NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh visited Iqaluit on Friday alongside Nunavut MP Lori Idlout to meet with territorial politicians about the housing and cost-of-living crises.
Singh slammed the Liberals, citing in a press release that they are “abandoning” Nunavut and the North on essential issues like the territory’s housing crisis and price-gouging by the North West Company.
In March 2022, the waitlist for public housing across Nunavut was 3,021 people. Two weeks ago, the Liberals announced an investment to build 21 housing units. “The federal government is not meeting the needs of Nunavut,” the press release added.
The federal government committed to close the infrastructure gap by 2030 by aggressively investing in housing for Indigenous communities, which are at times plagued by long waitlists and overcrowded homes. In February, the NDP found it would take between 58 and 141 years to hit that goal, according to figures the party obtained at the time.
It’s unclear what the Liberal government’s fall economic statement, due in a few weeks, will signal about Ottawa’s commitment on housing. In August, Finance Canada asked all cabinet ministers to find around $15 billion in spending cuts ahead of the statement.
Ottawa’s austerity measures will not touch Indigenous infrastructure spending moving forward, Indigenous Services Canada Minister Patty Hajdu told Canada’s National Observer in a previous interview.
Meanwhile, grocery retailers supplying food to dozens of Canada’s most food-insecure communities, like Nunavut, are pocketing over half of a federal subsidy to reduce hunger, researchers reported in September. In Nunavut alone, nearly half of households can’t afford enough to eat.
The $131-million annual Nutrition North subsidy is paid directly to most grocery retailers serving over 120 remote northern communities from Labrador to Yukon. The biggest retailer in northern Canada, the North West Company, reported $125 million in net income last year. It receives over half of the Nutrition North subsidy.
“While Liberals are busy protecting the profits of the North West Company, the NDP is fighting to lower food prices for everyone,” the NDP press release said.
- With files from Marc Fawcett-Atkinson