It appears that the Ontario government will be coming to the rescue of the First Nations Technical Institute after the federal government cut $1.5-million in annual funding to the institution.
It has been unclear whether FNTI would be able to stay open after this academic year if funding did not come through from either the federal or provincial government. The federal government defended its position on the funding cuts by pointing out that post-secondary education is a responsibility of the provincial government. The provincial government argued that the institute should be funded under the federal ministry of Indian Affairs.
FNTI is hopeful that some of the $45 million announced for First Nations education in the Ontario budget released last week will be coming its way. MPP Leona Dombrowsky told the Belleville Intelligencer last week that a solution is “Not weeks ahead, [it is] days ahead.”
A stakeholder organization source told Maclean’s that the province has a plan to avert the financial crisis at FNTI. Government sources have indicated to Maclean’s that there will be an announcement soon.
Two weeks ago, Maclean’s asked Ontario Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities John Milloy about FNTI. Milloy said that he has been meeting with the institution and was working to find a solution. He expressed frustration with the federal government, saying he had made repeated attempts to arrange a meeting with federal Indian Affairs Minister Chuck Strahl and had not yet received a response.
Ted Yoemans, director of communications for Chuck Strahl, responded by email: “Indian Affairs has been meeting with officials from FNTI and the province and they will continue to do so. The Minister is hopeful he will be able to meet with Minister Milloy in the near future. We are still hoping that the province will soon take responsibility for their prominent role in post-secondary education for Aboriginal students.”
It is “business as usual” at FNTI for the month of April. The federal cuts take effect at the end of the month.