Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Badawey.
Mr. Ferguson, I'm very happy to have this opportunity to take advantage of your valuable time.
One of the things you talked about was the ACAP. It's well known that these national programs like ACAP, social housing agreements, and health funding don't fit or work for the north.
Do you think that a specific northern ACAP would help the government and the Department of Transport address some of the critical needs of airport infrastructure in the north?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Ferguson.
Another thing you mentioned in your report is that if the infrastructure is not maintained, it becomes very costly to repair and upgrade. If memory serves me correctly, it's actually through the Government of Nunavut that funding is flowed, through its territorial formula financing agreement with the Department of Transportation and the Arctic airports to maintain those airports.
In your work as auditor for the Government of Nunavut and with this report, do you think there may be issues with providing adequate resources to the Government of Nunavut to maintain the existing infrastructure that's in place?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Ferguson.
You also noted in your report that just in Nunavut alone, with its 25 airports, close to $500 million in 2014 dollars is needed, and a little over $75 million is needed to relocate two airports in order to meet Transport Canada safety regulations.
With all these deficiencies that you pointed out in your report, and the quality of infrastructure and information that's there for pilots, if those conditions existed in an urban airport, for example, do you think they would still be allowed to operate?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Mr. Badawey.
I like the analogy that this infrastructure bank is a vehicle. I think everyone realizes that Nunavut has probably got the biggest infrastructure gap in the country. We're hoping that this is a tundra buggy, so we can get that vehicle working up north.
In regard to specific projects, I can think of three right off the top of my head that would not go ahead without the help of the infrastructure bank. I would look at the Grays Bay road and port project, the potential road, the hydro and fibre link from Manitoba to the Kivalliq region, and a hydro project in Iqaluit that uses just about half the diesel that the territory consumes to generate electricity.
One of the concerns that I'm hearing in the north is that these are new, transformative, and nation-building projects, as any projects in the north would be. When they built the railroad, they didn't have to worry about doing environmental assessments and going through the regulatory regime that's there now. It takes time and costs money to get it to a stage where the project is ready to go. The concern is that if we have this pot of money there for these projects, but there's no money to help the already cash-strapped territorial government or the Inuit organizations or the municipalities to get a proposal to the point where it's ready to be looked at, that money is just going to sit there.
I'm just wondering if there's a possibility of looking at providing some funding through here to help some of these major projects that are going to take two or three years. I heard that with Grays Bay, when they were looking at the next few years, just to get it to that stage was over $15 million.
Is there a way to support those initiatives, to get them to the stage where they are ready to go?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Right now I think the problem is that they're looking at doing feasibility studies and working it through the environmental assessment process, and that costs money. I'm just wondering if there could be some support and some funding through this vehicle to be able to help with those—and I know it's the territorial government, the regional Inuit organizations, and industry—to support them in getting the project through that process. The territorial government just doesn't have the resources to be able to do that.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
I'd like to welcome the witnesses.
My question is for Mr. Speer. As you know, I'm on one of your flights tomorrow morning heading up to Iqaluit.
Throughout your presentation you talked about the lack of infrastructure and the implications of that on an airline operating in the north. Throughout your submission you talk about the one-size regulations not fitting everything. I think that's one thing that most people don't understand, the uniqueness of flying in the north.
On the issue of fatigue, they're looking at changing the regulations for duty time and stuff such as that. I know specifically with the trans-Arctic route that you guys fly from Ottawa, all the way across the top over to Edmonton, there are some potential issues there. Could we first just get an idea of some of the issues and challenges around that for you, and also, as you pointed out, the complete lack of infrastructure in the north and how that relates to safety as well?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
One of the other things I see in your submission is that you were involved heavily in the steep slope approach into Pangnirtung. We all know what it's like trying to get into Pangnirtung, where there is no GPS approach; it's all visual. I think it's about 2,300 or 2,600 feet and three-mile visibility, plus the runway is right in the middle of town.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
That's a safety issue as well.
You also mentioned the unintended consequences and the need for possible exemptions. Maybe you could elaborate on that also.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
I have one last question. You mentioned it may require the need for some exemptions, or some modifications, to fit the uniqueness of the north. I was just wondering if I can get you to elaborate on what some of those might be.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Hardie, and thank you, Madam Chair.
My question is for the department. In your opening comments, you mentioned taking steps to address flight crew fatigue. I'm sure you're aware of, and indeed mentioned, the dual system, looking at the uniqueness of the circumstances in which airlines fly. As you can imagine, the third coast, up north, is very vast. I know the commercial airlines and cargo providers that fly up there have raised concerns about the rigidity of crew times.
I just want to confirm what I've heard from departmental officials, that there is a willingness to look at it, and that if a company can develop its own fatigue management system that satisfies Transport Canada, they will not be held directly to the letter of the new regulations that are being looked at.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Sorbara and Mr. Chair, and welcome. It's always good to see a fellow Nunavummiut here in Ottawa. I have three or four questions, whatever I have time for.
Mr. Premier, you mentioned carbon pricing and the impact on the territory. I think it's no secret that we are unique, and we are 100% reliant on diesel, as you pointed out. Until some opportunities arise for that, that's not going to change. I know the three territories have been discussing with Canada a way to address that uniqueness on carbon pricing in the territories, and I understand you guys were in discussions with Canada on that.
I'm wondering if the goal of those discussions was to recognize the unique challenges and circumstances of Nunavut, and when it does come, that it would be either cost neutral to the territory or have exemptions that take those unique circumstances under consideration. Is that the direction you'd like to see it go?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Premier. Yes, I think it's no secret that it costs three times as much to operate anything in the north. I always say that a dollar down here is like 33¢ in the north.
I think another important point is the fact that any investment in infrastructure in the north, whether it be housing or any kind of infrastructure, is actually a direct investment in the southern economy, because anything we buy up there to build with comes from the south. You talked about major infrastructure. You mentioned the Grays Bay port and road project. I was in Winnipeg about a week and a half ago for the Hudson Bay regional round table. We just had the 20th mining symposium in Iqaluit this week. There are two major projects there, Grays Bay and the Manitoba Hydro road project coming up into the Kivalliq region.
We all know that in order for the economy to grow...and that's what this is about, economic growth for the territory and the government's commitment to look toward creating a sustainable economy in the north. Canada invested in the roads across the country in the south. They invested in the railway. They invested in the harbours. The only jurisdiction left in Canada that hasn't had that investment is the north, and specifically Nunavut.
Do you think there is a requirement for this type of infrastructure investment to allow for the economy to grow and to have the opportunities there for the territory to create employment, lower the cost of living, and bring in alternative sources of energy? As Minister Savikataaq mentioned, there's also the connectivity with fibre optics. I know it's something that the territory can't afford.
As we know, an investment like this would be high up front, but with dividends would pay for itself in the long run and create that opportunity. What we all want is a sustainable, self-sufficient, self-reliant territory, and these investments would help achieve that.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks, Don.
In your comments you mentioned the territorial health funding. I've raised questions in the House before. Actually, if you look at the percentage of the Government of Nunavut's budget that goes towards health care compared with what it receives from Canada it is about 11%. For the rest of the country, the average is around 20% or 21%.
If you look at the social housing agreements and the infrastructure funding in the past, as you mentioned, on a per capita basis, those don't work. I think that's the problem with these national formulas, they don't take into account the unique circumstances that we have in Nunavut.
Do you think there needs to be a different way, a different mechanism, or a way to think outside the box of these national formulas for funding the territories so that the level of services they provide to their residents can be comparable to that in the rest of Canada?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Premier.
You touched on the mental health funding. You actually declared suicide a crisis in Nunavut. Our numbers are staggering. You talked about the announcement in the federal budget on mental health funding, and my understanding is that this year Nunavut is going to get maybe $300,000 for that. Going forward, for years after, it's $500,000 a year. Given the lack of services available across the territory, there needs to be much more significant investment in addressing mental health challenges to help curb the suicide rate in the territory.
How would you see the way forward to address those sad statistics that we face in the territory?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. To your suggestion about per capita funding, I think everyone but you would agree that maybe we should move to a land-mass-based formula for funding.
An hon. member: That wouldn't work so well for P.E.I.
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