Cost-of-Living Reduction Measure for Nunavimmiut

Press Release

Kuujjuaq, Québec – November 28, 2008 –The Makivik Corporation and the Kativik Regional Government (KRG) announced today that Nunavik’s new Food Program will be launched on December 1, 2008.

The Food Program is the sixth measure introduced or renewed by these organizations, since the Katimajiit Conference, to help alleviate the high cost-of-living in the region. At the Katimajiit Conference organized in August 2007, the Québec government made a commitment to transfer to the KRG a three-year subsidy to reduce the transportation costs paid by the region’s residents. Transportation costs are a major contributing factor to Nunavik’s high cost-of-living.

“These measures are a first step in addressing the cost-of-living problem in Nunavik,” commented KRG Chairperson Maggie Emudluk. “By prioritizing six measures, instead of just one or two, we’re trying to reach as many Nunavimmiut as possible, in as many different areas of their lives as possible.”

Makivik President Pita Aatami added, “Nunavik’s cost of living is certainly one of the major challenges that Makivik has to address. Makivik is very happy to launch this new measure that will directly help all families in reducing the cost of basic food products. Makivik is also working very hard with the governments of Québec and Canada to find other ways to drastically reduce our cost of living.”

The measures prioritized by the KRG and the Makivik Corporation in 2008 are: • Gasoline Subsidy Program – In close cooperation with the region’s gasoline distributors, this program currently provides a 48¢/L reduction in the price of gasoline at the pumps in Nunavik. • Transportation Subsidy Program – Paid directly to Nunavimmiut, this subsidy aims to lower the transportation costs of vehicles and equipment used for harvesting activities, as well as those of household appliances. • Airfare Reduction Program – Under this program, 50% of the cost of airline tickets purchased for personal and health-escort travel is refundable directly to Nunavimmiut up to a maximum annual amount. • Support for Inuit harvesting activities – This measure aims to increase the availability of country foods in Nunavik communities in cooperation with each municipality by assisting individuals with the purchase of certain harvesting equipment. • Elders’ assistance – For the second consecutive year, every Nunavik elder aged 60 or older will receive in December a $500 cheque to fight their particularly difficult socio-economic conditions, including low incomes and social security disparities. • Food Program – This newest program will ensure reduced prices for certain basic food and household items in retail stores throughout Nunavik.

The Federation of Cooperatives of Northern Québec, Newviq’vi and the Northwest Company, along with the Nunivaat regional statistics program, the KRG and Makivik, all participated in developing the innovative Food Program. The Program is unique in Québec. Every effort has been made to target those items most commonly purchased by Nunavik households in order to make the Program meaningful for Nunavimmiut. The KRG Council has allocated $1 million to the Food Program this year and the same amount next year.

The attached list identifies the food and household items to be discounted by 20% in participating retail stores in Nunavik beginning on December 1. From month to month, the items on this list could be modified.

The region’s retailers should be commended for their openness to this new program that seeks to channel assistance to all the region’s residents. The close collaboration of participating stores will continue to be essential for the effective and smooth implementation of the Food Program in the coming months. While the total savings for Nunavimmiut will be significant, the drop observed by individuals on their daily grocery bills is expected to be modest.

The Makivik Corporation and the KRG have allocated the Québec government’s subsidy for transportation costs to a range of measures aimed at reaching all Nunavimmiut and to provide some initial relief from the region’s high cost-of-living. The innovative nature of these measures and the specific constraints of the targeted sectors have made the development and implementation of each measure a difficult challenge for the two regional organizations.

Makivik and the KRG will continue to voice their concerns about cost-of-living issues and reduction measures with the Québec government through a follow-up committee created at the Katimajiit Conference. The renewal of the Québec government’s transportation-costs reduction subsidy, including an increased resource envelope, will be a major preoccupation in this context.

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Sources:

Robert Mackey
Communications Officer
Kativik Regional Government
819.964.2961 ext. 2317
r_mackey@krg.ca

Kitty Gordon
Communications Agent
Makivik Corporation
514.745.8880 ext. 215
k_gordon@makivik.org

Cost-of-Living Reduction Measure for Nunavimmiut