Kwikwetlem First Nation chief Ron Giesbrecht makes nearly three times more than Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
Audited financial statements indicated he earned $914,219 tax free in 2013 in addition to another $16,574 in expenses – an amount equivalent to $1.6-million before taxes. About $800,000 came from a ‘bonus’ of what the band received in economic development funds.
Giesbrecht is the leader of a small, 81-member First Nation based in the Coquitlam. The nation has two reserves in the area accounting for about 85 hectares in total, and less than one-third of its members live on the reserves.
The deadline to reveal the audited financial information, including salaries and expenses of both chiefs and councillors, was on Tuesday.
Another document revealed the Kwikwetlem First Nation had $8.8-million in net financial assets. For the fiscal year ending on March 31, 2014, it received $12.63-million in revenue including $8.225 million from the provincial government of British Columbia for economic development.
$673,581 was given by the federal government’s Department of Aboriginal Affairs and another $22,271 from the crown Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.
However, its total expenditures were just $5.25-million, resulting in a budgetary surplus of $7.379-million. There was also an expense of more than $34,000 for fireworks.
More troubling information about other First Nation bands across Canada could be unravelled in the days and weeks to come.
Giesbrecht’s troubling tax free salary was uncovered when the federal government implemented the First Nations Financial Transparency Act last year to require First Nations chiefs and band councils to publish their financial statements online.
The legislation was approved following the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation’s findings in 2010 that 82 aboriginal reserve politicians made more than Prime Minister Harper’s $315,462 salary while another 222 First Nation chiefs and councillors made more than their province’s premier.
Transparency with Canadian taxpayers could force some First Nation bands to spend more responsibly and ensure their remuneration is sensible. Senior levels of government might also reevaluate their grants and redistribute money to First Nation bands that need the most help, particularly those located further north and within the three territories.
A listing of all First Nation bands with information on their census information and other data is available on the Department of Aboriginal Affairs’ website. The government website will also include the financial information of all First Nation groups as required by legislation.
Featured Image: Kwikwetlem First Nation