Whitehorse Daily Star

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Justice Ron Veale

FNs’ financial transfer agreements extended

The federal government has reached an arrangement to extend the financial transfer agreements with Yukon First Nations for another fiscal year.

By Chuck Tobin on April 24, 2019

The federal government has reached an arrangement to extend the financial transfer agreements with Yukon First Nations for another fiscal year.

In an email correspondence with the Star earlier this month, Ottawa said it has agreed to provide an additional $46 million in funding for the transfer agreements while the parties explore a new approach to negotiating the arrangements.

It also commits to negotiating future agreements based on the total number of First Nation citizens, rather than insisting the funding formula be based on the number of “status Indians” who are citizens, with no provision for non-status citizens.

The extension applies to the seven Yukon First Nations whose transfer agreements were to end at the end of last month.

The transfer agreements for the other four First Nations with self-government agreements will end next March 31.

The extension provides the parties with more time to “co-develop a new self-government fiscal policy that will use evidence-based costing methodologies to more accurately reflect community funding requirements, as mentioned in Budget 2019,” says the federal email.

The Teslin Tlingit Council sued the federal government in December 2017. It claimed Ottawa was in breach of its constitutional obligation to properly fund the council’s self-government initiatives.

During the three-day trial last December in Yukon Supreme Court, the senior Vancouver lawyer representing the Teslin Tlingits told the court the self-government funding provided by Ottawa has been inadequate.

It’s been inadequate since the First Nation’s land claim and self-government agreements came into effect in 1995, Gregory McDade told Justice Ron Veale.

Ottawa, he told the court, has refused to negotiate but rather has consistently come to the table with a take it, or leave it, position.

McDade also argued the federal government was in breach of its constitutional obligation to take the First Nation’s entire citizenship into account when calculating the annual transfer agreements.

Rather, the federal government has insisted on basing funding on the number of status citizens only, he said.

During the trial, Veale said he understood that a fundamental principle of the Yukon land claim process was to do away with the federal government’s practice of differentiating between status and non-status Indians.

Veale also noted during the trial that it was clear Ottawa was coming to the negotiating table over the years with a take it or leave it position.

In his decision of Jan. 15, the chief justice ruled in favour of Teslin.

He ordered Ottawa to negotiate a financial transfer agreement with Teslin based on the entire citizenship list, prior to the end of March.

He also declared the federal government has a constitutional obligation to negotiate the financial transfer agreement based on the entire citizenship list.

The Teslin Tlingit Council maintains the difference between what the council sees as adequate self-government funding and what Ottawa has provided is tens of millions, annually.

The email from Ottawa indicates the intent is to have a new arrangement in place by next March 31 to negotiate funding for all 11 Yukon self-governing First Nations.

Comments (3)

Up 7 Down 4

Josey Wales on Apr 29, 2019 at 11:25 pm

Identity politics will kill this country, as we are in our death rows by design.
The white guilt fund must be near kaput no? Been draining it since 1969....silly me forgot budgets balance themselves.
October cannot come um aaah uuum aaaah quick enough.
Guess diversity was not Turtle Islands strength, hence the cradle to grave funding. It most certainly is not Canada’s strength either, despite the chants from hollow NPC heads.

What a complete bunch of nonsense

Up 8 Down 8

Patti Eyre on Apr 24, 2019 at 4:24 pm

Thank you Chuck, I did not realize I could email Ottawa and get responses to questions. What is Ottawa's email address?

Up 18 Down 8

My Opinion on Apr 24, 2019 at 3:21 pm

The way the Justice system is going everyone will be on the take. Wonder who will pay????

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