News report shows Manitoba bands in bad shape

Blog, Aboriginal Futures, Joseph Quesnel

A recent news report from the Winnipeg Free Press shows that 40 per cent of bands in Manitoba have outside managers to help with their finances. This is a record among Canadian provinces and territories. 

Saskatchewan also has a high number of First Nations under some sort of remedial intervention. 

The report also correctly concludes that while this while this intervention may help balance the books, it doesn’t necessarily deal with underlying management issues. 

Here is a link to a government document showing what First Nations across Canada are under default management. 

The Frontier Centre, in the past, has asked First Nations respondents about default management in its flagship Aboriginal Governance Index. Control over finances is a prerequisite for good governance. Default management is not necessarily evidence of financial mismanagement, but it does not bode well for the First Nation. 

The Frontier Centre is set to release a new and improved Aboriginal Governance Index and default management will be part of the governance equation when assessing quality of First Nations governance and services. 

The report also mentions that default management does not necessarily improve the skills of band staff and elected officials, but enriches outside consultants, accountants and lawyers. 

Clearly, the alternative is to improve governance and services before they reach such a critical level that default management is deemed necessary.