Vacant federal appointments slow decision making in the North

Decision making has slowed at the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board due to six vacant positions that require federal appointment or approval.

An analysis by CBC News on Wednesday revealed there are 572 vacant or expired federal appointments across the country.

At least four northern boards are affected, including the Gwich'in Renewable Resources Board, Nunavut Wildlife Management Board, and the board representing the Canadian High Arctic Research Station in Cambridge Bay, Nunavut.

Michael Neyelle, chair of the Sahtu Renewable Resources Board, said the lack of federal representation is disrupting business.

"When we had that caribou meeting here in Deline, we didn't have enough board members in attendance, and it was really hard to get a quorum," Neyelle said.

"We don't have a quorum, we can't make a decision, we can't make a motion."

Neyelle is calling on Ottawa to commit to speeding up the appointments. However, the backlog has only worsened since October, when about 300 appointments were due to be filled.

Neyelle said the board is also missing out on the expertise brought to the table by new board members.

"We really need their knowledge to help make decisions," Neyelle said

The board is lacking representation from Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Wildlife Services, an alternate federal appointment, and three positions from the Sahtu Secretariat Incorporated — whose nominees require approval from Ottawa.

In the meantime, Neyelle said the board is leaning on an elder advisory group for their traditional knowledge and experience.