April 13, 2021
The Hits Keep Coming From The Paternalistic Higgs Government
Mi’gmag’i – Today, the government hit a new low in the relationship with Indigenous people in New Brunswick. This government made the decision to cancel the tax agreements with First Nation communities and announced It publicly to the media without even calling the Chiefs beforehand. To add insult to injury, Minister Steeves held a call with the Chiefs at 11:30. Minister Steeves read a statement, refused to take questions and hung up on the Chiefs. So, while the press was asking questions to the Premier and Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, the Chiefs whose communities are affected were left gobsmacked and still have many unanswered questions.
The Government of New Brunswick has not provided any information about a possible meeting or information on the model they envision.
“The way we are being treated by this government is completely disrespectful. We have been asking this government to sit down and talk about the tax agreements since their election in 2018 and they have refused to come to the table and we have been continually volleyed between the Department of Finance and Aboriginal Affairs,” said Chief Ginnish of Natoaganeg
The press release issued by the Province shows the complete lack of understanding how programs are funded on reserve.
“The province includes the on-reserve population in its equalization formula but pay for none of the services on reserve. In fact, many of the services like health, education and housing are chronically underfunded. We use the funding from these tax agreements to offset those costs. When the Premier talks about discrepancies, he’s absolutely right. There is a discrepancy between the cost per person for social services on-reserve versus off-reserve, ” said Chief Bill Ward of Metepenagiag.
There are currently six Mi’gmaq communities in New Brunswick that were told by email today their tax agreements would be terminated in ninety days and seven others will have two years before their agreements expire. This creates a discrepancy between communities in this province and that has not gone unnoticed.
The Chiefs will meet with their Wolastoqiyik colleagues and discuss how to proceed.