OTTAWA – ANISHINABEK – Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, issued the following statement on the First Nations Financial Transparency Act:
“Our Government expects First Nation band councils to use financial resources responsibly and for the benefit of all community members which is why we brought in the First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
I am pleased to report that since its coming into force, members of 563 of the 582 First Nations covered by the Act have been provided with access to information they require and deserve about basic financial management practices of their Chief and Council.
On November 27, 2014, as had been previously indicated, our Government began withholding non-essential funding from First Nation governments who had not yet complied with the Act.
We will continue to do so for all 19 remaining non-compliant First Nations. To be clear, funding related to essential services will not be targeted by these compliance measures.
Of these 19 First Nation governments, 11 have worked closely with officials from my department to develop action plans that aim to provide their members with greater accountability and transparency as quickly as possible.
As of December 8, 2014, legal action is underway for five First Nation governments that indicated their intention not to comply with the Act namely: Thunderchild, Ochapowace and Onion Lake in Saskatchewan; and Sawridge and Athabasca Chipewyan in Alberta.
Today, formal letters have been sent to the councils of the Algonquins of Barriere Lake, Quebec; Dakota Tipi Band, Manitoba; and Liard First Nation, Yukon, who have not fulfilled the requirements of the Act, nor provided the government with an action plan, thus leaving their members in the dark about how band revenues are spent.
These letters indicate that the bands have 15 days upon receipt to develop a written action plan that details steps they will take to comply with the legislation, a date of compliance, or post their financial documents as required by the Act. Should the First Nations not comply, we may proceed to court action, as provided for by the Act.
First Nations, like all Canadians, deserve transparency and accountability from their elected leaders. With this Act, our Government has helped to provide more effective, transparent and accountable governance for stronger, more self-sufficient and prosperous communities.”