Thanks for the advice, interim commissioner says

Interim Commissioner Jack Anawak says the GNWT’s recent action paper on making the transition to Nunavut contains a lot of good advice but he doesn’t consider it as marching orders.

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

ANNETTE BOURGEOIS
Nunatsiaq News

IQALUIT A 44-page government report outlining a transition plan for the division of the territories is good advice, says Nunavut’s Interim Commissioner Jack Anawak.

But that’s all it is advice.

“We’re treating it as what it says advice to the interim commissioner,” Anawak said in an interview this week. “We’ll pick out the parts that we think would be applicable to the creation of the government of Nunavut.”

He says the report, tabled in the legislative assembly by Finance Minister John Todd last week, “provides some framework” for the establishment of the new territory.

“But we’ve got our owns plans to go forward on, following the lines of what was spelled out in Footprints Two,” he says.

“There’s nothing new from the tranisiton plan. A lot of this we were looking at doing anyway.”

Computer systems needed for Nunavut

In one area, the report urges the interim commissioner to move quickly to enter into contracts with the western territory, or a private company, to provide some of the 60 information systems needed for the government to deliver its services.

These contracts, the report states, must be identified by next month in order to allow enough time to retain GNWT staff and incorporate a training plan for Nunavut employees to operate the systems.

“That’s the GNWT putting their own timeline on something that we’re doing,” Anawak says. “We’re not at that stage yet, but I would hope that if we’re going to contract anything out, that that contracting out will be as short as possible in order to ensure Nunavut is operating on its own reasonably soon after April 1, 1999.”

Anawak said his office has already submitted a proposal to deal with those various information systems to the three parties of the Nunavut political accord the GNWT, DIAND, and Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. for approval.

“It’s a good system proposal designed to maximize training and employment opportunities for Nunavut,” Anawak says. “If we follow it, it should be fully operational by April 1, 1999.

He says essential government services, such as emergency health care and social assistance, will be in place for April 1, 1999, but some less-immediate services may have to wait until after division.

Contracting afterwards with Yellowknife

“In other areas that we may not have the time to put in place, we will probably have to look at contracting out either with the GNWT privately or with some other government for a period of time before taking it over.”

Contracting back to the western government may be a necessary interim step to setting up the Nunavut government, but Anawak says that doesn’t reflect a backslide in implementing a decentralized Nunavut government.

“I don’t have any concerns the decentralization plans will be scrapped. We’re doing the planning, not the GNWT.”

Anawak discussed this with DIAND Minister Jane Stewart when she visited Iqaluit last month.

“The commitment is there to create a government of Nunavut, so I would hope that the commitment will be there to ensure the infrastructure programs go ahead as has been outlined.”

Accessing funding from the federal government, Anawak says, hasn’t been a problem.

“In terms of our budget, we don’t have a problem accessing the funding we have, however we have not gotten to the point of trying to access the other funding, such as for the systems.”

Igloos and tents for new employees?

And when it comes to concerns that the schedule for construction of office and residential buildings may be slow, possibly forcing some Nunavut employees to live and work in Yellowknife, Anawak has his own creative solution.

“We’ll just have to build igloos in the winter and have tents in the summer for a little while,” Anawak quipped.

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