New federal laws requiring First Nations bands to post their financial statements, remuneration and expenses online went into effect this week, but so far, only one of three Abbotsford/Mission bands’ numbers are available to view.
A spokesperson from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) said there is a backlog of information that government workers are trying to process and post online, and it could take a week or more for all the documents to be uploaded.
The deadline to file was Wednesday, and it could take up to five business days after the reports have been received in Ottawa before they are up for public view, said Valerie Hache, AANDC media relations.
The Sumas First Nation – which has about 300 members – had its reports online ahead of the filing deadline. The band chief, Dalton Silver, earned remuneration of $27,023, and logged $10,079 in expenses. Band councillor Jacqueline Bird made $39,880, and registered $13,176 in expenses. Coun. Clint Tuttle tallied $36,600 in salary, with $16,100 in expenses.
Coun. Murray Ned earned $9,480 in pay and $166 for expenses. But he is also the executive director of the Lower Fraser Fisheries Alliance (LFFA) which paid him $50,000 in salary, plus $27,500 in expenses.
The LFFA is comprised of 30 First Nation community from the mouth of the Fraser River to the Fraser Canyon. The organization promotes and supports the management of fisheries for First Nations people.
The Sumas First Nation posted total revenue last year of $8,514,573 (which includes a $1.1 million grant from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development and $5.2 million from the same ministry for contracts for service), and overall expenses rang in at $8,087,349, leaving a $427,224 surplus. The leftover money was added to the previous year’s total, which brings the band’s accumulated surplus to $9.7 million.
As of Friday afternoon, no documents for Leq’a:mel or Matsqui First Nations were available.
The First Nations Financial Transparency Act requires bands to post their financial information online.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada has stated the act is consistent with generally accepted accounting rules that apply to government-owned businesses across Canada and reporting requirements for members of Parliament.