Province And First Nations Create New Partnership With Signing Of An Agreement-In-Principle On Gaming Revenue
Increased Revenue To Enable Key Investments In First Nation Communities
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty today signed an agreement-in-principle with the Ontario First Nations Limited Partnership (OFNLP) that sets out a new partnership for sharing the economic benefits of gaming with First Nations.
"Our government is committed to building opportunity and this agreement-in-principle is an important step forward in meeting the needs of First Nations communities," said Premier McGuinty. "It provides the foundation for a stronger partnership with First Nations as we work together to invest in their communities in a number of areas such as the education, skills and health of First Nations peoples."
"This agreement is designed to provide over 130 Ontario First Nations with greater financial stability," said David Caplan, Minister of Public Infrastructure Renewal and Minister Responsible for the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation (OLGC). "This is a historic day and we want to acknowledge the invaluable leadership of the negotiators."
In February 2005, the McGuinty Liberal government appointed former Premier David Peterson to lead discussions with First Nations on a new agreement for distributing gaming revenue to Ontario First Nations.
Under a pre-existing contract that runs until 2011, Ontario First Nations receive provincial gaming revenue from a single gaming site -- Casino Rama. The terms set out in today's agreement-in-principle would add to this arrangement by providing First Nations with 1.6 per cent of gross revenue from all provincial gaming, starting in 2011. Ontario First Nations would also receive approximately $155 million over the next six years.
"This First Nations Gaming and Revenue Sharing Agreement-in-Principle represents a new relationship between First Nations within Ontario and the Province. It is an opportunity for our partners to build upon existing successes as well as address their community growth and development. We look forward to finalizing the agreements required to move forward," said Harvey Yesno, President of the OFNLP.
"Today's announcement demonstrates Ontario's commitment to developing a true partnership with First Nations peoples," said David Ramsay, Minister Responsible for Aboriginal Affairs. "We are taking a big step forward on the New Approach to Aboriginal Affairs by working with First Nations to increase economic opportunities."
The agreement-in-principle was signed by Premier McGuinty on behalf of the Ontario government and by the OLGC and the OFNLP. It provides that the parties will seek to negotiate binding legal agreements to give effect to the terms of the agreement-in-principle by December 31, 2006.
Premier McGuinty thanked David Peterson for leading this effort on behalf of the Province. He also thanked the OFNLP negotiating team -- Gord Peters, Joe Miskokomon, Linda Commandant, Don Morrison, Mike Mitchell, Ernest Sutherland and George Kakeway -- for their vision and commitment.
"This agreement will make a lasting difference in the lives of First Nations people throughout the province," said Premier McGuinty. "The increased revenue will allow First Nations to make key investments to build a brighter future for their communities and a stronger Ontario for all."