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

PHOTOS: L.V. Rogers sends off its grad class

Check out our pictures of the festivities

Nine fires burning in West Kootenay

All fires considered to be lightning caused.

Castlegar mayor releases FCM itinerary

Bruno Tassone delivers promised report on activities at Quebec City municipal conference

COLUMN: 1919 – Police chief reminds drivers of streetcar etiquette

Greg Scott takes us back to a century ago in the files of the Nelson Daily News

Nelson archers host meet

The Nelson Rod and Gun Club hosted 78 archers

10 facts about Father’s Day

Did you know that the special day for dads was first celebrated in 1910?

B.C. university to offer mentorship program for former youth in care

Students using the provincial tuition waiver program will soon be able to form a community at KPU

You might not know these B.C. records are public

Hired a lawyer to file a civil claim? Those are published online

B.C. bus driver loses case to get job back after texting while driving full bus

An arbitator ruled that Tim Wesman’s phone usage was a “a reckless disregard for public safety”

Revamped B.C. Lions set to battle veteran Winnipeg Blue Bombers

The Lions’ first test of the season will be a big one

No business case for Trans Mountain expansion, says former environment minister

Cabinet is expected to announce its decision on the expansion of the Alberta-to-B.C. pipeline by Tuesday

LETTER: British Columbia’s forest industry crisis being made worse

Andrew Wilkinson warns of regulatory overload by John Horgan’s NDP

Convicted B.C. child abductor Randall Hopley back in custody 6 months after release

Correctional Services Canada could not provide further details due to privacy concerns

Bears have killed 17 people in B.C. since 1986

Number of bear complaints and bears killed rose sharply during same period

Most Read