Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Responds to 2024 Provincial Budget Announcements

April 2, 2024

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) Grand Chief Cathy Merrick issues the following statement in response to the April 2, 2024, provincial budget announcement.

Health, Seniors, and Long-Term Care

“We have a long way to go, but we’re heading in the right direction. I’m curious to know what the financial commitments are to ensure equitable First Nations representation in medicine. Manitoba has the highest percentage by population of First Nations Peoples of all Canadian provinces, and I urge the government to consider this when assessing staffing needs and personnel allocations. First Nations must be represented by faculty, mentors, and healthcare providers. Incorporating First Nations staffing into healthcare strategy is crucial. By recruiting and training healthcare professionals from First Nations, we can address the shortages while promoting cultural sensitivity and inclusivity. I want to emphasize there is still a huge deficit to bring Manitoba up to par in healthcare, especially in remote and Northern areas. Collaborating with First Nations workers, First Nations organizations, and unions is essential for crafting strategies that foster a culturally competent healthcare environment, and the AMC is ready to collaborate with the province to ensure this goal is realized. Furthermore, we are pleased to see initiatives such as increasing detox beds and providing free prescription birth control for all Manitobans, which are critical steps towards addressing broader healthcare needs and promoting wellness in our Nations.

Last year, the AMC Chiefs-in-Assembly passed a resolution titled ‘Development and Enforcement of Elder Protection Codes in First Nations,’ urging all levels of government to address the protection of Elders from abuse and neglect. I am pleased to witness the inclusion of this initiative in today’s budget announcement.

Manitoba’s investment of $1.845 million to implement a province-wide suicide prevention strategy, with a special focus on Indigenous and 2SLGBTQQIA+ youth, is commendable. I am pleased to see a significant investment in our youth, who unfortunately hold the highest rate of suicide in the country. We have far too often seen First Nations facing states of emergency due to epidemic levels of suicides and suicide attempts. A chronic lack of mental health supports for youth in crisis has exacerbated this issue, and this initiative marks a step towards addressing it with a focus on long-term solutions. The alarming rates of First Nations suicides are interconnected with various factors, including the repercussions of colonialism, discrimination, community upheaval, and the erosion of culture and language. I am glad to see the government taking steps to address these longstanding issues.”

Children and Families

“Manitoba’s child welfare system has and continues to operate in a deficit. Despite the increase for the Department of Families, the limited allocation to support the well-being of children and families within the child welfare system is concerning. The lack of funding, including the lack of clarity for funding for protection, prevention, and reunification, further perpetuates the status quo, impacting the outcome and future of First Nation children and families.

The vision and intent of the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry- Child Welfare Initiative was to transfer authority over child welfare to First Nations. This was 24 years ago, which has never become a reality for First Nations. The AMC will continue to advocate for restoring First Nations jurisdiction by pursuing a tripartite process with Manitoba and Canada to fully implement the Aboriginal Justice Inquiry recommendations identified in the call for Justice 5.1 of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) National Inquiry. We encourage the government to work with First Nations meaningfully to support the total transfer of jurisdiction back where it belongs – with our Nations.”

Housing and Homelessness

“The announcement to allocate $1 million for fast-access loans to prevent rent or utility arrears, thus reducing the risk of eviction, seems promising. However, we require further clarification regarding its impact on families receiving Employment and Income Assistance. Given their limited budget under EIA, these families are already facing financial hardship and may not be able to afford a loan.

Many off-reserve First Nations experience homelessness, precarity, and unaffordable rent burdens – all of which have severely deepened due to soaring inflation and rising costs of housing. The AMC calls on the provincial government to work with AMC to develop a First Nations’ Urban Housing Strategy that would allow for funding for research into the housing needs of First Nations citizens living off-reserve in Manitoba, including a service delivery model for off-reserve housing programs.”


“We are pleased to see the opening of safe injection sites, drug tests, and the expansion of detox beds with the Province’s commitment of $1.5 million to enhance treatment for Manitobans grappling with addictions. However, the AMC calls on the Province to collaborate with the AMC and the First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba to ensure equitable access to detox beds and treatment options. It is imperative that these services are culturally appropriate and sensitive to the needs of First Nations communities in Manitoba. By working together, we can ensure that all Manitobans, including those from First Nations backgrounds, have access to the support and care they need to overcome addiction and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.”


“I’m glad that the Premier has followed through on his commitment to search the landfill and continue to urge all levels of government to partner with the AMC to fulfill their commitments to support First Nations-led approaches and capacity building. The over-representation of First Nations affected by MMIWG2S persists, emphasizing the Province’s obligation to honour and respect First Nations’ active participation in seeking justice for this ongoing crisis.”


“While we appreciate the $20 million increase to address crime and its root causes, we are disappointed by the $602,000 reduction in victim services funding. This funding is crucial in supporting families affected by violent crimes. The AMC can assist Manitoba in engaging AMC member First Nations in developing a comprehensive public safety strategy that integrates law enforcement, community safety patrols, families, and educators, focusing on reducing youth crime.”

The AMC has conducted a study on the connection between the child welfare system and involvement in the justice system for First Nations youth in Manitoba. Additionally, the AMC is establishing a youth advisory group to address the over-representation of youth in both systems. The investment of $1.2 million in program enhancement for youth will directly and positively impact our First Nations youth.

Northern Relations

“As part of the government’s immediate priority to expedite the Treaty Land Entitlement, I encourage the Province to collaboratively develop a plan with First Nations for a path forward to settle any and all land debt owed to First Nations. Manitoba is cutting municipal and Northern support services by $386,000, which puts Northern residents at further risk, as many fire trucks are operating at subpar levels, and some are completely inoperable due to lack of funding to fix them, forcing many communities to watch their homes or buildings burn.”

Transportation and Infrastructure

“St. Theresa Point and Berens previously sought funding for an all-season road linking the two First Nations. This is crucial for year-round accessibility, given the narrowing window for winter road driving due to climate changes. While this request has not been fully honoured in this budget, a partial commitment of $1.1 million through a cost-sharing agreement between Indigenous Services Canada and the Province of Manitoba will reinstate a winter road between the Nations, and this is a good first step. The AMC will continue to advocate for an all-season road for St. Theresa Point and other remote First Nations needing better access and infrastructure.”

Indigenous Economic Development

“Manitoba has dedicated $67.5 million to Indigenous Economic Development, 350% more than last year’s conservative government budget. Strengthening First Nations’ economic development initiatives is an important step in advancing Reconciliation, which must occur within all aspects of the Crown-First Nations relationship. First Nations populations are fast-growing, so we strongly insist that there be a specific First Nations-led component to this approach to economic development.”

Emergency Management

“I’m disappointed to see emergency funding for natural disasters such as forest fires and flooding has been reduced to $50 million from $100 million. Year after year, our Nations face the continuous risk of flooding and fires. This remains a huge concern for the AMC and our member Nations. We have witnessed the long-term damages of natural disasters on remote First Nations, some of whom are still waiting to go home after families and children were evacuated from their homes. The displacement and dislocation require dire support to evacuate communities, provide shelter, and rebuild infrastructure safely.”

For more information, please contact:

Communications Team
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 172,000 First Nations citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anisininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.