April 23, 2024

Unceded Algonquin Territory, Ottawa, Mb Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. Response to 2024 Federal Budget. On April 16, 2024, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland Canada released the 2024 federal budget, themed “Fairness for Every Generation”. Overall, the 2024 federal budget allocated a total of $9 billion towards Indigenous programs and services across Canada over the next five years.

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) Grand Chief Garrison Settee states “while federal spending has increased, I am mindful that fiscal allocations also reflect the ongoing class action law, such that include Indian Residential Schools settlement, boil water advisories and the recent child welfare settlement which has earmarked approximately $23 billion”.

 

MKO Grand Chief states, “the Trudeau government had previously missed all budgetary targets for Indigenous spending, so the increase in this budget reflects the ongoing gaps that can no longer be ignored. I am very pleased to see fiscal commitment to addressing emergency management. The MKO region continues to see the impacts of climate change, we are having longer and drier summers that have increased the risk of wildfires and have seen more community wide evacuations.

 

I am also pleased with the allocation of $5 billion in loan guarantees for natural resources and energy projects that will be available to First Nation communities. Economic reconciliation is dependent on the ability of First Nations to build infrastructure to support investment projects. However, acquiring capital to advance projects remains a roadblock for many First Nations led projects. This loan program should create pathways for First Nations to create sustainable, revenue generating projects for future generations.”

 

The federal budget also announced significant health funding of $369 million over three years. The plan is to hire 400 additional doctors, 300 more nurses, 200 paramedics and 100 home care workers. Grand Chief Settee states, “the challenge with this plan is to ensure health professionals are well versed in anti-racism practices. In Manitoba, we have been working diligently to address Indigenous-specific racism in health care. I would also like to know what the allocation to federal nursing stations would be, many First Nations in the north continue to struggle with nursing and physician shortages. I can’t remember when any of our nursing stations had a full complement of staff.”

In addition to an increase in health staff, Grand Chief Settee was disappointed with the investments in mental health and substance use. Grand Chief Settee states “$150 million over three years is not sufficient for the ongoing crisis of substance use. Many First Nations have declared states of emergencies due to substance use; we will have to work closely with government to ensure resources and services extend to First Nation communities.”

 

MKO has a robust justice program with both provincial and federal partners supporting MKO’s Whole of Government Response. Grand Chief Settee states, “I am very pleased to see this government continue to support the important and innovative work MKO has been undertaking in partnership with both federal and provincial governments”.

 

An area of concern for Grand Chief Settee is with the housing and infrastructure allocation. Grand Chief Settee states, “the housing and infrastructure gap remains wide and there does not appear to be a definitive pathway to address the widening gap. The theme of “Fairness for Every Generation” does not and will not meet the housing needs of current or future generations. Our First Nations will continue to feel the housing burdens and homelessness will continue to increase in First Nations.”

 

MKO is pleased with the $63 million investment earmarked for Remote Passenger Rail Program. Several MKO communities still rely on railway for transportation and are in dire need of repair. This investment will contribute to economic stability for Indigenous-owned rail lines.

Furthermore, the federal budget includes funding for economic development initiatives, job training programs, and skills development opportunities for Indigenous youth and adults in the MKO region. These investments aim to create economic opportunities, reduce unemployment rates, and empower individuals to build sustainable livelihoods within their communities.

 

Overall, the 2024 federal budget demonstrates a commitment to addressing the unique needs and challenges faced by First Nations citizens living within the MKO region. Through targeted investments in health, education, housing, and economic development, the budget aims to improve the quality of life and well-being of Indigenous communities in northern Manitoba. However, ongoing collaboration and partnership with Indigenous leaders and communities will be essential in ensuring the effective and efficient implementation of these initiatives.

 

We will provide more in-depth reaction to each of the spending areas such as health, Jordan’s Principle, MMIWG and more in the days to come.

For more information:

Naomi Clarke, MKO Communications

Email: [email protected]

Web: https://mkonation.com/

 

Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is a non-profit, political advocacy organization that has represented 26 First Nation communities in Manitoba’s North since 1981. The MKO represents more than 72,000 First Nations people.