Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, met with representatives from 10 Self-Governing First Nations in BC (Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Ka:’yu:’k’t’h’/Che:k’tles7et’h’ First Nations, Toquaht Nation, Uchucklesaht Tribe and Yuułuʔiłʔath First Nations, Tsawwassen First Nation, Tla’amin Nation, Sechelt Indian Band, Westbank First Nation, and the Nisga’a Nation) to discuss investments that support Indigenous communities from Budget 2021: A Recovery Plan for Jobs, Growth, and Resilience.
No relationship is more important to the federal government than the relationship with Indigenous peoples. 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 the affirmation of rights.
Through Budget 2021, the federal government is proposing an historic, new investment of over $18 billion over the next five years to improve the quality of life of and create new opportunities for people living in Indigenous communities. Working with Indigenous partners, these investments will make significant strides in closing gaps between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples; supporting healthy, safe, and prosperous Indigenous communities; and advancing meaningful reconciliation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation. These investments will support continued action on infrastructure and support for Indigenous entrepreneurs.
The COVID-19 recession is the steepest and fastest economic contraction since the Great Depression. It has disproportionately affected low-wage workers, young people, women, and racialized Canadians. For businesses, it has been a two-speed recession, with some finding ways to prosper and grow, but with many businesses-especially small businesses-fighting to survive. Budget 2021 is an historic investment to address the specific wounds of the COVID-19 recession, put people first, create jobs, grow the middle class, set businesses on a track for long-term growth, and ensure that Canada’s future will be healthier, more equitable, greener, and more prosperous.
Budget 2021 proposes distinctions-based investments of $6 billion over five years, starting in 2021-22, with $388.9 million ongoing, to support infrastructure in Indigenous communities. This includes $4.3 billion over four years into an Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund, a distinctions-based fund to support immediate demands prioritized by Indigenous partners. The Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund will work in tandem with infrastructure projects in First Nations, including modern-treaty and self-government First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
Investing in the Indigenous Community Infrastructure Fund will in turn support those on the path toward Indigenous self-determination and, in the process, build strong Indigenous communities. The government is accelerating work to close infrastructure gaps and provide the support necessary for Indigenous communities to thrive in the long-term.
Canada entered the pandemic in a strong fiscal position. This allowed the government to take quick and decisive action to support people and businesses, and put it in the position to make historic investments in the recovery.
“We gained access to Budget 2018 federal capital infrastructure gaps-closing support just in time as every house in the village of the Uchucklesaht people were deemed unlivable. With this funding we saw 6 new homes built and made it possible for 6 families to move back home in 2020, with 8 more under development in 2021. This is true Reconciliation on the ground making homes for people to be able to practice long forgotten cultural practices. Without this funding this would not have happened and we look forward to further Budget 2021 investments as they unfold.”
Chief Charlie Cootes, Uchucklesaht Tribe Government
“We appreciate the sustained interest of the Ministers and our Federal Colleagues to prioritize and fund the housing and infrastructure needs of its treaty and self-government partners. Nisga’a Lisims Government and other self-governing Indigenous governments have demonstrated their expenditure need in both of these areas. The fiscal relationship is fundamental to the success of treaties and self-government. Budget 2021 is an opportunity for Canada to work with its treaty and self-government partners to build back better while at the same time growing rural economies through investments in housing and infrastructure. The Nisga’a Nation is ready to build and to work with its treaty partner to achieve change in these unprecedented times. We welcome further dialogue with the Minister and her colleagues on how to do so.”
Eva Clayton, President of Nisg̱a’a Lisims Government
“COVID-19 has had a profound socio-economic impact on Indigenous communities in Canada. Continued action is necessary to counteract this current recession. I appreciated hearing from self-governing First Nations in British Columbia today to hear their advice about the best ways to support Indigenous infrastructure and how to support new opportunities for economic growth that will strengthen communities and improves quality of life of all community members. Together, we will continue to walk the path of reconciliation, recover from Covid-19 and rebuild our nation-to-nation relationship.”
The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, M.D., P.C., M.P.
Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Indigenous communities and businesses. Public health measures have affected many of the revenue sources communities use to support service delivery and pay loans that have been taken out to support community, economic development, and jobs.
- To ensure the long-term resilience of Indigenous economies, Budget 2021 proposes to provide $117 million to renew the Indigenous Community Business Fund and $33.4 million to support the First Nations Finance Authority’s pooled borrowing regime.
The Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program helps Indigenous entrepreneurs access affordable loans to start and grow their businesses. Budget 2021 proposes to invest $42 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to expand the Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program. This will directly support Indigenous-led businesses and help Indigenous communities generate wealth by improving access to capital and business opportunities.
- Currently, only 36 per cent of Indigenous-led businesses are owned by women. Budget 2021 proposes to invest $22 million over three years, starting in 2021-22, to support the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association’s Indigenous Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative.