I decided this morning that I would try to extend my coverage of my commentary on air travel (and who knows maybe pick up a reader or two) and fired off this email to my MP, my MLA, the Prime Minister, several cabinet ministers, Senator Adams, and the leaders of the Liberal and NDP parties.
I am a resident of Arctic Bay, on North Baffin Island in Canada's High Arctic. Given the amount of attention that the Arctic is receiving these days I thought you might be interested in some of the costs of living here.
If the Federal Government really wishes to improve the lives of the people who live in the North they must address the issue that impacts absolutely every aspect of our lives up here, the cost of travel. The high cost of air flights (It costs me fifteen times as much per kilometre of travel to fly from Arctic Bay/Nanisivik to Iqaluit as someone flying from Vancouver to Halifax. Eighteen times as much per kilometre as someone traveling from Toronto to Sydney Australia) keeps all levels of government up here from fully implementing their programs, because of the amount of money spent on travel that could be used otherwise. Look at the total travel budgets of the GON and the Federal Government for Nunavut, and ask yourselves if this could not be money better spent.
As a Canadian, my standard of living should not be significantly lower then Canadians living elsewhere in the country, and yet it is. Most of this can be laid at the feet of Air Transportation costs. There is much talk about sovereignty in the Arctic these days, but sovereignty is not built by Naval ships patrolling our waters for three or four months of the year, it is built on the lives of the people who live here. They should not have to pay significantly more than the rest of the country in order to keep living here, to keep this country's real presence in the north, and yet it does.
I have written a couple of posts recently on the blog I write about life in the Arctic that you may wish to read. There are two that relate to Air Travel in the North, one a general one on air travel and the North and one with some cost breakdowns and comparisons. I think that you might be interested in what they say.
In closing I really believe that it is time for the Federal Government to intervene in this issue. This is a social justice issue, and your dollars (and subsequently mine) could be better spent up here than lining the pockets of the airline industry. I encourage you all to fly up to Arctic Bay/Nanisivik, not by Government plane but by commercial airline (don't announce it or your frozen sandwich might be thawed first). Book the ticket yourselves rather than having an assistant do so, see what it is really like to travel in my world. When you are here, take a walk around our stores and look at what air freight adds to our grocery bills.