TORONTO – The release of today’s Ontario Budget titled; ‘Protecting What Matters Most‘ provides for some serious concern on the direction by the Ford government, which neglects direct investments and commitments to First Nations in Ontario.
As the Ontario Regional Chief, I have communicated with Premier Ford, and shared that I understand his commitment to enact policy and measures that support and lift up Ontario’s lowest economic earners. While we can see the investment and substantive commitments he has made in the budget to, economic investment, transit and healthcare infrastructure, what we fail to see is a specific mention of First Nations inclusion in these investments. It is also a bit alarming to see Budget 2019 provide an almost 10 percent cut to core funding for Indigenous Affairs, to $74.4 million, further reducing the capacity of the ministry, and also not to see any additional investments in one-time investment dollars, which raises many questions.
The diminishment of investments for First Nations in the budget, and Indigenous Affairs causes concern on the safety and security of program funding that has been fundamental in advancing First Nations communities. Ontario has a responsibility to support these programs, as we outlined in our Pre Budget Submission to the Minister of Finance, and this will be something we will need to continue to watch.
While we see a noticeable lack of direct investments for First Nations, there are a number of mentions of Indigenous people in larger investments such as mental health and long term care indicating inclusion in these various programs. We will need to examine the budget closely, and look into the implementation of these investments in order to report back to First Nations leadership with details that are most relevant to our communities.
There will be a continued need and opportunity to support First Nations through more substantial investments, to not only prevent intergenerational tragedy, but strengthen the success and well-being of First Nations communities and people. I continue to call on Premier Ford to work in a true and collaborative manner, so we can we move forward together and make impactful change for First Nations and all of Ontario. After all, we have a shared goal of prosperous, healthy and vibrant communities.
Ontario Regional Chief RoseAnne Archibald