Corporate Welfare in Indian Country

Author: Tanis Fiss 2004/02/09
VICTORIA: The Canadian Taxpayers Federation's (CTF) Centre for Aboriginal Policy Change responded today to the Auditor General's report on the barriers that impede economic development for Indian communities.

The Federal Auditor General's report indicated Indian communities need increased economic development to become sustainable but face barriers that increase the cost of doing business. For example; the land which comprises an Indian reserve is owned by the federal government, therefore it is extremely difficult for an Indian band to leverage the land for a business loan.

The federal government has responded by providing a plethora of corporate welfare programs - or subsidies - for Indian owned businesses.

"There are real barriers that face Indians that do not face other Canadians - namely the Indian Act and the regressive policies derived from the Indian Act," stated Tanis Fiss, director, Centre for Aboriginal Policy Change. "As long as these exist no amount of corporate welfare will reduce the barriers."

"If the federal government is genuine in their attempt to reduce the barriers that Indian businesses face, corporate welfare in not the approach they should take," Fiss continued.

"The federal government should phase-out the Indian Act, the Department of Indian Affairs and all the policies that go with it. Establish private property rights for Indians, develop systems of governance, accountability and transparency, and begin the process of providing Indians with the same rights and responsibilities as other Canadians. The best thing for Indians and Indian communities is to stop treating them as though they are different from other Canadians," concluded Fiss.