Sudbury

First Nations, northern infrastructure to benefit from federal budget

With the latest federal budget announced, there are high hopes in northeastern Ontario that some much-touted infrastructure spending will come to the region.

Budget also focuses on Sudbury and northern Ontario when it comes to EI and the mining sector

Terry Milewski has the details of today's budget, including some surprises. 3:29

With the latest federal budget announced, there are high hopes in northeastern Ontario that some much-touted infrastructure spending will come to the region.

The Liberals are promising $120 billion for new and existing infrastructure projects over the next decade.

Kapuskasing's mayor and the president of the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities, said the promised funds will help communities like his tackle some much-needed infrastructure work.

"Certainly, roads, bridges and water and sewer are very important to us," Al Spacek said.

"It's a huge financial challenge for municipalities, especially in northern Ontario. They did specifically mention the support for water and wastewater systems, which is a good thing. Affordable housing is also a good investment in our municipalities."

Where will the money land?

A political science professor at Nipissing University in northern Ontario agrees.

"The big commitment on infrastructure spending could conceivably help northern Ontario," David Tabachnick said. "Northern Ontario has many infrastructure needs. But where that money is going to actually end up being spent is not entirely clear at the moment."
David Tabachnick, a political science professor at Nipissing University, says the funding announced in yesterday's federal budget will be helpful for many northern Ontario communities — if the government decides to invest in the region. (CBC)

What is clear is the message the Liberals sent with their spending on First Nations communities: $8.4 billion for indigenous peoples over five years

Atikameksheng First Nation Chief Steve Miller said he hopes the money will help his community in a number of ways.

"Infrastructure and housing — affordable housing — child welfare [and] education. Education is an important ladder to success and competing with the world today," he said.

Miller added that work must be done to get things like education on reserves in line with the rest of the country.

"We'll see exactly what happens over the next year with the injection of these monies in infrastructure, education and child welfare," Miller said.
Steve Miller is the chief of Atikameksheng Anishnawbek. He says work still needs to be done to get things like education on reserves in line with the rest of the country. (CBC)

"It is something that First Nations wanted to see in the budget. But again, I think it will fall short to get in line with mainstream society."

The greatest portion of the budget money goes toward First Nations education — $2.6 billion over the next five years for primary and secondary schooling on reserves.

Changes to Employment Insurance

Tabachnick noted the fact northern Ontario gets a nod when it comes to employment insurance and the mining sector.

"There's an extension of the EI benefit," he said.

The government will boost employment insurance benefits by five weeks in 12 regions.

"Sudbury and northern Ontario — broadly — are mentioned in the budget. There's also a mineral exploration tax credit for junior mining companies. Much of our economy is related to the mining industry, so that should have a positive effect."

Morning North host Markus Schwabe gets some budget reaction from a North Bay-based political scientist and a 28-year-old Sudbury woman who just started her own company 9:46

Yesterday's federal budget did not specifically address investments in the Ring of Fire or FedNor — though Spacek said funding to those areas could come in other parts of the budget.

And if you have kids, some good news:

The government has promised a new Canada Child Benefit, which will see increased support for all Canadians with children.

with files from Samantha Lui

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