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New federal loan guarantees will create opportunities

White Bear First Nations Chief Jonathan Pasap optimistic.
Jonathan Pasap, chief of White Bear First Nations.

MOOSOMIN — White Bear First Nations Chief Jonathan Pasap says new federal loan guarantees, which were introduced in the federal budget, will create opportunities for indigenous communities.

The $5 billion commitment to loan guarantees to improve access to affordable capital for Indigenous communities was among some $9 billion worth of commitments to housing, policing, health care, and cultural support.

“The loan guarantee program will create economic opportunities for White Bear First Nations that will grow the local economy for the nation and the surrounding communities,” said Chief Pasap. 

“We’ve seen sustained investment from the federal government. As Chief, I am happy to see an increase in spending, and I will be lobbying hard to make sure White Bear First Nations gets access to funding for language, mental health, culture and education funding to support our citizens.”

While the funding announcement is a step in the right direction, Chief Pasap noted it does not wrap up the entire package in a nice bow.

“Does this budget solve all of our problems? Absolutely not,” he said. “And I will be continuing to work to advance our nation's priorities while honouring the treaty that was signed originally by Chief Wahpemakwa.”

The 2024 budget measures for Indigenous communities include:

• Investing nearly $243 million for the next generation of First Nations university, college, and post-secondary students, building on the $487.5 million over 10 years invested in Inuit and Métis post-secondary education strategies through Budget 2019.

• Indigenous Loan Guarantee Program, which will offer up to $5 billion in loan guarantees to unlock access to capital for Indigenous communities, enabling them to share in the benefits of natural resource and energy projects in their territories and on their own terms.

• $388 million to support Indigenous entrepreneurship, Indigenous tourism, unlock new clean energy opportunities, and the Strategic Partnerships Initiative.

• Indigenous Housing and Community Infrastructure investments of $918 million beyond the $5 billion already available for communities in 2024-25, to accelerate work to narrow housing and infrastructure gaps in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities as follows:

• $426 million for First Nations on reserve;

• $62 million for Self-Governing and Modern Treaty First Nations;

• $370 million for Inuit communities; and,

• $60 million for Métis communities.

• On-Reserve Income Assistance funding of $927 million to help on-reserve residents cover daily living costs. Budget 2024 invests in income support programs across the country for First Nations persons with disabilities for the first time in Canadian history to make disability supports on reserve comparable to supports off reserve.

• $1.8 billion to support Indigenous communities in exercising their jurisdiction under An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families, including the first Inuit agreement to support community-led, prevention-based solutions to reduce the number of children in care.

• Investing over $290 million in Indigenous-led efforts to reclaim, revitalize, and strengthen Indigenous cultures and languages. 

• Fair Tax Jurisdiction for Indigenous Communities by expanding opt-in Indigenous tax jurisdiction frameworks that advance self-determination and build strong fiscal relationships while generating revenues for community priorities.