Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavik February 13, 2014 - 10:47 am

NDP says federal budget falls short on Aboriginal needs, housing, job creation

“What concrete measures are there for the regions?”

NUNATSIAQ NEWS
NDP MP for Nunavik, Romeo Saganash, is seen here checking food prices in Kuujjuaq during the 2011 federal election campaign. Saganash says the new federal budget delivers few measures to create jobs and help families in his riding. (FILE PHOTO)
NDP MP for Nunavik, Romeo Saganash, is seen here checking food prices in Kuujjuaq during the 2011 federal election campaign. Saganash says the new federal budget delivers few measures to create jobs and help families in his riding. (FILE PHOTO)

The MP for Nunavik says the new federal budget falls short on measures that could benefit rural and northern regions like his.

Romeo Saganash, the New Democratic Party MP for Abitibi-James Bay-Nunavik-Eeyou, says the Conservative government’s 2014-15 budget, delivered Feb.11, offers little support for Aboriginal people, social housing, natural resources and job creation.

“What concrete measures are there for the regions?” Saganash said in a Feb. 11 news release. “There is no new money, or very little, for these priorities.”

Sagansh accused the Conservative government of putting money aside to fund a 2015 campaign to get re-elected.

“Right now across Canada there are 300,000 more people without work than before the recession,” he said. “Where are the concrete measures to create good jobs for the middle class?”

Saganash pointed instead to NDP proposals he said would give Canadian families a break, including business tax credits for hiring youth, capping ATM fees and reining in credit card interest rates.

Saganash’s colleague and neighbouring NDP MP Christine Moore (Abitibi-Témiscamingue) accused the Conservative government of not investing in social housing to aid “a crisis that’s affecting our growth.”

The budget offered no housing relief for Nunavik, where the Makivik Corp. has long demanded a big catch-up social housing contribution from Ottawa.

Moore also said the government’s renewal of the northern and rural broadband subsidy falls short in delivering Internet access to rural and isolated regions.

“While $305 million may seem significant, it’s over five years, and it won’t do a lot to connect 300,000 Canadian families who still don’t have high-speed Internet access,” Moore said in the Feb. 11 release. “I can only hope that this funding will be easily available, since rural communities can’t wait until 2020.

“Our region’s development depends on it.”

Despite the NDP’s reaction, a number of northern and Inuit organizations reacted positively to the 2014-15 budget earlier this week, which promises some perks for northern residents.

The budget includes a renewal of the economic development handout program known as SINED, or Strategic Investments in Northern Economic Development, worth $40 million over two years.

The budget also commits to putting more money into the Nutrition North Canada program, which currently receives $60 million a year from the federal government to subsidize the cost of transporting perishable nutritious food to 103 northern communities. Details of that funding are still to come.

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