The $9 Billion Myth Exposed: Why First Nations Poverty Endures - AFN

As AFN Grand Chief Phil Fontaine filed a Human Rights complaint against the Federal Government along with the report, "The $9 Billion Myth Exposed: Why First Nations Poverty Endures", INAC Minister Prentice claims the government is already spending a lot on First Nations (see the Globe and Mail story below). 

AFN report ... The $9 Billion Myth Exposed: Why First Nations Poverty Endures

Click here to read the report (PDF)

Where is the $9.1 billion being spent?

Only $5.4 Billion of all federal “Aboriginal” spending actually ever reaches First Nations.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada Department officials have confirmed that only about 82% of policy and program funds actually reach First Nations in the form of grants and contributions. Treasury Board estimates that 11% or $600 million per year is spent on INAC departmental overhead.

It is estimated that only about 53% of “aboriginal issues” funding from other federal departments actually reaches First Nations. This issue requires further study.

INAC’s budget represents only approximately 0.004% of Canada’s Gross Domestic Product. Affordability to address First Nations’ urgent needs is not under question. In the last Budget, the federal government applied the $13.2 billion surplus to the debt, and this surplus continues to grow. Meanwhile, it invested $17 billion in military spending ...

Why are First Nations still living in poverty?

The federal system of fiscal transfers to First Nations communities is broken. Quite simply, funding caps on First Nation programs and services over the last decade have made impoverished conditions much worse. First Nations communities have to provide more programs and services, to more people, with less money every year. The result is that the poverty gap has been widening further every year. ...

INAC has found that expenditures per First Nations resident on reserve is less than those in the Territories despite similar demographics, scale of operations and geographic challenges. Under the Territorial Formula Financing Agreement for 2005–06, the per capita grants to the territories were $26,633 for Nunavut, $16,604 for the Northwest Territories, and $15,709 for the Yukon.


From Globe and Mail ...

Minister issues warning ahead of native human-rights complaint

OTTAWA -- Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice said Ottawa already spends "an awful lot of money" on natives, delivering a sharp rebuke to the mounting calls for more aboriginal spending in next month's budget.

The minister made the comments yesterday, on the eve of today's full-court press from aboriginal leaders calling for action on native poverty. Their measures will include the formal filing of a human-rights complaint against the federal government for underfunding child and welfare programs on reserves.

Phil Fontaine, the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, will announce the complaint today.

Yesterday, he spoke to the Economic Club of Toronto, where he painted a grim picture of the status quo. Describing native poverty levels as "horrific," he said federal polices are to blame for the hopelessness that leads eight-year-old girls into "survival sex" prostitution and teenage boys to die fighting in gang wars over drug money.

"This is Canada that I am talking about, Canada which has billions of dollars in surplus," Mr. Fontaine said. "I am telling you honestly and most sincerely that our communities right now are reaching a breaking point. The anger and frustration are palpable. . . . Unless that anger and frustration are addressed, I fear the consequences."

Specifically, Mr. Fontaine wants Ottawa to follow the advice of a recent Senate committee report calling for $250-million a year to be set aside for land-claim settlements so that native communities have more power to enter into business arrangements with off-reserve groups.

In response, the Indian Affairs Minister noted yesterday that the first Conservative budget boosted native funding significantly. He said more money is not necessarily the answer.

"The government of Canada spends approximately $15,100 on our first nation citizens [on reserve] if you go right across the government . . . now that's an awful lot of money. It is significantly more than the government of Canada and all other levels of government together spend on non-aboriginal Canadians, if you will. Now the question which first nation citizens and other Canadians are asking is, 'Are we getting value for the dollars?'" Mr. Prentice told reporters.