Government Commitments

Government Commitments to Truth and Reconciliation

Manitoba budget focuses on healthcare, poverty reduction and supporting rural communities

April 3, 2024

APTN News: Manitoba’s promise to improve the province’s health care system by hiring more workers, rebuilding emergency rooms, and adding to intensive care beds is, for the most part, being received well by First Nations leaders.

“This year we are hiring 1,000 health care workers, 100 doctors, 210 nurses, 90 paramedics and 600 healthcare aides,” said Adrien Sala, minister of Finance in the budget speech on Tuesday.

Commitments to northern communities include a new airport at Wasagamack First Nation, improving access to dialysis services in Norway House and Pimicikamak Cree Nations and reinstating the north-south winter road connecting St. Theresa Point and Berens River First Nations.

In addition to the $20 million previously set aside to search the Prairie Green Landfill, the province will commit $20 million towards a Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, Girls and Two-Spirit (MMIWG2S+) strategy. It will support 24/7 safe spaces in Winnipeg, Brandon and Thompson.

“There are three murdered Indigenous women in a Manitoba landfill. They are loved. Their lives were sacred. They deserve respect. No matter what the billboards say,” Sala said. “Their families deserve closure, this budget has the funds to search the landfill.”

Following the budget’s release, Grand Chief Cathy Merrick of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs said she hopes to meet with the premier to discuss the next steps in searching the landfill. She commended the government on its budgetary commitments to Indigenous communities.

“We’re very pleased as to what was pushed forward by the provincial government. We have to give them time, so as grand chiefs, in respect to that process, we’re very happy with Wasagamack getting their airport,” Merrick said. “That’s something that’s a lifeline for their people.”

Garrison Settee, grand chief of Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak, a political advocacy organization that represents First Nations in Treaty 4, 5, 6 and 10, said the money is needed.

“There’s been some investments in healthcare in the north, and that will impact our First Nations in northern Manitoba,” said Settee who is from Pimicikamak. “Those investments are much needed, and we’re very pleased that we have that opportunity to receive that support we need in the north.”

Another issue the leaders hope the budget will help tackle is the life expectancy gap between First Nations people in the province and non-Indigenous Manitobans.

“It’s very important that we get healthcare right, that we create a health system that we can trust, and on the other side of that is obviously homelessness,” said Southern Chiefs Organization Grand Chief Jerry Daniels.

“You know, our people are struggling in the streets, there’s safety issues there, there’s addictions issues there, it’s all part of health. So, we’re going to continue working with the province and officials to ensure that we get it right on that.”

The chiefs did point out some critical items missing from this year’s budget – including new facilities.

“I was hoping that the Island Lake area would get their hospital, because there’s 18,000 people within that area, so there was no mention of that,” said Merrick.

The full budget can be accessed here: Manitoba Budget

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