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NTI criticizes federal budget shortfalls in education funding, among other issues

NTI still looks forward to collaborating with federal government on several announced initiatives

Despite huge disappointment with the federal budget announcement on April 16, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI) has indicated that it still looks forward to collaborating with the federal government on several initiatives.

A huge disparity remains between what Canada announced with its 2024 budget and what Nunavut Inuit require in order to enjoy a quality of life similar to other Canadians, according to a news release from NTI.

“Twenty-five years after the creation of the territory, the quality of life of the average Nunavut Inuk today is demonstrably worse than in 1999,” said NTI President Aluki Kotierk. “There is a continuing and worsening housing shortage, 70 per cent of Nunavut Inuit are food insecure, Inuktut fluency is decreasing and Nunavut Inuit are dying from tuberculosis, a treatable and preventable disease, at rates higher than any country in the world.”

Although the NTI specifically requested education funding, there is no mention of Inuit post-secondary education funding in the new federal budget.

Between the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 fiscal years, the number of Nunavut Inuit who accessed post-secondary funding through NTI and regional Inuit associations grew by 65 per cent while federal funding increased by just 12 per cent during that time, “and that gap is expected to grow,” according to NTI.

NTI and the regional Inuit associations are consequently projecting $5 million in extra expenses to cover the education funding shortfall through to 2027.

The land claims organization noted that Article 23 of the Nunavut Agreement requires a representative Inuit workforce in government through adequate pre-employment training.

Food insecurity

Inuit in Nunavut experience food insecurity at significantly higher rates than the rest of Canada. NTI stated that it welcomes investments in the Harvesters Support Grant and a national school food programs outlined in the new federal budget.

However, these commitments fall short of the funds needed to implement the Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy and NTI says additional investments are urgently needed.

The Canadian government has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to closing the Indigenous infrastructure gap by the year 2030. However, the last two federal budgets have not included significant enough investments to bring Nunavut anywhere close to reaching that stated goal, NTI added. Nunavut’s fair share of the $370 million Indigenous Housing and Community Infrastructure program will be a welcome infusion of funding for necessary territorial infrastructure, however, without capacity, predictability, funding and time, Nunavut’s infrastructure gap is set to grow.

“Nunavut Inuit continue to build capacity from the ground up and work to allocate funding on priority infrastructure projects, and we hope to see continued and increased investments in future federal budgets,” Kotierk said.

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