GN, Inuit organizations welcome federal budget’s housing, mental health investments
Plan unveiled this week addresses infrastructure shortfalls, says Nunavut Finance Minister Lorne Kusugak
Investments in housing and mental health contained in this week’s federal budget are being welcomed by the Government of Nunavut and two national Inuit organizations.
Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland tabled the proposed spending in the House of Commons Thursday.
In a news release the next morning, Nunavut Premier P.J. Akeeagok said he is optimistic about what’s been set aside for the territory.
The release highlights $60 million Nunavut would receive over two years for affordable housing and related infrastructure, as well as tax credits for first-time home buyers.
It also notes the budget’s proposed $227.6-million investment to maintain Indigenous-led mental health services, as well as $15 million over five years to support Indigenous economic development in the North.
Nunavut Finance Minister Lorne Kusugak echoed Akeeagok’s sentiments in the release.
“We appreciate the Government of Canada’s continued investments to address the critical infrastructure needs of Nunavummiut,” Kusugak said.
“Canada’s budget provides money to the Government of Nunavut and to Inuit Organizations to tackle this shortfall.”
Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a non-profit group representing 65,000 Inuit people, issued a news release as well, welcoming similar investments. Specifically, the organization praised the budget for promising $845 million over seven years toward Inuit housing.
“This investment is a significant step in the right direction toward improving deteriorating housing stock and relieving widespread overcrowding across Inuit Nunangat which has contributed to devastating physical, social and mental health challenges,” ITK president Natan Obed said in the release.
ITK also called on Ottawa to continue working with Inuit organizations to address food security, especially in schools.
Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada praised the budget’s investments in mental health, midwifery and gender-based violence services, but said those promises must be met with “timely action to improve the safety and well-being of Inuit women.”
In a release Friday, Pauktuutit’s president Gerri Sharpe stated the budget left out any mention of the ongoing crisis of murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
“Pauktuutit is focused on working with Inuit partners to implement the Inuit Action Plan, based on the federal government commitment of $2.2 billion over five years in last year’s budget, to end this tragedy, including for Inuit,” she said.
“However, there needs to be more concrete action to achieve progress on the goal shared by the federal government and Pauktuutit to address the 46 Inuit-specific calls for justice in the national inquiry’s final report.”
Parliament was to begin debating the budget Friday.