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This article was published 21/8/2018 (525 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
BRANDON — The Manitoba Metis Federation has been denied a judicial review of the province’s 2016 decision to not renew funding to the organization’s health and wellness department.
Along with a judicial review, the MMF sought, among other things, an order quashing the decision to not approve funding proposals related to the program, and a declaration the provincial government breached various principles, duties and obligations.
In its July 30 ruling, the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench determined that although the province adopted the Path to Reconciliation Act and the Manitoba Métis Policy, "the extent to which they create legally binding and applicable obligations on government fiscal policy choices remains very unclear and doubtful."
By extension, the ruling determined "there may indeed exist genuine and legitimate disappointment and frustration with respect to the fiscal policy choice made by (the provincial government)," a judicial review of the decision would prove irrelevant, therefore it was dismissed.
The MMF’s health and wellness department received provincial funding from Oct. 1, 2011 to March 31, 2016 through a series of annual agreements, the last that expired under the previous Manitoba NDP government a few weeks prior to the April 19, 2016 election won by the Progressive Conservatives.
Although the MMF continued running the department’s programming after its latest funding agreement ended, and, according to court documents "made several inquiries regarding the status of these funded proposals," it wasn’t until Nov. 29, 2016 then-health minister Kelvin Goertzen confirmed the funding would not be renewed.
MMF southwest chapter president Leah LaPlante said delivering funding under pilot programs such as this, with one-year renewals, prevents them from gaining too great a traction, and are far too common in Indigenous programming.
"You just get a program going where it’s delivering everything you thought it could for your people, and the funding gets cut — no explanation, not a year’s notice… just bang, and I think it’s wrong," she said.
"At the end of the day, they are going to be paying those dollars, it’s just going to be at the other end of it, not in preventing things but in treating things after. It just doesn’t make sense to us."
The department employed five MMF health staffers who advised and worked alongside Manitoba Health and regional health authorities on how to most effectively target health services to Métis communities.
The Manitoba Metis Federation is currently seeking another judicial review related to the March 21 decision made by the province to block a $67-million payment to the MMF from Manitoba Hydro.
A government spokesperson said the government would not comment on either judicial review. — Brandon Sun