First Nations will be allowed to carry over federal funding
As of April 1, 2018, First Nations will have the ability to carry forward federal funding for infrastructure programs from year to year, according to an announcement made at the Assembly of First Nations general assembly Tuesday.
“You don’t have to scramble now.
You won’t have to panic now.
“When the funds go back to Ottawa, it’s not because they weren’t needed, it’s because it wasn’t enough time to spend it properly,” said Bellegarde.
She said the old paternalistic attitudes of the government resulted in a policy that “has made no sense” and acknowledged that more “fiscal flexibility and autonomy is necessary” for First Nations to govern their communities well and be able to respond properly to the challenges that arise.
Being able to carry forward funds year to year means First Nations communities can begin infrastructure projects knowing they have the time and the money to finish them.
“The bigger issue is working towards long-term, sustainable, predictable funding,” he said.
But Bellegarde said sometimes First Nations cannot afford to do so, and as a result go without these essential services.
Bennett announced the federal government’s intention to work with the AFN to make changes to the policy — which she said may have contributed to the inequities in funding, fire safety, education, water and waste water treatment and more in First Nations communities.
“So today we are beginning the work of working together to change that policy and that funding framework so it would be finally fair.” Bellegarde and Bennett both acknowledged that a lot of work still needs to be done in order to close the socio-economic gap that exists, but emphasized the value of working together to create change.