POLITICS

First Nations bands have until Wednesday to submit 2014-15 financial data

07/28/2015 02:38 EDT | Updated 07/28/2016 05:59 EDT
​First Nations bands that have not filed their financial statements for 2014-15 by Wednesday at midnight will risk having federal funding for non-essential services cut beginning Sept. 1, warns Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt.

Under a new law which came into effect one year ago, First Nations have to submit to the Canadian government their audited financial statements for the past fiscal year, including the salaries and expenses of their chiefs and councillors.

While 98 per cent of bands complied with the First Nations Financial Transparency Act last year, CBC News reported Monday that the federal government has taken eight bands to court in a bid to force them to comply. Four other bands are said to be co-operating with the government to meet the requirements.

"Let me be clear, our government will take action, according to the provisions of the law, against First Nation governments that do not follow the law," Valcourt said in a written statement on Tuesday. "Those First Nation band councils which fail to comply by the deadline will receive several formal reminders."

"Beginning Sept. 1, 2015, bands that have yet to comply with the law will see funding for non-essential services withheld. Further actions may include seeking court orders to compel compliance."

The federal government will not give First Nations bands an additional 120 days to post their financial data like it did last year when the new law came into effect.

"Unlike last year, no additional extension will be provided before sanctions are applied. I have directed that the sanctions not target essential services that support First Nation members," Valcourt said.