Budget – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak says “Much More Needs to Be Done”

MKO Grand Chief Sheila North
MKO Grand Chief Sheila North

MKO Grand Chief Sheila North
MKO Grand Chief Sheila North

Treaty One Territory – The Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) is pleased to see an increase in the dollars earmarked for First Nation housing and Child and Family Services, but these dollars do not make up for the inequalities caused by past funding shortfalls.

“The inflow of resources we see today is important to address the concerns surrounding housing, infrastructure and social services on-reserve. However, much more needs to be done to address the effects of past inequalities. For this funding to have the greatest impact, it can’t just go to old programs or be poured over broken systems. It must be a part of a new restructuring, that sees greater First Nation influence on jurisdiction, decision-making and a new way of doing things. Now is the time to create true equality in Canada,” MKO Grand Chief Sheila North said.

First Nations in northern Manitoba have one of the highest deficits in healthy and effective housing in Canada. A report by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada estimates that $2 billion is needed to address the housing shortage in Manitoba. The report also notes, Manitoba has the highest percentage of First Nation people living in poor housing in Canada. Given the $2 billion in housing needed for First Nations in Manitoba alone, this increase will not nearly move us forward enough.

The MKO is pleased to see $235 million to work with First Nations partners to transform First Nations health systems by expanding successful models of self-determination so that health programs and services are developed, delivered and controlled by and for First Nations. The MKO is currently working to bring better health services to the Keewatinowi territory through the creation of a local system that meets the needs of northern families.

The reinvigoration of First Nations’ traditional laws is a governance solution that would involve each Indigenous nation working with their people to review local traditional systems and modernizing them to meet the needs of today’s First Nation people. The sum of $101.5 million over 5 years is an important start, but the delay to next year is not appropriate given the enormity of the task.

“We’d like to see more funds put to the task of reinvigorating First Nations’ legal systems, enhancing capacity so First Nations take on more jurisdiction, and creating a local solution to local problems. It is no longer appropriate for First Nations to be governed by a few people in Ottawa. It is time for First Nations in the Keewatinowi territory to have the same funding, social services, family supports, policing and infrastructure that communities in southern Canada enjoy. While Budget 2018 is a step towards an equality of funding, it falls short of that goal.  For hundreds of thousands of First Nation children across the land it is one more delay of justice that is not acceptable,” Grand Chief North concluded.