TREATY 1 TERRITORY, WINNIPEG, MB - Manitoba Liberals condemn the Pallister Government's passing of budget clauses that blocks agencies and Indigenous children in care from $338-million that was taken from children in care by NDP and PC governments alike.
The NDP, who doubled the number of children in care, clawed back $250-million of the federal children's benefits intended for children and put it into general revenue. In opposition, the PCs and Portage la Prairie MLA Ian Wishart called the practice "illegal and immoral." In government, the PCs maintained the practice until 2019, taking about $90-million.
The budget has clauses that cancels active court cases by agencies and children and prohibits them from ever suing the government, Ministers or bureaucrats responsible for the decision. It also singles out a contract for cancellation.
"This budget strips thousands of vulnerable children from their day in court seeking the return of hundreds of millions of dollars taken by the NDP and PCs," said Lamont. "This is a declaration of moral bankruptcy and is undoubtedly one of the most unjust pieces of legislation to ever pass in this legislature."
Lamont said the bill was even worse because the Pallister government has had no hesitation in bailing out PC-friendly projects with hundreds of millions of dollars, like the Investors Group Stadium which received $200-million.
Manitoba Liberals and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs have both called on the Federal Government to refer the bill to the Supreme Court of Canada. Lamont and his MLAs, Jon Gerrard and Cindy Lamoureux said they would go further.
"If elected, the first act of a Manitoba Liberal Government will be to commit to return all the funds taken by the NDP and PC government to children in care and restore their ability to sue those who harmed them," said Lamont. "Reconciliation means we must recognize the terrible wrongs that have been wrought upon First Nations, make real amends, and work towards justice and restoring the honour of the Crown. That is our commitment."