April 22, 2015
Dear Minister Valcourt,
The First Nations Social Development Society (FNSDS) and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) are writing to request that you investigate and intervene in the decision by AANDC-BC to cease support for Persons with Disability on Reserve and support for on-reserve income assistance support for all 203 First Nations in BC. FNSDS has been providing these vital services to First Nations communities for over 10 years. Further, we are writing to request that you immediately reinstate and enhance all service funding to FNSDS along with new provisions which allow FNSDS to have secured funding for the next 2 years.
Without consultation of First Nations, FNSDS or First Nations leadership, and by way of an email, FNSDS was informed that Person with Disability Adjudication will cease on June 30, 2015 and be transferred to an unknown agency. At that time, FNSDS was informed that all support for on-reserve income assistance including training, policy support, clarification and online resources will cease on September 30, 2015. FNSDS has experienced significant reductions to funding ($500,000) over the past several years despite increased and enhanced services to clients representing some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.
The last time the rate of basic assistance was raised was 1994. Today, a single employable person receives basic assistance of $235 per month, which is $7.50 per day or $0.31/hour to live. Single parents regardless of the number of children in their family receive $375.58 per month and parents with children $401.06. Not only do these rates not meet any standard of basic human living, they in fact perpetuate the cycle of poverty and discrimination within our communities.
We are extremely concerned about the actions taken by AANDC-BC Region. It is clear to us that senior staff lack the understanding of First Nation community priorities and the level of need to keep FNSDS services available to respond to over 6,000 policy clarification each year, a number that is steadily rising,as well as support, training and other technical issues available to First Nations.
Again, the FNSDS board of directors, its membership and the UBCIC are calling on you to immediately reinstate and enhance all service funding to this organization along with new provisions which allow FNSDS to have secured funding for the next two years.
As well,we are immediately requesting a meeting with you to discuss the need to examine raising the on-reserve income assistance financial support and to work with you in developing a poverty reduction strategy for our children, families and members.
Given the urgent nature of this matter we look forward to your response by Friday May 15th, 2015.
Jamie Hill President, FNSDS
Grand Chief Stewart Phillip President
Chief Robert Chamberlin Vice-President
Kukpi7 Judy Wilson Secretary-Treasurer