Saskatchewan

FSIN says provincial budget is a start but doesn't go far enough

The Saskatchewan government says it is putting around $211 million into the First Nations and Metis portfolio in the upcoming fiscal year.

Sask. government says it's putting $211 million for First Nations and Metis issues

Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations Chief Bobby Cameron says the provincial budget is lacking in some areas. (Liam Richards/The Canadian Press)

The Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) said this week's provincial budget was a start, but some elements didn't go far enough. 

The Saskatchewan government allocated around $211 million for the First Nations and Métis portfolio.

FSIN Chief Bobby Cameron said he would have liked to see money go toward a northern highway that connects Fond du Lac, Black Lake and Hatchet Lake. 

"At times it's a life or death situation having to rely on an ice road to get supplies in and out of that community, those three communities," Cameron said. 

More generally, Cameron said governments are playing catch-up when they release budgets. 

"It's going to take 10, 20, 30 years in some cases to finally get on par to where our First Nations are going to feel some positive impacts," he said. 

"I look at the housing crisis. That alone will take many decades to reach our First Nations in terms of each family living in a quality-built home."

Cameron also said that some line items are vague and there's no indication or guidance on where that money is actually going. For example, the description of the Advanced Education line in the budget is simply "Estimate of Funding Targeted to First Nations and Métis Initiatives and Institutions."

"It would be ideal to have our First Nations at these tables when budgets are being discussed," he said. 

"Which First Nation or which region needs this? What's our priority areas?"

The budget was released Wednesday for the fiscal year that begins April 1.