Premier Caroline Cochrane today issued the following statement:
“This afternoon, federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiled the 2023 Federal Budget. I, like many Northerners, have been eagerly awaiting its release to learn how it will support residents of the Northwest Territories (NWT).
“One of the main areas of focus of the 2023 budget is investing in health care. While I welcome the $196-billion health-care funding proposal with all provinces and territories, and the $2-billion one-time top-up to the Canada Health Transfer, I have been vocal about the need for increased funding for the NWT based on the extremely high cost to administer health care services in our jurisdiction. Negotiations with Canada are ongoing on this front, and I look forward to concluding them soon.
“In addition to health care funding, I did see the introduction of a national 988 Suicide Prevention Line. This is welcome news, and I look forward to learning more about this important service.
“Building a clean economy is another area of focus in the 2023 federal budget. The Northwest Territories is a jurisdiction with great energy and critical mineral potential but we have a small population and limited financial resources. We can’t address our infrastructure challenges alone, and the Government of Canada is a key partner in this journey. Budget 2023 specifically references the ability to support clean electricity projects across the north including the Taltson Hydro Expansion Project.
“I also welcome the investment of an additional $4 billion over 7 years to implement a co-led Urban, Rural and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy and look forward to working with Canada to ensure the strategy benefits the Northwest Territories. The NWT’s housing situation is in dire need of investment, and it is my hope that this new money is a step toward making a significant difference in meaningfully addressing the lack of appropriate housing.
“Another highlight of the budget for the Northwest Territories is the proposal to provide $650 million over 10 years to support monitoring, assessment, and restoration work in waterways across the country, including the Mackenzie River.
“Finally, $6.9 billion over 12 years has been slated to continue to support environmental remediation activities related to eight large and complex abandoned mine sites in the Northwest Territories and Yukon.
“While we did not see direct new transportation infrastructure funding in Budget 2023, we have appreciated recent announcements and work with Infrastructure Canada to make funding under our current agreements better meet the context of the Northwest Territories.
“I will be speaking with Minister of Northern Affairs, Dan Vandal, tomorrow and again later this week, and I expect to receive more information on how this budget supports Northerners. In addition to the priorities listed above, there may also be opportunities to support NWT priorities not directly referenced in the text of the budget. Face-to-face and virtual meetings over the last year and beyond are paying dividends for the territory, and I’m eager to continue discussions with Canada during an upcoming trip to Ottawa in April.
“I want to thank Prime Minister Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Freeland, NWT Member of Parliament Michael McLeod, Federal Ministers Dan Vandal and Dominic LeBlanc, and all other federal Ministers for the work they’ve done to advance the NWT’s priorities. I look forward to further discussions with our federal partners to identify how the NWT can participate in the opportunities announced in the Federal budget today.
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Government of the Northwest Territories