AMC Concerned Over Proposed Cuts to Indigenous Services Funding, Urges Adequate Investment Based on AMC’s Alternative Budget
August 28, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expresses deep concern and frustration in response to the recent announcement by Indigenous Services Minister, Patty Hajdu, regarding spending cuts within her department.
“The assertion that the proposed cuts will exclusively target bureaucratic inefficiencies and not affect service delivery is a gross mischaracterization of the reality on the ground,” said AMC Grand Chief Cathy Merrick. “Our people are already grappling with chronically underfunded and understaffed service delivery systems. Further cutting this funding would be a grave disservice to the very people that need these services to survive.”
The estimated drop in spending from $23.6 billion in 2022-2023 to a mere $16 billion by 2025-26 sends a clear message that First Nations well-being is not a priority. “It is disheartening that the broader government directive to seek cost savings often comes at the expense of First Nations people,” said Grand Chief Merrick. The proposed cuts, if implemented, will not only hinder the progress toward reconciliation but also perpetuate the cycle of challenges faced by First Nations.
The AMC’s Alternative Budget highlights that Canada should allocate at least $24 billion to support the needs and priorities of Manitoba First Nations in the 2024-25 fiscal year. This figure is driven by the massive infrastructure requirements of Manitoba’s First Nations schools, which necessitate $10.1 billion for essential improvements.
Furthermore, the AMC calls for the dismantling of colonial fiscal relations between Canada and First Nations in Manitoba. It advocates for granting First Nations governments in Manitoba oversight and direction over the administration of long-term and predictable funding for services. This approach is essential in areas such as Jordan’s Principle Implementation and Child and Family Services, where the current system falls short.
Grand Chief Merrick firmly asserts that First Nations governments in Manitoba must be granted the autonomy to administer and receive fiscal transfers for services directly, without the intermediation of the province of Manitoba. This change is imperative to ensure that funding reaches First Nation citizens effectively, addressing their unique needs and priorities.
The AMC calls upon the federal government to reconsider these proposed cuts and engage in meaningful and ongoing conversations with First Nations leadership. The AMC stresses the importance of a collaborative approach that respects the expertise and needs of First Nations. This approach should be rooted in increasing investments, rather than diminishing resources. “Meaningful reconciliation cannot be achieved by further eroding the already insufficient resources available to our people,” concluded Grand Chief Merrick.
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.