KRG, Makivik announce improved cost-of-living subsidies
"Measures are being implemented to more accurately reflect the needs of Inuit families"
New cost-of-living subsidies for Nunavik go into effect today, April 1, to help lower the prices Nunavimmiut pay for food, personal care and household products, gasoline and certain vehicles.
Makivik Corp. and the Kativik Regional Government decided earlier this year to use its latest injection of subsidies from Quebec to top up existing programs to support elders and access to food.
While Nunavik has for the past several years received $5 million a year to offset the high cost of living in the region, the Quebec government more than doubled those subsidies for the next three years.
That means the region will receive $33 million in subsidies between 2014 and 2016.
Rather than create new measures, the KRG and Makivik chose to stick with six funds that have been in place since 2007 to offset retail prices for goods like food, household products, gasoline and hunting equipment.
“The changes to the regional cost-of-living measures are being implemented to more accurately reflect the needs of Inuit families,” stated Makivik president Jobie Tukkiapik in an April 1 news release.
Quebec’s cost-of-living money reduces the retail price of 40 grocery store items, offering Nunavik shoppers a 20-per-cent discount.
As part of an effort to beef up those measures, more than 300 food and household items have been added to the 40 items already eligible under the Food and Other Essentials Program.
Discounts of between 20 per cent and 40 per cent will be applied to these items to bring their costs more in line with prices paid for the same items in southern Québec.
Drivers will also get some relief; the subsidy under the gasoline program will be increased from 21 to 31 cents a litre at the pump.
As announced at the last KRG regional council meeting, the annual $750 in assistance paid out beneficiaries of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement over the age of 60 has been doubled, so elders will receive that payment twice; once in January and again in July.
Under the Household Appliance and Harvesting Equipment program, James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement beneficiaries are now eligible for subsidies of $1,000 towards snowmobiles, outboard motors, all-terrain vehicles and boats purchased for the purpose of subsistence harvesting, in addition to 30 per cent discounts on qamutiks.
The same program offers $350 subsidies for the purchase of new refrigerators, kitchen stoves, kitchen tables and chairs, beds, and other furniture, to an annual maximum of $1,050.
The Country Food Community Support program aims to increase the amount of country food made available to Nunavimmiut by subsidizing the cost of foods as well as their transport.
The program will continue to reimburse country food transportation costs at 100 per cent, while the subsidy for the purchase of local foods will be bumped to 40 per cent.
The subsidy for the transport of hunting supplies has been moved from this program to the Inuit Hunting, Fishing and Trapping Support program which is administered by the KRG.
“These measures represent another step towards addressing the very high cost of living Nunavimmiut face,” said KRG chairperson Maggie Emudluk.
As part of the Quebec government’s agreement with the KRG and Makivik, an in-depth study of consumer patterns in Inuit households will also be carried out by researcher at Laval University over the next two years.
The results will be used to help create more long-term solutions to the high cost of living in Nunavik, regional leaders say.
Click here for more information Nunavik’s cost-of-living subsidies.