AMC statement on the 2019 Manitoba budget

March 8, 2019

Treaty One Territory, Manitoba

AMC Communications

TREATY ONE TERRITORY, MB _ The Province of Manitoba’s Finance Minister Scott Fielding announced the province’s fourth provincial budget under Premier Brian Pallister on March 7.

Acting Grand Chief Betsy Kennedy for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs states:

On Indigenous and Northern Relations:
“I’m glad the Province has decided to increase spending on Indigenous and Northern Relations but the AMC remains committed to pursuing the nation-to-nation relationship with the federal government while maintaining a working relationship with the province. We want federal transfer payments to come directly to First Nations and not through a third-party like the Government of Manitoba who decides whether they will invest resources or how much. There have been a number of times now when Manitoba holds out for months at a time on anticipated revenues from Canada.  We have the capacity to administer these resources, so move the monies our way. ”

On Child and Family Services:
“While funding for child and family services has increased slightly, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs is still pushing Ottawa to accept the Manitoba-specific federal legislation that AMC developed with input from grassroots, leadership, Elders, children, and family specialists. We have the solutions; we just need the inherent jurisdiction to put those solutions into action.

“We also want this government to reconsider their Social Impact Bonds initiative that will allow for private corporations to profit from the provision of social services, relied on heavily by the most vulnerable in our province.  Manitoba needs to continue to invest in those agencies and organizations that are already delivering high-quality programming and services. There is no need to outsource the financing of social programs to wealthy consultants and corporations.”

On the decrease on the PST:
“It is a fact that First Nations are generally in a lower tax bracket then the rest of the province when it comes to income, so lowering the PST will help our citizens. And yes, we do pay taxes despite the myth that we don’t.”

On the reserving $20 million to allow the province to sign the upcoming addictions and mental health bilateral agreement with the federal government:
“The AMC welcomes strengthening investments in public mental health and addictions services, with a focus on improving accessibility and reducing stigma. Manitobans seeking help for addictions are usually First Nation citizens. It is our expectation that Manitoba will work with the AMC to co-create a First Nation focused mental health and addictions strategy.”

On funding improvements to airports at St. Theresa Point, Norway House and Shamattawa:
“The AMC welcomes this investment to these remote and northern communities as they have large populations to service but unfortunately no amount was announced. But we need to keep in mind that Manitoba owns and operates 22 airports located throughout northern Manitoba. These airports primarily serve First Nations communities and are often the only means of year-round transport. As well as supporting economic development, these airports are the vital lifelines for the communities for medical and social services.

“Manitoba has restricted operations and maintenance to Monday-Friday only with runway maintenance occurring only in response to a medical emergency. This government also recently privatized Government Air Services, including Lifeflight and forest fire suppression. These are risky decisions and will not generate savings without compromising quality and safety. Manitoba is able to balance their books and reduce deficits through cost saving measures on the backs of the health and safety of our First Nations citizens. If Manitoba is set on making these kinds of cost saving measures, then we need to have a discussion on how we address the lack of all-weather road infrastructure for these communities — the type of infrastructure afforded all other Manitobans.”