OTTAWA – POLITICS – “In an exceptionally challenging and unpredictable time as the entire country faces the impacts of COVID-19, Budget 2021 puts forward more than $18 billion for Indigenous peoples – a result of sustained advocacy by First Nations to close the socioeconomic gap between First Nations people and the rest of Canada,” stated AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde.
“The realities of First Nations have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. These investments will help First Nations respond and recover from the pandemic and will help support plans to end violence against Indigenous women and girls, better support First Nations policing, revitalize our languages, and implement legislation related to child and family services,” adds the National Chief
Bellegarde says the 2021 federal budget tabled today in Ottawa includes the largest investment ever for First Nations and builds on the momentum achieved through unprecedented investments since 2015.
The federal budget released today by Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland touches on many First Nations priorities, including $6 billion for infrastructure and essential services for Indigenous communities, $1.2 billion for Indigenous education, $1 billion for child and family services, $861 million to improve policing in Indigenous communities, $460 million for culture and language-based programs, $150 million for an Indigenous economic growth fund and $74 million for a new Indigenous justice strategy, among other investments.
“We’ve made significant progress over the last six years toward closing the socioeconomic gap, but progress is not parity,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We will not close the gap unless we see sustained investments in proper health care, education and training, water, infrastructure, and housing – basic necessities that too many of our people do not have access to and as a result, continue to hold back First Nations and all of Canada. When First Nations are successful, Canada is too.”
The AFN is conducting a full analysis on investments to be made available in coming days.