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Summative Evaluation of the Specific Claims Action Plan


Final Report
Date : April 2013
Project No. 12029

PDF Version (324 Kb, 41 Pages)

Executive Summary

Purpose of the evaluation

The Evaluation, Performance Measurement and Review Branch of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) undertook a summative evaluation of the Specific Claims Action Plan. The primary purpose of the evaluation is to obtain an independent and neutral perspective on how well the Action Plan is achieving its expected outcomes. Evaluation results were based on the analysis and triangulation of data obtained through document and data review, file review and key informant interviews. The Terms of Reference for the evaluation were approved at the Evaluation, Performance Measurement and Review Committee in April of 2012. Fieldwork was conducted between October and December 2012.

Objective and intended results of the Action Plan

The overall objective of the Action Plan is to ensure that specific claims are resolved with finality in a faster, fairer and more transparent way.

The key results that AANDC set-out to achieve in the first three-to five-years are:

  • The establishment and operation of the Specific Claims Tribunal, including the Registry to support the work of the Tribunal;
  • Establishment and operation of mediation services for First Nations who are negotiating their specific claim with Canada;
  • Complete review and assessment of all existing and new specific claims by the end of the fiscal year 2010-2011;
  • Increase in the number of negotiation tables from 100 to 120 annually; and
  • Increase the number of specific claims that are successfully resolved through negotiations or through a hearing conducted by the Specific Claims Tribunal.

These results are expected to contribute to the achievement of the following long-term outcomes:

  • Justice for First Nation claimants;
  • Certainty for government, industry and Canadians respecting disputed lands, resources or relationships; and
  • Sustainable use of lands and resources.

Evaluation Findings

AANDC has put in place practices and procedures to cover all aspects of the claim process. The Department has created clear and efficient processes to facilitate the participation of other parties, whose actions are beyond the control of AANDC and the Department of Justice, but that can impact the ability to meet the three-year timeframe for negotiations.

Achievements include:

  • The Specific Claims Tribunal has been established, including the Registry, which supports the work of the Tribunal.
  • The backlog of claims in assessment at the time the Specific Claims Tribunal Act came into effect has been cleared.
  • The total number of claims in negotiation has increased significantly under the Action Plan.
  • The preconditions for justice and certainty are in place within the specific claims process and the claims that have been settled through negotiations are largely achieving these outcomes.
  • Over time, negotiated settlements, decisions from the Tribunal and the body of law that will emerge from the Tribunal are expected to contribute to a greater level of justice and certainty.
  • Specific Claim settlements are contributing to the sustainable use of lands and resources, most notably through the additions to reserve process.

Areas for improvements:

  • The number of claims resolved (settled) through negotiations has not yet increased under the Action Plan. However, a number of the backlog claims are currently in the negotiation phase, which may contribute to this outcome in the near future.
  • Though mediation services are available, access has been minimal under the current operational model and therefore, the fourth pillar of the Action Plan, better access to mediation, is not being achieved.

Risks identified:

  • Significant numbers of specific claims have been concluded without finality and could proceed to the Tribunal, or be submitted as a new claim to the specific claims process.
  • Potential risk that the Tribunal decisions on validity could impact the legal assessment of unresolved claims should they be resubmitted to the Specific Claims Branch.
  • It is anticipated that more pressure may be placed on the Additions to Reserves process as the backlog claims currently in the negotiation phase are concluded.
  • Current level of funding for settlement may be insufficient to address the expected volume of compensation that will be needed.
  • Aboriginal organizations are not acknowledging improvements made to the specific claims process, which may affect confidence in the integrity and effectiveness of the new process to resolve specific claims.

Evaluation Recommendations

  1. As part of the risk assessment framework that is to be undertaken by Treaties and Aboriginal Government Senior Assistance Deputy Minister (recommendation 2 of the Internal Audit Report of November 2012), include a risk strategy to manage the large number of claims that are considered “concluded” by AANDC but which have the potential to be submitted to the Tribunal or submitted as a new claim to the specific claims process. This risk strategy should be updated as decisions of the Tribunal are rendered.
  2. Through discussions with First Nation leaders, develop and implement a strategy to allow for greater use of mediation services.
  3. Put in place mechanisms that support the relationship between the Action Plan and the Additions to Reserves process.
  4. Address current funding for settlement of specific claims as it may be insufficient to address the expected volume of compensation that will be required.

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