Madame Speaker, I read a thought-provoking and upsetting article in the Globe and Mail by Arlen Dumas, Grand Chief of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. Chief Dumas is denouncing Manitoba's Bill 2, the Budget Implementation and Tax Statutes Amendment Act, arguing that there are two items buried in this omnibus bill threatening to further perpetuate poverty and vulnerability for Manitoban First Nations people.
The first affects children in care, 90 percent of whom are First Nations. As Chief Dumas explains, in 2005, the Manitoba government redirected federal funding meant to support these kids to flow through the province, arguing the province was paying for care. Since then, over $388 million has diverted to Manitoba's general revenues. Bill 2 affirms this policy and forbids First Nations foster children from taking court action to seek repayment. I agree with Chief Dumas, who says, "It is wrong to steal from First Nations children. It is wrong to take away their basic rights to seek redress for the wrongs committed against them."
In 2018, the Manitoba Public Utilities Board froze rates for customers on First Nations reserves. Manitoba Hydro appealed, and the court overturned the decision, resulting in 6.5-percent increase for on-reserve customers, effective September 2020. The Manitoba government is now giving itself the authority to impose hydro increases without board oversight and has proposed a 2.9-percent increase for residents. Consequently, Manitobans on reserves face a "crippling and cumulative" 9.6-percent increase in their power. Imagine, Madam Speaker, if that was your household.
Chief Dumas says, "This is what systemic racism looks like; it is unconscionable, and it is wrong." This got me thinking. I have had many conversations with friends and constituents who don't really seem to understand what systemic racism is. Systemic racism lives in our dark corners. Because it is systemic, it is so ingrained in our colonial way of drafting laws and doing business that we don't see it for what it is. We need to shine a light on systemic racism and force it out into the open, where it can be identified and eradicated.
As Chief Dumas points out, Canadians support reconciliation and want a new relationship based on fairness and mutual respect. He has called on all politicians to listen and to act. I am listening, Madam Speaker, and will act by continuing the public dialogue needed to help end systemic racism. I would like to see our government act by undertaking the work needed to identify where system racism hides in our own laws, regulations, and policies. In order to stamp it out, we need to root it out. Thank you, Madam Speaker.