The Government of Nunavut will spend $2.2 million to send 300 athletes and delegates to the 2020 Arctic Winter Games in Whitehorse instead of the $1.7 million originally budgeted because airline costs are greater than anticipated.
The quotes from airlines — both scheduled and charter flights — came in 44 per cent higher than expected, Finance Minister George Hickes explained in the legislative assembly on Tuesday.
Airfares total $1.28 million, well in excess of the estimated $723,000.
“Airlines indicate these higher costs relate to fuel prices, additional mileage to Whitehorse, increase in participant numbers, and an additional plane to transport sled dogs to compete in mushing events,” said Hickes.
Sending two dog teams for competition will cost $100,000 each.
Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main expressed surprise at the overall $2.2-million figure, calling it a budgetary “big hit.”
“That is four public housing units,” Main said, asking whether the GN approached corporate sponsors or other parties to seek funding support.
Hickes said he knew of no such effort.
Main replied, “I would strongly recommend that for future years and future expenditures of this type that private organizations are approached in terms of cost sharing because I do not believe that the government has sufficient funds to pay for everything by ourselves
without partners all the time.”
The 300 athletes and delegates is an increase from the 246 Team Nunavut participants who were sent to the 2018 AWGs in Hay River and Fort Smith, NWT.
After the House approved of the additional $544,000, Hickes was pleased.
“I want to thank everyone in the room for the support of this. These sports activities for some of these kids and athletes are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities and can be a real game-changer in promoting activity, physical fitness, and just the team comraderie and just the pride of competing for Nunavut,” Hickes said.
The 2020 Arctic Winter Games are set to take place March 15-21.