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Canadian North

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Northern spending in federal budget
$305 million to enhance broadband Internet service

Candace Thomson
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The North still appears to be on the federal government's radar after tabling its 2014 federal budget on Tuesday.

The biggest chunk was an investment of $305 million over five years to "extend and enhance broadband internet service for Canadians in rural and Northern communities," although it remained unclear what those enhancements are at press time.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty also announced additional money - $40 million over two years - to renew economic development programming delivered by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

Health services in the North will receive an additional $70 million over three years to help, among other things, reduce the reliance on medical travel and "outside health care systems." Funding for the Nutrition North Canada program is going to be enhanced, but it wasn't said by how much.

Flaherty also said the government will invest $323.4 million over two years nationally to continue the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan introduced in 2008, which assists First Nations communities in providing better water and waste water services to community members.

The budget reclaimed $3.1 billion in funding it had previously allocated to the defence department, which the department had planned to spend on major new purchases. The government said it will return the funding to the department four budget years from now.

A call to the Prime Minister's Office was not returned by press time and territorial Finance Minister Michael Miltenberger was not prepared to speak on what Flaherty's budget address meant for the GNWT.

Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington was in the House of Commons for the budget address, and said he was not impressed by what he heard.

"We were all expecting nothing would happen in it and they managed to reduce our expectations quite a bit," Bevington said.

He said much of the funding coming to the North is continuing funding from past budgets, not anything new.

The Canadian government's deficit is projected to decline to $2.9 billion by 2014-15 with an expected surplus of $6.4 billion in 2015-16. Flaherty predicted the government would return to a balanced budget in 2015, which he said will produce an additional savings of $9.1 billion over six years.

"I'm interested in their projected revenues," Bevington said. "That's where, really, you'll see if they'll

balance the budget, but I can't say I feel that there's much in it for anyone here."

NNSL photo/graphic

Budget means for the north

  • $305 million over five years to enhance broadband service in rural and Northern communities
  • $70 million over three years to enhance health services in three territories
  • $40 million for economic development programming
  • $25 million over five years to continue efforts to reduce violence against aboriginal women and girls
  • $10 million over two years to improve and expand snowmobile and recreational trails across the country

Source: Jim Flaherty's 2014-15 budget address

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