FREDERICTON (GNB) – Plans by the federal government to improve services and programs for First Nations are being welcomed by Premier David Alward, who is also minister responsible for aboriginal affairs.

"The federal 2014 Economic Action Plan will help the provincial government continue to build a new relationship with First Nations in New Brunswick," said Alward. "First Nations and the federal government are vital partners to the future success of New Brunswick. Funding in the action plan will benefit everyone in the province."

At the national level, New Brunswick is an active participant with the Aboriginal Affairs Working Group, which comprises representatives from the federal, provincial and territorial governments in partnership with First Nations and Inuit organizations. The working group focuses its efforts on education, economic development, housing and ending violence against aboriginal women and girls.

At the provincial level, New Brunswick is working collaboratively with First Nations to achieve greater social, economic and health outcomes among First Nations communities. The provincial government is committed to implementing the Strategic Framework to End Violence Against Wabanaki Women in New Brunswick and has been collaborating with the federal government and the Elsipogtog First Nation to establish a healing-to-wellness court, which has yielded positive results to date.

"Our government has been building a new relationship with First Nations since 2010," said Alward. "We have taken a collaborative approach to addressing issues surrounding economic development, education and social programs that First Nations see as priorities."

The 2014 Economic Action Plan announced more than $4 billion in both existing and new funding to improve infrastructure and economic opportunities for First Nations in New Brunswick and across the country. Specific areas of focus include: education, access to high-speed Internet, disaster mitigation, aboriginal justice services, violence prevention and access to clean drinking water.