Nunavut asked for housing, energy money in federal budget, minister tells legislature

The Nunavut Legislative Assembly's winter sitting began Wednesday with questions over caribou and daycares, and a hint of what Nunavut hopes to see from the federal budget.

Nunavut asks for three-quarters of a billion dollars from Ottawa

Nunavut's Environment Minister Johnny Mike says 110 of 250 caribou tags for Baffin Island have been used. (Nathan Denette/Canadian Press)

The Nunavut Legislative Assembly's winter sitting began Wednesday with questions over caribou and daycares, and a hint of what Nunavut hopes to see from the federal budget.

Here's a recap of what happened Wednesday.

Baffin caribou

Nunavut's Environment Minister Johnny Mike says 110 of 250 caribou tags for Baffin Island have been used. A seven-month moratorium on hunting Baffin Island caribou was lifted in August 2015 and 250 tags were distributed to communities. 

When the remaining tags are used up, Mike said more would become available pending information provided by the Qikiqtaaluk Wildlife Board.

"We would renew the 250 male caribou tags by July 2016," he said in Inuktitut. 

Daycare review

Pat Angnakak, MLA for Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu, wanted to know how many daycare spaces are needed across Nunavut. Angnakak asked the question in the last legislature sitting and raised it again Wednesday. Education Minister Paul Quassa said his department is working on a review of daycare needs across the territory. 

he said any future schools built in Nunavut will include space for a daycare. Quassa is also encouraging the private sector to open up daycares. 

"We encourage anyone that has a place for a daycare to go ahead and start one as we have money that can help to maintain the place," he said in Inuktitut.

Federal budget wishlist

Angnakak also asked Nunavut Finance Minister Keith Peterson how his December meeting with his federal counterpart, Bill Morneau, went.

Peterson said he made two pitches, asking for $525 million for housing and $250 million for energy investments.

"There's 10 provinces and three territories all lobbying for money out of the same pot. We're keeping out fingers crossed but we've certainly made a strong case for Nunavut," Peterson said.

"They're not going to tell you yes or no. We'll be waiting until March 22 until we find out."

The federal budget will be tabled March 22

When the new MLA for Netsilik, Emiliano Qirngnuq, asked the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation when the hamlet of Taloyoak could expect to see new public housing units, George Hickes said there are no plans at the moment but he is hoping funding might be on its way from Ottawa. 

"We are very much looking forward to the upcoming federal announcement and hopefully there will be additional funding to access so we can expand our public housing infrastructure and expand construction into the public housing stock," Hickes said.

Slow internet 

Hickes also took the opportunity to urge Nunavummiut to complete a survey on internet services.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission wants to hear from Canadians about their cellphone and internet broadband services.

"Stories of internet overage bills in the hundreds of dollars or the inability to stream videos or download content due to slow speeds are all to common in Nunavut communities," Hickes said.

"Nunavummiut have a chance to speak up about the quality of internet services we have now and need in the future."

The survey can be filled out online or over the phone at 1-877-249-2782. The deadline is Feb. 29.

with files from CBC's Jordan Konek


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