Good morning, members and witnesses. Welcome to the 22nd meeting of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
We welcome three officials from the department today. This morning we have Michel Roy, senior assistant deputy minister for treaties and aboriginal government. Also, we welcome back Patrick Borbey, assistant deputy minister on northern affairs; and Mary Quinn, the director general, social policy and programs branch.
Members, you'll recall that this is principally a continuation of our review of the Auditor General's report for 2009, but in our last meeting we also made reference to the report of 2008. There were some outstanding questions in that regard.
We're going to start off with comments from our three witnesses this morning, and then we'll go to questions from members. Members, because we have two sessions today, each one hour, we'll keep the questions to five minutes.
Monsieur Borbey, do you wish to begin? Thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. It's a pleasure to be here with you today to talk about our progress in responding to these reports from the Auditor General.
You've already introduced my colleagues. Michel will be speaking about claims implementation issues, and Mary will be addressing the department's continuing efforts to improve first nations child and family services.
The reports of the Auditor General are taken very seriously at Indian and Northern Affairs Canada and are appreciated for the guidance and constructive analysis they provide on our performance in carrying out our department's mandate. They serve to confirm where we are on the right track and point out where we need to focus our efforts in the delivery of programs and services and the fulfillment of our responsibilities to aboriginal people and the residents of the north.
I'd like to speak briefly regarding two matters: our evolving role in the Yukon post-devolution and our work in support of the regulatory regime for land and resources in the Northwest Territories. These two issues both relate to essential elements of the government's integrated Northern Strategy, on which our department plays the leading role. They fall under at least three pillars of the strategy, those being economic and social development, environmental protection and improved governance. And, of course, our efforts in these areas also serve to support the fourth pillar—exercising our sovereignty over the north.
Even in these times of uncertainty over the economy, the north offers tremendous potential for economic development. Empowering the territorial and aboriginal governments of the north will not only provide northerners with greater control over decisions directly affecting them, it will also give them a greater stake in the development taking place in and around their communities. By ensuring that regulatory systems in the north are efficient and effective, we can eliminate barriers to development while at the same time ensuring that development is sustainable.
With regard to chapter 8 of the Auditor General's report of November 2003, which dealt with transferring federal responsibilities to the north, I would like to describe how INAC's role in the Yukon has significantly changed since the devolution of federal responsibilities for the management of land and resources to the territorial government in 2003. That transfer was significant for the territory in that it meant the assumption by the Yukon government of most of the remaining provincial-type authorities once held by the federal government. In terms of its responsibilities and jurisdictions, the territorial government now closely resembles a provincial government and has taken an important step in its political evolution. Concurrently, our department's role in the territory has also undergone a transformation. In working on the implementation of 11 Yukon first nation land claim and self-government agreements while continuing to provide services to six Indian Act bands in the Yukon and northern B.C., INAC has felt its role being influenced by the convergence of the aboriginal and northern agendas, as well as the self-government and Indian Act agendas.
We continue, however, to carry out residual responsibilities with respect to resource management in the Yukon. We are fully participating in the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act review. We are also very much involved in promoting sustainable resource development and in contributing significantly to economic development in the Territory with federal support for geo-science, infrastructure and skills development initiatives and will continue to do so in the future.
INAC's chief role is now focused on intergovernmental collaboration and the strategic use of federal influence to support strategic outcomes of economic and political development. An interesting example of this post-devolution shift is with respect to establishing co-management regimes for the remediation of abandoned mine sites with Yukon government and affected first nations. Relying on strong intergovernmental relationships, successful implementation of these projects not only ensures sound environmental stewardship but also provides economic and business opportunities while strengthening local political development in the north.
From here we're looking ahead to effecting similar transformations in the other two territories where discussions on and preparations for the transfer of federal authorities are under way. We intend to profit from what we've learned from our devolution experience in the Yukon. In fact, these valuable lessons have already informed and improved our approaches to devolution in the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.
Another area of interest to the standing committee is INAC's response to chapter 6, which focused on the development of non-renewable resources in the Northwest Territories. INAC has made significant progress in many of the areas identified by the recommendations in this chapter, and I appreciate the opportunity to provide a brief overview of our key achievements.
Working in partnership with the NWT boards, we have completed a report on best practices of institutes of public governance, a report on NWT board training needs assessment, and a general orientation binder for new board members. To complement these practical, user-friendly documents, we initiated a board training program that provided training to over 160 board members and staff in 2008-09. The program provided essential skills and knowledge that the boards need to effectively manage renewable resources, ranging from administrative law and the management of hearings, to technical courses in mining and regulation.
The department has also coordinated and supported the piloting of a multi-year strategic planning exercise that has been successfully completed by four boards, and other boards have shown interest in undertaking it. On the recommendation to create an ongoing process of consultation between the heads of the boards and the senior officials of the department, the NWT Board Forum was created. It meets twice a year and is a well-respected and well-attended venue for executive dialogue on inter-board and intergovernmental resource management and development issues.
One tangible new initiative of the NWT Board Forum, supported by the department's secretariat, is a new board website. The website provides a single public portal to the resource management system in the NWT, with links to appropriate government sites and other useful sources of information.
Regular board reporting and communications have also improved, with many boards now issuing quarterly or monthly newsletters which identify completed activities, authorizations issued and future plans.
Of course, the development and management of non-renewable resources is not static, and to ensure the Department remains current with evolving sustainable development needs, we established the Northern Regulatory Improvement Initiative to deal with operational and strategic needs. Through this initiative Minister Strahl commissioned Mr. McCrank to review the regulatory systems across the north and provide recommendations. Using his "Road to Improvement" report, OAG Audits and other information, the Department is now preparing a comprehensive plan for advancing concrete changes to the regulatory regimes in the north which we hope to begin implementing this summer. One objective of this initiative is to help clarify the evolving roles and responsibilities of Boards consistent with the associated Acts, Regulations and Land Claim Agreements.
I would note that we have already started implementing many of Mr. McCrank's recommendations, notably in the areas of capacity-building for boards and their members, eliminating unnecessary duplication between the Nunavut Impact Review Board and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and funding for the cumulative environmental impact monitoring program in the NWT. We're also working on the development of Nunavut resource management legislation and water regulations.
INAC will build on these achievements and the ongoing work in this area, not only because they demonstrate our responsiveness to the recommendations of the Auditor General, but because we are strengthening our working relationship with the boards, aboriginal groups, and stakeholders; the quality of non-renewable resource management in the NWT; and of course our overall accountability and transparency to Canadians.
Thank you very much.
I will certainly be pleased to take questions later on.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I too wish to thank the Committee for the opportunity to appear before you and for your interest in the progress we are making in addressing the recommendations of several Auditor General of Canada Reports concerning the implementation of Canada's modern treaties.
Please allow me to provide a little context.
Since 1975, Canada, aboriginal Canadians, 3 provinces and the 3 territories have entered into 22 such agreements that cover a wide range of subject matter such as lands, resources, water, and environmental considerations and often contain substantial self-government provisions.
The north has been the most fruitful region of the nation for such agreements. These innovative arrangements afford aboriginal citizens of the territories major roles in the political, economic, and environmental affairs of the north and of the nation, including ownership of significant parcels of land.
We have 11 self-governing first nations in the Yukon with attendant land claims agreements.
In the Northwest Territories, four aboriginal organizations have comprehensive land claims agreements, the Inuvialuit, Gwich'n, Sahtu-Metis, Tlicho.
The Tlicho Agreement of 2005 includes self-government provisions and we are in active negotiations with the others on self-government arrangements.
Article 4 of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement (1993) with the Inuit of the Eastern Arctic led to the creation of the territory of Nunavut, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary.
Thus far, the 22 agreements Canada has concluded with first nation signatories affect more than 40% of Canada's land mass. I use the word concluded loosely because as we have learned, treaty negotiations are not about conclusion but rather about creating new relationships. You have heard these comments many times here in the committee.
I will be pleased to speak to questions the committee may have concerning: the OAG Report of 1998 which examined Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements to that point—both the negotiation of agreements and their subsequent implementation; the 2003 OAG report concerning devolution in the north which also included recommendations regarding agreement implementation; and the 2007 Report on the implementation of the Inuvialuit Final Agreement of 1984 with Inuit Canadians of the Western Arctic.
As you are aware, these reports along with others such as the Senate Standing Committee Report "Closing the Loopholes", the Land Claims Agreement Coalition Model Policy and our own recent internal evaluation have served to point out some of the challenges we are facing in implementing these agreements. They have given us a great deal of direction on how to improve our relationships with aboriginal treaty and self-government groups. From Canada's perspective, we believe that we have done a fair job at completing the one-time or time-limited tasks that are necessary to get these new governments and government institutions up and running. We acknowledge that we need to now shift the focus to developing the relationship with these groups. In particular, we need to find a way to improve our means of resolving disputes.
In 2008, TBS issued Contracting Policy Notice 2008-4 amending contracting policies to improve the obligations to monitor and report contracts under comprehensive land claims agreements. It also fulfills specific commitments made within some Comprehensive Land Claims Agreements (CLCAs) for the federal government to monitor and report on its contracting activities in CLCA regions. I am pleased to report that INAC was chosen to lead this project and we are well underway to be able to issue the first reports, as required in the second quarter of the year.
On this issue of monitoring, INAC is modernizing and enhancing our obligation tracking system to be able to track and report more efficiently and with greater added value on the progress of federal implementation. We believe this will continue to improve the way we conduct our business in a way consistent with the past recommendations of the OAG.
In fact, we are asked to report back to the Office of the Auditor General on the progress we are making and the challenges we encounter in responding to the recommendations.
I welcome your questions.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and members, for inviting me to appear before your committee.
I welcome the opportunity to bring your members up to date on our continuing efforts to improve First Nations Child and Family Services on-reserve.
Since the Auditor General's report of May 2008, we have been working very closely with the provinces and first nations to improve child and family services for first nations children normally resident on reserve. I wish to assure the committee that we recognize the seriousness of the matters raised in the Auditor General's report.
I'd like to talk briefly about how the first nations child and family service program works. We do not work alone. Provinces have jurisdiction over child welfare, both on and off reserve, and in some cases, the provinces have delegated their authorities to first nations child welfare agencies and first nations staff. This explains why we've been focusing a lot of our attention on being provincially comparable and have been working with provinces and first nations agencies so that the agencies can adequately meet provincial legislation and standards while meeting the requirements of our funding agreements.
As well, the department works with first nations providing funding to first nations, their child welfare agencies and the provinces to cover the operating costs of culturally appropriate child welfare services on-reserve including the reimbursement of maintenance costs related to children brought into care.
The budget has doubled from more than $193 million in 1996-97 to roughly $523 million in 2008-09. Beginning in budget 2005, a roughly 8.5% increase in the operations formula was committed. As well, there was a commitment of roughly $1 million for agency self-evaluation and an additional $15 million to pay for rising maintenance expenditures. This was an additional investment totalling roughly $25 million.
The first nations child and family services program is under renovation and is therefore currently in transition as we move towards what we call an enhanced prevention-focused model. This is a model that focuses on prevention rather than on an out-of-home care bias. Budget 2006 marked the beginning of this transition with a financial commitment, starting in Alberta, of incremental funds of $98 million over five years.
The next step came in budget 2008, in which an additional $115 million was provided over five years to the provinces of Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan, along with first nations agencies, to implement the new model. Most recently, Canada's economic action plan has announced a further $20 million over two years to additional jurisdictions to join in this model.
To put it in perspective, this year alone $49.5 million in incremental funding will flow to the first nations child and family services agencies in five jurisdictions. Our commitment will increase to a total of $61 million annually by 2011, and we have more provinces to work in.
I would say that under this model, the Government of Canada is committed to providing the necessary funding for first nations child welfare, which will be provincially comparable, to support early intervention and prevention-specific services that work to reduce the number of apprehensions. The model has two components. The first is the development of tripartite accountability frameworks. This involves the federal government, the provinces, and the first nations agencies or organizations. This is where we develop common goals, visions, and performance measurement standards and where we speak to issues such as culturally appropriate services and provincial comparability.
The second component involves working directly with first nations child welfare practitioners and provincial officials in developing a funding model that is specific and comparable to the particular province we are working with and meets the needs identified by workers at the front line.
While work is under way on this renovation and shift to the enhanced prevention model, the other track we're working on is program management. In the Auditor General's report, she's raised issues in both areas.
I'm just going to briefly sum up in one minute, if I may.
We discussed this matter with the first nations and the Government of Quebec, but it's an act of the Government of Quebec. The federal government can do nothing with regard to the request for a timeframe.
However, I can tell you that there are four pilot projects, including two in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. The purpose of those projects is to reduce
the rate of children in care.
It's not an answer to the extension that's desired by first nations, but we're certainly starting to try to attack the issue of prevention.
We have been discussing with a number of provinces the new enhanced model about which I was speaking before. And in future months—or I can't say whether it will be next year—we hope, as we move from five provinces to ten, that when all provinces are under the new model there will be more funding for prevention services.
This case, in particular, became obvious to us a couple of years ago as a result of some of the projects that are making their way through the Nunavut regulatory system. This was an issue where the CEAA did not correspond with the text of the land claim. Once we found that issue did apply in a particular case of one project, we engaged in discussions immediately with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, which is the signatory to the land claim, and with CEAA to find a way to resolve the issue. We came up with a temporary solution in order to prevent a situation where you might have one project and two assessments. It's the principle of one project being subjected to only one environmental assessment.
We got an interim arrangement, and then we negotiated an amendment to the land claim successfully, which was done last year and approved by all parties. We're now embedding that change in the legislation that we're developing for the Nunavut regulatory system.
So that's an example. There are not other examples that I'm aware of where there is that kind of blatant duplication, but we have to be very conscious of that possibility. We also know that changes to the MVRMA are required to ensure that once a project such as the Mackenzie gas pipeline project has gone through the environmental assessment, when it goes into the next stage, the permitting stage, the clauses under the MVRMA cannot allow that project or parts of the project to be thrown back into environmental assessment.
So we've already made some changes there to the exemption list under MVRMA, and we're looking at other ways to assure that certainty.
That's too fast? All right.
You state this a little further on:
The second component involves working directly with first nations child welfare practitioners and provincial officials in developing a funding model that is specific and comparable to the particular province we are working with...
My question is simple. There are no results suggesting that services have improved. I heard this morning—and I don't remember whether it was on the radio or television—that 500 aboriginal women disappeared every year, some of whom were killed. Currently we only hear about administration. We invest money in tripartite agreements and all kinds of things like that, but we never get concrete results.
I have been sitting as a member for six years now, and I have never stopped hearing the same things concerning aboriginal people. How is it that there are never any tangible, visible results? We ceaselessly invest money, but it seems to me that everything goes into administration, meetings and so on. I'd like to get an answer from the three witnesses.
Your question is definitely very important.
Any time the department hears or is involved in serious issues involving first nations children, we certainly take it as a priority concern, whether it's in child and family services or in education or in family violence prevention situations, and we try to work with partners as much as we can to prevent those situations.
In terms of results, the formula for the provinces that aren't in the new model has a bias towards protection—that is, in terms of taking children out of their home because we don't have the capacity or the providers aren't able to provide services to keep them in the home if it's a safe situation. That decision of a caseworker to leave a child in the home or to take the child out of the home is probably one of the most serious anyone would ever take, because if made well it will be of benefit, but if a child is left in an unsafe situation it is certainly going to harm the child, the family, and the community. So these people have an extremely important job to do.
And the prevention, as was demonstrated by the Province of Alberta itself, when it moved to a prevention model for its citizens.... Alberta is seen as one of the more advanced provinces. They don't take that status for granted because the situation is too complex and touchy.
But to answer your question, I would say we really need to get the prevention model for child and family services into as many areas as we can. We hope to do that by 2013. We would love to do it sooner, but we have three provinces. The minister indicated at the committee that he hoped we would be moving very soon into more provinces. And if things go according to plan—but it depends upon fiscal situations and other conditions—we hope to keep moving province by province until we have them all. And when we have prevention, we hope to see better results.
Members, let's continue. I realize the time is short here this morning, and I appreciate your understanding in that regard.
For our second hour we welcome representatives of the First Nations Finance Authority. We're glad we were able to make this happen for you this week, as I understand you were in the nation's capital. So we welcome Chief Joe Hall, the chair of the authority; Deanna Hamilton, the president and CEO; Steve Berna, the COO, chief operating officer; and finally, Tim Raybould, the senior policy adviser.
As is customary, our guests here this morning have ten minutes for opening comments and then we'll go to questions from members, with each question and answer period being approximately five minutes.
So we'll lead off, I assume, with Chief Hall. Merci.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and good morning to everybody.
First of all, I want to tell you how pleased we are with the opportunity to address the committee this morning. Certainly we understand the challenges that arise in trying to accommodate so many groups, and we are appreciative of that.
There are many challenges in first nations communities, not the least of which is the ability to generate wealth and economic development activity in the communities so that they can develop the good governance required to take care of all the amenities.
In 2005 the passing of the Fiscal and Statistical Management Act was the beginning of an important move in Canada for aboriginal people. This act enjoyed full party support, and we're very grateful for it. I look at the act as a starting point for providing the tools that first nations communities need to access the market the way other governments do in this country. In the absence of these tools, first nations communities are reliant on federal funding. Their ability to improve their infrastructure and participate in the economy is very limited. In the changing world of today, first nations communities are in a position to generate different streams of revenue, and they are going to be looking for tools to leverage those funds, to take advantage of the opportunities to build greater infrastructure and capacity in their communities.
So with the passing of the act in 2005, our work started, and there's a lot that remains to be done. Our mandate is to assist first nations and aboriginal communities in this country, and we take that mandate seriously. We have assembled a good team to assist those communities in improving in their way of life. Our mandate is not for one specific group of communities. We look to serve all communities in this country, small and large, no matter where they're located.
This is an opportunity to access markets as other governments do. We see advantages for all communities, no matter where they are—especially the ability to access affordable capital at the same rates as anybody else in this country. In moving forward, we're trying to activate another critical part of the act that was passed in 2005. This would enable us to utilize other revenue streams in order to leverage funds for these communities. This will provide greater opportunities for first nations communities, and we look forward to that reality.
What needs to happen is straightforward. We need to assist communities that have other revenue streams. We need to see a speedy passage of the regulations contained in the act passed in 2005. These regulations would allow us to utilize other revenue streams and to leverage those funds. Our calculations suggest that these funds would leverage into a $3 billion capital fund that we could access to help those communities.
In these economically difficult times, we see that the ability to leverage these funds would reduce the pressures on the federal government to cash-finance projects. The pay-as-you-go method is not the best approach. We see that we can leverage funds so as to be able to build ten schools instead of one in a region, and this is very important.
We all woke up yesterday morning to find out that the economic situation in Canada is graver than we first thought. So we need to see these regulations passed so that we can move forward with this.
We also need to have the government put in place an economic stimulus leverage fund of $100 million that would allow us to go to the markets with a good credit rating—and certainly my colleague will talk about the importance of that—so that we can access those funds. We see this as an investment in Canada to essentially reduce the number of people who are at the door right now looking for capital projects that are desperately needed in their communities.
For this initiative, we've enjoyed support across Canada: the Atlantic provinces, the Six Nations, the Kahnawake, the B.C. Summit, Tsawwassen, Westbank, and the Yukon. I know that you've spoken previously both with Chief Mike Smith and with Chief Mark Wedge from Kwanlin Dun and Tagish. We too have spoken with them, and they certainly support this initiative to access these funds.
I'm going to close by saying that the importance of us putting this toolbox on their doorstep whenever they enter into impact benefit agreements or receive federal funds is that we have now a tool that all other governments have, not only in this country but across the world, whereby they can access and leverage their existing funds and use the market to get affordable capital to do the necessary work in their communities.
At this time, I'd like to turn it over to my colleague, Steve Berna, the chief operating officer for our First Nations Finance Authority.
Thank you to the committee for the chance to speak today.
The First Nations Finance Authority is modelled after a very successful operation in B.C. called the Municipal Finance Authority. It's been in operation since 1970 and in 39 years has never had a default on payment from any of its members, which is an absolutely sterling record.
The controls that are in place for the Municipal Finance Authority were put in place for the FNFA through the regulations that we're looking for support for to have passed. I worked at the MFA for sixteen years, nine years as director of finance and seven years as its CEO. During that time we borrowed $10 billion to $12 billion on the capital domestic and international markets for B.C.'s local governments, transportation facilities, utilities, and regional hospital districts. The same model that works in B.C. will work across Canada for first nations.
There are two things that made it a sterling record in B.C. First, the act that allowed the MFA to operate said that all revenue streams for municipalities can be leveraged to support debt--all revenue streams. Second, they had about $110 million in equity. The equity is extremely important to get a credit rating, and it's extremely important for investor confidence when you're doing debenture issuance.
The purpose of the $110 million is that it sits on a shelf. It is not accessed unless one of your clients that you've lent money to does not pay when it's due. When the money has not shown up, you pull money out of the $110 million and pay the bondholder, so there's no default. It is a slush fund and a buffer zone. It is something for the credit-rating agencies when they say, “If a client does not pay, where will you get money to pay the bondholder?”
What we are asking for is feedback from the rating agencies, the banking syndicate, and the bond market. If we have $3 billion to borrow for first nations projects, which is what our estimate is, based on consultation with them, the markets are saying to us that $100 million like MFA has will get us the credit rating to provide the debenture issuance that we need to do.
So it's not a number pulled out of the air; it's based on historical fact out of B.C. Alberta has a similar model, backed up by the province. They have about $150 million in equity. It is something that is extremely important.
As for the opportunity cost of not receiving the $100 million, there are projects ranging from independent power projects to schools, hospitals, roads, and sewer and water, which will lead to private investment and job growth. If the money is not forthcoming, we will not be able to borrow for the first nations that are looking to do these projects right now.
When the tap cuts off on the credit side, it is usually the first nations that get cut off first, and right now that's happening. The projects have stalled all the way from Squamish's port authority, which they're trying to develop, to the independent power projects, both in the west and in Ontario and Quebec.
Estimates based on the numbers we have are that there's $2.1 billion in other revenues right now that first nations are willing to leverage. Some has already been financed. We have the opportunity to refinance that at lower rates. The $2.1 billion in revenues will support about $3 billion in debenture issuance, which will translate into job growth of very close to 100,000.
I've dealt in the financial market since 1991, and it's very clear to me that when you're building regulations you'd better build something that the end-users--the rating agencies, the investors--like. We did not build this upon our dreams in the hope that the end-users liked it. I started almost a year ago, last June, contacting the rating agencies, Moody's, Standard & Poor's, contacting the banking syndicate--which are departments of the chartered banks who are the sales staff who go out and sell to the investors, Great West Life, pension funds, etc. I also talked to the investors and said, “What do we need to make this successful, so that when we go to do our first debenture, you will buy it?“
The feedback that we received was incorporated into building the regulations. They build in very specific controls that ensure that when we make a loan, the moneys to repay the loans will be captured, put into accounts where they cannot be accessed for inappropriate purposes, and when it's time to pay the investors back, the money will be there.
We started with the end-users and incorporated their needs and worked forward from there.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I just have a quick comment. Steve and Tim, you bring incredible complementary strength to this organization. I had a nice discussion with all of you yesterday, except for Chief Hall.
I'm going to try to focus my points on Deanna and Chief Hall. I want to congratulate you on your hard work on what I think is a great opportunity for first nations across Canada. There's where I'm going to come in.
You mentioned something interesting just a couple of minutes ago about nations that want to, and I'm concerned about the ones that can. I think we spoke at length about that yesterday.
I have just three quick points that I'll leave open for you to comment on. Yesterday we talked about infrastructure and about perhaps looking at enhancements to infrastructure projects. Steve, earlier your comments were about projects that I believe enhance infrastructure in the communities. But they are also key economic development projects for the nations so that they can participate more fully in their regions and perhaps in the national economy. I gave you a couple of examples in our discussion yesterday. Just narrowing this or focusing it, if you will, I am concerned--if that's the right word, but it might be too strong--about the strategies for working with communities whose revenue streams may not be as robust as some of the communities that could almost immediately participate in the kind of model being proposed here.
It goes without saying that the capacity to enjoin good governance in economic development, to have accountability that is driven by the nations, be it through this organization, if you will, and some relief from having to rely exclusively on major government departments for things like infrastructure, or certainly enhancements, are all great aspects of what you're advancing here.
Could you comment on two things? First, some of the other economic development projects that really go to helping out the nations--we talked about grocery and retail in some parts of the country--I think need to be developed more, with a stronger presence by the nations. Second are strategies for working with communities that don't have the revenue streams that, say, Westbank or some of the other nations might have.
Thank you for your question. I think it is a good question, because it actually gets to the point behind why we need to see an expansion, why we need to see these regulations passed--so that we can actually go to other revenue streams.
Mr. Greg Rickford: Right.
Chief Joe Hall: Every community has revenue streams of some sort, federal transfers of some sort, that essentially may be the sum total of funds that they receive.
I come from a small community in southern British Columbia--I'm chief of the Tzeachten First Nation--and on our board we have very close ties to all sorts of communities, no matter what size they are. Certainly we have a mandate to provide a service to all of them.
There's a catch-22 that I think is important to understand. Right now, being ready to provide services for communities that have property taxation is a good thing, but there are communities that are not in that position. The catch-22 that I'm talking about is that in order to generate sufficient wealth to get sufficient portions of a bond issuance, you need to spend money to get there. So in order to build a strong, diversified property taxation base, you need to do some investments in order to get there.
That catch-22 can be overcome, I guess, by helping those smaller communities in different areas have access to affordable capital on the market. The attraction here, as I said in my opening comments, is that those communities....
We were in the same boat. We had to pay the full bank rates, and were not eligible to get affordable capital. We had to pay the full rates for any structural amenities that we did.
At any rate, these communities, no matter where they're situated, are going to benefit from lower rates, because they'll be participating in a bond issuance.
Of course. You'll be there to make sure we do. Of course, I would expect nothing less.
Again, thank you very much for your attention here this morning and your presentations. Safe travels back.
To members, before we go, I'll just add that we're back here Tuesday morning. We have the First Nations Education Council here for a full two hours. We'll prepare for that.
For subcommittee members, there will be a meeting between one and two o'clock on Monday. We'll get Monsieur Lemay's proper notice out on that, Monsieur Lévesque.
Have a great finish to the week and weekend. We'll see you next week.
Thank you very much.
The meeting is adjourned.