OTTAWA, ONTARIO (October 30, 2018) – The Minister of Indigenous Services, Jane Philpott, issued the following statement today:
“In partnership with First Nations and First Nation institutions, Indigenous Services Canada is proposing a number of amendments under the second part of the Budget Implementation Act. These proposed amendments to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, First Nations Land Management Act, and the Additions to Reserve/Reserve Creation process aim to improve processes and timelines, align policies, improve access to services, and provide greater support to First Nations institutions in their direct work with communities. In all, these amendments will support greater economic prosperity in First Nation communities.”
First Nations Fiscal Management Act
The First Nations Fiscal Management Act has established a strong, framework that enables the 239 First Nations that have opted in to the Act to implement taxation and fiscal management, and access long-term financing to support economic and infrastructure development in their communities.
Amendments to the First Nations Fiscal Management Act have been developed with the fiscal institutions that operate under this Act, specifically the First Nations Tax Commission, the First Nations Financial Management Board, and the First Nations Finance Authority. The amendments are in response to legislative reviews, Senate reports, and input from member First Nations.
The amendments will introduce clearer and simplified provisions; expand access to new participants; and enable the fiscal institutions to respond to the interests of First Nations across Canada. These proposed amendments will also enable the development of regulations to allow public service-centered Indigenous organizations, such as health or education authorities, to opt into the Act.
Budget 2018 provided for additional operational funding to the three institutions operating under the Act. This funding will enable the fiscal institutions to work with more First Nations to develop their capacity and have greater access to capital. The funding will also expand the institutions’ reach across the country, making them truly national in scope by opening four regional offices across the country: Winnipeg, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.
The amendments to the Act and access to funding announced in Budget 2018 will support the Government of Canada’s commitment to closing the economic and infrastructure gaps on reserves by removing existing barriers to participation in the Act, thus enabling more public service-centered Indigenous organizations to participate in the Act.
First Nations Land Management Act
The First Nations Land Management Act is a mechanism for First Nations to opt out of one third of the Indian Act and take on authority, control and responsibility for their reserve lands, resources and environment. These amendments were developed in partnership with the institutions that operate under this Act, the Lands Advisory Board and the First Nations Land Management Resource Centre, and approved by unanimous resolution from participating First Nations.
Amendments to the Act will improve First Nation Land Management for existing communities and simplify the entry process for future participants. While significant, the amendments are mostly administrative in nature and form the first phase of a broader land reform strategy. Examples include:
- aligning voting procedures to other democratic processes in Canada;
- acknowledging Canada’s support for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples;
- transferring control of community monies to First Nations; and
- creating protections for First Nation employees like those that exist in other levels of government, such as limiting personal liability in the conduct of their duties.
Budget 2018 provided funding for an additional 50 First Nations to opt into First Nation Land Management over the next five years. Currently, more than 150 First Nations participate in First Nation Land Management across Canada. These amendments will further strengthen a successful First Nation-led sectoral self-government initiative, one that supports First Nations to operate at the speed of business and to enhance community and economic development.
Additions to Reserve
Following feedback from engagements with First Nations communities and organizations, leading up-to and following the release of the 2016 Additions to Reserve/Reserve Creation Policy Directive, the proposed legislation responds to the need for additional tools and improvements to streamline the Additions to Reserve/Reserve Creation process.
The Government of Canada is proposing legislation that would extend the same benefits that are currently only available in the Prairie Provinces to all First Nations in Canada, for all types of Additions to Reserve/Reserve Creation proposals. The proposed changes are part of a number of actions the Government is taking to support First Nations efforts to increase their reserve land base. This includes the adoption of the new ATR policy directive in 2016.
The proposed legislation will authorize all Additions to Reserve (ATR) to be approved by Ministerial Order rather than by Governor in Council, which will result in more timely decisions.
It will also better facilitate economic development on reserve land by enabling First Nations to designate or zone the land prior to transfer and facilitate the transfer of third-party interests, through leases or permits, prior to the lands being added.
Information on priorities included in the second part of the Budget Implementation Act, is available through the Department of Finance Canada.