TORONTO – The province voiced very few commitments to the First Nations in Ontario today during its Throne Speech which set a new agenda for the government’s final 20 months before the next election. The most glaring omission was failure to address movement on the now eight-year-old provincial commitment to implement Resource Revenue Sharing.
“This throne speech was a critical opportunity to communicate that improving the socio-economic outcomes of First Nations is vital to the overall Ontario economy,” said Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day. “This was not heard today. We cannot lose the momentum gained through last year’s Political Accord and last May’s Statement of Reconciliation. And the Crown cannot be silent on the commitments made to our ancestors to share all the lands and resources, according to Treaties signed both pre and post Confederation.”
First Nations expected the province to deliver on what all Ontarians want – providing basic services, building our economy, and protecting our environment from climate change. While we appreciate the newly established Indigenous Health Action Plan, First Nation priorities must be front and centre in addressing the ongoing health crisis that affects all our Peoples, from children to elders.
“Next year’s budget cannot be balanced on the backs of First Nations – we’ve seen the increase in poverty and despair as a result of a federal 2 per cent funding cap that remains in place despite political promises,” said Regional Chief Day. “However, the Ontario Speech from the Throne outlined a commitment to developing First Nation economic projects, infrastructure, clean water, education, and access to northern mineral resources. Let’s make those commitments reality over the next 20 months.”
In the weeks and months to come, all First Nation leadership, including youth and elders, will be asked to provide their input into a list of priorities that must be addressed by this province before the next election. High on that list will be implementing Treaty Rights and addressing human rights.
“This province, and this country, was built because Treaties were signed with our Peoples. Now is the time to fully include First Nations and realize that promise of shared prosperity for all. Let’s chart a new Treaty Economic path with Ontario that fully includes First Nations. A new Treaty Economy also includes access to employment and training, as well as interprovincial and international trade. Together, we will generate wealth and build a better Ontario for all,” said Regional Chief Day.
In the past year, First Nations have heard a lot of substantial promises from both levels of government. In fact, Ontario is fully committed in assisting the federal government to end boil water advisories.
“In the meantime, the province and First Nations must continue to breathe life into the Political Accord; fully implement the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations; and continue on our shared Journey Together,” said Regional Chief Day.