The 2018 federal budget contains a chapter called ‘Reconciliation’, which focuses on providing funding for Indigenous child welfare, health care, water and housing in an effort to close gaps in the relationship between Canada and First Nations.
The federal budget allocates $4.7 billion over the next five years aimed at investing in the living situation for Indigenous children and families, investments in housing and health and advancing First Nations toward self-government. The federal budget also earmarks $1.4 billion over the next six years to support Indigenous children in foster care and to facilitate family reunification. Inuit communities in particular will see $27.5 million over five years toward eliminating tuberculosis in the North, $82 million over 10 years to produce a health survey and $400 million over 10 years dedicated to housing. As for the Metis community, $10 million is allocated to process health data, as well as $500 million over 10 years to develop a housing strategy. Finance minister Bill Morneau was quoted as saying, “Our shared future is one where Indigenous Peoples are in control of their own destiny, making their own decisions about their future.”
Another big change outlined in the federal budget is in the legal field, as the federal government has also committed to spend more than $100 million over five years to help Indigenous groups engage with plans to develop a new legal framework for reconciliation based on recognizing rights and reconstituting nations.
Nevertheless, the Reconciliation chapter of the budget is not without its drawbacks. Indigenous children under the age of 14 currently comprise less than eight per cent of all children in Canada, but they make up more than half of all children in foster care. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that the budget does not specify costs for dismantling the federal Indigenous Affairs department and replacing it with two new departments: Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations. Also, the budget offers no indication on when the federal government might introduce bills to give the two new departments a legislative framework.
This blog post was written by a CCLA-PBSC RightsWatch student. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCLA or PBSC.