Government of Nunavut Inuit employees make, on average, $20K less than non-Inuit

Inuit employees working for the Government of Nunavut make on average $20,000 less than non-Inuit workers, according to the Public Service Annual Report for 2014/2015.

'There's a huge salary disparity,' says NTI president Cathy Towtongie

Inuit employees working for the Government of Nunavut make on average $20,000 less than non-Inuit workers, according to the Public Service Annual Report for 2014/2015, and Inuit men in particular are under-represented in the Government of Nunavut workforce. (CBC)

Inuit employees working for the Government of Nunavut make on average $20,000 less than non-Inuit workers, according to a report by the territory's Department of Finance.

The salary discrepancy is a sign more Inuit require further training, says the president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc.

The Public Service Annual Report for 2014/2015 tabled in the winter sitting of the Nunavut Legislative Assembly breaks down the average salaries for 3,400 full-time public servants working for the territory.

The report shows about a $20,000 difference between what an average female Nunavut Land Claims beneficiary earns ($79,480) compared with a non-beneficiary female employee ($99,042).

A beneficiary male ($82,376) earns on average $20,000 less than a non-Inuit male ($102,569).

"There's a huge salary disparity," said NTI president Cathy Towtongie.

"That's why it's crucial for Inuit to gain these skill sets so the salary levels will follow them."

Half of full-time Government of Nunavut employees are beneficiaries, a figure consistent since 2009 according to the report and far short of the territory's goal of reaching a workforce that's 85 per cent Inuit by 2020. 

Inuit men are proportionately under-represented, making up less than 12 per cent of the Government of Nunavut workforce, something Towtongie hopes to change.

"How do we target Inuit men who are less employed?" Towtongie said. "That's what we're looking at."

Cathy Towtongie, president of Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., says 'it's crucial for Inuit to gain these skill sets so the salary levels will follow them.' (Sima Sahar Zerehi/CBC)

The Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation is working on a plan to train, retain and encourage more Inuit to enter the workforce in a territory with a massive unemployment rate.

Unemployment among Inuit in Nunavut was 22.8 per cent in March.

The training corporation is made up of leaders at NTI, the three regional Inuit associations, Nunavut's premier and the territory's minister of education. It was created out of a $255 million settlement agreement between NTI and the federal and territorial governments in 2015.

"We are all working in unity to ensure Inuit beneficiaries are given opportunities, but at the same time, we don't want to set them up for failure," Towtongie said.

Beneficiary-only jobs

One way to get more Inuit working with the territory is a policy introduced in September 2015 restricting some Nunavut government job postings to beneficiaries only.

"Only those that are enrolled under the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement would screen in or have the opportunity to screen in for that particular competition," said Virginia Lloyd, associate deputy minister at Nunavut's Department of Executive and Intergovernmental Affairs.

Lloyd says the territory is also looking at what it can do to fill its 1,141 vacant full-time positions with Inuit employees. 

The territory is trying to identify what it can do to bring potential employees into the workforce, part of an Inuit employment plan it's working on putting together this year with NTI and the federal government.

"Knowing that there is a high interest from Inuit to work within the Government of Nunavut is very encouraging and motivational for us to ensure we provide all opportunities," Lloyd said.