OTTAWA, March 7, 2016 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde today called for immediate action to close the gap in the quality of life between First Nations people and Canada, in a pre-budget address to the Economic Club.
"The Gap in the quality of life between First Nations and Canada is intolerable and it cannot go on," said National Chief Bellegarde. "There is an immediate need to invest in the youngest, fastest growing population in Canada - First Nations peoples - and an historic opportunity to begin a new era of reconciliation with the upcoming federal budget. Now is the time for the government to invest in closing the gap between First Nations and Canada."
The National Chief set out key areas for investment for the upcoming federal budget, including education, health, housing, water and capital infrastructure, child and family services, environmental stewardship, economic development and social development. Calling for the elimination of the 2% cap on funding increases for First Nations, National Chief Bellegarde proposed it be replaced by a new fiscal framework based on fairness, sustainability and predictability. He emphasized that investments are important, but action to honour and implement First Nations rights must be part of the agenda to ensure strong First Nations and a stronger Canada.
"We know the country is facing difficult economic times, but let's remember that First Nations were left out in the good times," said National Chief Bellegarde. "We can't keep treating First Nations like second class citizens, living in third world conditions. This is why the AFN is putting forward a strategic plan based on investments that will stabilize our communities and create a solid foundation on which to build. Moving forward in partnership will build a stronger country for all of us. We will succeed when we work together."
The AFN is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada. Follow AFN on Twitter @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.
SOURCE Assembly of First Nations
For further information: Alain Garon, AFN Bilingual Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 382; 613-292-0857 or [email protected]; Jenna Young Castro, AFN Communications Officer, 613-241-6789, ext 401; 613-314-8157 or [email protected]