Toronto: In the midst of the ongoing contaminated water crisis in Nunavut’s capital city, another crisis is having a severe impact on some residents.
Grocery items are often two to three times more expensive than in southern Canada, and despite the federal government’s subsidy program, Nunavut residents still have to pay exorbitant prices.
Iqaluit residents tiktok videos of kyra flaherty The documentation of some of these prices has attracted widespread attention.
“I do my best to bring awareness to the situation through TikTok,” Flaherty told Granthshala National News. “I think the first step we need to take to drive change is for not only Nunavut, but the whole of Canada to be aware of what is happening.”
Some of the prices seen on Flaherty’s TikTok also include $10.99 for a dozen eggs, $12.89 for a jug of chocolate milk, and $17.99 for a box of cookies, which are advertised at 50 percent off. Flaherty says she spends more than $1,000 a week on groceries.
Since there is no road connecting Nunavut to the rest of Canada, groceries have to be moved in or shipped, leading to higher prices for consumers.
On top of that, Iqaluit also has some of the most expensive accommodations in Canada. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $2,736, which is much higher than rent prices in Toronto and Vancouver.
As a result, according to the Nunavut Food Security Coalition, approximately 70 percent of Nunavut residents are food insecure.
Since Tuesday last week, Iqaluit residents have been relying on Airlift bottled water after the city’s tap water was contaminated with fuel.
The Kazukturvik Community Food Center in Iqaluit, which feeds hundreds of people daily, has seen more people use its services since the start of the water crisis. Food Center executive director Rachel Blass says the water crisis has made the current food insecurity crisis worse.
Blass told Granthshala National News, “Even if they have access to healthy affordable food, if they don’t have clean water to wash or cook their produce, they can’t make a healthy meal.” “
Back in 2011, the federal government launched the Nutrition Answer Program, a subsidy program aimed at making groceries more affordable for remote communities in the Arctic. The Fed is pledging to strengthen the program, pledging more than $163 million over the next three years.
Northern Affairs says it is committed to ensuring that its food subsidies reach consumers. But Blass says the program needs more oversight.
“Subsidies go directly to retailers and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of transparency about how those funds are actually used and if it’s passed on to consumers,” she said.
As for Flaherty, she worries about the future of her three-year-old son in the Arctic.
“I think people are not being heard here and people are not being taken seriously,” she said.