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More nurses needed

Jillian Dickens
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Dec 05/05) - Health and Social Services Minister Leona Aglukkaq added to previous announcements in the legislature regarding the nurse shortage.

She said although the shortage is expected to get worse, the department is taking action.

The long-term goal is to train Nunavummiut to fill all the positions through the Nursing Education Program. At this point four have graduated from the program so far.

Until that day, they are recruiting long-term contracts, and are in the midst of hiring 50 international nurses. The Kitikmeot will receive 16 nurses; the Kivalliq will receive 20; and 11 will be stationed in the Baffin region.

The remainder will fill vacancies as they come up.

Home buying help

Nunavut Housing Minister Olayuk Akesuk announced that as of Dec. 1, more help is at hand for those wanting to build a home in emerging and non-market communities.

Downpayment assistance available for Rankin Inlet and Cambridge Bay buyers is $30,000 for an existing home and $50,000 to construct a new home. In non-market communities, it's $45,000 for an existing home and $75,000 to construct a new one.

And instead of an outright grant, it will be a forgivable loan after 10 years.

The minister stated the loan is available for 10 homeowners at this time.

Government turnover

Since 1999, almost all original deputy ministers have left the Nunavut government. Rankin Inlet MLA Tagak Curley stated he wanted to see this "revolving-door practice" end.

New pool for Iqaluit?

Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo proposed a new pool for Iqaluit, saying the current one is small and outdated.

More money for Iqaluit

Rankin Inlet North Tagak Curley grilled Minister of Education Ed Picco on the fact that 50 per cent, or $9.7 million, of the 2006-2007 Education budget is set aside for Iqaluit.

Picco said schools are replaced and renovated based on certain criteria such as the age and use of the building.

He added that in the last five years, only one school has been built in Iqaluit using GN money. That was Joamie school, rebuilt after it was destroyed by fire. The other two schools - Aqsarniit and the francophone school - were built with federal infrastructure money.

Gas report unveiled

Likely reasons for the rampant problems with vehicle engine performance last year were unveiled in a report tabled by Community and Government Services Minister Levinia Brown.

The report suggests that, in part, Nunavut's specifications for high octane fuel caused spark plugs to malfunction.

In her minister's statement, Brown said the removal of the MMT additive, combined with cold weather and extreme use of vehicles added to the problem.

Pangnirtung quota

Minister of Economic Development and Transportation Peter Kilabuk voiced support for the Pangnirtung fishing industry. He said the only way to keep the industry going in the community is for them to receive more quota.

It's a dog's world

Arviat MLA David Alagalak and Premier Paul Okalik discussed the possibility of bringing another police dog into the territory to help combat the drug smuggling business here.

Okalik said resources are stretched as it is, but expressed appreciation for Alagalak's interest.

Emergency shelter

Quttiktuq MLA Levis Barnabas expressed concern that the community halls in his riding of Arctic Bay, Grise Fiord and Resolute were not big enough to hold all residents in the case of an emergency.

He noted the recreational facilities are up to 22 years old, and do not meet current emergency measures standards.

"If the power house shuts down, that would be a great disaster in my community," he said.

Power's out

Akulliq MLA Steve Mapsalak said power outages occur far too often in Repulse Bay.

He said his constituents have complained that electrical appliances were destroyed by power surges and demanded the department of Energy investigate and fix the problem.

Minister Ed Picco said a crew is scheduled to investigate the problem of a recent power outage as well as the ongoing issue of power outages in the community. The crew was on their way to Repulse at the time, but were held up due to weather.

Legal aid services

Nanulik MLA Patterk Netser asked the Minister of Justice what the department is doing to improve the delivery of legal aid services to the communities.

Minister Paul Okalik said a confidential external review with the legal services board on the need for funding was done over the last year.

He added the department has been working with the legal services board on ways to better serve the communities.

Patterk grilled the minister on whether arrested people are given the right to call legal aid, or to see their family members when they are jailed.

Okalik said lawyers are made available to the arrested and sometimes during an investigation those under arrest cannot talk to anybody outside and cannot be visited. He added that there was an issue where one RCMP officer was "confused" and had to be told about certain rights people under arrest had. The issue was rectified, he said.

Gun legislation

MLA James Arreak questioned whether Premier and Minister of Justice Paul Okalik was pressing the federal government on the gun legislation.

Arreak wants the federal government to help Nunavummiut, many of whom are illiterate, fill out gun registration applications considering how important hunting is to their livelihood.

Okalik said he is working to have the legislation repealed.

Lumber shortage

Hudson Bay MLA Peter Kattuk noted a number of communities had not received their lumber supply to build new houses, Sanikiluaq being one of them.

Olayuk Akesuk, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, said they will look at what happened historically to make sure an adequate supply of lumber would be delivered in the future.

Midwifery coming

Health and Social Services Minister Leona Aglukkaq announced on Nov. 18 that maternal care and midwife services will be more widely available in Nunavut over the next few years.

One example is a two-year training program now offered in Rankin Inlet's Nunavut Arctic College location. By June 2008, Nunavut should have more than 24 qualified maternal care and midwife workers through this program, she said.

Condolences for former MLA

Akulliq MLA Steve Mapsalak extended his condolences to former MLA Ovide Alakannuark on the passing of his wife, Victorine.

Concern for elders

Cambridge Bay MLA Keith Peterson said he was concerned with abuse of elders in the territory.

He listed several examples of this abuse, such as relatives harassing elders for money on a weekly basis, relatives taking control of an elders house without paying for rent or utilities and drunk or stoned relatives causing physical harm to the elder.

Quttiktuq MLA Levi Barnabas was also concerned that there is no place for elders with cancer to call for moral support, and no place for either the patient or their relatives to go for information on ways to make the elder more comfortable.