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Indigenous needs, Northern housing included in fed budget

Northern housing, energy security and Indigenous education, infrastructure and health were some of the areas covered in the 2017 federal budget, tabled in the House of Commons on Wednesday.

READ: 2017 Federal Budget [pdf]

The budget will be investing $300 million into Northern housing over the next 11 years.

The Northwest Territories will receive $36 million of that pot, $24 million will be provided to the Yukon and Nunavut will see the biggest investment with $240 million.

The budget also includes $3.4 billion in total over five years to address areas of “critical need” for Indigenous peoples.

Some highlights of the budget for Northerners include:

Healthcare

  • $28.4 million of the $108 Territorial Health Investment Fund to the NWT over four years.

Energy

  • $400 million to an Arctic Energy Fund to address energy security and the renewal and replacement of energy systems in northern communities to reduce their reliance on diesel.
  • $21.4 million to reduce community’s reliance on diesel through the Northern Responsible Energy Approach for Community Heat and Electricity Program over four years starting in 2018-19.

Indigenous Employment

  • $39.2 million to reducing employment barriers for First Nations youth living on-reserve by providing case management services and provide supports for youth to access employment opportunities.
  • $50 million towards The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS), which will work to meet Canada’s “growing demand from Indigenous Peoples for skills development and job training”.

Adult and Post-Secondary Education

  • $90 million to support Indigenous post-secondary education through the Post-Secondary Student Support Program.
  • $14.7 million towards adult education through the Northern Adult Basic Education Program to deliver adult basic education services to local colleges over three years.
  • $25 million over five years to the Indigenous-led charity Indspire, that helps Indigenous students attend post-secondary school and find jobs. “In total, this will provide $40 million over five years in bursaries and scholarships for more than 12,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis students.”
  • The federal government is also proposing amendments to the Canada Student Financial Assistance Act to allow non-Canadian students registered under the Indian Act to access the Canada Student Loans Program.

Indigenous Tourism Industry

  • $8.6 million over four years to support the development of Canada’s Indigenous tourism industry, including the Aboriginal Tourism Association of Canada’s five-year Indigenous Tourism Strategy.

Environment Stewardship of Indigenous Lands

  • $25 million over five years to the Indigenous Guardians Pilot Project. “This initiative will give Indigenous Peoples greater responsibility and resources to manage their traditional lands and waterways.”

Homelessness

  • $2.1 billion over the next 11 years for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy across Canada, extending the program that was expected to expire in 2018-19.

Climate Change

  • $26.4 million over five years to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada “to support Indigenous collaboration on climate change.”
  • $83.8 million to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada over five years to “integrate traditional Indigenous knowledge to build a better understanding of climate change and to guide adaptation measures; enhance Indigenous community resilience through infrastructure planning and emergency management in those communities where flooding risks are increasing; and enhance resilience in northern communities by improving the design and construction of northern infrastructure.”

Indigenous Tourism Industry

  • $8.6 million to support the development of Canada’s Indigenous tourism industry over four years.

Mining Tax Credit

  • The 15 per cent tax credit Minieral Exploration Tax Credit is being extended another year. The credit is for junior exploration companies and was set to expire this month.
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