First Nation Infrastructure Fund Program guide

This guide, updated as of May 27, 2021, outlines how projects are selected under the First Nation Infrastructure Fund (FNIF) and which projects are eligible for funding. It also lists the criteria used to prioritize eligible projects.

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About the fund

The FNIF supports the delivery of on-reserve infrastructure that falls under the Other Community Infrastructure (OCI) program, such as:

  1. planning and skills development
  2. solid waste management
  3. roads and bridges
  4. energy systems
  5. connectivity
  6. structural mitigation (previously disaster mitigation)
  7. fire protection
  8. cultural and recreational facilities

The goal of the FNIF is to improve the quality of life and the environment in First Nations communities. The fund helps improve and increase public infrastructure for First Nations located on reserves, on Crown land, and on land set aside for the use and benefit of a First Nation.

The FNIF also funds projects outside of reserves, but only if they are cost-shared with non-First Nations partners, such as nearby municipalities or other Indigenous partners, such as self-governing First Nations, Metis or Inuit organizations.

The FNIF is managed under the same processes and controls as the Capital Facilities and Maintenance Program (CFMP), through which the federal government funds on-reserve community infrastructure. The FNIF uses the same program control framework, performance management strategy and project management gating structure as the CFMP.

However, the FNIF has different program criteria from the CFMP. The FNIF program criteria are detailed in the terms and conditions of the Contribution to Support the Construction and Maintenance of Community Infrastructure.

Eligible funding recipients

The fund invests in projects that are on reserves, on Crown Land or on lands set aside for the use and benefit of First Nations. It has 3 classes of eligible recipients:

Proposals for off-reserve projects can be considered if the primary beneficiary is a participating First Nation community or communities. Proposals will also be considered if the off-reserve project will be cost-shared by an on-reserve First Nation and non-First Nations partners, such as nearby municipalities or other Indigenous partners, such as self-governing First Nations or Inuit organizations.

Where the funding comes from

The FNIF pools funding from multiple sources to take advantage of a single delivery mechanism and promote a greater financial impact to address First Nations' infrastructure needs. In past years, some of the funding sources that comprised the FNIF included the Federal Gas Tax Fund, the Building Canada Fund, Budget 2017 for Other Community Infrastructure, Budget 2016 for Structural Mitigation and Cultural & Recreation Facilities, the Revenue Recycling Carbon Tax, and Budget 2019 for Structural Mitigation. On a year to year basis, the Government of Canada may introduce additional funding sources to reinforce the FNIF in a continued commitment to provide on-going community infrastructure funding that will improve wellbeing and the environment in First Nations communities across the country.

There are no stacking limits which apply directly to the FNIF. Recipients can receive money from other federal funding sources, including the CFMP. If a recipient receives funding from the Building Canada Fund (BCF) portion of the FNIF, Infrastructure Canada may apply a stacking limit.

The process for getting a project funded

There are 3 main stages to having a project funded through the FNIF:

  1. Project identification: Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) uses First Nations Infrastructure Investment Plans (FNIIPs) to identify projects for potential FNIF funding. Communities interested in receiving funding from the FNIF are encouraged to identify eligible projects in their infrastructure investment plans.
  2. Eligibility screening: After projects have been identified through FNIIPs, project proposals are screened for eligibility.
  3. Prioritization: Eligible projects are then prioritized at a national level based on additional project assessment criteria.

How projects are identified for funding

ISC uses FNIIPs to identify projects for potential FNIF funding. Each year, First Nations communities develop infrastructure investment plans and share them with their ISC regional office. In their FNIIPs, First Nations provide a detailed list of their 5-year community infrastructure plans, including information about projects that have been completed, multi-year projects that are underway and future infrastructure investment needs proposals.

In some cases, ISC regional offices (in consultation with First Nations communities) may identify projects that are not documented in a FNIIP. These projects are screened for eligibility and assessed by the same criteria as projects received through the FNIIP process.

The project identification process follows these steps:

  1. Each fall, First Nations submit their community FNIIPs to ISC regional offices, where projects are screened for eligibility.
  2. In late fall and early winter, ISC regional offices make investment decisions for the Gas Tax Fund portion of the FNIF. For the remaining targeted funds of the FNIF,  ISC headquarters establishes the regional allocations based considerations that include population and number of communities within the region.  Every effort is made to ensure the regional distribution of funding is equitable.
  3. In late winter or early spring, ISC regional offices identify and submit their list of eligible project proposals to ISC headquarters for the following year's funding consideration. ISC headquarters reviews the list of regionally prioritized projects to ensure compliance with program guidelines. Consultation with First Nations or other stakeholders are conducted at the regional level, if applicable.

Eligible infrastructure categories

After projects have been identified through the FNIIPs, project proposals are screened for eligibility.

To be considered eligible for the FNIF, a project must fall within 1 or more of the 8 community infrastructure categories:

  1. Planning and skills development
  2. Solid waste management
  3. Roads and bridges
  4. Energy systems, including fuel tanks
  5. Connectivity
  6. Structural mitigation (previously disaster mitigation)
  7. Fire protection
  8. Cultural and recreational facilities

Consideration is given to local needs and priorities.

Other mandatory requirements

Projects that fall into one of the eligible project categories must also:

How eligible projects are assessed

Priority may be given to projects that, having met the mandatory and eligibility criteria, also:

Additional factors, such as the enhancement of the cultural and recreational environment in First Nations communities, are considered when assessing proposals for cultural and recreational facilities.

Asset specific criteria

Project proposals are also assessed against criteria specific to project categories:

Planning and skills development

Objective: to support investment in community planning and/or skills development projects that will enable long-term, sustainable First Nations community development. It is expected that projects funded under this category will facilitate improved and increased public infrastructure in the community or area for which the planning activity is being undertaken.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • comprehensive community planning
  • capital/infrastructure planning
  • training and awareness related to supporting community infrastructure

Solid waste management

Objective: to construct, restore and improve infrastructure that improves solid waste management, increases the recovery and use of recycled and organic materials, reduces per capita tonnage of solid waste sent to landfills, reduces environmental impacts and enhances energy recovery.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • waste disposal landfills
  • waste diversion - materials recovery facilities (transfer stations)
  • organics management
  • collection depots
  • thermal treatment
  • landfill gas recuperation

Roads and bridges

Objective: to construct, restore or improve public roads and bridges to improve safety, support tourism and commerce, and support the social and economic development of local areas.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • local roads, arterial roads and bridges within local boundaries
  • roads and bridges projects that fall outside local boundaries, but provide access to local communities. For this subcategory, the project must include a partnership with the provincial or municipal jurisdiction where the road or bridge is located

The following costs are outside of the FNIF mandate for funding:

  • Driveways to homes and housing subdivisions

Energy systems

Objective: to construct, restore or improve local band-owned infrastructure that optimizes the use of energy sources. For example, the installation of energy efficient retrofits to community buildings and projects that connect communities to provincial energy grids in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other air contaminants that arise from a reliance on diesel fuel.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • connecting First Nations communities to provincial or other power grids
  • retrofits (for example, energy efficiency improvements of local band-owned buildings or other installations, such as street lighting)
  • energy systems, including generation and local distribution (for example, renewable energy, cogeneration combined heat and power)
  • upgrades and replacement of fuel tank systems to meet regulatory compliance

Connectivity

Objective: to provide under-connected First Nations with better access to nearby broadband networks or other rural telecommunications rural expansion projects.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • high-speed backbone (transport) networks
  • broadband points of presence
  • local access networks
  • community satellite equipment

The following costs are outside of the FNIF mandate for funding:

  • direct broadband connectivity connections to homes
  • operations of a telecommunications company or direct service provider

Structural mitigation

The name of this asset category was changed from 'disaster mitigation' to 'structural mitigation' in May 2016 to clarify more precisely the scope of projects targeted under this category. Specifically, 'structural mitigation' refers to the construction of infrastructure, as understood under CFMP, and does not include other activities that may be undertaken under the Emergency Management Assistance Program.

Objective: to undertake permanent infrastructure projects that modify hazards, including removing, reducing or eliminating them; segregating hazards by keeping them away from people and assets; and altering the design and construction of assets to make them resilient to potential hazards.

Structural mitigation projects are intended to support health and safety, protect investments in infrastructure assets, support community resilience through strategic investment planning for structure mitigation, and identify value-for-money investments.

To be included in this category, a project must mitigate at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • flood
  • landslide
  • wild fire
  • earthquake
  • other (for example, erosion, hurricanes, tsunamis, ice storms, and environmental contamination or degradation)

Fire protection

Objective: to support fire protection in First Nations communities on reserves, where project funding is aligned to the revised Level of Services Standards for fire protection, including the 3 graduated levels of support. To access funding in a higher tier, a project must also meet the requirements of the lower tiers.

  • Tier 1: fire prevention and educational programming
  • Tier 2: capacity development and training
  • Tier 3: capital investments

To be included in this category, a project must align with the following Tier 1 priorities, or Tier 1 and 2 priorities, or Tier 1, 2 and 3 priorities:

Tier 1: Fire prevention and educational programming
  • fire prevention and fire education programming
  • individual home safety and household fire prevention
  • examples include a community smoke alarm or fire extinguisher program, or the development of educational awareness materials

Each First Nation is expected to meet the Tier 1 level of service to be considered for ISC funding at Tier 2 or Tier 3.

Tier 2: Capacity development and training
  • capacity development, firefighter training, and the effective operation and maintenance of fire protection equipment
  • community fire prevention, including individual home fire safety and enhanced public fire safety governance
  • examples include firefighter training programs or support for regional firefighting organizations to conduct fire service assessments

First Nations are expected to meet the requirements in Tier 2 to be considered for ISC funding at the Tier 3.

Tier 3: Capital investments
  • planning, design, construction, repair, renovation, and replacement of fire infrastructure, equipment and assets
  • fire services, including individual home fire safety, public and community fire safety governance and an operational fire department
  • examples include fire halls, firefighting vehicles, and equipment

At Tier 3, First Nations are expected to have met all the requirements of Tier 1 and Tier 2.
The following specialized services are outside of the CFMP mandate for funding and therefore not included under the Level of Service Standards for Fire Protection:

  • motor vehicle accident response requiring specialized equipment and training, as well as registration with provincial bodies
  • forest and grass fire response requiring specialized training and advance registration with provincial bodies
  • emergency management response to natural disasters requiring specialized training
  • medical emergency response requiring first responder training and registration with provincial bodies
  • search and rescue activities and training, such as high alpine or water search and rescue

Fire service to third parties should be covered by a fee-for-service contract/reverse municipal-type service agreement. This applies to, for example, any service conducted off-reserve, on-reserve lessees, non-First Nations interests, or 'for profit' enterprises.

Cultural and recreational facilities

Objective: to address long-standing needs related to cultural and recreational facilities on reserves.

To be included in this category, a project must align with at least one of the following sub-categories:

  • community centres and halls, including youth and senior centres
  • arenas
  • museums
  • other infrastructure that reflects the First Nation's heritage, such as pow wow grounds, or that encourages community members to adopt a more active, healthier lifestyle, such as playgrounds, parks, sports fields or baseball diamonds

Which costs are covered under the fund

Type of cost Eligible, yes or no
Capital costs of acquiring, constructing or renovating a tangible capital asset
  • up to 10% of such costs can include training for the construction, renovation, operations and maintenance of the asset
Yes
Fees paid to qualified professionals, technical personnel, consultants and contractors specifically engaged to undertake the surveying, design, engineering, manufacturing or construction of a project infrastructure asset and related facilities and structures Yes
Costs of environmental assessments, monitoring, and follow-up programs, as required by the Impact Assessment Act for an eligible project Yes
Incremental costs related to strengthening the ability of First Nations communities to develop their:
  • infrastructure maintenance capacity
  • planning capacity
  • First Nation Infrastructure Investment Plans (under the planning and skills development category)
Yes
Existing community planning processes, other than in relation to the First Nations Infrastructure Investment Plans No
Eligible project costs incurred after conditional project approval Yes
Project costs incurred before conditional approval of a project No
Other costs that are considered to be direct and necessary for the successful implementation of a project and that have been approved in advance by ISC Yes
Services or work that, in ISC's opinion, are normally provided by the First Nation community, another federal department or a related party No
Salaries and other employment benefits of any employees of the First Nation community No
Incremental costs of the First Nation community's employees or equipment if all of the following conditions are met:
  • the First Nation community has determined, and ISC's regional office agrees, that it is not economically feasible to tender a contract
  • the employee or equipment are employed directly in respect of the work that is the subject of the contract
  • the arrangement is approved in advance and is outlined in writing by ISC's regional office
Yes
Salary costs to support planning and skills development projects are also permitted if all of the following conditions are met:
  • the salary is incremental to existing funded positions
  • the tasks to be performed by the position are well-defined and related to the project
  • the arrangement is approved in advance and is outlined in writing by ISC's regional office
Yes
Costs for the continued operations and maintenance of assets and any salaries associated with these activities No
Recipient's overhead costs, its direct or indirect operating or administrative costs, and more specifically its costs related to planning, engineering, architecture, supervision, management and other activities normally carried out by its staff No
Costs of feasibility studies for individual projects No
Taxes for which the recipient is eligible for a tax rebate and all other costs eligible for rebates No
Costs of land, including its acquisition, or any interest therein, and related costs No
Recipient's costs for the leasing of equipment No
Legal fees No
Routine repair and maintenance costs No
Audit and evaluation costs No
Asset-specific costs outside of the scope of the FNIF's authorities:
  • driveways to homes and housing subdivisions
  • direct broadband connectivity connections to homes
  • operations of a telecommunications company or direct service provider
  • motor vehicle accident response requiring specialized equipment and training, as well as registration with provincial bodies
  • forest and grass fire response requiring specialized training and advance registration with provincial bodies
  • emergency management response to natural disasters requiring specialized training
  • medical emergency response requiring first responder training and registration with provincial bodies
  • search and rescue activities and training (for example, high alpine or water search and rescue)
No

How to submit a proposal

If you wish to submit a proposal to ISC under your community's FNIIP, please contact your community's band office or other administrative unit responsible for infrastructure in your community.

If you require more information on the FNIF program, please contact your ISC regional office.

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