Mr. Chair, I am pleased to have this opportunity to address the committee. Tonight I would like to take my time to raise an issue that I personally find especially important: reconciliation with indigenous peoples. I propose to allocate my time with remarks of about 10 minutes, to save some time for questions and answers.
The government is committed to reconciliation with indigenous peoples, and we have backed up this commitment with important action. In our time in office, our government has taken real and concrete steps to advance reconciliation, improve the quality of life of indigenous peoples, and promote skills and opportunities that will empower first nations, Inuit, and the Métis nation. Together, Canada and indigenous peoples are forging a new relationship, a relationship based on trust, respect, and a true spirit of co-operation.
The first step toward this new relationship began with budget 2016, which included investments of close to $8.5 billion over five years to expand opportunities for indigenous people, to improve the socio-economic conditions in communities, and to bring about real transformational change. Budget 2016 helped turn the page. With our first budget, we offered investments to better support indigenous children in achieving futures as bright and as prosperous as every other child's future in Canada. The 2016 investments in education, infrastructure, training, and other programs are contributing to a better quality of life for all indigenous peoples and to helping build a stronger and better Canada.
Our government did not stop there. Budget 2017 created even more opportunities for indigenous peoples, with another $3.4 billion over five years to increase access to post-secondary education, support better health services, and improve community infrastructure. The latest budget, tabled in February, builds on these significant investments. It takes further steps towards reconciliation by investing in priority areas that were identified by first nation, Inuit, and Métis nation partners. Yes, partners.
Through budget 2018, the government will help remove barriers to indigenous peoples' success by supporting them as they build and refine their skills, by helping them have access to high-quality education, and by enabling them to fully participate in the economy, leading to more prosperous communities. By increasing the contribution of first nations, Inuit, and Métis to the Canadian economy, the 2018 budget will help narrow the gap in the quality of life of indigenous and non-indigenous Canadians.
We know that our latest budget will have an impact, because we can already see results from our past investments. For example, since we came into office in November 2015, more than 60 long-term drinking water advisories for public water systems on reserves have been lifted.
To understand why it is necessary to act, we all must be aware of the extent of the work that has yet to be done. I would like to put things in context.
First, no one in Canada should be afraid to drink the water that comes out of their taps. As I just said, over 60 drinking water advisories have been lifted, but a lot of work remains. About 75 long-term advisories are still in place on public systems on reserves. The government is committed to ending all those long-term drinking water advisories by March 2021. To this end, budget 2018 provides an additional $173 million to ensure this happens more quickly in many communities.
Second, no Canadian should be forced to live in overcrowded and unsafe housing. Unfortunately, one in five indigenous people live in a house that is in need of major repairs. One in five also live in housing that is overcrowded. Access to adequate and affordable housing is a particular challenge for indigenous women. Budget 2018 included funding to support distinctions-based housing strategies for first nations, Inuit, and the Métis nation.
Third, there is no greater priority than ensuring the safety, security and well-being of children. Indigenous children under the age of 14 make up less than 8% of all children in Canada, but they represent more than half of those in foster care. To help address this, budget 2018 included more than $1.4 billion in new funding for first nations child and family services.
We cannot ignore the significant gaps in health outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous people. Compared to the Canadian population, infant mortality rates of first nations and Inuit children are up to three times higher. Diabetes rates are up to four times higher. Suicide rates among first nations youth is up to seven times higher. This is unacceptable, as I am sure members will agree.
Then there is the issue of tuberculosis. This disease was once the leading cause of death in Canada, back at the end of the 19th century. Thanks to medicine and antibiotics developed in the 1950s, this disease is now eradicated. However, among Inuit, the reported rate of active tuberculosis in 2015 was over 270 times higher than the rate among the Canadian-born non-indigenous population. That is 270 times higher, in Canada, in the 21st century. This is unacceptable.
Budget 2018 provides $1.5 billion over five years to keep indigenous families healthy. This will help end tuberculosis in Inuit communities, enhance the delivery of culturally appropriate health services in first nations communities with high needs, develop a health strategy with the Métis nation, and close the gaps in health outcomes between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
Renewing the relationship with indigenous peoples also involves recognizing that members of the first nations, the Inuit and the Métis nation have an important role to play in Canada's economic prosperity. Indigenous peoples are less likely to be employed than non-indigenous people, and those who work typically earn less. This is another gap that must be closed. It is the right thing to do.
That is why it is so important that budget 2018 provides $2 billion over five years for the creation of an enhanced skills and employment training program for indigenous peoples. It is the right thing to do for indigenous people in Canada and it is the smart thing to do for Canada's economy.
These investments are good investments. The government is taking action so that all indigenous communities have access to clean drinking water, so that delivery of culturally appropriate health care services for first nations continues, and so that jobs continue to be created for indigenous people. All Canadians should be proud of budget 2018 for these measures alone.
The government's investments are enabling first nations, Inuit, and Métis nations to have a better future. Too many generations of indigenous people have suffered and lived in subpar conditions for too long. It is clear that actions were needed to ensure a better quality of life for indigenous people and to promote their skills and opportunities. Work remains to be done but a lot has already been accomplished.
It is true that the last three budgets addressed areas of critical need in indigenous communities. The recent announcement to connect 16 remote first nations in northwestern Ontario is another example of an investment that will improve the quality of life for indigenous communities.
I wonder if the Minister of Finance could elaborate on how much progress is being made in regards to self-determination and self-government agreements between Canada and indigenous people. This is also an important aspect.
I think we all agree that the recognition and implementation of rights is another essential part of advancing reconciliation. However, the pace of progress has been uneven and many indigenous communities are forced to take on debt in order to participate. This is probably not the best way to facilitate agreements.
Could the minister explain the government's plans to shorten the time it takes to successfully conclude these treaties, to lower costs to all parties, and to support the recognition and implementation of rights and self-determination?