For the annual NWT & Nunavut Mining feature that recently appeared in Nunavut News, we approached MLAs for their perspective on the mining industry in the territory. These were the responses from Iqaluit-Manirajak MLA Adam Arreak Lightstone. The full edition of NWT & Nunavut Mining can be found here: https://nnsl.com/special-feature-publications/nwt-nunavut-mining-2019/
Q: What do you consider to be the greatest advantages and disadvantages of mining in the Nunavut?
A: When an economy is too dependent on any one sector it creates risk. Each new mine in Nunavut adds jobs as well as secondary economic activity, which offsets the dominant position the public sector holds in Nunavut’s economy. However, with the increase in jobs and money in our communities it may also contribute to an increase in social problems; without proper financial planning comes the risk of irresponsible spending.
Q: Do you believe the mines do enough overall for the territory in terms of employment, royalties, donations and legacy projects?
A: I believe that the Inuit Impact Benefit Agreements play an integral role in determining how committed a mining company will be in terms of Inuit employment, royalties and donations. However, it is my understanding that some companies tend to have a stronger commitment to corporate social responsibility than others, I only hope, going forward, that social responsibility will be an integral aspect of any company that chooses to invest in Nunavut.
Q: Should mines be involved in supplying housing in surrounding communities?
A: I absolutely believe that the mining industry should play a role in addressing our housing shortage in Nunavut. I believe that the best employees are long-term employees, and if a company is loyal to its employees, the employees will in turn be committed and loyal to the company.
There are many Nunavummiut who are capable of becoming homeowners, they just need some incentive to do so. If mines were to assist employees in becoming homeowners it would likely increase their employee retention. I know there are many barriers to homeownership in Nunavut, one of which is the stock, but economics has proven that as the demand increases, the supply is soon to follow.
If we are to reverse the trend of becoming dependent on subsidized housing, we need to encourage more homeownership. This cannot be done alone by the Government of Nunavut and will require assistance from the private sector.