Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare issued the following statement in response to the 2023 Ontario Budget:
“On March 23, 2023, Ontario’s Minister of Finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, tabled the 2023 provincial budget entitled 2023 Ontario Budget: Building a Strong Ontario,” said Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare. “This budget provided an outline of the provincial government’s fiscal priorities for the year and heavily focused on economic resilience and building a strong infrastructure to support growth across the province.”
As highlighted in the federal budget, the government pledged to invest $25.1 million in 2023–24 to support the identification, investigation, protection and commemoration of Residential School burial sites across the province and mental health support for First Nation communities. The proposed funding will include the following: resources for community coordinators, researchers and technical expertise; support for ongoing engagement with survivors; mental health support; archival analysis; and the deployment and interpretation of ground-scanning technologies.
“I welcome yesterday’s announcement and I commend Premier Doug Ford and Minister Greg Rickford for their commitment to ensuring First Nations Survivors, families, and communities can respond to and heal from the ongoing impacts of residential schools. The proposed funding is an important step forward to support First Nations communities and organizations to conduct research and field investigation work on their own terms.”
The provincial government also pledged the following in the 2023 Ontario Budget:
- $202 million each year to the Homelessness Prevention Program and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program
- $425 million over three years to better connect people to convenient mental health services, which includes maintaining programs and services that support First Nations’ access to high-quality, culturally appropriate care
- New Emergency Response Fund to provide urgent relief for municipalities, First Nations and communities, including volunteer resources, deploying coordination teams, equipment, and financial assistance
“I am encouraged by Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy’s announcements that reflect the mutual priorities of First Nations in Ontario. However, critical investments are still missing, including long-term, First Nations-specific investments in infrastructure, health care, conservation and affordability measures to advance First Nations’ self-determination and build prosperous communities for future generations.
First Nations require funding and substantial commitments that reflect their unique socioeconomic needs. This must include funding set aside for First Nations and programs where they aren’t forced to compete with much better equipped mainstream service providers. I look forward to discussing this with Premier Ford and his Cabinet to ensure we can continue our vital work to address the critical needs of First Nations in Ontario and strengthen our partnership through recognition of rights, respect, and cooperation.”