Let’s go back to 23 November 2005 when the Canadian government announced the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and compensation package.
According to ResidentialSchoolSettlement.ca, following are the highlights of the settlement that Ontario taxpayers along with their fellow Canadians are paying for through their federal tax dollars:
“1) $1.9 Billion for “common experience” to former students who lived at one of the schools. Payments will be $10,000 for the first school year (or part of a school year) plus $3,000 for each school year (or part) after that.
2) A process to allow those who suffered sexual or physical abuses, or other abuses that caused psychological effects, to get between $5000 and $275,000 each; or more money if they can show loss of income.
3) Money for programs for former students and their families: $125 Million for healing, $65 Million to research, document to preserve the experiences of the survivors; and $20 Million for commemorative projects.”
The Aboriginal Multi-Media Society (AMMSA) points out: “the $1.9 Million estimated to pay out survivors is only a small portion of the cost the government has agreed to incur.”
The Canadian government is paying administration and hearing costs, plus a fair bit of the lawyers’ fees in association with the individual assessment process.
AMMSA also note that if an individual accepts the settlement all legal claims against the government and churches are resolved.
Coupled with the settlement and compensation was Prime Minister Harper’s apology to Residential School survivors on 11 June 2008.
Fast-forward over a decade from the settlement announcement and we have the Premier of Ontario apologizing for the Residential Schools (NOT the purview of the Ontario government) and committing Ontario taxpayers to pay $250 Million over three years to, Premier Wynne says:
1) “Understanding the legacy:” does it cost millions for people in the Ontario government to simply read Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada?
2) “Create a culturally relevant and responsible justice system:” We would hope that Ontario’s Minister of Justice contacted the appropriate people to do this in 2005. If not, 1) why the delay? And, 2) please provide Ontarians a detailed costing of why this initiative will cost Ontario taxpayers millions they don’t have?
3) “Closing gaps and removing barriers:,” That sounds like one of the roles of the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs: “promote collaboration and coordination across ministries on Aboriginal policy and programs in partnership with First Nations, Métis and Inuit.”
4) “Supporting Indigenous culture:” This is redundant given spending of $74.5 Million by the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs in 2015-16 alone; this in addition to the feds’ $125 Million for healing.
5) “Reconciling relationships with Indigenous Peoples” That is the whole point of the Residential Schools Settlement, which, again, was not and is not the purview of the Ontario government.
You are probably asking yourself why Ontario has an Aboriginal affairs ministry (created in 2008) when the bulk of Aboriginal affairs are federal issues.
It never ceases to astound us how governments duplicate each other. The taxpayer is left to pay double, even triple for initiatives. So, why does it happen?
Surely, the Ontario Liberal government’s grandstanding and throwing more money at a hot button issue isn’t to divert attention from Ontario’s never ending hydro hikes and the costly pandering to teachers.