Nunavut’s finance minister forecasts historically large deficit

George Hickes says he hopes feds will ease the pain by providing more money for COVID-19 relief

Finance Minister George Hickes has projected Nunavut’s largest deficit ever, half-way into the fiscal year. (File photo)

By Meagan Deuling
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavut’s finance minister says he expects the territory to post its largest-ever deficit this fiscal year.

George Hickes said in the legislative assembly on Friday that under normal circumstances he would have been able to give a clear answer about the state of this year’s finances, given that it is half-way through the fiscal year.

The deficit was projected to be $30 million when the budget was tabled in February of this year.

Hickes didn’t give a specific number for the current projected deficit, but he did say on Friday that there are a number of agreements and negotiations ongoing between Nunavut and the federal government that will “hopefully reduce that to a more palatable number.”

Hickes was responding to questions from Pat Angnakak, MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu, who also asked what the Nunavut government plans to do with its increased borrowing limit.

All three territories requested a borrowing increase, Hickes said. In June the federal government announced that Nunavut’s would be approved.

The $100-million increase was approved on Sept. 20, meaning Nunavut’s limit is now $750 million.

Angnakak asked whether Nunavut would act similarly to the Northwest Territories, which issued $180 million worth of bonds to convert short-term debt to long-term debt.

Hickes said Nunavut wouldn’t be doing that, and that he has no intention of using the spending limit to its capacity at this point.

“The space is available for potential future large-scale projects where we would have to capitalize a large-scale project,” he said.

The majority of Nunavut’s debt stems from lines of credit to the Qulliq Energy Corp., Hickes said.

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(6) Comments:

  1. Posted by Doc Holiday on

    Here’s a idea George, cut the isolation stays at the hotels to 7 days. test the people 24 hours before they fly up. Testing has improved a lot since the start of this pandemic, much faster results too, if you want to make it even safer then the people traveling up have to isolate at home for another 7 days.
    That should save a lot of money and grief.

    • Posted by Master Baker on

      I like what you say! Are you a real Doc, or do you just play in the comments at Nunatsiaq News?

      • Posted by Doc Holiday on

        I can take your temperature and give you some Tylenol.

        • Posted by Consistency on

          You must be a true Nunavut health care professional. How else would you be privy to their magic cure all.

  2. Posted by Piitaqanngi on

    Mines aren’t an essential service but the governments have made them so because they’re in so much deficit. Why should Nunavut risks these Covid-friendly mines to remain open? It’s unfair on us to allow governments to have these dangerous places continue to operate during a pandemic.

  3. Posted by Payme Now on

    Does this mean there is no plan to ever conclude negotiations with the Nunavut Employees Union? GN employees have been working without an agreement for more than 2 years. The cost of living goes up, but employee salaries has remained unchanged.

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