(Ottawa, ON) – Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde says that the February 2018 federal budget marks the third year of continued, sustained investment in First Nations. These investments provide greater safety and security for First Nations children, healthier communities for First Nations families and stronger First Nations governments, which help close the socioeconomic gap between First Nations and Canadians and build a stronger country for everyone.
“Budget 2018 sets out important and overdue investments that will help protect First Nations children and keep them with their families and in healthy homes,” said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. “The investments in our children set a solid foundation for our future, and the long-term investments in First Nations governments and infrastructure sets a strong foundation for re-building our nations. This is continual movement in the right direction. Investing in First Nations is an investment in the shared future of Canada.”
National Chief Bellegarde noted that First Nations successfully advocated for $11.8 Billion over 6 years in the past two federal budgets. An additional $4.75 Billion over 5 years allocated in the February budget totals $16.5 Billion over 7 years. The budget invests in areas like health, housing, water, sports and recreation. In a welcome and overdue move, the 2018 budget sets out $411 Million this year to help address the shortfall in funding for First Nations child welfare. This initial shortfall led to the 2007 human rights complaint against Canada by the AFN and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and the 2016 decision by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal.
“This is a good day and an important day for First Nations children and a good day for our families,” said National Chief Bellegarde. “We know the needs are great and that’s why we pressed for, and will continue to press for sustained, strategic investments. The ongoing investments that support the movement toward First Nations self-determination and self-government is the right way forward.”
The AFN participated in the pre-budget submission process, detailing areas that require investments.