Nunavut government tables $3.06 billion budget with ‘modest’ deficit

Finance Minister Lorne Kusugak says health, housing and education are focus for GN

Nunavut Finance Minister Lorne Kusugak tabled the territorial government’s budget for 2023-2024 at the legislative assembly Thursday. (Photo by Meral Jamal)

By Meral Jamal

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.


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(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by Colin on

    For background, the Nunavut budget represents almost exactly $100,000 per man woman and child Inuk, or $400,000 for a family of four. The budget does not include expenses paid by the Nunavut Trust or expenditures by the federal government. Given the level of homelessness, unemployment and other woes, are Nunavimiut getting their money’s worth?

    • Posted by Alphabet Soup on

      And yet there is no end to the complaints and pan handling by organizations like NTI and ITK for ‘moar, moar, moar’. Much of which they receive.

      So, the question is a good one, but who are we directing it toward? Is the GN managing that 3 billion well? Are the organizations lining up at the trough with their exhaustive moral cries doing the best they can, doing anything of note with those funds?

      • Posted by 867 on

        Another day, another gas voucher. That is all these organizations can come up with

    • Posted by Less Than It Seems on

      However, you can’t in any way break it down by race, the services are for all, so the actual expenditure is less per person.

      It is still an astronomical sum and higher than any other jurisdiction in the country.

    • Posted by Ted on

      The money for the Nunavut Trust (NTI) was a one time payment for Nunavut to be part of Canada.
      One time, not a yearly budget like the Government of Nunavut, now 3 Billion dollars every year.
      With all the focus that gets put on NTI and the RIAs, their money is peanuts compared to the GN, imagine if we put the same focus on our GN and demand better it would be better focused.

      With such a huge budget annually we wonder why we are in this situation in Nunavut, but it’s because there’s so much wasted, mismanaged, wrong priorities, for so long now.
      Yes every government out there has wastage but this one goes way too far with theirs, for too long now.

  2. Posted by Ian on

    Thank you Justin, and the liberal gov. 3 billion for 38,000 people.

    • Posted by Tuituaq on

      there are 25+ communities and no roads to connect us. airlines take full advantage so does alot of businesses.

      • Posted by Enough on

        Airlines in the north barely survive. If it wasnt for subsidies they would be gone. If it was profitable, dont you think Air Canada or Westjet would come to Nunavut too?

        • Posted by Is enough on

          That is why government spends so much money on the airlines, but the airlines do make a nice profit.

  3. Posted by lol on

    Imagine the municipality of xyz with a population of 40000 getting 100m let alone 300b. when canada wakes up to the spending in the north it’s game over.

    • Posted by Tuituaq on

      imagine you have to fly if you want to go anywhere. imagine the high price of flying and airlines that take full advantage. you can fly from winnipeg to the other side of the world,meals and accomodation included for less than flying into Nunavut

      • Posted by keyboard warrior on

        since your an expert in the world of aeronautics maybe you can start your own airline and offer cheap flights and see what happens.

      • Posted by Imagine on

        I can imagine a government owning it’s own roads in the south so they should own the airline too and stop the gouging. They had a chance to buy out majority shares canadian north when they were in a bind in the pandemic but instead gave them free dough

  4. Posted by Wally on

    Nunavut plans to spend $75,000 per resident ($3 billion for 40,000 people) on territorial government services in 2023-24. The number illustrates why it is essential to attract, establish and sustain income generating development (tourism, commerce and industry). Nunavut has an incredible inventory of latent resources – becoming a “Have Territory” should be the Government of Nunavut’s long term priority objective, not “modest deficit” budgets perpetually kept afloat with southern Canada transfer funds. A rising tide floats all boats: everyone wins.

    • Posted by Today in Axiomatic Statements… on

      All true, but all MUCH harder said than done.

    • Posted by Peter on

      Yes and it is vital to develop local capacity instead of the current situation of a revolving door of transient government employees, having a majority homegrown workforce would create more opportunities for economic growth within Nunavut, less money flowing out but staying in Nunavut more, with more income for Nunavumiut, spending more on home ownership alone would create spin-offs for.
      More money would stay in Nunavut’s economy.

  5. Posted by Incredible on

    While a deficit is not a big deal. I don’t see anything in the budget in the way of business support for small businesses. We seem to forget that many of the tourism small businesses and other small businesses didn’t receive any kind of support compared to the airlines which at the end of the day will fatten some executives pockets. How the GN paid for every empty seat on the planes is unthinkable, there was no offer to pay for the missing footsteps that would have been going into many of the small businesses doors.
    This government needs a major re-structure. We seen this past week that the Premier remembered he had constituents and began to tackle the disparity with the taxi company and Apex delivery. He must remember where his voters came from. The next election will tell the story. Do better.

  6. Posted by Jon Doe on

    What about bringing FIBER to the all of the North. They keep talking about housing but build new units & dont put actual people who need it in there , they just rent it out to GN OR FEDS. With Fiber it would fix some many issues with the Health system , Education system, Judicial system . It would make all around life easier for most people. There wouldnt be Northwestel Monopoly all over the territory as they have had for so many years now . Anyone who would want to take online classes to further there education would be able to do so. Emergency surgeries would not have to be done south but would be able to be done Iqaluit. They wouldnt have to spend so much money on medical travel. The people.who work at the ledge do not care about the community , they say they do but do not do anything to advance the community. This is the only place in Canada that does not have high speed internet, “third world countries” have high speed internet why not the north? THE PEOPLE WHO CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE CHOOSE TO SAY THEY WILL BUT THEY DONT.

  7. Posted by Tom Shelby on

    So we are going to go into a deficit for this budget? 1. $17.5 million to “continue” is insane, to continue, how much do we have into it now ? 2. $12 million in cash payments – more handouts to certain groups for what? 3. $7 million increase for income assistance to provide inflation relief – Seems like the same thing as No.2, more handouts 4. $5 million in mental health supports for Nunavut students – Getting all your education for free is stressful? Try having to pay it back when your done, thats stressful. 5. $230,000 to expand the Nursing Resource Program – This should be one of the highest on the list This budget is a joke, not to mention all the other points on this budget. Most are way too high.

  8. Posted by Colin on

    The writer above points out, correctly of course, that GN doesn’t only serve Inuit. But the territory could have been closer to 100 percent Inuit if they had been educated and trained for the professional and managerial jobs in the territory—Inuit doctors (as Peter Pitseolak expected in the 1960s for his descendants), dentists, accountants, geologists and so on. There are real but sickening reasons why the labour force at Baffinland is only 14 percent Inuit. GN and NTI continue to withhold next generations’ opportunities for the high-tech economy and the modern world. That’s the main reason why the suicide, crime and imprisonment rates are so horrendous. Also Inuktitut would be alive and well if it were a real language of business and commerce as Creole is in Jamaica. Inuktitut now has to be recognized as a lost cause.

    • Posted by Not A Desirable State of Affairs on

      Perhaps it could have been, but that is in no way desirable.

      As to NTI’s role in the appalling state of this territory’s workforce? Well, one can only hope that books are being written revealing its role.

  9. Posted by Confused on

    Focus on employment for a change so the parents work to improve the Children’s health, housing and education,
    same old story every year.

  10. Posted by Frappuccino on

    Keep paying the invoices nti you the best territory to do business.

  11. Posted by Umingmak on

    And this doesn’t even begin to address the housing crisis. The crisis gets worse while the government repeatedly puts out 5-10 year “plans” that never actually come to fruition.

    What is NCC doing with this massive agreement they were given by the government? They haven’t even hired people to manage the projects that were supposed to start this fall. Last year’s housing build was cancelled entirely, and it doesn’t seem like there are any plans to build housing this year either. What a mess!

    • Posted by Karen Mills on

      Wasn’t NTI given hundreds of millions to build affordable housing a year or two ago?
      What did they do with this funding?

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