Quebec drags feet on KSB move to Nunavik

Two years ago, the province of Quebec promised to move the KSB’s office from Montreal to Nunavik. Since then, little has happened.


MONTREAL — Will the Quebec government finally make good on its promise to move the Kativik School Board from downtown Montreal to Nunavik?

“I don’t know,” say Paul Rémillard of Quebec’s education department. “But we have to decide by the end of the month so we can make the last sealift.”

Two years ago, Pauline Marois, then Quebec’s education minister, reassured Nunavik leaders that her government’s supports the KSB’s move to Nunavik.

A year ago, Quebec’s current education minister, François Legault, also sent a letter to the KSB in which he confirmed his commitment to the board’s relocation.

Legault acknowledged the move was “important to the population.” He also promised to go to Quebec’s Treasury Board before March 31, 2000 for the money needed to pay for the move so that construction could start up sometime in the 2000-2001 fiscal year.

But despite this good will, the Parti Québécois government has still been hesitating over fulfilling its commitment to spend the $45 million and more that it will likely cost to resettle Nunavik’s school board in Nunavik.

The Kativik School Board’s head offices have been located in Montreal for more than 20 years.

Rémillard said Quebec’s Treasury Board would make a decision by the end of the month of May as to whether its ready to fund the move.

“It’s an incomparably large amount of money,” Rémillard said. “But, of course, in the North, it’s more expensive to operate, so it’s hard to compare.”

But even since last year, the relocation project’s cost has risen. Construction of the new office buildings and staff housing will now cost $34.6 million.

Pay-offs to board employees who decide to stay in the South, and training for new employees in Nunavik will add another $8.7 million to the bill. The KSB will also need $3.2 million more per year to cover higher operating costs in Nunavik.

The KSB already receives a budget of around $90 million a year.

The move affects about 100 employees who still work in Montreal. According to the board’s relocation plan, head administrators will move to Kuujjuaq, while special staff will be spread throughout the communities. Financial services are supposed to move to Kuujjuaraapik.

Annie Grenier, the executive director of the KSB, declined to make any comment on the uncertainty surrounding the board’s relocation.

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