Mushkegowuk Council Posts Results of Election Survey

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AFN Aboriginal News Splash

Election 360THUNDER BAY – ELECTION 2015 – The Mushkegowuk Council Grand Chief recently reached out to the major parties of the Federal Election with a series of questions based on real issues that continue to prevent our people to live healthier lives in our region. Below you will find those answers.

NDP: http://bit.ly/1GLSTOX

Question 1: Health care services for our citizens is in a state of emergency and the Mushkegowuk Chiefs have requested the federal government (and provincial government) to intervene but the federal Minister of Health has not responded to this growing crisis, if elected on October 19, what action will you take to work with us to improve our health care system?

Decades of inaction and indifference under Liberal and Conservative federal governments have left First Nations children to grow up with unsafe water, crumbling homes, substandard health care and education and scarce economic opportunity. The NDP is committed to building a new relationship and a new era based on a respectful Nation to Nation relationship with Indigenous peoples. An NDP government will:

Work with First Nations to develop a plan to close the gap in health outcomes, and ensure quality and accessible health services for Indigenous communities.

Immediately take steps to make federal health agencies like Health Canada and First Nations and Inuit Health Branch (FNIBH) more responsive and accountable to Indigenous communities.

Remove the punitive 2% funding cap on social transfers to Indigenous communities imposed by previous Liberal and Conservative governments, and establish a fair fiscal relationship to close the gap between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous Canadians.

Invest in community-based health clinics, including the development of mobile clinics that improve access to healthcare providers in remote locations.

Create a new training and recruitment grant to help provinces hire more than 7,000 needed doctors, nurse practitioners and nurses, including recruitment grants to increase the number of health professionals in remote communities and the number of Indigenous doctors and nurses.

Invest in a $100-million Mental Health Innovation Fund for Children and Youth, with an additional $5 million per year for a suicide prevention strategy to serve at-risk populations, including First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities.

Increase access to affordable and nutritious food in northern, isolated communities by investing $32 million to fix and expand Nutrition North, and work with Indigenous communities and Northerners on culturally appropriate and sustainable solutions to food insecurity.

Work with Indigenous communities on a National Diabetes Strategy with an initial investment of $20 million over four years.

Question 2: The United Nations Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples Article 32 states that: “2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.” How would your party ensure that the consent of First Nations to all development in Northern Ontario is obtained prior to projects being approved?

Canada’s NDP are committed to bringing forth a new Nation to Nation era with First Nations. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair presented this commitment directly to the Assembly of First Nations at the Open Forum on October 7 in Edmonton and was the only leader of a major party to do so. An NDP government will create a cabinet-level committee, chaired by Tom Mulcair as Prime Minister, to ensure that all government decisions respect treaty rights, inherent rights and Canada’s international obligations—starting with implementing the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples. An NDP government will:

Fix our country’s broken treaty process and deal with unresolved land claims.

Uphold the Crown’s duty to consult Indigenous peoples on decision-making that may impact them, consistent with the Canadian Constitution, legal obligations and the principle of free, prior and informed consent as stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Work to establish revenue sharing frameworks for resource development projects that provide benefits for Indigenous communities through a consultative process, including Indigenous communities, provincial governments and territories.

Question 3: Given the removal of many protections under the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in the last four years, how would your party ensure the protection of the environment in Northern Ontario in the future?

NDP: In the last ten years, the Conservatives have dismantled the laws protecting our air, land and water. They’ve hidden their attacks in budget bills, targeting the Navigable Waters Protection Action, the Environmental Assessment Act and the Fisheries Act. The Liberals supported five consecutive Conservative budgets that snuck through these attacks on environmental laws without debate.

An NDP government will:

Reverse the dangerous damage done by Stephen Harper and the Liberals with omnibus budget bills C-38 and C-45 by putting teeth back into the environmental assessment process to protect our lakes and rivers.

Uphold the Crown’s duty to consult Indigenous peoples on decision-making that may impact them, consistent with the Canadian Constitution, legal obligations and the principle of free, prior and informed consent as stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Question 4: Much of the islands and waters of James Bay are the traditional territories of First Nations in Ontario but fall under Federal jurisdiction (Nunavut Territory). Would your party support negotiations with Mushkegowuk First Nations regarding the use, jurisdiction and protection of James Bay?

Canada’s New Democrats have a deep commitment to strengthening Canada’s Nation-to-Nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples in this country and to forging a new relationship built on respect and, above all, making meaningful progress. Part of building a Nation-to-Nation relationship requires honouring the right of Indigenous peoples to use and manage their traditional territory as stated in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

An NDP government will:

Work with Mushkegowuk First Nations and Nunavut to create and support a new agreement on the use, jurisdiction and the protection of James Bay.

Question 5: What measures will your party take to ensure that people living in remote parts of Canada have access to affordable and good quality food supplies?

Too many remote communities in the far north have to rely on cheap, unhealthy foods that also put their health at risk.

An NDP government will:

Take immediate action to fix and expand Nutrition North in partnership with remote communities to ensure it achieves the goals of lowering food prices and providing greater access to healthy food.

Begin an in-depth process to address food insecurity in the north. We will work in partnership with northerners to develop and support sustainable food security solutions that include reducing the prices of store bought food but also integrate the use of local and country foods, community supports and draw on successful models of local food production that are sustainable and create economic development and employment.

Question 6: If elected, how will your government ensure that First Nations rights are respected before introducing any new legislation or national initiative affecting First Nations peoples or communities? Namely Bill C33 – First Nations Education Act.

NDP: We must not fail another generation. Secondary school graduation rates are 35% for First Nations students onreserve, compared to 85% graduation rates for other Canadians. Inspired by the Shannen’s Dream movement, we commit to closing the education gap to ensure that every Indigenous child gets the educational opportunities afforded to every other child in Canada.

An NDP government will:

Work with First Nations through a meaningful collaborative process to develop new education policies and laws based on the principle of Indigenous self-government.

Make a new investment in First Nations education of $1.8 billion over the next four years to begin immediately the work of ensuring every Indigenous child gets the educational opportunities afforded to every other child in Canada.  Continue this work with annual increases over the long term based on an escalator so that the increase to First Nations education amounts to $4.8 billion over eight years.

Question 7: How sincere is your government on implementing all recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report? What are the 3 immediate actions that your government would do within the first 6 months?

Canada’s NDP is committed to implementing the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), including committing to establish the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation. We are the only major political party to have made an explicit funding commitment in this regard. We feel Canada must not let another report with important recommendations gather dust as the Liberal federal government did after the 1996 Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples. A major theme of the TRC recommendations is the need to recover and preserve the culture and language of Indigenous people in Canada.

An NDP government will:

Invest $8 million to help establish the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.

Work in partnership with Indigenous Peoples to establish mechanisms to preserve and convey their unique heritage and culture.

Commit $68 million in funding over the next four years to begin the work of revitalizing Indigenous languages.

If elected as the next federal government on October 19, we will immediately begin working with Indigenous communities to establish a National Indigenous Languages Revitalization Fund and a National Indigenous Languages Institute. The NDP are the only major political party to have made an explicit funding commitment to this important work.

Question 8: Numerous calls for a National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Women has been made, is your government committed to conducting a National Inquiry and in what timeframe?

The NDP believe Canada can afford both an inquiry into the 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women and better anti-violence services and programs for women. What we can’t afford is for more Indigenous women to go missing or be murdered or to stand by when women need more support.

An NDP government will:

Call a national inquiry into the 1,200 missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in our first 100 days in office and commit $50 million to provide the necessary resources.

Support women and their children fleeing violence by restoring the Shelter Enhancement Program with $40 million in funding over four years to ensure that no woman in need is turned away from a shelter. Based on the previous performance of this program, this funding could create or renovate more than 2,100 spaces in first-stage shelters and nearly 350 spaces in transition houses.

Work with women’s groups and Indigenous families, communities and organizations to establish a comprehensive national action plan to end violence against women and girls, with dedicated funding and benchmarks.

Invest more in affordable housing and homelessness programs to create and maintain affordable housing, which helps women and children fleeing violence to find a new place to call home.

Question 9: Overcrowded homes is prevalent in our territory, what specifically will your party do to address the housing crisis in Mushkegowuk Communities?

The last time the Liberals were in power, they cancelled Canada’s National Housing Strategy. Today, 300,000 Canadians experience homelessness each year. In First Nations communities, 37.3% of households require major repairs, 50% of First Nation adults report mould and mildew in their homes, and one in four adults are living in overcrowded housing or deteriorated units.

An NDP government will:

Immediately address housing needs in remote communities by targeting $100 million of critical infrastructure funding to double the number of new houses built and renovated on-reserve in the first year.

Invest $2.7 billion over four years in affordable housing and homelessness across Canada, including creating and strengthening housing agreements with Indigenous communities.

Create local jobs, training and contracts for Indigenous businesses as part of housing and renovation projects.  Implement sustainable development standards for housing construction, including the use of mould-free materials, energy-efficient building techniques and the use of locally harvested lumber.

Work with First Nations to overhaul and restructure the First Nations Market Housing Fund to actually create more and better on-reserve housing.

Provide $500 million in incentives for the construction of affordable rental housing across Canada.

Pass the Affordable Housing Act to recognize housing as a right.

Question 10: 73% of water systems in First Nations communities are at medium to high risk. How will your party address and ensure Aboriginal communities have adequate water and wastewater services?

After decades of neglect by previous governments, Canada’s NDP is committed to a building a respectful Nation to Nation relationship –this kind of relationship needs to start with dealing with the many “boil water” advisories and “do not consume” advisories in Indigenous communities. NDP candidate Howard Hampton has been working on this issue very hard, underlining the billions of unspent money that could have been used to make things better.

An NDP government will:

Start to address the problem with an increased investment of $470 million for critical infrastructure for First Nations.

Ensure Indigenous communities get their fair share of the existing New Building Canada Fund.

Introduce a Safe Drinking Water Act to support provinces and municipalities in their efforts to keep the drinking water of all Canadians safe – with an emphasis on people living in Indigenous communities.

Question 11: How will you implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the human right to water in Indigenous communities?

An NDP government will create a cabinet-level committee, chaired by Tom Mulcair as Prime Minister, to ensure that all government decisions respect treaty rights, inherent rights and Canada’s international obligations—starting with implementing the principles of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous peoples.

Green Party: http://bit.ly/1GLSX10

Health care services for our citizens is in a state of emergency and the Mushkegowuk Chiefs have requested the federal government (and provincial government) to intervene but the federal Minister of Health has not responded to this growing crisis, if elected on October 19, what action will you take to work with us to improve our health care system?

Health care is a basic need, not a want but a need! The Green Party would call for such an intervention. Exactly the form it would take depends on the health care resources, or most likely the lack of resources, in the communities.

For example a Dr. friend of mine brought the state of the Sandy Lake clinic, out of your area I know but an example I know a bit about, where 2 children have died recently of strep throat. This was a completely avoidable tragedy!

Much of the equipment is out of date or not working. It was designed to service 300 and now services over 1000 people. Many basic medicines are not readily available and so on. We need to immediately have at least a nurse practitioner in place and at minimum remote consultative and diagnostic ability in these communities. I would also hope to promote the development of native health care practitioners that can combine traditional medicine and modern medicine where appropriate from the level of nurse to Dr. It is difficult to be more specific than this as each community will have different needs and some would be in close enough proximity to share resources.

The United Nations Declaration of Rights for Indigenous Peoples Article 32 states that: “2. States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.” How would your party ensure that the consent of First Nations to all development in Northern Ontario is obtained prior to projects being approved?

Green Party – We have proposed a Council of Canadian Governments that includes native representation. I would expect that subgroups of that as appropriate to the communities involved would work together to meet this requirement. Legislatively the courts have made it quite clear this is needed. Given the removal of many protections under the Fisheries Act and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in the last four years, how would your party ensure the protection of the environment in Northern Ontario in the future?

As a Green MP I would fight to restore the protections to our lands and waterways that the Harper government stripped. This includes but is not limited to opposing the Energy East Pipeline that threatens so many watersheds across the country and renegotiating NAFTA, Chinese FIPPA and TPP to remove investor state dispute settlement or simply withdraw from them so as to facilitate the implementation of legislation to protect our lands, air and water. 2 Much of the islands and waters of James Bay are the traditional territories of First Nations in Ontario but fall under Federal jurisdiction (Nunavut Territory). Would your party support negotiations with Mushkegowuk First Nations regarding the use, jurisdiction and protection of James Bay?

By my understanding some, not all, of the claimed territory is disputed with the Inuit. I would support all parties sitting down to discuss these matters and come to a negotiated understanding that is fair for all, perhaps under the auspices of the Council of Canadian Governments mentioned previously.

What measures will your party take to ensure that people living in remote parts of Canada have access to affordable and good quality food supplies?

Firstt I would expand Nutrition North to see to it that all remote communities receive appropriate and cost effective nutrition. Secondly I would look to expand community capacity to provide such nutrition for itself through something like http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/former-semiconductor-factory-becomes-worlds-largest-indoorfarm.html where the building can be super insulated and wholesome food grown year round .

In conjunction with this I would promote the development of community gardens where climate was conducive to that enterprise.

If elected, how will your government ensure that First Nations rights are respected before introducing any new legislation or national initiative affecting First Nations peoples or communities?

Namely Bill C33 – First Nations Education Act. I have not seen Bill C-33 specifically but if it is a Harper initiative I can imagine! Green policy is as follows : Ensure that every First Nations, Metis, and Inuit child has access to quality educational opportunities based on the expressed cultural, political, and social priorities of the First Nations, Metis, and Inuit governments following meaningful consultation; If C-33 does not meet this it would be repealed and a new agreement negotiated which included fair funding and provision for cultural content.

Additionally, we would increase access for First Nations education by removing the 2% funding cap and fully funding the program back log (at a cost of $424 million); How sincere is your government on implementing all recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Report?

What are the 3 immediate actions that your government would do within the first 6 months?

How do I address this here? This is a huge matter! The green position on this is here http://www.greenparty.ca/en/policy-background-2015/part-s but what to do 1st, 2nd and 3rd I will be honest, I do not know enough on the matter to make such a commitment.

The recognition of the rights of indigenous peoples as put forward by the UN would be a start. Education has already been addressed. Revision of history curriculums to reflect the policies and harm of the past in a forthright manner.

The 1st thing I would personally do is to ask what should be done 1st. It is obvious some would take more time than others. I’m sorry but this is an overwhelming question and I would need to consult with native peoples to give a good answer as I don’t feel it is my place to impose from outside.

Numerous calls for a National Inquiry into the Missing and Murdered Women has been made, is your government committed to conducting a National Inquiry and in what timeframe?

YES! As soon as humanly possible. I would personally call for it at the 1st opportunity, ie within the 1st week, and look to have it organized/operational within 3 months at most. I cannot imagine having mothers, wives, daughters missing like this without immediate action! We need to not only look into the losses themselves but into what the causes are.

Overcrowded homes is prevalent in our territory, what specifically will your party do to address the housing crisis in Mushkegowuk Communities?

Green Party 1) commit to move communities off flood plains. Damage to homes in these situations eats into annual funds for housing. 2) recognize this as a disaster situation and utilize the Canadian Armed Forces in their humanitarian roll to provide a trained cohesive workforce to utilize local resources and train people in the community to build the requisite housing. By not paying for this to be created commercially it gets more housing built faster AND develops community capacity to build needed housing in the future. 73% of water systems in First Nations communities are at medium to high risk.

How will your party address and ensure Aboriginal communities have adequate water and wastewater services? The obvious answer is to throw money at centralized services but I am not sure this is the best option. The problem needs to be addressed but traditional water and sewer plants may not be the best options.

We would move to increase funding and address the most severe cases immediately while looking at options such as in home treatment systems, composting, and so on for smaller remote communities where centralized plants are not efficient. I might mention that I am personally on such a system so am not looking to short change anyone but do not want to be locked in to what may actually be outmoded options.

Funds for this would come from reinstating the $5.1 Billion Kelowna accord suitably updated to recognize inflation in the interim.

How will you implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples as well as the human right to water in Indigenous communities?

Exactly how I cannot say as it will REQUIRE consultation with the Indigenous Nation of Canada to build a framework suitable for it’s implementation. That we would move swiftly to that consultative process and look to have it implemented within 2 years is a commitment I would be willing to make.

Again, I do not feel comfortable telling you how we would implement it as that would once again be imposing our vision on you which has lead to so many mistakes in the past. The 1st thing to do is obviously to sit down with all parties at the table to address this issue. I know you may find this answer disappointing but an imposed solution would be another disaster.

Liberal: No Response, Will post once received.

Conservative: No Response, will post once received.

The purpose of these questions is to better inform you on where each party stands on issues in our region.