Manitoba expects feds to pay $1M snack bill for flood evacuees
Aboriginal agency spent $1M on 'light refreshment' for 8 months in 2012
The Manitoba government says it expects Ottawa to cover a $1-million bill that an aboriginal agency charged last year on snacks for flood evacuees.
The Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters (MANFF), which is responsible for disbursing federal funds for First Nations flood evacuees, spent more than $1 million to order "light refreshment" for evacuees, CBC News reported last week.
The association paid Winnipeg's Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano to deliver evening snacks to the evacuees, who have been housed in Winnipeg hotels since severe flooding forced them out of their homes in the spring of 2011.
A copy of a MANFF ledger provided to CBC News shows the restaurant delivered up to $1,500 worth of snacks daily to each Winnipeg hotel housing evacuees from April 2012 to December 2012.
The amount of money the restaurant charged per person increased significantly over the year, invoices from the restaurant show.
One invoice from November 2011 shows Mona Lisa Ristorante Italiano charged MANFF $10 per person for snacks. But in 2012, that cost had grown to almost $60 per person.
The federal Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development has called the snack expense "inappropriate" and says it won't cover it.
"Canadians expect that their tax dollars are being used for their intended purpose. It is our expectation that MANFF only reimburse expenses that are deemed eligible under DFAA guidelines," a department spokesperson said in an email, referring to the federal government's Disaster Financial Assistance Arrangements.
"With regards to reports that evacuees were additionally provided $60/day for snacks, the federal government believes these expenses are inappropriate and we will not reimburse these costs," the spokesperson added.
Manitoba's Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) covered the bill.
But Steve Ashton, the minister responsible for EMO, says he will talk to the federal government about getting reimbursed.
"I would expect the federal government to reimburse us based on what we've done, which is basically, on their behalf, determine what are eligible expenditures," Ashton said Wednesday.
"If they have a dispute with MANFF over what is not an eligible expense, then obviously they can deal with MANFF. I can't speak for MANFF."
The amount that was spent on the snacks became so high it exceeded what the government allows for all meals, including breakfast, lunch, supper and snacks.