Tracking the Cross-Canada Cuts to Aboriginal Affairs

Aboriginal Affairs' HQ

Media reports indicate that hundreds of employees with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (née Indian Affairs) have recently received letters telling them that their jobs could be “affected” as part of a larger wave of federal budget cuts seeking to eliminate just over 19,000 public sector jobs by 2015.

Based on “figures released by public-sector unions,” CBC provisionally reports that 619 people at Aboriginal Affairs now know that they could be affected (i.e., targeted for possible elimination) once the dust finally settles. For a sense of how these numbers could/will break down by region, I’ve begun compiling an assemblage of the bits and pieces flowing over the web (to be updated as further and firmer details emerge). Here’s what dribbled out so far in terms of regional specifics:

  • CBC News North reports a total of 17 AANDC jobs to be cut in Iqaluit, out of “a total of about 85-90 people working at that office … [or] 20 per cent,” says a union official
  • in British Columbia, “75 public servants at the Ministry of Aboriginal Affairs received 75 notices,” according to figures provided by the Public Service Alliance of Canada to

Apparently, it could have been worse. According to APTN National News, some observers feared much deeper cuts: “In all, Aboriginal Affairs received a cut of only 2.7% of funding, compared to the 5% or 10% that was expected.” The Nation, meanwhile, reports an “average reduction of 6.9% across all other government departments.”

To try and put these AANDC staff cuts in perspective, I did a quick and dirty web search to find out just how many people work at Aboriginal Affairs as a whole, but, after some time spent trying to navigate the less than helpful websites of AANDC and Treasury Board, came away empty-handed. The only source of readily available data I did find — a site championing Aboriginal Affairs HQ as one of the National Capital Region’s Top Employers for 2012 — listed the total number of “full-time employees” at AANDC as 5,480.

But there’s more to federal funding for Aboriginal peoples than that which emanates through Aboriginal Affairs, and there too cutbacks will have an impact.

Cases in point: the recent withdrawl of support for Indigenous-specific health programs, including a wholesale cut to the core operational budget of the National Aboriginal Health Organization, as well the elimination of the First Nations Statistical Institute and the National Centre for First Nations Governance; in all cases, cuts were made with no clear indications as to what or who would replace these efforts in their respective areas of expertise.

As well, one shouldn’t forget the fact that, as Treasury Board notes, AANDC is but “one of 34 federal departments and agencies delivering Aboriginal and northern programs and services.” So to the extent that other departments/services of relevance to Aboriginal people (e.g. Parks Canada, Environment Canada) will feel the impact of these federal budgetary cuts, their collective or aggregate effects on Aboriginal people — “collateral damage,” in the words of one scribe; an “attack” on Aboriginal “policy capacity” according to others — is arguably that much greater, a cumulative computation that will have to wait until another day.

3 thoughts on “Tracking the Cross-Canada Cuts to Aboriginal Affairs


    “One of the personal statements read to Mr. Bartolucci’s office staff
    told how the CSUMB program helped a mother escape from an abusive
    relationship. Another recounted trying to put back together a life after
    hospitalization during which rent and bills fell two months behind and
    an eviction notice was served.”

    The government will also take specific action beginning in 2012–13 to moderate growth in social assistance expense:

    “The Community Start Up and Maintenance Benefit and Home Repair Benefit
    will be removed from social assistance, with housing supports delivered
    as part of the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. Providing
    low-income individuals and families with access to supports locally
    without having to be eligible for social assistance will contribute to a
    lower “welfare wall.” In addition, providing fewer benefits within
    social assistance will help simplify rules and support program integrity
    and long-term sustainability. The government is not proposing any
    increases to social assistance rates at this time.”

    While the homelessness grows in BC, we know it will grow in Ontario as
    well; with the added pressure, we can likely see families breaking up,
    going into CAS care because they can’t afford to care for them, can’t
    afford to get a fridge replaced, can’t afford the hydro bill, people
    will stay in abusive relationships. It’s so wrong. Why is it we can
    afford to shove them into institutions such as shelters and CAS care but
    then say that we can’t afford the Start Up program? This is an
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    You don’t have to be a person on ODSP or
    Ontario Works to sign the petition. Please share this link on your page,
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  2. 30 of the 217 positions (more or less) are affected in Alberta. Details are sketchy and not forthcoming. 1 out of 8 executives was affected. Its unknown if any managers were affected.

  3. Gov. should be firing all civil servants and selling all monopolies. Canada’s monopolies (Health, Education, essential services) are nothing but Mafioso Unionized bottomless pits financed by our forced taxes. Like it or not, Indians are now Canadians. They should amalgamate, work and live under the same laws with no more free hand-outs at our continual expense. The true data is very well hidden, as you tried to find out.

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