July 11th, 2013

PBO confirms FIrst Nations schools in BC being underfunded by 50%

OTTAWA – A new report from the Parliament Budget Officer confirms that Conservatives are failing BC’s First Nations children by underfunding on-reserve schools by 50% — there is a $13 million gap annually in capital infrastructure investment.

“It’s shameful, because we are talking about the next generation of kids here and the education they need to succeed,” said New Democrat Aboriginal Affairs critic, Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan), who asked the PBO for the report.

“We are talking about the basic tool for education – a safe, modern school. The PBO said that too often the condition of the schools is only fair and there is no long-term capital planning to replace them as needed based on population and safety.”

The PBO report also revealed that on-reserve schools in BC are on average five years older than those funded by the province, and that an additional $4.5 million each year would be needed to bring First Nation schools up to the same standard and age.

“Conservatives keeps saying there’s no funding gap,” added Crowder. “But this report, based on government data, proves otherwise.”

“I was very concerned by the PBO’s 2009 report. The one published today confirms that the situation can only worsen with time without a change in priorities. The federal government must propose a long-term plan to correct this injustice, which penalizes First Nations children.”