Trudeau jets into Iqaluit to pledge $360M for housing if re-elected

Prime minister discusses election commitments in Q&A with Nunatsiaq News

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau sat down with Nunatsiaq News Monday in Iqaluit to talk about his party’s promise to provide $360 million over four years for housing across Inuit Nunangat and other election commitments. (Photo by Mélanie Ritchot)

By Mélanie Ritchot

Touching down in Iqaluit for about four hours before heading back to Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had enough time to pledge $360 million for housing across Inuit Nunangat if he’s re-elected.

The funds would come over four years but be “heavily front-loaded” in the first year, Trudeau said in an interview after a campaign stop to support Nunavut Liberal candidate Pat Angnakak.

“We’re going to try and maximize what we can do in the next construction season.”

Trudeau is the first party leader to visit the territory since the election — slated for Sept. 20 — was called, and said he regrets being able to stop in for only a few hours.

“I love this part of the world so much that being able to come even for a few hours is better than nothing,” he said.

While the New Democratic Party and the Conservatives released their election platforms weeks ago, Trudeau said his will be presented in the coming days and will include announcements specifically for Inuit.

Before boarding his Liberal party-branded plane waiting on the runway, Trudeau met with Nunatsiaq News at the Iqaluit airport to talk about his other plans for Inuit Nunangat.

Nunatsiaq News: Your housing plan focuses on helping Canadians become homeowners but there aren’t many homes to buy in the North. How will you get Inuit housed?

Justin Trudeau: There will be help for renters [too], but what we put in our platform is a specific fund for municipalities as incentives for them, cutting through some of the red tape and slowdowns. I know how incredibly expensive it is and how short the building season is in Nunavut, so we have to make sure we are maximizing all the incentives to build.

NN: Your plan includes ending plastic pollution and cutting waste with a goal to recycle 90 per cent of plastic bottles by 2029. How can this be done in Nunavut without infrastructure to recycle plastic?

Trudeau: Obviously, the way you do things in the south would be very different in the North, but we’re making sure we’re making the right investments and looking for alternatives. There are going to be things that we simply can’t do the same way in the North, but it would be a big advantage [alone] if we recycled all the plastic in the south and thought differently about how we did things in the North. The one thing I don’t want to do is add extra costs to the already high cost of living in the North.

NN: Can northerners expect to be able to recycle plastic in the next few years?

Trudeau: That’ll be part of it. But that’s why we’ve given ourselves a few years to work with industry and municipalities on different ways of doing it so we can get to that goal.

NN: In 2019 you pledged to get all Indigenous communities off diesel by 2030. Is this still the plan for Nunavut and Nunavik?

Trudeau: It’s very much the plan and how we do it is going to be a mix of things. I’ve heard people talk about small modular reactors, geothermal, harnessing wind properly and solar panels. There’s going to be a mix of solutions.

NN: You plan to reduce childcare costs to $10 per day, but how will you fix long waitlists and understaffed daycares in the North?

Trudeau: The $10 per day [cost] is a piece of the plan. But, you’ll see as we sign [agreements] with different jurisdictions, there will be commitments about how many spaces get opened up and how we’re going to make sure there’s proper pay for the early childhood educators. We don’t send the money to the provinces or territories unless the plan includes making more spaces and supporting the educators properly. Nunavut will be very different in its approach, but I’m working with the premier on how to solve this challenge.

NN: Has one of these agreements been signed with the Government of Nunavut?

Trudeau: No, not yet. It is in the works, but the needs are particular here, so we need to make sure we get it right.

NN: The NDP and Conservatives’ plans include reforming Nutrition North. What’s your plan to make food more affordable in the North?

Trudeau: That was probably one of the biggest things I’ve heard today and every time I come up North. A number of years ago when the Conservatives made changes to the program, it ended up giving more money to the retailers that were supposed to be passed along to [buyers].

NN: How will you reform Nutrition North?

Trudeau: First of all, making sure we’re responding to the very real concerns that people have, that they’re not getting the savings passed onto them. Natan Obed [the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami] was talking a lot about the need to look at graduated levels or means-testing to make sure the most support goes to those who are most vulnerable. That’s something we’re interested in looking at, but food is expensive for everyone in the North and we have to make sure [the prices are] coming down.

NN: In your time as prime minister, would you say your government has improved the federal government’s relationship with Inuit?

Trudeau: We absolutely have improved our relationship with Inuit, but there’s always lots more to do.

NN: What do you think your government has failed to deliver for Inuit?

Trudeau: It’s very clear there are still outstanding needs in housing. There’s [also a need for] more support for health care — people having to fly south to have their babies is just not right. I’m really excited to take the lessons learned [from the COVID-19 pandemic] and apply them to help the other crises. We’re facing a crisis of reconciliation, climate change, housing, childcare and so many different things.

Portions of this interview were edited and condensed for clarity.

Share This Story

(25) Comments:

  1. Posted by Yea ok on

    And it will be squandered in lumber being shipped from 1 location to another then re shipping that said lumber to another location and boom, gone, thanks hunter

  2. Posted by ChesLey on

    We Canadians would be better governed in a NU like system. To hell with political parties. Too much sniping from the trenches in the current system where party vs party and party loyalty consumes time and effort of MPs. We all get short changed in the running skirmishes, while big business get corporate welfare and benefits in return for their contributions.

  3. Posted by Lucy & Charlie Brown on

    This kind of thing drives me CRAZY! The Liberals could have delivered social housing for Inuit years ago, but if we vote for Trudeau one more time then he promises to finally do the right thing. Hypocrites! What Canada needs is a strong NDP opposition to hold the government’s feet to the fire — whichever big business party it is that forms the government.

    • Posted by Enough Already on

      Enough with seeing welfare housing as the solution. Home ownership, of a real home, not some taxpayer paid welfare box, should be the goal.

      There should be lots of paths to this goal, even for the poorest among Nunavummiut.

      • Posted by Macho Man Jagmeet Singh on

        Which is exactly why Jagmeet and the NDP want to build 500,000 Affordable Homes in Canada – so that more people can buy actual affordable homes, not just what Liberal rich folks want to rent them.

        • Posted by Tax payer on

          Canada spent 18 BILLION DOLLARS on the war in Afghanistan and for what ?. Imagine how many house that could have built.

  4. Posted by Uvanga on

    $360 million to Inuit Nunaat, how much does Nunavut get from that pot. Conservatives gave 200million to Nunavut alone in mid 2000 causing a fiasco.

  5. Posted by Guy Reid on

    MP Justin Trudeau sure has traveled a long way to avoid the protesters.

  6. Posted by Katie May Anawak-Dunford on

    I am voting for the first time this year, I am very excited. I am wanting to vote for NDP, and I agree with Lori Idlout saying Trudeau has had time to fix the housing crisis. From unfit conditions, to lack of space, and lack of houses built/being built.
    I have faith in the NDP to be able to do the work that Inuit need from the Canadian and Nunavut government. They care about all people because they are hard working people who have compassion and ability to connect.
    To me Liberal and Conservative parties are a bit out of touch at times with trying to connect with people. Their actions (or lack of) speak louder than words.

    • Posted by monty sling on

      housing on the plate again, how and who will do it right? the past MPs regardless of affiliation to a party could not remedy the situation, it’s just a big election gimmick.. wanna be MPs need to enticed the voters up here with realistic goal: “I will do my best if elected”….It’s I really want hear now after 51 years of voting for something or someone…wru stuart hodgson when ur needed? bud orange? judy lamarsh? anyone out there? all gone I guess, shame. I hate yuppie candidates.

  7. Posted by ds on

    So Justin is promising to do things he had 6 years to do – but didn’t.

    • Posted by ii on

      and he’ll promise it again the next election.

  8. Posted by I Pledge on

    We all know pledges are worth nothing. Sometimes they are called promises in politics. In elections and even in real government life, they are easy to speak of but very hard to do.

  9. Posted by Nukapitaq on

    Liberal $360,000,000.00
    Administration Cost $72,000,000.00
    Shipping Cost $86,400,000.00
    New TOTAL $201,600,000.00

    Average Cost to built in NU $641,831.00

    # of Housing to be built in NU 314

    Communities 25

    Unit Share via Communities 13

  10. Posted by Nukapitaq on

    Liberal $360,000,000.00
    Administration Cost $72,000,000.00
    Shipping Cost $108,000,000.00
    New TOTAL $180,000,000.00

    Average Cost to built in Inuit Nunagat $641,831.00

    # of Housing to be built 280

    Inuit Nunagat Communities 53

    Unit Share via Communities 5

    • Posted by Curious George on

      I’m curious where those Administration Costs and Shipping Costs come from. Is there a published report you can refer us to?

      Thanks in advance.

  11. Posted by Talk is Cheap! on

    Just like you promised clean drinking water to first nations!! Empty promises just to buy popularity votes!!!

    • Posted by Funny Stuff All Around on

      In truth though, there is all kinds of funny stuff going on with the money sent to FN for water over the years. Enough has been sent to provide clean water, yet it mysteriously seems to vanish.

      Been lots of good local reporting on the unholy relationship between contractors and some of the FN governments and the very…flexible contracting and payment arrangements.

  12. Posted by Pain In The Groen on

    At this point you have to sell your soul for a few board feet of lumber. Good luck building even 200 units in Nunavut with that amount of money once it’s divided up.

    • Posted by Umilik on

      Not necessarily true.

      Random Length Lumber Continuous Contracts are currently under $500.00, which is in line with it’s 5-year average. What happened earlier this year to lumber prices was an anomaly: $1500.00 for random length, supply was low due to mill closers and demand was high because of people nesting and renovating.

      Unlikely to see lumber prices that high again, unless wave 4 and wave 5 result in massive shutdowns once again.

      • Posted by Pain In The Groen on

        Sure. The NHC estimates the average cost of building a housing unit at $500K. Let’s say Nunavut gets the majority of that money. We’ll say $200K. That’s 40 units. Whatever Nunavut ends up with for housing is going to be peanuts. Again.

        • Posted by Pain In The Groen on

          That should read “We’ll say $200M” not 200K

  13. Posted by Old timer on

    All talk no action

  14. Posted by Aputi on


  15. Posted by Don’t believe a word he says on

    He says a lot of things..


Comments are closed.