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MKO’s Response to Budget 2022

Press Release

April 7, 2022

Treaty Five Territory, Thompson, MB – Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Inc. (MKO) is issuing this statement in response to Budget 2022 shared by the Government of Canada today.

Grand Chief Garrison Settee shares:

“Budget 2022 focuses on the theme of growing our economy and making life more affordable. It contains many measures that are important to Northern First Nations, including $6 billion over five years to support community infrastructure projects in Indigenous communities. There is a serious need to invest in infrastructure in MKO First Nations.

The budget states that housing is a basic human need and an economic imperative. The budget says over the next 10 years, the country plans to double the number of new homes that are built. There is a significant need for First Nations to see investments in housing for citizens living both on and off reserve. We know there is a major lack of housing in MKO First Nations, which leads to overcrowded housing and hidden homelessness. I am hopeful the $2.4 billion over five years to support First Nations housing on reserve will assist us in making progress to address the housing deficit in Northern Manitoba First Nations.

There is also a lack of affordable housing off reserve. I am concerned about the disproportionate number of First Nations people who are living unhoused. I urge those working in the housing sector to continue working diligently to make housing more accessible for all MKO citizens.

I am pleased to know there is continued support to address the issue missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls (MMIWG). The issue of MMIWG continues to be a priority for MKO. There is an urgent need for the government to continue to advance the National Action Plan to respond to the final report from the National Inquiry on MMIWG. This work is essential to saving the lives of Indigenous women, girls, Two Spirit, and gender-diverse people.

In the area of justice, additional funding to enable First Nations people to access legal aid services is welcome as First Nations citizens continued to be overrepresented within the justice system.

While First Nations citizens have Treaty rights when it comes to accessing health services, including dental care, there are continued delays when it comes to getting our babies and children recognized as Status First Nations citizens. Having access to a national dental care program will have a positive impact to MKO citizens who are waiting and struggling to receive their status.

The Province of Manitoba will see a per capita investment through the Canada Health Transfer to support health systems concerns to reduce the pandemic-induced backlog of surgeries and procedures. As the system was experiencing backlogs prior to the pandemic, this should provide an opportunity for Manitoba to rethink how to provide better diagnostics and surgeries. We need to see improvements There has be a more efficient way to help people access treatment, as people are dying prematurely and living in pain because of this backlog.

I am pleased to see investments into mental wellness for First Nations. MKO leaders and citizens have ongoing concerns when it comes to mental wellness support for MKO citizens of all ages.

Jordan River Anderson, a young boy from Norway House Cree Nation, is honoured within Budget 2022. The budget expresses a continued commitment to honouring Jordan’s legacy through investments into the Jordan’s Principal program. MKO will continue to work closely with federal and provincial partners to address the need for holistic services and programs to benefit the well-being of children and youth in MKO First Nations.

We are pleased to see the Government of Canada plans to fully implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Act and have dedicated funding to this work.

It is positive to see the federal government acknowledge their role with residential schools in Manitoba in Budget 2022. I am pleased to see this budget continues the work of addressing the legacy of harms and discrimination to Indigenous children and families related to the child welfare system, the Sixties Scoop, as well as residential and day schools. MKO will continue to work closely with all levels of government to address the painful and ongoing legacy of these systems.

MKO is keenly interested in the proposed Framework Agreement on First Nations Land Management Act (FNLMA) due to our ongoing efforts to ensure that the recognition, respect, enforcement, and adjudication of First Nation Laws and By-laws are upheld. MKO has worked closely with the First Nations Lands Management Board and has a keen interest in seeing the expansion of signatory communities under the FNLMA regain control over the administration and full law-making authority over their reserve lands, environment, and natural resources.

Budget 2022 states the federal government ‘remains committed to ensuring all First Nations communities have access to clean drinking water.’ The introduction of the Clean Drinking Water and Better Infrastructure for First Nations Communities is something MKO would welcome. The repeal of the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act is long overdue and MKO looks forward to a process driven by First Nations to develop this new legislation.

Economic development is a concern for MKO First Nations as we struggle with high rates of unemployment. The investments into working with First Nations on minerals and resources and in developing a framework for sharing benefits regarding these resources is welcome. It is essential to increase our capacity when it comes to developing our economies while also respecting and protecting the environment.

Climate change continues to be a concern and we welcome the co-development of an Indigenous Climate Leadership Agenda. Many MKO First Nations are isolated and remote, and the winter road network is our lifeline. MKO urges the Government of Canada to work with Northern First Nations to seek solutions to ensure the continuation of the shipment of essential supplies and building materials to our MKO First Nations. The new reality of our ever-changing climate conditions has a tremendous impact on our peoples. Wildfire season will soon be upon us and the investments for training fire fighters, purchasing equipment, and creating a wildfire satellite monitoring system are much needed.

There is much work to do in advancing the well-being of all MKO citizens. On behalf of MKO, I look forward to continuing our strong working relationship with the Government of Canada.”

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For more information:
Melanie Ferris, MKO Communications
Phone: 204-612-1284
Email: [email protected]

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