OTTAWA, March 21, 2013 /CNW/ - In response to the 2013 federal Budget
released today, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn
A-in-chut Atleo continues the call for transformative change requiring
key investments and a fundamentally new fiscal relationship based on
respect and fairness.
"Budget 2013 makes reference to First Nations in almost every section,
which suggests that the unprecedented attention and engagement of our
peoples is beginning to be heard, but the investment just isn't there,"
said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo.
The January 2012 Crown First Nations Gathering and the commitments
expressed on January 11, 2013 are critical to achieving meaningful and
long-term change for First Nations. Budget 2013 affirms the Prime
Minister's commitment to high-level dialogue on the Treaty relationship
and addressing comprehensive claims reform.
"We will continue to press for direct engagement of First Nations
themselves on full implementation of commitments in an urgent manner,"
said National Chief Atleo. "Growing awareness of the issues will
result, rightfully so, in growing expectations. This will continue
until our people see real action and real results. The change First
Nations seek will only be achieved once action matches words and we see
fundamental reform of key polices and investments that make sense. In
order to achieve fairness there must be respect for First Nations
inherent rights and responsibilities, and the Treaty relationship must
be implemented in ways that will see real results and change for our
peoples - our children in schools and our families in adequate homes
and safe communities."
The 2013 federal budget released today by Finance Minister Jim Flaherty
recognizes that First Nations young people represent the fastest
growing demographic in Canada at a time that the country is facing
labour shortages. It also notes that First Nations are located in
close proximity to major economic initiatives across the country -
approximately $650 billion worth in development projects as noted
earlier this year by National Resources Minister Joe Oliver.
"Mutual respect and partnership reflective of our constitutionally
protected rights and responsibilities are essential to achieving
reconciliation and economic opportunity for all First Nations and all
of Canada," said National Chief Atleo. "First Nations must no longer
be an afterthought, or victims of unfairness, inefficiencies and waste
of a system that does not work. Gaps in critical funding and supports
must be addressed -this is part of our work to transform the fiscal
relationship and we will be unrelenting in achieving this as a
foundation for reconciliation, justice and prosperity for First Nations
and for Canada. The severe socio-economic challenges facing our
peoples every day will only continue to worsen until we can achieve a
broader commitment that addresses the failure of past unilateral
legislative and policy initiatives, including the Indian Act and
existing bureaucratic regime."
Some areas identified for First Nations in Budget 2013 include: $241
million over 5 years for training for youth on social assistance; $10
million in post secondary scholarships, renewals of First Nations
policing, justice and family violence prevention programming and $155
million to support investments in First Nations infrastructure, an
extension of investments in First Nations commercial fisheries and a
reiterated commitment to exploring new funding mechanisms for First
Nations elementary and secondary education to ensure sustainable
National Chief Atleo added that First Nations will be seeking clarity on
the details relating to all budget announcements.
The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms,
SOURCE: ASSEMBLY OF FIRST NATIONS
For further information:
Jenna Young AFN Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Alain Garon AFN Bilingual Communications Officer 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or email@example.com