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Nunavut’s business community optimistic on federal budget

More details needed, says Nunavut senator
Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal highlighted how Nunavut will benefit from the 2022 federal budget during a visit to Iqaluit on April 12. Trevor Wright/NNSL photo

Northern Affairs Minister Daniel Vandal touched down in Iqaluit on April 12, showcasing Budget 2022 –introduced the previous week – and the benefits it has to offer to Nunavummiut.

Sixty million dollars earmarked for housing projects for each territory will have “very few” conditions to it, meaning each territory can use it to help complete or fund other existing units under construction.

“There’s also other pots of housing money, Indigenous Services has $845 million over seven years for Inuit Nunangat housing,” said Vandal, adding there’s billions in additional national housing funding that “Nunavut has a right to get.”

Joining Vandal at the Aqsarniit Hotel in highlighting the budget were members of Iqaluit’s business community who praised the budget’s focus on tax cuts for small businesses, housing and clean energy.

Harry Flaherty, president of the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation which helped build the Aqsarniit Hotel, welcomed Budget 2022 as being perfect for the Corporation’s future plans for the hotel.

“I’m extremely proud when I heard what the federal government announced for clean energy with the support of Natural Resources Canada,” said Flaherty.

“Aqsarniit Hotel and Conference Centre will soon be the host of a clean energy micro-grid, providing independent heat and power to the facility,” he added, with a combination of solar power and batteries, which will help the hotel cut down on existing diesel usage and save money.

Clarence Synard, speaking as the president of the Baffin Regional Chamber of Commerce, was “happy to see such a focus on the North in this year’s budget.” “

“The much-needed investment in the North will make sure we rejuvenate our economy as a territory,” said Synard, speaking on the budget’s plan to phase out access to the small business tax rate when taxable capital reaches $50 million rather than $15 million, which will allow bigger businesses to be taxed like a small businesses.

“We welcome the news of a tax cut for these businesses as this will help in their growth and prosperity in the overall growth of our local economy,” Synard added, also praising extra funding for clean energy ($250 million) being budgeted.

Nunavut senator cautiously optimistic

Dennis Patterson, Nunavut’s senator, was present for Vandal’s visit and spoke about what his appraisal of Budget 2022 has been so far.

With over $6 billion budgeted for defence priorities, the independent senator hopes to see the Canadian Military take a more active role in the North, however Patterson is going to be waiting until those details are hashed out.

“I guess I’m a bit anxious to see what materializes,” Patterson said.

“Russia has a smaller GDP than Canada, yet they have managed to fund icebreakers, bases, airfields and ports, all across their Arctic coast. Canada’s infrastructure in the North is embarrassing by comparison and I’m hoping we’ll get a fair share of the $6 billion that’s provided in the budget.”

One particular part of Budget 2022 Patterson particularly was excited for was the $228 million announced for trauma-informed, culturally appropriate Indigenous-led services for mental health, which was “tailor-made for Nunavut” and the issues the territory faces.

However, Patterson reiterated the need to wait for specifics to be broken down, saying “the devil is often in the details.”

READ MORE: Budget 2022