ONTARIO, CANADA – The Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation (MSIFN) has strongly condemned the Ford government’s plans to launch iGaming. According to MSIFN, the government’s decision will devastate MSIFN’s economy and set back decades of community development efforts.
Contrary to section 35 of Canada’s Constitution, the Ford government failed to hold formal consultations with Indigenous governments – a violation of its duty to consult and accommodate impacted Indigenous groups.
“Today’s announcement by the Ford government is a slap in the face of First Nations, and reduces their promises of reconciliation to a joke,” said Kelly LaRocca, Chief of MSIFN. “The government completely and utterly failed to consult our First Nation – leaving their iGaming launch open to constitutional challenge. We intend to challenge the province’s iGaming scheme in court.”
According to research by gaming experts, the government’s decision will strip millions of dollars from municipalities and First Nations across Ontario as well as the province’s own coffers. Additionally, it places more than 2,500 well-paying jobs at risk across the province. The Ontario government has not provided any information about how it will address the budgetary shortfalls and industry-wide layoffs which will occur because of its flawed iGaming strategy.
“The Ford government has recklessly ignored our concerns and has not offered any strategies to address the impact that their inadequate plan will have on our First Nation, our culture and our ability to provide services to our community,” added LaRocca, who is also a lawyer. “It is a real and significant threat. It will not stand. If the Ford government is not willing to address the harms caused by its decision, we will have to make them accountable, in an election year.”
For centuries, the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation have lived on the shores of Lake Scugog, North of what is now Port Perry. Thanks in large part to the success of the Great Blue Heron (GBH) casino, MSIFN is widely considered a model of a successful First Nation government in Canada. In part due to the success of GBH, MSIFN has provided their community – and Durham Region as a whole – with thousands of jobs, and millions of dollars in charitable donations to community organizations throughout the region.