Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In 2014, the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs conducted a municipal formula funding review. The purpose was to update community governments and funding models, to ensure fair and transparent funding. This has revealed a significant gap between the needs of municipalities and the funding that they are provided.
The Minister of the day of Municipal and Community Affairs, the honourable Alfred Moses, advised the 18th Assembly that the gap was approximately $39 million. In 2016, in the mandate, the GNWT committed to developing a strategy to close the funding gap over the next nine years. The Standing Committee of Operations expressed concern about the accumulated impact of this funding shortfall on communities on a year-by-year basis. Committee repeatedly asked for the annual shortfall, but to no avail. Committee asked for the gap to be updated annually to see what progress was being made to reduce it. Committee pushed the Minister for a strategy to close the gap.
To report the funding gap, it was quietly tabled in the last sitting day of the 18th Assembly, making it impossible for the 18th Assembly standing committee to review the department's work. I have had a chance to read the report. The findings, Mr. Speaker, are shocking. The report says, "The total annual funding deficit for community governments is approximately $24.5 million." This takes into account the $29 million provided annually through MACA's public infrastructure policy and $16 million provided annually through the federal government's Gas Tax Agreement. This is a lot worse than a $40-million deficit over the nine years, and I am encouraging my colleagues on the government operations to review this report in detail.
Mr. Speaker, community governments are the heart and soul of our communities. This work affects the lives of every resident in the Northwest Territories. The GNWT has to stop offloading the responsibility onto the community governments and recognize how it is vital that we have to be working with them and fund them properly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.