The McGuinty government is committed to building stronger, more positive relationships with the First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples of Ontario. Its goal is to create economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for young and growing Aboriginal populations.
The province is creating jobs, improving social conditions and promoting economic sustainability for Aboriginal Peoples in Ontario.
Initiatives announced in the 2010 Ontario Budget include providing $45 million over three years for a new project-based skills training program to help Aboriginal Peoples and northern Ontarians participate in and benefit from emerging economic development opportunities. This includes the Ring of Fire – an area of Ontario’s Far North with potentially large deposits of minerals such as chromite, nickel, copper and platinum.
The program will also help develop capacity in the North to undertake base mapping, develop resource inventories and gather other information to support community-based land-use planning and environmentally sustainable development that benefits Aboriginal Peoples, northern Ontarians and Ontario as a whole.
The government will also appoint a Ring of Fire Coordinator to work and consult with Aboriginal Peoples, northern Ontarians and the mining community to encourage responsible and sustainable economic development related to the Ring of Fire. For more information, see Backgrounder: Creating Jobs through New Investments in Postsecondary Education and Northern Ontario.
The province continues to call on the federal government to work with Ontario and First Nations to determine a mutually agreeable method of administering a point-of-sale exemption under the Harmonized Sales Tax that best corresponds to Ontario’s current administrative approach under the Retail Sales Tax.
The province invests about $600 million annually in programs and services for Aboriginal Peoples through various ministries across the Ontario government. This includes investments in children and social services, health care services, justice and policing initiatives, and education and training programs.
Recent initiatives include:
In addition, the Ontario government, together with its Aboriginal partners, continues to work on several multi-year strategic initiatives, including building partnerships that enhance economic development. These include:
Launched in December 2008, the New Relationship Fund helps First Nations communities and Métis organizations develop the resources, capacity and skills necessary to enhance and improve business and economic-development partnership opportunities. About 250 projects involving First Nations communities, Métis communities and urban Aboriginal organizations have received funding under the New Relationship Fund. Through the 2010 Budget, the government is annualizing this funding and will provide approximately $60 million over the next four years.
In August 2009, the Province signed a landmark Framework Agreement with the Algonquins and Canada, and opened a land claim consultation office.
Over the past year, 10 more land claims were removed from the land claim backlog, and Ontario is on target to eliminate much of the backlog by 2011.
In August 2009, Ontario signed an Agreement in Principle with the Pays Plat First Nation and the federal government.
The Mining Amendment Act, 2009 includes a number of progressive provisions that respond to the concerns of First Nations and Métis communities while promoting balanced, sustainable development and a vibrant industry. Broad-based consultations on the regulations are currently underway.
In April 2009, the Ontario government reaffirmed its commitment to resource-benefits sharing with Aboriginal communities by setting aside $30 million towards this initiative. The Ontario government is working with Aboriginal communities province-wide to discuss the potential elements of a plan for resource-benefits sharing.
Resource-benefits sharing is a way to include Aboriginal communities in the benefits of natural resource development. It is designed to encourage skills training, job creation and economic development opportunities for Aboriginal communities, and promote economic spin-offs that will benefit regional economies and Ontario as a whole.
On March 1, 2010, the government began moving to deregulate Ipperwash Provincial Park so that the land can be transferred to the federal government, a step closer to returning the land to the Chippewas of the Kettle and Stony Point First Nation. This transfer will bring important social and economic benefits to this First Nation community.
Assessment and implementation of the Ipperwash Inquiry Report’s recommendations will continue, including the First Nations policing review.
The government is working with First Nations communities on a land-use planning process to promote environmentally sustainable development and protection of 50 per cent of Ontario’s northern Boreal forest.
The planning process for the Far North enshrines a new respect and working relationship with First Nations through land-use planning. Community-based land-use plans will be led by local First Nations, working jointly with the Ministry of Natural Resources, and plans will require the agreement of local First Nations. Land-use planning gives First Nations a greater say in the future of their communities and will balance the social, environmental and economic interests
of First Nations and Ontario.
In 2008, the government committed $30 million over four years to support this plan and build capacity for Far North First Nations.
In October 2009, the government released a proposed 25-year Growth Plan for Northern Ontario for public review and comment. A key priority of the proposed plan is to work with Aboriginal Peoples to increase participation in the future economic growth of northern Ontario and to achieve better health status for Aboriginal communities. This builds on more than three years of dialogue with Aboriginal Peoples, northerners and other key partners.
Since 2003, the McGuinty government has introduced a number of other targeted initiatives to support economic opportunities and improve the quality of life for Aboriginal communities. These include: