Budget 2023: Feds announce $2B for housing, $125M on MMIWG, $811M on health

The Trudeau government is pledging to spend $811 million for medical travel, mental health, dental, vision and medication for Indigenous Peoples over five years.

Details of the spending were announced Tuesday in the federal budget delivered by Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

According to Budget 2023, $16 million will also be put towards reducing tuberculosis rates in Inuit communities.

Other items in the budget include $1.9 billion on housing over the next five years, well short of what past studies have shown is needed, especially in Nunavut.

“The five-year plan is to implement an urban, rural and northern Indigenous housing strategy, to be co-developed with Indigenous Peoples,” said the budget document.

The money won’t start flowing until 2024-25, starting with a $300-million investment for that fiscal year.

The Liberals are putting $76 million to advance self-government initiatives; $35 million for a lands advisory board to help First Nations achieve the economic potential of their lands and $21 million to increase Indigenous participation in environmental assessments on economic projects that affect their territories.

The Liberals expect to spend $2.5 million over the next five years, starting in 2023-24, to establish a federal-provincial-territorial table on “Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and 2SLGBTQI+ People.”

The budget describes it as providing a forum to discuss and act on initiatives such as a “Red Dress Alert” to notify the public when and Indigenous woman or two-spirit person goes missing.

The measure is part of a $125 million envelope of funding for other measures related to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

About $96 million of this money will be used to help families access information about loved ones and enhance victim services.

Not enough says the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

“It’s 2023, two years since the National Action Plan was released, four years since the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls issued its final report declaring an ongoing genocide. And the violence continues,” said NWAC president Lynn Groulx.

“When does the government say to Canadians that enough is enough? Certainly not in this budget.”

The money spent on Indigenous investments this fiscal year pales to what has been spent in previous years.

In total, the government will spend $667 million on Indigenous priorities in 2023/2024.

The government allotted $2.8 billion dollars for the Gottfried band class settlement agreement alone in the last fiscal year and $40 billion at the end of 2021 to compensate victims and fix an ailing First Nations child welfare system.

There was also $4 billion over seven years for an Indigenous housing strategy announced in last year’s budget.

The government is calling this year’s budget a made-in-Canada plan.

With money to reduce health care backlogs, the launch of a public dental care plan and a grocery bill rebate.

The deficit will decrease to $40 billion this year down from $43 billion last year.

Also in the budget…

The Liberals continued to fulfil its promises to the NDP within its second federal budget since the parties struck a confidence-and-supply agreement in March 2022.

New Democrats have agreed to prop up the minority government on key votes, including budgets, until June 2025 in exchange for movement on shared priorities.

Here are the key NDP-approved initiatives that were penned into the agreement and made it into this year’s budget: Dental care: More than $13 billion, including an initial $107 million in 2023-24, is earmarked over the next five years to create a new Canadian dental care plan.

The measure aims to provide dental coverage for uninsured Canadians who have an annual family income of less than $90,000, with no co-pays for those with family incomes under $70,000.

The new coverage is projected to begin by the end of the year and be administered by Health Canada.

GST rebate: The federal government expects to spend nearly $2.5 billion this year on an affordability measure dubbed the “grocery store rebate.” The one-time payment will double the GST rebate for eligible Canadians.

It’s a repeat of the same measure the Liberals introduced last fall with NDP support, and it will again provide up to an extra $467 for eligible couples with two; $234 for single Canadians without children; and $225 for seniors.

Anti-scab legislation: The budget says the government plans to propose changes to the Canada Labour Code this year that would prohibit replacement workers during a strike or lockout in federally regulated sectors.

Green economy: The federal government is promising to offer nearly $83 billion in tax credits until 2034-35 to expand green industrialism in an effort to create Canadian jobs, address global supply-chain issues, and further reduce emissions.

Good-paying (union) jobs: The government is attaching new labour conditions to federal funding, in part so “the unions that built the middle class can thrive,” as the budget document puts it. For companies to receive maximum energy and electricity tax credits, they will need to ensure that wages are paid at the prevailing level and apprenticeship training opportunities are being created.

Beneficial ownership registry: A proposed bill recently tabled in the House of Commons would prevent Canadian shell companies from concealing their ownership of property, businesses and other assets.

The registry would allow people to publicly search Canadian corporations and their ownership. It aims to deter money laundering and prevent companies from evading sanctions or avoiding paying taxes. The budget document commits the government to implement it by the end of 2023.

Contribute Button