London, Ontario May 2nd, 2022 – On April 28th, the 2022 Ontario provincial budget was released and the changes in the budget in regard to the needs of Indigenous Peoples falls and is an overall disappointment.
Grand Chief Joel Abram states “In the 2022 budget under ‘Ontario’s Plan to Build’ there is a section marked on working with Indigenous Partners to invest $25 million over three years to support Indigenous-owned businesses, and entrepreneurs. While this is a good move it does not highlight a greater need amongst our communities for mental health and addictions. A lack of support for those that badly need this kind of help will turn into a greater and more harmful long-term crisis. The fact they are focusing on businesses implies a need to put profit ahead of well-being especially when Mental Health and Addictions for Indigenous Peoples is lumped in with an overall strategy for all of Ontario and no specific funds for Indigenous communities.”
Deputy Grand Chief Stacia Loft states “The 2022 budget replaces the COVID section in last year’s budget with one to enhance postsecondary Education and Training for Indigenous Learners. Ontario is willing to invest $9 million over three years to support nine Indigenous governed and operated Indigenous Institutes. It’s good to see that the needs of Indigenous Learners are being recognized, and that the budget makes mention of more access roads to the north, and work on the Ring of Fire area. However, so many areas need more attention and they have to consult with Indigenous Peoples to properly prioritize and fund the necessary areas if we are going to see positive change.”
The budget which was released on April 28th and unless specific needs are addressed there lies the fear that those needs will go unresolved and their neglect would make bad situations worse or possibly life-threatening.