National chief reacts to Alternative Federal Budget

Tuesday, March 12, 2013   by: Staff




Assembly of First Nations national chief calls for key investments to realize full potential of First Nations

OTTAWA (March 12, 2013) - With today's release of the Alternative Federal Budget by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo today called for concrete investments in priority areas set by First Nations an economic imperative for Canada.

"Now more than ever we must be seized by the potential of First Nations in this country, and it starts by achieving fairness, respect and opportunity," said AFN National Chief Shawn Atleo. "We have the youngest and fastest growing population that if educated and trained fairly and equitably, could close the pending labour shortage gap in Canada, not to mention the over $600 billion of proposed economic development projects currently planned in or near First Nation territories. With key and concrete investments in education and skills training, First Nations will be in a better position to participate fully in the Canadian economy, drive their own sustainable economies and create the growing, thriving communities that so many other people in Canada enjoy."

In the 172-page document "Doing Better Together" released this morning in Ottawa, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives warns that more austerity measures from the federal government could further stall an already stagnant economy. 

The Alternative Federal Budget proposes a plan focused on economic recovery, creating jobs, investing in infrastructure, boosting green industries, strengthening the tax system, and reducing inequality, particularly for First Nations.

With specific attention to First Nations, the Alternative Federal Budget proposes to create a fair system of federal transfers to First Nations, to invest in First Nations education systems, safe drinking water, housing, health, and to strengthen First Nations economies.

"First Nations must no longer be an afterthought, or victims of unfairness, inefficiencies and waste of a system that does not work. We must address the gaps in critical funding and supports - part of our work to transform the fiscal relationship between First Nations and the federal government - to achieve adequate, stable and predictable federal transfers that reflect the spirit and intent of Treaties and First Nations' inherent jurisdiction," said National Chief Atleo. "We must at the very minimum achieve parity with provincial funding rates, reflective of the real cost of delivering services in our territories and to meet growing needs and challenges of citizens, and we must achieve flexibility to provide for decision-making power to First Nation governments."

For the chapter of the Alternative Federal Budget dedicated to First Nations visit here, and for full text and infographics visit here.

The Assembly of First Nations is the national organization representing First Nations citizens in Canada.

Follow AFN on Twitter @NCAtleo, @AFN_Comms, @AFN_Updates.