There is currently $4.8 billion worth of federally funded assets on-reserve that are rated as in "poor condition."
These present a danger to communities and are a federal liability in need of either immediate repair or replacement.
As of July 25, 2022, there were still 31 long-term and 14 short-term drinking water advisories in effect.
Limited access to water is an ongoing issue for many on-reserve communities across Canada.
Operations and Maintenance Policy Framework
The AFN Infrastructure Sector is committed to working with First Nations and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) to identify options for the implementation of a new O&M Policy Framework and formula that will reflect new infrastructure technologies as well as economic and environmental factors that will contribute to addressing the socio-economic gap in First Nations.
The current funding formulas and cost indices as identified in ISC Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Policy are outdated, inadequate and do not provide sufficient funding for First Nations to protect and prolong the life of their community assets.
Most First Nations have no asset management systems in place to better plan for their short- and long-term infrastructure needs. These factors have caused the true capital and operations costs of existing and needed infrastructure assets to be unknown to both First Nations and ISC.
The federal government must deliver on their commitments by providing First Nations autonomy and self-governance to administer and manage a comprehensive and valuable infrastructure asset portfolio. Sustainable operations and maintenance funding is also absent, which has resulted in an inability for First Nations to implement a First Nations-led asset management framework.
First Nations Water Commission
Building on the last four years of work since 2018 dedicated to the repeal and replacement legislation for the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act (SDWFNA) the AFN and federal partners have entered the next phase of this project.
The Joint Technical Working Group (JTWG) made up of AFN and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) representatives and other federal partners have been moving forward to co-develop the draft framework for new legislation and the framework for a First Nations Water Commission.
The Class Action Lawsuit settlement agreement committed the Federal government to introduce replacement legislation by December 31, 2022. It is hoped that during the 2022-2023 fiscal year, Canada will commit to true consultation on a draft replacement legislation and accommodate First Nations to provide meaningful input supported by the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Closing the Infrastructure Gap
The federal funding required to Close the Infrastructure Gap by 2030 represents a critical step towards urgently needed economic reconciliation between First Nations and the Government of Canada. Limited access to essential infrastructure including housing, education, healthcare, connectivity, and other capital buildings and services across First Nations communities has resulted in long-standing intergenerational inequality, especially when compared to the social infrastructure services that are regularly and consistently provided to most Canadians.
Presently, year-to-year infrastructure planning between ISC and First Nations via the First Nations Infrastructure Investment Plan(s) has led to the wide infrastructure gap due to a lack of strategic long-term community planning. An In-depth costing was carried out by ISC and experts in the field of infrastructure costing . AFN provided the project management function, provided liaison amongst all parties, and significant review of the narrative of the study. The final draft identified significant funding needs that will inform Budget 2023 and beyond including provision to meet NetZero 2050.
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AFN Regional Chief Cindy Woodhouse Presses Urgent Action at Meeting With Federal, Provincial, Territorial Ministers of Housing
We work to close the infrastructure gap for First Nations communities.Unlike most Canadian towns and cities, many First Nations communities lack modern and acceptable roads, plumbing, clean water, and housing infrastructure. There has been little movement toward improving these conditions…