Kelowna Accord

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The Kelowna Accord is a series of agreements between the Government of Canada, First Ministers of the Provinces, Territorial Leaders, and the leaders of five national aboriginal organizations in Canada. The Accord sought to improve the education, employment, and living conditions for Aboriginal peoples through governmental funding and other programs. The Accord was endorsed by Prime Minister Paul Martin, but was wholly disposed of by his successor, Stephen Harper.[1]

History[edit]

The agreement resulted from 18 months of roundtable consultations leading up to the First Ministers' Meeting in Kelowna, British Columbia in November 2005 and was described in a paper released at the end of the meeting entitled "First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap"[2] and a separate press release,[3] issued by the Prime Minister's Office at the close of the Kelowna meetings. The Quebec aboriginals were not included in this final accord, as they did not participate in the process.[4]

The term "Kelowna Accord" was never used at the First Ministers' Meeting. The term seems to have first been used in a Toronto Star article dated December 4, 2005.

Aboriginal leaders saw the accord as a step forward, as it involved a process of cooperation and consultation that brought all parties to the table.

The press release [3] issued by the Office of the Prime Minister on the November 25, 2005 outlined $5.085 billion in spending over 5 years, but did not set out the means for the fiscal distribution between federal departments, provincial and territorial governments, and Aboriginal groups.

The Liberal minority government of Paul Martin fell, and the subsequent federal election resulted in a Conservative minority government headed by Stephen Harper. When presenting their first budget on May 2, 2006, the Conservatives indicated that they were committed to meeting the targets set out at the First Ministers' Meeting in Kelowna and the working paper therein produced, but that they did not agree with the approach taken in the funding announcement set out in the former Prime Minister's press release. Rather, focused initiatives and targeted expenditures, coupled with systemic reform, were laid out as the new government's direction.

In June 2006, former Prime Minister Paul Martin introduced a private member's bill, Bill C-292 An Act to Implement the Kelowna Accord [5] calling on the government to follow through on the agreements made in the Kelowna Accord.

During testimony[6] before the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development it was disputed whether or not an accord had been formally signed and whether or not money had been budgeted for its implementation. Former Prime Minister Paul Martin and former Minister of Finance Ralph Goodale testified that the $5 billion described in the press release was in fact booked in the Sources and Uses Table, an internal Department of Finance document.

On March 21, 2007, the bill was passed by Liberal, Bloc Québécois and New Democratic Party MPs, while the Conservatives voted against it. However, by section 54 of the Constitution Act, 1867, a private member's bill cannot contain expenditure of public funds.

Former Canadian Assembly of First Nations Chief Phil Fontaine has argued repeatedly for the implementation of the Kelowna Accord. He had called the deal a breakthrough for his people. Mary Simon, President of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the national organization representing the Inuit of Canada, said Harper had put Inuit issues on ice, and that Harper had not implemented any element of the Kelowna accord.[7]

The goal of the education investments was to ensure that the high school graduation rate of aboriginal Canadians matched the rest of the population. The money was also aimed at cutting in half the gap in rates of post-secondary graduation.

On health, targets were established to reduce infant mortality, youth suicide, childhood obesity and diabetes by 20 per cent in five years, and 50 per cent in 10 years. They also promised to double the number of health professionals in 10 years from the current level of 150 physicians and 1,200 nurses.[8]

The plan included

  • $1.8 billion for education, to create school systems, train more aboriginal teachers and identify children with special needs.
  • $1.6 billion for housing, including $400 million to address the need for clean water in many remote communities.
  • $1.315 billion for health services.
  • $170 million for relationships and accountability
  • $200 million for economic development.[8]

All of the targets we've set are achievable

—Phil Fontaine, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, CBC

Aftermath[edit]

Harper rejected the Kelowna Accord, and failed to pass any part of it. The budget included $450 million for aboriginals over two years.[4]

I think the pine beetle infestation in B.C. got more money than urban aboriginals

—Larry Wucherer, the president of the Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg, CBC

Had the Kelowna Accord been passed, the equivalent one year spending would have been 600$ million.

See also[edit]

First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders: Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap (aka 'Kelowna Accord', 25 November 2005) [9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Charest calls on Harper to honour Kelowna aboriginal accord". Canada.com. 2007-03-04. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  2. ^ [1][dead link]
  3. ^ [2][dead link]
  4. ^ a b "Undoing the Kelowna agreement". CBC. Nov 21, 2006. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  5. ^ "C-292". .parl.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  6. ^ "House of Commons Committees - AANO (39-1) - Evidence - Number 025". Cmte.parl.gc.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  7. ^ "Media Releases | Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami - Canada's National Inuit Organization". Itk.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  8. ^ a b "CBC News In Depth: Aboriginal Canadians". Cbc.ca. Retrieved 2012-07-24. 
  9. ^ http://www.health.gov.sk.ca/aboriginal-first-ministers-meeting

External links[edit]

Aboriginal Roundtable to Kelowna Accord: Aboriginal Policy Negotiations, 2004-2005 by Lisa L. Patterson, Political and Social Affairs Division, Parliamentary Information and Research Service, Library of Parliament, 4 May 2006.

First Nations Implementation Plan At the First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Meeting in Kelowna, B.C. on November 24 & 25, 2005, First Ministers and First Nation Leaders committed, through the document: First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap, to strengthening relationships between First Nations and federal, provincial and territorial governments. In that spirit, First Ministers and National Aboriginal Leaders have launched a 10-year dedicated effort to closing the gap ....