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FEDERAL BUDGET BEGINS TO ADDRESS FIRST NATION FUNDING NEEDS, NOW THE FOCUS MUST SHIFT TO A ‘COMMUNITY FIRST’ IMPLEMENTATION

TORONTO, ON (Mar 22, 2016) – “Today’s federal budget has finally begun to deliver on much needed funding – $8.4 billion over five years – that should start to reverse the tide of poverty and despair that has devastated far too many of our communities and destroyed far too many lives” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “Prime Minister Trudeau has billed this budget as unprecedented and historic for First Nations. Present and future funding must be viewed as an investment in Indigenous Peoples and our children.”

“We acknowledge the decision to finally address the 2 per cent funding cap which has resulted in an accumulated shortfall of $25 billion over the past two decades. Now we are eager to begin engagement with the government on a new fiscal arrangement.” said Regional Chief Day. “This new fiscal arrangement must be guided by the community first principle – ensuring that the investments in health, child care, clean water, and education directly reach and improve the quality of the lives of First Nations Peoples.”

“We are very encouraged to see that there will be $2.6 billion in new education funding over the next five years. Also, we commend the $2.24 billion in water and waste water over the next five years so that every First Nation child has access to safe drinking water no matter where they live.”

“However, it is disappointing that First Nations child welfare funding is nowhere near enough, with only $70 million committed to for this year, when at least $200 million is needed immediately. Also, today’s commitment of $554 million, nationally, for housing, over two years is not enough, as in Ontario alone our housing needs are closer to $3 billion, especially in light of the northern remote First Nation housing crisis.”

“As the national chair of the Assembly of First Nations’ Chiefs Committee on Health, I will be working closely with the federal government to ensure that all public health and suicide crises across the country are dealt with immediately,” said Regional Chief Day. “We cannot lose another life to suicide, to contaminated water, and to entirely preventable diseases.”

“Today’s budget has addressed some critical issues. However, for First Nations to develop self-sustaining economies the process of reconciliation should be guided by the committment made to the full implementation of the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Only then will we fulfill the Nation-to-Nations relationship that our ancestors envisioned centuries ago and truly secure our rightful place in this country.”         

 

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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. Follow Chiefs of Ontario on Facebook or Twitter @ChiefsOfOntario.

 

For more info: Bryan Hendry, Policy and Strategic Communications 613-863-1764 Bryan.Hendry@coo.org