National Heritage Organizations Respond to Federal Budget 2022

In a federal budget appropriately focused on increasing access to housing and greening the economy, there are some missed opportunities for specific heritage investments that would have helped meet both those objectives. Canada’s four national heritage conservation NGOs – the National Trust for Canada, ICOMOS Canada, the Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals and the Indigenous Heritage Circle – assess the 2022 budget against sector recommendations in four areas:  

Housing, Buildings and Green Retrofits 

Budget documents acknowledge that more than two thirds of the buildings that will be standing in Canada in 2050 already exist, and that buildings and homes are the third-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.  The budget includes a range of laudable programs and investments to accelerate the scale and pace of retrofitting buildings in Canada that may benefit the owners and operators of heritage places and older buildings.  At the same time the budget incentivizes the creation of new housing and seeks to “bring down the barriers that keep [new homes] from being built.”  In fact, there are powerful barriers to the re-use of existing and heritage buildings in Canada which if addressed, would increase Canada’s ability to provide affordable housing and move forward on decarbonization goals.  Unfortunately, the budget does not include action to correct biases in the federal tax system that promote needless demolition, resource extraction and new construction, or introduce incentives to attract investment to building reuse despite longstanding recommendations from the heritage sector.   

Skills Development and Training  

Building capacity for tradespeople working with existing and heritage building is going to be essential in both addressing our housing crisis and meeting Canada’s climate goals.  We urge Government to ensure that the creation of the Clean Jobs Training Centre and the Labour Mobility deduction will be used as a means of preparing the construction sector to accelerate green rehabilitation and reuse of existing buildings as well as fostering the next generation of heritage workers.

Indigenous Heritage  

The National Trust, the Indigenous Heritage Circle, ICOMOS Canada and the Canadian Association for Heritage Professionals acknowledge and commend the new budget for delivering sustainable funding toward the construction and operation of a new space for the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation along with increased support related to the missing children and unmarked graves, and the full disclosure of federal documents related to residential schools.    

While the budget document notes that building strong Indigenous nations requires strong Indigenous-led institutions, it is silent and falls short on the sector’s recommendation to strengthen the essential leadership capacity needed to advance cultural heritage priorities that are of importance to Métis, Inuit, and First Nations Peoples by providing an initial investment of $50 million over three years for the Indigenous Heritage Circle, an Indigenous-led national heritage organization.  The budget does include $25 million over three years to Parks Canada to support the commemoration and memorialization of former residential schools sites.  It is hoped that this funding will directly benefit Indigenous communities across Canada to lead their own efforts for commemoration, such as the Muskowekwan First Nation, who are seeking to develop a former residential school and National Historic site in Saskatchewan as a site of conscience.  

Support to Culturally Significant Places  

We welcome steps that the federal government has previously taken by committing $500 million over two years to support the recovery of the arts, culture, heritage, and sports sectors. However, that there is no mention of National Historic Sites and other places of historical significance managed privately or by nonprofit organizations – despite a longstanding recommendation to restore the funding level for the National Cost-Sharing Program for Heritage Places to a minimum of $10 million per year. These places need financial support to ensure that they reopen and recover post-pandemic. They play an integral role in the social fabric of our communities and not only preserve but tell the stories of Canadians from all walks of life. Government investments in heritage places consistently leverage at least 5 times more in private investment, and in addition create new green jobs, enhance economic efficiency by renewing not replacing existing infrastructure, drive sector innovation, and better protect investments from the rising costs of carbon.   

Heritage places offer governments ideal ways to create new green jobs, attract private investment, yield affordable housing and renew cultural infrastructure. We will urge the federal government to ensure that the various funding mechanisms named in Budget 2022 fully take into consideration heritage places, and further, that retrofit funding is not used to discard viable building components and create negative impacts for cultural heritage.  We will also continue to urge the creation of a tax incentive for heritage rehabilitation – a proven measure that would help meet our country’s economic and climate goals.

Read the heritage sector recommendations in the Pre-Budget Consultation submission here. 

Natalie Bull

Executive Director
National Trust for Canada
Tel. 613-237-1066 x 222  

Karen Aird
Director and Past President 
Indigenous Heritage Circle 

Christophe Rivet
ICOMOS Canada  

Chris Uchiyama
Canadian Association of Heritage Professionals
Tel. 514-569-7455 


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