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UCP government cutting Indigenous housing fund in half

Yesterday, the provincial government announced that it’ll spend $32 million over the next 3 years in the Indigenous Housing Capital Program. There are a couple things you should know.

Yesterday, the provincial government announced that it’ll be spending $32 million over the next 3 years in the Indigenous Housing Capital Program.

And while funding Indigenous housing does sound like a laudable initiative, there are a couple of things you should know.

First, the programme was announced in 2018 by Richard Feehan, the NDP minister of Indigenous relations, as a way to increase the supply of affordable off-reserve, off-settlement, and on-settlement housing for Indigenous communities within Alberta.

The government’s opening statement in the release removes all mention of the NDP origins and makes it seem as though they created the programme, without actually explicitly saying they created the programme.

Government developed the IHCP to increase the supply of affordable off-reserve, off-settlement, and on-settlement housing for Indigenous communities.

At the time of his announcement, Feehan had indicated that the programme would be funded by $120 million over an unspecified period.

For the first budget year, the funding would be $1 million (to help organizations apply), followed by $17 million in 2019 and $18 million for each of the subsequent 3 years, for a total of $72 million over a 5-year period.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2018–23, p. 63

It’s unclear when the remaining $48 million would’ve been spent.

Second, when the UCP government announced their 2019 budget last autumn, they cut spending to this grant. They slashed last year’s funding to just $5 million from $17 million, and each subsequent year went from $18 million to $10 million.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2019–23, p. 137

Instead of $71 million over a 4-year period, it’d be only $35 million. That’s a $36 million cut. They eliminated more than half of the funding the NDP had planned.

In their most recent budget, the UCP government increased funding slightly. They were keeping funding at $10 million each for the next two years but raising this year from $10 million to $12 million, for a total of $32 million.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2020–23, p. 164

If we tack on the $5 budgeted for the last fiscal year, we get a total of $37 million in the same 4-year period that the NDP had budgeted $72 million for. That’s a loss of $35 million.

So, they did increase funding for this year, but they still slashed funding by slightly less than half over that same period compared to what it was under the NDP.

And that’s not even counting the nearly $50 million that the NDP had promised but had yet not budgeted.

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By Kim Siever

I live in Lethbridge with my spouse and 5 of our 6 children. I’m a writer, focusing on political news, social issues, and the occasional poem. My politics are radically left. I recently finished writing a book debunking several capitalism myths. My newest book writing project is on the labour history of Lethbridge.

I’m also dichotomally Mormon. And I’m a functional vegetarian: I have a blog post about that somewhere around here. My pronouns are he/him, and I’m queer.

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