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April 24, 2019

Nunavut MLA insists government can hire more Inuit in construction



As reported on, the Government of Nunavut can employ more Inuit on its capital projects, insists Arviat North-Whale Cove MLA John Main.

“We’re 20 years into Nunavut this year and it’s a crying shame that we have not built up our construction tradespeople. We have not sufficiently invested into requiring more Inuit to be working at these projects,” Main said. “We have the people. We do not lack the labour force. We haven’t had the coordination and the investment into people’s education that would allow them to take these construction jobs.”

The GN’s current practice is to set Inuit labour targets on a community by community basis, based on the local labour market and past contracts of a similar scope.

The territorial government reached 37 per cent Inuit employment on contracts valued at more than $100,000 in 2015-16 and in 2016-17.

However, since the Nunavut Housing Trust overspending controversy of 2010 – when the budget was exceeded by $110 million and Inuit hiring was blamed for a portion of that – Main said he feels Inuit employment has never rebounded.

“What’s driving that I’m not sure. It could be tighter budgets. It could be the way that the Housing Corporation is contracting out their builds,” he said. “We need to be going in the opposite direction. We need to be raising those Inuit labour requirements… We’re trying to maximize the local benefit for these capital dollars.”

Although the Sanatuliqsarvik Trades Training School opened in Rankin Inlet in 2010, Main said it’s been a “learning curve for the college.” The trades school can accommodate more than 80 students at a time but hasn’t graduated near that many on an annual basis.

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