SERPENT RIVER FN – “On one hand, the Ontario Liberals must be commended for their fiscal determination in this years budget. On the other hand, there is much to be desired regarding the lack of fiscal foresight and commitment to do business with First Nations in Ontario based on ‘treaties’ as shared arrangements,” says Chief Isadore Day, Wiindawtegowinini.
Premier Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal Government of Ontario have laid out a plan to successfully balance the books by the long-promised 2017/18 fiscal-year deadline. But Chief Day would like to see the bar raised and proposes that aboriginal title and treaty land benefits in Ontario be addressed head-on.
Even though there are some investments that help address First Nation issues, they are too few, and not near enough to make changes across the board.
Chief Day says joint budget planning is the solution. His proposal includes, strategic investment set-asides for “shared treaty economies,” a regional poverty response, business development, joint action on environmental issues and climate change, intergovernmental affairs, resource revenue sharing.
“I’ll make no bones about it – First Nations are sparsely highlighted in the 2015 Budget; Building Ontario Up. The province cannot go on generating taxes and extracting resources from ‘treaty’ lands without addressing treaty as a historical business arrangement. Yes, there is the ‘Ring of Fire’ – we must support the best results possible, meaning environment as well as economic outcomes; but what about the rest of Ontario’s revenues on treaty regions?”
Day cautions First Nations on this budget and indicates that the mentioned gas tax policy, tobacco legislation, gaming, and natural resources development are obvious issues of First Nation concern.
Chief Day notes that “Taxation across the province and the revenue streams generated across municipalities, businesses and other third party users, should be on the table – Ontario and First Nations must resolve resource revenue sharing, that’s what the treaties were about”.
Day adds that of expected Ontario revenues in 2015/16; if just 1% is focused on First Nation investments, that would be 1.24B$. He indicates that it is important to look at the figures closely to factor in specifics on what is coming from lands and resources, taxation, and federal transfers that should be spent on First Nations rather than provincial administration.