March 21st, 2019

2019 Liberal Budget Fails Indigenous Communities

OTTAWA – Budget 2019 was Prime Minister Trudeau’s last chance to put people first. Instead, the Liberals delivered a budget that fails to address the most basic needs for Indigenous communities in Canada. The budget echoes no urgency to tackle the on-reserve housing crisis and there is no additional money for health services in Indigenous communities, while health disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people are immense.

“First Nations and Métis people in Northern Saskatchewan are upset about this. There is no funding for suicide prevention in the North, no added funding for medical clinics, no universal pharmacare system and no new funding for our traditional ways of healing,” said NDP Indigenous Health Services Critic, Georgina Jolibois. “This budget is an insult from a Liberal government that claims to champion Indigenous rights.”

Furthermore, the Liberal budget adds no core funding for on-reserve primary and secondary education.

“The government missed its last chance to do right by Indigenous kids. Jordan’s Principle is still underfunded. There is not a cent of funding attached to the new child welfare bill they’ve spent months patting their own backs over. And every year with no new money for housing and K-12 education is another year that Indigenous kids fall farther and farther behind,” said NDP Indigenous Youth Critic, Charlie Angus. “This is not a budget that is doing much to close the gap for and address the real needs of Indigenous communities.”

Earlier this year, NDP Northern MPs held a press conference to call on Prime Minister Trudeau to address the mould widespread crisis in on-reserve homes across the country. The Liberal budget failed to even note the crisis, much less seriously tackling a crisis that is causing serious health issues for First Nations across Canada.

“There is nothing in the Liberal budget to address the housing crisis we see in First Nations in Northern Manitoba and across the country,” said NDP Deputy Critic for Reconciliation, Niki Ashton. “With long waiting lists, overcrowded homes and tens of thousands of homes that are rotting with mould, you would think that this would be on their priority list. Half steps won’t cut it. This continued failure is a stain on Canada.”

The Liberals have also failed to respect what language keepers have told them: in order to prevent the extinction of Indigenous languages, there must be large, sustained and core funding immediately.

“This budget does not reflect the urgency Indigenous Peoples are tackling after generations of forced assimilation and the destruction of their cultures. We have faced the disruption of our identities, languages and ways of being because of colonial laws. Canada is obligated to take special measures for redress and we need more commitment now,” said NDP Critic for Reconciliation, Romeo Saganash. “How much longer do people need to live in rotting houses? How many more children need to die by suicide? How many languages need to go extinct? We must do better.”