In a federal budget that had one of five chapters entitled “Reconciliation”, the Liberal government today pledged to spend an additional $5 billion over five years for Canada’s Indigenous peoples.

The budget document says the new funding will “ensure Indigenous children and families have an equal chance to succeed in life, to build the capacity of Indigenous governments, and to accelerate self-determination and self-government agreements with Indigenous peoples based on the recognition and implementation of rights.”

The funding includes more than $1.4 billion in new funds over six years, starting in 2017–18, for First Nations Child and Family Services “to support the well-being of Indigenous children in foster care, enhance prevention resources such as support for single mothers, and promote family reunification efforts, to reduce the number of children taken into care.”

There is also a pledge to invest $2 billion over five years, and $408.2 million per year ongoing, to support the creation of a new Indigenous Skills and Employment Training Program, which the government says will replace the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy.

As well, the budget includes a $1.5 billion investment over five years, starting in 2018–19, and $149 million per year ongoing, to improve Indigenous health outcomes.

The Liberals say the budget also builds on prior investments by providing an additional $172.6 million over three years, beginning in 2018–19, to improve access to clean and safe drinking water on reserve. The government says the new funds will result in 25 additional construction and repair projects being completed by 2020 rather than 2021.

Other investments in Tuesday’s federal budget announcement include:

  • $248.6 million over three years, starting in 2018–19, for services, including mental health and emotional supports to survivors and their families for the duration of the Indian Residential School Settlement.
  • $516 million over 10 years for Canada’s Metis, including $500 million over 10 years to support a Metis Nation housing strategy, $10 million in 2018–19 to support Metis Nation post-secondary education and $6 million over five years for a Metis health strategy.
  • $23.9 million over five years, starting in 2018–19, to Parks Canada to integrate Indigenous views, history and heritage into the national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites managed by that agency, in response to Call to Action 79 from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
  • An additional $600 million over three years to support housing on reserve as part of a 10-year First Nations Housing Strategy that is being developed with First Nations.
  • A pledge of increased funding for multiculturalism and a promise to consult on a new national anti-racism approach to combat discrimination.

(PHOTO: Cover of Budget 2018 document. Image courtesy Government of Canada.)