Details lacking in federal budget, Indigenous leaders say

The acting Ontario Regional Chief says the 2019 federal budget demonstrates important strides the Liberal government is taking to “remedy First Nations historical inequity.”

2019 federal budget allocates $4.5B for services for Indigenous people

Glen Hare is the Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation. (Supplied/Anishinabek Nation)

The Grand Council Chief of the Anishinabek Nation says the 2019 federal budget demonstrates important strides the Liberal government is taking to "remedy First Nations historical inequity."

But Glen Hare says details on funding for critical issues are being left unaddressed.

The federal government plans to spend $4.5 billion over five years for service to improve children's welfare and end boil water advisories on reserves and to settle land claims, among other measures.

"I am pleased to see funding committed towards post-secondary education and skills development and training with a particular focus on supporting our youth," Hare said.

"This all aids in unhinging the First Nations labour market."

Hare says specific details on funding for housing and infrastructure needs were not addressed.

"My concern with this budget is the spread of commitments over a five-year period when the need has been demonstrated across all areas for decades; especially in areas of essential services and housing needs in our communities."

"This is a missed opportunity for the Trudeau government," he said.

Nishnawbe Aski Nation Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler says the budget lacks details for Indigenous people.

"Budget 2019 promises investments to Indigenous Services Canada to improve health and education but does not provide detail on how these services will be delivered in our communities," he said.

"For example, the budget provides funding to mitigate 'climate related hazards' but does not commit funding for the relocation of Kashechewan First Nation, which is severely affected by seasonal floods."

Promises and money spent

The budget also commits $739 million over five years to improve water systems, but no increased funding for the operation and maintenance of the systems.

Nipissing University political science professor David Tabachnick says it's important the government follow through on its plan to eliminate water advisories in First Nations by 2022.

"Promises and money spent is one thing, but actually having clean water on reserves is another," he said.

"The Liberals have had some initial success in that area, we will have to see."

David Tabachnick is a political science professor at Nipissing University in North Bay. (CBC)

Even though the details may not be fully released on the funding for Indigenous people, Tabachnick says the dollar amount is significant.

"This is, I think, part of the larger Liberal plan, to attempt actually to introduce a new Indigenous framework that has, not surprisingly, met with some bumps in the road here," he said.

With files from Kate Rutherford