Recently, the Chiefs of Ontario hosted a Q&A Contest – asking First Nations citizens to post questions they would like posed to the party leaders regarding each of our priority sectors. The top two questions from each sector were then posted to be voted on. Voting has closed, and Andrea Horwath (NDP) and Kathleen Wynne (Liberal) have responded. The PCs have notified Chiefs of Ontario that Doug Fords responses are forthcoming.

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Message from Kathleen Wynne

Liberals - Kathleen Wynne Headshot

Thank you for your questions.

A central component of our plan is a commitment to reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples. My government has taken steps to address and make amends for the systemic, intergenerational injustices suffered by Indigenous communities. I offered an official apology for Ontario’s role in the Indian Residential School system and made a $250 million commitment to reconciliation through The Journey Together: Ontario’s Commitment to Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. From coast-to-coast-to-coast, the residential school system removed Indigenous children from their homes to systematically strip away their Indigenous languages, cultures, laws and rights. Children were physically, emotionally and sexually abused. Many died.

As a mother and grandmother, these heartbreaking stories are hard to hear. But for generations of Indigenous people in Canada, these stories were their lives. And the horrors they endured were at the hands of the very governments that had promised to be their partners. As Premier, I apologized for this past and for the harm it continues to cause in the lives of Indigenous people.

We have a plan to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples, and address the  barriers they face in building more healthy and prosperous communities. Our plan is working to:

  • Understand the legacy and intergenerational impacts of Residential Schools
  • Close gaps and remove barriers
  • Create a culturally relevant and responsive justice system
  • Support Indigenous culture
  • Reconcile relationships with Indigenous peoples.

We have worked to build relationships of trust, partnership, and mutual respect with First Nations communities, which have led to agreements like our historic Political Accord, which strengthened the government-to-government relationship between First Nations and Ontario, our transformative child welfare agreement with Grand Council Treaty 3, our health agreement with Nishnawbe Aski Nation, and many more.

Together, we have built on strengthening our treaty relationship, including the three-year Treaty Strategy, which included passing legislation launching Treaties Recognition Week. Addressing Indigenous poverty is one of the many important steps on our journey of healing and reconciliation. Poverty experienced by First Nation and urban Indigenous
people is Ontario requires tailored and innovative solutions. The distinct nature of poverty experienced by some First Nation, Métis, Inuit and urban Indigenous people in this province requires tailored and innovative solutions.

That’s why we are committed to working with all Indigenous peoples across government in order to improve social conditions and economic opportunities for Indigenous communities, and taking action to close gaps in outcomes, including in Northern and remote communities.

Our 2014-2019 Poverty Reduction Strategy, Realizing Our Potential , aims to create a province where every person has the opportunity to achieve his or her full potential and contribute to a prosperous and healthy Ontario. On March 20, 2017 we released the Strategy’s Annual Report for 2016, which highlights the progress we are making towards addressing Indigenous poverty.

In 2016/2017 we:

  • Invested $4.5 million in seven Indigenous community or Indigenous-led organization initiatives to help find new solutions to poverty and ending homelessness;
  • Provided healthy meals and snacks to children and youth during the course of the school year in 63 First Nations communities, through the Student Nutrition Program;
  • Developed an Indigenous Housing Strategy in partnership with Indigenous organizations;
  • Provided funding to 57 projects which has created or sustained a total of 807 jobs through the Indigenous Economic Development Fund; and
  • Co-developed The Urban Indigenous Action Plan with provincial urban Indigenous partners that will support Ontario’s response and overall approach to addressing the unique needs, strengths and priorities of rural and urban Indigenous communities and organizations, including poverty reduction.

My government knows that more can be done, especially for Indigenous people in Ontario, who experience poverty and the adverse effects of poverty at a disproportionate rate compared to non-Indigenous people. For example: in First Nations families, one in four children lives in poverty.

It’s truly unfortunate that the Conservatives and NDP both voted against nearly $3 Billion in funding we committed to Indigenous peoples over the last four years. Positive relationships between my government and First Nations have been foundational to all that we accomplish together, and all that we will accomplish together in the future.

HEALTH

What will you do to improve lack of doctors, medical clinics and medical services to the north and other Indigenous populated areas?

Investing in the health and wellness of First Nation communities is one of the many steps we have taken on the province’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It reflects our commitment to work with Indigenous partners, to improve access to health care and increase the involvement of Indigenous communities in developing and delivering their health care services. And, we will continue to work with Indigenous partners and the federal government to address the unique health needs of Indigenous people and communities.

We’ve supported Aboriginal Health Access Centres to provide a place of safety and belonging for Indigenous peoples, Telemedicine and virtual critical care to assist people in managing disease and heart failure. We have supported mobile health services to deliver care to patients without requiring travel. And, we have committed to training up to 1,000 health care workers living and working in First Nations communities, or for Indigenous health care organizations who are providing palliative care.

Launched in 2016, Ontario’s First Nations Health Action Plan is increasing equitable access to care and taking steps to give First Nations decision-making power over health care through an investment of nearly $222 million over three years, followed by sustained funding of $104.5 million annually:

  • This is providing funding 133 First Nations communities to strengthen access to culturally appropriate home and community care services
  • And is creating 16 new or expanded Indigenous-governed and community-driven inter-professional primary care teams across Ontario
  • Providing culturally safe primary health care services and programs to over 70,000 Indigenous people
  • We’re also funding 34 Indigenous-led mental health and wellness programs across the province that include traditional healing

As part of our 2018 Budget, we’re making the deliberate choice to invest in care. We’re making a historical investment in mental health, increasing PSWs for underserved communities, creating new long-term care beds for francophone and Indigenous populations, and investing $19 million in capital funding to support essential projects:

  • Providing training for up to 1,000 health care workers living and working in First Nation communities, and for Indigenous health care organizations providing palliative care;
  • Expanding access to culturally appropriate home and community care services and creating 16 new or expanded Indigenous-governed and community-driven inter-professional primary care teams in Ontario
  • We invested $19 million over three years in new mental health and addictions supports:
    • 34 Indigenous-led mental health and wellness programs across the province, including 100 new mental health workers that will service more than 69 First Nation communities, as well as urban Indigenous communities
    • More than 50 new culturally appropriate treatment beds for Indigenous people in 10 Indigenous Mental Health and Addictions Treatment Centres across Ontario
  • Addressing elder abuse as part of Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors, which is helping seniors access the support they need at every stage of life
  • We will continue our annual investments in the Aboriginal Healing and Wellness Strategy to support more than 460 Indigenous health and healing projects
  • We are also investing $17 million annually in Ontario’s Chronic Pain Network to create or enhance 17 chronic pain clinics across the province. An additional $3 million is allocated to create an additional site in Northeastern Ontario, and to expand capacity.

INFRASTRUCTURE

How do you plan on bringing clean drinking water to affected reserves across Ontario? What are the specifics of your plan?

I am committed to working with the federal government and First Nations communities towards a five year plan to provide First Nation communities with access to safe drinking water. Although the federal government is responsible for water quality on reserves, Ontario is committed to working with First Nations and Canada to improve the state of water on reserves in many ways, in addition to the trilateral process:

  • The Ontario Clean Water Agency (OCWA)
  • The Walkerton Clean Water Centre provides operator training
  • Providing engineering and technical advice to some First Nations
  • First Nations are included in the showcasing water innovation program in which Ontario is funding innovative, cost effective solutions for managing drinking water, wastewater and storm-water systems
  • The Canada – Ontario First Nations Drinking Water Improvement Initiative
  • The Clean Water Act

Since 2015, my government has spent or committed a total of $23.74 million in provincial funding towards on-reserve drinking water projects in Ontario as part of the Clean Water and Wastewater Fund, the Small Communities Fund, and the Showcasing Water Innovation program. We will continue to work to ensure that all residents in Ontario have access to safe, clean drinking water.

EDUCATION

How do you plan on supporting the unique needs of First Nations learners to achieve their full potential?

I am committed to improving First Nations education in Ontario and closing the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. Ontario’s Indigenous Education Strategy is designed to help improve opportunities for Indigenous students – whether they live in remote areas or in urban areas.

We are committed to implementing the comprehensive strategy, collaborating with Indigenous partners, to enhance age and grade-appropriate curricula about residential schools, treaties and the Indian Act , as well as First Nations, Métis, and Inuit perspectives, cultures, and histories.

For example, we are implementing a revised curriculum in September 2018 for all students that reflects the many contributions, cultures and perspectives of Indigenous peoples, including the role of treaties and the history of residential schools.

As part of the my party’s commitment to recognizing the importance of creating positive and mutually beneficial relationships with First Nations and other Indigenous partners, Treaties Recognition Week Act, 2016 was established. The legislation proclaimed the first full week of November of every year as Treaties Recognition Week. Proclaiming Treaties Recognition Week provides our children and all Ontarians the opportunity to learn about the treaties that have shaped this province.

My government moved forward on my fronts when it comes to Indigenous education:

  • We passed historic legislation to recognize Indigenous Institutes as a part of the postsecondary education system, as well as the unique role they play by providing accessible education and training to Indigenous students in culturally safe learning environments
  • We invested $56 million over three years to support Ontario’s nine Indigenous postsecondary and training institutes and provide increased educational access and opportunity for Indigenous learners
  • We provided funding of $195 million over the next three years to support key initiatives that will help more Indigenous students access high-quality postsecondary education and training
  • We announced new funding for all school boards across the province to hire a dedicated Indigenous Education Lead, with a focus on increasing Indigenous student achievement and well-being
  • In December 2017, we announced an investment of $23.5 million over two years to partner with, and expand, culturally relevant child and family programs in 40 First Nation communities. This investment will support programming for more than 1,800 children and their families.
  • Similarly, in February 2018, the government announced an investment of $70 million over the next two years in new spaces and child and family programming led by Indigenous organizations through approximately 60 projects in rural and urban areas.

Our 2018 Budget announced new investment of $2.2 billion over three years in child
care, including:

  • Making licensed preschool child care free for kids from the age of 2.5 until they are eligible for kindergarten, which includes First Nations, beginning in September 2020.
  • Working with First Nations partners to expand child care on reserve, as part of the government’s plan to increase access to child care by 100,000 spaces over five years.
  • Expansion of new and existing child care programs in First Nation communities
  • New child care capital infrastructure, starting in 2019-20, creating 4,500 new child care spaces on reserve, doubling current licensed capacity.

ENVIRONMENT

How do you plan on supporting First Nations in resource revenue sharing while ensuring the land is sustainable for future generations?

This year, Ontario and First Nations partners signed historic resource revenue sharing  agreements in mining and forestry – the first of their kind in the province. These agreements with First Nations, represented by Grand Council Treaty #3, Wabun Tribal Council and Mushkegowuk Council, commit Ontario to sharing 45 per cent of government revenues from forestry stumpage, 40 per cent of the annual mining tax and royalties from active mines at the time the agreements were signed, and 45 per cent from future mines in the areas covered by the agreements.

Resource revenue sharing will enable First Nations to share in the economic benefits of
forestry and mining operations near their communities. The First Nations will have full control of the allocation of these funds into key initiatives that support economic development, education, health, community and cultural priorities. With the First Nations in control and acting as a partner in these agreements, environmental sustainability has been at the forefront of discussions leading to agreements.

Resource revenue sharing is one of many steps on Ontario’s journey of healing and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. It reflects the government’s commitment to work with Indigenous partners, creating a better future for everyone in the province. Environmental sustainability is a key component of these agreements. In order for Ontario and First Nations to benefit long-term from resource revenue sharing agreements, preserving the resource itself is crucial.

I have been clear in my commitment to working with First Nations to ensure environmental sustainability as part of the resource revenue sharing process. We have been consulting and engaging with First Nation communities on a wide range of initiatives and activities. Successful consultations, and in some circumstances accommodation, can result in agreements between Aboriginal communities, proponents and the Crown.

In the Political Accord, First Nations and the Liberal Government of Ontario agreed to work together to identify and address common priorities and issues including resource benefits sharing and resource revenue sharing.

My government has taken action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, build climate change adaptation considerations into its policies and programs, and protect the air we breathe. In 2016, we invested $13 million from the Green Investment Fund in two initiatives to help Indigenous communities address climate change and support economic growth:

  • $5 million was provided to the Ontario Centre for Climate Impacts and Adaptation Resources, in partnership with the Ontario First National Technical Services Corporation, to help provide Indigenous communities with training tools and infrastructure to address climate change
  • An additional $8 million was committed to develop advanced microgrid solutions
    in First Nations communities, which will support economic growth by reducing
    reliance on diesel fuel and enabling stable, predictable sources of power The Great Lakes are vitally important to the people of Ontario for our drinking water, quality of life and prosperity, but there is still more work to be done. We need to continue to invest in science and monitoring, which will ensure we are making informed decisions to better protect and improve the quality of the lakes.
  • We have taken several actions to protect and preserve Ontario’s Great Lakes, including:
    • Implementing actions in Ontario’s 2012 Great Lakes Strategy
    • Completing year four of the five year Canada-Ontario Agreement/Great Lakes
    • Strategy work plan, which includes more than 235 projects
  • The Indigenous Drinking Water Projects Office was formed in June 2016 and works closely with First Nations, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and other federal departments and provincial ministries and agencies to help deliver on the federal commitment to eliminate long-term boil water advisories within five years.
    As of March 31, 2017 the trilateral working group reported that five Long-Term Drinking Water Advisories have been lifted, leaving 43 LTDWAs in 22 communities.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

What economic opportunities do you see that would benefit both Indigenous and non-Indigenous people that does not infringe upon land rights?

I am fully committed to ensuring that Indigenous people have the opportunity to succeed and fully participate in the economy. Economic development is essential to Indigenous communities and we want to see meaningful employment and business development opportunities for Indigenous people across a broad range of sectors, including natural resources.

By focusing on closing the socio-economic gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous
peoples, we have moved forward on many fronts by supporting business growth and providing economic development opportunities, jobs and skills for Indigenous people. One example is the Indigenous Economic Development Fund, which is continuing for another seven years beginning in 2017/18 with an additional investment of $70 million,
for a total combined investment of $95 million over 10 years. The IEDF supports Indigenous communities in the development of long-term economic strategies, provides
grants for province-wide and regional skills training projects, and provides access to financing. The IEDF has helped create and retain approximately 846 jobs and attract
$13.6 million in investment since 2014. This fund has helped improve access to financing, jobs and training for Indigenous peoples and communities in Ontario.

Other examples include:

  • The Aboriginal Procurement Program is supporting Indigenous businesses and communities by increasing the opportunities for Indigenous companies to do business with the Ontario government. To date, the program has directly created nearly $20 million in new Indigenous procurements
  • In the 2017 Budget we invested approximately $200 million over three years to support initiatives to help more Indigenous students access high-quality post-secondary education and training opportunities
  • Currently working with First Nations partners to negotiate resource revenue sharing arrangements for forestry stumpage, mining tax and royalties. Economic development and participation in the resource economy can provide meaningful employment and business development opportunities for Indigenous people in the mining, forestry and green energy industries.
  • The Ontario Liberal Party will continue to work with local First Nation communities to prepare land use plans to help job creation and economic growth while ensuring protection of areas of cultural and ecological value. For example, land use planning in the Far North clarifies where development can occur and where land is dedicated to protection. Land use decisions, in particular in the Far North, will recognize the social, environmental and economic interests of First Nations and the Province. Our vision is that First Nations initiate, carry out and approve land use planning. The Far North Act was passed on September 23, 2010. This Act:
    • Ensures that the First Nations who live in the area have a leadership role in land use planning;
    • Enables sustainable economic development that benefits First Nations and;
  • Protects at least 225,000 square kilometres of the Far North through community based land use planning initiated by First Nations.
  • We recognize the importance of economic development to First Nations and want to see meaningful employment and business development for Indigenous people in mining, forestry and other natural resource-based industries.

JUSTICE

Is the government of Ontario a signatory to any treaties, and what is their responsibility to the treaty relationship?

I have a demonstrated committed to working in partnership with First Nations to ensure that our treaty relationships are mutually beneficial and responsive to modern-day realities. We have implemented a Treaty Strategy that:

● promoted public awareness on treaties;
● facilitated constructive engagement on treaties;
● facilitated the revitalization of treaty relationships; and
● promoted improved socio-economic outcomes for Indigenous peoples.

The Ontario Liberal Party will continue to work with First Nation partners to increase treaty awareness, as well as engage in relationships which will strengthen treaty relationships. In Ontario, there are at least 46 Treaties.

Treaties were signed by individuals on behalf of the Crown. As the Crown includes both the Federal and Provincial Governments, Ontario is part of the Treaty Relationship and is responsible for fulfilling Treaties on behalf of the Crown in accordance with the honour of the Crown and its legal and constitutional responsibilities.

SOCIAL

How do you plan to improve support, funding and resources for First Nations youth in and from care? Which specific steps will you take to continue the joint commitment on policy, funding and reform in First Nations child and family services in Ontario?

The Child, Youth and Family Services Act ( CYFSA ) came into force on April 30, 2018.
The legislation puts children and youth at the centre of decision-making, and supports
more accountable, responsive and accessible child, youth and family services. It also strengthens oversight for children’s aid societies and licensed residential services. Improving outcomes for First Nations children cannot be accomplished without real commitment from each level of government. The Liberal Party of Ontario will continue the government-to-government conversations relating to the development of a policy and funding approach with Canada and First Nations to support child and family services in Ontario.

The Ontario Liberal Party is committed to working together with First Nations, and urban Indigenous partners to implement the Ontario Indigenous Children and Youth Strategy. The strategy was co-developed with, and endorsed by, Indigenous partners and
organizations. The strategy is the overarching approach for improving outcomes for Indigenous children and youth in Ontario.

The Strategy finds paths forward on First Nations jurisdiction, which is the basis for systems building and transformation for child and family services in this province.
We were proud to sign a joint commitment on policy and funding reform for First Nations child and family services in Ontario with Canada and Chiefs of Ontario leadership on April 12, 2018. The commitment will help all parties to work collaboratively to improve outcomes for First Nations children and youth.

In February 2016, we announced an investment of $80 million over three years in the Family Well-Being program, which aims to reduce the number of Indigenous children and youth in care, the occurrence of violence in families, and improve educational outcomes. The funding allows Indigenous communities to provide frontline family well-being supports, develop community-based programming, and create safe places where women, children and youth can receive culturally-grounded supports and access services.

As part of The Journey Together, we are also supporting families by:

  • Investing up to $93.5 million to support Indigenous children and families for child care and early years programs
  • Investing $5 million in Indigenous child and youth life promotion and suicide prevention efforts which will support holistic responses and prevention
  • The establishment of a community hub in Pikangikum First Nation
  • Investing $2 million in 2017/18 and then $2.5 million annually to support youth cultural camps in Indigenous communities
  • We established the Indigenous Youth and Wellness Secretariat in July 2017 to work with Indigenous partners to co-develop and co-implement a longer term action plan to assist Indigenous youth and communities. The secretariat will work closely with Indigenous partners and federal and municipal governments to develop community-driven solutions to support Indigenous youth and move towards recovery, resiliency and wellness.

Chi miigwetch; Nia:wen; Marsi; Merci; Thank you.

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