I want to get more done for Nunavut, Lorne Kusugak says
“It takes a term to get comfortable and to start to build things”
Lorne Kusugak, the outgoing MLA for the old seat of Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove, says he’s going into the Oct. 28 territorial election feeling as if he’s accomplished a lot for Rankin Inlet and the territory.
But at the same time, there’s more Kugusak says he wants to get done.
Kusugak, who just completed his first term as MLA, is running for re-election in the new riding of Rankin Inlet South. The small hamlet of Whale Cove is now part of Arviat North-Whale Cove.
“I’ve always been a very active in this community,” Kusugak said. “And I think I’ve done a lot here.”
Kusugak said he’s helped secure new infrastructure and housing for Rankin Inlet, along with upgrades to the airport and the local water system.
Territory-wide, Kusugak said the price of fuel has dropped over the course his term in office.
“It’s dropped at least 10 cents a litre — that’s very significant for hunters and homeowners,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest costs we have.”
The former mayor of Rankin Inlet first entered territorial politics in 2008, when he defeated incumbent member and deputy premier Levinia Brown with more than 60 per cent of the vote in Rankin Inlet South-Whale Cove.
Within Premier Eva Aariak’s government, Kusugak most recently served as minister of Community and Government Services, minister of Energy and minister responsible for the Qulliq Energy Corp.
But one term isn’t quite long enough, he said.
“It takes a term to get comfortable and to start to build things,” Kusugak said. “It’s time to start going a little farther in terms of what we need to get done.”
That includes building long-term care facilities for Nunavut’s aging population, and being able to offer specialized care to seniors who suffer from diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
“They need to be taken care of at home,” Kusugak said, suggesting Nunavut could benefit from the construction of homes where seniors and their families live in separate units within the same home.
Ideally, families in Nunavut would be able to afford these kinds of homes, but Kusugak said that’s out of reach for most Nunavummiut.
“We have to make [buying a home] an asset in Nunavut, rather than a burden,” he said.
And to help put programs and policies to work, Kusugak said Nunavut’s new government has to tighten policy to help fill government jobs — and keep them filled, by as many Inuit as possible.
“Enough of the studies, let’s solve this,” he said. “We need to take people who are interested in working with us, and put them directly into on the job training. You need to go from opportunity to employment — it shouldn’t take six months.”
Over the last five years, the government has made strides in re-jigging government departments to make them more efficient, Kusugak said “but the fruit of that will be seen over the next term.”
Kusugak faces one other candidate in Rankin Inlet South: Alexander Sammutok.
Watch for his profile later this week Nunatsiaqonline.ca.