By Occupy Saskatoon
Combined, our three levels of government (federal, provincial, municipal) spend about $24,000 a year for programs and infrastructure for each person living in Toronto.
Attawapiskat, on the other hand, which is only funded by one level of government - federal - received $17.6 million in this fiscal year, for all of the programs and infrastructure for its 1,550 residents. That works out to about $11,355 per capita. And of course, food, gas, construction materials, teachers' salaries, etc., are all much more expensive in isolated, northern communities like Attawapiskat.
People often forget, when talking about costs of delivering programs and services to First Nations, that almost all those costs are paid from one pot: Aboriginal Affairs. By contrast, non-Aboriginal Canadians receive services from at least three levels of government.
Here are the total expenditures per level of government for Toronto residents. The first figure applies across the country, the second applies across Ontario, and the third applies across Toronto:
* The 2010 federal budget expenditures were $280 billion or about $9,300 for each Canadian (including Torontonians)
* The 2010 Ontario budget is $123 billion in expenditures or about $9,500 for each Ontario resident (including Torontonians)
* The 2010 Toronto budget is $13 billion, or $5,200 for each Toronto resident
Some additional points to consider:
Indian Affairs (now Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, or AANDC) has capped expenditure increases for First Nations at two percent a year since 1996. Yet:
* The Aboriginal population has been growing at a rate closer to four percent a year, so per-capita support is falling behind.
* In that same period, the number of staff employed at AANDC has grown from 3,300 in 1995 to 5,150 in 2010, an increase of 156 percent. (Source: Indian Affairs)
* Those salaries, plus consultants fees for people like third-party managers, come from the program dollars that should go to First Nations.
* Consultants (including lawyers and accountants) receive 1,500 contracts per year from AANDC, worth about $125 million. (This does not include fees that First Nations pay directly using sources other than AANDC funding). (Source: Toronto Star)
* One of these sets of fees, taken away from other AANDC budgeting and provided instead to consultants, is the payment for third-party managers.
* Another recent and publicly disclosed example of third-party-manager fees is those being paid for Barriere Lake. When the community took political action on some of its issues, Canada imposed third-party management. The accounting firm is paid $600,000 per year, according to Indian Affairs Records. (Source: Toronto Star).
* Almost every time a First Nation goes into third-party management, it comes out with as much debt as it had going in - or more. This is a good indicator that the problem is not fiscal mismanagement, it's the insufficiency of resources to deliver the programs needed. (Source: what we hear and see from our own clients)
* Each First Nation has to file, on average, 160 reports per year to AANDC. The Auditor General says the problem is not under-reporting, its over-reporting -- because of the resources and administration needed to service AANDC's bureaucratic requirements. (Source: Federal Auditor General)
Lorraine Y. Land is a partner with OLTHUIS, KLEER, TOWNSHEND, L.L.P., in Toronto