Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 9 - Evidence - June 14, 2016
OTTAWA, Tuesday, June 14, 2016
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 8:58 a.m.
to study best practices and on- going challenges relating to housing in First
Nation and Inuit communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Northwest
Territories; and in camera to study the federal government's constitutional,
treaty, political and legal responsibilities to First Nations, Inuit and Metis
peoples (topic: border crossing issues and the Jay Treaty).
Senator Lillian Eva Dyck (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good morning, everyone. I would like to welcome all
honourable senators and members of the public who are watching this meeting of
the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples here in the room or
listening via the Web. I would like to acknowledge for the sake of
reconciliation that we are meeting on the unceded lands of the Algonquin
peoples. My name is Lillian Dyck. I'm from Saskatchewan, and I have the
privilege of chairing the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. I
will now invite my fellow senators to introduce themselves, starting on my left,
with Senator Lovelace Nicholas.
Senator Lovelace Nicholas: Good morning. Senator Lovelace Nicholas
from New Brunswick.
Senator Oh: Senator Oh from Ontario.
Senator Patterson: Dennis Patterson, senator for Nunavut.
Senator Raine: Nancy Greene Raine from B.C.
Senator Tannas: Scott Tannas from Alberta.
The Chair: Thank you, senators.
The mandate of this committee is to examine legislation and matters relating
to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada generally. This morning, we are continuing
to hear testimony on our Northern housing study, with a mandate to study best
practices and ongoing challenges relating to housing in First Nation and Inuit
communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Northwest Territories.
This morning, we are excited to hear, after a few attempts were cancelled due
to a bad weather, representatives from the Nunatsiavut Government, as well as
the Torngat Regional Housing Association. We're very happy to see you here this
morning and glad that the weather has cooperated so that you could be here.
First of all, we'll hear from the Nunatsiavut Government, and then we'll hear
from the Torngat Regional Housing Association. If you would like to proceed,
please, first with Johannes Lampe, the President. Thank you.
Johannes Lampe, President, Nunatsiavut Government: Madam Chair, if I
may stand, I also would like to acknowledge your efforts to visit Nain,
Nunatsiavut. We are happy to be here today. As you mentioned, I am the President
of Nunatsiavut, Johannes Lampe.
I'm with my colleagues here, Kate Mitchell, who is the First Minister, and
also minister responsible for Nunatsiavut Affairs, including housing. To the far
right is Isabella Pain, who is with my office, the Nunatsiavut Secretariat, and
most certainly important to Nunatsiavut. To my right is Toby Anderson, who is
with our First Minister, Deputy Minister, with Nunatsiavut Affairs also. To the
left is William Lucy, who is with the Torngat Regional Housing Association.
The Chair: Mr. President, would you mind sitting? Apparently they're
having trouble picking up your voice with the microphone. When you're standing,
you're a little bit far away.
Thank you. I think we will be able to hear you better that way. Thank you so
Mr. Lampe: William Lucy is with the Torngat Regional Housing
Association, as construction coordinator. To the far left is Richard Boase, who
is William's assistant.
I most appreciate the Senate committee giving us the opportunity to present
to you today the housing issues that we face in Nunatsiavut, which is within the
province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Kate Mitchell is going to speak to the issue more than the delegates here.
We're here to answer any questions, if you have any questions to ask.
The Chair: Thank you. First Minister Mitchell, if you would like to
Kate Mitchell, First Minister, Nunatsiavut Government: First of all, I
want to thank the Senate committee for inviting us to present here today. It's
too bad you weren't able to get into Nain last month, but I would encourage all
of you to come to visit Nunatsiavut whenever you can. I can assure you that you
won't be disappointed.
Due to time constraints, I will move on to slide 9 of the presentation. If
you don't have it, you will have it shortly.
Housing: As is the case in many parts of Inuit Nunangat, we're in the midst
of a housing crisis, particularly in the communities of Nain and Hopedale. As a
government, we envision a Nunatsiavut where residents have adequate, safe, warm
and affordable housing that reflects our diverse needs, the unique
characteristics of our homeland and the social, economic and cultural
experiences of our people.
We have placed housing amongst our top priorities for many years, and for
good reason. We contribute annually to the Torngat Regional Housing Association
to build and renovate homes in all our communities. This year, the contribution
amounted to roughly $2.6 million.
We also know the importance of having all of the facts when dealing with such
complex issues. We collected data for a housing needs assessment in 2012 in all
of our communities, through a tripartite agreement between the Nunatsiavut
Government, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and the Government of
Canada. This assessment was an unparalleled success, achieving a response rate
of 93 per cent and providing the latest and most accurate information regarding
housing needs in Nunatsiavut. The assessment identifies individual and family
housing needs, allows comparisons between the housing needs of Nunatsiavut
residents and residents of other regions in Canada and supplies communities with
data on current housing conditions.
Survey participants identified the majority of the housing stock in
Nunatsiavut as either owned by residents, including 47 per cent, or owned by the
Torngat Regional Housing Association and rented to residents through a lease-
to-own, which included 41 per cent. Seven per cent is public housing units owned
by the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Association. The 47 per cent identified
as owned by residents is a little misleading as we suspect it includes TRHA
housing and homes built through other social housing programs during Labrador
Inuit Association days that residents have paid for under highly subsidized
Seventy-six per cent of homes are not covered by home insurance in
Nunatsiavut. A wood-burning stove or a fireplace is also the preferred heating
source for more than half of these homes. Households that earn less than $80,000
annually are likely to use a wood-burning stove or a fireplace as their main
heating source and are also likely to prefer this source of heat, while
households that earn more than $80,000 annually are likely to use and prefer an
If you're following along, I'm now on slide 15. One important outcome was
that more than half of the households in Nain and Hopedale had difficulties
keeping their dwelling warm, including 57 per cent in Nain and 64 per cent in
Hopedale, 44 per cent on average for residents of all of our communities.
Seventy-nine per cent of residents felt that this was due to the conditions of
their home, illustrating a clear connection, at least in residents' own eyes,
between home repair needs and warmth. This question was asked of everyone that
stated they had difficulty keeping their dwelling warm.
The need for major home repair was prevalent throughout Nunatsiavut,
particularly in Nain and Hopedale, where 67 and 70 per cent respectively of all
respondents noted the need for major repairs, including foundations or other
structural issues, roofing issues, a broken hot water tank, et cetera.
Fifty-seven per cent of residents are not able to maintain or make repairs to
their homes on their own and need physical and/or financial help from others.
Associated with cool homes, frozen water pipes were found to be common,
particularly in Hopedale, where 60 per cent of respondents reported frozen pipes
in the three years leading up to 2012.
The assessment also found that there was a high prevalence of mould in the
region, including 44 per cent of all homes. According to findings from the Inuit
Health Survey carried out in 2007 to 2008, this is the highest prevalence in all
of Inuit Nunangat. Mould prevalence has been linked with higher rates of
respiratory tract infections and other health issues. Respondents in Nain and
Hopedale, in particular, noted that their homes contained mould.
Insufficient warmth is assessed as both the cause of housing damage, through
associations with mould, and the consequence of it, as compromised structural
integrity can directly reduce energy efficiency and place added constraints on
home heating costs.
The assessment also revealed that 15 per cent of households in Nain and 14
per cent in Hopedale are overcrowded. This is roughly one in seven homes and the
highest rates amongst all our communities. The community of Nain alone is home
to more than half — 56 per cent — of all overcrowded dwellings in Nunatsiavut.
This rate is five times higher than the national average.
Overcrowding has been linked with the spread of communicable diseases such as
tuberculosis, lower educational attainment and high rates of stress and
depression, amongst other mental health concerns. According to Statistics
Canada, overcrowding is defined as more than one person per room, not including
bathrooms, entrances and rooms used for business purposes.
A family unit is defined as a single person aged 18 or over, with or without
children, or a couple aged 18 or over without children. Nain and Hopedale have
the highest proportion of dwellings with more than one family unit — 49 per cent
and 45 per cent respectively.
At the time of the assessment, there were at least 196 family units in
Nunatsiavut in need of housing. These families were either living with other
families because they couldn't afford their own home or because there was a lack
of homes available.
There were also 50 individuals in the region that lacked permanent housing,
despite being permanent residents of the community. These individuals were
identified as temporary residents in the study, commonly referred to as hidden
homeless. They were temporarily staying with family or friends, often on
couches, while they tried to work out a more permanent housing situation for
Temporary residents are predominantly young people and children; 32 per cent
are between the ages of one month and four years old. More than half, 54 per
cent, are under the age of 20, and 80 per cent are under the age of 30. There
are no identified temporary residents in need of housing aged 60 and over.
Almost half — 46 per cent — of all temporary residents live in Nain and
another 46 per cent live in Hopedale, with one or two individuals living in each
of Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet. Taken together, the evidence clearly
indicates a different level of housing needs amongst the communities, with
greater need demonstrated in Hopedale and Nain.
Survey outcomes also clearly indicate a need for addressing housing issues
through an integrated approach that places housing within the context of
community planning and development needs, the needs for skill development and
expansion of job opportunities and economic growth, in addition to energy
security and home heating needs, among other areas.
The housing risk assessment is an on-the-ground evaluation of existing homes
in Nunatsiavut, completed by an expert housing team in Nain, Hopedale and
Makkovik. The team evaluated a selection of homes in all Nunatsiavut
communities, as guided by the outcome of the Nunatsiavut Housing Needs
Assessment. The evaluation identified factors contributing to the relatively
short lifespan of houses in the region, targeting the most pervasive housing
issues and providing design recommendations for how best to avoid these issues
in the future.
Findings from this infrastructure assessment tour have informed the design of
a sustainable multi-unit dwelling to be built in Nain in 2016 and will inform
the development of building codes and standards for Nunatsiavut.
One of the key findings of the Housing Needs Assessment was the deep
connection between the land we are developing and the condition of the homes we
are constructing. Most of the repair needs uncovered in the Housing Needs
Assessment stem from housing shifts, or the movement of homes under building
pads after construction. Knowledge of the land can help inform the selection of
appropriate development approaches and foundation designs that will minimize
this issue, thus reducing our repair needs and lengthening the lifespan of our
Stemming from these key findings and recognizing the connection between
availability and quality of building land in our communities and housing, we
commenced a research program to map landscape hazards and other building
constraints in our communities. The program was developed through a partnership
with Memorial University and Trent University under a Nunatsiavut Government-led
research program called the Sustainable Communities Initiative.
The program sought to produce planning constraint maps that identify
available, suitable areas for development across a range of land uses. The
assessment included a review of slope instability, coastal erosion, flooding,
climate susceptible land conditions, snow drifting patterns and surface runoff,
in addition to valued places and spaces of important cultural significance and
recreational and resource harvesting uses that residents wish to protect from
Once gathered, all of this information was combined into a digital database
with a GIS layer representing each assessment. The layers are being interpreted
by Memorial University to classify community terrain with respect to existing
and future hazards and other land use constraints. Community lands will be
classified as high, medium or low risk, depending on the nature, frequency and
magnitude of the primary hazards.
We followed up this research with a very thorough geo-technical drilling
program in Nain in the summer of 2015, as Nain is our largest and
fastest-growing community. The Nunatsiavut Government contracted a team of
engineers to map the subsurface conditions of the community within existing and
future planned development areas. The team drilled 71 burr holes, implemented
thermistor cables for measuring soil temperature at depth, measured slope
stability and groundwater levels, produced a report outlining preferred areas
for development in the town and provided recommended land development approaches
for the community.
Drilling was conducted in Hopedale last summer, with plans to complete the
three remaining communities this summer.
On your PowerPoint, there will be a map of the footprint of the drilling
program in Nain.
A significant portion of housing costs stem from land development in
Nunatsiavut. Currently, the cost of land development is paid for by the Inuit
community governments through the Fiscal Financing Agreement capital
infrastructure funds, while Torngat Regional Housing Association pays the cost
of building the home through fiscal financing governance dollars. I should note
that the Fiscal Financing Agreement dollars only provide a fraction of what is
required for land development. Before a house can be constructed, over $200,000
has to be spent on developing and servicing a lot.
Through a trust that was established in 2003 as part of the Voisey's Bay
Impact and Benefits Agreement, the Nain Inuit community government received some
$17.5 million for land development and water and sewer infrastructure. This
money will allow the community to develop 30 lots. The Makkovik Inuit Community
Government received $1 million from the trust to deliver eight lots.
We need to begin thinking about both of these development components when
thinking about housing. The incredibly high cost of land development and the
increasingly limited availability of building land should be considered in the
cost of housing and should inform our approaches to home design.
There are many challenges other than financial when it comes to developing
lots and/or building homes. There are no roads to our communities. Our
construction season is short, and the marine services are limited. Therefore, we
have to take advantage of every opportunity we have to tackle the growing
housing crisis. Time is certainly not on our side, and if we don't aggressively
address our housing needs now, we may never catch up.
We know that a home in Nunatsiavut is a single, detached dwelling that is not
anchored into the bedrock but sits on a gravel pad. The home is energy insecure
and, as a consequence, may be poorly heated, and there is minimal ground cover
around the home, increasing dust levels in the community and reducing slope
The way in which homes are designed and building lots are delivered in
Nunatsiavut contributes to a variety of other issues common along the coast.
Long-term solutions to current housing issues may be approached through a
holistic lens, considering cultural, social, economic and environmental factors
in order to be effective. Community development issues are inherently complex
and messy, with far-reaching consequences.
A design charette has been described as an illustrated brainstorm. We brought
together residents of the community of Nain, architects specializing in Northern
housing design, local building experts and other stakeholders in the community.
During the charrette, participants illustrated home design features that they
wanted in Nunatsiavut housing and the kind of spaces they prefer to live in, in
addition to sharing local strategies for accommodating difficult building
Outcomes from the charette were used to inform the creation and design of a
sustainable, energy-efficient, multi- unit dwelling to be built and piloted this
summer in Nain. After construction, research will be conducted to monitor the
dwelling for energy performance and resident satisfaction, with the aim of
making final adjustments to the model before replicating it in the region and
In December 2013, our housing action plan shared the $1 million Arctic
Inspiration Prize. The prize recognizes knowledge or action plans that benefit
the Canadian Arctic, Arctic people and Canada as a whole. Our action plan
detailed the research we had been completing, our plans for the design charette,
the construction of the sustainable multi-unit dwelling, and our efforts to
advance current practices and participatory, community-informed, sustainable
housing in Northern environments. This money is being used to construct the
You will see on the PowerPoint a draft design of the multi-unit created by
FGMDA of Montreal. We are still in the process of finalizing the design, but
currently the design we're working on is solar-ready, maximizes heat gain
through south-facing orientation and has cool porches to minimize heat loss in
our cold climate, and to provide a cold space to keep hunted game and skins. The
property will also include individual sheds for outdoor storage.
Inside there are two-bedroom units with a large, open-concept kitchen and
living spaces. As requested by charette participants, and fully accessible units
on the first floor for elders. Triple-pane windows and appropriate insulation
will be selected to maximize heat retention, amongst other features. It is
important to us to build a multi-unit dwelling in response to our limited
availability of good building land and the imperative to move toward higher
density housing in Nunatsiavut as a smart and sustainable way forward.
Outcomes of the housing needs assessment have also helped us shape the focus
of the home repair program that we completed last year. Findings highlighted a
connection between cool homes, mould growth and the need for home repair,
demonstrating the need for a program that not only provides home repair but also
increases the heat retention of homes.
While we are working toward shaping more sustainable approaches to new
housing in Nunatsiavut through the construction of the multi-unit dwelling, we
also recognize the importance of improving our current housing stock to make the
most of our previously developed land for the ultimate benefit of residents.
The $700,000 home repair program was jointly funded by the Government of
Newfoundland and Labrador and the Nunatsiavut Government on a 50-50 basis and
provided general home repairs and attic retrofits for increased energy
efficiency in 24 homes in Nain and Hopedale.
I'm pleased to say that this year the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador
has agreed to contribute $150,000, and it is matched by the Nunatsiavut
Government, so we have $300,000 in total to continue on with the attic retrofit
and housing repair program.
The outcome of the housing needs assessment and overwhelming positive
response to the program by residents demonstrate a need to expand the program to
additional housing and communities in the future. We're also seeking funding to
While implementing tangible housing projects such as designing a new
prototype multi-unit home for the region and the home repair program, we are
planning for the future through the development of a housing strategy. The
strategic planning objectives identified in the strategy have all been informed
by the outcome of the housing needs assessment, housing risk assessment, design
charette, and other research and community consultation actions taken by our
The strategy is in progress. Our current strategic planning objectives also
focus on achieving affordable warmth, promoting sustainable housing approaches
that are culturally appropriate, environmentally suitable, and that are informed
by community planning and development needs, address overcrowding and
homelessness while supporting diverse families, multiple generations and
providing assisted living options, encourage private home ownership, home repair
and maintenance capacity for all residents; and facilitate housing options based
on diverse needs, while promoting self-reliance and economic development.
This year's federal budget committed a total of $15 million for affordable
housing in Nunatsiavut. We learned last month that Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation has developed the objectives of the funding as well as the intended
outcomes and indicators of the program.
We were of the initial understanding that CMHC intended to flow the money to
Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation to administer. If this is the
case, that concerns us as the Government of Canada has an obligation to consult
with us as required under the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement.
Part 2.6.2 of that agreement states:
Prior to any transfer to the Province of any federal program for Inuit,
Canada shall Consult the Nunatsiavut Government.
"Consult'' is the defined term in our agreement. We are still awaiting
official confirmation as well as details on how the $15 million will be
As a government, we have a proven track record of getting things done
effectively and efficiently. We know we are better positioned to administer this
money. We know the issues. We understand where the needs are, and we know which
segments of our population are currently unable to access housing programs. As I
noted, we have made a lot of progress on the housing file. This money will allow
us to make further strides. It is certainly not going to solve all our problems,
but it will be a big help.
The Nunatsiavut Government is a self-governing authority that has rights and
responsibilities as set out in the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement. We also
have a fiscal financing arrangement with Canada that sets out federal programs
and services for which the Nunatsiavut Government is responsible, including
construction, renovation and repairs to housing.
Since the implementation of the LILCA and the establishment of the
Nunatsiavut Government on December 1, 2005, there have been significant funding
transfers from Canada to the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, but we
have yet to be consulted. Since federal transfers to the province for housing
are not Inuit-specific, we have received very little from the Government of
Newfoundland and Labrador to address our immediate or long-term concerns.
One of the main reasons we have not been successful in receiving direct
funding for housing is that we are south of the sixtieth parallel and our
communities are not reserves. On numerous occasions, we have asked the
Government of Canada to revisit this policy, but our requests have been
While direct funding from the province has been limited, the Nunatsiavut
Government does administer a supportive living program for all residents in
Labrador. This program is funded by Newfoundland and Labrador Housing
Corporation and is not limited to our beneficiaries. Housing is provided to
individuals with multiple and complex needs, such as difficult to house,
criminal history, addictions, mental health issues, intergenerational trauma,
and intellectual disabilities, et cetera.
In Happy Valley-Goose Bay, there are currently seven units providing housing
and support to multiple clients, staffed by a single staff person 24 hours a
day. This program also supports eight apartments with one or two residents in
each and drop-in supports. An emergency shelter is currently being developed in
Happy Valley-Goose Bay that will hopefully open sometime this summer. It is
important to note that while Happy Valley-Goose Bay is not located within our
territory, many Labrador Inuit move there because there are no housing options
available for them in Nunatsiavut.
There are two supportive living units in Nunatsiavut providing housing and
support to multiple clients. The unit in Nain houses four individuals and the
one in Hopedale houses three. Both units are staffed by one person 24 hours a
day. The total budget for the whole program is $4.4 million, of which $763,000
is allocated to Nunatsiavut. If you're following along on the Power Point
presentation, you will see some pictures of some of the housing conditions in
In conclusion, I would just like to say that our aim with all of the research
we have done and continue to do is to step back and think critically about our
current approaches. We need to learn more about the environmental conditions and
climate constraints in our region, in addition to the needs and preferences of
the Nunatsiavut. We have to determine best practices in sustainable Northern
housing from other regions to inform a well-guided direction forward.
Thank you for your attention. If you have any questions, we will be more than
happy to try to answer them.
The Chair: Thank you for your comprehensive overview.
We will proceed with Mr. William Lucy from the Torngat Regional Housing
Association. We have a limited amount of time, so please try to keep your
presentation to 10 minutes. Mr. Lucy, please proceed.
William Lucy, Program Coordinator, Torngat Regional Housing Association:
Madam Chair and senators, thank you for giving us the opportunity today to
As First Minister Mitchell noted, Nunatsiavut is in the midst of a housing
crisis. As the delivery agent of the Nunatsiavut Government, the Torngat
Regional Housing Association certainly has had its share of challenges in trying
to meet the many demands for housing.
What do we do? The Torngat Regional Housing Association was established in
1983 to deliver social housing to the five Inuit communities of Nain, Hopedale,
Postville, Makkovik and Rigolet. The association is governed by a board of
directors with a representative from each community, as well as a representative
from Nunatsiavut Government. We currently have four permanent staff: a
construction coordinator, an inspector, a secretary and an accountant.
Construction workers and contractors are hired during the construction season.
Our objectives are to construct, improve, manage and administer housing and
housing assistance as well as to provide affordable, safe housing to
beneficiaries of the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement residing in
Local housing committees: Each community has a local housing committee
comprised of between five and nine members. The chair of each committee makes up
the board and brings forward concerns about and awareness of the needs within
their respective community. The local housing committees set priorities in their
respective communities for repairs and new home construction, mainly because
they know the needs of the people and their circumstances in their communities.
Better than anyone else, they know where there are cases of overcrowding, safety
concerns and who are on low and fixed incomes or homeless.
Application process: Beneficiaries looking to obtain housing or renovations
to existing homes are required to submit applications no later than January 31
each year. The board reviews all applicants and, depending on available
financial resources, determines immediate needs in each community and budgets
accordingly. However, the number of applications we receive does not always give
a true picture of the actual needs in each community. Many individuals require
housing, including many homeless who do not even file an application.
Income criteria: Consideration for assistance is given to applicants with a
gross annual income of $48,000 or less with no children; $57,000 or less to
families with one or two children; $67,000 or less to families with three to
five children; and $77,000 for families with six or more children. Those making
more than $77,000 a year are not eligible for assistance.
Pay-back policy: Families or individuals who receive new housing are required
to pay a monthly lease to the TRHA. Those living in one- and two-bedroom units
pay $80 per month, or $24,000 over a 25-year period, while those who live in a
three-or more bedroom unit pay $100 a month, or $30,000 over 25 years. After the
25-year period, the home and the land are turned over to the families and/or
individuals, provided they have fulfilled their original agreement with Torngat
Regional Housing Association.
Individuals who receive $50,000 or more from TRHA for repairs are required to
pay $100 per month for 10 years.
All revenue generated from the payback policy is put directly back into new
housing and repairs in the five Inuit communities.
Accountability: As First Minister Mitchell noted, TRHA receives funding from
the Nunatsiavut Government, on an annual basis, to carry out its mandate. As
such, we are required to provide the Nunatsiavut Government with monthly
financial statements, as well as an audit report at the end of each year.
This year, we received an allocation of roughly $2.6 million from the
Nunatsiavut Government. This funding, along with the HST rebate and house
payments, will allow us to construct five homes in Nain, three in Hopedale and
one in Rigolet. As well, we have set aside $70,000 for repairs in both Nain and
Hopedale; $125,000 in both Postville and Makkovik and $20,000 for Rigolet.
We have also budgeted funds to demolish old units for safety equipment,
worker's compensation, land development, legal fees for registration of land,
and bringing three units up to acceptable standards.
In conclusion, despite all of our efforts, the housing needs in Nunatsiavut
are huge. We are only scratching the surface, really, but we will continue to
push forward one house at a time, one repair job at a time. Hopefully, we will
eventually see some light at the end of tunnel.
I want to commend the Nunatsiavut Government for the tremendous amount of
work it has done to raise awareness of the housing crisis within our
communities, for its efforts in developing a long-term housing strategy and for
its trust in Torngat Regional Housing Association as its delivery agent.
Again, thank you for inviting me to present here today.
The Chair: Thank you for your presentations this morning. We will now
open the floor for questions from senators.
Senator Patterson: I thought this was a most impressive presentation
of the situation in Nunatsiavut. Clearly, there are lots of problems. You
described them in detail, and they are alarming: mould, overcrowding, short life
of housing, impacts of climate change, to name a few.
First Minister Mitchell, you talked about learning best practices from other
regions of Inuit Nunangat. Your region has actually got a lot to show other
regions. I'm very impressed with the partnership you have with Memorial and the
sustainable housing initiative. We did hear from Dr. Trevor Bell about that. The
higher rate of home ownership, although you said it may not be as large as the
numbers indicate, is still larger than any other Inuit region. Your housing
needs assessment, the integrated approach to planning that you have adopted and
the advantages you are getting from the IIBA from Voisey's Bay are all very
impressive, as is the development of a housing strategy also.
It seems to me that — and we heard from the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing
Corporation, and, of course, I'm looking at it from the outside — there is a
complexity here. You have Torngat doing important work. You have the
Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, which doesn't have much of a
presence in the region, we learned. There are different rent scales. The
Nunatsiavut Government is considering, I understand from your website,
developing a housing corporation, and you have these issues with the province
and the federal government and the funding not getting to you or you not being
consulted on the funding.
My question is this: You are working on a housing strategy. Will you have
recommendations soon from this housing strategy on maybe a more focused approach
to housing in your region? What lies ahead? Maybe you could tell us about the
timeline on the housing strategy.
Am I mistaken when I say it's confusing? There are a lot of players that are
making it more complex than it needs to be?
Ms. Mitchell: With regard to your question on our housing strategy,
yes, actually our housing strategy is being worked on. Within our government, we
have what we call our Housing Working Group, which I chair as the minister
responsible for housing. What we do as the Housing Working Group — and it's made
up of different people within our government, including our deputy ministers
that we have here, Isabella and Toby — is come up with something, work together
and then bring it to the executive council and ask for their approval and
With regard to where our housing strategy is going, actually, right now,
we're just finalizing what we call the Housing Delivery Agency Assessment.
The problem with the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation, the
dollars that we get from them, is that they just cater to a small sector of our
people, so there are many people who do not qualify. We think that our housing,
whatever we decide to come up with as a housing delivery agency, should cater to
the whole spectrum of our population. There are no seniors' homes or anything
within our region. There are no homes or apartments or anything where youth can
get out when they want to get on their own or if they go to university and come
back home. There is no place for them to stay unless they move back in with
We are very fortunate in the amount of young people who go off and do post-
secondary, university or whatever. We say that that's what we want to do. We
want to get our youth educated and come back home to work for us, but, when they
do, there is no housing.
We are hoping to bring it all together and develop a housing agency or a
strategy for housing that will encompass all ages of our population and not just
like right now, where the only one catered to is social housing. That is one of
our big issues.
Senator Patterson: We are an Aboriginal peoples committee, and we are
looking at Inuit housing. You mentioned Inuit-specific funding, and there was
something in the recent federal budget that kind of suggested funding for the
Inuit regions of Canada, including Nunatsiavut. I was surprised to hear —
although we've heard it in other regions — that the money that maybe was
intended for Inuit or should have been intended for Inuit got lost in the
province, in the transfer process and the funding formulas.
I think you said you're concerned that the $15 million might flow to the
province. What do you recommend be done with those funds? You have obviously
focused a lot on housing. I'm sure you could put all of that money to very good
use. What should be done with that money?
Ms. Mitchell: Our position on that is that our land claims agreement
is a constitutionally protected agreement. There are already mechanisms in place
for the federal government to be able to flow that money directly to us. We feel
we have done a lot of work. We are in the best position to be able to make the
most efficient use of that funding, and we feel it should come directly to us.
Our fear is that if it's flowed through the province, then there will be an
administration fee and we will have to meet their criteria. We fear it will not
meet the uses we need it for.
For land development, as I mentioned in my presentation, right now we are
looking at $200,000 for a lot of land, and it's not even ready to build on. We
need to be able to do things with our funding. If we need to develop the land,
then we have to be able to do that. Our fear is that if the money is flowed
through the province, it will not even be an option. We will not be able to look
at how best to use that money to ensure our housing is sustainable, not to be
building houses that will be moved in a year or two.
Senator Oh: Welcome, witnesses, to the Senate committee. There was a
Housing Needs Assessment conducted in 2012 by the federal government, provincial
government and Nunatsiavut Government, which was completed for five communities
in your area. Have the findings of the Housing Needs Assessment changed the way
homes are managed and administrated in Nunavik?
Ms. Mitchell: Yes. One thing we hope is guiding who gets
housing is the Housing Needs Assessment. We are concentrating on the communities
with a housing crisis. We knew there was a housing crisis, especially in Nain
and Hopedale, but then we didn't have the actual numbers or the stats to back it
up. The Housing Needs Assessment is guiding where our money will be spent.
Senator Oh: I have a follow-up question to the one asked by Senator
Patterson. You mentioned that young people leaving the community and returning
home can't find housing accommodations and have to stay with their parents. Has
your community been growing for the last 10 years, or has population growth
Ms. Mitchell: Yes, especially in Nain and Hopedale. The population has
been about the same in the other communities, pretty much status quo.
Senator Oh: You mentioned a lot of land costs over $200,000 before you
Ms. Mitchell: Yes.
Senator Oh: But the population is not steadily going up.
Ms. Mitchell: No.
Senator Oh: That's pretty unusual.
Ms. Mitchell: In the community of Makkovik, where I'm from, our
population has pretty much stayed the same. But then you get some people who
leave and the young people are starting to come back. Now with the Nunatsiavut
Government, there are jobs in the communities because Nunatsiavut has offices in
all the communities. People who are educated and qualified are filling those
But for a lot of young people, when they go to university and are gone for
four years, it's hard for them to come back and have to live with their parents.
We feel that we should be able to have some housing where when you reach a
certain age and you need to be on your own, you would be able to rent an
apartment in the community. A lot of our people, like we mentioned, go to Happy
Valley-Goose Bay because there is no housing available in Nunatsiavut.
Senator Oh: You mentioned earlier that the federal transfer of funding
goes to the Labrador Government so there is not enough funding coming directly
to your community? Is that what you're saying?
Ms. Mitchell: Yes. They don't give any funding directly to
Nunatsiavut, apart from the Fiscal Financing Agreement. That's the only money we
get, but not from the province.
Senator Oh: Thank you.
The Chair: I have one quick question. You were talking about the money
from CMHC and wanting it to come directly to you. In the past, when CMHC had
money for housing in Nunatsiavut, was that money transferred to you directly?
Toby Anderson, Deputy Minister, Nunatsiavut Affairs, Nunatsiavut
Government: Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, senators, for the opportunity
to be here.
Isabella and I go back a long way. We were the co-chief negotiators for the
Labrador Inuit land claim agreement. I spent 19 consecutive years at the
One of the biggest problems that the Labrador Inuit were faced with during
the course of negotiations was to try to resolve the issue that is Canada's
policy in transferring funding to the Inuit regions. Canada does transfer
funding, but if you live north of the sixtieth parallel, you don't qualify for
that funding. For those who live south of the sixtieth parallel, funding flows
through the provinces.
We tried to fix that in our land claims agreement, and we thought we had
under section 2.6.2 and then chapter 18 of the Fiscal Financing Agreement. We
put a mechanism in place through the Fiscal Financing Agreement where money
would flow from CMHC directly to the Nunatsiavut Government.
Section 2.6.2, as Minister Mitchell already stated, is very specific that
before Canada transfers any money to the province for the Inuit, they must
consult the Nunatsiavut Government. We have never been consulted. There was $15
million announced in the federal budget. President Lampe learned from the
minister responsible for the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation that
that money was flowing from CMHC directly to NLHC to be administered.
NLHC, in over 60 years of existence, has built 55 units in Nunatsiavut. Yet
every four years, there is a federal transfer of — right now it's approximately
$400 million over four years. Fifty-five units in over 60 years. We have done
better ourselves with monies from our trust and a bit flowing through from the
Fiscal Financing Agreement. That is the real problem, madam chair.
On Senator Patterson's point, what's next in the housing strategy, we have
one component that's missing, as Minister Mitchell explained, and that is the
housing delivery model. What's it going to look like? We don't have one there
now. We have NLHC in the province. The Nunatsiavut Government does not have a
delivery agency, so we have contracted a firm to look at all Aboriginal delivery
agency models across Canada, and we're in the process now of putting that
That's the final component, but what's critical is when we put that delivery
model in place, whether it's a commission or whatever it may be, it has to be
funded. The funding for a land claim agreement should come from CMHC. Right now,
when we go to CMHC, they say, "We have transferred the funding to the province,
to NLHC.'' We go to NLHC and they say, "We decide where that money is spent, not
you.'' That's the real problem, and we're trying to get around that with our own
housing delivery model.
The one thing that's important for the Senate committee is that this issue
was addressed by the Auditor General's office. In the report that was released
in February from the Auditor General, one section is implementing the Labrador
Inuit Land Claim Agreement, and it's very specific with respect to housing and
the fact that no money has been flowing to the Nunatsiavut Government for
housing. The recommendation from the Auditor General's office in 3.77 is very
specific and says that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada has to work with other
federal agencies, like CMHC, to address the issue of direct funding for housing
for Nunatsiavut and Inuit who live south of the sixtieth parallel. I just bring
that to your attention. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you for that clear answer.
Senator Enverga: Thank you for the detailed information. We were
supposed to go to Nain, but the weather stopped us, so it's great that you're
here so we can meet you.
I know that you've been getting a lot of support from different areas. You
listed details with regard to all the government funding that was given to you.
Before I start that, I would like to congratulate you for getting the Arctic
Inspiration Award; that's very good.
This hasn't been mentioned thoroughly in the report. With respect to
public-private partnerships, are there any roles for private industry to support
your housing? It looks like you said no. Can you tell us more about it? Why not?
Ms. Mitchell: I guess transportation compounds a lot of our issues
because we have no roads in the area we live in. We have inadequate airstrips.
We can only fly in by Twin Otter. Our season is not open while there's still
ice. Our season hasn't started yet; so there are no boats getting in. Our
construction season is really short. With the cutbacks in the provincial budget,
this year we're getting 169 days. That's how many days the marine transportation
would be servicing our communities.
Senator Enverga: I was hoping that private industry or private
corporations would be able to help.
Isabella Pain, Nunatsiavut Affairs, Nunatsiavut Government: We are
trying to encourage and work with private industry in relation to home ownership
or to create rental units in all of our communities. We haven't seen much
uptake. There's a minimal uptake on that so far, but part of our housing
strategy is going to be trying to find a way to encourage a private rental
market and with entrepreneurs coming on who want to get into the rental housing
market, but we have seen minimal success on that to date.
Senator Enverga: I understand that you get $75,000 for the climate
change and energy efficiency and emissions trading from the Newfoundland and
Labrador government. How much are you affected by climate change? Has it
affected your housing, and how far have you gone to ensure that it doesn't?
Ms. Pain: We have done a number of studies in relation to the impact
of climate change in relation to not only housing but other infrastructure in
our communities. We're seeing lots of soil melting, ground conditions changing,
which is resulting in shifting of building lots. If you dig into the ground,
which we do in Nunatsiavut for our water and sewer, you're disturbing the
permafrost layer, and that starts to melt and slump, which causes a whole host
of other issues, so the lots you're building on are melting and slumping. Things
are slowly sinking.
We have done lots of research on that. I can send you some information on
this, but we're seeing a lot of change in terms of weather patterns throughout
the year, where we're seeing rain in January and February, which is unheard of,
which causes freezing and thawing. It exacerbates that potential issue, as well
as lots of flooding. We're seeing a lot more water flowing at strange times of
the year when we shouldn't be seeing those impacts. We have done a lot of work
As Minister Mitchell talked about in her presentation, when houses are moving
and shifting, the house tends to pull apart, so the seams aren't tight anymore,
insulation isn't working as well, so houses become colder. You have more
difficulty heating your home.
Some of the housing dollars we've received through the climate change is
looking at things like high-efficiency, wood-burning stoves, so you need less
fuel to heat your home; looking at attic retrofits, so doing different types of
insulation in your attic to look at keeping the warmth in your house.
We're doing lots of research, so we can provide you more detail on climate,
but there are impacts we're seeing and have been seeing for the last number of
years. 2010 was one of the worst seasons on record for us in relation to having
strange weather patterns, which then impact the ground and our building lots.
Senator Enverga: If you have a rough idea, what are the effects with
regard to housing and infrastructure?
Ms. Pain: I can't remember off the top of my head. I'd have to look
Senator Tannas: Thank you very much for making the effort to come here
and visit with us.
We have Canadians following the hearings and your testimony closely, and I
want to try to frame some of the issues that you've presented, especially around
the project new housing and lease to own.
There's a proposed rent of $80 a month for up to two bedrooms and then $100 a
month for three-bedroom units. Canadians would say, "Wow, what do I have to do
to get that deal?'' But I think we need to add to that, if you could, and give
us additional numbers around the other expenses that go into those homes,
specifically electricity and whatever forms of heat. Do you have an estimate of
a three-bedroom unit and what the other cost besides rent would be on a monthly
basis to make that home a home, with all of the attendant costs that go with it?
Is that something you've got handy?
Mr. Lucy: For a three-bedroom home in Nunatsiavut, you're looking at
the land development, like the minister said, for probably $200,000. To build
the home itself, you're probably looking at another $155,000.
Torngat is a non-profit organization. We work, like you said, on a fixed
budget from the Nunatsiavut Government. The rest of Canada, yes, might look at
us and say, "I wish we could get sustainable housing like that.'' But you have
to realize that we are isolated from the rest of Canada, like Ms. Mitchell said.
There are no roads. We provide housing for low-income families on fixed income
and senior citizens living on Old-age Security. To them, living in rural areas,
it's a lot of money to pay for housing. It's different in the rest of Canada.
The costs for fuel and electrical power are high. If you're running electric
heat in your home, the cost for one month can range anywhere from $500 to
$1,000. If you're burning furnace oil, it can run between $290 and $300 a
Senator Tannas: Is that $300 a month or a barrel, did you say?
Mr. Lucy: A barrel.
Senator Tannas: How long would a barrel last in a three-bedroom house?
Mr. Lucy: A barrel in a well-insulated home probably would last about
a week and a half. In a deteriorating home, you would probably get three days,
tops, in the winter months.
Senator Tannas: How long?
Mr. Lucy: Around three days in the winter months. That's in a not
Senator Tannas: I'm trying to get a sense of this for all of us here:
The great deal you get for $100 a month for the brand new house comes with what
could be an extra $1,000 to $1,200 for heat. How much is it for electricity?
Mr. Lucy: If you have electric heat in your home in Nunatsiavut, it
could cost you anywhere between $500 to $1,000 a month, if you want your house
Senator Tannas: If we take it on an all-in basis, the $100
three-bedroom home is really probably closer to $2,000 per month, right?
Mr. Lucy: With utilities, yes.
Senator Tannas: Thank you very much.
Senator Lovelace Nicholas: Welcome here today. There are more
residents in your area who have home ownership than in any other communities.
Would you explain why? You have more home ownership in your area than in any
other Inuit community. Could you explain why?
Ms. Pain: I can try to explain why. People in our communities have
been building their own homes for quite a long time. People are used to
providing for themselves. Compared to places in Nunavut, while we have
difficulty with our transportation system, it's even harder in other areas of
the North. We do have a regular marine transportation system whereby people are
able to order their building supplies and actually build homes in our
communities; but we have challenges to that.
The first challenge is serviced land. Again, that costs a lot of money, so
accessing it is difficult. Right now in Nain and in Hopedale, as an example,
there are no serviced lots available today to build houses. If I wanted to build
a house today, I'd have to wait for a year or two for land to be available.
The second thing is that we have been encouraging people for quite some time,
especially if they work and can afford to buy their own home, to do that. There
are challenges with actually getting a mortgage from a bank. Banks have not been
looking at our communities as places to invest money in terms of mortgages, but
that has been changing slowly with the economy and people working at places like
the Voisey's Bay mine site, for example. People have good incomes and can afford
to purchase their own homes, which we encourage.
As part of our housing strategy, something we're going to try to develop is
to get more people who can afford to build their own home to actually do that.
People who can afford right now are still challenged, but they are interested in
getting their own home so they can get a house that's maybe different than the
Torngat model. The Torngat housing model is a social housing model. Some people
would like to have a home with an interior that's a bit different.
I don't know if you have any other comments on why we have more people with
their own homes.
Mr. Anderson: I think Isabella covered it quite well. The issue is
that the list is so long. There's no housing money available. What people look
at in the community right now is that Torngat Regional Housing Association and,
to a certain extent, the Newfoundland and Labrador Housing Corporation have
rental housing. In order to qualify for rental housing, you have to be able to
pay the rent. They look at your salary, and the people who don't meet that
requirement get nothing. That's where we need to focus our new housing delivery
model that we want to put in place. What do we do with those people?
Getting back to your question on why there's a higher percentage, I think, as
Isabella pointed out, the Labrador Inuit Association, and since then the
Nunatsiavut Government, has been promoting people, in particular younger people,
to try to build their own home. If you're looking for help from the government,
the NLHC or CMHC, you'll never get it.
Senator Lovelace Nicholas: In order to get your house, somebody
mentioned that it could cost $200,000 to clear and service a lot. After all
that, do you own the land where you have your house?
Ms. Pain: Yes. In our communities, the community governments clear the
land and develop a subdivision. They will get the lots prepared with water and
sewer service. The community government then will allocate it to you, and the
land then becomes transferred to the individual who owns the home. You have to
have land ownership in order to get a mortgage to get your own home. We are
talking about that as well because, at the moment, that's one of the true costs
of building a house that we don't account for in terms of an individual basis or
a recipient basis.
If I'm building a house, I don't generally have to pay the $200,000. I get it
for the cost of the survey in the communities, plus maybe a bit more. If I then
had to get a mortgage for $200,000, I'm not including the cost of the land
servicing. That piece of the mathematics is never usually accounted for, so
we're trying to get people to understand that the cost of a whole house really
includes land servicing as well. The land is transferred to the individuals when
they get a piece of land allocated to them by their community government.
Senator Lovelace Nicholas: It was also mentioned that you can't get
insurance if you use wood heat. If you use any other kind of heat source, like
electricity or something else, can you insure the house?
Ms. Pain: You can get insurance; but it's very difficult. When you
have wood heat, it costs a lot more to get insurance. A lot of people don't know
how to get insurance. There is no insurance agency in our communities, or even
in Nunatsiavut. We have to go outside to Goose Bay.
Even then, it's still a very difficult and foreign process for people to
understand how to get insurance and what the value of insurance is. That's one
of the education pieces we're working on as well, trying to figure out how we
can encourage, educate and assist people to get insurance for their homes.
Senator Raine: Thank you very much to all of you. It's been very
When Newfoundland and Labrador housing provide housing to your communities,
is there a different way of qualifying for those houses than what you would see
would be a better way? Obviously they're not building very many houses. How do
they allocate them?
The reason I'm asking this is because when we were in Nunavik, we could see
that young people who went away to university wound up not qualifying for social
housing through the Province of Quebec. Is that same situation happening in
Ms. Pain: With the NLHC units, the target is low-income families. It
is really a social housing model. That is who they gear their homes towards.
It's more of a rental arrangement with NLHC, so you don't own the house.
Twenty-five per cent of your income is basically your rent. That's fine if
you're on income assistance in any way, shape or form, so the rents aren't too
If you're actually working, your rent goes up to 25 per cent of your income.
Whatever that might be when you get employment, if you are a couple and you're
both employed, it's 25 per cent of your household income. It becomes difficult
for people who go away to school and come back and possibly get a good job to
actually stay in NLHC's units because the rent becomes high. It does discourage
people from staying in those units.
The second thing with the NLHC units is there's a wait-list anyway for people
on income assistance or who need social housing. It's very difficult for people
to get in, in any event. There's a long wait-list, so if you're a younger person
coming with an education, you could get in but you might be waiting a long time.
Senator Raine: What I'm hearing is that this housing, which isn't
really happening, is being paid for by the federal transfers through the
province, so it's not really arriving to do anything good in your communities.
It's probably going to interfere with any models that you do have coming forward
that make a lot of sense. Am I correct in that?
Ms. Pain: I would say that it might interfere. There are a couple of
things that have happened in the last couple of years. We have developed a good
working relationship with NLHC. They understand that their housing model doesn't
provide housing to the full spectrum of needs that we have in our communities,
and they've been working with us to try to figure out ways to actually get funds
into our communities.
For example, the housing construction repair program that Minister Mitchell
talked about, where NLHC contributed $350,000 and we contributed $350,000, part
of that was because they recognize they have housing dollars available for
people to repair their homes, but with their model, I have to pay up front and
then I go back and get reimbursed if I've actually done the repairs. Our people
can't afford to do the upfront cost. If they could, they probably wouldn't
require this, so we've done the program.
The NLHC recognize that as a challenge, but with their program, they can't
change that. So the funds were flowed through to us, and we were able to use
their funds in our communities.
They do recognize some of those challenges, but we don't believe they look at
the full spectrum of housing. They are really a social housing model, and we
think there's a lot more than that in relation to our housing challenges and
Senator Raine: In the housing spectrum, you mentioned the need for I
would say transitional housing for young people to when they actually start
their families. There's a period when they really wouldn't be a high priority
for a single-family dwelling, but they need a place to live, such as a boarding
house, if you like, or some kind of co-op housing. There is that challenge, plus
seniors' and elders' housing. Could you maybe focus their contributions in those
areas? Have you discussed that with them?
Ms. Pain: We've talked a little bit about that with them, but this is
one of the things that we're actually doing with the Arctic Inspiration Prize
multi-unit dwelling. We're building a unit that's going to have some housing for
younger single people and then some for seniors as well. We're trying to meet
those two ends because those two segments of the population can't get housing a
lot of times. That's what we're trying to address.
As we say, the prize is a "knowledge to action'' plan, so you have to study
it afterwards. We have the best plans at the moment. We're going to evaluate the
house, number one, for its functionality, whether the design itself actually
works, but also from a social perspective to talk to the residents in the units
about whether or not it's meeting their needs and whether there are other things
we should learn from and do better the next time.
Senator Raine: The unit that you're building is going to be a
Ms. Pain: Six-plex.
Senator Raine: Great. Thank you very much.
Senator Moore: Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
Just to touch on Senator Raine's last question, looking at this draft design,
I don't see any porch or windbreak in any of the entries, and that was a big
thing when we visited the communities in the North. When the designers put this
design together, I don't know if they spoke to you about that or not. I'm glad
to hear it will be oriented facing south, because that was a complaint in the
past. The builders, the people in charge in the South, didn't talk to the people
on the ground, and as a result, the locations and the designs are terrible.
I want to ask Mr. Anderson some questions. I think you said that the
Newfoundland Government has received $400 million with which they have built
only 55 housing units in over 60 years. Is that correct?
Mr. Anderson: Yes, 55 units in over 60 years.
Senator Moore: In the brief that we received, there was concern about
money may flow to the province. I guess you've been told the money is going
through the province. Let's talk about this $15 million. What percentage do they
take out as an administration fee?
Ms. Pain: We don't know. We've actually talked to NLHC and to the
minister about that. One of the things that we've heard from them is they won't
actually take an administration fee from this $15 million, but we don't know
that. Did she confirm that in the meeting with you?
Ms. Mitchell: No.
Ms. Pain: With previous programs, they have taken an administration
fee, so we were very concerned about that.
Senator Moore: So in the previous ones, what was the percentage? How
did they determine what the administration fee should be?
Mr. Anderson: Fifteen per cent.
Senator Moore: That's a pretty large piece of money. Was this
negotiated, or were you just told they were retaining that much?
Ms. Pain: We don't have anything to do with it. The point is that the
program was CMHC transferring money to the province for housing, and we had
nothing to say about it from that perspective.
Senator Moore: Let's go back to that. In terms of the Labrador Inuit
land claims agreement, you said it took 19 years to negotiate. You thought that
you had it worked out under section 2.6.2 that the money from federal sources
for housing would go directly to your government and not through the province.
Is that written down there, Mr. Anderson? Is that stated in the agreement?
Ms. Pain: There are two things: Section 2.6.2 is clear in saying that
for Inuit programs, Canada would consult. The other piece about housing is that
there is a clause in our Fiscal Financing Agreement related to housing, but the
dollars didn't accompany the obligation for housing. While Canada was
negotiating the FFA, the answer always was, "Well, yes, we know what we've
agreed to, but we don't have a program you can fit. You're not north of 60 and
you're not on a reserve, so we have no program that can actually give you the
dollars.'' That is the gap we've been in since we negotiated the land claims
Senator Moore: With whom are you working regarding this money? Is it
CMHC or another department? Who do you deal about this money? Let's talk about
the $15 million.
Ms. Pain: For this current budget, we are not sure. We have been
talking to CMHC, who will allocate the funding, and to INAC, because we have a
funding arrangement with them for other mechanisms and programs where dollars
are flowed to us.
Senator Moore: When this $15 million was established as money coming
for housing, did someone discuss that amount with your government and what the
goals were between yourselves?
Ms. Pain: No.
Senator Moore: No?
Ms. Pain: It was announced in the budget. We were asking questions as
to how the funds would flow and what the requirements for funding would be, but
we didn't receive any answers. When Minister Mitchell was in a meeting with the
provincial minister, she was advised the money would flow to NHLC from CMHC.
Senator Moore: You heard that $15 million was coming for Inuit
housing, and you mentioned INAC. How does someone get between you and the
government? Why is that not going back and forth between you and the Government
of Canada? That's who signed the agreement, right?
Ms. Pain: Yes.
Senator Moore: When you hear that and you hear in a circuitous way
from the Minister of Newfoundland and Labrador that the money will go through
them, don't you get hold of someone in Ottawa and say, "Listen, that's not our
deal.'' Do you write somebody? What happens? How do you make your case? You've
got the record here, and 55 units over 60 years is not very good. You have all
the stats, you have your performance standards and you know what you can do. To
whom do you go to get this on record and straightened it out?
Ms. Pain: We have written a number of letters. We met with Minister
Bennett. She was coming to the region, so we met and raised this issue with her.
We have written to a number of ministers, such as Minister Duclos and others, to
talk about this issue. We are not the only Inuit in this region. All the Inuit
housing dollars allocated in the budget are flowing to the respective provincial
governments. We work closely with Makivik Corporation in Nunavut to argue that
we should be getting the funds. ITK, the national Inuit organization, has been
coordinating us in all of our efforts and trying to talk to the Prime Minister's
Office about this particular flow of funds. We have been talking to whoever we
can at various levels to get the decision changed or actually get a decision
made that the Inuit region should get the dollars for housing in their
Senator Moore: What kind of response do you get?
Ms. Pain: We haven't really had a response. We are getting some signs
that it might change, but we don't know that. We are hearing various things at
various times. We know that the people we work with in INAC would be supportive
of us getting the dollars. When the money was announced in the budget, the INAC
implementation people actually thought it was going to come through us; but then
that changed so we are still waiting. Minister Mitchell has a meeting with
Minister Duclos on Thursday, when we will discuss the issue.
Senator Moore: I hope you continue to push your original agreement and
the obligation of the feds to honour that. I mean, I would be hammering that. I
wouldn't let them off the hook. Thank you, chair.
Senator Patterson: We have looked at home ownership in the Inuit
regions we have been studying. Inuit have traditionally been self-sustaining
with their homes and self-reliant in very harsh conditions over many thousands
of years. I believe there would be an appetite for home ownership. In your
region, you seem to have had more success than elsewhere.
We have heard that the costs of maintaining a home are daunting when you have
poor quality homes that are not sustainable, not energy-efficient and not well
built. Now, with this sustainable housing initiative, you're going to have
energy-efficient homes that are well placed. You will have proper planning so
they are put on solid ground that you've mapped out.
I was impressed that, even if it takes 50 years, you do have a way for people
to get home ownership free of dependence on the government and able to be passed
to future generations. Will this be part of your housing strategy?
Ms. Mitchell: Definitely. That is a big part of our housing strategy.
One thing we're really trying to promote is that we want to get away from a
sense of entitlement and move toward the sense that if you can afford to pay,
then you should. Someone made reference earlier to $100 or whatever, which looks
pretty good to the rest of Canada as a mortgage. I also want to impress upon all
of you that most of the housing provided within Nunatsiavut is just social
housing; and we can't even meet the demand for that. Anybody with a job has to
qualify. Torngat Regional Housing Association and Newfoundland and Labrador
Housing Corporation have mostly social housing. You or I would not be able to
apply for any housing because the first thing they look at is the income
Senator Patterson: We've heard in Nunavut and the N.W.T. that CMHC has
been contributing to the operating and maintenance costs for social housing, and
maybe in Nunatsiavut it filters down through the province, and that those funds
are declining every year. Are you also facing declining contributions from
Canada for O&M, operations and maintenance, for social housing?
Mr. Anderson: Yes. We don't have any. If CMHC has such a
program, we don't know about it. Other federal programs may be available but,
because of the lack of consultation, we don't know about them.
One thing we want to try to do through our housing delivery agency is have
CMHC as the entity that transfers funding directly to the Nunatsiavut
Government. Maybe one of the conditions could be a program, even if it's just
one- time support for young people, to help make the down payment on a mortgage.
That would be a big help. Those are the kinds of things we're looking at as
well. Right now with CMHC we have no contact. When we go to CMHC, what we're
told is that housing dollars are transferred to the province, but you can't do
that because our land claim agreement says differently. Yes, but that's not
Inuit-specific funding. The $15 million announced in the new federal budget is
Inuit specific, and that's why we are fighting that battle now and hoping it
will flow directly.
Senator Patterson: I hope that our committee can help to push in that
direction. We were made well aware of that issue, particularly in Makkovik, in
Just one final one from me, Madam Chair, quickly.
The Chair: We are running a bit late; one final question.
Senator Patterson: Very quickly: We're going to write our report this
summer and report to Parliament in the fall. Would your housing strategy be
something we could get in that time frame, this summer? Is that realistic? It
seems to me there may be some recommendations that we should want to consider
based on all you've been doing. I don't want to rush you, but what would the
time frame be? Could you work with our clerk to give us that information as
things move along?
Ms. Pain: I'm not sure it will be ready by early fall. Two things:
Toby spoke a little bit about the fact that we have a housing delivery review
report that's still coming. We don't have that. That's going to form a part of
that strategy, and we're not expecting that until at least the end of June, I
The second thing is that we're working with ITK to pull together a national
Inuit housing summit. Part of that summit is for us to look at best practices
across the North, from all of the regions, and to learn from each other. We were
hoping that that was going to take place earlier this spring, but the money
didn't get transferred or the final agreement didn't get signed off on between
ITK and INAC until, I think it was, last month. That has held us up a little
bit. That will also inform some of our discussion as we move forward, although
we may have a preliminary draft by then. I'm not sure, but I was thinking it
would be more likely either late fall or early winter that we would actually
have our strategy completed.
Senator Patterson: I'm sure we would like to get as much progress as
you could give us as we move forward, and I trust you would be willing to work
with our staff on that. That's all I wanted to say. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you. Unfortunately, we have other business that we
have to attend to, and I'm afraid that I'm going to have to conclude second
First of all, though, I would really like to thank our witnesses this morning
from the Nunatsiavut Government: President Johannes Lampe; First Minister Kate
Mitchell; Deputy Minister Toby Anderson; and Isabella Pain from Nunatsiavut
Affairs; and, from Torngat Regional Housing Association, Program Coordinator Mr.
William Lucy and Inspector Richard Boase. Thank you very much for your
comprehensive testimony this morning and your answers to the questions.