TORONTO — The province of Ontario and it’s new Progressive Conservative government announced it’s first budget, cutting funding for indigenous programs and services in half.
The 2019 budget for the Ministry of Indigenous Affairs went from $146 million to $74.4 million in addition to major changes in northern communities.
The Association of Iroquois and Allied Indians issued a statement about the funding reduction saying the province’s indigenous affairs office was established to promote provincial partnerships with indigenous communties.
“By cutting the budget by almost 50% with no specifics could be a hard hit to many communities. Association of Iroquois and Allied Chiefs Joel Abram states “The potential repeal to the Far North Act is certainly a concern for our northern relations, and we are going to have to take a deeper look at how this budget will affect the investments in our communities. First Nations understand more than most about having to make do with less and know the realities of having little to no money for just the bare essentials. That’s why it’s deeply disappointing to see such deep cuts to the budget items related to First Nations who are some of the most vulnerable populations already.”
Abram says “One also has to wonder about the reason behind the cancellation of the already paid for and ready to be implemented Truth and Reconciliation curriculum. I certainly hope hiding or denying the truths and impacts about the residential school experience isn’t the reason.
Abrams says, “The Ford government claims that it is willing to work with First Nations communities and that it made a commitment to improve access to education, skills, training and economic development. We will soon see through these initiatives and basic conduct whether this government is interested in working with First Nations in a respectful manner or whether we will see a regression to a darker past.”