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Assembly of First Nations Submission to The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance
It’s Our Time: Strategic Investments to Support First Nations Pre-Budget Submission, 2009
These pre-budget consultations represent an important opportunity to provide input to priorities for the 2010 federal budget. The Assembly of First Nations (AFN) has provided detailed and substantiated submissions over a number of years, yet calls for investment have gone largely unanswered.First Nations continue to lag behind in education outcomes and in economic participation. This is not for lack of want – but is due to historically entrenched inequities that can in large part be addressed through fair and adequate funding.
Canada’s economy and future prosperity will rely on a well-educated and skilled population to take the place of aging workers population – First Nations are poised to fill some of this gap. But current support for First Nations education and skills development is woefully inadequate, and significant investment and action is required to put us on the right path.
Strong, capable and appropriately supported First Nation governments are the fencepost upon which the gate to prosperity swings. But chronic under-funding and the structural undermining of our governments has served to erode our ability to effectively serve our citizens – regardless of where they live.
First Nations are not looking for a blank cheque or for anything beyond what is enjoyed by a majority of Canadians. Rather, First Nations seek fairness and require critical investments in areas that target specific challenges and opportunities. These investments will address the unique barriers that currently prevent us from realizing our full potential. Stronger First Nation communities will mean a stronger, more competitive Canadian economy – one that will benefit all of us.
Through strategic investment, the Government of Canada can maximize outcomes and create the foundation for our collective prosperity. This would include:
1) Immediately lifting the 2% funding cap on First Nation core services, and introducing guaranteed funding escalators to reflect the actual costs of population and inflation growth, including compensation to reflect the actual costs if appropriate price and volume adjustments had been applied to First Nations core funding since 1996.
2) Investing $2B in education, educational facilities, language instruction and skills development to address current shortfalls.
3) Designing and implementing – in full partnership with First Nations – a non-discretionary and secure system for fiscal transfers to ensure adequate, accountable and sustainable funding to First Nation governments in their provision of quality services to their citizens wherever they reside.
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