AMC Responds to Federal Fiscal Update Announcement re: Housing Construction
November 22, 2023
Treaty One Territory, Manitoba – The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs (AMC) expresses profound disappointment in the Federal Government’s Fall Economic Statement unveiled yesterday. Despite the government’s asserted commitment to addressing the housing crisis and alleviating cost-of-living challenges, the statement falls significantly short of providing the essential funding required to ensure proper housing for First Nations in Manitoba. Unfortunately, the allocated resources in each federal budget consistently prove inadequate to meet the genuine needs for providing secure and sufficient homes for the First Nations in Manitoba both on and off-reserve.
Yesterday, the federal Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, announced $15 billion in 10-year loans for new housing construction, a $1-billion fund dedicated to increasing the availability of affordable housing, and new mortgage rules for lenders dealing with homeowners at risk. This investment comes at a crucial time, given the alarming housing crisis faced by First Nations in Manitoba. The AMC continues to support the Treaty Right to Shelter, emphasizing the need for the Federal Government to take more comprehensive actions to uphold this right.
Grand Chief Cathy Merrick states, “According to statistics, the First Nations citizen population in Manitoba is over 164,000. That is a substantial number, yet there is a lack of clarity on how funds will be distributed to assist each region and what that breakdown means for First Nations. We need clarification on these numbers.”
Over the past two years, AMC has attempted to initiate a budgetary process with Canada to foster First Nations’ well-being in Manitoba and establish a new fiscal relationship. In March 2023, the AMC released a 2023/2024 Alternative Federal Budget for Manitoba First Nations, outlining the necessary funding for developing adequate housing on First Nations reserves in Manitoba. The 2023/2024 Alternative Federal Budget for Manitoba First Nations underscores the imperative for a $5.7 billion federal investment to promptly address current repair, replacement, and housing stock expansion needs on reserves. An extra $2.3 billion is also required to meet future on-reserve needs over the next eighteen years. The Federal Government must also account for the impact of inflation and the urgency of addressing housing for those at risk of homelessness during winter. Historically, delays accompany each fiscal announcement, disproportionately affecting First Nations, many of whom are living in remote regions and forced to urban centres when overcrowding becomes a critical issue.
The AMC continues to reaffirm its position that Canada must co-develop community-level initiatives and contribute to a regional-specific approach as part of a national housing strategy. Grand Chief Cathy Merrick emphasizes, “Addressing housing shortages and the backlog of repairs on reserves is crucial to safeguarding the health and well-being of Manitoba’s First Nations and upholding their sovereignty.”
The AMC continues to assert that the Government of Canada must fulfill its commitment to a Nation-to-Nation relationship by actively collaborating with First Nations to co-develop funding and program strategies to address First Nations citizens’ housing needs, both on and off-reserve. Effective communication on a Nation-to-Nation basis is required and we can no longer maintain the status quo of directing funds for pan-Indigenous housing programs for urban, rural, and northern housing that First Nations must apply to with criteria that does not always work in their favour.
We call on the Federal government to clarify the terms and conditions of these funding streams so that First Nations can access and leverage these monies for housing projects that address their unique housing needs. Meaningful consultation and partnership stand as essential elements in achieving lasting solutions, ones that will profoundly benefit not only First Nations in Manitoba but also those beyond. The AMC stands ready to engage in productive discussions with federal partners to ensure that the voices and perspectives of First Nations in Manitoba are central to developing and implementing these critical housing initiatives both on and off- reserve.
For more information, please contact:
Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
About the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs
The AMC was formed in 1988 by the Chiefs in Manitoba to advocate on issues that commonly affect First Nations in Manitoba. AMC is an authorized representative of 62 of the 63 First Nations in Manitoba with a total of more than 151,000 First Nation citizens in the province, accounting for approximately 12 percent of the provincial population. AMC represents a diversity of Anishinaabe (Ojibway), Nehetho / Ininew (Cree), Anishininew (Ojibwe-Cree), Denesuline (Dene) and Dakota Oyate (Dakota) peoples.