YELLOWKNIFE — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he is confident there are tangible solutions to challenges facing the North following his first trip to the Northwest Territories.
Singh met with residents and leaders in the territory this week following a visit to Yukon. He said they discussed the high cost of living, lack of affordable housing and health-care shortages.
"Being present in the North is important to me," he said. "I want folks to know that I'm hearing the concerns, but I'm also very optimistic about solutions that we can bring to make things better."
Singh met with N.W.T. Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek and spoke with residents at the Yellowknife Farmer's Market and during a meet-and-greet at the city's Rotary Centennial Park.
He said among those he met were two nurses who shared concerns about understaffing and the lack of resources for front-line health-care workers. He also spoke to a young couple who said they have good jobs but struggled to find affordable housing.
The N.W.T. government in recent weeks has announced health-care service reductions across the territory due to lack of staff. That included halving operating capacity at Stanton Territorial Hospital in Yellowknife to one operating room until at least Sept. 30.
Singh also travelled to Behchoko, an hour outside of Yellowknife, to meet with Tlicho leaders. There, he toured the Dene community and said leaders spoke about land claim implementation as an opportunity for economic growth, as well as the need for better housing.
Singh said he believes health-care and housing issues in the North can be tackled and pledged to push for action from the federal government.
"I want to give people hope," he said. "We can channel our frustrations toward getting 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 the provinces and territories — something Canada's premiers have called for. In the North, in particular, Singh said there is a need for greater investments in infrastructure and to better serve people living in remote communities.
Despite the concerns shared, Singh said "there was a spirit of optimism" during his time in the N.W.T.
"There are a lot of incredible people in the North and people that really want to build a great community up here."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2022.
This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.
Emily Blake, The Canadian Press