THUNDER BAY – “The entire country could be changed and enriched for the betterment of all Canadians if First Nation priorities were addressed,” said Ontario Regional Chief Beardy.
Ontario Regional Chief Stan Beardy says that the Harper government’s 2015 budget does not present a viable plan to address First Nations issues. “This is a status quo budget that doesn’t go far enough to close the gap on quality of life for First Nations citizens,” said the Ontario Regional Chief. “This uninspired budget squandered this government’s last chance to meaningfully invest in First Nations.”
The United Nations Human Development Index shows a human rights and development gap where Canada consistently ranks in the top ten but First Nations rank at 63 or lower.
Ontario Regional Chief Beardy termed the budget “A political document and an election platform” that contains little to address the essential challenges confronting First Nations. The budget is notably silent on priority issues such as access to clean drinking water and violence against Indigenous women and girls.
“A large percentage of our communities are living without clean water, our suicide rates are above average and our children are living in third world conditions,” said Ontario Regional Chief Beardy. “This Conservative Government had a genuine opportunity to show Canadians that it could build positive relationships with First Nations communities but they ignored our concerns and are instead investing in overseas military campaigns and domestic surveillance.”
The budget commits new funding for education and economic development. However, preliminary analysis suggests that the investments are not enough. First Nations have called for an additional $1.2 billion investment into education. Closing the education gap between Aboriginals and other Canadians would result in savings of $115 billion over 15 years.