TORONTO – Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day expressed his disappointment over the Ontario budget, saying on many fronts it failed to include First Nations communities.
Day said while there are positives to the 350 page report, the budget failed to provide funding for the current child welfare crisis or include Ontario First Nations communities in infrastructure spending to combat climate change through green energy and environmental protection initiatives.
The province has yet to implement resource revenue sharing with Ontario First Nations.
Day said doing so would generate revenue contributing to the provinces economic growth.
Day told over 2,200 municipal leaders at a provincial governance conference early last week that partnering with First Nations on a variety of socio-economic fronts – from infrastructure to climate change – will stimulate Ontario’s economy and provide stability for decades to come.
“First Nations have been silent partners in Ontario’s economy since before Canada became a country,” said Regional Chief Day. “We signed Treaties to share the lands and resources that have made Ontario one of the richest regions in North America. First Nations also do millions of dollars of business annually in every town and city. Now it’s time to become true partners in prosperity. Securing a rightful place in Ontario’s new economic efforts around infrastructure is a focus for full First Nation inclusion in order to break the socio-economic conditions that are crippling far too many northern communities.”
“We need to guarantee that First Nations must be involved on all major infrastructure projects, whether it’s all season roads in the north, the new $4 billion Windsor-Detroit bridge, or the $2.4 billion that the province will spend on highways over the next several years. However, that involvement must include procurement, from First Nation construction and engineering firms, to catering and security,” said Day.
“First Nations must be front and centre on climate change initiatives, from the Great Lakes to the Boreal Forests,” said Chief Day. “In a province where 700,000 people live on 87 per cent of the land mass, it makes common sense that First Nations be allowed to finally fulfill our Treaty Rights, and preserve to protect our lands and waters for future generations. At the same time, together, we will build a better Ontario for all.”