Mr. Speaker, kwe, kwe. Tansi.
Today I am participating in the debate from my office in the riding of Saint Boniface—Saint Vital in Winnipeg, the homeland of the Métis nation and Treaty 1 territory.
I am proud to support Bill C-30. There are many important reasons to proceed with passing this essential budget implementation bill. Although all those reasons are important to our collective future, the most important, in my view, has to do with how this bill will benefit indigenous peoples and those living in Canada's north.
Our recovery plan for jobs, growth and resilience will improve the lives of people in the north in a significant and measurable way through investments in the fight against climate change, education, health, well-being and young people.
Bill C-30 creates economic opportunities for northerners while responding to the many socioeconomic challenges that have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This bill addresses the need to fight climate change, and nobody is more aware of the need for urgent action on the climate crisis than those living in the north and in the Arctic. Canada's north is warming at three times the global rate, which has massive repercussions on the lives and livelihoods of northerners. The territories are experiencing increased wildfires, loss of sea ice, shoreline erosion, melting permafrost and adverse impacts on roads and infrastructure due to a change in climate. Indigenous peoples are experiencing its impact on their way of life, which is closely tied to land and water.
The good news is that those experiencing this would benefit from our plans to build back better. This is already apparent in places like Yukon, where the government is funding 100 climate change and clean-energy projects totalling over $50 million. This funding has supported northern and indigenous climate leadership to prepare for climate impacts and introduce innovative renewable energy projects that are locally led.
I recently had the opportunity to meet virtually with three first nations in Yukon and northern British Columbia who were able to install microgrid systems to reduce reliance on diesel with funding from our northern reach program. It was so very impressive to see how this is helping to improve food security by installing solar panels on a teaching and working farm and providing power to fish and culture camps so people connecting with the land through traditional activities now have access to sustainable power. To continue supporting locally led solutions, budget 2021 commits a further $25 million this year to the Government of Yukon to support its climate change priorities.
To help more northern communities transition to clean energy, budget 2021 proposes to invest $40.4 million over three years, effective this fiscal year, to support the feasibility and planning of hydroelectricity and grid interconnection projects in the north, providing clean power to northern communities and helping reduce emissions from mining projects. This could advance projects such as the Atlin hydro expansion project in Yukon and the Kivalliq hydro-fibre link project in Nunavut. Just this week, I joined Kivalliq Inuit Association in announcing an additional $3 million to support progress on this very important project.
Budget 2021 also proposes to invest $36 million over three years through the strategic partnership initiative. These funds would be used to build capacity for local economically sustainable clean-energy projects in indigenous communities.
The pandemic has hurt many, many small and medium-sized businesses, indigenous partners and particularly the tourism and hospitality sector in the north and we are responding with historic investments to help. Five hundred million dollars would be earmarked for a tourism relief fund which would be administered by the regional development agencies, supporting local tourism businesses in adapting their products and services to public health measures.
Budget 2021 also proposes to provide $2.4 million to the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada to help the indigenous tourism industry rebuild and recover from the impacts of COVID. To help indigenous entrepreneurs start and grow businesses, and to create jobs to generate prosperity in their communities, the budget pledges to invest $42 million over three years, starting this year, to expand the aboriginal entrepreneurship program. This would directly support indigenous-led businesses and help indigenous communities generate wealth by improving access to capital and business opportunities.
Our government is determined to ensure that northerners, and particularly young people, will be able to fully capitalize on increasing business opportunities and contribute their skills and talents to their communities. A reflection of this commitment is budget 2021's proposal to provide $8 million over two years, starting this year, to the Government of Northwest Territories to facilitate the transformation of Aurora College to a polytechnic university. This would help create new opportunities in the Northwest Territories and prepare northerners for good jobs.
To further boost employment, budget 2021 would expand access to the travel component of the northern residents deduction. Northerners without employer-provided travel benefits would be able to claim up to $1,200 in eligible travel expenses. This measure would take effect as of the 2020-21 tax year. We have also proposed $117 million to renew the indigenous business community fund. This proposed funding would bring the total of indigenous community business fund support to $234 million to ensure indigenous communities can continue to provide services and support jobs for their members through collectively owned businesses and micro-businesses affected by this pandemic.
Another way budget 2021 is designed to meet the needs of northerners is by increasing access to housing, which is integral to people's health and welfare. If approved by Parliament, this budget would provide immediate support of $25 million this year to the governments of NWT and Nunavut as a down payment on the construction of 30 new housing units across the territories.
Indigenous peoples across the north would also have access to a wide range of enhanced programs and supports strengthened by budget 2021's proposed $18-billion investment to close the gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. This would include $4.3 billion over four years, starting in 2021-22, for the indigenous community infrastructure fund, a distinctions-based fund, to support immediate demands prioritized by indigenous partners, such as housing or other infrastructure.
The price of food in northern Canada is considerably higher than in the rest of the country. That is why budget 2021 proposes to provide $163 million over three years to expand the nutrition north Canada program and enable me, as the Minister of Northern Affairs, to work directly with indigenous partners, including those in Inuit Nunangat, to combat food insecurity.
Last year, our government launched the harvesters support grant, which provides funding to help reduce the high costs associated with hunting and provide better access to traditional food. That is an essential component of food sovereignty.
Northerners will benefit from ongoing investments in the development of infrastructure and fast-track initiatives to end the national tragedy of missing and murdered indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
The goals and objectives of Canada's Arctic and northern policy framework were developed jointly with Arctic and northern partners.
This budget reflects what I have heard from northerners since I became minister. It recognizes the important roles that northerners play in our country. It is a critical step forward to reconciliation with indigenous peoples. I encourage everyone to support this legislation.