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Hugo Watt, the district superintendent, told the Chiefs the country is going through a period of restraint, and the Indian Affairs Department is suffering for the countries dollar situation. The Department also told the Chiefs that they didn't want to cut back on Band staff, but also said there would be no pay raises this year for this staff, although the Department employees will receive their regular increases.
In the area of education, the Yorkton District was shortchanged $261,000. Elwood Belt, Director of Education for the Yorkton District, told the Chiefs they should do away with sponsoring such programs as the Indian Teachers Training Program, and the Indian Social Work Program in favour of sending more students to the University of Saskatchewan. His thinking on that matter was that the program would be just as good, and only cost $650 a year, while the other programs run into the thousands. Chief Sterling Brass told Belt he was trying to put Indian against Indian, so they would fight amongst themselves by suggesting this alternative.
Chief Felix Musqua told Belt the Indian Colleges were important to the Indian people, and this is one item that he could not jimmy. Another item that was suggested by Belt to be cut out completely was the Student Allowance Program. This met with great concern from all Chiefs, and they quickly told Belt to get the money back into the program.
Other cuts in the education budget were similar to other districts. Not mentioned was funding for the Marieval Student Residence. Belt indicated this was coming in a separate budget, but information from reliable sources indicate this particular Student Residence is due to close in June of 1978.
Capital dollars have also been chopped this year. In the Yorkton District, this amounted to something in excess of $300,000.
Although the Yorkton Indian Affairs types wanted the Chiefs to sign a BCR accepting the budget, the Chiefs would only consent to money being paid for the month of April, in order to cover welfare and staff salary cheques. The Chiefs did not accept the whole budget, and Chief Felix Musqua made a resolution requesting an All Chiefs Conference immediately on the budget in order to plan a course of action.
The usual deletions with a number of very heavy cuts in certain program areas: In one administration area, the contributions to Bands was reduced $85,000; in the other administration area, contribution to Bands was reduced more than $109,000. Social Assistance, Adult Care, Child Care, and Rehabilitation (one of the areas Indian Affairs saw fit not to fund in ANY district in Saskatchewan for the 78-79 fiscal year), cuts from the requested amounts totalled $122,000. In the area of roads, which includes maintenance, the actual allotment in the Regina District was $158,000 less than requested. Water and Sanitation, which was cut for all districts, was reduced by $30,000.
This is another area I will be telling you something about a little later on, in summary.
This district experienced similar cuts in the usual fashion, with the same deletions as all the other Districts. However, this District's budget, with some fast-talking from Indian Affairs personnel, at first appeared to be not too bad. Then, the Chiefs started to dig in and examine specific items, and determined it was just the same as other years - only worse.
In the beginning, Meadow Lake District Chiefs and Indian Affairs personnel appeared to have the best working relationship of any in Saskatchewan. That had been the case up to this year, but it now appears that things may be cooling off just a little between the two. Just before the beginning of discussions on the Community Affairs aspect of the budget, District Superintendent Joe Whitehawk asked the Chiefs if they would be prepared to support (financially) the construction of a hospital addition in Meadow Lake. He carefully pointed out that this decision didn't have to be made immediately, but suggested it be outlined in point form in a BCR, and perhaps be deferred to the next meeting. The general agreement from the Chiefs indicated donating money was a bad idea, and would probably wind up being political harassment aimed at the Chiefs. J.B. Sandypoint, Chief
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of Island Lake, suggested perhaps instead of donating funds which are predominantly non-existent for Indian needs, that the hospital in Isle-a-la-Crosse should benefit instead of the hospital in Meadow Lake.
While O & M for Meadow Lake was similar in cuts and allotments to other Districts, the District's total Capital budget amounts to only $461,900. If that amount were divided by on-reserve population, it would amount to $162.01 per capita. If it were divided by total Band population (both on-and off-reserve) it would amount to $115.33 per capita. The figures were worked out on a base rate of $15,000 per Band.
What amounted to probably the most ridiculous submission of all through the Indian Affairs budget concerned housing. In the Meadow Lake District, there are 10 Bands. All need housing. A total of 30 homes are being allowed by Indian Affairs. But, the Department's own admission, just two of those Reserves-Waterhen and Loon Lake-require an immediate 53 homes. Somehow, this seems justified to the Department. Yet Waterhen, which needs 25 homes, will get only seven this year, leaving two families living in a single home in many instances, and a number of families living in homes which have been classed as uninhabitable. All the other Reserves in the District are in the same boat-and it's sinking. You can't build a house for $12,000-and if you can it won't be worth anything after five years of use.
The budget was neither accepted, nor rejected, by the Meadow Lake District Chiefs, but it was thought little enough of for the Chiefs to draw up a resolution attacking the budget, and the method in which it was handed down; it's disregard for such essential programs as education and health care; the reduction of capital dollars over the previous two years; and a host of other items... and which would empower the FSI Executive to immediately launch a special inquiry into the financial and administrative activities of the Saskatchewan Region.
The resolution was signed by all the Chiefs.
Also, during the course of the meeting, it was determined that the Chiefs of the Meadow Lake District support the proposed General Band Development agreement, and have a few questions concerning the Western Northlands agreement or, as it was known earlier, the Mid-Canada Corridor.
Prince Albert, as far as O & M was concerned, it was probably the hardest hit of any of the Districts as far as differences in requests and allotments were concerned. In the area of administration, allotments were down a total of $764,000 from what was felt to be the need. In Social Assistance, Adult Care, and Child Care, allotments were short of requested needs by more than $1.5 million. And, as with other districts, a grand total of nothing(makikoway) was allotted for rehabilitation, as just over $400,000 had been requested. The "other welfare" slot, pay-list 1260, was reduced almost $30,000.
Water and Sanitation was cut back from the requested $580,000 to $115,000. Water and Sanitation was one of the areas designated by the Minister for National Health and Welfare, the Honourable Monique Begin, to be a priority. It was estimated in the Clarkson Report for
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the North Battleford District that if water and sanitation, housing, and general conditions were improved, that up to $10 million a year could be saved in health care expenditures. And this is one of the areas that has been hard hit. The other priority item for the 45-50,000 Indian people in this province is education. Considered by most people (whites) to be a "right", for the Indian people, it's a privilege. And almost all areas of post-secondary education, adult education programs, on-reserve upgrading, and a host of other related education programs, have been cut to the point where it is stupid to think they can continue. Saskatchewan has been allotted less funding, on a per-capita basis, than any other province or territory in Canada. ...And, this is the province in which the Indian people are fighting the hardest to help themselves. That is what everyone says the people should do. Then they hog-tie them, gag them, and throw them in a ditch with 12 foot banks, filled with four feet of water, and say- "That's all the Assistance we can give you..."
I wonder if the country is in such bad shape that the politicians and cabinet ministers and bureaucrats, are afraid (our) people might just do a better job than they have.
Like the book by "BUREAUCRAT X" says 'COVER YOUR ASS'.