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“With the measures we have taken up to now, our government is effectively responding to the short- and long-term challenges facing Aboriginal and Northern Canadians during these uncertain economic times. We are committed to ensuring that Aboriginal and Northern Canadians play an even greater role in the Canadian economy now and in the future. The $1.9 billion in investments being made with this Action Plan will go a long way to making this happen” said Minister Strahl.
Canada’s Economic Action Plan invests $515 million over the next two years for “ready-to-go” First Nations community infrastructure projects. This investment focuses on three priority areas: schools, water and critical community services.
To date, eleven school construction projects have been announced across the country. These projects include the building of new elementary and high schools as well as renovations to existing on-reserve schools to accommodate growing populations and address aging structures. The Economic Action Plan provides two-year targeted funding of $200 million for the construction and renovation of schools on reserve. These projects will generate short-term employment and business opportunities and help to ensure that educational facilities meet existing and future educational requirements.
Allocations have also been made for water and wastewater projects for 18 communities across Canada. Canada’s Economic Action Plan provides two-year targeted funding of $165 million for the completion of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects to address health and safety priorities in First Nations communities across the country. These new investments build on the approximately $330 million the Government committed in Budget 2008, as well as the annual allocation to address water issues in First Nation communities.
In regards to First Nations housing, $400 million in funding will support new on-reserve housing, renovations of existing social housing, and complementary housing activities. First Nations in Ontario will receive approximately $65 million, while First Nations in Alberta and British Columbia will both receive about $50 million to address on-reserve housing issues in those provinces.
It is anticipated that these efforts will generate employment, foster the development of skilled trades and the creation of small businesses across the country, specifically in many First Nations and rural areas.
Measures are also being put in place in the North to protect and secure Canada’s sovereignty and create more economic opportunities. These include the $50 million over five years to support economic development in the North through the creation of a new northern economic development agency for the North and $90 million over five years for the renewal of the Strategic Initiative for Northern Economic Development.
The Economic Action Plan also includes crucial support for Northern research infrastructure. A $2-million feasibility study has started that will establish preliminary cost and design needs for the new High Arctic Research Station and evaluate the three potential locations for the station announced earlier by the Minister: Cambridge Bay, Pond Inlet and Resolute. The Minister also announced 20 recipients of the $85-million fund to upgrade key Arctic research facilities. These upgrades will ensure a strong research network is in place to support the new High Arctic Research Station and advance both social and economic goals for Northerners through scientific, technological and indigenous knowledge.
Canada’s Economic Action Plan also provides $200 million over two years to support the renovation and construction of new social housing units in the territories. Nunavut, where the need for new social housing is greatest, will be allotted $100 million.
“We are moving quickly to get the funding into Aboriginal and Northern communities across the country to meet real needs and to begin stimulating these economies. Over the next couple of months, we will be concluding agreements with provinces and territories and other stakeholders, tendering and awarding contracts.”
“I am very encouraged by the work my colleagues are doing to actively implement the other areas of the Action Plan relating to Aboriginal people and Northerners. Funding is being allocated, authorities secured, projects designed and consultations are taking place in the areas of Aboriginal skills development, labour force participation, community infrastructure and health programs. I am proud of our successes to date and remain confident that the steps we are taking today will mean a brighter future for Aboriginal and Northern people across the country” concluded Minister Strahl.
Inuktitut (109 Kb, 4 Pages)
For more information, please contact:
Canada Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Chuck Strahl
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada