Sask. NDP no longer promising First Nations revenue sharing
Opposition would instead target money to on-reserve schools
The leader of Saskatchewan's Opposition says he will not campaign on sharing resource money with the province's First Nations again.
Resource revenue sharing was a major plank in the NDP's platform in the last provincial election, but NDP leader Cam Broten says the idea will not be back.
"Doesn't work for me. Did not work for the province," Broten said of the controversial idea. "In speaking with many First Nations leaders, as I have over the past year, did not work for them. And so that proposal is not on."
However, Broten says the money should be targeted to an immediate issue.
He says despite on-reserve education being a federal responsibility, Saskatchewan should fill the gap between spending for students in provincial schools versus those on reserve.
Doesn't work for me. Did not work for the province.- Cam Broten
Broten estimates that for every dollar spent on a student in a provincial school, about 60 cents is spent on First Nations students.
"It is just plain wrong — not to mention incredibly short-sighted out of self interest — to have on-reserve schools funded at 60 per cent of the level of provincial schools," Broten said.
The provincial government has lobbied both the previous Conservative federal government as well as the new Liberal government to fill this gap itself, but so long as it remains, Broten says the province should step up and pay the difference.
He says the province could send the bill to Ottawa if it wanted to make the point that this is the federal government's responsibility.
- October 2011: NDP says it will share resource revenues with First Nations
- November 2011: NDP drops First Nations revenue-sharing pledge
Premier sees graduation rates improve
Saskatchewan's premier says his government will focus on putting extra money into provincial schools, to continue to improve the graduation rates of aboriginal students.
In a provincial plan for the future, Brad Wall set a goal of cutting the disparity in Grade 12 graduation rates by 50 per cent by 2020.
He says progress is being made.
"Upon that foundation we can build much success in terms of greater engagement, full engagement, of First Nations and Métis people in their economy," Wall told CBC in a year-end interview.
The government says the graduation rates of First Nation and Métis students are already showing significant improvement.
It says 40.1 per cent of aboriginal students now graduate three years after starting Grade 10, up from 32.7 per cent five years ago.
The proportion of Saskatchewan students who graduated "on time" when the goal was set, was just over 72 per cent.