Changes to the Indian Act should require all native bands to adopt a financial management and accountability code with minimum standards approved by their members, says a ministerial report prepared for Robert Nault, the Minister of Indian Affairs.

“The Indian Act is silent on the subject of financial accountability,” says the final report of the joint ministerial advisory committee. “All other governments in Canada are obliged by legislation to follow rigorous financial accountability regimes open to public scrutiny. The report also says any changes to the Act must in no way “infringe on the aboriginal and treaty rights.”

These and other recommendations came from a committee of government officials and native representatives that was created by Nault to give him options to consider before he updates the 126-year-old Indian Act. The Assembly of First Nations withdrew its representative from the committee in December because of objections to the process for formulating the legislation.

The report is expected to be reviewed by the Department of Justice before it begins drafting legislation for the so-called First Nations Governance Bill that Mr. Nault is expected to table in Parliament by June. Chiefs across Canada who are opposed to the planned legislation view it as an unacceptable step backward, fearing it will define and limit treaty and inherent rights and erode their right to self-government