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SCO Responds to Manitoba Budget

April 2, 2024

“Closing the 11-year gap in life expectancy between First Nation and non-First Nation people in Manitoba must be a priority.” – Grand Chief Daniels

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 2, 2024

ANISHINAABE AND DAKOTA TERRITORY, MB — Today, the Southern Chiefs’ Organization (SCO) is responding to the latest provincial budget, tabled April 2, 2024. The “One Future. One People. One Manitoba” budget includes five pillars, beginning with plans to rebuild health care.

“The Southern Chiefs’ Organization is pleased with many aspects of the first budget delivered by the Kinew government,” stated Grand Chief Jerry Daniels. “It is good to see investments in health care with a commitment to hire 1000 health care workers along with doubling the prenatal benefit to $162.52, which will benefit many First Nations people. Also, we applaud the increased funding by $500,000 to the Manitoba Diabetes Action Plan to improve diabetes prevention, detection, management, and surveillance in Manitoba. It is my hope that these moves will help to close the 11-year, and growing, gap in life expectancy between First Nation and non-First Nation people in our province.”

SCO commends the funding pledges for initiatives that complement the work of our Harm Reduction Program, including $3.9 million to establish a supervised consumption site, treatment beds for people dealing with substance misuse issues, and support for harm reduction services. In addition, the budget includes a $1.8 million increase to sustain mobile services to support our unhoused relatives in being tested and receiving treatment services for sexually transmitted blood borne infections.

“I want to extend my appreciation to the Government of Manitoba for acknowledging our relatives who are believed to be in the Prairie Green Landfill,” said Grand Chief Daniels. “Today’s budget included a funding commitment to help begin the search to bring these women home. In addition, I understand there is also an investment of $20 million to implement a new strategy to respond to the national emergency of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls, two spirit, and gender-diverse people.”

Chronic homelessness remains a key issue for many of our First Nations citizens. SCO is pleased with the province’s commitment to end homelessness in two terms by providing $116 million in funding to build and maintain social and affordable housing. An ongoing commitment to rent control to keep housing affordable and an increase in Rent Assist, by more than $15 million, will be a great benefit to SCO citizens. The province’s emphasis on affordable housing is complementary to the work SCO is doing to create affordable housing as part of our Wehwehneh Bahgahkinahgohn project to reimagine the former Hudson’s Bay building in downtown Winnipeg.

SCO plans to continue working with the Manitoba government on transferring Child and Family Services care and responsibilities for First Nations children back to where it belongs—in our Nations. Also, we will partner with the province to develop a province-wide suicide prevention strategy focused on First Nations and two-spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, and all other sexual orientations and genders youth.

In collaboration with the Manitoba Indigenous Reconciliation Secretariat, SCO aims to ensure important issues such as Treaty entitlements, consultations on a critical mineral strategy, health, housing, and other obligations are met by our Treaty partner.

“We applaud the move to make life more affordable for Manitoba citizens and the increase in funding to services for adults and children living with disabilities. However, there is more work for the province to do to ensure our citizens living on reserve have access to equitable disability services,” shared Grand Chief Daniels. “The Southern Chiefs’ Organization also asserts that the province needs to move on the Treaty Land Entitlement issue, as there are still millions of acres of land that are owed to First Nations. SCO looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Kinew government on making life better for the thousands of Anishinaabe and Dakota citizens we represent in Manitoba.”

Premier Wab Kinew with Chief David Monias, Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, and Grand Chief Garrison Settee
From left to right: Chief David Monias, Premier Wab Kinew, Grand Chief Cathy Merrick, Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, and Grand Chief Garrison Settee gather following today’s budget delivery in Treaty One Territory

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The Southern Chiefs’ Organization represents 34 First Nations and more than 87,000 citizens in what is now called southern Manitoba. SCO is an independent political organization that protects, preserves, promotes, and enhances First Nations peoples’ inherent rights, languages, customs, and traditions through the application and implementation of the spirit and intent of the Treaty-making process.

For media inquiries:

Email: Media@scoinc.mb.ca