Specific Claims In Canada - Then and Now


This website will change as a result of the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, and the creation of Indigenous Services Canada and the eventual creation of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. During this transformation, you may also wish to consult the updated Indigenous and Northern Affairs home page.

The key differences between the past and the current process for resolving specific claims are highlighted below:

OLD PROCESS                                   CURRENT PROCESS

The new Specific Claims Tribunal

When claims were not accepted for negotiations by Canada or there was a disagreement on compensation, the First Nation could refer the issue to an independent commission for a non-binding recommendation. First Nations can refer their claims to the Tribunal for a binding decision if the claim is not accepted for negotiations or if negotiations do not result in a final settlement.

Benefits: Composed of superior court judges, the Tribunal provides an alternative to the courts and brings finality to the process.

NB: Participation in the Tribunal process is optional. First Nations may still pursue litigation.
There were no time limits to assess a claim and make a decision on whether to negotiate. Likewise, negotiations could go on for as long as ten years or more. The legislation creating the Tribunal introduces a new accountability tool - timeframes. First Nations may go to the Tribunal if Canada fails to complete its assessment of a claim within three years, as set out in the legislation, or if a final settlement has not been reached after three years of negotiations.

Benefits: This tool will eliminate the backlog and speed up resolution, keeping the focus on concrete results.

Other Key Changes

The amount of funding set aside for settling specific claims has varied over the years, ranging from $30 to $75 million. Frequently, additional funds had to be sought for individual settlements.              A dedicated fund of $250 million per year for a period of ten years has been set aside.

Benefits: Significantly more funds dedicated solely to the payment of specific claims than ever before.
There were no guidelines for First Nations on the information required to submit a claim or the format of that information. As a result, incomplete claim submissions often bogged down the system.

First Nations could review and add new information at any stage of Canada's assessment, thereby slowing down the process.
A new Minimum Standard sets out what information is required and how claims are presented. Claims that do not meet the Minimum Standard will be returned to the First Nation. Once a claim meets the Minimum Standard, it is officially filed with the Minister. The three-year time period then begins for Canada to assess the claim and decide whether to accept it for negotiation.

Once a claim is filed, no new information can be added; however, a First Nation can re-submit the claim if it wishes to file new allegations or information.

Benefits: These guidelines will speed up the processing for claims.
Each claim was processed separately and in the chronological order that it was received.

All claims followed the exact same steps in negotiations, regardless of their potential settlement value.
Similar claims are bundled at the research and assessment stages to speed up decisions regarding their acceptance for negotiation.

Special efforts can be made to negotiate small value claims more quickly. Large claims valued at more than $150 million are referred for separate processing to better address their complexity and diversity.

Benefits: Streamlined approach better addresses the diversity and complexity of specific claims.