Liberals Allocate $9 Billion for Indigenous Communities in 2024 Budget

Nikita Pradhan
Nikita Pradhan News
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The present Trudeau administration will entrust C$9 billion in new outlays for the First Nations over the next five years from parliamentary budgets: these new expenditures are less than the former government outlays, which were prioritized to uplift the First Nations community and preserve a positive trend in the budgetary allocations.

The plan was criticized differently by the leaders of the Indigenous, both painting it as a lack of financing and other leaders openly welcoming the funds for Indigenous Peoples in the anxious time.

The government of Liberal does not have one expensive item this year, the commitments of the Liberal Party in the previous times are shining in the new Federal budget presented by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“Since 2015 spending on First Nations priorities has increased by (181%) and the spending for 2023-24 is estimated at $30.5 billion (and over).” says the budget.

Additionally, Freeland failed to address reconciliation, a matter that had been emphasized in previous budgets, and Indigenous issues weren’t mentioned in the press conference she held earlier.

Among the biggest budgetary items for 2024 that will assist in this endeavour are an injection of $1.5 billion into Indigenous child and family services, $1.2 billion for First Nations kindergarten to Grade 12 education, and $1 billion for First Nations and Inuit health.

PM Justin Trudeau and his ministers spread out very fast in the weeks leading to the budget announcement; doing so it was assumed to be working on a programme to improve housing and affordability, especially for the young voters. This created great anticipation among the Indigenous bodies too.

The Indigenous housing and community development spending resources will be $918 million on top of the $5 billion already available this fiscal year from previous budgets to “narrow housing and infrastructure gaps” in Indigenous communities.

The allocation of only $880.8 million for the First Nations’ urgent housing repairs out of $135.1 billion discourages and particularly disappoints, as AFN insists that First Nations should receive priority treatment.

If that rate is maintained, then it will be “cold enough for hell to freeze over” she eyed helping the First Nations people via housing. This was said by Chief Cathy Merrick, the head of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

“Yeah, and I’m waiting for the hell to freeze over before that stuff happens,” was his answer. Merrick could be in the gallery during a budget speech.

Merrick stated this budget to be a failure with the sole purpose of being enough money to politically quiet First Nations and not enough to achieve significant improvements.

The remaining cash envelopes boast that they will provide $927 million to support income assistance for First Nations members and $640 million to their mental health programs, as well as $467 million for a First Nations and Inuit-led policing which was lately found to be creating troubles and not spending money from the budget allocated to it.

Showing up Merrick’s side at the House of Commons in Canada, the AFN National Chief Cindy Woodhouse Nepinak gave the budget a score of 5 out of 10.

“We are impressed with new health and education expenditures, with income increases assistance in the First Nation communities and of course the Indigenous loan guarantees, but in areas such as housing, where the needs are great, they remained unmet again,” she said.

Over $425 billion would be needed, according to the estimates researched by the National Indigenous bodies, and the Liberal Party has promised to close the gap over three years as a part of their platform.

Nepinak mentioned the perceived disappointing gap between the election promises and reality, a view which was also reiterated by other political participants.

A First Nations leader said this in a press release, “The budget did not have what it took to complete the work that was promised.”

Mr Talks the president of the Manitoba Métis Federation offered the optimistic side of the plan

“You can name here many announcements from different segments, but I’m not lost for words, too,” he said, speaking on the phone.

While he noted that no “distinctions-based detection” mechanism indicates where the money designated for Métis goes, he did not seem too concerned by this.

The mandate of the president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Natan Obed, is to bring more optimism into the budget as it is the sad truth that we do not see any tie-in about the efforts for eliminating tuberculosis disease.

The Liberal Party was asking for 131.6 million over seven years to fulfil their commitment to eradicating tuberculosis in the Inuit regions by 2030.

“I just feel like it is simply a diverging from the collaborative commitment that we did with the purview government,” he said.

“We don’t know how the federal government expects to achieve the eradication of the TB without the necessary financial inputs.”

Resource Projects to Receive $5 Billion in Loan Guarantees

In addition, the budget promises to facilitate up to $5 billion of loans guaranteed to Indigenous communities to proceed in exploring natural resources and energy projects in their traditional lands.

Such loans would be extended through financial institutions or other lenders with govt guarantees on them. Lower interest rates could be beneficial if the borrowers choose to opt for this program.

The provision of $5 billion in loan guarantees for natural resource projects, and a promise to work with Indigenous governments to raise their revenues, the latter is normally a position of the federal Conservatives.

The government has pledged to pass the law within the stated frames, which it will call the FACT scheme for the opt-in fuel, alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, and vaping taxes.

The budget features some $57.5 million to build a mercury poisoning rehabilitation centre in Grassy Narrows First Nation in the north of Ontario fulfilling a major 2019 promise of Trudeau on election.

Since the government is out to calm fears regarding cuts and the disappearance of funds by fiscal year-end, it spends $2.3 billion of new funds promised to renew the existing programs set to expire.

Last Updated on by Nikita Pradhan

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