BATCHEWAN FIRST NATION – “Ontario has once again missed an opportunity to work with First Nations who can be utilized as an ally that can assist Ontario with austerity goals by filling in the gaps through resource management. Recognizing First Nation’s original responsibilities would create a mutually beneficial arrangement”. Batchewana First Nation (BFN) leadership expressed lack luster response to Ontario Premier McGuinty’s proposed
budget announced yesterday, March 27, 2012. “It’s not so much what was presented from the budget, but what was missing from the budget”, commented Chief Dean Sayers.
With 133 First Nations across Ontario BFN leadership were expecting to see new investments and were alarmed by the lack of inclusion with respect to
funding key areas within the Liberal’s proposed budget. Reduction in Aboriginal Affairs funding programs (Participation Fund, Community Capital Grants to name a few) and opting to fund only high priority services will ultimately further the inequality between First Nations and mainstream Ontarians.
BFN Chief and Council were disappointed that Ontario’s Finance Minister, Dwight Duncan made no mention to the Resource Benefit Sharing Agreement during yesterday’s announcement.
After strong recommendations were made for the adequate funding to allow First Nations the opportunity to reach parity with per-student provincial funding (elementary and secondary), BFN leadership struggles to understand how Ontario failed to include specifics on First Nations education funding.
Chief Dean Sayers commented, “Ontario continues to shoulder the responsibility to the Federal Government and this is simply unacceptable.”
While McGuinty’s plan boasts to balance the budget, create jobs, protect education and health care, without raising taxes BFN Chief and Council remind Ontario’s leadership that First Nations have and continue to pay the ultimate tax by way of lands and resources and are still undermined, and unrepresented in this years budget.