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Less money paid to GNWT for services provided

Kerry McCluskey
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Aug 12/02) - Amid talk of financial hardship in Nunavut, the government has managed to decrease the amount of money it pays the Northwest Territories for services.

According to Finance Minister Kelvin Ng, Nunavut will pay the GNWT $2.9 million for services that government performs during the current fiscal year. That's down from $15.5 million paid out at the time of territorial division in 1999. In 2000, the figure rang in at just under $12 million. Figures were not available for the most recent fiscal year.

"It's gone down dramatically from the first couple of years," said Ng from his constituency office in Cambridge Bay.

Ng said it is necessary for the government of Nunavut to pay the GNWT for the services because the services, the infrastructure or the technical expertise are not available in the new territory.

For example, the Department of Justice will pay the GNWT more than $1.2 million for various legal services, including the placement of Nunavut offenders in NWT facilities.

As of last year, 24 inmates from Nunavut were serving out their sentences at the Yellowknife Correctional Centre and at the women's facility in Fort Smith.

Unfortunately, it will be some time before Nunavut is able to house all its own offenders.

"We recognize there are some services we just can't do. We don't have the capacity to house all the inmates. We don't have the facility," said Ng. "We are looking at one in the future, but we can't say when," he said.

However, many of the other services being contracted out are scheduled for takeover by Nunavut in 2003 and 2004.

Specifically, functions of the Liquor Commission -- at a cost of $72,000 this year -- will be handled by Nunavut by May 2004 and the local administration of the 6/49 lottery comes to Nunavut by March 2003.

"I definitely think this is part of the process in the transition and implementation of the government," said Ng.

"We couldn't do everything from day one."