BY: GRAND CHIEF GORD PETERS
LONDON, ON – Indigenous communities are being left behind yet again by Stephen Harper’s conservative government. In his 2015 budget, he offers extensive tax cuts for the wealthiest 15 per cent of tax payers, while in the same breath balances the books by shortchanging First Nations on vital programs and services.
Notably absent from the budget is any sort of stimulus to support First Nations to grow our economies, improve our citizen’s quality of life, or collaborate on natural resources. Also lacking are adequate dollars to bring on-reserve education up-to-par with Canadian systems.
The budget offers meager support for our communities in the form of recycled and re-profiled money that has already been announced in previous budgets. It completely fails to address growing inequities in health, education and child welfare for Indigenous communities.
This pre-election budget sends a clear message to Canadian voters – the conservative government is determined to line the pockets of upper and middle-class voters, and First Nations do not register anywhere on his radar.
While Harper positions himself to head to the ballot box, our communities are fighting for equal funding for education and child welfare. Many communities don’t have access to clean drinking water, and our citizens are facing housing shortages, poorer health outcomes, and higher rates of poverty.
Canada cannot continue to shirk its responsibilities to First Nations in order line to pockets of the wealthiest 15 per cent of Canadians.
AIAI is mandated as a Provincial Territorial Organization (PTO) to defend and enhance the Aboriginal and Treaty rights of our seven member First Nations. Our member nations include: Batchewana First Nation, Caldwell First Nation, Delaware Nation, Hiawatha First Nation, Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, Oneida Nation of the Thames, and the Wahta Mohawks. Learn more at www.aiai.on.ca, on Twitter @AIAI_comms and on Facebook.