Only a handful of Saskatchewan First Nations have their financial statements posted on the federal government’s website in spite of a new law requiring them to do so.
The requirements are part of the Harper government’s First Nations Financial Transparency Act which includes regulations that chief and band council salaries be posted online.
The government’s deadline for First Nations to produce the information was Tuesday evening.
Parliamentary secretary for Aboriginal Affairs Mark Strahl says a number of First Nations are still submitting their financial information to the government and he expects more statements to be posted online in the coming days.
Strahl says the government does have penalties for non-compliance but perhaps the biggest penalty will be the local political fallout if bands fail to make their financial statements available to the public.
“There will be a political penalty which community members themselves will impose on any elected chief and council that is not providing transparent financial information,” he says.
Canadian Taxpayers Federation Prairie Director Colin Craig says there is a fairly wide berth in terms of what would be considered an inappropriate as compared to an appropriate band council salary.
“No one would expect a chief to have to work for free and at the same time a chief serving a small community of a couple thousand people, you wouldn’t expect them to make more than the Prime Minister of Canada,” he says.
As of Wednesday afternoon, only six of 70 Saskatchewan First Nations had their financial statements posted on the government’s website.
The bands that have complied so far are the George Gordon, Kahkewistahaw, Mistawasis, Pheasant Rump, Sweetgrass and White Bear First Nations.