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Turning Away: The Union of BC Indian Chiefs Responds to Federal Budget

March 19, 2007

“Money is the problem. When a budget offers new money in the upcoming fiscal year of $15 million for deductions of meal expenses of truck drivers compared to $21 million in new money for the pressing needs of impoverished First Nation communities in Canada, you damn well better believe money is the problem” stated Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs.

In today’s budget approximately $6 billion in new spending was announced with $70 million committed for Aboriginal People in areas of job training, housing and justice. The budget notes that $9 billion is currently spent on Aboriginal programs and services. The Assembly of First Nations notes in its report “The $9.1 Billion Myth Exposed: Why First Nations Poverty Endures" that in fact once all of the departmental administration costs are factored in, each status Indian receives only $7,505.25 in programs and services not the $15,100.00 as stated by government.

“The budget commitments amount to nothing more than financial gruel; it does nothing to alleviate the rampant poverty of First Nations. A lowlight of the budget is that there is no new money to fix or rebuild affordable housing on-reserve,” says Grand Chief Phillip. “Instead, government is committing $300 million to develop a housing market on how best to privatize reserve lands.”

“The gap is growing between First Nation communities and the rest of Canada. A nonchalant approach will only exacerbate this worsening situation. By turning away from the Third World deplorable conditions of First Nation communities, the federal government continues an adversarial, if not outright hostile posture regarding Federal - First Nations relationships in Canada.”

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Grand Chief Stewart Phillip
(250) 490-5314

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