CANADA & WORLD Indige­nous claims costs on the rise

Last year’s pub­lic ac­counts es­ti­mated feds would have to pay out nearly $20B

StarMetro Edmonton - - CANADA & WORLD - Andy Blatch­ford

OT­TAWA—The fed­eral gov­ern­ment’s forth­com­ing an­nual pub­lic ac­counts will re­lease a trove of num­bers that will show how much more Ot­tawa ex­pects to pay to set­tle bil­lions of dol­lars in le­gal claims made by Indige­nous Peo­ples and their com­mu­ni­ties.

The con­tin­gent li­a­bil­i­ties sec­tion in last year’s pub­lic ac­counts es­ti­mated Ot­tawa would even­tu­ally have to pay out a to­tal of nearly $20 bil­lion to cover 70 out­stand­ing com­pre­hen­sive Indige­nous land claims, 528 smaller spe­cific claims and thou­sands of other cases of lit­i­ga­tion, in­clud­ing those re­lated to the legacy of res­i­den­tial schools. In re­cent years, the fed­eral pub­lic ac­counts have grad­u­ally raised the con­tin­gent li­a­bil­ity es­ti­mates for each of these types of claims. Com­bined, Assem­bly of First Na­tions Na­tional Chief Perry Bel­le­garde pauses while speak­ing to a del­e­gate dur­ing the AFN an­nual gen­eral assem­bly on July 26.

the pub­lic ac­counts pegged them at a com­bined $18.4 bil­lion in 2016, $16.6 bil­lion in 2015 and less than $14.5 bil­lion in 2014.

Perry Bel­le­garde, na­tional chief of the Assem­bly of First Na­tions, wants the Au­di­tor Gen­eral and other fis­cal econ­o­mists to help gauge just how

much of a hit these claims will be for Ot­tawa.

“I don’t ex­actly know how they’re quan­ti­fy­ing that right now,” Bel­le­garde said of the fed­eral as­sess­ments.

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