North·In Depth

What Nunavut's candidates said at the CBC election forum

The three candidates running to be Nunavut's next MP explained how they would tackle housing, elder care and Nutrition North at CBC Nunavut's candidates forum on Thursday.

The 3 candidates each gave their pitch on how to tackle housing, elder care and Nutrition North

Liberal candidate Pat Angnakak, NDP candidate Lori Idlout and Conservative candidate Laura Mackenzie took questions from host Myna Ishulutak during CBC Nunavut's election forum on Sept. 16, 2021. The entire forum was conducted in Inuktitut. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

The three federal candidates vying to become the next MP for Nunavut answered questions on a range of issues from voters Thursday during CBC Nunavut's election forum.

Former Nunavut MLA Pat Angnakak is running for the Liberals, Lori Idlout is running for the NDP and Laura Mackenzie is running for the Conservatives.

The forum, which took place at the CBC studio in Iqaluit, was conducted in Inuktitut with host Myna Ishulutak. 

The following is based on simultaneous interpretation. 

Housing

Housing was the issue that came up most frequently. 

Mackenzie said the Conservative Party is promising to build one million houses over three years if elected. She said the cost of building houses across the territory is very high and the private sector could build houses for less than the government currently does.

She said she would work with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) to seek ways to reduce costs.

"When I mention the one million houses program, this is funding we need to access," she said.

Angnakak said the Liberals have identified $360 million for housing in Inuit communities.

"This would be worked through the Inuit process," she said.

She added the Liberals would discuss with "those in communities who know what is best" how to reduce costs for housing construction.

Angnakak is running for the Liberals. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

Idlout said that while the Liberals' plan sounds good, they've been in power for six years and many people across the territory are still waiting for housing and for improvements on existing houses.

"I don't believe them anymore," she said. "We're still waiting for funding."

She also questioned the quality of the housing stock that would be built under the Conservatives' plan.

Idlout said the NDP is committed to fund the construction of 500,000 homes over 10 years and to update aging stock.

She said the party would also eliminate the GST on houses, change the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation rules to provide funding for first-time buyers, and increase the housing stock in Indigenous communities.

Health services for elders

Elders who need medical support that isn't available in the territory are often flown to Ottawa or Edmonton. 

Each candidate said supports need to be built so elders can remain and be taken care of in the territory.

"They should be home," said Idlout.

She said the federal government needs to support the creation of facilities for that to happen.

"This will create employment," she said, adding the government should also provide support for staff training and the addition of more mental health services.

Mackenzie said the Conservatives, in part through their pledge to build one million homes across the country, would provide funding to Nunavut to bring elders back to their homes "and those who can look after them."

She said the current situation "is not right. We need to push as much as possible for this."

Idlout is running for the NDP, after Mumilaaq Qaqqaq announced her intention not to seek re-election. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

Angnakak agreed that sending elders south "is not right."

She said the Liberals have allocated $9 billion to support elders across the country and that she supports the creation of facilities for elders.

"[We] need more [health care] facilities and services for elders," she said. "We see this as important, a priority."

Nutrition North program needs review

All three candidates said the Nutrition North program needs to be reviewed.

Angnakak said she told Prime Minister Trudeau when he campaigned in Nunavut that the $153 million program, which is supposed to help reduce the post of food in the territory, isn't doing what it's meant to.

"It needs to be improved," she said.

She added that the federal government needs to work with communities to find more solutions. She suggested that the breakfast program at schools could be expanded.

Idlout said the NDP would provide more support for hunters who feed their families and communities.

"We would support and listen to communities and find out what they want," she said.

Laura Mackenzie is running for the Conservatives. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

Mackenzie said that Nutrition North should be designed in a way that complements the hunting cycle in Nunavut. 

She added the federal government needs to support people who don't have hunters in their families.

Mandatory vaccinations?

One voter asked the candidates what they would support, with respect to vaccinations, for teachers and health care workers.

While all three candidates support vaccinations, Angnakak said the Liberals have provided funding of $1 billion for the country's vaccination program and support vaccine passports.

She said she hopes that those who think they're losing their freedom would see getting vaccinated as supporting their family and those around them.

Idlout said she supports doctors.

"If they tell us we need masks in schools, we should listen to them," she said. 

She said that while she supports people's freedom to choose, she also supports what doctors say.

"They're the experts. I would support them all the way," she said.

Mackenzie said she prefers to educate people about the benefits of vaccinations. She said "many believe the untruths" they read on social media and that it's important to inform them of the facts.

Missed the election forum? Watch it here

Helping people with disabilities

One voter asked the candidates how they support people with disabilities in Nunavut.

Idlout said people with disabilities feel like they've been forgotten.

She said the NDP would create a monthly stipend for people with disabilities, much like the federal child support payments.

She said funding should support equipment like walkers and hearing aids, as well as improvements to homes, such as ramps and bathtubs, that would allow people with disabilities to stay and function more easily in their homes.

"[Employment Insurance] should reflect those that need mental health services and want to get better," she said.

CBC North's Nunavut election forum was held in studio at CBC Nunavut headquarters in Iqaluit. (Matisse Harvey/Radio-Canada)

Mackenzie said that while it may sound like a minor issue, it's important that forms that need to be filled out when applying for disability pensions also be in Inuktitut.

She added that part of the funding for the one million homes program could go toward improving the homes of people with disabilities.

Angnakak said the federal government has committed $45 million to help people with disabilities. She said if the Liberals are re-elected, they would add a further commitment of $3.2 billion across the country.

Monthly supplements for elders

Candidates were also asked where they stood on the issue of providing monthly supplements for elders.

Mackenzie said the Conservatives would increase monthly elder care benefits by $250 a month, if elected, and that elders who own their own homes would receive an increased tax credit.

Angnakak said the current monthly supplement is not enough.

"We would seek a cost-of-living increase. It costs more to live in the North. I would push for that," she said.

Idlout said the amount of the supplement is "inadequate" and should be increased.

She said Canadian elder benefits should be the same across the country but that "perhaps a northern increase is something we should think about."

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