Conservatives acted in bad faith on Nunavik housing agreement: NDP MP
“It’s time that Ottawa upholds its constitutional obligations," Romeo Saganash says
Romeo Saganash, the MP for Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, is attacking the Conservative government’s response to the housing shortage in Nunavik, after a mediator found Canada acted in “bad faith” during attempts to renegotiate a recent housing agreement.
In an Oct. 29 release, Saganash challenged the federal government to meet obligations spelled out in the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.
“Conservatives tell us that they’re taking this housing problem seriously, but they could have fooled me,” said Saganash, who is also the New Democratic Party’s deputy critic for Aboriginal affairs.
“The government’s withdrawal has caused a serious shortage in affordable housing, and has led to a rise in physical and mental health problems, as well as a decrease in social well-being related to overpopulation in the housing available,” he said in the release. “Inuit are sounding the alarm.”
Earlier this month, Nunavik’s Makivik Corp. took on the federal government’s Oct. 16 throne speech, saying it ignored the region’s housing crisis.
Makivik said Ottawa’s failure to live up to its obligations under the JBNQA have resulted in a shortage of 899 units across the region — leaving 68 per cent of the population to live in overcrowded housing.
After attempts to negotiate a housing catch-up agreement with the federal government broke down in 2011, Makivik triggered a dispute resolution mechanism and a mediator was named.
In a September 2012 report, mediator Dominique Borcheix found that Canada did not act in good faith during the renegotiation of a 2010-2015 housing agreement and encouraged both sides to return to the table.
More than a year later, that made headlines in the French-language Le Devoir newspaper this week.
Makivik has met with the federal government since then, but said the current government “is not open to funding a catch-up program” and is looking to Inuit organizations to come up with new models to address its housing needs.
Makivik says Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt has also turned down requests for meetings.
“It’s completely unacceptable that the Aboriginal Affairs minister is letting this crisis degenerate,” Saganash said. “It’s time that Ottawa upholds its constitutional obligations and finally takes action in this matter.”