First Nation leader responds to budget



    Investments in social housing 'a good start', Beaucage

    OTTAWA, Jan. 27 /CNW/ - The federal budget certainly wasn't reflective of
First Nations expectations, nor close to what was offered by the First
Ministers at Kelowna, but the budget does need to address overall economic
uncertainty according to Grand Council Chief John Beaucage. He also called the
government's investment in on-reserve social housing "a good start".
    An economist by education, Grand Council Chief Beaucage understands the
need to balance economic stability with enhancement to First Nations
communities.
    "A strong Canadian economy is necessary to ensure continued investment in
First Nations governments and economies," said Grand Council Chief Beaucage.
"Our goal is to build self-sustainable First Nations economies as a means of
eliminating poverty."
    Grand Council Chief was disappointed that the Government did not include
a more significant economic stimulus package for First Nations in the budget.
The Assembly of First Nations and the Chiefs of Ontario had put forward
proposals for $3 billion in additional spending for First Nations, mainly
through investments in infrastructure, housing and economic development.
    However, as the AFN national portfolio holder for housing, Beaucage was
pleased to see a commitment of $400 million toward on-reserve social housing.
    "We cannot discount the tremendous need for social housing on-reserve. In
reality, the majority of our citizens are unable to afford their own homes and
have difficulty finding affordable housing," said Beaucage. "As far as I'm
concerned, this investment is a good start and needs further consideration in
future budgets."
    Other First Nations components in the budget include: $305 million over
two years has been ear-marked to improve health outcomes and $20 million over
two years to improve child and family services on First Nations; $100 million
over three years toward an Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership (ASEP)
initiative, with a goal of creating 6,000 jobs; $75 million in a two-year
Aboriginal Skills and Training Strategic Investment program: and $515 million
toward "ready-to-go" community infrastructure projects, including school,
water and community projects.
    "I'm really pleased to see priority given to First Nations skills
development," said Beaucage. "Investment in our youth and potential workforce
will go a long way in ensuring a bright future of First Nations and Canada's
economy."
    Grand Council Chief Beaucage has advice for Parliamentarians following
the budget - the need for political stability during a recession and that the
deficit may be compounded in future budgets.
    "Parliament must be able to work together, with First Nations and all
Canadians, and move toward positive financial growth," said Beaucage. "This
goal shouldn't be compromised through further political crisis or through a
policy of permanent deficit."

    The Anishinabek Nation established the Union of Ontario Indians as its
political advocate and secretariat in 1949. The Union of Ontario Indians is
the oldest political organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to
the Confederacy of Three Fires that have existed long before European contact.





For further information:

For further information: Marci Becking, Communications Officer, Union of
Ontario Indians, (705) 497-9127 ext. 2290, becmar@anishinabek.ca; or Bob
Goulais, info@bobgoulais.com, (705) 498-5250

Organization Profile

Anishinabek Nation

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Union of Ontario Indians

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