Email this article Discuss this article

New Democrat MP takes a look at Iqaluit

Kevin Wilson
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Oct 08/01) - Libby Davies came to Iqaluit Tuesday to get a first-hand look at Nunavut's housing crisis.

The New Democratic Party's housing critic got an eyeful.

"You really wouldn't believe the condition I live in," said Josephie Teemotee, who lives in what he calls "a little shack" near the beach. Holding on to dignity in such circumstances isn't easy.

"If you get a good home, people treat you differently," he said.

Davies, a Vancouver-area MP, has been crisscrossing the country to discuss homelessness in Canada.

She came to the capital at the invitation of Iqaluit Centre MLA Hunter Tootoo.

In addition to visiting the Iqaluit homeless shelter, Davies attended a forum in the Qikiqtaaluk Corporation boardroom Tuesday.

A dozen people, representing the Nunavut Housing Corporation, unions and homeless people like Teemotee also showed up for the forum.

Tootoo called homelessness "an invisible problem" in Nunavut, one that shows itself through overcrowded homes and long waiting lists for subsidized housing, instead of the street people many Southerners associate with the problem.

Davies said her party has been calling for a national housing strategy. She said Ottawa has, "to get involved in the supply of housing."

The problem is, the federal government has been getting out of the affordable housing business since 1993.

Tootoo agreed with Davies on the need for a more active role by Ottawa. "Clearly, further federal involvement will be necessary," he said.

Davies is currently sponsoring a private members' bill in the House of Commons. If approved, it would make adequate housing a right for all Canadians.