What the NWT gets from the Liberal’s platform

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. (Supplied by Vista Radio.)
- Advertisement -

The federal Liberals have released their 2021 platform and are promising $78-billion in new spending over the next five years. 

Leader Justin Trudeau unveiled the 82-page document during a speech on Wednesday in Toronto.

The platform focuses on investments in housing, health care and climate change. 

The promises include $13-billion in spending over the next fiscal year, but does not include any plans to balance the budget. 

- Advertisement -

The Liberals are the last party to release their platform but are the first to say exactly how much it will cost to put to work.

But what is the NWT getting out of it?


Services

The Liberal’s $10-a-day daycare plan would save a Yellowknife family $9,576 a year, the Liberals claim.

The lack of daycare options in Yellowknife presented problems for parents recently, with 138 kids on the waitlist for daycare services run by the YWCA, according to a report by NNSL.

- Advertisement -

The platform also calls for combating food security in northern parts of the territory, and Expanding the Nutrition North Canada program.

The program was recently expanded, allowing the communities of Nahanni Butte, Tsiigehtchic, Fort McPherson, Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk to be eligible for the retail subsidy during their seasonal periods of isolation — during break-up and freeze-up, when food has to be flown into the communities.

Infrastructure 

- Advertisement -

The platform also says a $300 million Indigenous Urban, Rural, and Northern Housing Strategy will be developed to work alongside the National Housing Strategy that is already in place. But there’s only a $5 million budget for the plan in the next four years.

Housing funds have gotten criticism from NWT politicians in the past for being too complicated and having too many restrictions.

Yellowknife Mayor Rebecca Alty said in February that the criteria put on the Reaching Home funding — which was intended to support homeless people during the pandemic — by the federal government meant investing in housing projects wasn’t feasible.

“The federal government’s creating policy from the ivory tower of Ottawa is a bit how I see this funding working,” said Alty. “They have very strict directives that you can use it for this funding, but you can’t use it for this — it’s time sensitive, there’s no opportunity to roll funding over.”

“We have had some good discussion around the cumbersome process that people have complained about,” said current NWT MP Michael McLeod, who is running for the Liberal Party again in this election. 

“We have an official working group that is going to make some good recommendations on that front.”


Elsewhere, if elected, the Liberal government said they will push broadband companies to expand their services in the north, or face losing their contracts.

Northwestel, the NWT’s predominant internet provider, recently partnered with a British company to expand internet service to remote mining, enterprise business and governments in northern Canada. The company has been working on expanding its plans 

Reconciliation 

As well as housing funding going specifically to Indigenous governments, the Liberal platform says they are working with Métis Nation to implement a $2.2 billion national action plan aimed at addressing violence against Indigenous women, girls, and LGBTQ+ people.

The platform says the government will also introduce an act following the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and a plan to meet the goals of the declaration.


That Bill, C-15, was introduced to Parliament in December, a move that was praised by Dene National Chief Norman Yakelaya.

The platform also says funding to support recovery and uncovering of burial grounds at former residential school sites will be provided, but doesn’t specify an amount.

Earlier this month, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations Canada pledged $83 million in funding to go to Indigenous governments to help in their recovery efforts.

“Well our commitment is to make sure enough money is available to be able to safely or to efficiently check all institutions that housed residential schools, and housedfederal day schools and hospitals that had Indigenous children and patients,” said McLeod.

“We want to make sure that the investigation was thorough, we want to be able to identify bodies that are recovered, we want to make sure that Indigenous people and people of Canada are satisfied that we’ve done a good job,” he added.

“This pot of money is a start and may not be enough,” said McLeod. “But if it isn’t, then we certainly are going to make sure that we are pushing and moving forward.”

McLeod added he expected progress would be made on the Self Government Framework Agreement with the Northwest Territory Métis Nation and the apology and compensation agreement with the Yellowknives Dene First Nation over Giant Mine.


But he said he wouldn’t be able to put a specific timeline on the latter.

- Advertisement -