The new federal budget is getting top marks from the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations.

In the budget which was released on Monday, the Liberals have pledged $18 billion over five years to improve the quality of life for people living in Indigenous communities.

Of this, close to $600 million over three years will be invested in mental health supports for Indigenous people.

FSIN Vice-Chief David Pratt said he is impressed that the government has taken a community-based approach with funding for mental health.

“It’s very important that capacity is built at the community level because each community – and I am very glad the federal government is not taking a one size fits all approach – but it has to be community-led, community-developed based upon each member nation’s needs and I think this fund will go a long way to address that,” he said.

Pratt added he is also hopeful the funding will go some way to addressing the problem of youth suicide in northern Saskatchewan.

“Each community knows specifically what their needs are and I think our northern communities, particularly, have had to deal with this issue (youth suicide) for a long time. It’s not just the last few years but it’s been decades of the issue being very prevalent in the north and I think this will finally go a long way in helping them to adequately address it as well as reduce those numbers.”

Aside from expanding community-based supports for mental wellness, part of this funding will go toward the Indian Residential Schools Health Supports Program and Crisis Line.

A total of $2.5 billion over five years will go toward Indigenous early learning and child-care and $2.4 billion to improve essential health, education and social services on-reserve.

Another $1.7 billion over five years is slated to cover operations and maintenance costs of on-reserve infrastructure.

Also, in the budget, $1.4 billion is set aside to help Indigenous communities and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic and $1 billion will be used to increase funding under the First Nations Child and Family Services Program.