NDP pledges to close funding gap for First Nations schools
Leader Cam Broten says, if elected, NDP would fill the gap and send the bill to Ottawa
The NDP have pledged that, if elected, they would end the funding disparity between children attending First Nations schools and children attending provincial schools.
"The education I want for my own daughters is what I want for all kids in Saskatchewan," Broten said in a press release on Saturday.
"But right now, there are children in our province that aren't getting a fair shot at fulfilling their potential because they're not getting the education they deserve. That must change."
On-reserve education is a federal responsibility and the Liberals had campaigned on a pledge to invest $2.6 billion in First Nations education over four years and $500 million over three years in infrastructure for First Nations schools to help close the gap.
But the Liberal government now says much of the funding it was counting on for First Nations education was quietly removed from the books by the previous Conservative government.
Broten said if Ottawa does not step up, the NDP will fill the gap by funding the schools immediately, and send the bill to the federal government.
A study by the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations said the funding disparity for students on reserve is $4,663. In 2012, the FSIN said that $80 million per year was needed to close the gap in Saskatchewan.
Broten also announces:
- Doubling Early Childhood Intervention Programs for all children at an anticipated cost of $9.7 million over the four-year term.
- Expanding Adult Basic Education at an anticipated cost of $12.2 million over the four-year term.
- Extending the Provincial Training Allowance to cover those taking training on First Nations reserves at an anticipated cost of $22.4 million over the four-year term.
- Implementing a First Nations and Métis Employment Development Program at an anticipated cost of $4.1 million over the four-year term.
- Implementing the calls to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Saskatchewan Party responds
The Saskatchewan Party has laid out its funding history to show how they have prioritised education for First Nation and Métis people in the province.
In an email sent from a party representative, the Sask. Party pointed to initiatives like the Joint Task Force and an agreement between the Ministry of Education and the FSIN to keep working together, while recognizing First Nations' control of education on reserves.
They also pointed to the 2015-16 budget which included $210 million for initiatives that directly benefit First Nations and Métis people, and $56 million of that funding was directed for First Nations and Métis education and training.
The emailed statement said they know there is more to do, but said the Sask. Party is working towards reducing the gap between aboriginal and non-aboriginal high school graduation rates by 50 per cent by 2020.