Report of the committee

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples has the honour to table its

SECOND REPORT

Your committee, which was authorized to examine the subject matter of those elements contained in Divisions 10 and 31 of part 4 of Bill C-30, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on April 19, 2021 and other measures, has, in obedience to the order of reference of May 4, 2021, examined the said subject matter and now reports as follows:

1. While your committee supports the amendments proposed in Divisions 10 and 31 of Part 4 of Bill C-30, it wishes to provide observations concerning the amendments to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act contained in Division 10.

2. There is currently a gap between the essential infrastructure available in First Nations communities and that available to other Canadians. While estimates of the infrastructure deficit in areas such as housing, health and education facilities on First Nations reserves varies, in January 2018, the total deficit was estimated to be as high as $30 billion.[1]

3. The First Nations Finance Authority provides First Nations with investment options, capital planning advice and long-term, low-cost loans through pooled borrowing. First Nations use this financing for several purposes, including for on-reserve infrastructure and to invest in economic development opportunities. The committee believes that this pooled borrowing approach has the potential to address the infrastructure gap for First Nations on reserve.

4. Your committee believes that the proposed amendments in Division 10 of Bill C-30 are a step in the right direction because, as the committee heard, they will enable First Nations to use additional sources of revenues such as the First Nations Goods and Services Tax and/or the First Nations Sales Tax to secure financing through the First Nations Finance Authority.

5. Ultimately, the committee believes that more work could be done to address the infrastructure deficit in First Nations communities. The committee heard about the First Nations Finance Authority’s proposed “system of monetization” whereby the Authority would leverage future federal infrastructure funding to provide loans to First Nations for infrastructure on reserve. This proposal could enable First Nations to support the costs of community infrastructure over its lifecycle. However, federal funding for infrastructure is currently provided through short-term funding commitments. To pursue this proposal, the committee recognizes that long-term federal financial commitments for First Nations infrastructure will be needed. This will ensure that federal funding is available over the timeframe of any loans provided to First Nations while minimizing the level of risk. The committee encourages the federal government to support the First Nations Finance Authority’s proposal and establish long-term funding commitments to support First Nations infrastructure on reserve.

[1] Indigenous Services Canada, Key Priority: Reliable Infrastructure.

Respectfully submitted,

DAN CHRISTMAS

Chair