REGINA, July 25, 2017 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs, and Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, made a joint announcement on progress towards developing a new fiscal relationship that supports strong First Nations.
"As an order of government in Canada, First Nations require sufficient, predictable and sustained funding to foster healthy, safe and prosperous communities. Together, we are acting on the MOU we signed last year to develop proposed elements of a new fiscal relationship for consideration by Chiefs-in-Assembly. We have identified a way forward on two long-standing issues important to advancing this work.
"First, the opportunity to access carry forward of unexpended funding will be expanded. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada has committed to ensure First Nations governments can carry forward funding where helpful, applicable, and desired by First Nations. Programs such as infrastructure will make carry forward available as of April 1, 2018. We will confirm an implementation plan for remaining programs by this time as well.
"This is a shift in current practice, which will result in greater fiscal flexibility and autonomy for First Nations governments. It will also increase the certainty of resources for multi-year programs and projects. For example, this will support more First Nations starting housing projects because their governments will have the financial flexibility to finish them.
"Secondly, Canada and the AFN agree that the INAC policy on Operations and Maintenance is outdated, and does not reflect First Nations needs. Under this policy, introduced almost 20 years ago, the federal government funds a portion of the estimated operation and maintenance costs of INAC-funded community infrastructure such as fire safety assets, schools, water and waste treatment, and other community assets.
"Together, we are identifying options to move to a new policy framework and formulae to remove the inequities of the current policy and funding framework which have contributed to the socio-economic gap for many First Nations. This is part of the work to identify opportunities for new fiscal relations between Canada and First Nations - ones that are appropriate to a government to government relationship. We will put forward a plan with options in the joint report of December 2017."
SOURCE Government of Canada
For further information: Sabrina Williams, Press Secretary, Office of the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, 613-697-8316; Media Relations, INAC, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, 819-953-1160; Jamie Monastyrski, Press Secretary - National Chief's Office, 613-241-6789 ext. 222, 343-540-6179 (cell), [email protected]