Nunavut MP calls federal housing funding ‘laughable’

Qaqqaq finds common cause with Conservative MP in criticizing Liberals’ northern housing commitments

Nunavut MP Mumilaaq Qaqqaq renewed her call for increased housing funding for the territory in a member’s statement in the House of Commons on May 13. (Screenshot from ParlVu live stream)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Nunavut’s MP stood in the House of Commons on Thursday to demand more housing money, calling the federal government’s recent $25 million pledge “laughable to say the least.”

“While families in Ottawa and Toronto are told to stay home, wash their hands and stay physically distanced, Nunavummiut are packed inside overcrowded and mouldy homes that are falling apart,” Mumilaaq Qaqqaq said, referencing public health measures to help curb the spread of COVID-19.

“How can they stay in their homes when their houses are full of mould, they live with 14 other people in a four-bedroom and their house is full of broken pipes?” the NDP politician asked.

The federal budget presented in April includes $25 million for Nunavut to help repair houses and build about 100 new units, to address immediate needs.

The budget document says that COVID-19 has highlighted the health vulnerabilities Indigenous peoples face, and the government knows addressing the gap in health outcomes faced by Inuit means taking a broader approach to health.

“It means recognizing health care includes preventive care … that good health is only possible when basic needs are met,” the budget states.

This $25 million is not the only funding Nunavut can access for housing.

Some larger pools of money earmarked for Indigenous peoples are broken down by group and have portions dedicated to Inuit, but others are lump sums that can go to First Nations, Inuit or Metis peoples anywhere across the country.

Dan Vandal, the minister of northern affairs, and Marc Miller, the minister of Indigenous services, answered reporters’ questions after a meeting with Indigenous leaders and stakeholders, including Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada and others, on April 26.

Based on Budget 2021, answers given in the meeting and information from tweets from by Vandal, Nunavut can access money for housing from these pools:

  • $25 million for the Government of Nunavut to address immediate needs, including repairs and about 100 new units.
  • More than $6 billion to help close infrastructure gaps in Indigenous communities, which comes from a “historic” investment of $18 billion over three years to help “narrow gaps” between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities.
  • $4.3 billion over four years for Indigenous community infrastructure projects, which could include housing in Nunavut. This comes with another $1.7 billion yearly for five years and $388.9 million yearly after that pledged to maintain community infrastructure.
  • Over $550 million already pledged to address housing needs in the territory.
  • $400 million for Inuit-led housing in Inuit Nunangat.
  • $2.5 billion for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which includes $1.5 billion for the Rapid Housing Initiative for “urgent housing needs of vulnerable Canadians.”

Nunavut should consider the initial $25 million from the federal government a “down payment” with more to come, Vandal said after the meeting.

“The $25 million to the GN is completely flexible … they could use it any way they want,” Vandal said.

Eric Melillo, the Conservative MP representing Kenora, Ontario, asked the Liberal government why funding for housing in Nunavut is lacking in question period on Friday. (Screenshot taken from ParlVu live stream)

For the $4.3 billion in infrastructure funding, Miller said “we are letting Indigenous nations determine how that money is invested in their priorities.”

On Friday, Eric Melillo, the Conservative MP for Kenora, Ontario, also brought up the Nunavut housing crisis in the House of Commons.

“Canadians have been shocked by the housing crisis in Nunavut,” he said. “Yet somehow, Nunavut’s housing needs have been completely overlooked … and once again, underfunded in the latest Liberal budget.”

“Why is this government so reluctant to support northern housing?” he asked during question period.

It isn’t the first time Melillo has spoken out about the territory’s housing needs.

In 2020, he said Nunavummiut were being left behind in response to a report by Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. that compared Nunavut’s infrastructure to the rest of Canada’s.

After the question, Qaqqaq wrote in a tweet “even Conservatives in Ontario are waking up to the housing crisis in Nunavut,” and asked “how much more is it going to take for … the Liberals to see that Nunavut needs real investments in housing.”

In response to the Conservative MP’s question, Adam Vaughan, the Liberals’ parliamentary secretary for housing, said the North presents some challenges and they are waiting for a national strategy on urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing to take next steps.

The report is being prepared by a standing committee. The aim is to create a housing strategy that encompasses 80 per cent of Indigenous households across Canada, including in the North.

Vaughan said the new program will provide support for Nunavummiut seeking housing.

He also responded to Qaqqaq’s tweet, saying “we agree there’s more to do & more must be done immediately.”

Qaqqaq responded, “so get your government to do something about it … stop saying you know what’s wrong and start using your power to do what’s right.”

Vaughan’s last response was that existing investments are aimed at addressing the serious concerns Qaqqaq has raised.

“I agree current conditions violate fundamental rights of Nunavut … more to do … more to come,” he wrote.

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(18) Comments:

  1. Posted by Seriously on

    Maybe the Liberal government is laughing at Nunavut’s MP because she continues to cry wolf but can’t offer solutions.
    A strong MP for Nunavut will bring solutions to the table a fight for support. However fighting for support is tough for an MP who is not taken seriously and a party that supports the Liberal governments plan.
    This MP wants to kill Mary River when it will generate so much wealth for the territory so, question is what is it this MP wants and does it align with what the people of Nunavut wants.
    Stop crying about the issues and bring change and solutions. Tough to take to think we would put up with another 4 years off this immaturity.

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  2. Posted by Chorus of Clichés on

    I’m genuinely curious if our MP has spent any time thinking about the economic development of our territory? As I see it there can’t be any serious discussion about issues like housing, or even suicide, without a serious consideration of our economic development. To wait on and demand a system of perpetual handouts is at its very best a route to bare subsistence. It will never lead to the kind of prosperity that I assume most people really want in Nunavut.

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  3. Posted by What is housing? on

    I want to know what advocates for further federal funding for housing are specifically advocating for. Are you advocating for social housing? Or will Inuit actually have to work and pay for housing, by renting or mortgage?
    .
    QQ has raised people in Toronto and Ottawa homes in her question, but she must know that people in those cities are usually saddled with million dollar mortgages for the ‘privilege’ of housing. Maybe she is advocating Inuit pay also? I am confused.

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  4. Posted by Unimpressed on

    You know what else is laughable? Your performance as MP, Qaqqaq.

    But, hey, at least you showed up to represent for once.

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  5. Posted by J-Z on

    your comments can crack on her all you like, make yourselves feel like you could do a better job, then get elected and go do it.
    .
    When we needed support and protection from a tyrant at least she stuck her head out and said what needed to be said, unlike the useless Environment minister, or QIA.
    .
    She is not harming the income of effected communities one bit, all the BIM jobs were in the south, and south baffin for what there was in nunavut. At least she could see through that. People crying over mary river must only be the ones in the south with the jobs, anyone in north baffin wont cry, we rejoice that our ice will be white again.
    .
    I am glad someone young and able to stick to her thoughts is with us. Friggin MPs in the south are so lobbied and tyrranical. Destroying all the civil liberities people have died for in our Canada. Now people are loosing their lives on mental and substance abuse higher than history. Far more than covid has taken, and because of the loosing of rights.
    .
    I applaud her for saying what no one else will. Young or old, she has more courage than people twice her age. Got my vote once and she will get it again, regardless of the desk jocky nay sayers.

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    • Posted by Let’s see what happens on

      You go on and vote for her, I know I will be changing my vote and I know many others who will be doing the same. If our sentiments are reflective of a larger trend, and I believe they are, then going forward the NDP’s chances don’t look very good.

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  6. Posted by Root causes on

    It’s not a housing problem. It’s an overpopulation problem. If you want to actually fix the problem, then you have to eventually look at the root cause, which is an overly large and growing population, living in an area with little economic activity, with a population that is only too eager to shut down things like mining which are one of the few things that Nunavut has to offer the world. People everywhere in the world find themselves “underhoused” when they have kids they have no means to support. If you are dependent on the money of a distant group of people for survival, the problem is not that distant group for not giving you enough.

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    • Posted by more than that on

      It is a complex, multi-faceted problem, with many moving parts. It’s never going to be solved by the government of Canada alone, the expectation that it will shows how ingrained paternalism really is among many northerners.

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  7. Posted by Disappointment on

    Why is it that every solution to housing is more Welfare and Social Housing? Why are there NEVER more talks about home ownership programs? There hasn’t been a new home incentive program for many-many years.
    Get people owning their own places. It costs average $26,000 to maintain a social/welfare house(If they build 100 new houses then that is 2.6mil every year that goes to maintaining them rather then into new housing). Give me that 26,000 every year as a homeowner and I guarantee that you’ll have everyone and their dogs getting into private homeownership.
    The housing system is backwards. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over even though it doesn’t work. IDIOTS….

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    • Posted by People Need to Own Homes on

      I’m in full agreement with you, the system is backwards while the government seems perfectly happy to spend more money every year keeping people in social housing than they’re willing to spend to get people out of social housing.

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  8. Posted by Arctic Circle on

    Whos running for Liberal MP for Nunavut?

    We need someone other than the previous candidate, someone that can get elected as a Liberal, Nunavumiut tend to vote for the person rather than the party.

    Conservatives, Leona is a great politician, will she run again?

    We need someone to run as independent

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    • Posted by Soothsayer on

      “Who will the Liberal candidate be” is the more interesting question right now.

      It is doubtful the conservatives have much chance federally, though they could pull it off in Nunavut with the right candidate. As for Leona… if her performance in last election wasn’t enough to convince you that it’s time to move on, what could do so?

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      • Posted by Ian on

        Liberals and cons will blow it again, look who is in charge of the riding, they will be politically correct rather than find the right candidates.

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        • Posted by Soothsayer on

          I’m curious what you mean about being politically correct versus finding the right candidate?

          One thing that does seem true is that we are often given an abundance of poor choices rather than good ones. Definitely part of the problem.

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