The Challenge of Infrastructure

Our initial research drew on six sources that contain possible lessons for FNII. Those sources include:

  1. Why Nations Fail – In the 1950s and 1960, the former African colonies, administrative costs become too high so the colonizers willingly turned over ownership and responsibilities of governance to the Indigenous populations. Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson wrote a book about these post-colonial institutions called Why Nations Fail. They found that many of the post-colonial governments established institutions that provided economic and fiscal benefits to few at the expense of the many and this has led to the continuation of widespread poverty in many post-colonial African countries. Some countries, however, did develop institutions that led to widespread economic growth. Theirs and other similar research provides important lessons for the development of FNII and other proposed Indigenous institutions.
  2. Provincial Experience – In the late 1960s and early 1970s many provincial governments in Canada wanted to turn over infrastructure responsibility, ownership and jurisdiction to the local governments. They embarked on a significant effort to build the legal and administrative systems for local governments and helped them finance initial economic infrastructure to give them the basis for future growth. Many local governments successfully assumed infrastructure jurisdiction from this approach. Interviews with a few deputy ministers from this era have provided important potential lessons for FNII.
  3. Auditor General – Beginning in the late 1990s and continuing to this day, the AG has conducted several audits on Indigenous programs including infrastructure. Their findings and the largely failed efforts to correct the problems provide a better understanding of the systemic challenges and possible lessons to successfully implement change.
  4. Infrastructure Canada – In 2002, Infrastructure Canada was established to provide federal infrastructure funding and support to provincial and local governments. Its founding legislation provides a possible preliminary model for FNII and its institutional experience and success provides several lessons as well.
  5. FMA Institutions – The FMA become operational in 2007. In 10 years there are now over 230 First Nations members of the FMA. This success provides several lessons and a potential legislative framework and governance model for FNII.
  6. Comparison of Infrastructure systems – In 2016, Urban Systems did research for the FNTC comparing local government infrastructure life cycle systems to those of Indigenous governments. It systematically confirmed what numerous other research had indicated as well – Indigenous infrastructure is costlier, takes longer to develop, and typically has a shorter service life than other infrastructure. This comparison and the reasons for it, provide some potential lessons for FNII.

Further, more specific research was conducted by Urban Systems:

  1. Comparative Analysis of Infrastructure Development Processes – First Nations and Local Governments, Prepared by Urban Systems Ltd. 2017
  2. Economic Benefits of Infrastructure Development in First Nation Communities, Prepared by Urban Systems Ltd. 2018
  3. Alternative Approach to Infrastructure Planning and Approval, Prepared by Urban Systems Ltd. 2018

Research to Support Business Plan Development

Following the direction set by the Development Board, the technical working group developed a business plan and produced a Business Plan in Brief supported by a number Background Papers. In addition, Ernst & Young has been engaged on the development of FNII to date and has provided a note reviewing work and highlighting the business case. These have all been compiled into a single document for the purpose of sharing electronically. The document contains the following sections:

Tab 1 – FNII Business Plan in Brief
Tab 2 – Background Paper: Business Case
Tab 3 – Background Paper: Possible Lessons
Tab 4 – Background Paper: Engagement to Date
Tab 5 – Background Paper: Preliminary Design
Tab 6 – Background Paper: Innovations
Tab 7 – Background Paper: Logic Model
Tab 8 – Background Paper: Growth Strategy
Tab 9 – Ernst & Young Review
Tab 10A – Research Appendix: Comparative Analysis of Infrastructure Development Processes – First Nations and Local Governments
Tab 10B – Research Appendix: Economic Benefits of Infrastructure Development in First Nations Communities
Tab 10C – Research Appendix: Alternative Approach to Infrastructure Planning and Approval

The Business Plan in Brief is intended to provide a summarized, stand-alone version of the full Business Plan, while the Background Papers, Ernst & Young review and Urban Systems studies are intended to offer more detail to support the in brief version for interested readers.

Click to read the entire Business Plan in Brief & Background Papers document.