Why aren't government ministries audited, too?
Re: Where does the taxpayers' money go? A lot of places!
Chief Spence starts a hunger strike and other First Nations people start a protest, Idle No More. Suddenly we have the federal government announcing audits that do not reflect positively on the First Nations.
Next we have a letter to the editor from John Logan wondering why First Nations people are idle, given all the money the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs has been spending.
Mr. Logan quotes a figure of $6.3 billion as the annual 2010 budget for Aboriginal Affairs. What this does not mention is this money not only is spent on First Nations people but also the 11 regional offices the ministry has.
It covers all those expenses our MP John Duncan has in connection with his portfolio, Aboriginal Affairs. The money pays the rent on all 11 regional offices. Rent on these offices along with salaries runs into the tens of millions. Much of this money is never seen or used by the First Nations people themselves.
The audit was called for in November 2011 by John Duncan's ministry. This was about the same time the Attawapiskat were starting to express their unhappiness with their housing situation and being heard in the south. The audit covered the years from 2005/6 to 2011/12.
My question is, why did the minister take that long to get around to having an audit conducted, if the Attawapiskat were just "squandering" the money?
At the end of each fiscal year, each government ministry is required to account for the money they spent. So how did Mr. Duncan's ministry not know there were problems as far back as 2005? Why wait six years to get around to an audit? I think it not unreasonable to conclude the audit had more to do with politics than money.
Chief Spence is paid approximately $72,000 a year. That is not a lot of money. It's what police officers, firefighters, nurses, administrators, carpenters, longshoremen, etc. all make.
So what is wrong with a First Nation chief making the same amount of money?
The average salary for the executives at BC Ferries is $900,000. All the while service is being reduced and fares continue to increase. Have we had an audit yet? Is anyone even asking?
Complaints have been made that Chief Spence's husband makes approximately $800 and change a day. No one seemed to be complaining when the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs placed the band under third-party control and paid that person $1,300 a day. Except the Attawapiskat, who had to pay it.
John Logan cites the amount of money the Attawapiskat have been paid. On the face of it, it looks like a lot of money. Actually it isn't.
The money is meant to cover everything, including heating.
When people live on northern reservations, there are no hospitals and no dentists in town. Some one needs to go to an appointment, they fly. Who pays? The band.
The band has to hire teachers, health care workers, etc.
When the federal government releases figures regarding the amount of money spent on Northern and Aboriginal Affairs, they include the federal government workers. Many of the executives in this branch make over $100,000 per year, plus vacation, sick leave, etc.
There is no simple answer to any of the issues. We could, however, start by ensuring children in the North have decent drinking water and adequate housing.