Northern Saskatchewan’s Member of Parliament is speaking out about the recent federal budget.

Among the spending priorities laid out by the federal government in last week’s budget was a commitment to spend over $4 billion to help improve housing and infrastructure on First Nations. Vidal said while he is supportive of more money being put towards housing, he explained he has some concerns.

“Any investment that goes to that is a good thing, my hesitation or my concern is that, the federal government in all of the stuff they’ve tried to do around housing in the last few years has not been successful,” he said.

Vidal said addressing the issue of housing in Saskatchewan’s north cannot just involve government spending money but also involves creating an environment where First Nations can do well economically which can help improve the overall infrastructure situation in those communities.

“That means them participating and many of them want to do that, they’re excited about doing that and we should be encouraging them to do that and helping them to do that along the way,” he said.

One part of the budget which Vidal was happy to see was money set aside for a critical mineral strategy, which aims to help grow that industry in rural communities across the country

While he was happy to see money set aside for creating the mineral strategy, Vidal added he was disappointed to see that nuclear power was not included in the $5 billion set aside to help build green infrastructure projects.

“If we’re going to achieve some of our climate goals and some of the targets moving toward net zero, most of the people I talk to agree that nuclear energy is going to have to be one of the catalysts to get us there,” he said.

Looking at the budget situation overall the Desnethé-Missinippi-Churchill River MP said he is worried about the growth in the amount of debt which the federal government has been taking on since 2015.

“From 2015 to what they’re projecting out to 2027 we’ve increased the debt of our country by almost $700 billion or we will have by then,” he said.

Welcomes resolution of Treaty Land Claim

Recently the Ahtahkakopp Cree Nation, which is in Vidal’s riding, settled a Treaty Land Entitlement Claim which the nation had been pursuing since 2001. Vidal said the resolution of the claim is good news for what it provides the community, especially in regards to land.

“That gives them the opportunity to be prosperous and to be successful and create economic activity for their own community, I know that’s much of what they want to do,” he said.

However, Vidal explained the overall process for settling Treaty Land Entitlement Claims is one which he believes needs to be improved on. He added the issue is one he has brought up with the Minister of Crown Indigenous Relations.

“We have to find ways to get through these processes quicker,” he said.