AFN National Chief Calling for a First Nations Economic Stimulus Package at Meeting with First Ministers



    OTTAWA, Jan. 15 /CNW Telbec/ - Assembly of First Nations National Chief
Phil Fontaine will be presenting his plans for a First Nations economic
stimulus package when he meets with First Ministers in Ottawa this evening.
    "Canadians want action and the AFN has a plan," the National Chief said.
"Our plan is practical, achievable and it makes good economic sense for all
Canadians."
    The AFN plan calls for a portion of the expected federal economic
stimulus to target investments in three key areas:

    
    - First Nations infrastructure;
    - First Nations education;
    - and support for partnerships between First Nations and the private
      sector through a repayable loan fund.
    

    "Under our plan we can get shovels in the ground tomorrow," the National
Chief stated. "We know where houses are needed, we know where schools are
needed and we know which communities need safe drinking water. The problem is
not an absence of information, it is an absence of action. Now is the time for
action."
    As an example, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation estimates that
every $1 million invested in housing creates 5.4 years of direct employment
and 18.2 years of indirect employment. First Natons currently require 87,000
new housing units to deal with overcrowding and unsafe conditions and 44,000
units that need repairs.
    The National Chief said investments in education are important because
First Nations are the youngest and fastest growing segment of the population.
    "Canada's population is ageing at the same time as the First Nations
population is coming of age," the National Chief said. "More than half our
people are under the age of 25. We must invest in education and training for
First Nations so Canada can remain a productive and competitive country. We
literally cannot afford to lose this generation."
    The AFN's proposed loan fund is designed to secure economic stability and
growth. The federal government estimates that there will be $350 billion of
economic activity and development in First Nations territories in the coming
years.
    "First Nations must be involved for these ventures to be successful," the
National Chief said. "Our loan fund will support First Nations participation
in this work as well as other economic development activities. These loans are
repayable with interest so this will not be an expense for the Canadian
government."
    The AFN plan calls also for First Nations and government to work together
on a long-term plan to turn First Nations poverty into prosperity.
    "We understand how Canadians are feeling because First Nations have been
in recession for years," the National Chief stated. "This crisis is
unprecedented, yet it also presents and unprecedented opportunity to create a
better quality of life for First Nations while creating jobs and a stronger
economy for all Canadians. The message I will be taking to First Ministers is:
strong First Nations make a stronger Canada."

    The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing
    First Nations citizens in Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Don Kelly, A/Communications Director, Assembly
of First Nations, (613) 241-6789 ext. 334, cell: (613) 292-2787,
dkelly@afn.ca; Gina Cosentino, Government Relations and International Affairs
National Chief"s Office, Assembly of First Nations, Cell: (613) 314-2661,
gcosentino@afn.ca


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