The senior administrative officer of Pond Inlet, Nunavut, is frustrated with the territory’s government after quarterly payments that keep the hamlet running came in three weeks late, forcing it to incur overdraft charges.
David Stockley said the payments from the territory cover everything from hamlet staff payroll to maintenance.
“It just gets to be a bigger and bigger frustration, and of course that ends up costing more because you have to spend money on overdraft interest,” he said.
Stockley said he was told the payment — $624,736.50 — would be in the hamlet’s bank account on April 3, but it wasn’t until April 21 that the money arrived.
Stockley sent an email to Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services, writing he has “heard a number of fictional stories now why our quarterly payments haven’t been received.”
He wrote that he was told the payment would be in Pond Inlet’s account on April 3, then on April 10, then April 17 before the payment was finally received this week.
Stockley did not say how much the hamlet owes in interest but said an overdraft of $500,000 for 21 days would accumulate an interest of about $1,600 at a rate of 5.45 per cent.
Stockley points out the interest charges could be put to better use in the community.
“That’s money, like I said, would be a lot better being spent on kids that need … the breakfast programs and all those types of things versus giving it to the bank,” he said.
The Department of Community and Government Services declined CBC’s request for an interview “due to heavy work schedule.”
However, in an email to CBC, it said payments are typically made in the first week of the quarter. For this quarter, that’s the first week of April.
The department acknowledged that some payments, including Pond Inlet’s, were not issued until April 21 for “a variety of factors” such as staff working from home due to COVID-19, school and daycare closures and two statutory holidays.
Stockley said this is not a one-off incident. He has seen these payments come in over a month late.
“If it was now and then, a couple days, you wouldn’t hear anything about it,” he said.
When CBC asked Community and Government Services why the payments are inconsistent, they said in an email, “the first day of the month does not always align with established administrative procedures and timelines.”
The department referred to the fact that the payments are not always made on the first of the month but within the first week.
More money on the way
It said the funding to the hamlets has now been issued and it has started processing $2 million in supplementary funding from the Government of Nunavut to assist them in response to COVID-19.
“I guess, [it’s] a little more frustrating now because we are spending a lot more money helping people because of … COVID-19,” Stockley said.
He said the hamlet office is now taking over the school’s breakfast program and increasing services such as water delivery if people need it.
Pond Inlet MLA, David Qamaniq, says he is aware of the problem and will write a letter to Nunavut’s Minister of Community and Government Services Lorne Kusugak about the situation.
“I will raise issues about it until it is rectified, hopefully in the next few weeks or months,” Qamaniq said.
The next quarterly payment is due the first week of July.