Ottawa to spend millions more on northern airlines, safe restart agreement
“Smaller jurisdictions face distinct challenges and circumstances”
Territorial governments, including Nunavut, will get more COVID-19 support money from Ottawa through their safe restart agreements, and to help sustain northern airlines, Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc announced on Oct. 9.
Through their safe restart agreements, the three territorial governments will get an additional $37.3 million, LeBlanc said.
“Smaller jurisdictions face distinct challenges and circumstances,” LeBlanc said at a televised news conference in Ottawa.
Nunavut’s safe restart top-up funding is worth $12.5 million. That’s in addition to $18.9 million announced last July.
It’s part of a federal government promise to spend $19 billion on safe restart agreements with each province and territory—on the condition that each premier provide Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with a letter stating how they plan to use the money.
Nunavut Premier Joe Savikataaq’s letter to Trudeau says Nunavut is spending its safe restart money on tasks like building up its COVID-19 testing capacity, hiring more health-care staff, and doing cultural competence training for isolation hub hotel and security personnel.
That includes building testing capacity with GeneXpert and BioFire testing systems, and renovating a laboratory in Rankin Inlet to make space for testing equipment.
On contact tracing, Savikataaq said Nunavut needs money to hire more staff to do that work.
“This includes supports for virtual nursing teams doing follow-up and monitoring, as well as the necessary work to keep up with data entry, analysis, and reporting, including links with the territory’s electronic health record system,” Savikataaq said.
And to help airlines serving the territory, the federal government will give the three territories an additional $41.4 million, LeBlanc said.
Of that, Nunavut will get an additional $17.1 million for airline subsidies. Including earlier spending, that means Nunavut has received a total of $29.6 million of support this year for airlines that serve the territory.
“The government also understands just how critical northern air services are, from ensuring food supply chains remain intact to providing medical care and transportation needs to some of Canada’s most remote communities,” LeBlanc said.
At the same news conference, Agriculture Minister Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an additional $100 million for the federal government’s Emergency Food Security Fund.
That’s in addition to the first $100 million in emergency food money that was announced last April.
Of that, Nunavut has already received $1.1 million for food banks, hamlets, schools and other community organizations.