Budget 2012 Highlights - Aboriginal and Northern Investments
Economic Action Plan 2012: Jobs, Growth and Prosperity (Budget 2012) invests $707.7 million over three years for Aboriginal peoples and Northern communities allowing them to participate more fully in Canada's economy and benefit from its growth.
Budget 2012 provides funding of $691.8 million over the next three years for Aboriginal peoples and their communities, including strategic investments in: First Nation education on reserve as well as infrastructure, training that will improve prospects for employment, improvements to First Nation water infrastructure and the Urban Aboriginal Strategy.
Budget 2012 also provides $15.9 million to AANDC for Northerners to maintain momentum on the Northern Strategy and included an ongoing commitment for the Canadian High Arctic Research Station (CHARS), as well as investments in natural resources.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development portfolio will also be affected by the government-wide planned reductions in departmental spending of $252.6 million over three years. These reductions, of which $165.6 million will be ongoing annual savings starting in 2014-2015, include $12.5 million for First Nations Statistical Institute. Savings will be achieved through restructuring, operational efficiencies and changes to business processes, in order to improve service delivery to Aboriginal and Northern communities.
Improving the Lives of Aboriginal Canadians
Economic Action Plan 2012 commits the Government to introduce legislation and explore new funding mechanisms for First Nation elementary and secondary education, and proposes $275 million over three years to support First Nation education.
To help ensure readiness for the new First Nation education system to be outlined in legislation, this budget will invest $100 million over three years for First Nation education to provide early literacy programming and other supports and services to First Nation schools and students, and to strengthen their relationships with provincial school systems.
In response to the National Panel on First Nation Elementary and Secondary Education's report, the Government will work with willing partners to introduce a First Nation Education Act and have it in place for September 2014. The purpose of this legislation is to establish the structures and standards to support strong and accountable education systems on reserve. This will set the stage for more positive education outcomes for First Nation children and youth. The Government will also work to explore mechanisms to ensure stable, predictable and sustainable funding for First Nation elementary and secondary education.
To complement these investments in First Nation education programming, this budget will invest $175 million over three years to build and renovate schools on reserve, providing First Nation youth with better learning environments. This will build on investments in on-reserve school infrastructure made as part of Canada's Economic Action Plan between 2009 and 2011.
Economic Action Plan 2012 announces the Government's commitment to improve the incentives in the on-reserve Income Assistance Program while encouraging those who can work to access training so they are better equipped for employment.
Through Economic Action Plan 2012, the Government commits to make progress by better aligning its on-reserve Income Assistance Program with provincial systems through improved compliance with program requirements. The Government will also work with First Nations to encourage those who can work to access training and, more broadly, to improve the incentives for labour market participation in this program. Canada's young Aboriginal population has tremendous potential for long-term success and economic prosperity and our Government is committed to helping them achieve their full potential.
First Nations Lands
Some First Nations have expressed an interest in exploring the possibility of legislation that would allow private property ownership within current reserve boundaries. Economic Action Plan 2012 announces the Government's intent to explore with interested First Nations the option of moving forward with legislation that would allow for this. The Government will continue to work with First Nations to address barriers to economic development on reserve.
Water Infrastructure for First Nation Communities
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $330.8 million over two years to build and renovate water infrastructure on reserve and to support the development of a long-term strategy to improve water quality in First Nations communities.
Improving Economic Opportunities for Aboriginal Peoples Living in Urban Centres
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $27 million over two years to renew the Urban Aboriginal Strategy (UAS). UAS supports urban Aboriginal communities by promoting self-reliance and increasing opportunities for Aboriginal people living in urban centres.
Improving the Lives of Women and Children on-Reserve
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $11.9 million for the Family Violence Prevention Program in 2012–13, bringing the total budget for the program to $30.4 million for an additional year. The Family Violence Prevention Program aims to reduce family violence and create a more secure family environment for children on-reserve, by providing abuse prevention and protection services for children and their families.
Other Budget 2012 Investments in Aboriginal Peoples
Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $33.5 million in 2012–13 to extend the Atlantic Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative and the Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative.
Economic Action Plan 2012 commits to working with Aboriginal communities and organizations, provinces and territories to improve the mental health and well-being of Aboriginal peoples in Canada.
Social Partnerships/Social Impact Bonds
Economic Action Plan 2012 announces that the Government will continue to explore social finance instruments as a way to further encourage the development of government community partnerships. Building on these partnerships and the work of the Canadian Task Force on Social Finance, the Government will continue to support the momentum building around social finance initiatives and will explore social finance instruments. For example, social impact bonds hold promise as a tool to further encourage the development of government-community partnerships. Details will be announced by the Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development over the coming months.
In 2013, the Government plans to hold spectrum auctions for the 700 MHz and 2,500 MHz spectrum bands. In the spectrum auction involving the 700 MHz band, the Government will be implementing specific measures to ensure that Canadians living in rural Canada are able to receive the same high-quality services that are available to the rest of Canadians. Companies that have access to more than one block of the 700 MHz band, through the auction or through spectrum sharing, will be required to deploy new advanced services to 90 per cent of the population in their coverage area within five years and to 97 per cent within seven years.
Support to Provinces and Territories for 2011 Floods
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes up to $99.2 million over three years to assist the provinces and territories with the cost of permanent flood mitigation measures undertaken for the 2011 floods. The Government is also committed to discussing with the provinces and territories the development of a national disaster mitigation program, recognizing that mitigation can lessen the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable communities and reduce the costs associated with these events
Consultations under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
The Government is committed to consulting with Aboriginal peoples in the review of projects to ensure that their rights and interests are respected. Consultations can also facilitate discussions on how Aboriginal peoples can benefit from the economic development opportunities associated with these projects. To support consultations with Aboriginal peoples related to projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $13.6 million over two years to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency.
Major Projects Management Office Initiative
Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $54 million over two years to renew the Major Projects Management Office initiative, of which $3.6 million is for AANDC. The Major Projects Management Office initiative has helped to transform the approvals process for major natural resource projects by shortening the average review times from 4 years to just 22 months, and improving accountability by monitoring the performance of federal regulatory departments. To continue to support effective project approvals through the Major Projects Management Office initiative, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $54 million over two years.
Implementing the Northern Strategy
Canada's Economic Action Plan laid the groundwork to establish a world-class research station in the North. As announced by the Prime Minister in August 2010, the station will be located in Cambridge Bay. Once established, the station will provide a year-round presence in the region and anchor the network of research infrastructure across Canada's North, making a significant contribution towards the Government's Northern Strategy. The Government will be announcing next steps in the establishment of the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in the coming months.
Assessing Diamonds in the North
To renew the Diamond Valuation and Royalty Assessment Program, Economic Action Plan 2012 proposes $12.3 million over two years to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
Planned Reductions in Departmental Spending
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development portfolio will also be affected by the government-wide planned reductions in departmental spending of $252.6 million over three years (includes $12.5 million for the First Nations Statistical Institute).
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) is achieving savings through restructuring, operational efficiencies and changes to business processes, in order to improve service delivery to Aboriginal communities.
The Department will work with Aboriginal peoples to make it easier for them to access program funding by simplifying the application process, agreements and reporting requirements. Steps will also be taken to provide qualified recipients with more flexibility and management control, while eliminating red tape for both recipients and the Department. AANDC will continue to refocus the Department in keeping with developments such as a reduction in the backlog of specific claims and devolution of responsibilities to the Northwest Territories.
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