Nunavut premier sees no need to draft military in COVID-19 fight

Akeeagok wants federal help combating overcrowded housing

Overcrowded housing in Nunavut is contributing to the spread of COVID-19 in the territory, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said during the territorial government’s first public update on the situation this year. (Photo by Corey Larocque)

By Corey Larocque

There’s no need to call in the military to fight COVID-19 in Nunavut, but Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok wants to enlist federal government support for other assistance.

“Military is not an option we are exploring right now,” he said Thursday, answering reporters’ questions following a public update on the territory’s COVID-19 situation.

Housing, on the other hand, is an area where Nunavut could use federal help, because he says more of it could help ease the impact of COVID-19 in the territory.

As of Thursday, Nunavut’s COVID-19 case count had climbed to 244 from zero just three weeks ago.

“Overcrowding is contributing to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in our communities,” Akeeagok said.

Some provincial politicians have talked about asking for the Canadian Armed Forces to be called in to perform a variety of COVID-19 tasks, from helping with booster shot rollouts to backstopping exhausted workers at long-term care homes and hospitals.

Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston has asked Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to deploy the military to help with booster shot rollouts in his province.

In Ontario, opposition Liberals urged Conservative Premier Doug Ford to request military assistance to help at long-term care homes and hospitals.

The chief of Bearskin Lake First Nation in northern Ontario, where more than half of its population of 400 have tested positive for COVID-19, has also asked for military assistance.

In fact, Nunavut MP Lori Idlout and her NDP colleague, northern Ontario MP Charlie Angus, wrote to the federal minister for emergency preparedness, Bill Blair, asking for military support in Bearskin Lake, according to Angus in a message over social media.

In Nunavut, Akeeagok has publicly said several times that his government has put together a request for COVID-19-related federal aid that includes housing, along with nurses and front-line health-care workers.

On Thursday, he said his team has been in touch with federal officials about that request. Akeeagok also said housing is an issue he and Trudeau discussed in December when they met in person in Ottawa — before the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Nunavut began.

“Housing is a top priority of this government,” Akeeagok said, pointing to the mandate MLAs set following last October’s territorial election.

Nunavut’s housing shortage is a well-documented issue.

Right now, Nunavut needs 2,500 housing units with a price tag of $2 billion, Akeeagok said.

“It has exemplified the urgency for true action. It’s felt right across the territory,” he said.

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(14) Comments:

  1. Posted by Ian on

    The gn does not get it feds give them 2.5 billion a year, and they have no idea about fiscal policy, need more money , more money, good luck

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  2. Posted by Come on Now on

    I guess this means we’ll be locked down until new housing units are built…

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    • Posted by Too funny on

      Hilarious… I know that for politicians it is hard to resist a good opportunity, but to say that yea, we need housing to fix the covid crisis is to basically ignore the crisis altogether and speak as if space and time had no meaning.

      Face palm…

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  3. Posted by Remote Work on

    Build houses, yes. Short term, offer staff who have served more than three years an option to remote work from the south. That will free up 100s of units for other housing needs. You could event meet Inuit employment targets by letting Inuit in the south, being the third largest population of Inuit in Canada, work remote for the GN.

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  4. Posted by DUMBFOUNDED!! on

    stop all ready asking for free handouts. overcrowding in households. start wearing condoms and or use birth control.always expecting other people to live your lives for you all.allow us to relax and enjoy life with our paycheques instead of taxing us and the money going towards housing and welfare.so tired of raising other peoples families on our tax dollars.where does most of the tax money come from?from southerns. one day they will realize that the north keeps suckling away the tax payers dollars and then the north would be screwed.

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    • Posted by IQ values on

      Careful, you said the dirty word , “Birth Control”. You might get called racist for that one.

  5. Posted by Aputi on

    NUNAVUT STRONG, WE DONT NEED MILITARY, INUIT ARE RESILIENT

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  6. Posted by Nunaland on

    Military controls more and operates easier while a lot is wild.

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  7. Posted by Northern Guy on

    Only a completely naive rookie would try to use the Covid pandemic as an excuse to try and get more housing. Any new housing funding is a full 18 months from being transferred add to that another 2-4 years to actually build the units. How long does our esteemed premier expect this pandemic to last?

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    • Posted by Use the vacant gn housing right now on

      Count the vacant gn units in your community…the ones being ‘saved’ for priority hires that haven’t been filled for 3+ years. Stop saving these…use them today with the aim of replenishing them in two to three years with more funding. You know you are going to get funding…use what you have right now.

  8. Posted by Nunagorf on

    So many people that want a quick fix. The pendemic has shown us exactly what must change. Elder homes, the most hard hit, but we ask for more to be built. Hugh drunken gatherings like NHL arenas , do we demand to have alcohol removed? Housing shortage, no that takes to long! Better food, no there is not enough room in the store after it’s filled with junk food. Healthy living, why we just need to go see a doctor and get drugs!

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  9. Posted by Up North on

    How is school going to open for our children if Covid testing is only for frontline workers? Will there be testing kits available in schools before school reopen? Will teachers be given gowns and full covering to be able to protect themselves? Will attendance be staged? Vaccines should be mandatory for all students in order to prevent the spread of covid in Nunavut, And, the Ministry of Education and the teachers union should have strict mandate for students who refuse to wear or keep their mask on at all times.

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  10. Posted by Draft the Military on

    Draft the military, not the unvaxxed children! You want them to be on the front lines! Get the military in to help out, not the children, children who can’t get vaccinated! You want daycares open! They will be exposed to the virus, and not protected, when you could have had the military already vaccinated, helping out! Makes no sense getting your children to go to daycare!

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  11. Posted by Backwards on

    Geez
    We seem to be working backwards?
    This round of new faces are many things to shake my head. What’s up with the new testing.
    Say no to military for help but you want more money for housing?
    Give your heads a shake ppl!
    In order to house every nunavutmiutaq. Nunavutmiut will have to step up and get an education. Find an awesome paying job. Buy a house. Don’t wait for the GN or housing to hand you keys.
    Grow up ppl! Go to school. Get a job. Don’t wait for handouts. I’m tired of being thought of as a lazy person just waiting for handouts. I pay taxes. I pay rent – high rent, I shop local, I’m broke living pay check to pay check.
    Please stop waiting for the feds promise from the 1950s. That’s so 70 years ago. All those promises that were given died with the very ppl who promised this. So go to school, get a job who cares if you start from the bottom. You work your way up.
    You will wait forever to get social housing so get off fb and start searching or questioning ppl how can I buy my own house? How can I get there?

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