Minister of Finance Bill Morneau holds a news conference at a lockup session with reporters before the release of the federal budget in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 19, 2019. (Fred Chartrand/The Canadian Press)

2019 BUDGET: Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples key theme in Liberal pre-election budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau stressed the Liberals commitment to reconciliation from beginning

The federal Liberal government plans to spend $4.5 billion over the next five years to try to narrow the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people — part of a plan to keep reconciliation at the forefront of this fall’s campaign narrative.

Speaking to reporters inside the budget lockup, Finance Minister Bill Morneau stressed the Liberals have been committed to reconciliation from the beginning of their mandate.

“It is a continuation of what we’ve been doing since Day One,” Morneau said. “It is driven by the fact that we know in this country, we need to get this right. We’ve got a lot of work to do and we are going to stay on it.”

Part of the budget pledge is $1.2 billion over three years — $404 million per year beginning in 2019-2020 — to develop a long-term approach for services for First Nations children.

The policy is named after a Manitoba First Nations boy from Norway House Cree Nation, Jordan River Anderson, who had multiple disabilities. When he was two years old, doctors recommended he move to a special home suited to his medical needs.

He died three years later, after jurisdictional squabbles between federal and provincial governments over payment for his care.

READ MORE: As deficit grows, feds spend on job retraining, home incentive

“It should be no surprise that we continue to deal with issues, like Jordan’s Principle, that we’ve been talking about for a long time,” Morneau said.

The budget also includes plans to invest $220 million over five years, beginning in 2019-2020, to provide services to Inuit children who face unique challenges to get health and social services due to the remoteness of their communities and limited availability of culturally appropriate care.

The Liberal government is communicating in the budget it is serious about its commitment to Indigenous Peoples, said Rebekah Young, the director of fiscal and provincial economics with Scotiabank.

“We are looking at almost $5 billion (in new spending) over five years, of a total budget spend of $20 billion,” she said. “We are talking about a quarter of the budget.”

The federal budget also includes plans to move ahead with responding to calls to act from the Truth and Reconciliation that spent six years probing the dark legacy of Canada’s residential schools.

The spending plan includes $126.5 million in 2020-21 to establish a national council on reconciliation designed to serve as a permanent reminder of the fraught past between Canada and Indigenous Peoples and to contribute to better understanding of it.

There is also $333.7 million over the next five years earmarked for helping to revitalize Indigenous languages — a move that follows legislation introduced in February.

The funding will help create a commissioner of Indigenous languages, the budget said, adding that only one in seven Indigenous children reports being able to carry on a conversation in an Indigenous language.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said there is no relationship more important than the Canadian government’s with Indigenous Peoples, though some Indigenous leaders and the federal NDP have raised concerns about the rate of progress on the file.

Kristy Kirkup, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Cyclist struck on Vernon highway

Emergency crews responding, more information to come

New Vernon pastry chef has real sweet tooth

Caken Me Crazy’s owner left the dental industry to pursue the culinary arts

Vernon retirement home holding open house

Orchard Valley will open doors to the public on Saturday, Sept. 21

Vernon realtor captures Okanagan Valley in photo collection

Marty Gilbert’s book, The Okanagan Collection, is available in acrylic, aluminum, or fine art paper

Kootenay jazz performer to take Vernon stage

Holly Hyatt is readying to perform in the Okanagan in October

VIDEO: Police interview with Sagmoen made public

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

Métis actor enthralling in first lead role

Okanagan Screen Arts Society to screen Falls Around Her Sept. 23

Second bat found at Greater Victoria elementary school tests positive for rabies

Island Health confirms second rabies case, this time in Saanich

South Okanagan school bus driver calls out bad drivers

Bus driver said she sees multiple vehicles go by the bus despite having the overhead lights flashing

B.C. man guilty of first-degree murder in Yukon killing

Edward James Penner, 22, was given the mandatory life sentence for the 2017 slaying of 25-year-old Adam Cormack

Woman stabbed at least five times in Nelson during random attack

Victim is in hospital, suspect is in police custody

Victoria man spots online photo of his totem pole 11 years after it was stolen

Mark Trueman restored the pole himself before it was stolen off of his property in Duncan

‘I’d do it again,’ says B.C. man who swam naked, drunk in Toronto shark tank

David Weaver, of Nelson, was drunk when he went to Ripley’s Aquarium in Toronto on Oct. 12 2018

Morning Start: Who is Greta Thunberg?

Your morning start for Friday, Sept. 20

Most Read