It’s one thing for the Liberals to run a massive deficit. It’s another that the funding is simply being lapsed and not spent while so many First Nations do not have clean drinking water, and after the liberals claimed this would not happen if they were elected.
Like the Harper government before it, the Trudeau government left billions of dollars unspent on everything from national parks to veterans services to economic development grants during the 2015-16 fiscal year.
The so-called “lapsed” funding for fiscal 2016 is $9.7 billion, according to the Public Accounts of Canada. All of those unspent funds were used to pay down the federal debt.
This year’s three-volume public accounts also close the books on fiscal 2016, a year in which the Harper Conservatives controlled the purse strings for the first seven months and the Trudeau Liberals for the final five months.
While it is normal every year to see billions of dollars lapse, NDP MP Charlie Angus is flagging the $900 million left unspent by the Department of Indigenous Affairs at a time when there remains an urgent need for schools, for new drinking water systems and when Health Canada is, among other things, in court fighting to avoid paying an $8,000 dental surgery bill for an aboriginal girl in Alberta.
“Theirs is the ultimate shell game in terms of finances. You can never find where the money goes,” said Angus, who is the sponsor of a motion that will be voted on Tuesday night in the House of Commons calling on the government to spend an additional $155 million immediately to improve health care for Inuit and First Nations children.
In fiscal 2015, indigenous affairs let more than $1 billion go unspent. The money it gave back represented 11 per cent of the more than $8 billion it had been given by Parliament to improve the lives of indigenous Canadians. The department has said the bulk of previous lapses were the result of land claims that did not get resolved in a given budget year.