Where the money goes
GNWT reports spending in Western communities

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Jan 04/98) - If you live in Fort Liard, your community received about $550,000 last year to administer the GNWT's department of justice costs.

If you live in Hay River, your community received $1.3 million worth of NWT Housing Corp. expenditures. In Tsiigehtchic, transportation expenditures totalled $150.

Regional And Major Centre Expenditures
Of the Western NWT's five regions, per capita GNWT expenditures were highest in the Beaufort/Delta at $14,907 for each person ($52.8 million total). The region includes Norman Wells, Fort Norman, Fort Good Hope, Deline and Colville Lake.
Second was the South Slave with per capita spending of $14,765 ($13.7 million total). The region includes Fort Resolution, Lutsel K'e and Enterprise.
A close third was the Sahtu with per capita spending of $14,442 ($37.5 million total).
The region includes Aklavik, Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Tuktoyaktuk, Sachs Harbour, Holman and Paulatuk.
Next was the Deh Cho with per capita spending of $11,970 ($22.9 million total).
The region includes Fort Providence, Hay River Reserve, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, Fort Liard, Wrigley, Trout Lake and Kakisa.
Lowest was the North Slave with per capita spending of $11,679 ($31.1 million total).
The region includes Dettah, Rae, Edzo, Wha Ti, Rae Lakes Rae-Edzo and Snare Lakes.
The report broke down the West's major centres:
Fort Smith's per capita spending was $16,643 with a total of $40.6 million.
Fort Simpson's per capita was $15,449 for a total $19.4 million.
Inuvik's per capita was $14,169 for a total of $46.7 million.
Hay River's per capita was $8,673 for a total of $31.3 million.
Yellowknife's per capita was $6,360 for a total of $109.9 million.

These are just three of the thousands of figures included in a comprehensive, 121-page report on GNWT spending in the Western NWT during fiscal 1996-97.

The report, titled Geographic Tracking of Expenditures Western Community Data, was part of the ongoing need for expenditure data as the NWT prepared for division.

Of the just over $1 billion GNWT departments spent in 1996-97, 40 per cent was aimed at Western NWT communities, according to the report.

The report shows western NWT communities received $412.3 million in fiscal 1997-98. The Eastern Arctic received $319.2 million.

Territorial spending -- money directed at programs which spanned all the NWT -- was $144.2 million. The remaining $141.1 million went to corporate spending (spending for headquarters and regional management structure of government).

In the West, health care gobbled up the largest amount of money.

In 1997-98, the GNWT spent $132.6 million to deliver health care, which includes social services, to residents of the Western Arctic.

The average GNWT per capita health care expenditures across all Western NWT communities came in at $3,168. The Western community with the highest per capita health care figure was Jean Marie River at $13,175.

Yellowknife, by comparison, was the recipient of $2,035 in per capita health care expenditures.

The per capita figures are based on Yellowknife and Jean Marie River populations of 17,275 and 53 respectively. Not surprisingly, these figures suggest per capita costs are lower in locations with higher populations.

GNWT officials were not available for comment last Wednesday due to the government's Christmas holiday shutdown.

Per capita health care expenditures were second highest in Trout Lake. The GNWT directed an average of $9,533 for each of the community's 68 people.

Hay River, with 3,611 people, came in at just under $4,000 in per capita health care costs. Fort Simpson came in just under $4,000.

But a small community doesn't always mean people who live there get more money for services.

Take Reliance, where only two people live. The GNWT spent only $144 per capita on health care costs there. Holman, based on a population of 423, received $2,530 per capita for health care costs.

Education, Culture and Employment (ECE) represents another big chunk of GNWT expenditures.

Last year, GNWT's ECE expenditures in Western NWT communities was $125.4 million. Yellowknife garnered the largest share, $38 million.

On average, per capita spending across the entire western NWT was $3,017.

In Fort Smith, per capita ECE costs were $8,162. Fort Simpson was second highest at $4,624 per capita (Yellowknife, $2,200).

In the communities of Enterprise, Jean Marie River, Nahanni Butte, Fort Wrigley, Trout Lake, Kakisa Lake and Holman, costs were under $1,000 per capita.

The breakdown

What makes the Geographic Tracking of Expenditures report especially interesting is the methodology behind it.

The report breaks down where the expenditure benefits are received. Historically, the GNWT's budgeting and financial systems provide information from a budget control point of view.

"This difference significantly affected the breakdown of geographic budget data, because where a budget is controlled is often different from where the expenditure benefit is," according to the report.

All departments had to identify which communities were the direct service beneficiaries of any GNWT expenditure.

Gathering geographic expenditure data from an expenditure benefit point of view meant training hundreds of staff responsible for the coding of over four million lines of financial data.

An audit confirmed the accuracy of the coding.

The report, which covers all Western Territory communities, was part of the ongoing requirement for expenditure data for the division process.

The western community allocation spending project was initiated a year ago.

Expenditures were coded at four levels including;

  • Community -- spending specific to a single community.

  • Regional -- spending specific to a region would be, for example, a contribution to a regional health board.

  • Territorial -- spending which benefits the entire NWT. Funding of Yellowknife Correctional Centre or Stanton Regional Hospital are examples.

  • Corporate -- spending required for the headquarters and regional management structure of government.

The report covers all 1996-97 operations and maintenance expenditures and was provided to the special committee working on financing arrangements for the two new territories.

Participants in the working group included representatives from Federal Finance, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, GNWT, Office of the Interim Commissioner, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Western Coalition.