Ontario Regional Chief – No Real Commitment to First Nations in Throne Speech

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore DayOntario Regional Chief Isadore Day Statement: Speech from the Throne 2018: How will the province become a more active Treaty partner in “a fair and better Ontario”?

 Toronto — “The Ontario government laid out its priorities today in its Speech from the Throne, with mostly disappointing outcomes in regard to working with First Nations in Ontario ahead of the upcoming election. Despite an opening reference to the fact that our Peoples are still shut out of the prosperity that built this province, there were no plans on how the province will become a more active Treaty partner in “a fair and better Ontario”.  In fact, there was no mention of the Treaty relationship that created this province.

Yet, we have made strides together by working through the Political Accord over the past few years, from acquiring Hydro One shares, to working through the Journey Together commitments. But we need to significantly increase that momentum prior to the June provincial election. While we heard about Ontario’s focus on the economy in this speech, we’ve yet to have a real commitment from Ontario to give recognition to a much-needed focus on First Nation land, people, and prosperity founded on equalization.

Something we noted was the omission of the commitment to implement Resource Revenue Sharing (RRS), which has been included in previous Throne Speeches. We must continue to forge ahead on this commitment to implement a provincial Resource Revenue Sharing (RRS) policy, which will vastly improve First Nation prosperity. Revenue sharing is not just about minerals and forests, but includes a share of provincial revenues from gasoline and tobacco, to cannabis and cap and trade.

However – Budget 2018 can address these outstanding policy issues and investments, by incorporating a First Nations chapter to improving the socio-economic outcomes and infrastructure needs of First Nations, as they remain a critical benchmark of Ontario’s successes.

The theme of this year’s Speech from the Throne is ‘A Time for Care and Opportunity’. However, we have a time limited opportunity to put into place long overdue and the sorely needed investments. While it is encouraging to see more First Nations students benefitting from free tuition, there are still far too many of our young people struggling to make ends meet. With just over 50 days before the writ drops starting the 2018 provincial election, this is a significant opportunity for next week’s budget to invest in and help address, First Nations infrastructure, climate change, housing, education resources, and the safety and security of First Nations children in care.

In weeks to come, First Nations will be turning up the volume on the fact that this province, and this country, was built because Treaties were signed with our Peoples. Now is the time to fully include First Nations and realize that promise of shared prosperity for all. Let’s chart a new Treaty economic path with Ontario that fully includes First Nations. A new Treaty economy also includes access to employment and training, government procurement, as well as interprovincial and international trade. Together, we will generate wealth and build a fair and better Ontario for all.”

Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day