The purpose of the meeting was to discuss renewal of the ASETS program in the next fiscal year starting April 1, 2017. Chaired by MNC Vice-President and ASETS Minister David Chartrand, the Committee consists of Métis ASETS Holders from the MNC’s Governing Members and was joined by Métis ASETS Holders from the Northwest Territories and the Métis Settlements in Alberta.
At the top of the agenda was the renewal of ASETS by way of a Métis Nation Accord that would span a five to ten year period. It would respond to the Liberal federal government’s election campaign commitment to renew ASETS, including the continuation of nation-to-nation and distinctions-based approaches, to respect the unique realities of First Nations, Inuit, and the Métis Nation in the delivery of these programs and services to their communities, and to expand ASETS funding by $50 million per year.
Related issues up for discussion included the extension of child care funding, currently available to First Nations and Inuit ASETS Holders only, to Métis Nation ASETS Holders and the fulfillment of a Liberal campaign commitment to expand and enhance Métis Nation scholarships and bursaries. The Métis Nation also sought the establishment of government-to-government fiscal transfers and block contribution agreements similar to those in place for governments established under modern treaties and land claims governments.
Minister Mihychuk was generally supportive of the Métis Nation objectives and was candid in expressing the difficulty in moving the machinery of her vast department in this new direction. Vice-President Chartand and committee members were unanimous in their appreciation of the passion and commitment the Minister is demonstrating to the ASETS file and to deal with the inequities faced by the Métis Nation in the past. The meeting marked an important kick-off to the negotiation of a new Métis Nation labour market development agreement with Canada.