Toronto, ON (September 3, 2013) In advance of the October 12 to 20 official visit to Canada from United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the Chiefs of Ontario are expressing their opposition to Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) funding reductions.
On September 4, 2012, INAC announced changes to 2013-2014 funding agreements including reductions for Provincial and Territorial Aboriginal Organizations who are already under-funded. Funding reductions originally announced of up to 30% will actually be higher due to INAC’s change to their core funding policy moving to project based funding. They have also shifted the funding approval process from (more in tune with First Nations) regional offices, to centralized control at national INAC headquarters—a move which will allow the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) to be closer to funding decisions. Funding reductions are being made despite the acknowledgement of the important role of these organizations in the AANDC Policy on Funding to Aboriginal Representative Organizations and despite a 2012 Canada v. Simon federal court ruling (2012 FCA 312), para. 38 which said:
“…even small changes in the resources available to the poorest and most vulnerable … to meet their basic essential needs can result in serious harm. Adding to the impoverishment of those who are already vulnerable is not something which should be taken lightly.”
In a letter dated August 22, 2013 to INAC Minister Bernard Valcourt, Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy urged INAC and the federal government to suspend the funding reductions indefinitely and sit down with First Nation leadership for government-to-government dialogue. Beardy also highlighted major areas where First Nations will be negatively impacted, including areas where human rights are violated. “Taking away the voice of First Nations advocacy organizations is tantamount to taking away their integral role of promoting and defending Indigenous peoples’ human rights,” stated Beardy. The letter also served notice that INAC is in breach of the legal duty to consult and accommodate First Nations and obtain their free, prior and informed consent in the imposition of the funding reductions.
In July 2013, the Chiefs of Ontario and other Indigenous and human rights organizations raised this issue of prejudicial funding cuts in Geneva with the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples submitting that imposed government cuts on Aboriginal Representative Organizations gives rise to access-to-justice concerns. In May 2013, Beardy extended a face-to-face invitation for Anaya to visit First Nations in Ontario who wish to highlight their specific human rights concerns. It is expected that INAC funding reductions will be one of the human rights violations highlighted.
The Chiefs of Ontario is a political forum, and a secretariat for collective decision making, action, and advocacy for the 133 First Nation communities located within the boundaries of the province of Ontario, Canada.
For more information, please contact:
Marla Monague, Strategy & Communications Policy Analyst/Researcher
Categorised in: Provincial