GNWT’s budget passed with additional spending on programs

Minister Caroline Wawzonek addressing the Legislative Assembly. (Supplied by Assembly NWT Twitter.)
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The territorial government has passed its 2021-2022 budget with extra spending included.

MLAs spent the two weeks the Legislative Assembly wasn’t in session in budget committees discussing next year’s budget.

More than $4 million in additional spending was tacked on to the budget as a result of the committee sessions. But the extra spending is set to be offset by cuts the Department of Finance will make to every government department’s travel budget.

“The work undertaken in recent weeks, including the unprecedented commitments on policy, is a shining example of consensus government at work,” Steve Norn, Chair of the Standing Committee on Accountability and Oversight Members, said in a statement. “We are pleased with the positive outcomes for residents of the Northwest Territories.”

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The territory’s midwifery program is receiving $600,000 in funding during phase 2 of the implementation. 

Addiction programs and after-care programs are receiving $1.4 million in funding, while anti-poverty initiatives are receiving $935,000, including $750,000 to go towards funding the anti-poverty fund and $75,000 to support the operations of the shelter in Hay River.

There’s also $743,000 in new funding for Indigenous patient care to create four new positions as part of a pilot program looking at how the healthcare system can better support Indigenous patients.

The government also committed to filling an Economic Development Officer position in Tuktoyaktuk, maintaining the court clerk position in Hay River and receiving the effectiveness of the NWT Housing Corporation’s programs, as part of the GNWT kickstarting their government renewal process.

That process will examine government spending and determine where there can be more efficiencies, and will help make the GNWT’s budget sustainable, according to Finance Minister Caroline Wawzonek. 

The initial budget had already proposed a $117 million increase in spending, around 6.2 per cent compared to the 2020 budget.

This budget had initially forecasted an operating surplus of $69 million in 2021‑22 after a projected $31 million deficit in 2020‑21. The deficit in 2020-21 was the third consecutive deficit the territorial government had run.

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