The following letter was sent earlier today by the BC Métis Federation to Rod Cunningham at Service Canada…
I write to seek clarification about the administration of the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy (ASETS) funding administered by the Métis Nation British Columbia (MNBC), estimated at 6.5 million annually. It is my understanding that you are the program manager on behalf of the Federal Government department Service Canada responsible for monitoring of this specific contract with the MNBC. If I am incorrect I kindly request you to forward to the correct staff member.
As you know the BC Métis Federation continues our efforts to demand transparency and accountability as it relates to public funding for Métis people in British Columbia administered by the MNBC. We have made numerous requests to MNBC for full public disclosure on a number of issues, including questions about the management of the ASETS program funds, with no response by MNBC to explain the situation. We respect the importance of the ASETS program and our intent is, and has always been, to ensure Métis people who need employment and training support can access ASETS funding. We believe MNBC continues to severely mismanage current program funding and many in the Métis community do not fully realize the impacts of this.
As such I write to you to clarify two items. First MNBC has yet to explain why they deferred substantial ASETS funding in 2010-2011 in the amount of $751,271.00 as per the MNBC audited financial statements. Has the MNBC presented to Service Canada a rationale for this substantial amount of deferred revenues last year? The deferred revenues negatively impacted the amounts MNBC invested for Métis people from these ASETS programs throughout BC. In fact six out of the seven MNBC regions lost ASETS funding when compared to the previous year as follows:
a. Vancouver Island $887,577 in 2010 to $751,166 in 2011 -15.4%
b. Lower Mainland $1,069,466 in 2010 to $878,560 in 2011 -17.9%
c. Thompson/Okanagan $805,006 in 2010 to $683,447 in 2011 -15.1%
d. Kootenay $544,721 in 2010 to $478,231 in 2011 -12.2%
e. North Central $577,623 in 2010 to $655,424 in 2011 +13.6%
f. North West $659,292 in 2010 to $608,971 in 2011 -7.6%
g. North East $605,077 in 2010 to $540,295 in 2011 -10.7%
There is no question there is significant demand and requests for ASETS funding given the higher Métis unemployment rates in comparison to non Aboriginal British Columbians. Therefore can you clarify what is the situation regarding the2010-2011 deferred revenues? Has MNBC ensured full utilization of the 2010-2011 deferred revenues?
The second issue is another serious matter. MNBC is using ASETS program resources as a political tool. I have attached a recent MNBC ASETS application guide and draw to your attention the message:
A photocopy of a Metis Identification card issued by a community recognized by the MNBC, or a letter verifying Metis citizenship from a community recognized by the MNBC.
Has the Federal Government changed policy in relation to the administration of Métis employment and training services been changed? I was involved on the national negotiations as this program has transitioned over the decades under the various program names (Pathways, AHRDA’s, etc.). Organizations such as MNBC receive an allocation based on funding formula using Canada Census information which is approximately 60,000 self identified Métis people in BC. While using an MNBC citizenship card is one method, it certainly is not the only Métis membership card in BC. In addition MNBC has provided information that claims less than 7000 MNBC citizenship cards. Therefore does the MNBC application process as attached mean any BC Métis Federation member would not be able to access ASETS funding administered by the MNBC? I think this matter is extremely important for our members and I request a response from your department about eligibility as per the signed MNBC ASETS service delivery contract with Service Canada. We have BC Métis Federation members who also require employment and training support and I find it hard to imagine such a discriminatory policy would be federal policy. If MNBC only funds MNBC citizens than I would urge Service Canada to consider a new allocation model to provide funding for only those MNBC citizenship card holders.
In closing the BC Métis Federation and many other Métis people continue to witness MNBC financial challenges and the negative consequences effecting programs being administered by the MNBC. We have recently contacted other Federal Departments to request their clarification on programs administered by the MNBC because MNBC refuses to be publicly accountable or response to our questions or concerns. Therefore we hope you will assist the BC Métis Federation understand the actual situation in light of the ongoing MNBC challenges that continue to increase each week.
I look forward to a timely response.
British Columbia Métis Federation
Suite 300-3665 Kingsway, Vancouver, BC, V5R 5W2
BCMF Board of Directors
BCMF Statement of Cooperation Métis Communities