An intergovernmental working group — established to address housing issues in the Northwest Territories — is going to meet for the first time in the next two weeks.
Daniel Vandal, Canada's minister of northern affairs and Paulie Chinna, the N.W.T's minister responsible for housing and homelessness, announced the new team on Tuesday.
The members of the group have not been selected yet, nor have exact priorities been set.
"We're looking at federal representation at the table, territorial representation and also the Indigenous groups as well," explained Chinna. "We do have 17 of them throughout the territory, and we have been in conversation also with the Dene Nation as well too."
Chinna said this is the first time the Northwest Territories is engaging with the federal government this way.
"Addressing the needs of the Northwest Territories communities is not something any single government can do alone," she said, adding that there are "so many players" working to address housing and that one priority should be improving coordination and communication with residents.
"We know we must listen to the voice of northerners," said Vandal. "That's where we will find the solutions … [and] that's exactly what we're doing. It takes collective effort to tackle challenges such as this and different perspectives will come up with better solutions."
There are no funding commitments associated with the working group itself, however, Vandal said $25 million from the 2021 federal budget was flowing to the territory during the current construction season.
The money is being used to build 30 new public housing units, according to a government media statement.
Vandal also mentioned a contentious $60 million fund that's being used to work on 126 affordable housing units.
The money sat idle for about two years until March, when the federal and territorial government announced how it would be used.
"There will be more coming," he promised. "This working group is a start of something bold and innovative, which I'm confident will bring positive change to northern communities."