APTN National News
OTTAWA–The federal government has until the end of May to present MPs with a plan to deal with the deteriorating condition of infrastructure and services in First Nation communities across the country.
Aboriginal Affairs, Health Canada and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) have until May 31 to present a plan to the House of Commons public accounts committee.
The directive is contained in a report tabled Monday by the committee of MPs. The report stems from a study conducted by the committee on a 2011 Auditor General’s examination of First Nations programs.
The Auditor General’s report, released in June 2011, found that the situation on First Nation reserves had worsened despite the federal government imposing more red-tape on bands.
“The education gap has widened, the shortage of adequate housing…has become more acute, the presence of mould on reserves remains a serious problem,” John Wiersema, interim auditor general, said at the time. “And administrative reporting requirements have become even more onerous.”
The Auditor General’s report concluded that Ottawa faced four “structural impediments” to dealing with the dire situations that plague many communities.
In its own report, the committee said it wanted to see a plan to deal with the issue. It called on the three federal entities to present “a roadmap of specific actions, with timelines, that the departments intend to take to address the four structural impediments” by May 31.
The so-called impediments identified by the Auditor General include: no clarity of service levels, no legislative base, inadequate funding mechanisms and no organizational support for service delivery.
The committee also called on Aboriginal Affairs, Health Canada and CMHC to provide their plans by May 31 to implement recommendations issued by the Auditor General.
The Auditor General found Aboriginal Affairs, Health Canada and CMHC failed to deliver on recommendations around drinking water, education and mould in homes.
“The committee believes that (Aboriginal Affairs) in coordination with other departments, needs to develop and commit to a plan of action to take the necessary steps,” said committee. “The committee intends to monitor the government’s progress to ensure that First Nations on reserves experience meaningful improvements in their social and economic conditions.”