By Stephanie Taylor
THE CANADIAN PRESS
OTTAWA-The federal Liberal government is committing $8.7 million to hold more consultations on Indigenous resource sharing, in a budget that offers relatively little new spending on its reconciliation agenda.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled a spending plan that prioritizes Canada’s transition to a greener economy, offering billions in new tax credits, as well as health care and affordability.
Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples remains a major priority for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, with billions announced in previous years including early in his first mandate.
Major Indigenous organizations, including the Assembly of First Nations, have told the federal government that billions more are needed to address current and future infrastructure needs, such as housing.
The budget shows Ottawa plans to inject $4 billion over seven years into an urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy beginning in 2024-25, but that remains under development.
The federal government also committed $8.7 million to Natural Resources Canada in the coming fiscal year to consult Indigenous partners on developing a framework to give communities access to more resource dollars from projects built on their territories.
That would fulfil a commitment made in last fall’s economic statement.
The Trudeau government has in recent years placed a greater focus on self-determination when it comes to supporting Indigenous communities, the tone of which is reflected in Tuesday’s budget.
It commits to giving Indigenous Services Canada $30 million over the next five years to improve a reserve land and environment management program to ensure “First Nations can develop capacity to exercise increased responsibility over their lands, resources and environment.”
Another $5 million was also pledged in the coming fiscal year for the department to take part in developing a framework for economic reconciliation in hopes of bolstering economic opportunities for Indigenous people and businesses.
The government pledged in February to put $2 billion over the next decade into an “Indigenous Health Equity Fund.”
In addition to this, it promises to spend around $16 million over three years on efforts to reduce the tuberculosis rates in Inuit communities. Before Tuesday’s budget was released, Inuit Tapiriit
Kanatami- a national organization representing Inuit communities- had requested about $131 million over seven years for this issue.
The federal government also promised to spend $2.5 million to advance an action plan on implementing the 2019 recommendations of the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls, fulfilling one of its reconciliation-related promises to the federal New Democrats under its supply and confidence arrangement.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2023.