News

NATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN May 2015

on May 4, 2015

Federal Budget 2015

The Conservative government tabled its federal budget on April 21. This Bulletin provides an initial assessment and analysis and a brief overview of the budget items of interest to First Nations. 

The bottom line is that this federal budget is a missed opportunity – a missed opportunity to develop a comprehensive approach for change for First Nations and Canada.  There is no significant investment and no plan to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canadians.  For First Nations, this budget is mainly re-announcements and minimal renewals, most at reduced funding levels. 

This is a status quo budget and the status quo is unacceptable.  We know first-hand the urgent needs: more than 120 First Nations communities that do not have safe drinking water, on-reserve high school graduation rates of only 35%, more children in state care than at the height of the residential schools, over-crowded housing and the need for more than 130,000 housing units on-reserves. 

We are attaching a summary of the announcements and areas that require further analysis.  I do want to provide some information on First Nations education. 

Funding for First Nations Education

You will recall that in February 2014 the Prime Minister announced $1.9 billion for First Nations education.  The funding, however, was tied to Bill C-33, the so-called First Nations Control of First Nations Education Act.  First Nations overwhelmingly rejected that flawed legislation, but we all agreed that investments in First Nations are urgently needed.  In November 2014, the government confirmed $500 million over 7 years for First Nations schools.  This amount comes from that original $1.9 billion, leaving $1.4 billion earmarked for First Nations education.  This federal budget announces as well the renewal of $200 million over 5 years, starting in 2015-16, in the Strong Schools Successful Students Initiative. 

The AFN pushed to ensure the $1.4 billion for First Nations education does not get re-allocated or re-profiled to other departments or for other uses.  Federal officials did confirm to AFN officials that the amounts budgeted for First Nations education are still in place and can still be invested in First Nations education. 

I will be meeting with Minister Valcourt in the coming month to urge him to do the right thing and resume discussions with the AFN about a mutually acceptable approach that will ensure the release of these much needed resources for First Nations schools. We are all fully committed to ensuring First Nations control of First Nations Education and an appropriate legal framework to support that goal in keeping with the direction of Chiefs-in-Assembly. I will keep you informed through all steps of this urgent matter. 

In the wake of the 2015 federal budget, my overall message to the government and Canada is this: First Nations were not meant to be poor in our own homelands.  This same government issued the apology for residential schools but, as we approach the final events of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, we are seeing no action to give life to those words.  We are calling for action, investment and collaboration on a real strategy for change.  We will continue to push for change and progress with the public sector, the private sector and non-governmental organizations. 

United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, April 20 – May 1

I attended the fourteenth session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII) on April 27-28 (the UNPFII ran from April 20 – May1).  While there, I had the privilege and responsibility to deliver a statement on behalf of a wide range of Indigenous peoples’ organizations and human rights groups from across Canada and around the world. 

The statement calls on all countries, including Canada, to ensure that their laws and policies are consistent with international human rights standards set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  We spoke the hard truth that too many states, including Canada, claim to respect Indigenous rights while putting in place laws and policies that undermine those very rights.  We called on all States to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and to work with Indigenous peoples to ensure all laws are consistent with the Declaration. 

The full statement is available on the AFN website at:

http://www.afn.ca/index.php/en/news-media/latest-news/permanent-forum-on-indigenous-issues-assembly-of-first-nation

We will continue to keep you informed on the outcomes of the UNPFII and all developments that our peoples and our Nations.


 

 

2015 FEDERAL BUDGET – INITIAL SUMMARY OF INVESTMENTS FOR FIRST NATIONS

  • (renewal) $215M over five years to Skills and Partnership Fund, and $50M ongoing
  • (new) $33.5 over five years for “administrative support” for Aboriginal labour market programs and to launch a pilot on-reserve labour market survey
  • (new) $30.3 million over five years for the expansion of the First Nations Land Management Regime to create further opportunities for economic development on reserve
  • (renewal) $200 million over five years, starting in 2015-16, in the Strong Schools, Successful Students Initiative to help support First Nations to achieve better education outcomes, including building partnerships with provincial school systems 
  • (renewal) $12 million over three years to Indspire to provide post-secondary scholarships and bursaries for First Nations and Inuit students.
  • (ongoing) $2 million per year ongoing for mental wellness teams in First Nations Communities.
  • (~11M new) $33.2 million over four years starting in 2016–17 to support the Surveys on Aboriginal People (of which $22.3 million will be provided from existing AANDC, ESDC and HC funds)
  • (ongoing) $170 million per year will be provided to First Nations to support the construction, rehabilitation, and renovation of affordable housing on reserves and to enhance the management of the housing stock through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada


$ amounts in millions

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

Total

Aboriginal Labour Market Programming

20

57

57

57

57

249

Investing in Aboriginal Communities

44

61

63

56

59

283

First Nations Land Management

 

2

4

5

8

11

30

Improving First Nations Education

 

40

40

40

40

40

200

Indspire

 

2

5

5

 

 

12

Sustained Support for Mental Health Services in First Nations Communities

 

 

2

2

2

2

8

Surveys on Aboriginal People

 

 

10

11

7

6

33

 

AREAS WITH IMPLICATIONS FOR FIRST NATIONS REQUIRING FURTHER ANALYSIS 

  • $150 million over four years, starting in 2016-17, to allow cooperative and non-profit social housing providers to prepay long-term, non-renewable mortgages held with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation without penalty.
  • Federal Support for Affordable Housing: reaffirms the Government’s commitment to ensuring low-income families and vulnerable Canadians in need have access to affordable housing options.
  • Contributing to the Safety of Energy Transportation Infrastructure: $80 million over five years, starting in 2015–16, to the National Energy Board for safety and environmental protection and greater engagement with Canadians.
  • $135 million over five years, starting in 2015-16, to continue to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of project approvals through the Major Projects Management Office Initiative.
  • Affirms the Government’s intent to provide accelerated capital cost allowance (CCA) treatment for assets used in facilities that liquefy natural gas.
  • $34 million over five years, starting in 2015-16, to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to continue to support consultations related to projects assessed under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
  • $210 million over four years, starting in 2015-16, to support activities and events to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary in 2017.
  • Enhance support to Child Advocacy Centres across Canada for youth victims of violence.
  •  $75 million over three years, starting in 2015-16, to continue to support the implementation of the Species at Risk Act to protect Canada’s diverse species and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. 
  • $2.0 million in 2015-16 to the Pacific Salmon Foundation to support the Salish Sea Marine Survival Project.
  • $10 million per year for three years, starting in 2016-17, to the Recreational Fisheries Conservation Program to support the conservation of recreational fisheries across the country.
rdbrinkhurstNATIONAL CHIEF BULLETIN May 2015
Assembly of First Nations
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