OTTAWA – Thunder Bay – Rainy River Member of Parliament John Rafferty rose in question period to blast the Harper Conservatives for de-funding the Biwaase’aa after school program in Thunder Bay while wasting billions of tax dollars on other ‘misguided’ projects and events.
“By all measurements it is a program that should be replicated, not cut,” Rafferty said before putting the question to the government. “They [Conservatives] can waste billions on limos, gazebos, jails, and jets so why are they cutting valuable programs like Biwaase’aa?”
Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan in responding to Rafferty stated, “Our government is focused on ways to maintain the essential work we do to make Canada a better place for first nations, Inuit, Métis and northerners, but in better and more efficient ways. We are achieving reductions by reducing the costs of operations while protecting services in communities as much as we possibly can. We are working closely with all our employees to make sure this transition happens in the least disruptive, most effective and most transparent way possible”.
Rafferty’s question came after he learned of the de-funding of the highly regarded youth program which will be wrapping up operations in June. Biwaase’aa, is an afterschool program for aboriginal youth in Thunder Bay that provides lunch, after-school snacks, recreational activities, First Nations cultural teachings and emotional support to 500 students at seven elementary schools at a cost of just $5 dollars per student.
“This Conservative government is making all the wrong choices when it comes to spending our money wisely during this economic crisis and recovery,” Rafferty said. “They are wasting billions on everything from G8 meetings to the F-35’s, and then de-funding cost effective and successful local programs like Biwaase’aa. Our children and taxpayers deserve better.”