Interventions in Committee
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View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Gary, and welcome to both of you. I'll try to be quick.
My colleague Romeo talked about political will. I think that will is there. We have the Prime Minister who is genuine about it now, as well as Ministers Bennett and Philpott. In my experience of almost 16 years in public life, which is half of Romeo's experience, I have always found the bureaucracy is great at spending all their time and energy telling you why you can't do something. They'll give you 100 reasons you can't do something, and I always used to tell them, “Give me 10 reasons why we should.”
You mentioned a review at INAC and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. Do you feel that's part of the problem in moving some of these issues forward? There seems to be political will, but there has been 150 years of treating people as programs and numbers.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Don. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Minister, for coming.
I want to start off by saying I fully appreciate the direction that this government and you are taking to move forward on the needs for indigenous people, including Inuit. Also, I'd offer a special thanks for helping save the Mamisarvik program here in Ottawa this year.
In your opening comments, you talked about a needs-based approach. I know in the north, not only in Nunavut but in the NWT and the Yukon as well, we're in the dire situation that we're in because of years of per capita funding. You mentioned in your comments, education and family violence protection, child and family services, housing, all those things. There's funding that's been announced for first nations, which is long overdue.
How do you plan on meeting that commitment for Inuit? We're not on reserve—the way I look at it, Nunavut is one big reserve—but everything flows through the Government of Nunavut. They provide those services to the population.
Maybe I can get an idea of how you plan on seeing that flow through to Inuit through the Government of Nunavut.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Minister.
Another big issue up north, and you touched on it with nutrition north.... We all know that program was like a scrambled egg before it even came out of the chicken.
You touched, too, on the old program meeting basic needs. You asked how come it's more expensive now. It's because basic needs, things that were covered and subsidized in the past, came off the list. They're no longer subsidized, so they've gone up substantially. They narrowed down the items that were subsidized so greatly that everything else just went up. That's the problem there.
I know the last government said that they boosted the funding to nutrition north. They boosted the budgeted amount. As far as I'm aware, that program probably cost the government about $140 million a year, which is well over the budgeted amount.
Would you be able to provide some historical data as to how much was actually spent on the program, not just budgeted?
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