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Northern premiers meet in IqaluitTerritorial leaders have faith in Nutrition North, but urge feds to monitor program and educate public on its benefits
Northern News Services
Published Monday, July 2, 2012
Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak, NWT Premier Bob McLeod and Yukon Premier Darrell Pasloski met in Iqaluit on June 26 and 27 for the 10th Annual Northern Premiers' Forum.
During a discussion on the territories' infrastructure needs, Aariak explained the lack of transportation - ports and inter-community roads - is linked to the high cost of living. She said the Northern premiers would like to work with Ottawa to suggest where infrastructure investments could me made.
The premiers also appreciated the benefits Nutrition North brings, said Aariak, but expressed concerns about the high cost of food. They are urging the federal government to monitor the program and its effectiveness, and provide clear information to communities, perhaps even visit them, she added.
"In our discussions, we talked a lot about the fact that information needs to provided to the communities so everyone in the communities fully understand what the program is and the importance of monitoring the program," said Aariak.
McLeod said it is important for Nutrition North Canada officials to come up North and explain the program.
"I think people need to recognize they are benefiting from the program," he said.
The trio also suggested more territorial participation in the Arctic Council and would like the international meeting, when Canada heads the council in 2013, to be held in Canada's North, explained Aariak. The council is an inter-governmental forum to discuss issues peoples and governments of the Arctic face.
Other topics of discussion include devolution, the Northern residents tax deduction - they want it increased and indexed against the cost of living - health funding as well as search and rescue, according to information provided.
Of the approximately nine issues discussed, there wasn't one particular focal point that overshadowed the others, said Aariak.
"It was very fluid and it was very easy to dialogue and discuss certain things and come to common consensus at each of our discussion points."
McLeod echoed her sentiment.
"We've had very worthwhile and informative discussions," he said.
Pasloski said the forum will get the premiers ready for the Council of the Federation from July 25 to 27 in Halifax, in which the territorial and provincial premiers will meet.
"I think it was a very productive meeting," he said.
Next year's forum will be held in the Yukon.