Government requests FN accountability

DM speaks As a result of the story that appeared in the Yukon News on October 23, about affordable housing funds for First Nations, I am writing to clarify the approval process and reporting requirements for the Northern Housing Trust. In 2006, the feder

DM speaks

As a result of the story that appeared in the Yukon News on October 23, about affordable housing funds for First Nations, I am writing to clarify the approval process and reporting requirements for the Northern Housing Trust.

In 2006, the federal government established the Northern Housing Trust program for the three territories. The territories were encouraged to work in partnership with First Nations within their jurisdictions to determine how to use the funds.

The Yukon government agreed to allocate a significant portion of the $50 million it received to Yukon First Nations in recognition of the substantial housing needs in First Nation communities.

Yukon government and First Nation officials reached agreement on the allocation of funding, with $32.5 million to go to the 14 First Nations in the territory and $17.5 million to the Yukon government. This allocation was approved by the Yukon Forum, made up of the leadership of the Yukon government and Yukon First Nations.

The allocation of the $32.5 million among the 14 First Nations was determined by First Nation leaders and set out in a leadership resolution, facilitated by the Council of Yukon First Nations.

To support the allocation of funding to First Nations, Yukon government and First Nation officials negotiated an investment plan to guide the types of projects and activities for which the Northern Housing Trust funds could be used. The Yukon Forum approved this investment plan.

The investment plan states that each participating government receiving funds will be accountable to its constituency for its activities and expenditures. This accountability provision mirrors the condition Canada set in providing the Northern Housing Trust funds to the Yukon government and reflects the government-to-government relationship between the Yukon government and Yukon First Nations.

In addition to the investment plan, officials of the Yukon government and First Nations negotiated a standard agreement to support the flowing of funds to individual First Nations. These agreements set out the total amount each First Nation received, in accordance with the First Nation leadership resolution, and a list of the types of projects and initiatives each First Nation had identified for the funding.

In the case of the Liard First Nation, its agreement was limited to executing a program that achieved “the construction of 10 Ð 12 units; 15 major renovations; 15 Ð 30 minor renovations; a pilot home-ownership program and a feasibility plan for the devolution of a local housing authority.”

These individual agreements negotiated by officials of the respective parties were signed by the premier and the chief of the First Nation, as is the established practice with government-to-government agreements of this nature.

The funding agreement signed with each First Nation requires that it records and reports on its use of the Northern Housing Trust funds on a separate basis for accounting and audit purposes. For each fiscal year during which it spends these funds, the First Nation is also required to provide the Yukon government with a copy of the annual audit of this account.

Each fiscal year, the Executive Council Office writes to each First Nation requesting its audited reports for expenditures it has made. The Yukon government will continue to request that reporting requirements are met in accordance with the agreements negotiated between the Yukon and First Nation governments until all funds have been expended and accounted for.

Janet Moodie. deputy minister

Executive Council Office