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NNSL Photo

Premier Stephen Kakfwi joins in on a drum dance with the Inuvik Drummers and Dancers and friends who came out to hear his annual address on Jan. 9. - NNSL photo

'It's what we expected'

Mayor prepares for tough economic times

Tara Kearsey
Northern News Services

Inuvik (Jan 17/03) - Inuvik Mayor Peter Clarkson expects territorial dollars will be scarce after hearing the Premier's annual address last week.

At the Ingamo Hall Friendship Centre on Jan. 9 Stephen Kakfwi stressed the importance of working together and resolving our differences in the upcoming year.

"The next few years will be pivotal," he said. "We cannot afford to miss a single opportunity, to be divided for a minute, or to pursue our own agendas," he said.

Clarkson said he interpreted Kakfwi's statements as an indication that the NWT is heading for rough waters.

"I think we're going to go through some hard times as far as money that the territorial government has that until we get the resource sharing and devolution from the federal government, there will be some tough financial times.

"I think that's the stress to work together," he said.

Clarkson believes the premier also hinted at tight finances when he spoke of taking responsibility for our own health and well-being. Kakfwi urged all NWT residents to quit smoking, drinking alcohol, abusing drugs and gambling.

"So I think there is a strong message there that we need to look after ourselves in a time of fiscal restraint and we can't keep spending millions and millions and millions of dollars on health care on preventable-type diseases and illnesses.

"I think it was an indication that we're spending too much on health care and let's take a look at what we're doing and what we're costing the system," he said.

Overall, Clarkson said Kakfwi gave a "well-rounded message", but he was a little disappointed that there was no specific mention of new government programs.

"But I think we'll see it being the last year of this government, I think we'll see business as usual and new programs will start up with the next term of the territorial government," he said.