Overall health is directly connected with income and employment, education and literacy skills, personal health practices, early childhood development, social supports, and physical and natural environments, including housing.
To describe health status we used available statistics related to life expectancy, infant mortality, suicide, weight and physical activity, certain diseases, smoking and crime. Statistics came from the NWT Socio-Economic Scan 2006, the 2005 Nunavut Economic Outlook, and the Annual Report on the State of Inuit Culture and Society 2003/04 and 2004/05.
Infrastructure includes things such as transportation, housing and communications systems. Infrastructure is an important part of the economic, social and cultural context.
Adequate housing is a major infrastructure gap in Nunavut and the NWT. Lack of basic human needs such as adequate housing affects the overall outlook for economic, social and cultural well-being. The Nunavut Ten-Year Inuit Housing Action Plan states that Nunavut needs 3,000 new units to meet existing demands and another 270 per year to meet the needs of the growing population.
In the NWT, small communities have the greatest housing need. The 2004 NWT Community Survey states that 30.3% of homes in small communities have core housing needs, compared to 11.3% of homes in Hay River, Fort Smith and Inuvik, and 9.1% of Yellowknife homes.
A growing northern population puts pressures on infrastructure other than housing, such as municipal water, sewer, garbage, energy production and transmission, and education and recreation facilities. As well as new infrastructure, both territories need to replace older infrastructure that is near or past the end of useful life, and try to meet new safety codes and/or energy efficiency standards.
Economic impacts of capital infrastructure projects are limited in the north, especially in Nunavut. Most of the materials and much of the labour are imported and most of the spending leaves the territory. Government spending on goods and services has much greater impact on the local economy – more money lands in the pockets of northern residents.