Engagement Overview: Working together, building a new approach for mutual transparency and accountability between First Nations and the Government of Canada

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Preamble

The Government of Canada is working to renew the nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

A number of engagement initiatives with First Nations, Inuit, Métis communities and other Canadians are already planned or underway to achieve this goal. Engaging on the way forward with First Nations on mutual financial transparency and accountability is one of these initiatives.

Accountability and transparency are key tenets of any government – whether federal, provincial, municipal or First Nations. Good governance is vital in ensuring the delivery of the historic investments to Indigenous and Northern communities through Budget 2016. However, this will only truly be achieved by working in full partnership with First Nations leadership, communities and organizations to create a new approach and establish mutual transparency and accountability.

To develop a new nation-to-nation approach, the Government of Canada is seeking the views and ideas of First Nations on how to best create and support mutual transparency and accountability.

Purpose and overview of the engagement

On December 18, 2015, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs issued a statement in which she committed to work with First Nations leadership and organizations on the way forward on mutual transparency and accountability.

As a starting point for this engagement, the Government of Canada is inviting First Nations leadership and First Nations community members to participate in engagement sessions and / or complete this online survey to share their perspectives and ideas on mutual transparency and accountability.

Engagement sessions with First Nations are scheduled from coast-to-coast-to-coast this winter. The dialogue and outcomes will be guided by recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership with First Nations.

Frequently asked questions

What is the First Nations Financial Transparency Act?

The First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA) came into force March 27, 2013 and requires First Nations to provide audited consolidated financial statements and an audited schedule of remuneration and expenses for Chief and Councillors to their membership, and to publish these documents on a website. The act also provides additional authorities with respect to the application of administrative measures and court remedies for failure to comply with these requirements. 

The FNFTA is still in place and First Nations governments continue their long-standing practice of reporting on their financial program performance both to their members and to the department.

Prior to the passing of the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, 2013, how did First Nations disclose financial information to INAC and their membership?

First Nations have had a long-standing requirement to provide financial and non-financial information including plans, reports and financial documents to the department and to their memberships. Provisions within funding agreements allow the department to share financial information (specifically the audited consolidated financial statements and other required statements and schedules) with First Nations members when requested.

Have First Nations communities and organizations been calling for measures to demonstrate financial transparency and accountability?

In December 2010, at a Special Chiefs Assembly, the Assembly of First Nations passed Resolution 50 First Nation Governments Demonstrating Accountability. The Resolution reaffirmed First Nations' commitment to accountability and transparency and reiterated their primary responsibility to their own First Nations citizens. Furthermore, it sought collaboration with the Government of Canada "in the genuine interest of accountability" and "joint efforts towards the development of specific First Nations governance institutional capacity such as a First Nations ombudsperson and / or Auditor-General function as mandated and advanced by the Assembly of First Nations and Chiefs-in-Assembly in 2006."(Assembly of First Nations 2010).Footnote 1

The Government of Canada is committed to engaging in a respectful dialogue with First Nations on Resolution 50 and other ideas that are consistent with a nation-to-nation relationship.

How is the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, 2013, currently being enforced?

On December 18, 2015, the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs announced the suspension of Federal Government initiated court actions against First Nations that have not complied with the FNFTA, directed the cessation of other discretionary compliance measures related to the FNFTA, reinstated funding withheld from First Nations under the compliance measures, and committed to a dialogue with First Nations on transparency and accountability more broadly, in order to move forward in a way that respects the nation-to-nation relationship.

How to participate and next steps

The Government of Canada is seeking to engage with First Nations leaders and membership to identify a way forward that is based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. Engagement sessions will be held across the country with First Nations leadership and organizations.

Please take some time now to respond to the online survey and share your thoughts on transparency and accountability. The survey should take about 10 to 15 minutes to complete but may take longer if you want to provide more feedback.

If you are not able to respond to the survey online or would prefer to complete a paper copy, or if you would like to share a general comment, you can contact us in one of the following ways:

All contributions received through this engagement will be carefully considered. Your input will be used to inform options for consideration and decision, in collaboration with First Nations leadership and members. Results of this engagement will be shared publicly (no identifying information will be shared publicly).

Please visit INAC's engagement web page regularly for updates, further details on planned engagement activities and to find other key documents on the First Nations Financial Transparency Act and its implementation to date.

Additional Related Links

Annex A: definitions

Accountability: Accountability is a duty to demonstrate, review and take responsibility for performance results.

Consolidated financial statements: The financial statements of a First Nation — prepared according to generally accepted accounting principles — in which the assets, liabilities, equity, income, expenses and cash flows of the First Nation and related entities are presented as those of a single economic entity or government, reporting on its financial information.

First Nations Auditor General: An auditor general helps to hold a government accountable for the use of public funds. A First Nations Auditor General would primarily support accountability between First Nations and their citizens.

Ombudsperson / Ombudsman: usually appointed by the government to assist with the fair and expeditious resolution of complaints in an impartial, confidential and independent manner. Services are free of charge and the Ombudsperson / Ombudsman is not a representative of the person raising the complaint or the organization being complained about.

Publish: Publishing documents, or causing those documents to be published on an Internet site.

Remuneration: Any salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, fees, honoraria and dividends and any other monetary benefits — other than the reimbursement of expenses — and non-monetary benefits.

Transparency: Making sure that relevant information is reported reliably and clearly, and is on time and accessible.

Value-for-money: A fair return on an investment.

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