Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik September 19, 2016 - 11:45 am

Nunavik officials work to keep fuel, food prices low

Region waits on new cost-of-living study results to negotiate new subsides in 2017

SARAH ROGERS
By the end of the month, the KRG hopes to have a new Blue Label program up in all the region’s stores, so each subsidized item will be clearly marked with a blue label to indicate the subsidy shoppers receive. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)
By the end of the month, the KRG hopes to have a new Blue Label program up in all the region’s stores, so each subsidized item will be clearly marked with a blue label to indicate the subsidy shoppers receive. (PHOTO BY SARAH ROGERS)

KUUJJUAQ—Drivers in Nunavik will see lower prices at the pump this month, made even lower though a regional subsidy that’s now been extended for another year, Nunavik’s regional government announced this week.

The Kativik Regional Government and Makivik Corp. reached an agreement to keep the 40 cents per litre fuel subsidy for Inuit beneficiaries—first introduced in 2014 —in place for another year, as of Sept. 1, 2016.

As the price of gas drops across the country, so have fuel prices dropped throughout Nunavik. In Kuujjuaq, the price at the pump is set at about two dollars a litre; with the subsidy, Inuit beneficiaries pay $1.60 per litre.

“I hear people telling us how difficult it is to pay for the basics of life in the north and the high cost of fuel to drive our hunting machines is a huge contributor,” said Makivik President Jobie Tukkiapik in a Sept. 15 release.

“We will continually look for ways to lower costs.”

Makivik and the KRG have worked to invest Quebec’s current cost-of-living funding—$33 million between 2013 and 2016—to add and beef up a number of subsidy programs for Nunavimmiut.

The gasoline subsidy is one of six regional cost-of-living measures in place since 2007, designed to offset elders’ expenses, airfare, household appliances and harvesting equipment, country foods and the cost of everyday essentials.

By the end of the month, the KRG hopes to have a new Blue Label program up in all the region’s stores, so each subsidized item will be clearly marked with a blue label to indicate the subsidy that shoppers receive.

New discussions on cost-of-living measures will gear up in 2017 as Nunavik’s current cost-of-living agreement with Quebec comes to an end; the region must renew the agreement with Quebec by March 2017.

KRG leaders said this week they will likely extend the agreement for a year, in order to have time to process a new cost-of-living study conducted in the region by Laval university.The study is meant to offer detailed and up-to-date statistics on what it costs to live in Nunavik communities.

“The results of this study will form the basis of discussions we will have with Quebec on the development on a new cost of living agreement,” Nino (Chahine) Noujeim, the KRG’s assistant treasurer, told regional council meetings this week in Kuujjuaq.

“I think everyone is interested in continuing this program.”

Nunavimmiut have also seen a major bump in a provincial tax credit targeted at people living in northern villages, now called the Solidarity Tax Credit.

In 2014-2015, the KRG said that 68 per cent of Nunavik families received the credit, worth on average $1,637 per adult and $354 per child.

But Nunavimmiut must have a bank account to receive the credit—something that’s become a barrier, since Desjardins credit union scaled back the services it had operated through Nunavik co-ops, which offered some of the region’s only in-person banking services.

KRG officials said they’re working with the Fédération des co-opératives du Nouveau-Québec to look at how to re-launch banking services in the communities.

For more details on cost-of-living measures in Nunavik, click here.

 

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