‘Our government remains committed to the ongoing journey of reconciliation,’ says social services minister
CBC Indigenous: The Government of Saskatchewan announced Wednesday that it will stop withholding income assistance from First Nations people who receive more than $15,000 in per capita distributions from settlements.
The comes a day after the Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) expressed frustration with the policy. The FSIN represents 74 First Nations in Saskatchewan.
The settlements in question, known as “specific claims,” are designed to correct historic injustices. The federal government works with the communities under the Specific Claims Policy to resolve outstanding specific claims through negotiated settlements.
Previously, anyone on social assistance who received more than $15,000 from one of these settlements would have it counted as income, which would reduce their assistance payments.
Many chiefs shared their frustrations with the cap on Tuesday in a news conference in Saskatoon. They all urged the federal and provincial governments to make the change, and said doing so would honour the spirit and intent of the treaties.
- Sask. First Nations call on province, feds to rescind policy that withholds income assistance for recipients
The province announced Wednesday that these settlement payments would no longer affect social assistance. “Our government remains committed to the ongoing journey of reconciliation,” Social Services Minister Gene Makowsky said Wednesday. “We’ve been hearing from First Nations more and more on this. I’ve been consulting and meeting with them.”
Makowsky said he has heard from First Nations that the $15,000 cap has become more of an issue as settlement payments have increased over recent years. “That was a a fair point and it was part of the consideration to to do what we did here today.”
CBC has reached out to the FSIN and Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada for a comment.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Pratyush Dayal, Reporter
Pratyush Dayal covers climate change, immigration and race and gender issues among general news for CBC News in Saskatchewan. He has previously written for the Globe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun, and the Tyee. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from UBC and can be reached at email@example.com