Housing Minister Paulie Chinna visited Ottawa last week to meet with Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Ahmed Hussen to discuss the dire housing needs in the Northwest Territories.
“There’s a need for more funding in the NWT in regards to our housing issues,” Minister Chinna said. “We do have a lot of housing scenarios that we need to fulfill throughout the NWT.”
Chinna told CKLB Radio in an exclusive interview that she hopes to accomplish those goals and meet the needs of the people in the NWT within the next four years of the government sitting.
“Right now we’re working throughout the NWT and wanting to complete housing plans for each of the 33 communities,” Minister Chinna said.
The community plan’s mandate will enable the government to determine the needs of each community and what is best to meet people’s needs for each region.
“We’ve just completed a community plan for Whati,” she said. “The plan for Whati identifies the housing needs from home repair to home improvement. It really depends on the need in each community.”
Minister Chinna was in Ottawa and met with @HonAhmedHussen to discuss #housing. Here she is at @CKLBRADIO where she shared some of their discussion, including identifying ways to further partner and ensure housing in the North remains a top priority for Canada. #nwtpoli #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/73ZXOmtuWm
— GNWT Cabinet Communications (@CabinetComms) February 10, 2020
The minister recently traveled throughout the Sahtú taking pictures of deteriorated houses that desperately need attention.
“There’s more of a need at the smaller community level because we do see a lot of houses that do need a lot of work,” Minister Chinna said. ‘We do see where there are plumbing issues and installations of new improvements that need to be upgraded.”
Minster Chinna says the safety of residents is one of her top priorities as they age and continue to live independently in their homes.
“It’s important to have them age in place and stay in their communities for as long as possible before getting to senior centres,” Minister Chinna said.” The houses they are living in are 30 to 40 years old.”
Aging infrastructure is one issue that Minster Chinna will be bringing forward to the federal government and how the NWT Housing Corporation will work on fixing deteriorating housing in the communities.
“We need to find a stronger solution to work with the federal government to try to have people live in these communities and maintain their own homes,” Minister Chinna said. “I have scheduled a meeting with MP Michael McLeod and the conversation was very strong.”
Minister Chinna says that the NWT is unique in using winter roads to truck in materials to isolated communities and that climate change affects the way that NWT Housing Corporation constructs housing in each of the communities.
“If we don’t get the timing right, a lot of material will have to be flown in,” Minister Chinna said. “This adds a huge amount to the construction cost.”
Going forward Minister Chinna hopes to develop a plan and to start to really work with the communities and the federal government on how to deliver housing programs to offer adequate services from the NWT Housing Corporation.
CKLB Radio has contacted the federal minister’s office for comment on the meeting, we are waiting to hear back.