Thank you, Madam Chair. It's great to be back. As always, thank you for the land acknowledgement as we meet here as a committee on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
I'm joined by Diane Lafleur, associate deputy minister; and Paul Thoppil, chief finances, results and delivery officer.
That's a really nice title, Paul.
I'm here to speak to the main estimates for Crown-Indigenous Relations as well as on behalf of my honourable colleague Minister Leblanc, who is responsible for northern affairs. We hope he will be well and back with us soon.
As you know, in August 2017 the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of two new departments, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada. Indigenous and Northern Affairs was a vestige of the colonial era. It was completely unsuited to support and partner with indigenous people based on their unique histories, circumstances and aspirations. The two new departments are designed and organized to better serve the needs of indigenous peoples and structured to better support first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in implementing their visions of self-determination.
The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, the department for which I'm responsible, has been advancing forward-looking and transformative work to create a new relationship with indigenous peoples as well as support the self-reliance, prosperity and well-being of northerners.
I'm pleased to appear on my department's main estimates, which total $7 billion.
This year's main estimates reflect a net increase of $3.9 billion, or 126%, compared to last year. The increase is primarily attributable to the inclusion of $933.9 million for budget 2019 investments, as well as the following major items: an increase of $2 billion for the childhood claims settlement; an increase of $750 million for the sixties scoop settlement; and an increase of $141 million for infrastructure projects in indigenous communities, including solid waste and Inuit housing.
Budget 2019 investments are reflected in the department's main estimates under separate votes. As their Treasury Board submissions are approved, departments will be able to access funds from these votes for their investments.
These investments build upon the government's historic investments of $16.8 billion through three previous budgets to achieve the shared priorities of indigenous peoples in Canada, now totalling more than $20 billion of new funding.
Across the country, indigenous leadership, non-indigenous Canadians and the government are working in partnership to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Together we are making progress.
Budget 2019 makes significant new investments that support indigenous peoples' plans for self-determination and their work of rebuilding.
These include concrete measures to remove impediments to reaching agreements that affirm indigenous rights and address past grievances.
The budget also includes investments to support the government's continued progress in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.
Budget 2018 ended the practice of funding comprehensive claim negotiations through loans and replaced them with non-repayable contributions. Budget 2019 goes even further by including funding of up to $1.4 billion to forgive all outstanding comprehensive claim negotiation loans and to reimburse indigenous governments that had already repaid these loans. More than 230 indigenous communities will immediately benefit from having these loans off their books or reimbursed. This will allow them to take advantage of opportunities that were out of reach, and to focus on investing in their priorities, such as governance, infrastructure and economic development.
Budget 2019 also replenishes the specific claims settlement fund for another three years, and increases the funding for specific claims research by $8 million per year for five years. These investments will support the resolution of claims more efficiently and effectively, so we can move forward together in a good way.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action provide all Canadians a path forward for Canada's journey of healing and reconciliation.
Our government is working with its partners to accelerate progress on the 94 calls to action and has made significant progress on the calls to action under federal or shared responsibility.
I am very proud of the significant investments made by budget 2019 specifically through our department to support further progress on implementation. Budget 2019 provides $126.5 million in 2020-21 to establish the National Council for Reconciliation and endow it with its initial operating capital, which addresses calls to action 53 to 55.
To address calls to action 72 to 76, the budget invests $33.8 million over three years to develop and maintain the national residential school student death register, and to work with parties to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries.
The budget provides $9.1 million over three years to support the construction of an indigenous legal lodge at the University of Victoria, and $10 million over five years in support of indigenous law initiatives across Canada. Through the justice partnership and innovation program, these investments support the implementation of call to action 50.
The budget supports call to action 66—this is one of my favourites—with $15.2 million over three years for an indigenous youth pilot program, delivered by the Canadian Roots Exchange. Funding will support the establishment of a distinctions-based national network of indigenous youth to help ensure that the Government of Canada's policies and programs are informed by the diverse voices of indigenous youth, and provides support to community events and gatherings for indigenous youth and reconciliation-focused, community-based indigenous youth activities.
The budget also provides $10 million over two years advancing call to action 80 to support communities to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools on the proposed national day for truth and reconciliation.
Our government also understands that success will require taking a truly whole-of-government approach to the TRC's calls to action. I can assure you that every department is taking up the challenge to advance the calls to action in their areas of responsibility. For example, just last week, Minister Hussen introduced the change to the oath of citizenship, which responds to call to action 94.
Our government has been working with northerners and indigenous and territorial partners to build strong, diversified, sustainable and dynamic Arctic and northern communities.
Budget 2019 invests over $700 million in new and focused funding over 10 years to ensure that Arctic and northern communities continue to grow and prosper. Additionally, territorial formula financing transfers will total over $3.9 billion in 2019-20.
Budget 2019 investments, through Northern Affairs, include three important initiatives: cleaning up the largest and highest risk contaminated sites in northern Canada; supporting diversified post-secondary education options in the north; and building connections in Canada's Arctic and northern regions. We are committed to co-developing initiatives for the north with northerners and making the necessary investments to support those co-developed solutions.
I look forward to discussing these priorities in more detail through your questions.
Meegwetch. Thank you. Merci.