Sioux Lookout Mayor Doug Lawrance is hopeful that the 2018 federal budget will help his municipality. He says that although the budget doesn’t tackle as many municipal issues as he would have hoped, there are initiatives that he supports.

“There’s less for municipal governments than previous budgets. The budget identified adding 14,000 new rentals for modest-income and middle-income units right across the country. Hopefully we can see some of that. Significant dollars are also committed for supportive housing in First Nation communities. Housing construction on First Nation communities helps to address the serious backlog in those communities, as well helps to relieve pressure in nearby municipalities – such as Sioux Lookout,”

The federal budget included $516 million over 10 years to support a Metis Nation housing strategy, as well as an additional $600 million over three years to support on-reserve housing – part of a 10-year First Nations Housing Strategy under development with First Nation communities.

The Kenora District Services Board is working to establish an additional 150 supportive housing units across the district – part of the Homes for Good program. The program aims to support existing homes, as well as build 60 to 80 brand new homes.

Chief Administrative Officer for the KDSB, Henry Wall, says that for every family that the board places in a home, there are 20 to 27 families added to the housing wait-list.

Lawrance added that the federal budget also signalled that a significant portion of the 75 per cent of the federal cannabis taxation revenue that flows to the province, will flow to municipalities as they deal with the upcoming cannabis legalization. The province will provide $40 million of its revenue from the federal excise duty on recreational cannabis over two years to help all municipalities with implementation costs related to the legalization of cannabis.

Funding will be distributed to municipalities on a per household basis, adjusted to ensure that each municipal government receives no less than $10,000. If the province’s portion of the revenue from federal excise duty on recreational cannabis for the first two years of legalization exceeds $100 million, the province will provide municipal governments with 50 per cent of the surplus.

The budget also aims to combat the opioid crisis across Ontario, and Lawrance says that the funding will help communities across the country. The number of hospitalized Canadians due to opioid poisoning is growing, according to statistics published by the Canadian Institute for Health Information.

Between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, an average of 16 Canadians were hospitalized each day due to opioid poisoning. In 2015, the average was just 13 people per day. Statistics show that more than 50 per cent of the cases were considered accidental. The report shows that youth aged 15 – 24, and adults aged 25 – 44 had the fastest growing opioid poisoning rates. Studies from 2017 show two Ontarians die every day from a fentanyl overdose.

“The devil will be in the details as always, and we’ll see the impact for Sioux Lookout in the coming months,” Lawrance added.

For more information:
Investing in Indigenous communities
More housing coming, Wall
Opioid task force created

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