A Modern Annuity for Canada—Concrete Reconciliation
Gregory Mason, Sheilla Jones, Wayne Helgason
Journal of Aboriginal Economic Development
Volume 12, Issue 1, 2021, pp 92-110
A Treaty annuity continues to be paid to every man, woman and child who is a Registered (Status) First Nations person and is a member of a band that signed the historic Robinson Treaties (1850) and the Numbered Treaties (1871-1921). The annuity value today is $5 per year ($4 in most of Ontario). That value has been frozen since 1878, which was the last time Canada’s Parliament voted to increase Treaty annuities.
The Treaty annuities were intended to:
Reduce the up-front cost of to the Crown for Settler access to First Nations traditional lands by deferring payments into the future;
Provide a livelihood support, paid directly to Treaty families and individuals, to help them adapt to lifestyle changes brought about by settlement;
Increase over time as a means for Settlers to share with the First People the prosperity generated on traditional lands.
Although the promise to increase annuities to reflect compensation for sharing the land and sharing the prosperity of the land was written into the Treaties 170 years ago, no mechanism to calculate increases has ever existed. We are proposing three models, all which suggest a Modern Annuity would mean a very substantial increase in value.
Proposed valuation models for a Modern Annuity:
Historical model based on the intended livelihood support
GDP model based on a per capita share of the land-based economic activities measured by the Gross Domestic Product (e.g., agriculture, forestry, fishing, resource extraction)
Federal transfer model based on the rationale of current transfers to individuals (e.g., Canada Child Benefit, Old Age Security)
For the purpose of determining the financial implications for FN individuals and families, we are using the federal transfer model value of a $7,500 annuity per person.