Nunavut infrastructure: never quite enough money

GN sets next capital budget at $103.5 million


The GN’s $103.5 million capital budget for 2006-07 will pay for a long list of building projects, but numerous questions and statements from MLAs show that the GN doesn’t have nearly enough money to satisfy the territory’s urgent need for infrastructure.

David Simailak, the finance minister, tabled the capital budget for the upcoming fiscal year on Nov. 16, after first saying that Nunavut’s formula financing agreement with the federal government does not meet Nunavut’s growing needs.

The Nunavut legislature passes its capital budgets at least four or five months before the relevant fiscal year begins on April 1, to give contractors time to bid on jobs and assemble materials to meet spring sealift deadlines.

For the next fiscal year, the GN is proposing to spend more than $50 million less than it is spending on capital projects for the 2005-06 fiscal year.

That’s mostly because of big reductions in capital spending for the Health and Social Services, Community and Government Services, and Justice departments.

The health department, for example, will see its capital budget shrink from $56 million to $22.7 million, mostly because two of its three big health centre projects are done. Only the Qikiqtani General Hospital in Iqaluit remains to be completed.

Throughout the short sitting that ended this week, various MLAs said they’re not happy with the state of infrastructure in their communities.

For example, James Arreak, the MLA for Uqqummiut, rose Nov. 16 to complain about the unhealthy state of Qikiqtarjuaq’s nursing station and school.

The nursing station there is 33 years old and the school has been closed because staff and students are suffering from allergic reactions to some substance in the building.

“An old and aging health centre and an unhealthy school environment are just two examples of infrastructure that does not promote the well-being of a community,” Arreak said.

And on Nov. 17, David Alagalak, the MLA for Arviat, rose to complain that water levels in Arviat were too low and that their water tasted bad.

GN capital projects for 2006-07 include:

* $5 million for public housing — Simailak says new units will go to those communities in “greatest need” and which didn’t get housing allocations in 2005-06;
* $1.5 million for planning work on the long-awaited Nunavut Heritage Centre — the GN proposes spending about $6 million on this project between 2007 and 2011;
* $5 million for the replacement health centre in Pangnirtung — about $4.6 million was allocated to that project in the 2005-06 budget;
* $3.75 million for a continuing care facility in Igloolik;
* $3.75 million for a continuing care facility in Gjoa Haven;
* $4 million for a replacement airport in Arctic Bay;
* $1 million for improvements to Iqaluit’s airport — this is being spent together with a $10.7 million contribution from the federal government’s airport assistance program;
* $21.7 million for a long list of community projects and tank farm upgrades for the Petroleum Products division — this includes $4 million for projects in Iqaluit under the GN-Iqaluit capital plan agreement, $4.6 million for water and sewage projects in other communities, including sewage lagoon repairs in Cape Dorset, a new sewage treatment plant and water works in Rankin Inlet, sewage lagoon work in Kugluktuk and planning for a new water line in Pond Inlet;
* $8.15 million to finish the Qikiqtani General Hospital — about $35 million has already been allocated for the 2005-06 fiscal year;
* $1 million for furniture, fixtures and equipment in the Qikiqtani General Hospital;
* $1.6 million to finish the new justice centre in Iqaluit — that figure includes $200,000 for furniture, equipment and moving expenses;
* $1.5 million for design work on a new trades school and a new Inuit cultural school — but the GN has yet to include any money for construction of these facilities in its budget documents;
* $2.6 million to finish the addition to Iqaluit’s Aqsarniit middle school — the GN allocated about $5.6 million to this project in 2005-06;
* $1.6 million to renovate Sakku School in Coral Harbour;
* $1.4 million to renovate Iqaluit’s Inuksuk High School;
* $1 million for a new school in Sanikiluaq — the GN plans to spend about $10 million between 2007 and 2011 on this project;
* $3.9 million to renovate Gjoa Haven’s elementary school;
* $2.4 million for a new men’s correctional healing facility — the GN hasn’t said where that facility will be located;
* $316,000 to prepare for a women’s correctional healing facility — in future years, the GN would like to spend another $2.6 million on such a facility, before 2009.
* $300,000 for the legislative assembly, to fix up the audio-visual system, buy new furniture, upgrade the chamber and offices, and to buy artwork.

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