More First Nations probed for bogus evacuee claims
Four more Manitoba First Nations will have to justify their lists of flood evacuees to the federal government, which is reviewing if any claims may have been fraudulent.
Federal officials have audited flood claims from the Lake St. Martin First Nation, which was rendered uninhabitable by flooding last spring, and found about 100 band members were actually not eligible for benefits.
Flood claims from the Pinaymootang, Ebb and Flow, Little Saskatchewan and Dauphin River First Nations will now face federal audits as well.
Pinaymootang Chief Garnet Woodhouse says the upcoming review does not worry him, as his staff followed the rules.
"If they have to do the review [of] the list of evacuees, by all means; you know, it's open," he told CBC News on Thursday.
"I have good staff in place. We have a team here that [is] overseeing the flood over the year and, you know, we've got nothing to hide."
Some members of the Lake St. Martin First Nation weren't living on the reserve when it was flooded, forcing 800 people from their homes in May, but they were claiming flood benefits from the government.
As of last month, Lake St. Martin had more than 1,300 registered flood evacuees.
In one case, a woman who had been living in Winnipeg all along moved into a hotel room just to claim flood benefits, according to an evacuee.
First Nation officials have argued that members tend to be transient, meaning they consider the reserve to be their home base even if they're working and living elsewhere.
Ottawa plans to cut off payments to the ineligible Lake St. Martin claimants and recoup the lost money from the First Nation.