Infrastructure Reform Development of a Sustainable Approach
In fiscal year 2016/2017, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) supported several engagements with the CCoHI, the AFN Regional Housing and Infrastructure Technicians and regional organizations, and will support a National Infrastructure Reform Forum. The objectives of these meetings and the Forum were to seek input and recommendations on reforming the delivery of housing and infrastructure. Focused discussions were planned on how to better manage and deliver programs in housing, water and wastewater and community infrastructure. The Forum also supported, in partnership with First Nations, the identification of sustainable funding needed beyond the short-term (Budget 2016), medium-term (5 years) and long-term (10–20 years).
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples study on First Nations Housing and Infrastructure
The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples conducted a study on the challenges relating to First Nations housing and infrastructure on reserves. An interim report was released February 2015 on what was heard so far. The interim report stated: “What the Committee has heard and seen about housing has been compelling. The poor quality of housing and the overcrowding in many communities is a distressing situation. At the same time, the Committee has been inspired by the innovative approaches taken by creative individuals in so many communities across the country. Indeed, innovation has been where big strides have been made by First Nations—in financing mechanisms, land use, and building materials.”
The final report On-Reserve Housing and Infrastructure: Recommendations for Change was released in June 2015. The AFN and the Chair of the Senate Committee met and agreed to work together to support the 13 recommendations in the report. The overarching recommendation was that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada remove the 2% cap on annual increases on funding, effective in Budget 2016-2017. In Budget 2016, the Government committed “to lift the 2 per-cent funding cap for First Nations programs and work to establish a new fiscal relationship that gives First Nations communities sufficient, predictable and sustained funding.” Of the 13 recommendations, 8 were for housing and 5 for infrastructure. These recommendations will be considered during the reform engagement meetings.