Bill C-45, which amended the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, was introduced in Parliament on March 23, 2023 and received Royal Assent on June 20, 2023. The amendments included formally establishing the First Nations Infrastructure Institute (FNII) – a development that drew support across party lines.
Here are some of the comments made during the bill’s technical review and its various readings by the House and the Senate:
“We know that infrastructure needs are great across Canada, and we believe working with FNII will support First Nations and Indigenous groups to advance their projects. We look forward to working with First Nations and Indigenous groups choosing to exercise their right to self-determination by asserting more control over their infrastructure.” – Allan Claxton, Chair, First Nations Infrastructure Institute Development Board
“Bill C-45 reflects what we have heard from the FMA [Fiscal Management Act] First Nations. We need our own infrastructure institute.” – Manny Jules, Chief Commissioner of the First Nations Tax Commission.
“We’re not going to bridge the infrastructure gap with the existing delivery program
that you’ve got. We’ve got to change it.” – Harold Calla, Executive Chair, First Nations Financial Management Board.
“We would hope that infrastructure, especially with the First Nations Infrastructure Institute coming on, will help communities to plan and build the proper infrastructure they need and with the costs associated with that. The more infrastructure we can get into our communities – like health services and community centres – those things will benefit our communities.” – Ernie Daniels, President and CEO, First Nations Finance Authority.
“The most important aspect of Bill C-45 is the fact that it creates a new entity, the First
Nations Infrastructure Institute or FNII, which will help First Nations and other
interested Indigenous groups, including Métis and Inuit partners, by providing them
with the necessary tools, competencies and best practices to assert their jurisdiction in
the area of infrastructure and asset management. The Infrastructure Institute will help
participating Indigenous groups plan, acquire, own and manage infrastructure on their
land.” – Marc Miller, Minister of Crown–Indigenous Relations
“It is a common-sense proposal. Here is how it would work: If a First Nation wants to build something, instead of just asking for permission from the bureaucrats in Ottawa, it can monetize its future revenues to build long-standing assets… All manner of things that we take for granted in the rest of Canada could be built through this.” – MP Pierre Poilievre, Leader of the Official Opposition.
“First Nations opting into the First Nations Infrastructure Institute would see the doors open for them to make decisions about owning, building and maintaining infrastructure in their communities… Whenever I meet with First Nations, Métis and Inuit… I hear frequently what the infrastructure needs are. My hope is that the passage of Bill C-45 would make those improvements [and that] First Nations would see significant gains.” – MP Lori Idlout, NDP critic of Crown-Indigenous Relations, Indigenous Services and Northern Affairs.
“Bill C-45 directly addresses the shamefully large infrastructure gap of at least $349.2 billion between First Nations and non-Indigenous communities. It has been woefully clear that the ‘Ottawa knows best’ top-down approach has been unable to address this issue, and now, through the First Nations Infrastructure Institute, Indigenous communities will have direct access to an Indigenous-led organization whose primary focus is to address this gap.” – Senator Yonah Martin, (Deputy Leader of the Opposition).
“The hope is that [FNII’s pilot projects are] only the beginning of this initiative’s path to adequate infrastructure for First Nations, supporting the quality of life and economic opportunities that many Canadians take for granted. That is what economic reconciliation is all about.” – Senator Marty Klyne