Federal budget - Investments in Housing and Safe Drinking Water to Aboriginal
Communities: "A Far Cry from the Needs"

WENDAKE, QC, Feb. 19 /CNW Telbec/ - In the recently-adopted federal budget, $400 M, over a two-year period, have been earmarked for First Nation on-reserve housing. An additional $165 M have been allocated for the completion of infrastructure projects related to safe drinking water and wastewater. At first sight, these figures seem very interesting, but they do not cover the needs estimated by the Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador (AFNQL) for reserves situated in Quebec/Labrador. "These amounts are a far cry from reality", explains the Chief of the AFNQL, Ghislain Picard.

Out of the announced $400 M, Quebec will get, at the very best, $20 M per year for two years. The needs would require ten times this amount, and this, over a five-year period, in order the meet the social housing needs of the First Nations of Quebec/Labrador. Also, no measure has been provided for thousands of aboriginals living off-reserve in alarming situations.

In regards to improving the conditions linked to safe drinking water as well as wastewater, the AFNQL estimated the needs of the communities on the Quebec territory as being close to $100 M. "Communities, such as Kitcisakik, are still living in this day and age, without individual access to drinking water. This is absolutely unacceptable!", exclaimed Ghislain Picard. The budget foresees $165 M, and this is for all the regions across Canada. It is therefore inconceivable to believe that the measures which were announced will have a real impact of improvement on the conditions to access drinking water and rehabilitate wastewater.

In brief, although the budget meets the financial needs in the housing and drinking water sectors, the amounts that were announced are still too negligible to ensure decent living for the aboriginal populations of Quebec/Labrador.

The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador is the regional organization regrouping the Chiefs of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador.

SOURCE Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador

For further information: For further information: Alain Garon, Communication Officer, AFNQL, (418) 842-5020


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