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Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, had promised an overhaul of the First Nations Policing Program just over a year ago. (Ben Nelms/Canadian Press) The Liberal government is injecting $291 million into policing in First Nations and Inuit communities in Canada over the next five years, following years of complaints and legal challenges from Indigenous police forces that they’ve been chronically underfunded.

The federal government ​pays about half the cost of policing for about 450 communities, including many remote and fly-in-only areas. Some 420,000 Canadians are affected.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said Wednesday from Winnipeg that the investment will kick in starting next fiscal year and covers communities already in the First Nations policing programs.

The money will go towards improving salaries, hiring new officers and buying new equipment. Some forces had been dealing with issues such as expired bullet-proof vests and lapsed training .

Ottawa pays about 52 per cent of the program’s cost, while provinces and territories pay the rest.

Goodale’s office says it will ask regional governments to increase their contributions to the program, which has been in place since the 1990s. Previously, the agreements with the communities lasted five years and had to be negotiated and renewed.

For the first time, the department says its funding commitment will be ongoing and rise with inflation. By 2022-2023, the annual yearly investment in the program will reach about $175 million, said public safety officials.

"This new funding will be ongoing, so communities can count on it for the long-term," said Goodale.

In 2016, Goodale promised an overhaul of the First Nations Policing Program , and has been involved in some of the government’s consultations with police.

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