Saskatchewan announces new First Nation and Métis Consultation Policy Framework

On August 11, 2023, the Government of Saskatchewan announced changes to the First Nation and Métis Consultation Policy Framework (Consultation Policy). The changes will take effect on January 1, 2024.

The Province says it views the updated Consultation Policy as strengthening its commitment to meaningful consultation with First Nation and Métis communities and honouring Treaty rights, while supporting investment and planning for growth in Saskatchewan’s resource sector.

There are several changes to note in the new Consultation Policy.

Crown land sale and lease paused

Ministry of Agriculture Crown land auction sales and lease auctions are being paused for two years to allow for implementation of the new Consultation Policy. First Nations will still be able to purchase agricultural Crown land under Treaty Land Entitlement and Specific Claims agreements.

The new Consultation Policy also clarifies that projects on private lands or leased Crown lands may be subject to consultation under the Consultation Policy if they will have off-site impacts with the potential to adversely affect Aboriginal or Treaty rights.

Statement of principles

The new Consultation Policy affirms the Province’s constitutional obligations related to Aboriginal and Treaty rights. The Consultation Policy states that the Province is committed to economic reconciliation and improving social and economic outcomes for First Nation and Métis people in Saskatchewan.

Role of Ministry of Government relations

The Ministry of Government Relations will have a centralized co-ordination and advisory role to support collaboration and overall consistency in the implementation of the Consultation Policy, including supporting communities and industry in navigating consultation.

Revised assessment chart

An new assessment chart will be used to determine the level of consultation required. The Province says the updated method is intended to improve clarity and transparency in the consultation process, increase timelines for response and consultation activities, and shorten timelines for the government when reporting back to the Indigenous community and industry.

Keeping the Consultation Policy current

The Province committed to continuously reviewing the Consultation Policy and its implementation to ensure consistency with case law, best practices and feedback from stakeholders and First Nation and Métis communities.

For more information on the updates to the First Nation and Métis Consultation Policy Framework and how they may impact consultation in Saskatchewan, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our Indigenous practice group.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.