Nunavut's creation was a great success for its residents. The
territory, however, is still faced with a number of political, social,
and economic challenges.
While the territory has been officially established, the Nunavut
government is still far from complete. Currently, Nunavut is
dependent upon the government of the Northwest Territories for the
delivery of public services. As such, the territory needs to develop
the infrastructure and the personnel to deliver its services
independently and effectively.
Nunavut is faced with many problems in health and well being,
education, and crime.
- Thirty-eight per cent of residents have less than a Grade 9 education
- The territory has a suicide rate almost six times the Canadian average
- Substantially higher levels of substance abuse
- The rate of heavy drinking is three times the Canadian average
- Reported marijuana use is four times the national average
- LSD, speed, and cocaine use is three times the national average
- Abuse of aerosols and solvents is 26 times the national average
- The percentage of the population in jail is nearly three times Canadian average
- Sexual assault is seven times the national rate
- About one-third of Nunavut’s residents were living on welfare in March of 1996
- Higher disease rates
- Tuberculosis occurs at eight times the Canadian average
- Hepatitis A occurs 18 times as often.
- Infant death rates are twice the average for the rest of Canada.
Nunavut faces many economic challenges. In 1999, the territory’s
unemployment rate was 20.7 percent, over double the Canadian average
for that year. Furthermore, it is not certain whether Nunavut will
be able to produce the wealth it needs to support a population whose
cost of living is 65 percent higher than the rest of the nation.
Currently, the federal government is supplying 90 percent of the
territory’s operating budget. With an economy largely based on
subsistence, it will be difficult for Nunavut to develop the
necessary tax base to be self-sufficient. However, Nunavut does have
the potential to become a strong mining region, with large gold,
silver, lead, and zinc deposits. There is also an established
tourism industry, generating $30 million a year. This industry may
develop with the growth of ecological and adventure tourism and the
establishment of three new national parks in the territory.