Nunavik leader Maggie Emudluk eager to hear from Marois
Parti Québécois government has been slow in responding to Nunavik concerns
KUUJJUAQ — Maggie Emudluk, the chairperson of the Kativik Kegional Government, hopes a visit by Quebec premier Pauline Marois to Nunavik this week will establish the region’s relationship with the year-old Parti Québecois government — and secure funding for much-needed services in the region.
Marois, along with environment minister Yves-François Blanchet and Alexandre Cloutier, minister responsible for northern Quebec, arrive in Kuujjuaq on the evening of Sept. 12.
Their arrival marks the Parti Québecois leader’s first trip to the region since the PQ’s election in 2012.
Emudluk and other Nunavik leaders met with Marois and other government officials last June, urging them to deal with various outstanding issues, such as cost of living subsidies and other essential programs that the KRG oversees.
“We had an understanding that we’d work on cost of living up to December, so we’re hoping to get an update,” Emudluk said, adding that the process has been “quite slow.”
The KRG is also waiting on news about a telecommunications agreement that funds internet access across the region. Emudluk said they have no word on whether they’ll receive new money past the agreement’s 2016 expiration.
“And it takes so long to negotiate agreements, by the time we do, the technology has already advanced,” she said.
At a Thursday evening meeting between Nunavik leaders and the Marois delegation, Emudluk hopes to drum up support for marine infrastructure projects in Nunavik’s communities.
Although it’s a Makivik Corp. file, many are anxious to hear if the PQ government has any plans to build new housing in the region.
The last housing promised to the region was when Quebec’s Liberal government committed to build 300 new social housing units over five years at the launch of its Plan Nord in 2011.
The PQ’s own revised version of that plan, Le Nord pour Tous (the North for All) launched last May, does not change the number of social housing units to be built in Nunavik until 2016, but it doesn’t increase that number, either.
The delay in attention to Nunavik files happens whenever there’s any change of government, Emudluk said, because there are new civil servants who must become familiar with northern files.
“It takes a certain amount of time for any government to get organized, but, this time around, it seemed to take more time to establish the relationship,” Emudluk said. “And all of our agreements have end dates.”
Emudluk and her colleagues will have the premier’s ear Sept. 12 and Sept. 13, when the delegation heads to neighbouring Kangiqsualujjuaq to inaugurate the parc national Kuururjuaq.
Although a first as premier, this will be Marois’ second visit to Nunavik in recent years — she visited Kuujjuaq in 2010 to tour the community and hear local concerns.
During that visit, Marois pledged to address the region’s most pressing issues — housing and social services — if elected premier.