Investment in Indigenous communities a priority, says province
- EFN Staff | March 26, 2019
The Saskatchewan Party says last week’s provincial budget shows it continues to support Indigenous communities with funding programs and initiatives, but the Opposition disagrees.
The province’s 2019-20 Budget provides more than $211 million in targeted investment that will benefit Indigenous communities, businesses and organizations. This is a 4.7 per cent increase over last year.
“This government is committed to an ongoing dialogue with First Nations and Métis people,” Minister Responsible for First Nations, Métis and Northern Affairs Warren Kaeding said in a media release. “In the spirit of reconciliation and mutual benefit, we will continue to contribute to the social, educational, cultural and infrastructure programs needed in our Indigenous communities. We will continue to work with our Indigenous partners, hand-in-hand, to support their prosperity and champion their continued contributions to the provincial economy.”
The 2019-20 investment highlights include $72.4 million in gaming agreement transfers to First Nations and Métis organizations; $45 million to First Nations and Métis community-based organizations that deliver individual and community supports to First Nations and Métis people. In addition, resources have been allocated to the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency to provide more efficient and responsive emergency services to Indigenous and all Saskatchewan communities.
According to the Saskatchewan NDP, they said the provincial budget fails to live up to its only promise: balance. Meanwhile, it has nothing to offer the majority of Saskatchewan people, who are struggling, and leaves Saskatchewan students, families and seniors paying the price for the government’s cuts.
“Far too many people are paying far too much so this government can pat themselves on the back with false celebrations of balance,” said NDP Leader Ryan Meili in a media release.
Pointing out that a budget is supposed to be a blueprint for a government’s vision of what it seeks to achieve, Finance Critic Trent Wotherspoon sees nothing of that here, and nothing for the majority of Saskatchewan people.
“They’ve tripled the debt, doubled the PST, flattened the economy, and left students without the supports they need…There’s nothing here for working families who are, frankly, more worried about balancing their own budgets than the province’s,” Wotherspoon said. “There is nothing here for children, nothing for young people and families, nothing for seniors, nothing for people who are worried about losing their job, nothing for the North, and nothing for First Nations & Métis people…This is an off-balance budget that’s out of touch with Saskatchewan.”
The Federation of Indigenous Sovereign Nations (FSIN) was unavailable to comment on the provincial budget.