In my role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Heritage, I am committed to rebuilding and renewing our relationship with Indigenous peoples, and supporting the preservation of Indigenous language and culture. I had the pleasure to be part of my first pow wow at the University of Toronto on March 11, 2017. It was an incredible learning experience not only for me, but for my two young sons, whom I brought along that day. But I also understand that it is not enough to just celebrate Indigenous culture – we must continue to make tangible investments in Indigenous communities. In this regard, I look forward to working with the Minister of Heritage on her mandate commitment to provide new funding to promote, preserve, and enhance Indigenous languages and cultures.
Budget 2016 committed an unprecedented $8.4 billion to advance the process of reconciliation. Budget 2017 builds on that goal and our commitment to work nation-to-nation with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples. Our Government’s has committed to establishing a new fiscal relationship that lifts the 2% cap on annual funding increases and moves towards sufficient, predictable, and sustained funding for First Nations communities.
Education and Skills Training:
New investments are being made in Indigenous-led programs with $5 million for Indspire. Indspire is an Indigenous-led organization that helps Indigenous students attend post-secondary institutions and find good jobs.
We are also investing $50 million in the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) to help Indigenous people across Canada get the skills and training they need to succeed. In order to help Indigenous peoples get the education and training they need, we know we have to reduce employment barriers for youth living on-reserve. That’s why we have committed to investing $39.2 million for case management services for youth living on-reserve.
Affordable Housing and Infrastructure:
Budget 2017 provides $225 million to provide access to affordable and culturally appropriate housing for Indigenous peoples living off-reserve. This funding will help ensure continued affordability, encourage new development, and support much needed repairs for housing that was previous supported by the Urban Native Housing Program. An additional $4 billion will go to build and improve housing, water treatment systems, health facilities, and other community infrastructure.
Health Care and Mental Health:
Our Government will dedicate $828 million to improving health for First Nation and Inuit health, including $305 million for the non-insured health benefits program.
For mental health services for First Nations and Inuit, $204.2 million will go to improve mental health services; $118.2 million for mental health programming; and $86 million for the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program to expand access – for the first time we are also making available the services of traditional healers to address the mental health needs of Indigenous persons.
Building on our commitment to home care, we are investing $184 million for home and palliative care for First Nations and Inuit communities.
Our Government is committed to renewing our relationship with all Indigenous people and collaborating with each nation group. I deeply respect our rich Indigenous heritage, and I am proud our Government is making progress through active consultation and involvement of Indigenous communities in decision making about Canada’s future.
Stay tuned for the next installment of my Budget 2017 series tomorrow! Next up: how Budget 2017 supports transit and infrastructure.
“The positive investments in this budget have to lead to positive results for our children and families…. The new investments for Indigenous languages are critical because language is directly connected to the health of our children and the health of our nations. First Nations are the youngest and fastest growing population, representing tremendous opportunity and potential in a society that is aging. Our young people are key to a strong Canada, now and in the future.” – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Association of First Nations
“We were very pleased to see the government of Canada put the health of First Nations first – $828 million over the next five years that begin to close the health gap between indigenous people and non-indigenous people.” – Bill Tholl, President and CEO, HealthCareCAN
“This budget commitment acknowledges the leadership of Indigenous Peoples in determining the future of our lands.” – Ovide Mercredi, Senior Advisor, Indigenous Leadership Initiative
MP for Parkdale-High Park
Parliamentary Secretary for Multiculturalism