Nfld. & Labrador

NunatuKavut Community Council launches 2 new programs for medical travel and home repairs

The NunatuKavut Community Council has launched two new pilot programs, one to help with travel costs for people needing medical attention and another that provides funding for home repair in its communities. 

Funding coming from NCC-Nalcor deal

Todd Russell is president of the Nunatukavut Community Council in Labrador. (Terry Roberts/CBC)

The NunatuKavut Community Council has launched two new pilot programs, one to help with travel costs for people needing medical attention and another that provides funding for home repair in its communities. 

"The need is real. The need is substantive.… It means something to people. It impacts their lives in a very real way," said Todd Russell, president of NCC, the representative governing body for approximately 6,000 Inuit who, for the most part, live in south and central Labrador.

Both programs are being funded through a NCC-Nalcor agreement signed in 2019 after Nalcor and the province missed a deadline to complete work on wetland capping to help mitigate a spike in methylmercury levels after the flooding of the Muskrat Falls reservoir as submerged vegetation decomposes.

The NCC received $10 million.

The Medical Transportation Program will get $1.75 million. It'll be used to help pay the travel costs for those needing medical appointments outside of their communities. The maximum amount, per patient, is $5,000 and up to $7,000 for those traveling with an escort, such as a family member, annually.  

Funding for the programs comes from the deal struck between Nalcor and the NCC. (Nalcor Energy )

"We're very, very happy that it's happening, that we're launching it and we've already seen a tremendous amount of interest and pickup," Russell told CBC Radio's Labrador Morning.

"It'll also give us an opportunity to get a handle on what the level of need is out in our communities."

Home repairs

The Home Repair Program will see $1.25 million in funding. The program is designed to provide assistance for individual home repairs in NunatuKavut communities. Right now the maximum grant available — to the verified owners and occupants of the home, with a combined income of $40,000 or less — is $11,000.

"This is about people who have housing needs. Maybe they need their windows changed, their doors, shingles, could be a new furnace, could be energy saving, heat retention. All of these things can be brought forward and applied for," said Russell.

"Again we're already getting applications for this program, and again it hits a desperate need in our communities."

Russell said the idea for both pilot programs is to feel out what the NCC can provide to its community members, if the organization can retain the programs over the long term.

"At the end of the day our vision is for the health and well-being with our people," Russell said.

Read more articles from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

With files from Labrador Morning