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Home > Press centre > Press releases > 2011 > March 2, 2011

Living conditions in the Far North

The gouvernement du Québec and the Inuit nation work hand in hand

Quebec City, March 2, 2011 – Geoffrey Kelley, Minister responsible for Native Affairs, and Pita Aatami, President of the Makivik Corporation, wish to take stock of the situation following the comments made yesterday by the Parti Québécois during a press briefing dealing with the living conditions of the population of Nunvik. Mr. Kelley and Mr. Aatami want to take advantage of the opportunity to reiterate their commitment to work together on daily issues affecting the Inuit nation and the implementation of the Plan Nord.

High cost of living

The high cost of living in Nunavik is of huge concern to the Gouvernement du Québec, which has been particularly active in the past few years in remedying this situation, working closely with the political leadership. Whether construction of new housing or the reduced cost of transportation, major strides have been made and further sizable progress is to come.

Special efforts in housing

The government recognized the importance of the issues related to social housing shortages and the rarity of privately owned housing in Nunavik. From 2003 to 2010, 444 social housing units were built in Nunavik. Furthermore, the Agreement respecting the implementation of the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreementrelated to housing inNunavik has been renewed until 2015. The agreement provides for the construction of 340 new social housing units in Nunavik. Minister Kelley pointed out that as part of the Plan Nord, a task force will be assigned exclusively to this question.

A program to compensate for the cost of transportation

Transportation is one of the factors with the greatest impact on the cost of living in Northern regions. This is why the government implemented a program to reduce the cost of transportation. Since 2007, nearly $18 million has been invested to decrease the fees charged for the transportation of passengers and goods, and to compensate for the high cost of gas.

Plan Nord

Mr. Kelley noted that all the Aboriginal Nations that live in the Northern regions of Québec – the Cree, the Innu, the Inuit and the Naskapi – were enlisted to help draft the Plan Nord. They answered the call, with some 80 members of the four Nations working alongside government, municipal, and environmental representatives, along with business leaders and researchers. In coming weeks, Quebecers and Aboriginals will begin implementation of the Plan in the same spirit of mutual respect and solidarity.

"Since signature of the James Bay Agreement, the Inuit and Québec have forged a special and fruitful relationship rooted in respect and understanding. So far our interaction has been harmonious, and we certainly want this to continue. In the near future, a number of efforts should be made by Québec in many files, but we are convinced of the Gouvernement du Québec’s collaboration," said Mr. Aatami.

"For our government, the objective is to have all the people of the North benefit from the development envisaged under the Plan Nord, on the economic level as much as the social one. The Inuit played an active role within the various working groups, and I want to thank them for their involvement. The relationship that the Gouvernement du Québec has had with the Inuit Nation since 2003 goes far beyond the Plan Nord. It is based on a partnership that makes it possible to take their concerns into account and to come up with solutions," the Minister responsible for Aboriginal Affairs said in closing.

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