Provincial budget devastating to the people of NunatuKavut
HAPPY VALLEY-GOOSE BAY, LABRADOR, April 21, 2016 – The NunatuKavut Community Council (NCC) has carefully reviewed the latest 2016 provincial budget and has grave concerns on the significant impact it will have on the Southern Inuit of Labrador.
“Aside from the added levies, fees and taxes that will adversely affect every household and disproportionately impact those most vulnerable all across Labrador, there are direct hits to NunatuKavut communities,” said NCC President Todd Russell. “This is evident in the latest cuts announced by Labrador-Grenfell Health.”
These health cuts include the doubling of round-trip rates for medical patients travelling for appointments, reduction of dental services and the discontinuation of orthodontic service subsidies. Equally troubling, however, is the elimination of a full-time nurse in the Southern Inuit community of Black Tickle, which will be replaced with a weekly visit that is dependent on weather conditions.
“Black Tickle has experienced its share of hardships over the past few years with the blatant decrease of supports provided by the provincial government,” said President Russell. “This latest announcement infringes on their basic human right of having timely and acceptable access to health care.”
The Home Heating Rebate program for low income families, which many families in the NunatuKavut territory are dependant upon, has also been eliminated. Ferry rates has been increased by 40 per cent as well, making an already challenging travel option to the Island portion of our province even more difficult.
“Our people are already at a disadvantage when travelling due to outdated ferry infrastructure and inconsistent scheduling,” said President Russell. “As a result of this budget, they will now have to pay almost twice as much for a service that will continue to be subpar.”
Further impacts include the closure of the only Advanced Education and Skills office on the south coast, located in Mary’s Harbour. Many people rely upon their services, especially when facing employment difficulties like a job loss.
“This closure is the latest in the continual erosion of the barebones services currently being provided by the government throughout Labrador,” added President Russell.
The 2016 provincial budget is the direct result of the escalating cost of the Muskrat Falls project, which has proven serious environmental and human rights impacts. The NCC has expressed its concerns around this project since its inception and views the province’s deficit reduction levy as rubbing salt in the wound. We are already paying the costs for Muskrats Falls.
“Our rights have been infringed, our way of life disrupted, our land destroyed and our food poisoned,” said President Russell. “To ask our people to pay yet again is callous and shows a serious disregard for us as an Indigenous people.”
The NCC continues to assess the impacts of Budget 2016 and has requested an urgent meeting with Premier Ball to address its concerns.
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