Time is running out for dozens of Saskatchewan First Nations who will face funding cuts next week unless they get their paperwork done for the First Nations Federal Financial Transparency Act.
The deadline to file was actually the end of July, but Ottawa won’t start withholding non-essential funding until September 1, which is next Tuesday.
As of noon Thursday, 30 of Saskatchewan’s 70 First Nations had still not filed; that represents a non-compliance rate of 43 per cent. Three of them are repeat offenders, failing to file for two years in a row.
They include the Thunderchild First Nation, Ochapowace and the Onion Lake Cree Nation. Onion Lake is challenging the law in court. The case was heard in Saskatoon federal court last week where the federal government is attempting to force eight First Nations to comply with the law. The judge has reserved his decision.
The Transparency Act requires reserves to file their financial statements, including salaries and expenses, on the Aboriginal and Northern Affairs Canada website where they can be viewed by anyone who has an interest.
There were some interesting numbers in the 40 reports that have been filed so far in Saskatchewan. The highest-paid chief in the province is Norman Whitehawk of the Cote First Nation with salary and expenses totaling $194,142. Second on the list was Chief Darcy Bear of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation with salary and expenses totaling $158,772.
The lowest paid was Wahpeton Dakota Nation Chief Leo Omani, whose salary and expenses totaled $20,932. Wood Mountain Chief Travis Ogle’s salary and expenses tallied up to $33,631.
Chiefs and councilors are tax free.