Nunavut’s mine training investments “pathetic,” says MLA

“You have an industry that’s taking off, and we have a government that’s spending less”

John Main, Nunavut’s MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove, says the Department of Economic Development should significantly boost how much it spends on mine training. (Photo by John Thompson)

By John Thompson

The Government of Nunavut is failing its residents by not doing more to prepare them to work in the territory’s mines, says John Main, MLA for Arviat North-Whale Cove.

“Our government’s investment in mine training to date is pathetic,” Main told the legislature on Wednesday, May 29, during a member’s statement.

“It is absolutely pathetic. Our government talks a big talk about mining being a pillar of our economy, well, walk the walk and put some money into getting our residents trained up, getting them educated, so that they can get the jobs.”

Mining is on an upswing in Nunavut, with four mines now operating in the territory, Main noted.

Yet the Department of Economic Development and Transportation’s spending on mine training has declined in recent years, Main said, when he returned to the issue during question period.

The department’s spending on mine training has gone from $657,000 in 2016-17, to $355,000 in 2017-18, to $282,000 in 2018-19, said Main.

“You have an industry that’s taking off, and we have a government that’s spending less … on getting people employed in that sector,” he said.

Main asked Economic Development Minister David Akeeagok “why the department is not ramping up their spending in the area of mine training?”

Akeeagok replied that the department’s spending on mine training may be down, “but there are a number of other agencies, including the mining companies, that have
agreements with the Inuit organizations that deal with their mine training also.”

“Overall, I don’t think there has been necessarily a downturn in the training,” he said.

Akeeagok added that his department has been in talks with Nunavut Arctic College and the Department of Children and Family Services to try to create a more unified approach, “so that all the monies that are geared toward mine training are identified and used so we can benefit as many Nunavummiut as possible.”

Main asked Akeeagok whether his department would be “investing significantly more in this area?”

Akeeagok wouldn’t commit to that. But he added that efforts to better organize spending on mine training would also include “discussions with the mining companies and Inuit organizations and any other stakeholders, such as the mining associations, in terms of how can we leverage more on this.”

This approach would look at “whether Nunavut Arctic College can become the agency to do the actual training,” said Akeeagok.

“In the past it has been done by other agencies or other organizations or even some of them at the hamlet level.”

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Annie on

    I hope John & Adam become ministers soon. Best MLAs in past # of years. They ask important questions & demand answers from current crop of ‘lost’ ministers.

    • Posted by Sled dog on

      Just because they ask better questions does not qualify them to manage

      • Posted by Israel MacArthur on

        We’re not looking to them to manage, that’s what career bureaucrats are for, we’re looking to them to lead.

      • Posted by Annie on

        Prerequisites? Both are educated, ask meaningful informed questions, demand accountability, speak up, have solid work backgrounds & are solid family men.

  2. Posted by Tom on

    Mr. Akeeagok! Even with the Inuit organizations picking up the slack of the GN, these Inuit organizations are doing what they can with training, the bottom line is that the GN does talk big about mining and economic growth but reality is that the GN is doing very little in training and building capacity in Nunavut. Mr. Akeeagok trying to deflect this to other organizations is lame and your department is failing to come up with a plan to train people in Nunavut to take on these jobs. The GN is failing Nunavut when other organizations are working with the mines to come up with training initiatives.
    Why can’t the GN come up with a training initiative to build the capacity for Nunavumiut instead of trying to deflect it?

    The GN can be doing so much better in so many ways and levels.

    • Posted by Stream of Unconsciousness on

      The department of economic development and transportation is not set up to do what Mr. Main is asking, and Mr. Main knows it because he used to work for that department on exactly that file. The college is a better fit, but even they would need direction and resources.
      The regional Inuit organizations are part of the problem here, with their regional vision closely tied to their IIBAs. Everybody knows what needs to be done but the RIAs (and a few smaller regional interests) don’t want to cooperate.

      • Posted by Tom on

        Again trying to deflect this on someone else! No the GN needs to get its crap together and come up with training initiatives instead of trying to point the finger at others.
        Cutting training instead of growing will not work.
        I think we all know who the problem is here and it’s not the Inuit organizations.

  3. Posted by Guy from Nunavut on

    Now every Nunavumiutaq is going to become a miner?

    • Posted by Peter on

      No but there is room for a lot of Nunavumiut to get trained and get a job, better then being on social assistance or being in a crappy seasonal job.
      With more mining activity GN needs to be better prepared and have the opportunity there for Nunavumiut.

      • Posted by JE on

        Hear hear. I totally agree with your comment.

      • Posted by Jon on

        I couldn’t agree more with you Peter, well said!

    • Posted by Stream of Unconsciousness on

      You’d prefer every Nunavumiutaq to be on income support/part-time hunter?

      Or maybe we could stop talking in unrealistic extremes? There are currently only a few thousand Inuit working in mining or related jobs, the quality and quantity of those opportunities could double without turning Nunavut into some industrial nightmareland. In fact I would say the income and sense of purpose would be of benefit.

  4. Posted by Bert Rose on

    John, your observation seems to ignore the multi million dollars spent on building staffing and equipping the Trades Center at NAC.
    Once again studenfs are I’ll prepared to enter trades training.

  5. Posted by Bert Rose on

    John, your observation seems to ignore the multi million dollars spent on building staffing and equipping the Trades Center at NAC.
    Once again students are ill prepared to enter trades training.

    • Posted by Ours not yours on

      Should we start criticizing education in Nunavut? Oh… wait a minute.

  6. Posted by Putuguk on

    The Government of Nunavut currently has on it’s books the following laws: The Apprenticeship, Trade and Occupations Certification Act, Economic Development Agreements Act, Education Act, Employment Agencies Act, Engineers and Geoscientists Act, Income Assistance Act, Labour Standards Act, Nunavut Arctic College Act, Occupational Training Agreements Act, Student Financial Assistance Act, Universities and Degree Granting Institutions Act and, Workers Compensation Act.

    Under the Nunavut Act, the GN has full authority to pass even more laws and be even more active in this area given the current understanding of distribution of powers between federal and provincial levels of government.

    Private business, Inuit organizations, Hamlets or any other group in Nunavut that sees that mine training is a gap and has tried to hand-hold the GN into doing something, is not under any similar obligation to do anything in this area.

    But somehow at the end of the day, it is up to all these others to get things done. Pathetic is right.

  7. Posted by Suqaima on

    There was lots of money that was with the Land Claims Organizations that Lorne Kusugak was in charge of to get ready for the mines. This was in the early 90’s. He should be able to answer some of the training questions and how the money and huge funds were spent.

  8. Posted by AG on

    “Auditor General gives Nunavut failing grade in supporting student career goals”
    The GN is failing Nunavut, get your things in order and start doing your job, this is embarrassing!

  9. Posted by JOHN MAIN FOR PREMIER on

    Mining. Education. These are the keys.

    Let’s give them to Mr. Main and hope Adam becomes his deputy. There’s a new Sheriff in town.

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