REGINA: Saskatchewan Party MLA June Draude today said NDP Premier Lorne Calvert must replace Community Resources Minister Buckley Belanger in the wake of the Provincial AuditorÂs recent report into ReginaÂs troubled Oyate Safe House.
"This minister needs to be replaced by someone who takes this issue seriously," Draude said.
Draude said in light of the Provincial Auditor's recent investigative report into the Oyate Safe House, it is now clear that the Minister provided misleading answers to written questions asked by the Official Opposition during the Spring Session.
Here are some examples of the "misleading" answers giving by Belanger:
Sask. Party Written Question: Did the Department of Community Resources monitor how the money provided to the File Hills Qu'Appelle Tribal Council was being spent? If so, what steps were taken to ensure financial oversight of the Oyate Safe House?
Minister's Response to Written Question: Yes. Quarterly reports and the annual financial statements.
Provincial Auditor's Report: "DCR did not regularly inspect or evaluate Oyate's programs ... In addition, DCR did not know if Oyate safeguarded the money it received from DCR and used it only for the purposes DCR intended." - Page 22 "Oyate has not given any annual audited financial statements ... without information on the financial position of Oyate ...or information on its cash flows ... DCR is not able to tell if Oyate is in a sustainable position to continue to deliver services." - Page 23
Sask. Party Written Question: Has the Department received any letters, or written or verbal reports from individuals or organizations concerned about the welfare of children at the Oyate Safe House? If so, when were these letters or reports received by the department?
Minister's Response to Written Question: Yes. All matters were referred to the Board of Directors
Minister's Comment: "We have no evidence there has been any problems, we have no evidence they did not respond to the issues." - Regina Leader Post, March 15/06
Auditor's Report: "DCR gave us numerous examples of 'issue papers' that described problems it was aware of at Oyate since November 2003 ... DCR was unable to show us who at DCR received these papers, what corrective actions were proposed, and what, if any remedies DCR took when Oyate did not correct the problems." - Page 25
This morning Buckley Belanger was on John Gormley Live taking questions on this matter. His answers were mostly incomprehensible government speak (obviously read straight off a piece of paper) but at one point Gormley asked him straight out why the Board of Directors was still in charge and Buckley eventually answered. You see, because we are dealing with an aboriginal government we have to respect they are a nation and they decide who is on the board (that's false -- the minister of education has the ability to fire an entire school board if required -- surely there something Buckley can do about a service that has been contracted to the File Hills - Qu'Appelle Tribal Council).
Regardless, lets pretend for a second our hands are truly tied and we have no say in who sits on the board. If tribal council leaders ONLY answer to band members, where the hell is the outcry from aboriginals?