Tuesday, September 16, 2014
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Transparency act for First Nations goes into effect next week

QMI AGENCY

Beginning next week, First Nations leaders will be required to publish online the annual audited financial statements, including the salaries and expenses of chiefs and councillors.

"First Nations, like all Canadians, deserve transparency and accountability from their elected officials," Bernard Valcourt, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development, said Friday, adding that the move will ensure First Nations have access to information detailing how public funds are spent in their communities."

The accounting standards are in line with other levels of government in Canada.

The push for the First Nations Financial Transparency Act came after the Canadian Taxpayers Federation released a report which suggested 600 First Nations leaders earned more than $100,000 in 2008-2009, and 50 made $315,000.

Critics suggested the federation’s salary information was misleading because it included costs such as travel expenses, which are often high due to the remoteness of First Nations reserves.

Valcourt says First Nations community members will not have to request the information through band offices, but still have the option to do so.

"With increased access to basic financial information, community members can make more informed decisions about the financial management and reporting of their elected officials," he said.

-- with files from Jim Bender

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