Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs Responds to Provincial Budget Announcement
March 10, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba
TREATY ONE TERRITORY, MB – On March 7, 2023, Manitoba’s Finance Minister Cliff Cullen announced the $21.8 billion “Historic Help For Manitobans: Safer Streets. Healing Health Care. Stronger Communities. Opportunities Ahead,” 2023 provincial budget, which identifies projected increases in federal transfers of $1,049 and expenditures of $1,976 million.
Grand Chief Cathy Merrick for the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) stated the following:
On the development of the budget:
“It is unfortunate that, once again, AMC was not invited to participate in the development of the provincial budget 2023 The collaboration is important since the federal health and social transfers dollars are also for First Nations in Manitoba. Despite First Nations being impacted by federal-provincial deals such as the recently announced provincial health transfer and early learning and childcare, First Nations remain left out of provincial discussions and engagements. I call on all political parties to reconcile this ongoing disregard of distinct First Nations governments, our Treaty relationship with the crown, and commit to a fiscal relationship that promotes the economic and social development of First Nations in Manitoba.”
On Overall Increased Spending:
“AMC responds favourably to the provincial budget commitments for additional funding investments for health, including for people with diabetes, and additional funding investments toward post-secondary institutions. The projected increase for low-income Families, for Homelessness and Poverty strategy and other initiatives is also positive. The AMC looks forward to working with Manitoba on these issues because it impacts all Manitobans, especially First Nations.”
On Missing and Murdered Citizens of AMC Member First Nations:
“Regarding the provincial investments that address AMC member First Nations Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls, Men, and 2SLGBTQI+, the Provincial Government must acknowledge this matter as a national crisis by providing adequate funding and engage First Nations as a partner in the process. First Nations must be an active participant because we all share the responsibility for our missing and murdered citizens. This Provincial-First Nations approach includes developing and reinvigorating laws and legal orders to ensure that First Nations individuals, particularly women, and girls, are protected as they have not been in Canadian law and institutions charged with the mandate of public safety”.
On Advancing Reconciliation and Economic Reconciliation:
“AMC recognizes that this year’s budget sustains the Indigenous Reconciliation Initiative Fund. However, last year’s announcement for a whole-of-government approach to reconciliation ultimately remains a minimal effort toward the deliberate injustices committed upon First Nations since the inception of this province. AMC remains committed to working with the province to strengthen and improve the First Peoples Economic Growth Fund. However, it remains to be seen how Manitoba’s approach to its reconciliation fund is consistent with AMC’s position for a First Nations-distinct approach. AMC reminds the Province to review their legislation entitled Path to Reconciliation Act, in order to be consistent with respect of First Nations through meaningful engagement, understanding and action principles, and not become a pan-Indigenous approach.”
On the Failure to Provide Full Restitution of CSA Funds Unlawfully Taken from First Nations Children in Care of the Provincial CFS System:
“AMC notes that the provincial budget fails to identify an allocation for the Children Special Allowance (CSA) of over $334 million that it held back from First Nations children and youth in the provincial Child and Family Services system. In March 2023, AMC was pleased that the current provincial government did not appeal the decision that found it discriminated against First Nations children. However, we remain disappointed that the province of Manitoba has not provided restitution to First Nations children. Ironically, it stems from the 2020 provincial Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act that this obligation has not yet been fulfilled. I call on the current provincial government to immediately provide restitution of the CSA funds.”
On the Failure to Budget for a First Nations-led Solution regarding the Overrepresentation of First Nations Children in Care of the Provincial CFS System:
“Upon careful review, the provincial budget is negligent to address the ongoing crisis of escalating numbers of First Nations children in care. AMC remains disheartened and disappointed at the lack of action on resolving this national crisis, especially when we look at the overall increase in spending in areas that have historically disenfranchised and victimized our First Nations citizens and children. This year’s provincial budget follows the colonial precedent established in 1876 of silencing First Nations voices and leaving us out of important decisions affecting our citizens.”
On Creating First Nations Courts, Support to Legal Aid, and Supporting First Nations Policing and First Nations Laws and Legal Orders:
“While the details are unclear on the commitments in the budget towards justice, Legal Aid Manitoba, and policing, AMC looks forward to determining those details and working with the province of Manitoba on developing First Nations Courts and supporting First Nations policing and First Nations laws.”
“Despite its omissions, the 2023 budget is a significant improvement over past years. AMC remains committed to promoting the self-determination and sovereignty of its member First Nations and working with the provincial government toward positive outcomes for AMC member Nations. We continue to ensure that member First Nations Treaties are honoured and that inherent rights are exercised per the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. With this provincial election budget, we can clarify all the provincial political parties’ positions on First Nations’ distinct budget needs for next year and keep the provincial government accountable to reconciliation.”
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) people.