Nunavut budget 2019 : Stable, confident, but careful, says finance minister

156

Less deficit and new money to health and wellness initiatives – these are the highlights proposed by Finance Minister George Hickes Feb. 20 in his 2018-2019 budget address.

Finance Minister George Hickes, moments before his official 2018 budget address in the Legislative Assembly, points to his work boots. His father once told a reporter he’d rather Hickes leave his own footprints rather than follow his father’s, but that they’d better be in work boots.
Michele LeTourneau/NNSL photo

“With our debt firmly under control, and our spending closely aligned to our revenue, the overall situation is stable,” said Hickes in his address.

“We can approach Nunavut’s 20th anniversary, and our strategic priorities with confidence. But as you’ve heard me say, we’ll need to manage carefully.”

Hickes projects total spending at $2.166 billion, as compared to $2.201 billion last year, and total revenues at $2.162 billion, as compared to $2.177 billion last year. Federal transfers are up, at $1.738 billion, while last year that number was $1.671 billion.

The government, as usual, is earmarking $30 million for contingencies.

Hickes noted, as it stands, revenues are set to rise more slowly than the cost of providing public services.

“This compels us to take very firm action on cost control while, at the same time, raising new revenue through economic growth,” he said.

While Hickes spoke to the press for a few minutes before presenting his budget in the Legislative Assembly, GN staff were made available to answer detailed questions over 90 minutes prior to the main event.

Proposed new spending is as follows:

  • $4.6 million in new funding for the treatment of addictions and related trauma – see the Nunavut News conversation with Hickes.
  • $2.8 million towards law enforcement – Justice Dept. officials said this funding is mainly for new housing for RCMP personnel outside Iqaluit.
  • $2.7 million to expand the Medical Travel program to allow more mothers and guardians to bring infants on medical travel, and provide escorts to accompany pregnant women during childbirth.
  • $2.0 million to strengthen emergency shelters, set up transitional housing for women, and improve emergency services for women and children. Officials from the Dept. of Family services explained $1 million will top up societies who manage emergency shelters, for capacity and programming. Officials also said some of that million will go to a newly created position within the department: a transitional housing coordinator. A total $800,000 will support family violence initiatives, while the Qulliit Nunavut Status of Women Council receives $120,000
  • $1.6 million to support Team Nunavut’s participation in the 2020 Arctic Winter Games
  • $0.7 million to create more clinical positions in communities for the screening and testing of TB.
  • $0.6 million in new funding for the Qikiqtani General Hospital to support improved services and plan for a pediatric unit.

More to follow.

Previous articleSongwriting and recording sessions planned in Cape Dorset
Next articleRCMP investigate killing of Arviat man
Michele LeTourneau first arrived at NNSL's headquarters in Yellowknife in1998, with a BA honours in Theatre. For four years she documented the arts across the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Following a very short stint as a communications officer with the Government of the Northwest Territories, Michele spent a decade at a community-based environmental monitoring board in the mining industry, where she worked with Inuit, Chipewyan, Tlicho, Yellowknives Dene and Metis elders to help develop traditional knowledge and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit contributions for monitoring and management plans. She rejoined NNSL and moved to Iqaluit in May 2014 to write for Nunavut News. Michele has received a dozen awards for her work with NNSL.