4.54 In these departmental performance reports, there is no information on the relationship between selected and processed land under contractual land rights contracts, nor on the costs associated with the performance of contractual land ownership obligations. As a result, the Department is not clear about the progress and challenges Canada still faces in meeting its contractual obligations in land claims in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. 4.36 In this follow-up audit, we found that in Saskatchewan, approximately 62 per cent of the selected hectares were processed, up from 58 per cent in 2005. Since 2005, the department has converted more than 89,000 hectares into reserves in Saskatchewan. Of the 25 First Nations that were part of the original land arrangement agreement, 22 received their minimum reserve acres. Three other First Nations, which are covered by more recently signed agreements, have also reached their minimum reserves. The ministry has identified more than 700 land selections that have yet to be converted, or 451,000 hectares of reserve land. Unlike Manitoba, the average stock size of land selection in Saskatchewan remains about the same as that which has been processed to date, about 600 hectares. India and Northern Canada agree with the recommendation and are committed to putting in place an action plan setting out the next steps, responsibilities and timelines for the process of converting selected lands to reserve status. The Action Plan will provide details on how the Department will assist First Nations in resolving the interests of third parties and how to resolve data integrity issues, as well as the implementation of a consistent file process to monitor the status of the selection of contractual land rights. After the purchase or selection, the First Nation may submit a proposal to the Canadian government to train the country on the First Nation Reserve as part of the “Add to the Reserve” process.
4.22 In our 2005 audit, we found that the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who recognized that the five- to seven-year processing times were too long to convert the land into a reserve status, had committed in 2001 to reduce it to two years. In this audit, we recommended that the Department develop and implement a plan that outlines the explicit measures needed to process pending selections and reduce processing times to two years.