We conducted interviews with officials at headquarters and regional offices in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to better understand contract land claim processes and related operations. 4.22 In our 2005 audit, the Court found that in 2001, the Minister of Indian and Northern Affairs, who recognized that processing times of five to seven years were too long to convert lands to reserve, made a commitment to reduce them to two years in 2001. In this audit, we recommended that the Division develop and implement a plan that refines the explicit steps it would take to process pending selections and reduce processing times to two years. We audited seven files in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to see if the department`s site plan was effectively applied to these files. These included active files at the time of our audit in 2005, where land selection was converted to reserve status, and active files during our follow-up review. 4.39 In our 2005 audit, the Court noted several long-standing deficiencies in the Department`s administrative processes for the enforcement of contractual property claims, particularly in the context of recommendation 4.58. Indian and Northern Affernairs Canada should develop and implement an action plan out explaining how it plans to convert the land to reserve status. In the plan, the ministry should clearly indicate its next steps, responsibilities and timelines for each selection of countries to be converted to reserve status. The action plan was to contain details on 4.26 We reviewed each of the 32 land selections that were converted in Manitoba in the first year of the 2006 commitment to determine the processing times for each of these selections. We found that the average processing time for Phase II and III of these selections was nearly seven years, with some of these selections lasting more than a decade. The department has not been able to demonstrate a reduction in transit times.
4.14 In 2005, the Court examined the management of the Department`s responsibilities under land rights. We found a number of shortcomings that impacted the fulfillment of the department`s obligations, including the following: a contracting country claim arises when a first nation asserts that the Canadian government did not provide the entire promised reserve country under a historic contract with the Crown. . . .