Economic Development for Indigenous People Still Not on Track

Op-Ed by Chief Clarence Louie, Chair of the NIEDB , and Dawn Madahbee, Vice-Chair – Earlier this month, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on Residential Schools generated hundreds of media reports and helped focus attention on the challenges faced by Indigenous communities in Canada.

Op-Ed published by the Ottawa Citizen on June 17, 2015

Residential schools are but one example of the many actions that served to strip our communities of their independence and erode our ability to provide meaningful opportunity to generations of our young people.

While the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is a key milestone with immense symbolic importance, it will have no lasting effect unless we provide the economic tools that our communities need to fully participate in the Canadian economy.

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board’s (NAEDB) vision is for Aboriginal people to be healthy, well-educated, economically self-sufficient and full participants in the Canadian economy. We believe that all of the gains we want to make collectively for the 1.4 million Aboriginal Canadians must be achieved by moving the needle on income, education and entrepreneurship and to close the vast economic gaps that exist between the Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians.

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Chief Clarence Louie, Chair of the NIEDB , and Dawn Madahbee, Vice-Chair, at the launch of the the Progress Report during the First Nations Infrastructure, Land Development & Urban Planning Conference (RezLAND) in Osoyoos, British Columbia.

The opportunities for economic development for Aboriginal people today are greater than ever- due to a host of factors including assertive treaty rights, and growing recognition that local communities have much to offer. Success stories include the shipbuilding contracts in Nova-Scotia; the construction of the first on-reserve correction centre in Canada on Osoyoos Indian Band reserve lands; the second largest mall development in Canada by Tsawwassen First Nations; and Air Inuit, which began in 1978 and now employs close to 500 people.

It is estimated that Aboriginal people in Canada will generate $32 billion a year in combined income across households, businesses and governments by 2016 – more than Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island combined.

However, Aboriginal Canadians represent 4% of the Canadian population and their 32 billion in economic activity represent less than 1.5% of Canada’s projected 2016 Gross Domestic Product. Aboriginal prosperity is therefore essential to Canada’s overall prosperity and Canada’s long-term economic success.

In 2012, the NIEDBset a bold goal to achieve economic and social parity between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians by 2022. We pledged to measure the progress every 3 years from the 2012 baseline and to report back to Canadians. This week, the First Report Card was released – the Aboriginal Economic Progress Report.

  • The findings show that Aboriginal people in Canada have made slight gains between 2006 and 2011, but significant gaps remain between the Aboriginal and the non-Aboriginal populations – especially for First Nations living on reserve.
  • Gaps between First Nations living on reserve and non-Aboriginal Canadians actually increased in terms of employment rate, reliance on government transfers, college and trades completion rates, university completion rates, and crowded housing conditions.
  • Inuit unemployment declined to 19.5% in 2011, leading to a two percentage point drop in the gap with the non-Aboriginal population. However, gaps in Inuit post-secondary completion rates increased. Inuit university completion rates remained the lowest at 4.9%, compared to 25.8% for the non-Aboriginal population.
  • The Métis population had the highest high school (71.0%) and university completion (12.2%) rates among Aboriginal heritage groups. The average income gap between Métis and the non-Aboriginal populations was reduced by 6.7%.

In short, Aboriginal people in Canada are currently not on track to achieving parity with non-Aboriginal Canadians. The NIEDB is concerned that much of the economic potential of Aboriginal people remains unrealized. The only way forward is through economic, business, education, employment and community development led by strong governance, political will and sufficient targeted financial investments in these areas.

Based on the findings contained in the report, the NIEDBhas come forward with a set of recommendations including specific strategies for First Nations on reserves, education, employment and skills training, community and business development, youth and data collection in order to strengthen policy making.

The Board firmly believes that economic development is the foundation for real reconciliation and true collaboration between governments, private sector businesses and all Aboriginal people. It is clear that there is still much work to be done before Aboriginal people are in the same position as other Canadians to contribute to and benefit from one of the world’s wealthiest economies.

 

The NIEDB
Established in 1990, the NIEDB is a Governor in Council appointed board mandated to provide strategic policy and program advice to the federal government on Indigenous economic development. Comprised of First Nations, Inuit and Métis community and business leaders from across Canada, the Board plays an important role in helping the federal government develop economic policies and programs that are coordinated, accessible and responsive to the unique needs and circumstances of Indigenous Canadians.

Aboriginal Economic Progress Report Shows Little Progress

Osoyoos, British Columbia – June 17, 2015 – The National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NIEDB), released its first Progress Report, on the state of Indigenous economic development today at the First Nations Infrastructure, Land Development & Urban Planning Conference (RezLAND) in Osoyoos, British Columbia.

The report builds on the 2012 Aboriginal Economic Benchmarking Report, which was the first national effort to set ten-year targets for the purposes of tracking the economic progress of First Nations, Inuit and Métis people in Canada.

“The 2012 Aboriginal Economic Benchmarking Report set the bold target of closing the gap in economic outcomes between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people by 2022, however three years after the initial report, the gaps between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians remain large,” said Chief Clarence Louie, Chair of the NIEDB .

According to the report, while some progress has been made between 2006 and 2011, Indigenous people in Canada are currently not on track to achieving parity with non-Indigenous Canadians. In particular, the outcomes for First Nations on reserve have shown the least improvement. For First Nations on reserve, the employment rate declined from 39.0% to 35.4% and the unemployment rate increased from 24.9% to 25.2%.

Much of the progress outlined in the Progress Report reflects improved outcomes for the Inuit and Métis populations. For instance, Inuit unemployment declined from 20.3% in 2006 to 19.5% in 2011 – representing a two percentage point drop in the gap with the non-Indigenous population. Showing additional progress, the average income gap between Métis and the non-Indigenous population was reduced by 6.7%. In addition, in 2011, the employment rates for Métis were higher than the non-Indigenous population, at 61.8% compared to 61.2%.

In an effort to better reflect the changing economic landscape, a specific focus on Indigenous youth and regional outcomes has been included in the Progress Report. This focus helps to reflect the differences in the age structures and the differences in indicators by province and territory for both the Indigenous and the non-Indigenous population. This is important given the fact that the Indigenous population is both younger and growing more rapidly than the non-Indigenous population. The overall Indigenous population grew at an average rate of 3.6% per year from 2006 to 2011, four times faster than the non-Indigenous population. Differences in the age structure between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous population can explain differences in some of the aggregate outcomes between the two groups.

“The Board is concerned that much of the economic potential of Aboriginal people remains unrealized,” said Dawn Madahbee, Vice-Chair of the NIEDB . “The only way forward is through economic, business, education, employment and community development led by strong governance, political will and sufficient targeted financial investments in these areas.”

Based on the findings contained in the report, the NIEDB has come forward with the following eight recommendations. Please refer to the report for full recommendations.

  • First Nations on Reserve: It is strongly recommended that the development of discrete strategies for closing the gaps for First Nations on reserve be a government-wide priority. The Federal economic agenda needs to concentrate on First Nation treaty rights, obligations and working relationships.
  • Education: It is strongly recommended that continued and sustained efforts be made in ensuring Indigenous people have access to and receive high quality education in every corner of the country. To address this issue, it is recommended that an Indigenous-led Task Force on Indigenous Education be established;
  • Employment and Skills Training: It is recommended that investments in Indigenous skills development and training by all levels of government and industry be designed and tailored to meet the unique needs of Indigenous people, that aligns with concrete employment opportunities;
  • Employment and Skills Training (2): It is recommended that federal and provincial Indigenous labour market programming be regularly reviewed and revitalized, in consultation and in collaboration with Indigenous people, ensuring that programming is sustainable over the longer term.
  • Community Development: It is recommended that water and waste management systems be a priority for all Indigenous communities in Canada as a primary means to improve overall human health;
  • Business Development: It is recommended that the suite of Indigenous business programming and Aboriginal Financial Institutions be supported with the necessary level of capital and expertise (human and administrative) required to build a vibrant network of Indigenous businesses throughout Canada.

It is further recommended that financial supports be provided allowing Aboriginal Financial Institutions, who are generally located near major economic projects, to assist Indigenous communities with seed money and necessary capital required to participate meaningfully and invest in these opportunities.

  • Youth: It is recommended that a national Aboriginal youth strategy, focused on improving education, business and employment outcomes, be developed with the full engagement of First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth.
  • Data Collection: It is recommended that data collection be continuously improved and expanded, in consultation and collaboration with Aboriginal communities and institutions, using this report as a guide, so that economic and social progress can be tracked and improved.

“The Board firmly believes that economic development is the foundation for real reconciliation and true collaboration between governments, private sector businesses and all Aboriginal people,” said Chief Louie. “It is clear that there is still much work to be done before Aboriginal people are in the same position as other Canadians to contribute to and benefit from one of the world’s wealthiest economies. It is essential that we continue to enact policies and programs that will drive economic development and contribute to closing the gap.”

The NIEDB will continue to track the progress of Indigenous Canadians across all of the measures listed in the Aboriginal Economic Benchmarking Report and will report back to Canadians on a regular basis. The Board is committed to preparing a second Aboriginal Economic Progress Report in 2018 to track and assess advancements made in closing the gaps.

The Progress Report
The Aboriginal Economic Progress Report builds on the NIEDB’s 2012 Aboriginal Economic Benchmarking Report. It compares data from the 2006 Census and the 2011 National Household Survey to track changes in outcomes between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations. The Progress Report is mainly used to compare key socio-outcomes, including employment, income, and education indicators, between Indigenous heritage groups (First Nations, Inuit, and Métis) and the non-Indigenous population. It is not intended to explain why differences in outcomes exist. An advisory committee composed of seven economists and academics assisted the Board in the completion of this report.

The NIEDB
Established in 1990, the NIEDB is a Governor in Council appointed board mandated to provide strategic policy and program advice to the federal government on Indigenous economic development. Comprised of First Nations, Inuit and Métis community and business leaders from across Canada, the Board plays an important role in helping the federal government develop economic policies and programs that are coordinated, accessible and responsive to the unique needs and circumstances of Indigenous Canadians.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

David Rodier
Hill+Knowlton Strategies
613-786-9945
david.rodier@hkstrategies.ca

Slow Adoption of ATRs could waste $50 billion in economic opportunity for Canadian communities

NATIONAL MEDIA RELEASE

Slow Adoption of ATRs could waste $50 billion in economic opportunity for Canadian communities
National Indigenous Economic Development Board shows that we need to get serious about our Addition to Reserve Policies

Ottawa, ON – March 9, 2015 – The National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NAEDB) today released its latest report Improving the Economic Success of Urban Additions to Reserves – Achieving Benefits for First Nations and Local Governments. This Report examines the growing trend of Additions to Reserves within the urban context — and concludes that despite the economic and fiscal benefits ATR’s generate for both First Nation and municipal populations — they are being adopted too slowly, wasting a potential $50 billion of economic opportunity for Canadian communities.

“Urban reserves create jobs and revenues that benefit First Nations as well as nearby municipalities, but there is a lack of awareness about these opportunities,” said Chief Clarence Louie, Chair of the Board. “Our report found that ATR’s can take up to 8 times longer than a municipal boundary extension leaving enormous potential benefits off the table.”

“There will be more ATRs in the future – due to claims being settled and population growth.  First Nations across Canada see ATRs as a critical step to improving their economies.” said Board member Chief Terrance Paul of Membertou First Nation. “There are currently 117 ATRs under active review by AANDC, representing billions of dollars of economic opportunity, so we need to get this right.”

NAEDB Studies of Urban Additions to Reserves

An Addition to Reserve is a parcel of land that is added to the existing land base of a First Nation or is used to create a new reserve. Land can be added, through the Additions to Reserve process, in rural or urban settings.

In November 2014, the NIEDBreleased Stage I of its study on ATR’s.  Identifying Success Factors in Urban First Nations showed the enormous economic and fiscal benefits that can flow to both the municipality and to reserve if a number of best practices are implemented.  The six communities included in the study  have collectively created over 7,000 jobs and over $77 million in annual economic activity benefiting both First Nations and neighbouring municipalities.

The ATR Stage II report released today Achieving Benefits for First Nations and Local Governments builds on these findings. It examines 8 urban ATR communities and found that these ATRs generated approximately $285,000 in spending benefit annually per acre of land converted to reserve (and designated for business purposes) and approximately 36 jobs per acre of land converted to reserve.

The Stage II Report also found that it takes on average 4.2 years to finalize an ATR. The opportunity costs of this delay are borne by First Nations and municipal governments as well as their members and residents.  By comparison, a municipal boundary extension takes about 6 months to 1 year to complete.

Based on a review of eight completed urban ATRs, the Study estimated opportunity costs from ATR-related delay on a per acre basis:

  • About 123 to 280 forgone person years of employment.
  • About $977,000 to $2.2 million in forgone spending related economic benefit.
  • About $39,000 to $88,000 in forgone property tax revenue.
  • About $100,000 to $227,000 in forgone employment related fiscal benefit.

Potential Opportunity Costs to Canada

There are currently 117 ATR applications for over 22,000 acres of urban land under active review by AANDC. If it is assumed that the economic and fiscal potential of these active applications is consistent with the cases examined in the NIEDB’s research, the total opportunity costs associated with ATR-related delay for these proposed urban reserves include:

  • About 2.7 to 6.2 million person years of employment;
  • About $21.7 to $49.2 billion in spending related economic benefit;
  • About $859 million to $2 billion in property tax revenue for First Nation governments;
  • Significant other own source revenues forgone by First Nation governments, like other tax revenues, leasing revenue and net revenue from First Nation operated businesses; and
  • About $2.2 to $5 billion in employment related fiscal benefit for municipal governments.

Improving timelines will improve economic benefits of ATRs

In its report, the Board recommends a variety of actions be taken to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the ATR process.

First, it recommends that action be taken to complete ATRs more quickly –benefits can be realized sooner by First Nations, regional economies and local governments if ATRs are completed sooner. “Municipal government concerns can be a source of delay in the ATR process. This has resulted in lost economic benefits on both sides. The time is right to work together as good neighbours to achieve benefits for everyone.” said Chief Clarence Louie.

In addition, municipalities and First Nations need to have better mechanisms for achieving service agreements. Planning and processes related to fiscal revenues should be streamlined to reduce barriers for First Nations achieving this type of revenue.

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Established in 1990, the National Indigenous Economic Development Board was created by Order-in-Council to provide strategic policy and program advice to the federal government on Aboriginal economic development. Comprised of First Nations, Inuit and Métis community and business leaders from across Canada, the Board plays an important role in helping the federal government develop policies and programs that respond to the unique needs and circumstances of Aboriginal Canadians.

Stage I and Stage II of the Addition to Reserve studies were developed for the NIEDBby Fiscal Realities Economists.

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

David Rodier
Hill+Knowlton Strategies
613-786-9945
david.rodier@hkstrategies.ca

NIEDB Announces the Release of its Report Entitled Enhancing Aboriginal Financial Readiness for Major Resource Development Opportunities

Gatineau, QC – 20 January 2015 – The National Indigenous Economic Development Board is pleased to announce the publication of its most recent report entitled Enhancing Aboriginal Financial Readiness for Major Resource Development Opportunities. This report contains advice and six recommendations on how the financial readiness of Indigenous communities to participate in major resource opportunities […]

New Report Proves Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Addition to Reserves on First Nation Communities and Canadian Economy

NATIONAL MEDIA RELEASE

New Report Proves Economic and Fiscal Benefits of Addition to Reserves on First Nation Communities and Canadian Economy
National Indigenous Economic Development Board study identifies six successful communities who have generated $77 million in new economic activity

Ottawa, ON – October 15, 2014 – The National Indigenous Economic Development Board (NAEDB) today released its latest report – Identifying Success Factors in Urban First Nations. With thousands of land claims currently underway across Canada, the conversion of land to reserve is generating increased interest by Canadians who worry about the social and economic implications to their communities.

The NAEDB conducted a study of six First Nations and neighbouring communities in order to quantify the economic and fiscal impacts of established urban reserves for both the reserve and the surrounding region. The report shows that six communities have collectively created over 7,000 jobs and over $77 million in annual economic activity benefiting both First Nations and neighbouring municipalities.

“Aboriginal economic development should be an ongoing priority,” said Chief Clarence Louie, Chair of the Board. “In the past, some municipalities have expressed concerns that when a piece of land near them is converted to reserve land it would have a negative impact on them. This Board’s study proves that they are wrong. These reserves are flowing jobs and money to the surrounding region and economic development is benefitting not only the First Nations but the communities nearby as well.”

Combined success of the six communities include:

  • Existing and planned investment estimated to exceed $1.5 billion
  • Existing and planned investment has and will generate approximately 2,700 ongoing jobs held by reserve residents and approximately 4,400 ongoing jobs held by off reserve residents
  • Approximately $77 million annually in support of off reserve economic activity
  • Over $30 million annually in First Nation government revenues generated by the investment on the six urban reserves
  • Approximately $5 million annually in property taxes collected by non-First Nation local governments attributable to the investment on these six urban reserves

In addition to quantifying the economic success of urban reserves, the report also identifies the five key factors that contribute to their success. These include: infrastructure and services, governance, land management regime, own source revenues and community support.  These factors were determined by interviewing key community members in each of the six cases.

The Report
This report is the first in a two part series on this topic being undertaken by the Board. The second report is expected to be released the coming months and will examine how the economic benefits from new parcels of lands that are being converted to reserve lands, through the Additions to Reserve process, can be maximized.

An Addition to Reserve is a parcel of land that is added to the existing land base of a First Nation or is used to create a new reserve. Land can be added, through the Additions to Reserve process, in rural or urban settings.

The case of six urban First Nations was considered as well as the neighbouring municipalities. The study communities included:

  • Shuswap Band and the District of Invermere — BC
  • Westbank First Nation and the District of West Kelowna — BC
  • Whitecap Dakota First Nation and City of Saskatoon –SK
  • Opaskwayak Cree Nation and The Town of the Pas — MB
  • Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and the City of Sept-Isles — QC
  • Madawaska Maliseet First Nation and the City of Edmunston — NB

The National Indigenous Economic Development Board
Established in 1990, the National Indigenous Economic Development Board was created by Order-in-Council to provide strategic policy and program advice to the federal government on Aboriginal economic development. Comprised of First Nations, Inuit and Métis community and business leaders from across Canada, the Board plays an important role in helping the federal government develop policies and programs that respond to the unique needs and circumstances of Aboriginal Canadians.

The study on Identifying Success Factor in Urban Reserves was developed for the Board by Fiscal Realities Economists. The report can be found online at: http://www.naedb-cndea.com/publications

For more information or to schedule an interview, please contact:

David Rodier
Hill+Knowlton Strategies
613-786-9945

david.rodier@hkstrategies.ca

Three New Appointments to the Board

Chief Clarence Louie, Chair of the National Indigenous Economic Development Board, is pleased to announce three new appointments to the Board effective June 13, 2014.
Hilda Broomfield Letemplier, an Inuk woman from Happy Valley Goose Bay, Newfoundland, is the current President and Chief Financial Officer of Pressure Pipe Steel Fabrication Limited, as well as a long time executive member of the Newfoundland and Labrador Organization of Women Entrepreneurs.

Dr. Marie Delorme, a Métis woman from Calgary, Alberta, is an entrepreneur and current Chief Executive Officer of the Imagination Group of Companies, which specializes in guiding other organizations to operate more efficiently in an effort to generate economic development.

Ruth Williams is from High Bar First Nations, British Columbia and is currently the Vice Chairperson of the First Nations Market Housing Fund. Ruth is also the previous Chief Executive Officer of the All Nations Trust Company.

For more information regarding the new Board members, please consult the Board member biographies page http://www.naedb-cndea.com/the-board/