Rankin Inlet South MLA Alexander Sammurtok wasn’t especially pleased that surplus funds had been transferred from the Kivalliq Visitor Centre project to the Grays Bay Road and Port Project.
“Can the minister provide an update on why the Grays Bay project was prioritized to receive extra funding and what other capital projects may receive funding out of the anticipated surplus from the Kivalliq Visitor Centre project,” Sammurtok asked Minister of Economic Development and Transportation Monica Ell-Kanayuk.
After saying she was pleased the visitor-centre project had a minor surplus, Ell-Kanayuk said that transfer has been approved by her colleagues.
“I’m glad that the minister is pleased and she might be able to transfer some of that funding to my next question,” said Sammurtok.
“As my colleagues will be well aware, I have lobbied at length for the establishment of an elders’ care facility in Rankin Inlet, either by leasing a facility such as Nanuq Lodge or renovating another facility.
Can the minister confirm whether any consideration was given to transfer surplus funds from the Kivalliq Visitor Centre project to a project that will support the establishment of an elders centre in Rankin Inlet.”
Ell-Kanayuk explained surplus funding could only be transferred to projects with similar parameters set out by the federal government.
“There are documents that we have to go by,” she said.
Sammurtok pressed on.
“It is very disappointing that our government will not adjust its capital plan to address needs which have been identified in the Kivalliq region as well as in the Kitikmeot and Baffin regions. Will the minister commit to working with her cabinet colleagues to ensure that surplus funding from her department’s capital projects can be made available for such projects as a Rankin Inlet elders facility,” he asked.
“At this point I can’t answer the members question to any other surplus that may occur in the future,” answered Ell-Kanayuk.
Are there plans for GN buildings and GN staff?
Community and Government Services (CGS) Minister Joe Savikataaq said so far there are no plans for the Ukiivik Residence in Iqaluit, also known as the Old Res, since it was damaged by fire in 2015.
Tununiq MLA Joe Enook was wondering about the status of that building, as well as the adjacent federal building, which are now both CGS assets.
“Right now we are using the federal building and we are looking at maybe changing its purpose to more office space, but that is just being looked at. The Old Res, we’re looking at options there whether we should demolish it, fix it up, or any other projects that could be used on it,” said Savikataaq.
Enook went through figures.
“It is my understanding that it would cost approximately $32 million to renovate and modernize the federal building warehouse and that it would cost approximately $42 million to renovate and modernize the old Nunavut Arctic College residence. Is my understanding correct,” he asked.
Savikataaq said he didn’t know where Enook got his numbers.
“I can’t confirm that they are correct or accurate because we have not decided what we are doing with either one of the buildings yet. Until you decide what you’re going to do with a building and what the purpose of it will be, then you can’t get a very accurate figure. No, the figures are not accurate as of right now,” he said.
Enook was surprised.
“These are your figures, the government’s figures. Thank you for telling me that you have inaccurate figures.”
He pressed on:
“Can you confirm if the government is actively considering consolidating its headquarters workforce into a smaller number of buildings than at present, and allowing a number of its existing office space leases to expire?”
Savikataaq agreed the government is looking at options for office space, but without a plan, there can be no numbers, he said.
“It would be more efficient to get each department in their own building, but as of right now we don’t have an overall plan and that’s partially to do with budgetary restraints. We are looking at all options and the member is correct. When a lease is up, we have an option to renew the lease, build our own, or lease another building. All that stuff is always being looked at.”
How is federal funding for official languages spent?
South Baffin MLA David Joanasie brought to his colleagues’ attention that the federal government had announced funding to support and preserve Inuit languages in the territory to the tune of $15.8 million May 26.
At the same time, $14.25 million was provided for the French language.
“In that announcement the federal government indicated that this funding would cover the period from 2016-2020, but there were no further details about how the funding will be were provided. Can the minister provide us with a breakdown of how that $15.8 million will be allocated,” asked Joanasie.
Minister for Languages George Kuksuk said the Uqausivut Plan had been set up, adding, “We will be considering with other departments as to how the money will be allocated.” Speaker (interpretation): Thank you. Your first supplementary, Mr. David Joanasie.
Pointing out that these funds must be used to “to recognize and advance the equal status and rights of all of Nunavut’s official languages, and also to develop and revitalize the Inuit language,” Joanasie then asked how such fund had been used in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.
“I can’t respond to that right now. However, in the Official Languages Fund report that I have, I’m sure my department officials will be giving me the details of the $15.8 million and how it will be allocated,” replied Kuksuk.
“There are many details. As per my previous statement, our department will manage this funding and it will allow us to make progress forward. Our officials will be able to provide recommendations on how to effectively implement Inuktitut or in understanding that their offices must incorporate the Inuktitut language. I am just clarifying that, as the funding is available until 2020 where, under our agreement, we will be administering the funding along with other departments.”
Joanasie said he wanted to know about specific expenditures had been made under the Official Languages Fund.
“However, if the minister can respond to me, I would like to ask him if he can tell us what the balance of the Official Languages Fund was as of March 31, 2017,” he said.
Kuksuk said he did not have the information with him.
“I will have to return to my colleague during our sitting after retrieving the figures, and then I can provide the information.”