Federal Budget Keeps Status Quo a Formula for Disaster
For Immediate Release: March 29, 2012
(Whitecap Dakota First Nation,) First Nations in Saskatchewan were anticipating a significant investment from the federal government in priority areas. During the Crown-First Nations gathering which occurred this past January, First Nation leadership left the meeting cautiously optimistic that the upcoming federal budget would contain significant investment dollars. The budget did not address the 2 per cent cap on First Nation funding.
“How does the Federal Government expect First Nations to improve in all areas, health education, housing, economic development when the 2 per cent cap remains in effect and a population growth rate that continues to climb….this is a proven formula for disaster,” says Vice Chief Watson.
In Saskatchewan alone, 80 million dollars per year is needed to eliminate the funding gap between First Nations Schools and Provincial Schools. “The 275 million over 3 years announced in the federal budget only amounts to an additional $800 per student/year which still leaves a funding gap of over $3,000 per student/year. First Nations schools have needs in teacher salaries, school resources, school capital, computers and technology, bussing and many other areas. But once again, INAC with no education staff is deciding where this money will go,” says FSIN Vice Chief Simon Bird. The parliamentary budget officer reported to parliament in 2009 that First Nations needed $200 million a year. So $175 million over three years is a drop in the bucket.
There was a two percent cut to INAC overall, but an increase of $331 million for First Nations in the area of water and waste water over two years is a welcome increase. It still falls short of the needed dollars for infrastructure needs and operations and management of those systems, including wages and retention of the people to operate those systems in the communities.
Chiefs from across Treaty territories of No. 2, 4, 5, 6, & 10 are all meeting over the next two days at Dakota Whitecap to discuss the Inherent Right to Self Determination and Treaty. FSIN believes that the Crown in the Right of Canada has the fiduciary obligation to support these initiatives because it was the Crown’s legislative framework, such as the Indian Act that took away these rights over the past 145 years.
For more information:
Mervin Brass, Executive Director of Communications