WATCH ABOVE: A recent review of salaries and expenses on the Blood Reserve shows the Chief and 12 Councilors received more than two million dollars in total compensation for the last fiscal year. Global’s Matt Battochio reports.
LETHBRIDGE – It’s a number that caught some off-guard: over $2 million in salaries and expenses. That’s the total received by the Blood Tribe Chief and twelve Councillors in the last fiscal year.
The numbers were released as part of Canada’s First Nations Financial Transparency Act.
For the fiscal year ending March 31st, every Councillor received a base salary of $91,989, while Chief Charles Weasel Head earned $101,168 to govern a tribe with 12,000 members.
Some of the Councillor’s expenses totaled more than their salaries. Two members topped over $100,000.
Council member Lance Tailfeathers defended the expenditures, pointing to the fact that Blood Tribe Council is a full-time commitment and those on it cannot hold secondary jobs.
“There’s really a number of things,” said Tailfeathers. “It’s a 24-7 job. We have committee meetings where we talk about strategies in regard to public service, tribal government and also economic development.”
Most of the expenses come from travel. Tailfeathers points to a recent trip to see how another centre deals with its drug problems, to help the Blood Tribe combat its ongoing Fentanyl crisis.
“We visited the centre, talked about their programs,” said Tailfeathers. “So, by seeing that first hand, you’re able to go back and go forward from there.”
Some, however, are more critical on the issue. Former Blood Tribe Chief Harley Frank was quoted as saying:
“The salaries should match the governance structure, doesn’t make sense. If you’re getting paid that kind of money, I expect tremendous results. And then you have people who are living hand to mouth.”
Blood Tribe Council plans to hold community meetings to discuss the audit with its members. In the meantime, Councillor Tailfeathers says anyone with questions can contact any member of Council directly.
For a look at the complete Auditors’ report click here.