Response to Nunavut's balanced budget calls for more funding from feds

Budget address attendees are echoing Nunavut's finance minister in his call for more federal funding for infrastructure in the territory.

Nunavut Finance Minister tables $1.9B for 2017-2018 fiscal year

Finance Minister Keith Peterson delivers final Operations and Maintenance budget before the territorial election. (Vincent Robinet/CBC)

Budget address attendees are echoing Nunavut's finance minister in his call for more federal funding for infrastructure in the territory.

Finance Minister Keith Peterson delivered his ninth budget and the last of the fourth assembly on Wednesday in the legislature.

The territory returned to projecting a balanced budget after last year's planned deficit.

The $1.9 billion budget is the territory's largest to date, with health seeing the largest boost with $12 million in new money.

Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak said she believes a balanced budget is important, but that she would have liked to have seen more money spent on services in the territory.

Iqaluit-Niaqunnguu MLA Pat Angnakak wants to see creative solutions used to bring more money for infrastructure into Nunavut. (Vincent Robinet/CBC)

"A balanced budget is great to have, but at what expense," she said.

"How many people have to go without homes or what about education, health centres? To have a balanced budget, it also means we're going without a lot of things."

About 90 per cent of the budget's revenue comes from federal transfers.

To attract more money for infrastructure, Angnakak would like to see creative funding solutions implemented with a focus on developing natural resources like mining and fisheries. 

Nunavut's Senator Dennis Patterson agreed infrastructure projects need more attention from the federal government.

"One of them I'm going to be pushing hard for is the Grays Bay port and road project, which will need a federal contribution to succeed," he said.

He said he also supports a proposed road from Churchill, Man., to Arviat, Whale Cove and Rankin Inlet.

Patterson said he'll be keeping a close eye on the upcoming renewal of the Territorial Financing Formula between the federal government and the territory.

Senator Dennis Patterson says he'll be pushing hard for the Grays Bay port and road project. (Vincent Robinet/CBC)

Terry Young, president of the Nunavut Teachers' Association, said he's looking forward to seeing more emphasis on hiring Inuit teachers.

The budget allocates $850,000 to improve support services accommodating students with special needs in public classrooms.

"Overall I would have to say it's positive for the schools in Nunavut," he said.