Progress Report – Specific Claims 2011–2012

In June 2007, the Government of Canada announced an action plan to speed up the resolution of specific claims in order to provide justice to First Nation claimants and certainty for all Canadians. Canada's Specific Claims Action Plan is delivering record results.

To learn more about the process for resolving these claims, read about the key terms used in this report and review the Frequently Asked Questions about Specific Claims.

What is Being Measured?

This report tracks overall progress in implementing the Specific Claims Action Plan and resolving specific claims in Canada since the fall of 2008.

Looking Back: Quick Facts

Between 1993 and 2006, the number of outstanding claims in the federal inventory doubled and there was a growing backlog of claims awaiting action. By early 2007, the average processing time for specific claims was 13 years.

When the action plan was announced, there were over 770 outstanding claims in Canada. Roughly 80 per cent of these unresolved claims were bottlenecked at the assessment stage awaiting a response from Canada.

Progress: At a Glance

Implementing the Specific Claims Action Plan
The Government of Canada delivered on all four commitments made in its 2007 Specific Claims Action Plan.

  • With the Assembly of First Nations, Canada jointly developed legislation creating the Specific Claims Tribunal, which also introduced new three-year time frames to the process. The legislation came into effect on October 16, 2008 and there are currently 23 claims before the Tribunal.
  • Canada has put in place practical measures to ensure faster processing of claims by the government.
  • With the dedicated settlement fund in place, there are now more funds dedicated solely to the resolution of specific claims than ever before.
  • A new approach was put in place to ensure better access to mediation for the parties involved in these negotiations.

Resolving Claims
Since the fall of 2008, Canada has cleared up the backlog of claims at the assessment stage and settled 48 claims through negotiated agreements with First Nations totaling $953.8 million. After a thorough review, Canada responded to 715 claims (541 of which were backlogged at the assessment stage when the legislation came into force). In addition to the 48 settled claims, the number includes:

  • 252 claims that were accepted for negotiation
  • 278 claims that were not accepted for negotiation on the basis that the claims did not give rise to any outstanding lawful obligations
  • 137 claims that were addressed by means of file closure.

As a result, the number of claims in negotiations has more than doubled and there are now more claims in negotiations than ever before.

In keeping with the Specific Claims Tribunal Act, Canada responded to all of the 541 backlogged claims within three years. Since the Act came into force, 125 new claims have been filed with the Minister. Canada will continue to thoroughly assess these new claims within a three-year period. The government will also continue to make best efforts to negotiate settlements with First Nations within three years wherever possible.

Then and Now: A statistical snapshot

Compare some statistics on the status of claims from October 16, 2008 with the present day.*

Status of ClaimsOctober 16, 2008March 31, 2012
Under assessment 541 104
In negotiations 144 280
Settled 311 359
Concluded 307 681

*These statistics do not include claims in litigation or claims before the Tribunal. Read about the key terms used in this report.

The Year at a Glance: Results from April 1, 2011 to March 31, 2012

During this time, Canada settled 10 claims through negotiated agreements with First Nations totaling $258.4 million (Review the settlement report in the reporting centre for more details). In addition, Canada responded to a total of 291 specific claims across the country. In addition to the 10 settled claims, this number includes:

  • 147 claims that were accepted for negotiation
  • 108 claims that were not accepted for negotiation on the basis that the claims did not give rise to any lawful obligations
  • 26 claims that were addressed by means of file closure.

Compare these results with those from previous fiscal years: 2008-2009; 2009-2010; and 2010-2011.

You Wanted To Know

Bringing greater transparency to the process was also a key part of Canada's Specific Claims Action Plan. The Government of Canada has put in place several new online tools so that all Canadians can see how the government is delivering on its commitment to resolve outstanding specific claims. These tools for tracking progress are identified below.

  • Search the status report to track the progress of individual claims.
  • Search the settlement report to learn about claims resolved through negotiations between 1973 and the present day.
  • Look and listen to these videos about successfully negotiated specific claims.

Specific Claims Inventory

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Resolving Specific Claims 2007-2012

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This graph shows how the overall federal inventory (shown in red) is decreasing and the number of finalized claims (shown in blue) is increasing. These results were tracked at key points from March 31, 2007 to March 31, 2012.

Definitions

Specific claims
Specific claims deal with the past grievances of First Nations. These grievances relate to Canada's obligations under historic treaties or the way it managed First Nation funds or assets. (Return to source paragraph)

Inventory
Claims within the federal inventory are claims that are still being processed by the government and have not yet been resolved. This includes both claims that are under assessment and claims in negotiations. (Return to source paragraph)