FSIN cautiously optimistic about funding for First Nations policing
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale announced Monday the federal government is injecting $291 million into policing and resources in First Nations and Inuit communities, across the country, over the next five years starting in the 2018-19 fiscal year.
$102 million of the funding was announced in the 2017 budget with an additional $189.2 million included this week; the funding will be used to support officer safety, policing equipment and salaries, plus the addition of 110 new officers.
Only 48 of the 74 First Nations communities in Saskatchewan are eligible to receive the funding because they’re under the 32 Community Tripartite Agreements (CTA) in the province. A CTA is an agreement under the First Nations Policing Program between communities and federal and provincial governments where a dedicated contingent of RCMP officers provide policing services to a First Nations or Inuit community.
The announcement comes just months before First Nations, provinces, and territories must renew their agreements on April 1. Funding for First Nations policing is split between federal and provincial governments, covering 52 and 48 per cent of the cost respectively.
“We don’t know the renewed policy, we don’t have that document, we don’t have that information,” FSIN vice-chief Kim Jonathan said. “We don’t know if it included all the engagement sessions from the leadership, our chiefs, our councils and our membership that we serve.”
The FSIN hopes their shared concerns about peacekeeping in First Nations communities is included in the renewal document.
“It would be respectful to see the document as it’s growing and see what’s in there because we don’t want it to not target the previous identified areas,” Jonathan said.
While the FSIN sees the funding as a positive step and a potential difference maker on First Nations in Saskatchewan, there is concern over how much of that funding will reach Saskatchewan.
“Is Ontario going to be receiving three-quarters of the money? We don’t know.” Jonathan said. “Is Saskatchewan going to be left under the radar because of our low population with politics being what they are federally? Or are we going to be in receipt of a respectful contribution.”
Jonathan hopes the funding will also help attract and retain officers to work in these communities by making conditions safer.
“We want to make sure we’re not missing the mark on that and not just checking off boxes just for the sake of checking off boxes,” she said.
The FSIN has requested a meeting with Goodale to go over the deal and address further concerns.
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