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First Nations finance transparency has many expecting change

For the first time ever, we’re getting a glimpse of how much money Canadian first nation chiefs and councils are making.

The federal government adopted the First Nations Financial Transparency Act, forcing the numbers to be posted on a government website.

“This is the greatest piece of legislation passed by our parliament, I believe, in a long time,” says Derek Fildebrandt with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

The information from nine of the 45 bands in Alberta have been posted, but more are expected in the next while, but the numbers already posted are pretty shocking.

The O’Chiese First Nation pays their chief over $164,000, plus $100,000 in expenses. That’s like making a quarter million dollars off-reserve.

The Fort McMurray First Nation with an on-reserve population of 272, pays their chief $156,000 tax free. The chief also received over $100,000 in expenses, which is like making $387,000 off reserve.

“I’m optimistic this is the first step towards greater self-sustainability, self-respect, and self-governance, for First Nations people in Canada,” said Fildebrandt. “It starts with accountability.”

He said, while there are some chiefs who are paid correctly, he expects action to be taken, as we continue to see the ballooned salary of some elected members of our country’s aboriginal bands.

“This is not First Nations being accountable to the federal government,” said Fildebrandt. “This is requiring First Nations to be accountable to their own members.”