Budget 2016: Investments in the North a good start but more work is needed

The federal government’s recent budget provides the following important investments in Canada’s North:

  • Strong investments in infrastructure, affordable housing and child care initiatives
  • Increase in Northern Resident Tax Deduction from 10% to 50% by 2017
  • Expanding Veteran Affairs services
  • Capital investment in northern water systems, including a promise to eliminate all boil-water advisories within 5 years on reserves
  • Strong investments in Northern adult education
  • Greatly expanded Nutrition North program, with $64.5 million over 5 years and additional $13.8 million to expand program to all isolated northern communities

PSAC welcomes these important investments. However, the budget failed to address important concerns of many Northerners.

Northern Residents Tax Deduction

  • Budget 2016 proposes to increase the maximum daily Northern Residents Tax Deduction.
  • While this measure helps with the high cost of living for now, it should be tied to the Consumer Price Increase to protect against further increases.

Nutrition North

  • Budget 2016 provides $64.5 million over five years to expand the Nutrition North program,
  • Nutrition North has been criticized for failing to ensure retailers pass the subsidies on to consumers; prices for nutritious foods remain very high.
  • During the election campaign, Trudeau promised to make the program more transparent and accountable to northerners.
  • There was no mention in the budget about how the government would improve accountability in the program, or how Nutrition North would work with initiatives that promote country foods and local food production.

Northern Basic Adult Education Program

  • Budget 2016 proposes to provide $3.9 million in 2016–17 to extend for one year the Northern Adult Basic Education Program, which directs funds to northern colleges to expand and improve their adult basic education services.
  • While this is important, there were no funds announced to create a university in the territories, which would provide more education opportunities for people in the North. 

 

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April 21, 2016
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