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Idlout warns federal budget will cut funding for Indigenous supports

April 16, 2024

Nunavut NDP MP says it’s ‘frustrating’ and warns it will hurt effort to provide better housing

Nunavut MP Lori Idlout, seen earlier this month at a government announcement in Iqaluit, is calling on the federal government to reverse planned spending cuts to Indigenous services in 2024’s federal budget. (File photo by Jeff Pelletier)

NationTalk: Nunatsiaq News – As the federal government prepares to release its 2024 budget Tuesday, Nunavut’s NDP MP Lori Idlout is sounding the alarm over what she says will amount to billions of dollars in spending cuts to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Indigenous Services Canada.

“It is frustrating to have … successive Liberal and Conservative governments not investing enough in Indigenous Peoples,” Idlout said in an interview Monday.

“These kinds of cuts will mean that Indigenous Peoples will remain in poverty, that [they] will remain marginalized, that … most of us will continue to live in overcrowded housing conditions.”

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland is scheduled to deliver the Liberal government’s budget at 4 p.m. Tuesday in the House of Commons.

Last month, the NDP called on the Liberals to reverse planned cuts to services that affect Indigenous people. New Democrats said many programs were being allowed to “sunset,” meaning existing budgets will be spent with no plan to extend or renew them.

The NDP cited a 2023-24 plan by the Department of Indigenous Services that estimated $7.6 billion in spending would be cut by 2026 as programs weren’t renewed.

Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu told reporters last month her department is “going through the exercise” but is looking at areas like “duplication” in services, not cuts to direct service delivery, according to a CBC report.

In its warnings, the NDP cited the government’s 2023 budget in which it pledged to reduce spending by $14.1 billion over the next five years.

According to Indigenous Services Canada’s departmental plan for 2024, cuts as well as programs that will ‘sunset’ are how it will do its part to meet that commitment.

Combined, Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations were expected to see cuts of about $416 million over the next three years to help meet commitments in the 2023 federal budget.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also called on the Liberals to reverse those planned cuts last month, citing what he said were dire conditions some Indigenous families live under.

“Instead of making homes safe, the federal government is telling Indigenous people that there is no money to remove mould from their homes,” Singh said in a news release March 20.

“Indigenous peoples have been neglected by Liberals and Conservatives for decades. And now the Liberals want to cut programs that ensure Indigenous children get the care they need. This is unacceptable.”

The NDP warned cuts will include areas like Jordan’s Principle, a federal program with funding to ensure Indigenous children have access to essential education, health and social services and products.

Idlout said any cuts to “[Jordan’s Principle] are a huge concern, given that it was a legal obligation for the federal government. It’s deeply concerning, because it will have a direct impact on First Nations and Inuit children.”

She said Canada needs to invest more in “Indigenous peoples so that we can make the decisions that we want to without fear of a lack of funding.”

Nunavut NDP MP says it’s ‘frustrating’ and warns it will hurt effort to provide better housing

By Jorge Antunes