VERNON - The Okanagan Indian Band’s chief and council were paid double what City of Vernon elected officials received in remuneration and expenses last year.
This is the first year First Nations are required to disclose their financial information as part of the new First Nations Financial Transparency Act. It’s resulted in some eye opening discoveries across the country, most notably Kwikwtlem First Nation chief Ron Giesbrecht’s nearly $1 million in pay.
Comparisons in Kamloops and Penticton show that First Nations councils earn more than their elected counterparts, and the trend continues in the North Okanagan.
The Okanagan Indian Band, representing a registered population of 840 people living on reserve and 1,122 residing elsewhere, paid its chief and ten councillors a total of $431,391 in remuneration and expenses, including telephone allowances. In contrast, the City of Vernon‘s seven person council, which represents a population of 38,150, raked in only half as much with a total of $203,638. With four more people on council than the city, it’s little surprise the Okanagan Indian Band doles out more cash. However, the range of remuneration for band representatives is between $30,590 and 31,769 while Vernon’s elected officials were granted some ten thousand dollars less, between $20,474 and $22,940. Okanagan Indian Band chief Byron Louis was paid $44,034 for the job and $39,618 for expenses. Vernon mayor Rob Sawatzky received $63,466 as well as $3,315 in expenses.
The overall figures work out to $220 per represented band member, and $5 per Vernon citizen.
The disparity continues with Enderby’s council and the Splatsin First Nation. The eight-person Splatsin council, representing 863 registered members of which 317 reside on the reserve, earned $312,038 in remuneration and expenses, while City of Enderby’s seven-person council, covering a populace of 2,932, was paid $77,519.
Splatsin chief Wayne Christian was paid $52,668 in remuneration and $13,824 in expenses while mayor Howie Cyr’s earned $15,642 and $1,501 respectively.
The range in remuneration for Enderby councillors ranged from $7,521 to $9,141 while it was considerably more for Splatsin councillors with $13,088 on the low end and $43,455 on the high end.
Over 600 First Nations across the country are now required to publicly disclose their financial documents.
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