Federal Government’s Unilateral Removal of Funding from First Nations Social Development Society Denounced

(Coast Salish Territory/Vancouver, B.C. – May 20, 2015) As of September 30, 2015 the First Nations Social Development Society (FNSDS) will no longer have funding to support essential social programs for on-reserve social assistance programs.  

The FNSDS and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs (UBCIC) are condemning the unilateral decision by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) BC Region to cease support for Persons with Disability on Reserve adjudication service, and AANDC’s negotiation in bad faith of a contract with an unknown, outside agency. On-reserve income assistance support for all 203 First Nations in BC will cease and policy clarification, support and training will be absorbed by AANDC, putting FNSDS First Nations staff into unemployment.

FNSDS President Jamie Hill stated, “FNSDS provides vital services to First Nations across BC, helping to meet the needs of some of our most vulnerable peoples. As of June 30, 2015, Person with Disability Adjudication will cease and be transferred to an unknown agency. Further to this, all support for on-reserve income assistance will cease on September 30, 2015. Without consultation or a plan to support our communities, AANDC’s decision clearly demonstrates a lack of awareness, sensitivity and priority for the well-being of our communities.”

“The FNSDS is instrumental in providing incredibly valuable support to Band Social Development Workers in regards to ever-changing AANDC policies. They continue to provide critical training for First Nations Band Social Development Workers, even in an environment of decreased funding and support from AANDC,” commented Chief Bob Chamberlin, Vice-President of the UBCIC. “AANDC has continued to fail First Nations agencies that provide much needed support and programs to our front line workers in communities- it is shameful that this is the approach the Federal Government has decided to take.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the UBCIC stated, “The UBCIC supports FNSDS and values the important work that FNSDS provides to First Nations Communities in BC. This unilateral decision by AANDC demonstrates the government’s continued lack of understanding of First Nations and the on-ground reality faced by our community members. Further to this, AANDC has not raised the rate of on-reserve welfare since 1994. A basic employable person on income assistance receives a basic living allowance of $235/month, which is $7.50 per day or $.31/hour. This is not acceptable and perpetuates the vicious cycle of institutionalized poverty in our First Nation communities.”

President Jamie Hill concluded, “Our letters to Honourable Bernard Valcourt, Minister of AANDC, have gone unanswered. This further demonstrates AANDC’s lack of respect and support for First Nations in Canada, and highlights the Harper Government’s lack of priority for meeting its commitments to First Nations people.”

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, (604) 684-0231
Jaime Hill, o. (604) 983-9820 or [email protected]