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Hajdu pledges to maintain Indigenous Services programs despite requested cuts

Minister says she will recommend no cuts that impact the quality of life for First Nations people
Patty Hajdu is the minister of Indigenous Services and Liberal MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North (TBnewswatch file)

CHARLOTTETOWN — Indigenous Services Minister Patty Hajdu plans to ensure programs directly impacting First Nations people are unaffected by spending cuts requested by Treasury Board President Anita Anand.

Hajdu made the commitment in Charlottetown during a scrum with reporters Tuesday morning as cabinet ministers began their annual retreat in advance of the next session of Parliament.

"Indigenous Services Canada ... provides the same kinds of services that provinces provide to Canadians in their jurisdiction. So, things like health care on-reserve, and things like education and infrastructure support and maintenance ... And I would say there is a huge gap between quality of life for Indigenous people on-reserve and non-Indigenous people in municipalities still, so we'll be really thoughtful at Indigenous Services Canada about how we look for those savings," she said.

Hajdu said her department officials will be "really thoughtful" about how the department looks for possible savings.

"Obviously, we can look for duplication in terms of the kinds of roles that civil servants are playing, or various departmental functions that are not servicing directly the supports for Indigenous Services Canada delivery of programs."

Anand recently gave all cabinet ministers an Oct. 2 deadline to come up with cuts collectively totalling $15 billion, saying the savings should be sustainable without putting stress on service delivery.

Hajdu told reporters that, for her, the focus in the exercise will be to ensure everyone has a fair chance to succeed, given the disparity in living standards between Indigenous people on-reserve and other Canadians.

When she was asked if she had been told she needed to find cuts in her department, she replied, "I think every department has the same direction, so for every minister it is an exercise in thoughtfulness about how to achieve that goal without impacting services to Canadians, and my department is no different."

She was pressed further on whether she was not expecting any cuts in programs directed at Indigenous people. 

"I would not make that recommendation as a minister to impact services that are delivered directly to people living in First Nations," Hajdu responded. "We're talking about quality of water, education, health care in nursing stations, programs that prevent suicide and address mental health ... For me, the red line is anything that affects the quality of life for First Nations people."


Gary Rinne

About the Author: Gary Rinne

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Gary started part-time at Tbnewswatch in 2016 after retiring from the CBC
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