The federal budget was announced yesterday, and with that bringing $18 billion in new money to indigenous communities.
The proposed 2021 budget on Indigenous spending is a 300 percent jump from the $4.5 billion announced in the spring 2019 budget.
Indigenous communities will receive an additional $1.2 billion in response to COVID-19 measures. This will ensure support to hire nurses, help at-risk people to isolate, and provide PPE to those who need it, and ensure the unique needs of the first nations, Métis, Inuit and on and off reserve urban indigenous communities are met through the pandemic.
Beginning in 2022-23, $125.2 million allocated will aid in supplying First Nations access to clean water, and to help ensure the safe delivery of health and social services on reserve.
The pandemic has highlighted the overwhelming need for mental health support in our communities. The proposed budget allocates $597.6 million over the span of three years to go to mental health and wellness based organizations for the First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation.
Indigenous infrastructure is allocated $6 billion over four-five years to support the immediate demands of infrastructure projects in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities.
Early learning and child care programs designed by and with Indigenous families and communities will receive a proposed $2.5 billion over five years to build on these programs.
$13.4 million over 5 years will be given to Canadian Heritage for events and programs to commemorate the history and legacy of residential schools, and to honour survivors, their families and communities. This will also support the celebrations and events around the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, observed annually on September 30th.
The budget report highlights that currently only 36% of Indigenous-led businesses are owned by women. This budget proposes a $22 million investment in the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association’s Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative.
One of the most notable investments brought forth in this proposed budget for Indigenous communities, the government is accelerating work on the National Action Plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls’ Calls for Justice and the implementation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions Calls to Action. The 2021 budget proposes an additional $2.2 billion over 5 years, and $160.9 million ongoing.
The Native Women’s Association of Canada said it is encouraged at first glance of the budget, with money being allocated to deal with the tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and gender-diverse people.
“We will take a few days to go over the numbers to determine how much will actually flow to Indigenous women’s groups to deal with urgent issues such as the fallout of the pandemic, mental health, and economic development and growth,” NWAC shares.
“We will also be consulting with experts, Elders, and our grassroots members to hear what they have to say.”
A full break-down of the federal budget's allocation of funds to Indigenous communities can be found here.
Stay with SaultOnline as we see how this federal budget will affect our local First Nations communities.
Josie Fiegehen, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, SaultOnline.com