North·In Depth

Election promises on 4 key issues in Nunavut

While the rest of Canada debates the niqab and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in Nunavut the focus is on regional issues, with the high cost of living dominating the campaign.

Infrastructure, housing, Nutrition North and the northern tax break

While the rest of Canada debates the niqab and the Trans-Pacific Partnership, in Nunavut the focus is on regional issues, with the high cost of living dominating the campaign.

In case you're having difficulty keeping up with the promises, here's a round-up of four key campaign pledges made for Nunavut by the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives. 

Infrastructure

From ports to small craft harbours to updating power plants and diesel generators that are decades old, Nunavut is in desperate need of hundreds of millions worth of infrastructure money. Much of this infrastructure is essential for Nunavut to develop its economy.

​Days before the election was called, the Conservatives promised $64 million for a port in Iqaluit, with candidate Leona Aglukkaq promising she would "make sure" the money would remain if re-elected. A spokesperson for the Conservative Party says that the money for the port in Iqaluit has already been committed and says the port will go ahead.

With the largest coastline in the country, Nunavut still has only one harbour. It's the only region in the North that does not have a road link with the rest of the country. 

Nunavut is also far behind when it comes to fast broadband development, with slow internet speeds that are unable to sustain online business development by connecting to the global community. 

In the lead up to the last federal budget this was the issue that was flagged as the top ask by the territorial government and Inuit organizations.

Liberal promises on infrastructure

  • Increase federal infrastructure investment to almost $125 billion, from the current $65 billion, over the next decade (this is for all of Canada);

  • Provide new dedicated funding to provinces, territories and municipalities for public transit, social infrastructure and green infrastructure.

NDP promises on infrastructure

  • Invest $54 million over 4 years in new funding for local infrastructure and a dedicated local infrastructure transfer of $450 million over 20 years in Nunavut;

  • Invest $200 million in Northern roads, bridges and ports;

  • Invest $100 million to help 25 northern and remote communities replace diesel generators with clean energy alternatives;

  • Make new investments in rural and remote broadband development.

Conservative promises on infrastructure

  • Spend nearly $85 billion in infrastructure across the country over the next 10 years through the New Building Canada Plan and other federal infrastructure investment;

  • Spend $200 million to expand high-speed broadband internet network across remote and rural communities.

Nutrition North

The controversial food subsidy program has been one of the main topics of debate in this election in the North, from NDP leader Tom Mulcair's shopping trip in Northmart for an $11 container of orange juice, to Liberal leader Justin Trudeau's gibes about the Conservative's failures to monitor the program at his Iqaluit media conference. 

Nutrition North was put in place in 2011 by the Conservative government to replace the Food Mail program. The new program shifted the subsidy from shipping costs to the retailers, who were expected to pass it on to customers by cutting food prices.

The program has been controversial. The auditor general has noted that the Conservative government has not been collecting the information needed to manage Nutrition North or to gauge whether it has been a success.

The auditor general also found that the government did not select communities eligible for the program based on current need, but simply allocated the subsidy based on past usage.

Liberal promises on Nutrition North:

  • Add $40 million to Nutrition North over the next four years;

  • Work with Northern and remote communities to ensure the program is effective and transparent.

NDP promises on Nutrition North

  • Add $32 million to Nutrition North;

  • Add 50 fly-in communities in the program;

  • Initiate a comprehensive review of the program.

Conservative promises on Nutrition North

  • Add $32 million over four years to Nutrition North over the next four years, alongside a permanent five per cent budget escalator;

  • Add 40 additional communities to the program.

Northern Residents Tax Deduction

The Northern Residents Deduction was established in 1991 to alleviate the high cost of living in Canada's North. Originally pegged at $7.50 per person per day, the benefit was increased once in 2008, bringing the total deduction to $8.25 per person per day, or $16.50, if he/she is the only claimant in the household.

The Nunavut Economic Forum submitted a paper to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance in August 2007 about proposed improvements to the tax benefit, however the group's proposal to index the benefit to the rate of northern inflation was not implemented.

Liberal promises on Northern Residents Deduction

  • Increase the Northern residents tax break by 33 per cent;

  • Index the benefits to keep pace with inflation;

  • The indexed rate would be higher than the Canadian average — which is about one per cent per year.

NDP promises on Northern Residents Deduction

  • Index the Northern Residents Tax Deduction to keep pace with Northern inflation.

Conservative promises on Northern Residents Deduction

  • Review the Northern Residents Deductions.

Housing

Nunavut is experiencing a severe housing crisis that is growing as the population increases. The territorial government says Nunavut has a 39 per cent core housing need in contrast to the national average of 12.5 per cent.  In terms of public housing, the overcrowding rate is 35 per cent with a housing gap of more than 3,000 units. Across the territory people are calling for immediate action to address this crisis.

Liberal promises on housing

  • Invest $20 billion in social infrastructure over 10 years, including investments in affordable housing and seniors' facilities across Canada;

  • Provide $125 million per year in tax incentives to increase and substantially renovate the supply of rental housing across Canada.

NDP promises on housing

  • Create a national housing strategy in partnership with the provinces and territories;

  • Invest $2.7 billion over four years in affordable housing and homelessness, including creating and expanding housing agreements with Nunavut communities.

Conservative promises on housing

  • In budget 2015 the Conservative government promised $2.3 billion per year over the next four years to help ensure Canadians in need have access to affordable housing.

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