Help for Grise Fiord?
Cost of living could skyrocket

by Jennifer Pritchett
Northern News Services

NNSL (NOV 18/96) - Grise Fiord residents are facing a winter of exorbitant grocery bills if the GNWT doesn't offset the cost of an airlift.

Early season ice prevented a sea shipment from bringing supplies for the winter, forcing the community to shell out more than an $80,000 for air freight.

Doug Beiers, manager of the Grise Fiord Co-op, said he may have to raise the prices to help pay for the supplies airlifted in to the community at a much higher cost.

"I have been selling them at sealift prices, but there's a good chance I may have to jack up my prices," he said.

He predicts the cost of many items will increase by 50 per cent.

"A number of people are living from paycheque to paycheque," he said. "They have no savings accounts. This will bring hardship.

Beiers is also disappointed with what he said is the lack of communication from the government.

"We're up here in an isolated community listening to rumors about what's going to happen to us," he said.

He's heard that the government had called the situation a natural disaster, but hasn't heard anything about what they are going to do to help them. Officials from the Department of Public Works and Services could not be reached for comment.

Cathy Rose, a nurse in Grise Fiord, said that an increase in prices will be a disaster for many that live in the tiny community.

"I mean the prices are high enough here now," she said. "If they raise them, it will bring hardship for the people here," she said.

Like Beiers, she thought the government was subsidizing the extra freight cost.

"If they don't do this -- it's true, they've clearly misled people," she said.

She said that the government should at least consider raising the Northern allowance to help people offset the higher costs.

In the meantime, Beiers is still calculating how much he will be forced to raise the prices, knowing it won't sit well with the residents.

"People won't accept that -- especially when they thought the government would support them," he said. "I need the GNWT to take a stand on this."