YELLOW KNIFE –
Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he believes there are concrete solutions to the challenges facing the North following his first trip to the Northwest Territories.
Singh met with residents and leaders of the territory this week after a visit to the Yukon. He said they discussed the high cost of living, the lack of affordable housing and the shortage of health care.
“Being in the North is important to me,” he said. “I want people to know that I hear the concerns, but I’m also very optimistic about the solutions we can come up with to make things better.”
Singh met with Northwest Territories Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek and spoke with residents at the Yellowknife Farmer’s Market and at a get-together at the city’s Rotary Centennial Park.
He said among the people he met were two nurses who shared concerns about understaffing and a lack of resources for frontline healthcare workers. He also spoke to a young couple who said they had good jobs but struggled to find affordable housing.
In recent weeks, the Government of the Northwest Territories has announced cuts to health services across the territory due to a shortage of staff. This included halving the operational capacity of Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife to an operating room until at least September 30.
Singh also traveled to Behchoko, an hour from Yellowknife, to meet with Tlicho leaders. There, he visited the Dene community and said leaders had talked about the implementation of land claims as an opportunity for economic growth, as well as the need for better housing.
Singh said he believed health and housing issues in the North could be solved and pledged to push for federal action.
“I want to give people hope,” he said. “We can channel our frustrations into real solutions that will help make life better.”
Singh said the Liberal government should make health care a priority and increase federal health care transfers to provinces and territories, something Canada’s premiers have called for. In the North, in particular, Singh said there was a need to invest more in infrastructure and better serve people living in remote communities.
Despite shared concerns, Singh said “there was a spirit of optimism” during his time in the Northwest Territories.
“There are a lot of amazing people in the North and people who really want to build a great community here.”
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on July 23, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of Meta and the Canadian Press News Fellowship.