Northern territories need boost from feds to cure socio-economic ills

YELLOWKNIFE, Sept. 30 /CNW Telbec/ - The union representing the largest number of workers in the northern territories is calling on the federal government to increase transfer payments to alleviate crisis-level poverty in the region.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada submitted a scathing economic report card to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance to expose the dire socio-economic conditions under which people in the Northwest, Yukon and Nunavut territories live. They are urging the committee, which is travelling across Canada for its Pre-Budget Consulations, to increase transfer payments to the three territories by 20 to 50 per cent.

"Unless these areas receive a substantial financial boost from the central Canadian government, it will be impossible for Northerners to attain the level of functionality they need to have in order to fully participate in the industrial developments that are being contemplated by industry and governments now and for the future," says the PSAC submission.

The data taken from Statistics Canada that is cited by the PSAC submission include:

    -   10.6-per-cent unemployment rate in Nunavut,
    -   high school and post-secondary graduation rates that are lower than
        the rest of Canada,
    -   higher percentages of residents who do not live in or cannot access
        acceptable housing conditions compared to the rest of Canada,
    -   much higher cost of living resulting in lower real incomes in the
        region compared to the rest of country.

"If these conditions existed in the provinces, all levels of government would declare a state of emergency and immediately instate a rescue package in the billions of dollars," says the submission.

The PSAC calls for the increase in funding to be targeted to housing, food subsidies, and health and social services.


For further information: For further information: Kim Bailey, assistant to the PSAC Regional Executive Vice-President for the North, at (867) 669-0991

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