New Inuit housing strategy seeks stable funding, more Inuit participation
“Reliable access to housing is foundational to Inuit health and well-being”
The Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee released a new housing strategy this week, calling for more stable government investment, made directly to Inuit organizations.
The partnership committee, co-chaired by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami President Natan Obed, met on Wednesday, April 3 in Ottawa.
The new strategy highlights the urgent need for adequate housing across Inuit Nunangat, where over half of Inuit live in overcrowded housing, and where the vast majority of communities do not have a safe shelter for women and children experiencing family violence.
The report also notes that efforts to eliminate tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat by 2030 will only succeed if housing outcomes across the North improve.
“Although significant, direct Inuit housing investments have been made by the federal government in recent years, the delivery of these funds has posed a number of challenges,” the strategy reads.
“Direct funding announced in [recent budgets] have been slow to reach Inuit, resulting in housing delivery delays that erode the overall effectiveness of these investments. Significant, multi-year advanced planning and preparation is required for the construction of housing in Inuit communities.”
The 2017 federal budget announced $240 million for housing in Nunavut over a 10-year period, while the 2018 budget promised $400 million over 10 years for housing in Nunatsiavut, Nunavik and the Inuvialuit settlement region.
To ensure the lasting impact of those investments, the new strategy says Inuit must be directly involved in both the delivery of funding as well as in housing-related decision making.
While recent housing budgets were directed to some regional Inuit organizations, like Makivik Corp. in Nunavik, the Nunatsiavut government and the Inuvialuit Regional Corp., the report noted that no direct investments were made to Inuit organizations in Nunavut.
Other calls for action included in the new housing strategy include:
• A need for direct access to long term, multi-year, stable housing investments to ensure improvements to Inuit Nunangat housing, based on direct Inuit access and Inuit self-determination.
• A regional needs assessment in year one of the implementation of the strategy, or as soon as practical, to develop a baseline and to better target investments to diverse regional needs.
• Housing programs and initiatives that support alternative housing options, the reduction of barriers to increasing alternative housing options and improving affordability, including energy efficiency.
• A labour force and skills needs assessment, with the goal of supporting Inuit filling jobs in the housing industry.
• Communication and engagement with provincial and territorial governments in the implementation of the Inuit Nunangat Housing Strategy
“Reliable access to housing is foundational to Inuit health and well-being,” said ITK president Natan Obed in a news release.
“The collaboration with the federal government on the National Inuit Housing Strategy which is being released today seeks to improve housing conditions across Inuit Nunangat and ensure better outcomes through greater Inuit self-determination and control.”
In the same release, Trudeau said his government was committed to finding “community-owned, community-driven solutions,” as outlined in the new housing strategy.
You can read the full housing strategy in English or Inuktitut on ITK’s website.
The Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee was created in February 2017 with the signing of the Inuit Nunangat Declaration on Inuit-Crown Partnership. This was the group’s third meeting this year.
In recent months, the group has also endorsed the Inuit Tuberculosis Elimination Framework—its plan to eradicate TB among Inuit by 2030.
The committee has also co-developed the Indigenous Early Learning and Childcare Framework, which outlines the needs for care and education for Inuit children and youth.
The committee says it has now begun to look to new areas of focus this year, including efforts to address infrastructure gaps in Inuit Nunangat.