No surprises in today's budget, says First Nation leader

    SAULT STE. MARIE, ON, Feb. 26 /CNW/ - Grand Council Chief John Beaucage
expected no significant new investments in First Nations communities by the
Conservative government. As such, there were no surprises in the latest
Federal Budget tabled today.
    "The government has been in a relative 'holding pattern' and has not made
any real movement in improving First Nations quality of life. I am not
surprised that the budget didn't include any significant new investments to
First Nations communities," said Grand Council Chief John Beaucage, leader of
the 42-member First Nations of the Anishinabek Nation.
    There were some bright spots in the budget, namely $147 million over two
years to improve First Nations and Inuit health outcomes and integration with
provincial health systems. Grand Council Chief Beaucage will be meeting with
Health Minister Tony Clement on Saturday to present his vision for a new
approach to managing First Nations health benefits.
    Grand Council Chief Beaucage was also pleased to see $330 million in
additional funds to improve First Nations water systems.
    Moreover, First Nations were pleased to see substantial new investments
in infrastructure and commitment to enhancing post-secondary education for all
Canadians. Although these were not specifically allocated to aboriginal
people, government must do more to give First Nations access to these new
    "So often, First Nations are relegated to one department and cut off from
the rest of Canada's budget," said Beaucage. "We desperately need these
infrastructure dollars to offset a budget deficit in First Nations capital
    "We also need to give more access to post-secondary opportunities to
First Nations youth and adult learners. These new dollars need to get to where
they are most needed, First Nations communities," added Beaucage.
    The Anishinabek Nation remains optimistic and will be taking steps to
ensure their priorities are moved upon.
    In the next year, the Anishinabek Nation will be working with government
on a number of new programs and proposing specific federal investments

    -   A new funding model for First Nations capital and infrastructure
    -   New incentives for generating alternative energy
    -   New incentives for business and economic development
    -   Improving social housing on-reserve
    -   Enhancing youth programming
    -   Addressing a critical shortage of police and public safety resources
    -   Developing new First Nations language programs

    Beaucage says talk of a federal election will not change Anishinabek
policy and priorities.
    "We will not be deterred by a general election, as our agenda is
consistent no matter which party is in power," said Grand Council Chief John
Beaucage. "We want Canada to work with us on this, in a true
government-to-government partnership. As such, we hope to see these items
included in the next federal budget."

    The Anishinabek Nation incorporated the Union of Ontario Indians as its
secretariat in 1949. The UOI is a political advocate for 42 member First
Nations across Ontario. The Union of Ontario Indians is the oldest political
organization in Ontario and can trace its roots back to the Confederacy of
Three Fires, which existed long before European contact.

For further information:

For further information: Bob Goulais, Executive Assistant to the Grand
Council Chief, Phone: (705) 497-9127 (Ext. 2249) or cell: (705) 498-5250,

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Anishinabek Nation

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Union of Ontario Indians

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