First of 2 reviews into Iqaluit’s water crisis has begun

No details on who is participating or whether anyone has refused to be interviewed

People in Iqaluit fill jugs with river water on Oct. 12, 2021, after the Government of Nunavut issued a do-not-consume advisory due to fuel contamination in the city’s water supply. The Department of Community and Government Services has begun a third-party review of the government’s emergency response to this crisis. (File photo)

By Randi Beers

A third-party review into the emergency response to Iqaluit’s 2021 water crisis has started.

It’s one of two reviews expected to stem from the fuel crisis that led to a public order not to consume Iqaluit’s water for a two-month period between October and December 2021.

The Department of Community and Government Services has contracted consultation firm DPRA Canada Inc. to conduct the review.

DPRA began its work in mid-December, according to the department.

The City of Iqaluit received complaints on Oct. 2, 2021, that the water smelled of fuel. Ten days later, the Government of Nunavut issued an order to stop consuming the water, after evidence of contamination became apparent.

The order was lifted Dec. 10, 2021.

The smell of fuel returned to the city’s water the next month, and an engineering firm contracted by the City of Iqaluit concluded the two contamination incidents came from different sources.

The Department of Community and Government Services review is mandatory through Nunavut’s emergency measures act, according to Department of Health spokesperson Chris Puglia.

Emails obtained by Nunatsiaq News via Nunavut’s access to information law offers some details about how the review that’s underway right now is going to work.

They include a letter to Dr. Michael Patterson, the territory’s former chief public health officer, inviting him to participate in the review.

Patterson was scheduled to be interviewed by DPRA on Jan. 23.

DPRA sent Patterson an email ahead of the interview with a list of five questions, some broken down into multiple followup questions, which he would be asked to answer.

They include a brief overview of the role he played, what he felt worked well during the process and what didn’t, a description of challenges and successes in the government’s emergency response, and any lessons that were learned.

The review will cost approximately $84,000. The final report will be made publicly available in June, according to department spokesperson Hala Duale.

Nunatsiaq News reached out to DPRA to learn who is being asked to participate in the review and whether anybody has refused to participate.

Senior associate Samual Hanig told Nunatsiaq News to redirect these questions to the Department of Community and Government Services.

The department did not offer answers to these questions either.

Patterson told Nunatsiaq News in December 2021 the Department of Health also plans to initiate a third-party review of the fuel crisis.

That review will begin after Iqaluit’s water treatment plant is fully remediated and comes back online. That’s scheduled to happen Friday.

There have been calls for the GN to hold a public inquiry into the government’s response to the crisis, but territorial officials have remained steadfast that a third-party review will be a sufficient way to get a clear picture of what went right and what went wrong during the water emergency.

A government minister has the power to call a public inquiry if he or she feels it’s necessary or in the public interest.

A public inquiry differs from a third-party review in that people can be legally compelled to testify or produce documents and all evidence is given in a public forum.

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(3) Comments:

  1. Posted by Tired on

    Well, that’s a start.

    I want an inquiry into Iqaluit’s CONTINUED issues with their capacity to provide potable water to residents.

    This is embarrassing.

    • Posted by Qavvigarjuk on

      Not much better in Rankin Inlet, they are under a water boil advisory yet again…

  2. Posted by Water the Chances? on

    Iqaluit has more water issues? People can’t even get a drive to Apex by cab to get water. Water we coming to?

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