Nunavik government welcomes much-needed investment to improve Elder care, community housing

Two community-based organizations in Nunavik, northern Quebec, will be receiving a million-dollar investment from the provincial government in the hopes of improving quality of life for the region’s elders.

“Nunavik has a distinctive character and unique characteristics in Quebec,” Andree Laforest, Minister of municipal affairs and housing, said in a statement Thursday. “Its cultural and linguistic heritage, its art, and the history of its people make it a territory rich in traditions that are essential to preserve.

“To achieve this, we must support seniors in order to ensure that they have access to adequate living conditions and that they can pass on their knowledge,” Laforest added.

Laforest confirmed that more than $1.8 million provided through the Regional Radiation Support Fund (RARF) would directly fund projects overseen by the Kativik Regional government and the Ayagutaq Inukjuak Seniors House.

The boost comes as a part of a province-wide strategy to prioritize senior care and re-distribute resources – news that was well-received by leaders in Nunavik.

“For the past four years, our regional councillors and mayors have asked that [these services] be available to seniors,” explained Jennifer Munick, chairperson of the Kativik Regional Government.

“It is on their behalf that that Kativik Regional Government expresses its gratitude for the efforts invested in the implementation of this service,” she added.

Kativik Regional Government will receive a majority share of the investment – a total of $1.7 million – in order to hire a coordinator in each of Nunavik’s 14 villages on a three-year contract basis.

Coordinators will be tasked with “organizing recreational activities for seniors in their community, representing them on various local and regional committees, and facilitating the transmission of traditional knowledge to future generations,” according to a press statement.

The funds will also be used in part to implement initiatives prioritizing senior safety, as well as access to traditional food and housing.

“The resources we’re investing in will make life easier for these people, thanks to new services such as snow shoveling and sawing,” according to Marguerite Blais, Quebec Minister for Seniors – the province’s first minister appointed specifically to alleviate strain on caregivers and those who support aging loved ones.

The 2019-2020 Quebec Budget, tabled by the Coalition Avenir Quebec (CAQ) government, saw a 5.4 per cent overall increase, including $215 million annual investment to hire and retain caregiving staff at long-term care centers and hospitals, $280 million to add home care and support services, as well as $21 million to support “informal” caregivers.

A controversial report tabled at the National Assembly in 2018 revealed that senior or long-term care services were “deficient and flawed” under the previous Liberal government – something Premier Francois Legault promised to amend.

As part of this most recent announcement, $100,000 will go towards the construction of an eldercare residence for up to 16 people, which will also serve as a day center for all seniors in the community.

“This initiative will not only promote the history of the Inuit, but also that of Quebec,” said Sylvie d’Amours, Quebec minister of Indigenous Affairs.

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