UCP govt announce Indigenous housing but cut budget by 78%

The UCP announced joint funding with the federal government for two Indigenous communities, but they left out the part where they gutted the programme they’re using to fund it.

Last week, the UCP government announced funding for 32 affordable housing units in Indigenous communities within Northern Alberta.

The funding announcement was made in conjunction with the federal government, and total funding from the two governments will be $4.9 million, presumably with each government providing half.

The housing units will be part of two development projects: 15 housing units in Conklin and 17 units in Swan Hills.

Alberta’s share of the funding, according to the announcement will come from the Indigenous Housing Capital Program (IHCP), which supports Indigenous governments and communities in building affordable off-reserve, off-settlement and on-settlement housing.

The IHCP was created by the NDP government in 2018, toward the end of their first term. When the programme was originally announced, Richard Feehan, the NDP minister of Indigenous relations, 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 3 years ago, they cut spending to this grant. They slashed funding for 2019–2020 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.

It gets worse.

In the budget the UCP announced this spring, they cut funding even more.

“Capital Plan”, Fiscal Plan 2022–25, p. 169

Instead of funding the programme by $1o million this budget year, as they had planned to do 3 years ago, they whittled it down to just $4 million. That’s a drop of $6 million, or a cut of 60%.

And remember, that’s after already cutting it from $18 million to $10 million. In other words, compared to the original forecast by the NDP to spend $18 million in 2022–23, the UCP have slashed it by 77.8%, shaving off $14 million.

And while the UCP plans to bring 2024–2025 funding back up to $10 million like they originally had targeted, next year is on track to being $3 million less than they had planned when they had released last year’s budget.

That means that total IHCP funding between 2019–2020 and 2022–2023 went from the $71 million proposed under the NDP to the $34 million spent under the UCP.

Although, to be fair, they had budgeted $12 million in the 2020–2021 budget year for the programme, instead of $10 million, but it’s still less than the $18 million originally projected by the NDP. And the UCP budget documents show only projected amounts for the programme, not how much they actually spend.

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By Kim Siever

Kim Siever is an independent queer journalist based in Lethbridge, Alberta. He writes daily news articles, focusing on politics and labour.

2 replies on “UCP govt announce Indigenous housing but cut budget by 78%”

Surely you don’t expect the UCP to fund anyone who actually NEEDS help? They collect the taxpayers’ money to cover tax cuts for the rich and for wasteful PR stunts, like Kenney’s pipeline to nowhere or his “War Room” (because, of course, the oil and gas industry can’t afford to hire a PR firm to advertise their products). Just imagine how many hundreds of thousands of $$$$$ Danielle Smith will spend defending her “Sovereignty Act” all the way up to the Supreme Court only to be told what she already knows: it’s unconstitutional. But who cares? It’s red meat for the base–and keeps them distracted from the fact that the services they NEED, like health and education, are being shrunk until they’re small enough to drown in the bathtub.

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