Nunavut government tables $3.06 billion budget with ‘modest’ deficit
Finance Minister Lorne Kusugak says health, housing and education are focus for GN
The Government of Nunavut is entering its new budget year with projections of “a modest deficit” of $8 million, says Finance Minister Lorne Kusugak.
Kusugak presented the territorial government’s budget for 2023-24 at the legislative assembly Thursday. Total revenue is projected to be $3.06 billion.
Meanwhile, the reason for the deficit is not a cause for concern, according to Kusugak, who said it was expected following a $40 million surplus in the territorial budget last year.
“Last year, we gave warnings that we were going to get into deficit situations, which means taking money from previous years’ surpluses, and that’s exactly the street we’re going down,” he said.
Kusugak said the federal government has been encouraging its provincial and territorial partners to start spending the money they have.
“We were ahead of the game, actually, and we are looking at taking some of our surpluses in previous years and putting it into infrastructure and putting it into health care.”
He emphasized the current government’s focus on health, housing and education for Nunavummiut.
“We set a vision for our communities to become places of health and healing, where elders can age in dignity and continue to teach new generations important lessons of the past,” Kusugak said in his budget address.
“We committed to reinvesting in education and expanding the housing continuum to provide youth and their families the foundation they need to become Nunavut’s next generation of community builders.”
Among the government’s revenue sources are $165 million in taxes, $21 million to be collected through housing rent payments, and $78 million from other various sources.
Also included is $1.97 billion through its largest federal transfer receipt, the Territorial Financing Formula — an annual unconditional transfer from the federal government to the three territories.
Each department will debate its plans for spending its funding allotment over the winter sitting of the legislative assembly, which began Wednesday and runs until early March.
The biggest pots of money will be directed to the Departments of Health, Community and Government Services, and Education. They will receive 23.2 per cent, 14.5 per cent and 13.5 per cent of the government’s spending respectively.
The departments with the lowest budget allocations include Environment, and Culture and Heritage, which will receive 1.3 per cent and 1.4 per cent of the budget, respectively.
On Thursday, Kusugak also announced new spending worth $64.8 million as part of the GN’s Katujjiluta mandate, which focuses on five themes: aging with dignity; expanding housing; supporting health and healing; reinvesting in education; and diversifying the local economy.
The new spending includes:
- $17.5 million to develop the government’s Enterprise Resource Planning system;
- $12 million in cash payments to Nunavummiut to offset higher costs associated with the federal carbon tax;
- $7 million in income assistance to help address inflation;
- $6.2 million for local housing authorities to operate and maintain new units; and
- $5 million to provide mental health support to students across the territory.