By Mark Milke, The Leader-Post
In his comments about my recent Fraser Institute study on taxpayer funding for aboriginal matters ("Aboriginal spending: Too much or not enough," Dec 13), FSIN Chief Perry Bellegarde asserts that my study contained flawed methodology and does not account for population growth and inflation.
Bellegarde is wrong. As noted throughout my study, inflation adjustments were made for every figure; the study also accounts for population growth.
The results almost speak for themselves. While per-capita federal program spending grew by 387 per cent between 1950 and 2012, drill down into Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, and in just that one department, spending on aboriginal matters jumped to $9,056 per First Nations person in 2012 from $922 per person in 1950, an 882-per-cent increase.
Bellegarde also asserts that the $1.1 billion spent by Health Canada annually on modern medical benefits such as pharmaceutical drugs, vision care and dental care for First Nations and Inuit peoples is covered by Treaty 6. That is incorrect. These are not constitutionally or treatyrequired benefits.
As the federal government notes, "current health programs and services including non-insured health benefits are provided to First Nations and Inuit on the basis of national policy and not due to any constitutional or other legal obligations."
Taxpayers pay substantial sums to provide generous benefits to First Nations and Inuit peoples. Those same Canadians usually must buy insurance or pay out of pocket for their own dental work, eye care and prescription drugs.
Canadians are very generous to First Nations peoples.
Milke is a Senior Fellow with The Fraser Institute.