Improvements have yet to be made on First Nations gaming fund

Thursday, May 4th, 2017 6:38pm

The Auditor General says the province has failed to implement two of three recommendations it made following a 2013 examination of the First Nations Development Fund.

The FNDF is a lottery grant program available to Alberta First Nations and is supported by a portion of revenues from government-owned slot machines in First Nation casinos. Since 2006, $983.8 million in funding has been paid out through the FNDF.

Auditor General Merwan Saher presented his follow-up audit on May 3.

In work undertaken from October 2015 to October 2016, Saher found that Alberta Indigenous Relations could not demonstrate it had sufficiently improved its processes to assess and approve complex grant applications nor demonstrate it could monitor for and correct non-compliance with the grant agreement.

However, the AG report notes that the department had recently developed further processes for complex applications but these changes could not be assessed as the department had yet to approve a complex application since the time the new processes were put in place.

Saher reports that as the department “cannot demonstrate how it approves applications according to the requirements of the FNDF program … it may award grants for funding uses that are inconsistent with the objective of the grant program.”

Saher also found that the department did not consistently monitor First Nations to ensure compliance with reporting requirements and even though some First Nations submitted project reports late, they continued to receive funding.

The recommendation the department did implement was to improve its communication as to what qualified for FNDF grant dollars.

“The FNDF is an opportunity to support good social, economic and community-based projects. It’s important for Albertans to know that the program is operating as intended and funded projects provide value to First Nation communities,” wrote Saher in his report.