Running out of time
Why wait for division to get things going? Todd asks

by Jeff Colbourne
Northern News Services

BAKER LAKE (Apr 14/97) - Finance Minister John Todd says the $150-million devoted to the Nunavut infrastructure project should be enough to build the physical foundation of a new territorial government.

Schedules, however, are another matter.

Following a Keewatin Chamber of Commerce dinner last week, Todd (left) spoke about the opportunities that Nunavut Construction's project will bring to the region in the coming years.

The money, a combination of territorial and federal funds, is to be spent over the next four years.

But Todd wasn't so certain that everyone involved has enough time to put it all together.

Waiting until April 1, 1999, to move jobs from Yellowknife into the 11 selected Nunavut communities may not be the best approach. It's been suggested a pre-implementation strategy be put in place now, he said.

"We would like to move some responsibilities that would eventually become Nunavut responsibilities into Iqaluit, into Rankin Inlet and into Cambridge Bay now," said Todd.

"If we don't prepare a pre-implementation strategy that puts bodies, power and authority into those regional offices so you can then shift them down into the new decentralized government, then where are we going to be in April 1, 1999?" he asked.

Todd said he intends to seek support from cabinet, regional governments and Nunavut agencies to come up with a policy paper and commit funds to move authorities and institutions as early as this fall.

Kivallivik MLA Kevin O'Brien asked Todd if the jobs were going to stay in the three communities after 1999.

He wanted to know what will keep positions and government bodies from staying permanently in those three communities if or when the plan is implemented.

"It might be like the GST," he said, referring to federal plans for government administration of the tax.

Todd disagreed, saying he strongly supports the Nunavut Implementation Commission's Footprints 2 report, which recommends 11 communities share in Nunavut's infrastructure plans.

"It's just an idea I have," said Todd, grinning.

Arviat and Baker Lake, both in the riding O'Brien represents, should pick up close to 100 government positions, according to recommendations outlined in Footprints 2.