Lax re­port­ing and risk con­trols found in abo­rig­i­nal fish­ery pro­gram: au­dit

Cape Breton Post - - NEWS - BY SUE BAI­LEY

David Mil­lette, di­rec­tor gen­eral of abo­rig­i­nal pol­icy and gov­er­nance for the Depart­ment of Fisheries and Oceans, said au­dit re­quire­ments have since been tight­ened and stream­lined un­der a new frame­work.

New risk man­age­ment tools and train­ing for pro­gram staff are also be­ing in­tro­duced this year.

“ There’s al­ways grow­ing pains. It was a col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­gram where we had to work with re­cip­i­ents in or­der to roll it out prop­erly.

“ There were glitches here and there — we were learn­ing on both sides. But I just want to stress that the au­dit did not find any in­stances at all of any in­ap­pro­pri­ate use of funds or in re­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion sub­mit­ted by the re­cip­i­ents.”

Au­dit de­mands are be­ing con­sol­i­dated un­der a new frame­work in­tro­duced last year, Mil­lette said.

“One of the main ra­tio­nales for this new um­brella is to re­duce the bur­den of pa­per­work for the abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple. Be­cause many of them are in­volved in any­where from three to five of our own pro­grams, and there was du­pli­ca­tion.

“ They were spending more time re­port­ing than they were ac­tu­ally do­ing the work that had been re­quired un­der the pro­gram it­self.”

The pro­gram has helped cre­ate 23 na­tive man­age­ment boards with an­other nine in train­ing, Mil­lette said. They in­clude Mi’kmaq and Maliseet groups in New­found­land and Labrador and the Mar­itimes; Que­bec Innu; Haida, Shuswap and Skeena groups in the Pa­cific re­gion; and Dene and Metis par­tic­i­pants in the North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.

Tra­di­tional abo­rig­i­nal knowl­edge is com­bined with non-na­tive ex­per­tise to en­sure an “in­te­grated fish­ery,” Mil­lette said.

The pro­gram, one of six abo­rig­i­nal fisheries ini­tia­tives, has been ex­panded with a bud­get this year of about $13.2 mil­lion.

It has cre­ated more than 260 jobs in or near na­tive com­mu­ni­ties across Canada, Mil­lette said. They in­clude aquatic habi­tat bi­ol­o­gists, fisheries bi­ol­o­gists, tech­ni­cal op­er­at­ing man­agers along with aquacul-

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