Budget 2016 – March 22, 2016

In Budget 2016 the new Government announced additional funding for First Nations Education.  The following is a quick breakout of how much and where the funding is targeted.

• $747.6 million over 5 years to address immediate needs and cost growth over the medium term in primary and secondary education;
• $275 million over 5 years for Language and Culture programming;
• $100 million over 5 years for literacy and numeracy programming;
• $577.5 million over 5 years for special education programming;
• $824.1 million for implementing transformation of the current on reserve education system through consultation and partnership with First Nations;
• $37.5 million for monitoring, measuring and evaluation of the changing education policies and outcomes;
• $30 million to support the Martin Aboriginal Education Initiative; and
• $9.1 million for administrative costs.
The total proposed investment in Education over 5 years is $2.6 billion (includes $446 million already in the fiscal framework) for Indigenous people. In addition, there will be $969.4 million over 5 years invested in school renovation, construction, etc. and $129.4 million over two years invested in supporting early learning and child care.
The total Education related investments over five years will be $3.7 billion (includes $446 million already in the fiscal framework) for Indigenous people.

Takeaways for First Nations:
• $96 million over five years to support Aboriginal Representative Organizations to ensure movement forward in a true spirit of cooperation;
• $824.1 million over five years to change the existing education system through development and implementation of an RMO or FNEA type structure (as envisioned in the Kelowna Accord). This government is committed to a ‘respectful process of consultation and partnership with First Nations’ but does want changes to the education system. This the largest K-12 Education Investment amount outside of school renovation and construction;
• $2.2657 billion over two years and $4.1427 billion over 5 years for renovation, repairs, new construction on reserve. This is for roads, bridges, houses, broadband connectivity, health stations, health offices, schools, water and sewer infrastructure, safe shelters, aboriginal headstart facilities, etc. This is a major business and employment opportunity;
• $15 million over two years to in order to work towards a renewed and expanded Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy.  This can tie into construction needs for the $2.2657 billion for renovations, repairs, new construction;
• discussions on Post-Secondary access for First Nation students to take place. Goal is to ensure students have the resources and supports in place and that existing barriers are removed;
• The Government has committed to lift the 2-per-cent funding cap for First Nations programs and work to establish a new fiscal relationship that gives First Nations communities sufficient, predictable and sustained funding. To determine a new long-term fiscal relationship, the Government will engage in consultations with First Nations over the coming year.

To best influence the rules, regulations, reporting structures, processes, procedures, etc. being developed to roll out funding, discussions with senior INAC and other Government officials need to take place. Until there is further clarification by Treasury Board and INAC, only funds that fall into existing Treasury Board Authorities are able to be accessed by or for First Nations.
Throughout the budget there are many areas where there will be additional consultation with First Nations and communities, First Nations need to ensure that there is a voice for their community in all these consultations/discussions.

photo credit: Onasill ~ Bill Badzo Ottawa Ontario ~ Canada ~ National Historic Site ~ Central Tower via photopin (license)

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