Nunavut premier announces more than $8.5M in COVID-19 relief
Support includes food hampers for those isolating, money for municipalities to provide critical services
Food hampers for people in isolation, money for municipalities to run critical services and financial support for small businesses and artisans are part of the Government of Nunavut’s COVID-19 response, while the territory awaits more help from the federal government.
Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok announced the three new support programs, totalling over $8.5 million, at a COVID-19 update on Thursday.
The largest chunk of funding is going to food hampers, to be delivered to Nunavummiut who need to isolate because of COVID-19.
The hampers are intended for people without friends or family able to get food to them. Due to a high number of requests, it may take hampers a few days to arrive.
Nunavummiut can email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-888-902-0872 to request a hamper. The GN is asking people not to call the regular COVID-19 hotline about the hampers to avoid backlogging the public health line.
To support small businesses, artists, craftspeople and harvesters, Akeeagok announced funding of up to $5,000, accessible to entrepreneurs making less than $500,000 in gross sales per year, or who have fewer than 10 employees.
To access this funding, people can go to www.gov.nu.ca/sbsp, or contact their local community economic development officer or regional economic development manager, Akeeagok said.
For municipalities, Akeeagok announced $4 million to be split up between Nunavut’s 25 communities to help with local COVID-19 responses, including keeping critical services running.
David Joanasie, the minister of community and government services, gave water and sewer services as an example of critical services the funding could help support.
On Monday, Akeeagok asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for more federal support to tackle COVID-19 in the territory.
Akeeagok said the federal government has responded by pledging to send 140,000 rapid tests to the territory and providing N95 masks, as well as help with ventilation in schools.
On Thursday, John Main, the health minister, said he is still waiting to hear back from the federal government about whether Nunavut will get any help staffing local health centres and filling vacancies so services like vaccine clinics can continue consistently.
Staffing issues have stalled vaccinations in multiple communities, although Main said he could not specify which ones.
“It’s unfortunate that we’ve had to do this but it has to do with the human resource capacity challenges that we’re facing,” he said.
But he said more mass vaccine clinics will be held across the territory later this month.
Akeeagok said he shares Main’s concern about the need for more health-care staff. He said he has been working around the clock to get assistance.
Danarae Sommerville, a spokesperson for the Department of Health, said there were 30 vacant public health positions as of Tuesday.