unfinished business
The Independent Voice of Treaty Making in BC
November 18, 2009

New report charts BC treaty benefits

jdThe PricewaterhouseCoopers report makes the economic case for accelerating treaty completions in British Columbia.
October 28, 2009

Chief Commissioner addresses finance committee

The Treaty Commission in its appearance before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance made its case today for the economic benefits of accelerating treaty completions in British Columbia. The finance committee is conducting pre-budget consultations as the Government of Canada considers various measures to ensure prosperity and a sustainable economic, social and environmental future.

12 ways treaties impact BC's economy
1:  A treaty gives a BC First Nation a bigger land base. And the capacity to establish a government with the  power to access revenues, create debt instruments and borrow capital, receive transfers from other governments and levy taxes.
2: Completing treaties with BC’s First Nations can deliver more than $10 billion* dollars in economic benefits over the next 15 years
3: Treaties will include funding for First Nations to change from operating under the federal Indian Act to self-government. These governments will be required to prepare and provide audited accounts and financial statements for their citizens. And to the governments of Canada and British Columbia.
4: Under the Indian Act, only aboriginal people living on reserves receive tax exemptions -most aboriginal people pay taxes just like other Canadians. Post-treaty First Nations will become self-supporting through their own taxes, investments and earnings.
5: Completing two treaties each year for the next 15 years would result in more than $4.2 billion in cash settlements and $5.75 billion in net financial benefits to First Nations.
6: Using the scenario in #5, the net financial benefit to British Columbia is more than $3.6 billion after all treaty settlement costs are deducted.
7: Based on a 40-year valuation, the increase in BC’s total wage income by 2025 will be $5.6 billion.
8: Since chiefly the federal government funds First Nations settlements, treaty completion will give BC a total net financial boost -because the cost to the province to complete treaties is calculated to be significantly less than the total economic benefits received by all British Columbians.
9: The lost opportunity costs resulting from not completing treaties was identified in an earlier study as $1 billion annually or $1.5 billion in 2009 dollars. Settling more treaties sooner will stop this dollar drain.
10: The 2009 PwC* study shows that treaty cash settlements, paid by the federal and provincial governments, will increase at a greater rate than inflation the longer settlements are delayed. This is due primarily to population growth amongst First Nations.
11: First Nations will receive greater benefits because resource revenue, derived from revenue sharing agreements, is included in current calculations.  These agreements will likely be included in all future treaties.
12: The Indian Act of1876, which made it illegal for First Nations people to vote, own property or practice many cultural traditions, has made economic development on reserves difficult. Because it stipulates that reserve lands cannot be seized to enforce payment of a debt, these lands have never been available for use as collateral.
Negotiated cash and land settlements and land ownership will provide First Nations people with the capital they need to begin businesses and create jobs. And also develop industries.  They will finally benefit from the opportunities to succeed and prosper that are taken for granted by all other Canadians. The Indian Act revision, allowing First Nations people to vote did not become law until 1960.



New Economic Studies
Completing treaties with First Nations could deliver more than $10 billion dollars in economic benefits to British Columbia’s economy over the next 15 years according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report. The report, Financial and Economic Impacts of Treaty Settlements in British Columbia November 2009 confirms projections made in four earlier studies.

Presentation to aboriginal financial officers

Former Commissioner Michael Harcourt
Thank you for this special opportunity to talk about money. I assume you are all interested in money and that’s why you are financial officers. Really though, sound financial management is important to everyone – an individual, an organization or a First Nation. Your job is extremely important and that is particularly true when we are talking about treaties.


Integral to First Nations' Culture
First Nations have for thousands of years sustained vibrant and rich cultural identities profoundly linked to BC's land and waters. It is said that the Nisga'a, people of the mighty river, are so connected to fish that their bones are made of salmon. Living in balance with the land and the water is an integral part of First Nations' cultures, and fishing is regulated by longstanding cultural laws around conservation and preservation for future generations.

Treaties and transition

Towards a Sustainable Fishery on Canada's Pacific Coast
From Port Edward to Steveston there is a pervasive sense of apprehension and anxiety out on the fishing grounds on Canada's Pacific coast. During our investigation, we quickly became aware of a deeply troubled fishery, faced with uncertainty about resources and markets, unprecedented structural changes in the industry, pressures from tough new environmental laws to protect endangered stocks, and from treaties with First Nations.

BC First Nations fisheries action plan

Preparing for Transformative Change in the BC Fishery
Fisheries in British Columbia are in a period of transition as a result of increasing demands and pressures on the resource and shifts in government policy to try to respond to these and other issues. This includes First Nations seeking increasing shares in the fishery and greater involvement in management and decision-making, pursuant to their Aboriginal title and rights, and treaty rights.

Harvard project on American Indian economic development

Self Government Matters
A 13-year study of indigenous nations in the United States has found economic success is closely linked to the power to make decisions. Dr. Stephen Cornell, co-author of the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development, says their research has yet to find a single case in the United States of sustained economic activity on indigenous lands in which some government body other than the indigenous nation itself is making the decisions about government structure, natural resource use, internal civil affairs and development strategies.

The business case for treaties

Driving the economy
The cost of treaty making is often a focus of attention, but it is the absence of treaties that is impacting BC's economy every day. Instead of watching these economic opportunities pass by,more and more BC businesses are forging relationships with First Nations and positioning themselves as leaders in BC's changing economic climate.

Venture into a treaty world

Open the Door to New Business Opportunities
The absence of treaties in British Columbia is a major drain on the British Columbia economy. At the same time, there are significant opportunities—before and after treaties are concluded—for businesses that can build relationships with First Nations. But before these relationships can evolve, the business community and First Nation communities need to understand one another.

True partners

Charting a New Deal for BC, First Nations and the Forests We Share
Over the past few years, British Columbia's government has made a concerted effort to share a portion of provincial revenues and forest resources with First Nations. The decision to do so was driven largely by a mounting number of court decisions that forced the province to more closely consult and find "workable" accommodations with First Nations whose traditional lands were being altered by industrial logging activities.

PricewaterhouseCoopers report

The PricewaterhouseCoopers report makes the economic case for accelerating treaty completions in British Columbia.

An update to the financial and economic analysis of treaty settlements in British Columbia

In the past 14 years there have been three principle studies looking at the economic impacts of treaty settlements in British Columbia, including this Grant Thornton report.

BC omnibus report

The Treaty Commission was part of an omnibus telephone survey conducted by the Mustel Group February 11-16. The survey of 509 British Columbians has a 95% confidence rating.

Closing the income gap requires local decision-making

Closing the income gap between First Nations and the rest of Canada requires supporting local decision-making and the development of institutional capacity, says a recent study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

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