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CANADA: Liberals allocate $4.5B over five years to Indigenous services

Reconciliation a key theme in pre-election budget
A showpiece smudging bowl and feather in the Barrington Steakhouse and Oyster Bar Legacy Room. Photo: Katie Hartai

OTTAWA — The federal Liberal government plans to spend $4.5 billion over the next five years to narrow the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people — part of a plan to keep reconciliation at the forefront of this fall's campaign narrative.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau's latest budget — and his last before voters head to the polls in October — includes $1.2 billion over three years to develop a long-term approach for services for First Nations children based on what's known as Jordan's Principle.

The policy is named after a Manitoba First Nations boy, Jordan River Anderson, who died at the age of five after jurisdictional squabbles between federal and provincial governments over payment for his care.

Today's budget includes $220 million over five years, beginning in 2019-20, to provide services to Inuit children who face unique challenges to access health and social services.

It also reflects the government's ongoing response to the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which spent six years exploring the tragic legacy of Canada's residential schools.

The spending plan includes $126.5 million in 2020-21 to establish a national council on reconciliation designed to serve as a permanent reminder of the fraught past between Canada and Indigenous Peoples and to contribute to better understanding of it.

- The Canadian Press