The cost of division
West plots course to, and through, division
by Richard Gleeson
NNSL (Apr 20/98) - Western MLAs figure it will cost about $14 million to make a smooth transition to division.
Transition costs, to be funded by the federal government, were detailed in a report released Tuesday. They were among a host of issues discussed at a two-day workshop at the Yellowknife ski club April 15 and 16.
"We're dealing with the nuts and bolts decisions that affect future governance of the western territory," explained Charles Dent, minister responsible for Western transition.
Dent and Western caucus chairman Michael Miltenberger gave a broad outline of the issues discussed at the workshop at a press conference Thursday.
Miltenberger said the caucus is not contemplating any major change to the shape of governance in the west.
"There was no significant talk about moving away from things like devolution," he said.
Transitional costs include a request for $3.6 million per year for the next six years to retool the government's affirmative action program.
The goal of the program is identical to that of the $39 million Nunavut unified human resources development strategy -- a representative public service.
The report also notes GNWT headquarters staff will be reduced by 289 positions once all responsibility for Nunavut operations is removed.
The interim commissioner's office has indicated the new government will contract the services of the western government through transition, but has yet to identify how much contracting it will require.
Nunavut and GNWT deputy ministers will address the contracting issue at a meeting next month.
Alongside transitional costs, the territorial finance department is negotiating incremental, or ongoing, costs of funding the both new governments.
Federal and territorial negotiators are expected to reach an agreement in the coming weeks.
Western MLAs will hold their seats through division, about six months longer than eastern MLAs, who will have a chance to contend for a seat in the first Nunavut legislature in February, 1999.
Since only four cabinet ministers will be left after the departure of the eastern MLAs, the western caucus has decided two ordinary MLAs will take up cabinet posts.
There will also be an interim change to the rules to allow all members to serve on standing committees.
Dormant for almost a year and a half, the contentious issue of a name for the western territory, along with symbols and heraldry, will be discussed by the caucus at a meeting next month, said Miltenberger.