Iqaluit food shortages to ease ‘over the next few days,’ Kusugak says

Slim pickings at Northmart were due to hoarding and temporary cargo disruptions, health minister says

Some produce shelves at Northmart were bare Tuesday, but Health Minister Lorne Kusugak says they will be back to normal “over the next few days.” (Nunatsiaq News photo)

By Nunatsiaq News

Iqaluit store shelves that were bare on Tuesday will be stocked up “over the next few days,” Nunavut Health Minister Lorne Kusugak said Tuesday, assuring residents a shortage of some produce is just a temporary result of the COVID-19 outbreak in Iqaluit.

“I believe that over the next few days, you’ll see that things go back to being normal,” Kusugak said during the Government of Nunavut’s second COVID-19 update of the week.

He was reacting to a question about bare produce shelves at the Northmart store and comments he made last week that Nunavut’s supply chain would not be affected by a reduction in cargo flights resulting from the arrival of the disease in Iqaluit last week.

Kusugak said he was aware there was a sudden shortage this week of “everybody’s favourite food and vegetables.”

The shortage was partly the result of people hoarding supplies shortly after his government imposed sweeping public health restrictions on the capital city, including the closure of schools and non-essential businesses.

“Part of the shortages was caused, I know, because of that,” he said.

But it was also the result of the airlines reducing the number of flights into the territorial capital since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared.

On Friday, Canadian North said its capacity to move cargo to Iqaluit from Ottawa had been “significantly impacted” by the outbreak.

The situation continued over the weekend and into the start of this week. Canadian North told its cargo customers on Monday the airline is “still facing steep challenges to move the backlog of shipments.”

“I remain hopeful that it will not be too long before we will be able to move into our normal service levels,” company vice-president Andrew Pope wrote Monday in a letter to customers.

On Tuesday, the airline issued a notice to say its cargo and baggage handling operations in Iqaluit were still operating at a reduced level. Its cargo drop-offs in Iqaluit and Ottawa were reopened to receive essential goods, the airline’s notice states.

It will continue to prioritize the shipment of food, medical supplies and other essential goods until it returns to operating at a normal capacity.

“Only shipments containing these essential items will be accepted,” the airline said.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Poor on

    Poor Iqaluit. Food shortage and make the news.

    Shame on news outlets. This is a regular thing in many communities in Nunavut. People in smaller communities having to travel by snowmobile to bigger communities to buy bread, milk, rice, juice, FOOD. This happens regularly and happen to Iqaluit and it published on the news.

    News outlets, there’s more to Nunavut than just Iqaluit.

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  2. Posted by Old times on

    This is normal up north no need to put in the news ask the small community

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  3. Posted by Why? on

    1. There is no food shortage in Iqaluit. There is enough staple items like flour, rice, canned food to last until sealift. It does take time to get it from warehouse to shelf.
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    2. There is a shortage of fresh fruit and vegetables because cargo handlers in Iqaluit are in isolation.
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    3. The GN uses “Young Offenders” to move desks, boxes, chairs, etc. when offices are relocated. It gets them out for a while.
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    4. Canadian North cannot recruit enough cargo handlers in Iqaluit.
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    5. How about letting those “Young Offenders” earn real money unloading cargo. Then they can get full time jobs when they are released.

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  4. Posted by Failed government on

    You give CANADIANNORTH tens of millions of dollars and they still don’t fly and no food why burn our tax dollars we need government own airline they are doing this to get more cash from federal government

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  5. Posted by The Old Trapper on

    I thought that Northern used it’s own aircraft, or contracted with CargoJet to move it’s cargo? Maybe I’m just out of the loop.
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    “Kusugak said he was aware there was a sudden shortage this week of “everybody’s favourite food and vegetables.”
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    I immediately thought of potato chips, my bad. Guess that’s why I’m still trying to lose weight.

  6. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    if you need tp for your bunghole we got lots in the Kitikmeot.

    people, seriously, there is no need to panic buy. when the GN first shut down we seen people buying multiple 30 packs of the kirkland double rolls. now granted, they were mostly out of town people who forget there are literally multiple seacans at the warehouse with only this kind of TP.

    buy what you need for a week. when you need more, go out, buy it, distance, wash your hands when you get to the vehicle with hand sanitizer, wash your hands properly when you get home and chill out and watch some netflix.

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