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Ontario Votes 2014: Party Leaders

Friday May 30, 2014

Wawatay News asked each party leader questions on issues affecting First Nations in northern Ontario.

Q1: Please outline your party’s commitment to working with First Nations located in northern Ontario.

Andrea Horwath (NDP): We are committed to consulting with First Nations as partners on decisions that impact them. We will negotiate training opportunities for First Nations so they can take advantage of jobs related to mining development and ensure that a portion of the tax revenue from mining operations benefits the local First Nations communities to help provide community infrastructure and services.

Tim Hudak (PC): No response.

Mike Schreiner (Green): The Green Party of Ontario (GPO) will engage Northern Ontarians in creating a plan for sustainable development that maximizes economic benefits for northern communities. We must ensure that all development on First Nations land and affecting First Nations people benefit First Nations. We will also study carefully the health and environmental impacts of any development and be transparent about them. The government’s job is to ensure that the development and extraction of natural resources benefits all Northerners, especially First Nations.

Kathleen Wynne (Liberal): Ontario Liberals are committed to working together with First Nations in order to achieve real results on a range of matters, including resource revenue sharing, skills training, economic partnerships and other community development. That’s why we initiated the Nishnawbe Aski Nation Education MOU, the recent Matawa Ontario regional framework agreement, and many other partnerships. Through respectful dialogue, real change can happen.

Q2: Once (re)elected into the Office of Premier of Ontario, how will your government work to address the needs of remote northern Ontario?

Andrea Horwath (NDP): We understand the high cost of living in the north and how this impacts health. We will invest in student nutrition programs and in 24-hour family health clinics in northern Ontario. The NDP will also help ensure that policing funds are maintained. And we are committed to connecting First Nation communities to the power grid and getting them off diesel.

Tim Hudak (PC): No response.

Mike Schreiner (Green): First Nations deserve a life of opportunity including accessible and properly funded systems of education, safe water and reliable sewage treatment, healthcare that meets community needs, and housing social services to prevent the unfortunately high prevalence of suicide in First Nations. Overall, we are committed to having First Nations Peoples be our partners in the decision making for the development of sustainable, safe, healthy and prosperous First Nations communities.

Kathleen Wynne (Liberal): Ontario Liberals understand that the distinct nature of First Nation issues in the remote north requires tailored and innovative solutions. Our plan includes initiatives such as The Remote Communities Allowance, Student Nutrition in Aboriginal Communities, First Nation Treaty Strategy, a $25-million Aboriginal Economic Development Fund, and Preparing Remote First Nation Communities for Electricity Transmission.

Q3: What is your government’s plan to include Ontario First Nations in the short-term and long-term benefits of our shared resources?

Andrea Horwath (NDP): We are fully committed to revenue sharing arrangements with First Nations and local governments on natural resource developments. We will ensure a portion of natural resource tax revenue goes to support local communities. We also believe that resources that are mined in Ontario should be processed in Ontario, and we have tabled bills with proposed measures to this end.

Tim Hudak (PC): No response.

Mike Schreiner (Green): First and foremost, the GPO knows that quite a portion of revenue can be recovered if we, as Ontarians, put a stop the fire sale of our natural resources. Right now, Ontario has the lowest mining royalties in Canada and we are the least efficient users of mining aggregates of any jurisdiction in the world. The GPO pledges that all development of land and resources under our government will be sustainable and will maximize economic benefits for First Nations and northern communities. We will ensure that all development on First Nations will benefit First Nations.

Kathleen Wynne (Liberal): Ontario Liberals initiated and are committed to Resource Revenue Sharing discussions with First Nations in Ontario. We will continue to work with First Nations partners to ensure they can benefit from any economic opportunities. Sharing the benefits of resource development will help create a positive climate for strong business partnerships, economic opportunity, and prosperity for First Nation communities and Ontario as a whole.

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