NNSL Photo/Graphic

Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page
MLA presses housing shortage
Long-standing problem brought up at legislative assembly

Stewart Burnett
Northern News Services
Monday, June 1, 2015

Communities in Nunavut continue to face housing shortages while government housing units sit empty, an MLA with personal experience said in the legislative assembly last week.

In Pond Inlet, eight to 10 government staff housing units have remained vacant for approximately 16 years, said Tununiq MLA Joe Enook.

"Yet we have a severe shortage of housing in our community," Enook said.

Enook asked if some of the vacant housing units could be turned into public housing units.

"As members of the public, we are in dire need of housing," said Enook, who lived in a shack in Pond Inlet while waiting for housing himself.

Earlier this year, the legislative assembly approved $20 million in supplementary appropriations for the construction of new staff housing across the territory.

Enook wants to know what concrete actions the government has undertaken to review vacant positions.

George Kuksuk, the minister responsible for the Nunavut Housing Corporation, said the housing corporation alone can't deal with all these issues, "so we will have to work with the other departments in order to move ahead and deal with the vacant units because there are other issues that are outside of our jurisdiction."

For that reason, he said, it takes a very long time to fill these vacant units when more than one department is responsible for dealing with them.

"Some of our staff units are owned privately and some of the staff units are owned by the Government of Nunavut and some staff units are leased from the private sector," said Kuksuk.

Enook said it becomes disappointing to see government staff housing vacant for so many years.

"The staff housing have never been occupied when our constituents have been advocating for converting these empty units to public housing," he said.

Enook challenged Kuksuk in the assembly last week, saying Kuksuk, being the minister responsible for the housing corporation, should not have to be told about these issues and wanted him to direct staff to look into it.

"As ministers, you are responsible and you shouldn't just wait for your staff to do things for you," said Enook.

Kuksuk said he would respond to a letter Enook sent him in April on the issue shortly.

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.