A Better Infrastructure System
The problems with the current First Nation infrastructure system are well known – infrastructure takes too long to develop, costs too much to build, and does not last long enough. This contributes to a series of poor health, social and economic outcomes. First Nations, tribal councils, technical services groups and provincial and territorial organizations have been working for years to improve this infrastructure system.
The work towards a better First Nation infrastructure system is well underway. Several First Nations have begun to use long-term financing through the Fiscal Management Act (FMA) to build more sustainable infrastructure. There are several tribal, regional and provincial organizations who have begun to collect information, develop capacity and support aggregation and other infrastructure efficiencies. It is proposed that FNII be established as an optional FMA institutions as part of this better system. As illustrated it would work with First Nation partners to deliver shorter review times, more efficient procurement, longer infrastructure lifecycles, more innovations, economically and fiscally sustainable infrastructure and improved access to capital.
The First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FMA) provided an important innovation to the First Nation infrastructure system – access to long-term capital and more fiscal powers to build more sustainable infrastructure sooner. Other innovations are still required to make this option more widely available to interested First Nations. There are now 230 FMA First Nations and several proponent First Nations asked the First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC) to work with them to build a fourth optional FMA institution.
The First Nations Infrastructure Institute (FNII). They proposed that FNII would work with the FMA institutions and interested First Nations and First Nation organizational partners to provide at least ten innovations to the First Nation infrastructure system. It would be an optional, First Nation led institution that would focus on implementing innovations that reduced time and costs, built and maintained more sustainable infrastructure and supported healthier First Nation communities and economies.
A better First Nation infrastructure system would have more jurisdiction, revenues and capacity at the local level to speed decisions, better manage projects and costs, improve operation and maintenance and generate sufficient revenues to replace infrastructure. A better system would have tribal, regional and provincial First Nation institutions provide necessary professional support for all parts of the infrastructure cycle, to encourage cost efficiencies through aggregations and standards and to ensure community sustainability through integrated planning and better access to revenues and resources. A better system would have a national institution to improve access to infrastructure financing capital, encourage and promote innovations, develop standards, support local and regional capacity development, increase revenues available for all parts of the infrastructure cycle and provide insurance options to manage risks. This better First Nation infrastructure system would reduce time and costs of infrastructure development, increase durability, improve health and social outcomes and support the growth of First Nation economies and revenues to build sustainable communities and nations.