The federal government has promised to spend $700 million over the next 10 years for Canada’s North, with money coming for post-secondary education in the North, new infrastructure and Arctic research.
The budget, released Tuesday by Finance Minister Bill Morneau, is the fourth and last the Liberal government will table before the next federal election, set for October.
Overall, the budget delivers few big-ticket, signature programs but offers several programs targeting key electoral constituencies heading into the election campaign.
Across the North, the budget recommits to develop a new Arctic and Northern Policy Framework in consultations with Indigenous people and the Northern territories. But it doesn’t include a timeline for when that will be complete.
Here’s a breakdown with some of the other highlights for the territories.
One of the biggest individual spending promises for the Northwest Territories is $18 million over the next three years to start paying to expand the Taltson hydroelectric system.
That project is a key plank in the territory’s climate change plan, but the territory has long said it cannot pay for it without Ottawa’s help. Though there is not an up-to-date cost estimate, a 2014 business case priced the expansion at $1.2 billion.
Another $13 million has been promised for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning starting this year and continuing over five years to deliver a “culturally appropriate and community-developed curriculum.”
In addition, the government also recommitted to amending the Canada National Parks Act to legally establish the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve.
In February, members of the Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation voted 89 per cent in favour of establishing the national park reserve.
An addictions treatment facility has been promised for Nunavut, which has not had one in the territory for more than 20 years, according to budget documents.
Though the budget did not include a specific figure, that facility would be paid for through spending from the Nunavut government and other Inuit organizations.
The federal government also pledges to continue funding programs with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, such as $50 million over 10 years for the Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy, which was first announced in 2016. That is the exact figure Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami asked for in its pre-budget submissions.
The biggest news, I think, is the commitment for the addictions treatment facility in Nunavut.
However, there isn't any money associated with it, and it seems contingent on funding from the Government of Nunavut, and "Inuit partners." pic.twitter.com/NHFpl7zqkk
— Nick Murray (@NickMurray91) March 19, 2019
Overall, the budget lays out $286.2 million over five years in spending for Inuit-specific programs. That includes:
- $125.5 million over 10 years for an Inuit-led post-secondary education strategy.
- $50 million over 10 years to continue the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy.
- $220 million over five years for health and social services for Inuit children.
Environment and Climate Change Canada has also been promised $21.8 million over five years for the Eureka Weather Station on Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, for much-needed repairs at the Arctic research facility.
The federal government is also exploring creating a marine conservation area in the High Arctic Basin or Tuvaijuttuq, which is the last portion of the Arctic expected to retain summer sea ice until at least 2050.
In October, the Qikiqtani Inuit Association and the federal government signed an agreement in principle for a marine protected area for Tallurutiup Imanga, also referred to as Lancaster Sound.
Yukon College has been promised $26 million over the next five years for a new science building on campus. This money is supposed to support the college’s transformation as “Canada’s first university in the North.”
The budget also recommits to return all direct proceeds from the federal carbon tax back to the Yukon and Nunavut governments. The Northwest Territories has already released its carbon pricing plan.
Related links from around the North:
Canada: Nunavut government cuts to Inuit college decried, CBC News
Finland: Budget cuts threaten international Sámi language cooperation, Yle News
Russia: Northern Sea Route needs €143 billion in private funds to meet shipping goals: report, The Independent Barents Observer
Sweden: Swedish PM Stefan Löfven unveils new cabinet, Radio Sweden
United States: Alaska governor faces tough criticism over proposed budget cuts, Alaska Public Media