Nunavut tables near-balanced budget for 20th-anniversary year (Canadian Press/Globe and Mail – February 20, 2019)

As Nunavut approaches the 20th anniversary of its creation, the territory has tabled a mostly stand-pat budget that plans modest spending increases to fight some of its social problems.

“We look ahead to the next 20 years and beyond with anticipation, hope, motivation and great respect to the people, traditions and innovation that brought us to this point,” Finance Minister George Hickes told the territorial legislature Wednesday.

His budget forecasts a tiny deficit of $12-million on revenues of about $2.2-billion – about 90 per cent of which will come from federal transfers. That makes it the territory’s third red-ink budget in a row.

New social spending includes almost $5-million for addictions and trauma treatment, including what would be the territory’s first recovery centre. The spending is also intended to create on-the-land camps for Inuit to reconnect with their culture.

“Many communities, families and individuals in Nunavut struggle with the adverse impacts of substance use and related personal trauma,” said Hickes. “Our priority is to help Nunavummiut access support to heal.”

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