NAN Reacts to 2010 Provincial Budget

THUNDER BAY, ON, March 26 /CNW/ - Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Stan Beardy is reacting to the McGuinty government's 2010 Ontario Budget tabled yesterday.

"The Ontario government failed to listen to NAN First Nations in taking a partnership approach. We are indeed disappointed as we were hoping for more financial support for our communities such as more funding allocated for land-use planning," said NAN Grand Chief Stan Beardy. "In order for us to consent to any development on our homelands, there must be more of an incentive for First Nations."

The Ontario Budget made mention of a commitment by the province to support the development of a massive mineral deposit in an area known as Ring of Fire. The province will provide 45 million dollars over the next three years towards 'project-based skills training program to help Aboriginal Peoples and northern Ontarians participate in and benefit from emerging economic development opportunities.'

"The funding is a good start however it's a very little amount compared to the number of people across Northern Ontario that require training support," said Beardy. "It's crucial for our communities to be given the opportunity to upgrade our education and job-training so we can be full partners in the development on our own traditional lands. This funding will offer virtually no support for the NAN communities impacted by the Ring of Fire development."

The Ontario government outlined a plan the help eliminate the province's record deficit and included a promise of no new taxes for the upcoming year. Beardy says the implementation of the new Harmonized Sales Tax will pose a new and major tax hike for NAN communities, where the cost of living is already extremely high.

"It is our Treaty right to have a point-of-sale tax exemption, but once the Harmonized Sales Tax (HST) comes into effect, the exemption will no longer exist. That means a significant tax increase for us. The HST will pose a burden on NAN communities and the province should put forth more of an effort in trying to relieve that burden," said Beardy.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation is a political territorial organization representing 49 First Nation communities in James Bay Treaty 9 and Ontario portions of Treaty 5 - an area covering two thirds of the province of Ontario.

SOURCE NISHNAWBE ASKI NATION

For further information: For further information: Amy Harris, Media Relations Officer - Nishnawbe Aski Nation, (807) 625-4906 or (807) 252-2806 mobile or by email aharris@nan.on.ca

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NISHNAWBE ASKI NATION

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ONTARIO BUDGET 2010

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