Comparing the Liberal Indigenous Platform and Budget

March 28, 2016

“It is also time for a renewed, Nation-to-Nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, one based on a recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. Not only is this the right thing to do, but it is also a sure path to economic growth.”

-Justin Trudeau, Open Letter to Canadians, November 4 2015. Issued shortly after the election of a Liberal majority government.

Renewing and growing the relationship between Indigenous peoples and the Canadian government was a cornerstone goal series of the Liberal party platform in fall 2015. These goals now make up one of the eight “priorities” of the Liberal budget released March 22, 2016. How do the goals and promises of the election compare to the budgets allotted to fulfilling these goals? Where do budgets fall short of the promises? How can Indigenous communities hold the Liberal government to their words throughout the election that Indigenous peoples’ rights will no longer be secondary to those of other Canadians?

Conclusion: Budget 2016 does not fully live up to the promises made in the Liberal Platform. However, the Budget promises further consultation in many areas, and provides funding for many of those areas. All of Eagle Law’s First Nation clients should proactively connect with INAC, their MPs, and service providers to ensure that they are included in consultations at the ground floor. Eagle Law may consider drafting form letters for their First Nation clients to send out regarding consultation funding under Budget 2016.

BUDGET CHAPTER 3: A BETTER FUTURE FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES

Summary: $8.4 billion will be invested in Indigenous communities over 5 years. The 5-year plan is based on the liberal party remaining in power after the next scheduled federal election in 2019. Consultations will be ongoing over the fiscal year 2016-2017 to “determine a new long-term fiscal relationship”. The Budget also promises to include Indigenous groups in consultations respecting the massive infrastructure plan ($60 Billion over 10 years; $11.9 billion immediately, $1,219 billion of which will be directed to Indigenous social infrastructure). Our First Nation clients should reach out to their MPs to ensure that they are included in consultations from the outset. At page 97, the Budget states that the government will be engaging stakeholders in the coming months.

The National Housing Strategy and National Framework on Early Learning and Child Care, Canada Cultural Spaces Fund, the Learn to Camp program, Restoring Trust in Environmental Assessment (including $16.5 million over 3 years in part to support Indigenous participation in consultations), $19 million to INAC to gather and conduct research and traditional knowledge of the North, and the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer all specifically call for Indigenous consultation as well.

Chapter 3 Budget projects:

• Rebuilding the Relationships: 136 million over 5 years
o National Inquiry Into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls
o Engaging With Indigenous Peoples – Treaty 7 Management Corporation may benefit by funding for “Aboriginal Representative Organizations” for building capacity to engage with the government.

• Education, Children and Training: $4.2 billion over 5 years
o Improving Primary and Secondary Education for First Nations Children
o Fostering Better Learning Environments by Investing in First Nations Schools
o Ensuring the Safety and Well-Being of First Nations Children – This will particularly affect Piikani Child and Family Services.
o Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy

• Social Infrastructure: $1.2 billion over 5 years
o Investing in Social Infrastructure to Create Inclusive Growth
o Improving Housing In First Nations Communities
o Supporting Northern and Inuit Housing
o Providing Safe Shelter for Victims of Violence
o Supporting Early Learning and Child Care – Piikani Child and Family Services will most likely be affected by the additional influx of funding.
o Investing in Cultural and Recreational Infrastructure
o Improving Community Health Care Facilities on Reserve

• Green Infrastructure: $2.2 billion over 5 years
o Investing in Green Infrastructure on Reserve
o Monitoring of Water on Reserve
o Strengthening On Reserve Water and Wastewater Infrastructure
o Addressing Waste Management for First Nations Communities
o Investing in Community Infrastructure

• Other Initiatives: $557 million over 5 years
o Metis Nation Economic Development Strategy
o Renewing the Urban Aboriginal Strategy
o Assisting Indigenous Peoples Facing the Criminal Justice System
o Aboriginal Languages Initiative
o Support for the First Nations Finance Authority
o Supporting First Nations Fishing Enterprises

COMPARING THE BUDGET 2016 TO THE 2015 LIBERAL INDIGENOUS PLATFORM PROMISES

All mentions of Indigenous peoples’ rights and interests in the 2015 Liberal platform are excerpted after the summary.

Summary of promises specific to Indigenous people (not including general goals such as “improving relationships):

• We will invest $50 million in additional annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program: not addressed in Budget 2016

• We will also invest $50 million to renew and expand funding to the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, and provide $25 million each year for training facilities, delivered in partnership with labour unions. ($50 million per year for 4 years): Budget promises $15 million over 2 years

• We will also work with provinces, territories, and First Nations to create a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework, to ensure that affordable, high-quality, fully inclusive child care is available to all families who need it: Budget promises $100 million for Indigenous child care and early learning on reserve out of $500 million to establish the Framework

• We will undertake, in full partnership and consultation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation, a full review of laws, policies, and operational practices. This will ensure that on project reviews and assessments, the Crown is fully executing its consultation, accommodation, and consent obligations, in accordance with its constitutional and international human rights obligations, including Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Declaration not addressed in Budget 2016; $16.5 million over 3 years for enhanced consultations for public and Indigenous participation in environmental assessment

• We recognize the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the land, and will respect legal traditions and perspectives on environmental stewardship: not specifically addressed in Budget 2016

• As part of this renewed relationship, we will do more to make sure that the voices of Indigenous Peoples are heard in Ottawa. As Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau will meet with First Nations, Métis Nation, and Inuit leaders each and every year of a Liberal government mandate: annual meetings not addressed in Budget 2016; $96 million promised over 5 years to Aboriginal Representative Organizations for engagement capacity

• Stephen Harper’s changes to the Canada Elections Act make it harder for Indigenous Peoples to exercise their right to vote. We will repeal those changes: not addressed in Budget 2016

• Finally, we will ensure that the Kelowna Accord – and the spirit of reconciliation that drove it – is embraced, and its objectives implemented in a manner that meets today’s challenges: “Budget represents significant increase over investments that would have been made under Kelowna Accord”

• We will immediately lift the two percent cap on funding for First Nations programs and work to establish a new fiscal relationship that gives First Nations communities sufficient, predictable, and sustained funding: budget well over cap

• Increasing First Nations’ own source revenues, whether through revenue sharing or other mechanisms, will be a priority: not addressed in Budget 2016

• As part of this new fiscal relationship, we will also make sure that all First Nations receive equitable funding for child and family services provided on reserves: “A 2012 presentation authored by INAC showed the shortfall in child and family services to be 108.13 million dollars or about 113.3 million in today’s dollars when adjusted for inflation. This amount was shown to be an underestimate. The amount allocated for this year falls $42.3 million short of what INAC said was required in 2012. It falls $129 million short of the approximate $200 million the Caring Society had hoped for in immediate relief while longer term reform was worked on.”

• We will invest new funding each year in core funding for kindergarten through grade 12 programs. This will include money committed by Stephen Harper that has yet to flow, plus an additional $300 million per year in incremental funding, totalling $750 million per year by the end of our first mandate. Over the next four years, this represents a $2.6 billion new investment in helping First Nations students learn and succeed: Budget 2016 promises 3.7 billion over 5 years including infrastructure funding

• We will provide new funding to help Indigenous communities promote and preserve Indigenous languages and cultures: $76.9 million over 2 years for culture & recreation on reserve; $5 million for 2016-2017 Aboriginal Languages Initiative – consultation for the future.

• We will also invest an additional $500 million over the next three years for building and refurbishing First Nations schools: Budget promises $969.4 million over 5 year

• We will invest $50 million in additional annual funding to the Post Secondary Student Support Program, which supports Indigenous students attending post-secondary: Budget promises consultation

• We will immediately launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, to seek recommendations on concrete actions that governments, law enforcement, and others can take to solve these crimes and prevent future ones: $40 million over 2 years

• We will enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: Budget silent on Truth and Reconciliation Commission and UN Declaration

LIBERAL PLATFORM 2015

All mentions of Indigenous issues/peoples and promises thereto are excerpted below:

Chapter 1: Growth for the Middle Class

Post-Secondary Education: We will invest $50 million in additional annual support to the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, which supports Indigenous students attending postsecondary education, and will allow the program to grow in line with increasing demand.

Opportunities for Young Canadians: We will more than double the almost 11,000 Canadians who access Skills Link each year. This program helps young Canadians – including Aboriginal and disabled youth – make a more successful transition to the workplace.

Job and Skills Training: We will also invest $50 million to renew and expand funding to the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, and provide $25 million each year for training facilities, delivered in partnership with labour unions. ($50 million per year for 4 years).

Child Care: We will meet with provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities to begin work on a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework, to deliver affordable, high-quality, flexible, and fully inclusive child care for Canadian families. This work will begin in the first 100 days of a Liberal government and will be funded through our investments in social infrastructure. The framework we design together will be administered in collaboration with, and in respect of, provincial jurisdictions.

Stronger Communities: We will also work with provinces, territories, and First Nations to create a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework, to ensure that affordable, high-quality, fully inclusive child care is available to all families who need it.

Chapter 3: A Clean Environment and a Strong Economy

Environmental Assessment: Canadians must be able to trust that government will engage in appropriate regulatory oversight, including credible environmental assessments, and that it will respect the rights of those most affected, such as Indigenous communities. While governments grant permits for resource development, only communities can grant permission. We will modernize the National Energy Board, ensuring that its composition reflects regional views and has sufficient expertise in fields like environmental science, community development, and Indigenous traditional knowledge. We will undertake, in full partnership and consultation with First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation, a full review of laws, policies, and operational practices. This will ensure that on project reviews and assessments, the Crown is fully executing its consultation, accommodation, and consent obligations, in accordance with its constitutional and international human rights obligations, including Aboriginal and Treaty rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We recognize the relationship between Indigenous Peoples and the land, and will respect legal traditions and perspectives on environmental stewardship. And we will do a better job of co-managing our oceans, by working with the provinces, territories, Indigenous Peoples, and other stakeholders. Together, we will develop plans that make the best use of our marine resources and give coastal communities more say in managing the resources around them.

Chapter 4: A Strong Canada

A Renewed Relationship with Indigenous Peoples: The relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples is vitally important – not just to our shared economic interests, but to our respective identities as nations. It is time for a renewed relationship based on trust, respect, and a true spirit of cooperation.

A New Nation-to-Nation Process: We will renew the relationship between Canada and Indigenous Peoples. It is time for Canada to have a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition, rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership. This is both the right thing to do and a sure path to economic growth. We will immediately re-engage in a renewed nation-to-nation process with Indigenous Peoples to make progress on the issues most important to First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit communities – issues like housing, infrastructure, health and mental health care, community safety and policing, child welfare, and education. As part of this renewed relationship, we will do more to make sure that the voices of Indigenous Peoples are heard in Ottawa. As Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau will meet with First Nations, Métis Nation, and Inuit leaders each and every year of a Liberal government mandate. Stephen Harper’s changes to the Canada Elections Act make it harder for Indigenous Peoples to exercise their right to vote. We will repeal those changes. Finally, we will ensure that the Kelowna Accord – and the spirit of reconciliation that drove it – is embraced, and its objectives implemented in a manner that meets today’s challenges.

A New Fiscal Relationship: We will expand investment in First Nations communities and work toward forging a new fiscal relationship with First Nations. For nearly 20 years, investments in First Nations programs have been subject to a two percent cap on annual funding increases. As a result, federal funding has not kept up with population growth and inflation in First Nations communities. We will immediately lift the two percent cap on funding for First Nations programs and work to establish a new fiscal relationship that gives First Nations communities sufficient, predictable, and sustained funding. Increasing First Nations’ own source revenues, whether through revenue sharing or other mechanisms, will be a priority. As part of this new fiscal relationship, we will also make sure that all First Nations receive equitable funding for child and family services provided on reserves.

First Nations Education: We will work with First Nations to make sure that every First Nations child receives a quality education. It is vital to Canadians’ shared success that we work together to ensure better economic outcomes for First Nations. This starts with education. Chronic underfunding of the First Nations education system has held First Nations students back: they are behind provincial peers in reading, writing, and numeracy. Today, less than half of students on reserves graduate from high school. To help close the funding gap and improve outcomes for First Nations students, we will invest new funding each year in core funding for kindergarten through grade 12 programs. This will include money committed by Stephen Harper that has yet to flow, plus an additional $300 million per year in incremental funding, totalling $750 million per year by the end of our first mandate. Over the next four years, this represents a $2.6 billion new investment in helping First Nations students learn and succeed. We will provide new funding to help Indigenous communities promote and preserve Indigenous languages and cultures. We will also invest an additional $500 million over the next three years for building and refurbishing First Nations schools. We will invest $50 million in additional annual funding to the Post Secondary Student Support Program, which supports Indigenous students attending post-secondary education, ensuring the program will keep up with growing demand. We believe that First Nations’ control of First Nations education is vital to achieving improved outcomes, and we will make these investments as part of a renewed, respectful, and inclusive nation-to-nation process that fully respects Aboriginal and Treaty rights.

Métis Nation: We will work, on a nation-to-nation basis, with the Métis Nation to advance reconciliation and renew the relationship, based on cooperation, respect for rights, our international obligations, and a commitment to end the status quo. We will work with Métis people, as well as the provinces and territories, to establish a federal claims process that recognizes Métis self-government and resolves outstanding claims. We will also make permanent the funding available to provincial Métis communities for Métis identification and registration, instead of it being available year-to-year. We will review, in partnership with Métis communities, the existing federal programs and services available to the Métis Nation, to identify gaps and areas where strategic investments can be made to improve Métis quality of life. To expand the economic opportunities for Métis, we will develop a Métis Economic Development Strategy in partnership with Métis communities and existing Métis financial institutions, and will invest $25 million over five years to implement this new strategy.

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls: The disappearance and death of nearly 1,200 Indigenous women and girls is an ongoing national tragedy that must come to an end. We will immediately launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada, to seek recommendations on concrete actions that governments, law enforcement, and others can take to solve these crimes and prevent future ones.

Truth and Reconciliation: To support the work of reconciliation, and continue the necessary process of truth telling and healing, we will work alongside provinces and territories, and with First Nations, the Métis Nation, and Inuit, to enact the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, starting with the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

OTHER SOURCES OF LIBERAL INDIGENOUS POLICY

• Liberal Party Constitution
• Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission (APC): the APC “drives the development of the Party’s Indigenous platform”
• Truth and Reconciliation Commission Report: the Liberal Party has promised to enact the recommendations of the TRC
• United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples: the Liberal Party has promised to implement the Declaration
• Official Statements made by the Prime Minister
• Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Mandate Letter
• Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Mandate Letter

LIBERAL PARTY CONSTITUTION

1 The fundamental purposes of the Party are:
(g) to ensure equitable representation of aboriginal peoples at all levels of the Party…

22 (3) Each PTA [Provincial and Territorial Association] must have a constitution that is consistent with this Constitution and that:
(c) ensures the principle of equitable representation of aboriginal peoples in its structure and activities;

41 (1) The following Commissions have been established by the Party:
(a) The Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission…

42 The Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission
(1) The purpose of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission is to represent and promote the interests of aboriginal peoples in the Party, to encourage the active participation of aboriginal peoples at all levels of the Party, to encourage and co-ordinate the activities of the recognized aboriginal Liberal associations and to gather the views of aboriginal Liberals on a regular basis and communicate those views to the Party.
(2) Every member of the Party who is an aboriginal person as defined in the Constitution of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission is a member of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission.
(3) The National President, in consultation with the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission, is responsible to report to every biennial convention of the Party with an assessment of the extent to which equitable representation of aboriginal peoples at all levels of the Party has been achieved.

69 (1) The following persons have the right to be delegates to each convention:
(l) up to two persons who are each an aboriginal person as defined in the Constitution of the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission accredited at the convention as delegates from each EDA;

69 (4) Persons will be accredited as delegates from an EDA in the following order of priority until the full complement of 22 delegates is reached:
(b) persons who have been selected as an alternate delegate to the convention from that EDA and satisfies the greatest number of the following criteria:
(ii) is an aboriginal person, if there are not two aboriginal delegates from that EDA;

73 (6) The National Board of Directors may establish registration fees for the convention but, subject to the requirement to have a balanced budget for each convention and compliance with the Canada Elections Act, the registration fee for six youth delegates from each EDA, for the seven principal officers of the Commission of Young Liberals of Canada and the Aboriginal Peoples’ Commission who have the right to be delegates under Paragraph 69(1)(f), for all delegates and alternate delegates from Commission Clubs of the Commission of Young Liberals of Canada and for all aboriginal delegates accredited under Paragraph 69(1)(l) must be half of the lowest registration fee for non-youth delegates or alternate delegates from the same region and who are otherwise similarly situated.

APC POLICIES & RESOLUTIONS

1. Acknowledging the Past in Order to Move Forward: A Resolution to Officially Reject The 1969 White Paper (Priority)
2. A Resolution for a New Approach to Urban Indigenous Policy
3. Equal Opportunity: A Resolution for Equal Indigenous Access to Education, Funding for Education, and Extra-Curricular Activities
4. A Resolution for Assisting Post-Secondary and Secondary Indigenous Students with Child Care
5. A Resolution for Continued Support of Intergenerational Healing of the Canadian/Indigenous Relationships
6. A Resolution for Further Inclusion to the Liberal Party of Canada: Recognizing the Concept of Two-Spiritedness
7. A Resolution to Negotiate and Implement a Joint-Understanding of Consultation between the Canadian state and Indigenous Nations
8. A Resolution to Denounce Spying on Indigenous Peoples/Organizations
9. Implementing the Kelowna Accord
10. Drinking Water and Sanitation in First Nations Communities

Indigenous Liberal Caucus members

• Vance Badawey (Niagara Centre)
• Yvonne Jones (Labrador)
• Michael McLeod (Northwest Territories)
• Robert-Falcom Oullette (Winnipeg Centre)
• Don Rusnak (Thunder Bay – Rainy River)
• Hon. Hunter Tootoo (Nunavut)
• Dan Vandal (Saint Boniface – Saint Vital)
• Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville)