THUNDER BAY – Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler is looking for more specifics in Budget 2019.
“This budget makes significant commitments to improve access to affordable housing for millennials and the middle class but is lacking in specifics for NAN First Nations. Budget 2019 promises investments to Indigenous Services Canada to improve health, education but does not provide detail on how these services will be delivered in our communities,” said Grand Chief Fiddler. “For example, the budget provides funding to mitigate ‘climate-related hazards’ but does not commit funding for the relocation of Kashechewan First Nation, which is severely affected by seasonal flooding. This government has made progress on many of its commitments to reconciliation and improving infrastructure in our communities, but we need to see specific commitments to support the long-term sustainable growth of our communities.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler has responded to the release of the Government of Canada’s Budget 2019, which promises investments to support reconciliation and improve living conditions for First Nations but lacks detail on its funding commitments.
NAN will look for specific detail on many of Budget 2019’s commitments including:
- Drinking water advisories – Commits $739 million over five years to improve water systems but there is no identified increased funding for the operation and maintenance of these systems. While water regulations exist, but there is no enforcement in First Nations.
- Emergency response – Targets investments to protect First Nations from severe natural disasters but does not identify funding for social emergencies like suicide and opioid abuse. First Nations along the James Bay coast, including Kashechewan, are facing increased threats from climate change. Work needs to begin to address ongoing issues and emerging threats.
- Jordan’s Principle – Invests $1.2 billion over three years to develop a long-term approach to improving services for First Nation’s children but does not provide specific funding for First Nations to develop laws or operate under their own laws. No specific mention of the Choose Life Project, a life-saving program over the last three years that must be more than a court-ordered initiative. NAN welcomes a one-year extension, but long-standing social challenges are difficult to meet with only year-to-year funding. It is important to entrench the positive gains that have been made by Choose Life.