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Nunavut Votes 2004
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  Main > Indepth Features > Twenty Questions Voting Day February 16, 2004   

Twenty Questions
John Boivin | CBC Online News | Jan. 26

The members of the next Nunavut legislative assembly face some daunting challenges. They have to shepherd the territory through tight financial straights, as well as meet huge economic and social needs, and the political aspirations of the community and regions.

How do you tell if a certain candidate has the right ideas to represent your community? You might want to ask them some of the following questions as they pertain to your community.


Health and social services costs are one of the greatest expenditures of the Nunavut government, accounting for more than $150 million in spending annually. While the territory's premier got more funding from Ottawa last year, health services remains a nagging problem.

There is another health centre being built in the Kivalliq, but most Nunavumiut still only have access to a nursing station; serious or long-term care often means flying people south. New money is being spent on hiring doctors and nurses, but there are few if any Inuit medical professionals in the territory. That makes getting care in Inuktitut a rarity in the territory.

The bottom line: Inuk men can expect to live seven years less than the national average, women almost 10 years less.

Ask your candidate:
1. What would you do to improve access to health in our community?
2. How do you think doctors or nurses could be attracted to our community?

Half the jobs in Nunavut, just over 4,000, are from government. The unemployment rate is 20-30 per cent, depending on how you count the numbers; though it is as high as 70 per cent in some communities.

Inuit unemployment is 35 per cent, compared to just 3.3 per cent for non-Inuit. For Inuit under 25, the rate is 48 per cent. More than half of Inuit receive government income support at some point during a year.

At the creation of Nunavut, there was a commitment made that the number of Inuit in government should reflect the percentage of the Inuit population. Yet, while Nunavumiut look for work, government jobs go vacant for months or years for lack of qualified candidates.

Ask your candidate:
3. What would you do to improve Inuit hiring by government?
4. How would you create 10 jobs in our community?
It has been a strong belief among Inuit, and a government policy since division, that economic development should be shared among communities. As a result, government departments have been moved out of the capital and into communities across the territory. It's not been an easy transition. Often, individuals, or even members of a whole government department have refused to move. Other communities not on the list for decentralized jobs face a bleak economic future.
Ask your candidate:
5. Is decentralization working? What would you do to make it benefit our community more?
6. What will you do to help communities not on the list for decentralization?

Half the people of Nunavut are in public housing, 98 per cent of them Inuit. At least 15 per cent of people are on a waiting list for their own home, some waits are as long as 10 years.

At least 260 new homes a year for the next five years are needed to meet demand; less than half that is being built in 2004.

As the population grows, overcrowding becomes an even greater issue, with the social and health concerns that raises. Because rents are tied to income, having a job can actually increase the cost of housing, thus creating a disincentive to work.

Ask your candidate:
7. Do you know how to get more housing units built in our community?
8. How would you address the needs of homeless people, or people who need emergency shelter in our community?

The territory needs an educated population in order to take over the reins of government. However, the education system of Nunavut is being swamped by a population boom. Sixty per cent of the population is under 25; yet half the people of the territory do not have a high-school education.

While 22 of 26 communities have some access to Grade 12 education, it is rather limited, and very little teaching is done in Inuktitut. Spending is double southern regions, but huge needs remain.

Ask your candidate:
9. What can be done to keep our children in school until graduation?
10. What training programs would you see set up in the territory to make sure Nunavumiut reap the maximum benefits from upcoming developments?

Government spending makes up 55 per cent of the territory's economy, compared with 22 per cent nationally. The territory depends on Ottawa for 90 per cent of its funding, making it vulnerable to cuts in transfer payments and changes in the country's finances.

As we enter our second legislative assembly, there is no accumulated surplus left – no money left in our savings account to meet our spending. Simply, we're spending more than we make, and we can't sustain that.

Ask your candidate:
11. What programs would you cut if we are running a deficit?
12. Would you support a tax increase to boost the territory's revenues?

The rate of violent crime in Nunavut is five times the national average, as is the suicide rate. There have been more than 125 suicides since the territory was created in 1999. The rate of premature death overall is double the national average.

Sexually transmitted disease is rampant, 15 times the national rate. The rates of alcohol, drug and solvent abuse is also much higher than the national average.

People need help but have little access to counselling. People needing shelter from abusive situations often have to leave the community for help.

Nunavut can't progress without healthy individuals in a healthy community.

Ask your candidate:
13. What would you do to prevent suicide in our community?
14. How can violent crime be reduced in our community?
15. What will you do to help victims of violence in our community?
There are 4,600 kilometres of road in Yukon, but only 20 km in Nunavut. Iqaluit alone needs $18 million in infrastructure development to meet the needs of its growing population. A lack of proper transportation facilities, whether by land, sea or air limits economic growth. Communities need better water and sewage treatment and garbage disposal systems.
Ask your candidate:
16. What is the most important thing our community needs for infrastructure? What will you do to make that happen?

Nunavut sits on an enormous potential of wealth – from diamond and gold mines, to oil and gas deposits, to fisheries and tourism.

But it takes investment to turn that potential to wealth for Nunavumiut. And there's a trade-off in the impact those develpments could have on the land, wildlife, and people.

As well, right now Nunavut would get none of the taxation from royalties from development. It would all go straight into Ottawa's coffers. Nunavut can't benefit from development until it controls its resources through devolution.

Ask your candidate:
17a. Do you support the Bathurst Inlet road-and-port project?
17b. Do you support construction of a road from Manitoba to the Kivalliq?
17c. Do you support an Iqaluit-Kimmirut road project?
18. Do you support devolution of control of resources from Ottawa? What do you think can be done to prompt Ottawa to begin devolution talks?
We're not just choosing an MLA. Our representative can also end up being the premier of the territory, or a member of the cabinet.
Ask your candidate:
19. Do you want to be premier? Who would you support?
20. Do you want a cabinet position? Which one?

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The Speaker of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly

  Election Results


In Their Own Words

Visit the Indepth Features section for a look at "The First Five Years", "The Inuit Way", "Nunavut Economy" and "Housing".

In Their Own Words

In Their Own Words
CBC Radio Nunavut has given each of the candidates in the election the opportunity to make a short statement about why they are running for the territorial assembly. Hear their statements >

Twenty Questions

Twenty Questions
How do you tell if a certain candidate has the right ideas to represent your community? You might want to ask them some of the following questions.. Full Story >

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