What’s in Quebec’s budget for Nunavik?
Region to receive new warehouse for housing materials and help for residents filing taxes
Quebec’s provincial budget for 2020-21 includes $4 million to build a new warehouse in Nunavik to store materials for housing renovations, as well as a $3-million commitment to help residents of the region file their taxes.
The province came out of the 2019-20 fiscal year with a surplus of nearly $2 billion, said Finance Minister Eric Girard in a March 10 news release. He said the government intends to maintain that balanced budget into the coming year.
“The good economic and financial situation of Quebec and our sound management of public finances gives us the means to adequately finance the fundamental missions of the state and to offer citizens, especially the most vulnerable, the care and services up to their needs and expectations,” Girard said in French.
According to the budget, health spending in the province will go up by 5.3 per cent.
More than $5.4 billion is budgeted over the next five years to provide better access to health-care services and better support for the province’s most vulnerable people.
Mental health initiatives will see an investment of $240 million over five years. This funding will focus on putting local services into place across the province and on youth mental health.
The budget includes an investment of $181 million by 2025 to support women who are victims of domestic abuse. Working alongside shelters, this funding will help implement the 2018-2023 Governmental Action Plan on Domestic Violence.
And over the next five years, the government will spend $450 million to create 6,000 subsidized daycare spots across Quebec.
Spending will also increase on education. Beginning in 2020, education spending will amount to $24.6 billion, growing to $27.6 billion by 2023.
That includes $817 million to be spent between 2020 and 2025 towards improving education outcomes and keeping youth in school.
The province announced an additional $4 million for a warehouse in Nunavik to contain materials needed to renovate the region’s existing housing supply.
Several warehouses that were built in the region some 40 years ago are now in disrepair, according to the budget. This new funding will be granted to the Kativik Municipal Housing Board for new construction.
The government has allotted $470 million for environmental protection, which includes projects geared towards adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.
It also includes the management of industrial waste, which could benefit Nunavik, where old mining camps continue to litter the land.
The budget states that this funding could be tied to promoting tourism in the province by beautifying certain destinations.
The government has also promised $3 million to provide better support to residents of Nunavik in filing their taxes.
“This gesture is part of the government’s will to follow up on recommendations from the Quebec ombudsman and ensuring that people with low income will have access to all of the tax assistance available,” according to an English translation of the French-language budget text.
The province is putting an additional $15.1 billion into its 10-year infrastructure plan. This plan, now with a purse of more than $130 billion, targets public infrastructure such as roads and schools.
An indirect benefit to Nunavimmiut tucked into the budget is funding for the redevelopment of La Grande Rivière airport, through which Air Inuit travels to Nunavik communities.
This comes as part of $10 million the province has assigned to underwrite projects financed by the James Bay Development Corporation’s social fund.
As well as being able to put funding to priority areas within the province, Girard said, “We can also make additional efforts to respond to worrying situations, particularly affecting neglected and abused children, women victims of violence, people with disabilities and Indigenous communities.”
The budget also includes money for the recommendations of the Viens Commission, which looked at the mistreatment of Indigenous people in Quebec by the public service, and the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.
In consultation with communities, the government will spend $200 million to put these recommendations into effect.