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On-Reserve Housing and Infrastructure: Recommendations for Change

Photo Construction of new school in Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia
Photo Construction of new school in Membertou First Nation, Nova Scotia

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News Release

Remove Two Per Cent Cap on Annual Increases in Funding Says Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee Report

Ottawa, June 23, 2015 – The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples is calling on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) to remove the two percent cap on annual increases in funding for on-reserve programs and services effective Budget 2016-17. The recommendation aims to ensure that funding takes into account population growth and inflation in First Nations communities. The Committee is also calling for the creation of a new ministerial loan guarantee program to help finance infrastructure on-reserve. These are two of the thirteen recommendations outlined in the Committee’s report which was tabled today.

On-Reserve Housing and Infrastructure: Recommendations for Change is the final report of a two-phase study which the Committee began in November 2013. Other recommendations in the report include consulting with First Nations communities and organizations to address capacity concerns prior to developing legislation for the application of building codes on-reserve and consulting with First Nations to explore the possibility of creating a new ministerial loan guarantee program for First Nations governments to fund housing and infrastructure on reserve. The report also calls for the development of a housing strategy for remote and isolated First Nations communities.

“Infrastructure is not just about bricks and mortar. Ageing, inadequate and poor infrastructure can have significant negative effects on the social and economic outcomes of communities. We visited several remote First Nations and saw first-hand the challenges they faced and heard the concerns of community members. While AANDC takes into account the increased costs of northern and remote communities through a remote and isolation index in their funding formula, the Committee heard from witnesses that this index is not reflective of the needs of these communities and that the amount allocated for the remoteness factor should be increased. That is why our report is recommending the development of a housing strategy for remote and isolated First Nations communities, which would include a review of the adequacy of the remote and isolation index to ensure that it reflects actual costs.”

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Deputy Chair
Lillian E. Dyck

“First Nations communities are diverse, so the tools to address their requirements must reflect this diversity. The Committee’s recommendations reflect this diversity, ranging from removing the 2% cap on annual increases in funding from AANDC, building First Nations capacity to manage housing, facilitating the ability of First Nations to prepare comprehensive community plans which facilitate economic development and introducing mechanisms to allow First Nations to leverage financing. All of these recommendations are derived from the testimony, but some, such as removing the 2% cap on annual increases in funding from AANDC, were solutions proposed by numerous witnesses. ”

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Committee Member
Scott Tannas

“One of the goals we set out to achieve with this report was developing innovative financing options. By recommending the creation of a new Ministerial Loan Guarantee program to help finance infrastructure on-reserve, the Committee has proposed a solution that would empower First Nations to meet the long-term needs of their communities. The Committee recommends changes to the current Ministerial Loan Guarantee Program for Housing on-reserve in order to improve the efficiency of the approval process. Additionally, we are recommending the expansion of the current Ministerial Loan Guarantee Program for housing on-reserve to grant First Nations governments access to the program, rather than just individual First Nations members. The purpose of these recommendations is to provide a new funding option to enable the construction of more infrastructure on First Nations reserves across the country. ”

Quick Facts:

  • Over the course of the study, the Committee heard from over 80 witnesses representing individual First Nations, tribal councils, First Nations organizations, financial institutions, private sector organizations, and federal government departments and agencies.
  • The Committee visited 16 First Nations communities from Nova Scotia, Quebec, Ontario and British Columbia.

Associated Links
In February 2015, the Committee tabled an interim report on housing which identified key issues related to housing on reserve.
5 Things Canadians Should Know About Senate Committees
Learn more about the Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee and its work
Follow the work of the Senate of Canada on Twitter @SenateCA or use the hashtag #SenCA.
For committee updates on Twitter use the hashtag #APPA

To share your thoughts with the Senate Aboriginal Peoples Committee, please contact:

Media Relations
Ceri Au
613-944-9145
ceri.au@sen.parl.gc.ca

Committee Clerk
Jessica Richardson
613-990-6087 or 1-800-267-7362
appa@sen.parl.gc.ca

 

Contact information

General Information:
613-990-0088 or 1-800-267-7362

Email: appa@sen.parl.gc.ca

Mailing Address:
Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
The Senate of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
Canada, K1A 0A4