In an effort to close the gap that exists between Canadian First Nations people and the general public, Canada’s premiers have agreed to a 10 year plan that will attempt to eliminate aboriginal poverty. The ambitious plan will be put into motion this Fall at the first ministers meeting on native issues and will address a range of problems associated with health care, housing, and economic development. One major goal will be to implement a means for natives to enjoy treaty benefits while not living on a reserve, especially with regard to extra federally funded health care benefits. Currently only half of the country’s native population actually lives on reserves, resulting in separate treatment for many.
A strong effort from all parties involved will hopefully begin a movement towards a much sought after increase in standard of life for Canada’s First Nations people, however simply throwing money at the problem will not lead to the desired goal. Over the past decade, Canadian tapayers have spent $3.8 billion on Native housing alone, however once received, band councils decide where the money goes without, in some cases, even accounting for it. Furthermore, a recent report by the auditor general indicates that the bands have no competant way of ensuring that the houses built meet national building code standards. Clearly no bankroll will correct the problem with the First Nations People’s standard of life when it is not accompanied by proper initiative and accountability. Money is not medicine.