London, Ontario April 28th, 2017 – The province budget that was released yesterday shows promise of a greater focus on vital First Nation issues in health, justice and the economic difficulties that many families face in our communities. This will help build a tighter, stronger relationship with the Province of Ontario and a new future of working together to tackle other pressing issues such as infrastructure, child welfare and the environment despite the absence in this Provincial Budget.
The Ontario First Nation Health Action Plan has the province investing $222 million over three years with sustained funding of $104.5 million annually. These resources and other investments will be allocated to Indigenous home and community care, primary care, diabetes, and management. Attention will be brought to long sought after justice of First Nations issues with much needed funding for Indigenous police officers and support programs from a $44.2 million three year investment to assist with cultural relevance and responsiveness to those needing help. Also $4 million over two years is committed to assist in the development of anti-racism programs to prevent further issues from arising from those unaware of Indigenous issues and life.
The Budget also committed an on reserve electricity credit which will eliminate delivery charges for households and an additional 25% decrease in the monthly bills. The Hydro One ownership will give First Nations up to 2.5% of the outstanding Hydro One shares that are currently at $18 a share. The provincial budget also includes $200 million over three years for key initiatives to assist in post-secondary education and training with $56 million over three years for more capacity to nine Aboriginal Institutes in Ontario.
A.I.A.I. Grand Chief Gord Peters expresses “This is a good beginning especially in that the budget recognizes in their analysis that First Nations were not included in the 2016 infrastructure costs and climate change. While attention should be given to these fields and more than likely will be in the coming future, the fact that so much attention will finally be given to issues that have seen very little of it in the past is very encouraging. The support for key initiatives in education, development in physical and mental health programs, and investments in the Aboriginal Economic Development Fund will all bring more support for those that so badly need it”
A.I.A.I. Deputy Grand Chief Denise Stonefish adds “Now that Ontario has passed an Order-in-Council supporting the missing and murdered Indigenous women inquiry, Ontario is giving more attention to ensuring that the inquiry investigations include provincial jurisdiction in policing, and social services. The $72 million province wide investment can give improvements to those that need special services, spread awareness of human trafficking and support is being provided to the families.”
This is a new step in strengthening the bonds between Indigenous peoples and the provincial government and for building new relationships so that First Nations Communities will receive the help that they have long deserved.