of their revenue from the Federal government it is not surprising that Mr. Singh would ask the current Liberal government for additional funds for infrastructure.
    Don’t forget that this is basic infrastructure; clean drinking water, shelter, food security.
    As to how it all gets paid for, it really is simple. Tax the people and businesses that have the money. The majority of Canada’s post WW II social and economic gains were made by a burgeoning middle class which like a rising tide raised all boats.
    That unfortunately has changed, probably starting in the 1980s (just a guess) but certainly by the late 1990s and into the 2000s. The ultra rich have gotten richer and continue to do so at a rate that vastly outpaces the upper, middle, and lower classes.
    The top 0.1% of Canadians own 12% of the wealth.
    The top 1% of Canadians own over 25% of the wealth.
    The top 5% of Canadians own over 43% of the wealth.
    The bottom 40% of Canadians own 1.2% of the wealth.
    Canada is a rich country, we just need a more equitable distribution of those riches. All the NDP is asking for really is that the people who can afford to pay more to support all of society do that.

    • Posted by ProblematiKs on

      While I agree with your assessment of our situation in Nunavut, the numbers you’ve provided are not nearly comprehensive enough for any of us to form a serious opinion on your overall conclusion, which seems a little reductionist Old Trapper… not even you. Care to fill them in a little more?

    • Posted by Basic Infrastructure Can’t Be Addressed with Per Capita Funding on

      Unfortunately it really is that simple.
      I’m not sure what problem ProblematiKs has with your numbers. It’s a comment section, not a thesis.

  8. Posted by MARS on

    $180M is a tall order.

    The City and government need to tap into the “Investing in Canada: Canada’s Long-Term Infrastructure Plan” fund to get something rolling for the long-term situation in Iqaluit.

    When you’re rife with incompetency and a lack of expertise, just throw money at it.

  9. Posted by Kiamonger on

    Calculate 180B for 40k ppl. A person cannot live on that little bit of money in a year. Bread alone costs Nunavut 12M a year and for pop about 42M and sugar at 60M. It adds up. An aircraft jet is average from a southern airport about 35G to any community in the territory. No roads. All isolated. Nunavut needs another 200B to catch up to the rest of Canada. Heck they can get this from KIAs offshore accounts in the Netherlands.

  10. Posted by Federal responsibilities on

    Every economist , every politician and most people know the small businesses generate more to the economy then big business. The facts are you can’t be building houses if you can’t service them with water. The federal government is responsible for basic human needs. The city can’t build more subdivision s for houses because it cannot supply the necessary water. There is another way also. Have the Gov of Nunavut get out of the finer optics game and use those funds 200 mil as their part of the contribution For a water infrastructure . Further use those funds for getting our seniors homes . With all the funds available why is our territorial Government not going after all the fed funds for cleaner energy solar wind snd tides When I asked the mayor why is rhe city not making more land available. The answer was short and clear. We can’t because we don’t have water to supply. Therefore folks the construction industry which is crucial sufffers. And the housing crisis only worsens. It really is possible and it can happen. I pray the newly elected melas will see the issues but look at realistic solutions And yes your taxes will increase. Get used to it

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