The three candidates vying for the Iqaluit Centre seat in the Oct. 27 Nunavut election agreed at a forum Monday night that suicide is a major issue that can't be addressed by one level of government alone.
Suicide has long been one of the most serious social problems in Nunavut, with suicide rates several times higher than the national average.
"I lost a brother to suicide in 1999," candidate Madeleine Redfern told about 60 reporters and members of the public at Monday's all-candidates forum, hosted by the Association des francophones du Nunavut.
"We as a family weren't getting the help that he needed … nor the system or the teachers. we need to find ways in which that our people in our society do not lose that hope."
Fellow candidate Joe Sageaktook said he wants more money and resources to be invested in social services and mental health programs.
"There's a big turnaround in the [Health and] Social Services Department," he said. "You may talk to one person one time and you get so far, then you go back and then you have to talk to another person. That's no good."
Health and social services are currently under one department. Incumbent candidate Hunter Tootoo said it may be time to make them separate departments.
"In such a huge department of Health and Social Services, it always seems to be the forgotten child," he said.
"So there may [be] ways to try and streamline things, or split things up so that certain areas get the attention that they need."
Since Nunavut was formed in 1999, more than 230 people in the territory of nearly 30,000 have committed suicide.
Twenty-four suicides were reported in 2007, according to the territory's chief coroner's office.
- 'We just have to roll up our sleeves,' says Nunavut premier-elect Aariak
- Nunavut's new premier-elect said she plans to get to work right away with her fellow MLAs to move the northern territory ahead over the next four years.
- Eva Aariak topples incumbent to become Nunavut's 2nd premier
- First-time member of the legislative assembly Eva Aariak defeated incumbent Paul Okalik to become Nunavut's second premier Friday, and the northern territory's first female premier.
- Nunavut MLAs get ready to pick premier, cabinet
- As members of Nunavut's third legislative assembly prepare to decide who will lead the territory for the next four years, rumours and intense lobbying abound in the contest for the top job.
- Akulliq byelection scheduled for Dec. 15
- People living in Repulse Bay and Kugaaruk, Nunavut, will finally choose their MLA next month, after a court challenge cancelled the voting there in last month's territorial election.
- Nunavut MLAs to choose premier, cabinet next week
- Nunavut's newly elected politicians will select the territory's premier, speaker, and most of its cabinet ministers in a leadership forum scheduled for Nov. 14.