Nunavut MLA says short-term work is causing some to lose income assistance

Mary Killiktee says 2 of her constituents say they are waiting up to 3 months for assistance to be restored

Uqqummiut MLA Mary Killiktee says she’s been told some income assistance clients lose their support for as long as three months after working a casual job for a couple of weeks. (File photo by Meral Jamal)

By Emma Tranter

A member of Nunavut’s legislative assembly says some people on income assistance who take a casual job for two to three weeks are in danger of being cut off from their assistance for several months.

Uqqummiut MLA Mary Killiktee told her colleagues in the legislative assembly Tuesday that she has heard from two constituents who are in this boat.

“Their situation is even worse when the job is over,” she said.

Killiktee said she has heard some people who find short-term work or casual employment have to wait up to three months before they can receive income assistance again.

Family Services Minister Margaret Nakashuk said a change in someone’s income can lead to their income assistance being revised.

Income assistance is calculated based on the number of people in a home and certain people’s amounts are not affected even if they’ve had short-term employment.

“Their income has to be reviewed, and if there’s not much change in revenue then the income support generally runs,” she said.

“When the income is over the threshold, their allowance is deducted.”

Nakashuk said income support staff try to help and encourage clients to find work and income support is a “last resort.”

Killiktee said she’s concerned to see people being denied income support despite only working a short-term job to replace someone who went on vacation, for example.

“There are people who get hungry and don’t have anywhere else to turn to,” she said.

The Government of Nunavut’s 2023-24 budget increases the territory’s annual spending on income assistance by $7 million to $52.3 million.

Nakashuk said her department is looking at “all options.”

“We don’t want to see anybody go through that hardship, but we’re looking at making improvements on an ongoing basis,” she said.

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(23) Comments:

  1. Posted by Northern Inuit on

    Social Assistance should not be the lifeline to people to life. how many times have we seen able bodied people with no conditions impeding them to work pass on job offers because their SA will in jeopardy? this should not be the case but sadly, it goes on all over the place.

    there is work available if you look, but to some it’s a shame it’s much easier to suck on the government teet.

    • Posted by Luca Majno on

      The entire system was built by looters and thieves who never cared about us in the first place. We are living karma for that, I’m afraid. Cost of living checks recieved, but then they dock you on your food stamps because you made more. My heart first went out to Nunavut when I reported on FOOD PRICES deliberately hacked up and blamed on costs… One hundred dollars for a case of 24 bottles of water? MATRIARCHS SAY: ENOUGH.

  2. Posted by Call me a WASP on

    Shouldn’t it really be that you don’t get income assistance unless you can demonstrate physical or mental disability making it impossible to work? There are unlimited jobs in Nunavut. My policy would be unless you can demonstrate application to every single business and government job in town every month you lose your social housing.

    • Posted by Depends Where You Are on

      There are not unlimited jobs in all of the communities. In the hubs, and even in the other decentralized communities, there are usually plenty of jobs available. But in Coral Harbour, Kugaaruk, Sanikiluaq, Taloyoak, Sanirajak, and others… Are there really unlimited jobs?

      • Posted by Follow the Opportunity on

        Then we do like people have done since time immemorial – go where the opportunities are.

        I am always heartened, and at the same time saddened, when I see our young people leave for work. I’m sad to see them leave, but I’m proud of them seeking opportunity.

        • Posted by oh ima on

          must be nice to have all the solutions and not think of people’s situations. Just like a qablunaak thinking if you’re Inuk and if you’re qablunaak, try to understand that not everyone finished school and has the skills and education. If it were that easy, people would, but there are a number of factors why people are on social assistance. Government policies make it next to impossible for people that want to work but only qualify for minimum-wage jobs which makes it harder for people to survive.
          I made it but I don’t judge people that are not as lucky as I am. Systematic racism and family nepotism plays a big role in the communities that prevents people from trying to get out of poverty.

          • Posted by One Born Every Day I Guess on

            Well, the Kool Aid has been drunk. There’s one born every day.

            Love to see your research proving that such a concept even exists in Nunavut.

            Many would say that the only system racism is from the majority groups towards Nunavut’s racialized groups.

          • Posted by Nail on the Head on

            I don’t often agree with anything that you say, but today I do.

            Family nepotism is a huge barrier to improvement of many things in Nunavut, for sure.

          • Posted by Johnny Qallunat on

            You need to realize oh ima that in Canada there are many communities where people have no work, have not finished school and have limited skills. There are consequences to making poor life choices. There are always opportunities to correct them but it requires effort. I have no sympathy for anyone under 40 who is sitting on social assistance unless they have a physical or mental illness. Nepotism is no excuse to have 85% of all housing in Nunavut be social housing. It is laziness. It is refusal to move. This is not unique to Inuit and is common in many places, particularly the Maritimes where I have seen it first hand and many prefer to game the system than go to work. Your ongoing use kf logical fallacies day in and day out that aim at my race rather than my argument is indicative that you cannot seem to process any reality where all the ills the befall Inuit in Nunavut are not someone else’s fault. The amount of opportunity available to Inuit is mind-boggling where if you have a pulse, have a grade 3 reading level, and can speak English, you’ll have work.

      • Posted by Thinker on

        Exactly! Support is the key to success here

  3. Posted by tuktuborel on

    Why can Nunavut not change its statis as a welfare state? It is time the government started to correct this attitude (in the GN and the general population) that people do not need to lead productive educated lives and to allow Nunavut to move ahead in the world. There are so many business and places of work that can not find people to work. It has been this way for a long time. It is just too easy to sit back and do nothing and collect free money from the government. And the GN is allowing this to happen because real change is hard to do. And for many this situation creates future problems of violence and abuse and low self worth. This has to change now. We are going nowhere good under this current situation. Nunavut can be a great territory but we need solid leadership and the will to make the required changes. Hard decisions have to be made.

  4. Posted by Aputi on

    Invest in your self with class 3 air breaks drivers licence and you’ll never be unemployed

  5. Posted by Also on

    Not being able to commit to a task like finishing high school and getting the foundation for a good life also leads to lack of income. But let’s just blame them outsiders, its easier than looking at the root causes.

  6. Posted by Hard working inuk on

    Welfare welfare welfare, the ones that get put on the top of social housing lists, the ones that are able to work but won’t because they’ll loose the ability to do whatever they want and pay $65 in rent, bunch of mooching, get a job! Change the damn welfare system,

  7. Posted by Solomon Grundy on

    Welcome to the real world

  8. Posted by Taxpayer on

    It is time that we Inuit acknowledge that one of the greatest, if not greatest insult and injury to our people is that the government has severely damaged our ability and willingness to provide for ourselves and has eroded our self worth and agency.

    How else do you destroy a self-sufficient society other than by endlessly throwing free stuff at it?

    The blanket, unbending application of welfare, social assistance, income support -call it what you will- has made us disastrously dependent on public handouts. If, 50-70 years ago, these programs had been allowed to be delivered by providing necessary assistance for Inuit tied to some form of meaningful public or community service (that any person could perform, or, even, tailored to someone’s abilities), Nunavut would be a completely different place than it is today.

    If any of our ancestors could be alive today, I am sure what would make them the most incredulous and mystified would be to witness Inuit not willing to make the effort necessary to meet their own needs and those of their family. It would be beyond their comprehension to see this. This is completely foreign behavior that we see today in our communities.

    This more than any other attack against our culture now is the main impediment that prevents us, several generations after it began, from moving towards greater autonomy, independence, wellness, healing and self determination.

    • Posted by 867 on

      The sad irony is that so much of these handouts are being given out in the name of “reconciliation”. As the old saying goes “more money more problems”

    • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

      What you say sounds true but I do not believe that you are Inuk in the way you have written this. If I am wrong, I truly apologize.

  9. Posted by “Has Been Hunter” on

    Today’s generation either have never been informed or have “willfully” forgotten the steps taken to centralize our nomadic ancestors from independence to material dependence when they forced them into communities from their traditional camps. They supposed promised continual cheap housing and allowance (welfare). Of course, our our people took it to heart. To the point, we have an “education system” where they promote social passing lest Inui youth acquire skills that would enable them to become independence or self serving. To this day, the administrators in our communities are transients. Iqaiangunaq hearing they are “lazy” when the system dictates the lifestyle we live today.

    • Posted by Join the 21st Century on

      No one will seriously suggest that Inuit would have been better served continuing the lifestyle that you mention. The idea that in 2023 Inuit are justified still look to 1900 as the basis to explain why they choose welfare and not any of the amazing and plentiful opportunities available exclusively to Inuit has no merit.

  10. Posted by Confused on

    So true, Kids are starved to a point where they can no longer play from weakness due to income support deducting a lousy two week pay, they even have the power to log in to our bank accounts to make sure there isn’t any other income.

  11. Posted by Old timer on

    Thinking of quitting my job and go to income support just to get my house rent to 60.00 a month and just do black market work.

  12. Posted by Delb on

    Welfare was supposed to been used as. Here in Nunavut in many situations it’s the first. Don’t say there’s no work.
    Employers often complain. They try to hire people. When they do get someone. They won’t show up. Don’t want to work when they do come to work. A society with a poor work ethics
    So yes there needs to be an overhaul. Of the well fare system.
    Being lazy shouldn’t mean your entitled to free money.


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