Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal with F-P-T Ministers responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and Leaders of the Five National Aboriginal Organizations


OTTAWA, December 16, 1999 -- Today the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Council on Social Policy Renewal* met with the Leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations and the Federal-Provincial-Territorial Ministers responsible for Aboriginal Affairs to discuss the role of the national Aboriginal organizations in the implementation of the Social Union Framework Agreement. Ministers and Leaders received an update on the Aboriginal component of the National Children's Agenda and participated in a round table discussion on social policy issues as they relate to Aboriginal people.

The Social Union Framework Agreement commits governments to "work with the Aboriginal peoples of Canada to find practical solutions to address their pressing needs". Today's meeting, the first ever meeting between national Aboriginal Leaders, the Ministerial Council and the Ministers Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs, is significant in giving life to this commitment.

Ministers and Leaders affirmed that the national Aboriginal organizations will be engaged in the implementation of the Social Union Framework Agreement wherever such implementation has implications for Aboriginal people. Ministers and Leaders agreed to develop a process for the three-year review called for in the Framework Agreement. The review process should include consideration of proposals by Aboriginal organizations to strengthen their involvement in the Social Union process. Ministers and Leaders discussed a number of issues related to the pressing social policy needs of Aboriginal people and expressed a willingness to continue this discussion.

In order to advance this work,in a spirit of partnership, Ministers and Leaders agreed to three steps:

  1. create immediately an ongoing working group of officials, consisting of representatives from the five national Aboriginal organizations and officials supporting the Ministerial Council and Aboriginal Affairs Ministers;
  3. the Ministerial Council co-chairs to meet the five national Aboriginal Leaders within six months to review the progress made by the working group;
  5. to convene, within one year, a meeting of the Ministerial Council, Ministers Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs and the Leaders of the five national Aboriginal organizations to review the outcomes of this work.

Resourcing for the five national Aboriginal groups to participate fully in the working group will be negotiated with the federal government and the five national Aboriginal organizations.

Ministers and Aboriginal Leaders had a constructive discussion about the priorities of Aboriginal people for the National Children's Agenda.

Last spring, the Ministerial Council released a discussion paper on a shared vision for Canada's children. Over the Summer and Fall, governments and Aboriginal organizations held a public dialogue on the vision. Today, national Aboriginal leaders reported on feedback they have received from their communities on the shared vision. Ministers and Leaders discussed the significant and persistent challenges that confront many Aboriginal children and families. Ministers re-affirmed their commitment to make the needs of Aboriginal children a priority as work on the National Children's Agenda continues. Ministers agreed with Aboriginal Leaders on the importance of Aboriginal involvement in this work and asked officials to explore ways to continue this involvement as work on the NCA proceeds.

* Quebec did not sign the Social Union Framework Agreement and is not an active member of the Ministerial Council on Social Policy Renewal. Furthermore, Quebec didn't endorse the National Children's Agenda because of its wishes to be the sole government responsible for Family and Children Policies within its territory.

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For information:

Donne Flanagan
Director of Communications
Province of Manitoba
(204) 945-1494

Brigitte Nolet
Minister Stewart's Office
Human Resources Development Canada
(819) 953-2353

Media Spokepersons for the five national Aboriginal organizations

Assembly of First Nations
Art Dedam
(613) 241-6789

Inuit Tapirisat of Canada
John Cheechoo
(613) 238-8181

Native Women's Association of Canada
Tracy Chevrier
(613) 722-3033

Congress of Aboriginal peoples
Lorraine Rochon
(613) 747-6022

Métis National Council
Wenda Watteyne
(613) 232-3216