No relationship is more important to the federal government than the relationship with Indigenous peoples. Since 2015, real progress has been made, but more work needs to be done. Through Budget 2021, the government is proposing a historic, new investment of over $18 billion to improve the quality of life and create new opportunities for Indigenous peoples.
Since the start of the pandemic, Indigenous communities have faced extraordinary health challenges. This budget proposes significant investments to support Indigenous communities in the fight against COVID-19. The budget would support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities, maintain essential health care services for First Nations and Inuit, and make sure students, schools, and post-secondary institutions have the support they need during the pandemic.
To build resilient Indigenous communities and move forward on closing the infrastructure gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, the budget lays out a $6-billion plan to build infrastructure, including the establishment of the $4.3 billion Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund. This fund would advance key infrastructure priorities such as clean drinking water projects, housing, schools, all-weather roads, northern airstrips, broadband, and health care facilities.
A robust and resilient economic recovery from the COVID-19 recession must bring all people and communities along. That’s why this budget proposes to: renew the Indigenous Community Business Fund to support jobs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities; establish a First Nations Finance Authority Emergency Fund to provide repayable payment support for members with financial difficulties due to COVID-19; and support Indigenous-led businesses and Indigenous entrepreneurs so that Indigenous economies are part of the recovery and experience long-term growth.
To ensure Indigenous peoples have a greater say over the policies and programs that affect their lives, Budget 2021 proposes funding to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, support Indigenous governance and administrative capacity, advance a new fiscal relationship with First Nations, and support self determination.
With this historic investment, the federal government continues to work with Indigenous peoples to build a nation-to-nation, Inuit-Crown, government-to-government relationship-one based on respect, partnership, and recognition of rights.
“The federal government has made progress in righting the historic wrongs in Canada’s relationship with Indigenous peoples. But we have a lot of work still ahead. This budget proposes investments to further narrow gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, support healthy, safe, and prosperous Indigenous communities, and advance meaningful reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.”
The Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance,
Budget 2021 includes proposed investments of more than $18 billion in new funding over the next five years to improve the quality of life and create new opportunities for people living in Indigenous communities. This includes:
- An additional $1.2 billion to continue to support the ongoing public health response to COVID-19 in Indigenous communities. This includes support to hire nurses, help at-risk people to isolate, and distribute personal protective equipment.
- $1.4 billion to maintain essential health care services for First Nations and Inuit, continue work to transform health systems, and respond to the health impacts of climate change. This is in addition to the government’s commitment to co-develop distinctions-based Indigenous health legislation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation.
- $1 billion to increase funding under the First Nations Child and Family Services Program to support work with Indigenous leadership so that all Indigenous children have the opportunity to grow up in their communities, immersed in their cultures, and surrounded by loved ones.
- $1.2 billion to ensure high quality education for First Nations children, ensure funding remains predictable and extend COVID-19 support so children on reserve can continue to attend school safely
- $4.3 billion for the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund, a distinctions-based fund that supports shovel-ready projects, as prioritized by First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation communities.
- $1.7 billion to cover the operations and maintenance costs of community infrastructure in First Nations communities on reserve.
- $2.2 billion to accelerate work on the National Action Plan in response to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
- $2.7 billion to ensure 10-year grant funding keeps pace with the needs of eligible First Nations who choose to join this new mechanism, established through Budget 2019 to provide stable long-term funding.