Investments in better infrastructure and proper housing are needed to create stronger communities.

The Need The First Nations housing, homelessness and overcrowding crisis.

First Nations across the country have endured more than a century of severely underfunded and ineffectively connected programs aimed at improving self-determination and socioeconomic outcomes.

This status-quo approach is a primary contributor to the significant infrastructure gap that exists today. Given present economic conditions as well as available historical data, the gap will only continue to grow if major systemic issues remain unaddressed.

As one of the fastest-growing demographics in Canada, the First Nation population sits at 1,048,405 and could reach as high as 1.8 million by the year 2041. This has major implications for funding — between 2010 and 2031, it is estimated that there will be a backlog of 130,000 units, and most of the existing units will require major repairs or replacing due to population growth, overcrowding, poor construction, and mold.

Housing is essential to improving First Nations’ economic conditions through their self- determined priorities. It is a vital social, cultural, and economic asset that affects one’s standing in the community and enables access to employment, wealth, and positive physical and mental health.

The housing challenges First Nations communities face are critical. Issues such as overcrowding compound risks for family violence, intimate partner violence, and education, growth, and development challenges for children. Deteriorating housing infrastructure also causes significant health risks to occupants, such as mold and other hazardous toxins.

Limited access to essential infrastructure including housing has resulted in long-standing intergenerational inequality.

Lack of safe and affordable housing affects everyone, especially our most vulnerable community members.

In 2021, 53.8% of foster children in Canada were Indigenous. The Prairie regions report that 68% of shelter users are Indigenous.

Inadequate housing, poor community infrastructure, and limited education and economic opportunities in First Nations communities, especially on reserves, contribute to the high number of Indigenous

First Nations urgently need 157,453 new homes as well as repairs to 55,700 existing ones.

First Nations need 80% more funding than the rest of Canada to close the housing gap.

Closing the Gap Closing the housing gap to help First Nations overcome the homelessness and overcrowding crisis.

The Closing the Infrastructure Gap 2030 report is the first AFN-led cost report Identifying the investments that are required for Economic Reconciliation — and a crucial component of this is quantifying and closing the housing gap that exists between First Nations and non-First Nations communities.

The report has determined that the Government of Canada needs to invest $135 billion1 to build First Nation housing and address the current homelessness and overcrowding crisis. This also accounts for First Nations who want to move back to their community.

Safe, affordable, and climate-resilient housing is a vital part of well-being — it forms the basis of what  all First Nations people need in order to thrive. This investment will go a long way towards alleviating overcrowding, on-reserve migration, unit replacement, servicing new lots, repair needs, and population growth.

Closing the First Nations Housing Gap Creating stronger communities with better infrastructure and proper housing

Auditor General’s Report

On March 19, 2024, the Auditor General (AG) of Canada released a scathing report about On-Reserve Housing, pointing to a prolonged failure of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to address adverse conditions such as overcrowding and mould.

This is the fourth time since 2003 that the AG has raised concerns about housing in First Nations communities, and — 20 years later — many of the concerns persist. “Despite these audits, we found that ISC and the CMHC have made little progress in supporting First Nations to improve housing conditions in their communities”.

The AG also found that, overall, First Nations with the poorest housing conditions received less funding than communities of the same size with better housing conditions.

The CTIG Report is vital to getting a full and accurate picture of what is needed to close the gap in First Nations housing. For example, Budget 2022 outlined a contribution of $4.3 billion1 over a seven-year period to improve Indigenous housing —  but CTIG 2030 has identified that the true need to permanently close the gap is $135.1 billion1.

While these numbers are gigantic, it is clear these investments are simply a matter of prioritization. Since the start of AFN’s Closing the Infrastructure Gap by 2030 project in January 2022 until its completion in July 2023, the Government of Canada has publicly announced over $370 billion of investments in the military industry — more than what is required to Close the First Nation Infrastructure Gap. First Nations from coast to coast to coast deserve to be prioritized.

Prioritizing Closing the Gap

The CTIG Report is vital to getting a full and accurate picture of what is needed to close the gap in First Nations housing. For example, Budget 2022 outlined a contribution of $4.3 billion over a seven-year period to improve Indigenous housing — but CTIG 2030 has identified that the true need to permanently close the gap is $135.1 billion.

While these numbers are gigantic, it is clear these investments are simply a matter of prioritization. Since the start of AFN’s Closing the Infrastructure Gap by 2030 project in January 2022 until its completion in July 2023, the Government of Canada has publicly announced over $370 billion of investments in the military industry — more than what is required to Close the First Nation Infrastructure Gap. First Nations from coast to coast to coast deserve to be prioritized.

Read the Full Reports

Read the Full Report 1 — The National Cost Estimate

 Read and download the Closing the Infrastructure Gap by 2030 – National Cost Estimate report, which includes the capital and operational investments needed by the Government of Canada to make its timeline to close the gap by 2030.

Read the Full Report 2 — The Prioritization and Implementation Plan

Read and download the Prioritization and Implementation Plan, which includes an estimate on the previous report’s investment needs and quantifies how the First Nations infrastructure gap will continue to grow by the year 2040 due to Government of Canada inaction and insufficient funding.

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