A first ministry dedicated exclusively to the region of the Arctic

Un premier ministère consacré exclusivement à la région de l'Arctique

Dan Vandal says its priority actions will be determined by the citizens of the Arctic. It provides for a series of meetings with the premiers of the territories and the aboriginal leadership.

December 26, 2019 14h57

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A first ministry dedicated exclusively to the region of the Arctic

Bob Weber

The Canadian Press

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Dan Vandal directs the first department of the history of the country to devote themselves exclusively to the Arctic, but he knows he will depend on his cabinet colleagues to realise its priorities.

“From my point of view, my department is responsible for all issues — the environment, transportation, resources development, but to the North,” says the mp in manitoba. “We will do this by working closely with other government departments.”

The cabinet includes a decades-ministry which deals with the North, but it has always included related fields such as resource development or indigenous affairs.

The new ministry of Northern Affairs is unique because it is dedicated to a region and not to a subject. This means that for almost all the priorities expressed by the citizens of the North, like a highway to the Arctic or the improvement of health care, Mr. Vandal will need to work with the ministry in charge of building the roads or to fund hospitals, for example.

“This is the kind of portfolio that touches many different areas”, he explains in an interview with The canadian Press. “All the departments are autonomous and I am a minister stand-alone; I’ll have to design protocols to establish how we are going to discuss things.”

What will be the priorities of his ministry ? Mr. Vandal mentions Nutrition North is a federal program that subsidizes the grocery stores of the North to reduce the cost of food, but that was deemed ineffective.

“I want to ensure that these programs are properly deployed so that we do a better job to ensure that the people there have a right to basic nutrition. This is fundamental.”

Mr. Vandal is also interested in access to post-secondary education in the North. A university should open up to the Yukon next spring, but the access to programs for obtaining a degree, is limited in the rest of the Arctic.

Consult the populations of the Arctic

The infrastructure is also important for the government across the country to the other, but they are particularly in the North, he adds.

“We know that there is not much [in the North]. The basic infrastructure is necessary to ensure that resource projects can go forward, so I’ll definitely make it a priority.”

Dan Vandal says its priority actions will be determined by the citizens of the Arctic. It provides for a series of meetings with the premiers of the territories and the aboriginal leadership.

“Before being too prescriptive – we can do this, we can do this-I have to do more work on the ground with the people who live in the region.”

It also promises to consult with the deputies of the Arctic. Two of them are liberal Larry Bagnell and Michael McLeod, while Mumilaaq Qaqqaq is a new democrat.

Setting priorities is one thing, but it is still necessary to get the budget to realize them. Talks on the budget are underway, and Mr. Vandal knows he will need to be persuasive to get his share of the cake.

“I have to make sure that Northern priorities are reflected in the budget if we want to make a difference.”

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