Friday, May 26, 2006

AG's report gives INAC a failing grade

OTTAWA - NDP Critic for Aboriginal Affairs Jean Crowder (Nanaimo-Cowichan) says Auditor-General Sheila Fraser's report on Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is a "clear indictment of a culture of delay and denial."

"From land claims that take an average of 29 years to complete, to the lack of clear responsibility for mouldy houses, this Auditor-General report shows that Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is not working in the interests of First Nations, Métis and Inuit, or in the interests of the rest of Canada," said Crowder.

In her report, the Auditor-General points to an appearance of conflict of interest, if not a true conflict, in the multiple roles INAC has:

"We believe that these differing roles of the Department create at least the appearance of a conflict and may have resulted in an erosion of trust between the Department and First Nations over time." (Chapter 5, pg 170 - Report of the Auditor General of Canada, May 2006)

"It's time to move the responsibility - and the budget - for land claims away from the department, to a completely independent agency," said Crowder.

"INAC's focus should be on reducing the gap in standard of living between First Nations, Métis and Inuit and the rest of Canadians, starting with the largest health and safety hazard: mouldy housing. The minister should take charge of this file, show leadership, and get this disaster fixed."

The Auditor-General's report also showed that INAC lacks accountability in how it doles out money - ignoring many of the 60,000 reports First Nations file yearly.

"The Auditor-General found that staff were not trained in how to assess grants and contributions and may be contravening the Financial Administration Act when deciding where money should go. It's clear that this Conservative government should start with its own departments when talking about accountability," Crowder concluded.

Related Links
Crowder calls on Conservatives to close First Nations poverty gap »
NDP’s Angus blasts federal neglect of Kashechewan »
Aboriginal Peoples »
Layton Joins Angus On Kashechewan Water Crisis »
Jack Layton's speech at the Annual General Meeting of the Assembly of First Nations »
NDP MP Filibusters at Committee to Force Action on Indian Residential Schools »

2 comment(s):

"The Auditor-General found that staff were not trained in how to assess grants and contributions and may be contravening the Financial Administration Act"

Damned straight! The Financial Officers of Indian Bands are NOT doing their jobs in overseeing finances, and the regional offices (like the ones in Vancouver) do not deal with complaints about missappopriations of funds even when it involved hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If you visit my site, you will see the clever tactics being used by the regional offices of DIA in BC to keep me from being able to even ask the simplest of questions about the band I am registered as a member of. They claim I must submit all my questions in writing -- but then, when I do submit such questions in writing, which I have for years, they never answer, or if they do, they claim they are NOT an investigative body.

But then the RCMP which is an investigative body tells us that the money isn't actually ours, that it belongs to the federal government -- and as such, they can't do anything if we make a complaint... that it's up to the feds to make a complaint about the missappropriations of funds....

Except such complaints would be coming from people who signed off on these missappropriations of funds to begin with.

Good for Ms.Crowder for speaking out on this.

Thank you for posting about it!

By Blogger Meaghan Walker-Williams, at 6:27 AM  

Thank you for your comment.

I am a regular visitor to your site and am aware of the problems you've been having with the DIA. All of this double-dealing and subterfuge boggles my mind. There is no accountability and looks like whenever you ask, you are simply bounced from one inept group to another, shuffled around. I can understand your frustrations and anger. I'd be tearing my hair out! (You probably are too.) What is going on is criminal.

How can they get away with misappropriating all that money which is so badly needed for the People? Mouldy houses? No wonder there is "an erosion of trust between the Department and First Nations"!

I am glad Ms. Crowder spoke out about this. I wonder if anything will be done anytime soon... ?

By Blogger Annamarie, at 3:06 AM  

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