The federal government is trying to reduce red tape for First Nations hit by disasters.
On Tuesday, Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt announced the government is setting up a “single window” for bands to secure government funding from when they need disaster assistance.
For years, First Nations hit by floods and fires have turned to the province’s disaster assistance program.
The province, in turn, would then submit a bill to the federal government.
It resulted in a heavy backlog of claims, prompting some bands to say they are still waiting for money years after a disaster happened.
Saskatchewan alone is owed nearly $5 million by Ottawa for disaster assistance it has provided dating as far back as 2009.
Speaking in Winnipeg, Valcourt says he hopes these problems have been eliminated with the new program.
“All of this will be done away with because you’re going to have a single window,” he says. “The Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development will be the single window through which provinces and First Nations will access the funds in case of emergency situations.”
Alberta already has this system in place and the federal government says that’s why recovery efforts happened so quickly for reserves hit by flooding in this province earlier this year.
Valcourt says the new method will be fundamentally different than the old system:
“OK the single-window approach will mean that from now on a province and a First Nation caught in a disaster situation will not be under the general assistance program which public safety administers across Canada with the provinces. ”
At the end of the day the Aboriginal Affairs working group recommended that Valcourt have more dialogue with First Nations and provincial ministers about the First Nations Education Plan.
That is something many leaders, including FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde, have called for.