MEDIA RELEASE: Budget 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 28, 2023
Budget 2023 Includes Some Investment but Must Fully Address Urban Indigenous Realities in the Near Future
OTTAWA, ON – The National Association of Friendship Centres (NAFC) receives this 2023 federal budget with measured acknowledgment and urges future engagement. While the NAFC believes that Friendship Centres and urban Indigenous people will benefit from the investments in urban, rural, and northern Indigenous housing, including $4 billion over 7 years, starting in 2024-2025, to implement a co-developed Urban, Rural, and Northern Indigenous Housing Strategy, there are still gaps to be filled when addressing the realities of urban Indigenous communities.
“We welcome the investments in urban Indigenous housing, but none of the other NAFC’s pre-budget submissions were announced,” said Kelly Benning, NAFC President. “The renewal of the UPIP program and the ongoing investments for Friendship Centres are crucial in order to help us support our communities and help the federal government meet its stated Reconciliation objectives. We fear that urban Indigenous peoples are being asked to wait once again.”
Friendship Centres have a long and demonstrated history of effectively supporting the communities they serve. With comprehensive and supportive funding, NAFC member Friendship Centres will be able to continue to offer essential Indigenous-led programs and services. Investing in a well-resourced Friendship Centre Program contributes to meaningful economic growth and development for Friendship Centres and PTAs that directly builds up urban Indigenous people.
“We have appreciated the opportunity to work collaboratively with this Government on a wide range of issues, and we have demonstrated our ability to be effective,” said Jocelyn Formsma, NAFC CEO, “it will be crucial for the federal government to engage with us to fully bridge the gap that urban Indigenous communities face when trying to access critical supports. We are confident that this is the ultimate goal for all.”
In their pre-budget submission, the NAFC requested that the Government of Canada ahead of the budget to (1) re-establish ongoing Friendship Centre funding at a minimum of $60 million per year, (2) invest in urban Indigenous children and youth by re-establishing a national Indigenous youth program and Indigenous children's strategy at a minimum of $23 million per year, (3) invest in urban Indigenous infrastructure, including for Indigenous-by-Indigenous housing and homelessness response offered by Friendship Centres through a minimum of $180 million per year, and (4) support urban Indigenous employment and training, including upskilling and reskilling, through $16 million per year to employment and training initiatives provided through FCs, develop, and implement new initiatives, and reduce barriers to employment for urban Indigenous people.
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The National Association of Friendship Centres is a network of over 100 Friendship Centres and Provincial/Territorial Associations, which make up part of the Friendship Centre Movement–Canada's most significant national network of self-determined Indigenous owned and operated civil society community hubs offering programs, services and supports to urban Indigenous people.