Report: Nunavik living conditions the worst in Quebec

A report done by Nunavik’s health board shows that although the people of Nunavik are burdened with the highest cost of living in Quebec, their average income is lower than in the South.


MONTREAL — A new report paints a disquieting picture of living conditions in Nunavik.

“The economic conditions of people living in Nunavik are difficult,” says the study, which was prepared by the Nunavik Regional Board of Health and Social Services. “The cost of living is high. There are not enough jobs for Inuit, especially outside of Kuujjuaq. People are poor and the houses are quite overcrowded.”

The study was prepared by Brian Schnarch, a research agent at Nunavik’s public health department.

His introduction says the report is “a compilation of statistical proof from official sources of what people in Nunavik know very well: the living conditions in Nunavik need serious attention.”

For example, recent statistics gathered in the study show that:

Employment levels in Nunavik appear to be similar to those in Nunavut and Quebec, but the employment situation for Nunavimmiut outside of Kuujjuaq is actually worse;
Food and basic retail items cost between 44 and 100 per cent more than in Montreal, and this difference is increasing;
Despite the higher cost of living, average income in Nunavik is lower than in southern Quebec;
Nunavik’s welfare rates are the highest in the province;
Housing is overcrowded.
> “There are no surprises here,” said the health board’s interim director, Claude Gadbois. “There are, though, numbers to prove what we’ve been saying all along.”
Statistics in the section on housing show that an average Nunavik household has 4.1 members. That’s much larger than the average Quebec household, which has 2.5 members.

At the same time, Nunavik’s average housing unit has 5.7 rooms. That’s much smaller than elsewhere in Quebec, where the average size of a housing unit is 7.4 rooms.

Nunavik’s over-crowded housing units are occupied by increasingly greater numbers of big families, young families and single-parent families than in southern Quebec.

The per capita average employment income in Nunavik is also about $5,000 lower than in other regions of Qyebec.

“Each working age person [in Nunavik] has to support more people,” concludes the report. “Lack of employment is felt more intensely because more dependents are involved. Low incomes are more difficult to live on because there are more mouths to feed.”

The cost of living is also substantially higher in Nunavik — 70 per cent higher in Salluit and Ivujivik than the cost of living in Montreal.

According to a 1995 comparison of the price of 46 food items, the food basket would cost $125 in Ottawa, $180 in Kuujjuaq and $254 in Umiujaq.

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