Ottawa continues to fail First Nations: Auditor General

Canada’s auditor general called for major changes to the relationship between First Nations, Ottawa and provincial governments to break the persistent and growing gap between quality of life on reserves and the rest of the country.

(Auditor General Sheila Frasher. APTN/Photo)

APTN National News
-Canada’s auditor general called for major changes to the relationship between First Nations, Ottawa and provincial governments to break the persistent and growing gap between quality of life on reserves and the rest of the country.

After 10 years issuing reports on the performance of government departments, Auditor General Sheila Fraser said the existing system dealing with First Nations was not working.

“I believe that First Nations, the federal government, and in some cases the provinces, have to rethink their relationship with each other,” said Fraser. “First Nations people have waited far too long to have the quality of services Canadians receive every day and take for granted.”

Fraser said she has done 29 audits that directly or indirectly dealt with First Nations people and has seen very little change in the social conditions afflicting reserves.

She said reserves have fallen behind over the last 40 years and the federal government has failed to do anything about it.

“The conditions on many reserves remain poor and progress is slow. Some communities are making significant progress, but they are the exception rather than the rule,” said Fraser. “Services on reserves have not kept pace with services in municipal governments…The federal government has not been identifying and funding comparable services on reserves in any systemic fashion.”

Fraser said her office had uncovered government failures in education, water quality, housing and child and family services.

She also highlighted that her office had found that reporting requirements for First Nations, some with fewer than 500 members, have been “excessive.” She said some of the reports were never reviewed by Indian Affairs or didn’t serve any purpose.

She said another report on the government’s response to her office’s concerns around comprehensive land claims will come out in May.

Akwesasne Mohawk Council Grand Chief Mike Mitchell thanked Fraser for her work and said his community is mired in required audit reports.

Mitchell said his council receives $74 million for programs and services and is required to file 77 audits.

“They put you through the ringer,” said Mitchell. “And all the times you (Fraser) have made recommendations and observations it blows out the window the next day.”

Alluding to the swirling controversy around the Canadian Taxpayers Federation campaign over the levels of reserve politician salaries, Mitchell then said, “But when First Nations people get accused for something, it just stays in the air for a long time.”

Online Producer / Ottawa

Before moving to become the APTN News social media producer, Mark was the executive producer for the news in eastern Canada. Before starting with APTN in 2009, Mark worked at CBC Radio and Television in Newfoundland and Labrador and Ottawa.

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  301. Regarding the Canadian Taxpayers Federation campaign, INAC made mistakes in their reporting of those salaries in Alberta, and I think BC as well. Many salaries were mistakenly inflated over and above their actual totals.nnUnfortunately, the damage is done and the public will remember those inflated totals more than they will the admission of error. And I haven’t heard any sort of apology from INAC or the CTF.

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