Anishinabek Nation responds to the 2022 Throne Speech

ANISHINABEK NATION HEAD OFFICE (August 15, 2022) –The Ontario Parliament resumed with The Honourable Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdeswell delivering the Throne Speech on August 8. The Speech outlined focused priorities in resource development, construction, public transit, and healthcare.  While the Anishinabek Nation shares some of these mutual priorities, it is not evident how the Ontario Government will support First Nations in their critical projects that are in alignment. Ontario has specific duties to uphold the Honour of the Crown on behalf of Canada in regards to its Treaty obligations. Regardless of partisanship or ideology, Premier Doug Ford must lead the government towards implementing tangible and sustainable solutions for First Nation people.

The healthcare system in Ontario is on the brink of collapse and a serious threat exists with the privatization of services that could result in severe consequences for Anishinabek citizens. First Nations peoples already struggle to access and receive adequate care and historically, have had to fight for equitable access to existing underfunded public healthcare services. Privatization would further exacerbate this impaired system. The focus should be on strengthening the current system that is desperately trying to recuperate within the ongoing pandemic. This proposed approach ignores the need for real health transformation and disregards the sacrifices of healthcare providers.

“We agree that the rate of rising inflation needs to be addressed, as it has greatly impacted Anishinabek Nation communities. Proposed efforts and measures, however, may not assist Anishinabek community members given that rates of fuel, goods, and supplies are already inflated. Rather than worry about vacations or restaurant meals, our people worry about paying for housing and buying groceries,” states Anishinabek Nation Grand Council Chief Reg Niganobe. “The Ontario Government has been eroding some of the main revenue-generating activities for communities by changing gasoline and tobacco taxation exemption rates without consultation. This is a direct hit on First Nation people’s sovereign right to economic sufficiency at a time where we are facing record high inflation rates.”

The commitment to implement the Plan to Build Act (Budget Measures) 2022 includes a promise to build 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.

“While this is promising for the future of housing developers and potential homeowners, how will this benefit First Nations? There is not any indication that First Nations will benefit from this housing commitment, which is a highly concerning factor given that there has been an ongoing housing crisis in communities and existing strategies that require immediate resources,” states Grand Council Chief Niganobe. “Premier Ford and his government should prioritize their relationship with First Nations to ensure that the actions outlined in the Throne Speech are realized. First Nation people deserve more regard than simply a land acknowledgement at the beginning of a speech.”