Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod says he is optimistic about the federal government’s investments in the Northwest Territories.

NNSL file photo. Finance Minister Robert C. McLeod is optimistic about the 2019 federal budget’s investments in the North.

The 2019 federal budget tabled March 19, will see a range of investments come North over the next several years, from infrastructure to post-secondary education.

McLeod said he was excited to see a major investment – $13 million over five years – going to the Dechinta Centre for Research for the delivery of culturally appropriate and community-developed programs.

“I might add that there were some amendments made to the Canada National Parks Act to legally establish the Thaidene Nene National Park Reserve as well so we were pleased with that,” said McLeod.

One major infrastructure project receiving federal funding is the proposed Taltson hydroelectric expansion project. The department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) will receive $18 million over three years to support the initial planning of the project, which is expected to cost over $1 billion, said McLeod.

“We have to put a plan together right to go forward for an additional request because the overall cost for the Taltson expansion project is fairly high,” he said.

“So this will do the planning and it’ll give us an opportunity to put a business case forward to see if we can get further funding for the actual construction of the project.”

Building infrastructure such as highways into remote communities is a key part of lowering the high cost of living in the North, said McLeod, citing the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway as an example.

“The cost of living has gone down (in Tuktoyaktuk),” said McLeod.

“I’m from Inuvik, so I see a lot of vehicles from Tuktoyaktuk in Inuvik. That’s a direct result of the road being built there. Infrastructure investments allow people, in my opinion, to get some job opportunities and provide opportunities for a lot of communities to hopefully lower their cost of living.”

McLeod said he would have liked to see the full cost of the Mackenzie Valley Highway included in the budget.

“You always want to see more money in the budget but we’re optimistic with the money that we have been getting,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of infrastructure investments made in the NWT. So we continue to go down that path and try to secure as much funding for the North as we possibly can.”

The renewal of the Mineral Exploration Tax Credit for five years is “huge,” said McLeod.

“There’s a number of little things that continue to try and encourage investment in the Northwest Territories and at the same time try to bring the cost of living down,” he said.

“So we think it’s a start. We’ll work with what we have.”

The finance minister said territorial MP Michael McLeod works “pretty hard on behalf of the territory” on Parliament Hill.

“We work with our counterparts in Ottawa to make them aware of the challenges of living in the Northwest Territories,” said McLeod.

“And I’m glad to see that they’re starting to understand that. We invite them up as much as we can.”

Meaghan Richens

Meaghan Richens is from Ottawa, Ont., and grew up in Perth. She moved to Yellowknife in May 2018 after completing her bachelor’s degree in journalism at Carleton University. She writes about politics,...

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.