The Government of the Northwest Territories’ 2018-2019 budget has been released.

A total of $1.713 billion has been set aside for departmental spending that the Legislative Assembly prioritized.

Minister of Finance, Robert C. McLeod, commended the work done by the Assembly and set up the next steps for the budget.

This Assembly has done a remarkable job of managing spending to help restore fiscal sustainability. This allows us to propose balanced investments in this budget to harness change in program delivery and build a better tomorrow despite declining revenues. Our fiscal situation remains challenging, but our fiscal strategy is working to give us the flexibility to deliver on the priorities of the 18th Legislative Assembly.

‘Budget Breakdown’

These are the areas that the GNWT highlighted in their release:

Economy, Environment and Climate Change

  • $2.2 million for Skills 4 Success implementation, a new program to increase training positions available within the GNWT, and to enhancements to the Student Financial Assistance program.
  • $1.3 million to implement the new Agriculture Strategy, The Business of Food: A Food Production Plan.
  • $1.2 million for activities in support of climate change resilience and adaptation capacity, to advance candidate protected areas and for caribou management.
  • $1.7 million for the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway to ensure the continued success of this transportation corridor.
  • $1.1 million to further work under the Mineral Development Strategy, complete the review of the Mineral Resources Act, and continue the Mining Incentive Program.

Education, Training and Youth Development

  • $2.1 million to realize the promise to have Junior Kindergarten in all 33 Northwest Territories communities.
  • $1.6 million to expand the Northern Distance Learning to all 20 small schools in the Northwest Territories.
  • $1.5 million to put more Child and Youth Mental Health Counsellors in schools.

Community Wellness

  • $20.7 million to strengthen health and social services through adjustments to funding for out-of-territory hospital and physician services, residential southern placements, extended health benefits, and Métis health benefits.
  • $6.8 million in on-going operations support for long-term care facilities and home care, community care, and mental health and addictions services across the territory.
  • $1.5 million to improve services for children with development delays and to to enhance services to address the differing needs of children and adults with complex disorders such as Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and Autism Spectrum Disorder.
  • $500,000 for on-going funding for the youth-in-crisis mental health program.
  • $762,000 for the Yellowknife Sobering Centre to help ensure that there is a safe shelter and safe transportation to that shelter, for intoxicated and homeless people at all hours of the day.

Cost of Living

  • $412,000 to improve food security by developing a Country Food Strategy to guide the development of country food programming and to support the long-term sustainability of country food systems.
  • $3.3 million in additional resources to further support income assistance, funding for anti-poverty initiatives, and to address pressures in the Senior Citizen and Disabled Persons Property Tax Relief Program and the Territorial Power Subsidy Program.
  • $3.8 million to provide incentives for homeowners to replace fuel tanks and to provide funding to cover additional costs for water and sanitation services for public housing.

Governance

  • $1.3 million in funding for community governments for operations and maintenance and water and sewer expenses.
  • $1.3 million to support the GNWT efforts to increase its capacity for land use planning and to advance tenure enforcement efforts.
  • $1 million to help advance lands, rights and resources and self-government agreements and strengthen our capacity to work with the federal government.

The 2018-2019 budget will be the eighth consecutive year with an operating. This year’s surplus is listed at $23 million – the lowest in seven years.