One thing I always value is an open dialogue with my constituents about their concerns. Lately, I’ve heard concerns both in Alberta and Ottawa about some of the changes our government is making with regards to First Nations.
Every year our government conducts over 5,000 consultations with First Nations and since 2010 the minister of Aboriginal Affairs has personally visited 50 First Nations communities and had hundreds of productive meetings with chiefs, councillors and Aboriginal community members across Canada. Recently, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development had a successful meeting with the national chief where both parties reiterated their commitment to work together to develop the First Nations Education Act.
Many people have also posed questions to me with regards to what our government has done for First Nations. Since 2006 we have built over 30 new schools and renovated over 200 educational centres. We’ve built over 10,000 homes and renovated thousands more. Our government has invested in safe drinking water infrastructure increased funding for child and family services by 25 per cent. We’ve settled over 80 outstanding land claims while investing in over 700 projects that are linking aboriginals across Canada with job training, counseling services and mentorship programs. Furthermore, we have delivered on our promise to improve accountability and transparency for First Nations government.
I understand most reserves do not have severe money mismanagement, however a recent article published by the Canadian Taxpayers Association (http://taxpayer.com/federal/new-jaw-droppingreserve-pay-numbers) shows that over 200 band members make more than their respective premiers and over 80 make more than the Prime Minister of Canada with Alberta showing the highest amount of people making these salaries. In fact, The CTF found one chief in Atlantic Canada took in $978,468 in tax-free salary even though the reserve only has 300 residents. It is examples like that one that demonstrate the need for greater financial transparency.
Our government will continue to work in partnership with First Nations to support strong, self-sufficient and more prosperous aboriginal communities.
Please contact my constituency office if you have any questions or concerns on any federally related matters, postage free, at: Bay #6A, 4612 - 50th Street, Ponoka, AB T4J 1S7; tel: 403-783-5530; toll free: 1-800-665-0865 or visit my web site: www.blainecalkinsmp.ca or on twitter at www.twitter.com/blainecalkinsmp