Bateman says a new federal government website is now in the works, following last year’s adoption of a law which makes it mandatory for financial reports to be put online, something the CTF says they’ve been advocating for since 2009.
Bateman goes on to say the culture of salaries being “a closely guarded secret” has been ingrained in many bands for a number of years.
“The Squamish Nation, for example, told one of its members that they were ‘prohibited by law to disclose the specific salaries of individuals.’ This was utter rubbish,” Bateman wrote in his Op-Ed. “Even if their dubious interpretation of the law was true and didn’t fly in the face of what the federal government said, the chief and council could have waived their right to privacy and released the information.”
Bateman compares the salaries of chiefs on reserves to the salaries of mayors in the city.
For example, Snuneymuxw First Nation Chief, Doug White made $108,022 last year, the equivalent of approximately $155,000 if the salary were taxed. He governed a community of 1,716 – 1,014 of whom live off reserve.
In contrast, Nanaimo Mayor, John Ruttan made $84,370 for leading almost 85,000 people.
“The difference between the salaries of elected officials on reserve versus those in municipal halls reinforces the value of making this information public,” Bateman added. “In Nova Scotia, a new chief has already been elected leader of the Annopolis Valley First nation on a platform promising members they could set her salary.”
Bateman concludes by saying the transparency of elected officials’ salaries is “a cornerstone of democracy”, and goes on to say that he hopes “aboriginal bands see this new law as an opportunity to grow their accountability to their members and to taxpayers.”