Federal Budget 2024: A Fair Future for Indigenous Peoples

In the journey of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples, the Canadian government has committed to prioritizing the needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis communities, aiming for self-determination and rights recognition. Through initiatives like the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, Métis Permanent Bilateral Mechanism, and Assembly of First Nations Permanent Bilateral Mechanism, partnerships have been strengthened. Furthermore, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act was passed, accompanied by a five-year Action Plan co-developed with Indigenous partners.

Through this, some key achievements include a historic $23.3 billion settlement for underfunded First Nations Child and Family Services and investments in housing, health equity, and Jordan's Principle. Budget 2024 proposes greater investments in health, economic reconciliation, and community safety, aiming to empower Indigenous communities and build a better future for generations to come.

Overview

In the 2024 Federal Budget, the Canadian government has outlined a robust plan to invest in and support Indigenous communities across the country. With a focus on reconciliation and empowerment, these initiatives aim to address longstanding challenges, promote economic opportunity, and advance the well-being of Indigenous peoples. Through targeted funding for education, housing, healthcare, cultural revitalization, and more, Budget 2024 underscores the government’s commitment to meaningful progress in the journey of reconciliation. In the 2024 federal budget’s Chapter 6, significant initiatives and investments for Indigenous Peoples include:

Delivering on Indigenous Priorities

  • Infrastructure Investments: Between 2015 and 2023, over $22.3 billion has been allocated to more than 10,252 infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities. Initiatives include building new homes, renovations, retrofits, and acquiring lots for development.
  • Addressing Past Harms: The federal government prioritizes negotiation over litigation and has resolved several longstanding grievances through settlements. Examples include compensating individuals affected by Federal Indian Boarding Homes, the child and family services system, treaty annuities, Indian Residential Schools, land claims, and Safe Drinking Water Settlements. These settlements total to more than $57 billion combined.

Investing in a Brighter Future for Indigenous Peoples

  • Infrastructure Investments: Between 2015 and 2023, over $22.3 billion has been allocated to more than 10,252 infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities. Initiatives include building new homes, renovations, retrofits, and acquiring lots for development.
  • Addressing Past Harms: The federal government prioritizes negotiation over litigation and has resolved several longstanding grievances through settlements. Examples include compensating individuals affected by Federal Indian Boarding Homes, the child and family services system, treaty annuities, Indian Residential Schools, land claims, and Safe Drinking Water Settlements. These settlements total to more than $57 billion combined.

Investing in a Brighter Future for Indigenous Peoples

  • Post-Secondary Education: Budget 2024 invests nearly $243 million to support the next generation of First Nations university, college, and post-secondary students. This funding builds upon the $487.5 million allocated over ten years for Inuit and Métis post-secondary education strategies through Budget 2019.
    Support for Indigenous Children and Families: Budget 2024 allocates $1.8 billion over 11 years to support Indigenous communities in exercising jurisdiction under An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth, and families. Another $167.5 million over two years is proposed to ensure Inuit children can access necessary health, social, and educational services.
  • To address the legacies of colonialism and racism, the budget allocates $225 million over five years for Indigenous languages and cultures programs, including initiatives under the Indigenous Languages Act. An additional $65 million over five years is proposed to support the Indigenous Screen Office. Urban Indigenous Peoples receive support through $60 million over two years for Friendship Centres, which provide culturally appropriate programs and services, including housing support, fostering community wellness and cultural connections.
  • Legacy of Residential Schools: The budget addresses with an additional investment of $96 million to support survivors, their families, and communities. It also emphasizes educating all people about these truths to ensure recognition of past wrongs and prevent their recurrence.
  • Fair Tax Jurisdiction: The budget aims to establish Fair Tax Jurisdiction for Indigenous communities by expanding opt-in frameworks. These frameworks advance self-determination, foster strong fiscal relationships, and generate crucial revenues for community priorities.
  • Section 35 Negotiations: Budget 2024 proposes allocating $96.4 million over two years, beginning in 2024-25, to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. This funding is intended to support rights-based discussions and ensure that Indigenous communities can actively and effectively participate in the negotiation process for reconciliation agreements.

Advancing Reconciliation

  • Advancing Economic Reconciliation: Key actions include allocating $150 million over five years for economic opportunities, $65 million over five years for a First Nations-led land registry, and $21 million over five years to enhance participation in environmental assessments for major projects.
  • The Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program will provide up to $5 billion in loan guarantees to facilitate Indigenous communities’ access to capital. This initiative aims to enable them to participate in natural resource and energy projects in their territories on their own terms.
    Boosting Indigenous Economic Opportunity: Allocating $388 million to boost Indigenous economic opportunity, supporting entrepreneurship, tourism, clean energy initiatives, and the Strategic Partnerships Initiative.
  • Indigenous Housing and Community Infrastructure investments totalling $918 million:
    • $426 million for First Nations on reserve.
    • $62 million for Self-Governing and Modern Treaty First Nations.
    • $370 million for Inuit communities.
    • $60 million for Métis communities.
  • Healthy Indigenous Communities: The government reaffirms its commitment to supporting Indigenous communities in building healthy and prosperous lives. Budget 2024 includes several key ongoing actions, such as:
    • Implementing an Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy with $4 billion over seven years, starting in 2024-25.
    • Establishing a distinctions-based Indigenous Health Equity Fund with $2 billion over ten years, beginning in 2024-25, to address health care challenges and support Indigenous health priorities.
    • Providing $811 million over five years, starting in 2023-24, for medical travel and maintaining medically necessary services through the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.
    • Renewing the First Nations Health Authority Funding Agreement in British Columbia with $8.2 billion over ten years, starting in 2023-24.
    • Ensuring access to safe drinking water and treated wastewater in First Nations communities with $1.6 billion over two years, beginning in 2024-25.
  • On-Reserve Income Assistance: The budget includes significant investments in the On-Reserve Income Assistance program funding of $927 million to assist on-reserve residents and eligible First Nations people in Yukon with daily living costs. Additionally, it invests in income support programs nationwide for the first time in Canadian history, specifically for First Nations persons with disabilities, aiming to provide disability supports on reserve. Additionally, eligible First Nations persons with disabilities in Yukon will receive comparable support to those off reserve.
    First Nations and Inuit Health will see:
    • $1.1 billion invested in First Nations and Inuit Health to ensure fair and equal access to healthcare for Indigenous peoples, promoting safety and inclusivity regardless of location.
    • Over $630 million allocated to support Indigenous mental health, improving access to services through distinctions-based mental wellness strategies.
    • $168 million dedicated to addressing anti-Indigenous racism in healthcare, fulfilling Joyce’s Principle and combating discrimination to ensure Indigenous Peoples receive respectful and safe treatment.
  • Northern Food Security: Budget 2024 introduces enhancements to the Northern Food Security program, with an investment of $124 million. This funding aims to maintain the accessibility and affordability of nutritious foods in Northern communities through Nutrition North Canada. Additionally, it supports the Inuit Nunangat Food Security Strategy, emphasizing local food production and community food programs.
  • First Nations Emergency Management and Preparedness: Budget 2024 proposes investments to enhance emergency management and preparedness in Indigenous communities, responding to climate-related disasters. This includes:
    • $9 million in 2023-24 to aid Indigenous governments affected by the 2023 wildfires in the Northwest Territories.
    • $145.2 million over five years for Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada to collaborate with First Nations in enhancing climate resiliency and implementing structural mitigation strategies. This includes $10.4 million for Modern Treaty and Self-Governing First Nations.
    • $20.9 million over three years to support the First Nations Fire Protection Strategy, facilitating the distribution of fire alarms and extinguishers, as well as fire-related education programs.
  • Red Dress Alert: Building on previous commitments to address missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, and two-spirit people, Budget 2024 proposes $1.3 million over three years to co-develop a regional Red Dress Alert system.
    Support for Indigenous Justice Programming: Recognizing the need to address the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in the justice system, Budget 2024 proposes to allocate funds to advance the IJS including:
    • $87 million over five years, starting in 2024-25, and $11.3 million annually thereafter to the Department of Justice for Indigenous justice programming.
    • Specifically, $56.4 million over five years and $11.3 million annually for the Indigenous Justice Program and the Indigenous Courtwork Program.
    • An additional $5.5 million over three years to continue efforts in revitalizing Indigenous laws and legal systems.
    • $25.1 million over three years to renew funding for capacity building and engagement in the development and initial implementation of the Indigenous Justice Strategy.
  • First Nations and Inuit-led Policing: Budget 2024 supports First Nations and Inuit-led policing with an investment exceeding $467 million to address policing needs identified by Indigenous communities.
    Searching the Prairie Green Landfill: Budget 2024 allocates $20 million to search the Prairie Green Landfill in Winnipeg in partnership with the Government of Manitoba, Indigenous partners, and impacted families. This initiative aims to bring closure to Indigenous families who lost loved ones.

In closing

As outlined in Budget 2024, the Canadian government is taking significant steps to honor its commitments to Indigenous peoples, foster self-determination, and build stronger, more equitable partnerships. By investing in education, healthcare, housing, economic development, and cultural preservation, the government is working to address historical injustices and create pathways for Indigenous communities to thrive. Moving forward, continued collaboration, dialogue, and action will be essential to realizing the shared vision of reconciliation and a brighter future for all Canadians.

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