Alberni Valley News

Budget ignores aboriginal friendship centres: NDP MLA Fraser

New Democrat aboriginal affairs critic Scott Fraser would like to see the provincial government reroute $2 million from the creation of an auditor general for municipalities into aboriginal friendship centres.

Fraser, MLA for Alberni-Pacific Rim, has been advocating for the 23 friendship centres in B.C., saying they need increased funding to help them deal with many of the social problems brought on by Liberal spending cuts.

"Two million dollars is not much for 23 friendship centres. Every dime of that would be an investment," Fraser said Tuesday afternoon.

"Instead, they (BC Liberals) bring in an auditor general for municipal governments for $2.6 million a year."

Friendship centres, which are operated by First Nations in their respective communities around the province, are dealing with socio-economic issues such as child poverty, he said. However, their respective programs are falling short due to demands, and could use more funding.

Fraser has been touring friendship centres around the province and pushing for an aboriginal off-reserve strategy.

"There's 70 per cent of aboriginal people living off reserve and the only thing the government is interested in is on reserve: treaties," he said.

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