Prime Minister Trudeau attends the budget speech delivered by Minister of Finance Bill Morneau in the House of Commons. Photo: Adam Scotti/PMO As expected, the Assembly of First Nations was first out of the gate offering glowing praise for this Liberal government’s federal budget, followed shortly thereafter by the Metis National Council and Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami — the three male-dominated national Aboriginal organizations. Their organizations have seen substantial increases in funding for their political organizations in recent years.
Meanwhile, the Native Women’s Association of Canada — the only political organization representing Indigenous women at the national level — issued its own press release criticizing the government for failing Indigenous women. They accused the federal government of, once again, ignoring the pressing needs of Indigenous women and in so doing, not only hampering reconciliation but breaching their core human rights. NWAC is especially aggrieved about this lack of funding for Indigenous women and families, given the urgent need to address murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls.
The exclusion of Indigenous women and girls as a priority in this federal budget is a glaring example of the ongoing racism and sexism that is so deeply embedded in Canada’s laws, policies, practices and institutions — the very same racism and sexism the Liberal government claims to be against.
When the federal government announced the National Inquiry into Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Girls in 2016, the former Liberal Minister for the Status of Women Patty Hadju spoke of the urgent need to address the longstanding racism and sexism embedded in Canada’s institutions. Yet, this urgent policy objective is not reflected in any substantive way in federal budget 2019.
In fact, there are no funds allocated for a comprehensive plan to address violence against women generally, and no funds for a targeted comprehensive of plan of action to address violence against Indigenous women and girls specifically. Indigenous and women’s organizations have called on Canada to take comprehensive action now to implement recommendations from the United Nations treaty bodies to reduce murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls before the national inquiry’s report is released.
The National Inquiry’s report is due out in less than a month and there is no budget set aside to implement whatever recommendations come from that report either. The limited funds for commemoration seems not only inadequate, but also premature given that the crisis has not abated. Where is the urgent and sustained help for the many families deeply impacted by the abuse, exploitation, trafficking, disappearances and murders of thousands of Indigenous women and girls?
A particularly shocking exclusion from the budget is the lack of funding for First Nations child and family services to address the crisis of First Nations children in foster care. Former Minister of Indigenous Services Jane Philpott called the staggering statistics related to First Nation kids in care a "humanitarian crisis" — comparing it to the residential school system. She pledged to work with First Nations to address the critical need for funding to prevent apprehensions and address the root causes of over-representation, which include conditions of poverty.
This glaring omission from the budget is confounding given the fact that Parliament had previously committed to targeted funding to accompany Bill C-92 An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families, which already been introduced in Parliament. Although the federal government promised significant funding to support Bill C-92 — there is no specified funding either in the bill or the budget. Not a single dollar has been allocated to support First Nations develop their own laws and institutions specific to child and family services, hire and train […]
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