The following letter was sent today to the Honourable Mary Polak, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation for the Province of British Columbia and the Honourable John Duncan, Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada for the Government of Canada…
Dear Minister Polak and Minister Duncan,
The British Columbia Métis Federation (BCMF) continues our efforts to provide awareness of the dire financial situation plaguing the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC). The BCMF feels strongly that the Métis people of BC have a right to know how the MNBC has mismanaged government funds that directly affect the delivery of programs and services to the Métis people of this province. Furthermore, the BCMF is mystified that neither the federal or provincial governments have taken any action to rectify the financial situation at the MNBC nor have they taken any steps to make the MNBC accountable for the lack of resources that are now available to serve the Métis people of this province. BCMF has made your offices aware of the ongoing concerns in written correspondences for the last number of months.
After considerable pressure MNBC leaders finally released their Financial Statements of 2010-2011 at the end of August. For the first time MNBC’s own auditors, Manning and Elliot – Chartered Accountants, wrote: “…We draw attention to Note 13 in the financial statements which indicates that the Council incurred a net loss of $475,135 during the year ended March 31, 2011 and, as of that date, The Council’s current liabilities exceeded its assets by $5,805,862. These conditions, along with other matters as set forth in Note 13, indicate the existence of a material uncertainty that may cast significant doubt about the Council’s ability to continue as a going concern”. BCMF leadership and many Métis people forecasted this financial demise two years ago.
The MNBC accounting firm of Manning Elliot are clearly concerned about the MNBC’s financial status. In their own words, these qualified individuals operating under their financial code of ethics have indicated that the MNBC may not be able to continue. In light of the conclusion drawn by Manning and Elliot, the BCMF and many Métis people of this province question; “What is the government doing to ensure that the needs of Métis people are being met and that the MNBC will not be able to continue operating in this fiscally irresponsible manner that will impact programs and services for Métis people delivered by MNBC?”
The BCMF concedes that the MNBC’s audited financial statements for 2010-2011 clearly do not provide the entire financial picture. In fact there are many unanswered questions raised regarding the numbers and how they were arrived upon. As such, the BCMF has done due diligence in conducting its own analysis with a qualified Chartered Accountant. In the attached document, The BCMF Financial Review September 2011, the questions raised from the MNBC audited financial statements are clearly articulated with plausible explanations included. Some of the greatest concerns in question are as follows;
- Over $965,000 in travel expenses in 12 months
- Over $635,000 in consultants and legal costs
- Loss of employment and training funding in 6 out of our 7 Métis regions
- Over $5 million in MNBC infrastructure costs
- Outstanding payables as of March 31st, 2011 in excess of $2.4 million
- Significant deferred revenue of approximately $1 million dollars
- Organizational debt of almost $2.3 million and a negative working capital of $5.8 million
- Plus many other issues.
Many of these identified issues are of grave concern to Métis people of BC considering the average MNBC budget is approximately 11 million annually.
The BCMF urges the federal and provincial governments to take a serious look at the attached documents. It is time for the governments to act. The MNBC mismanagement, and potential misappropriation of funds, is evident and the overextension of the MNBC to the banks is clear. There is no feasible MNBC debt recovery plan in place or mention by their auditors and the financial crisis as the MNBC will only continue to grow. Do the federal and provincial governments really wish to be a part of the final demise of the MNBC in light of so many issues each government faces today? The BCMF would like to think not. We would like to think that the care for Métis people and the proper and accountable delivery of programs and services to strengthen Métis communities and reinforce our culture and traditions would be the primary goal of your respective departments.
Once again, we thank you in advance for your time and consideration in this matter.
British Columbia Métis Federation
Suite 300-3665 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, V5R 5W2