POLITICS

Premier Wall says much talk, not enough action; eyes First Nation funding change

01/16/2013 02:07 EST | Updated 03/18/2013 05:12 EDT
REGINA - Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall says the government is moving away from funding meetings that don't deliver results on aboriginal issues.

He suggests table talk should be replaced with a different approach.

"We said to (the Federation of Saskatchewan Indian Nations) ... if you will bring us projects that are about results in education and employment, you're actually going to find a government willing to partner with real dollars," Wall said Wednesday at the legislature.

"But we're going to be moving away from just funding these tables where talk happens and interminably talk happens and the problems continue."

The premier suggested there could be more money if the federation, tribal councils or other groups — such as post-secondary institutions — bring forward projects to connect First Nations people with training and jobs.

Wall said he has met with federation Chief Perry Bellegarde and indicated this is the government's direction.

Bellegarde said he wants a more collaborative approach with the province and that means meetings. There should be a formal agreement for the province to meet with the federation three or four times a year, he said.

"We need to talk. We need to dialogue. We need to strategize together," Bellegarde said in a phone interview from Saskatoon.

Bellegarde said the status quo is not acceptable. He said projects that link First Nations people with training and jobs are needed, too.

"We need a renewed relationship in the province between First Nations governments and the province of Saskatchewan and the government of Canada, no question. And yes, straight-forward projects that will bring immediate results," he said.

Bellegarde said, for example, he wants to see the province make key investments in education and training.