Transferring infrastructure service delivery to First Nations
As our shared goal, First Nations organizations and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) are partnering to advance First Nations self-determination in housing and community infrastructure.
On this page
What we are doing
Since 2017, ISC has been supporting First Nations partners to develop and deliver infrastructure solutions from the ground up to advance our shared goal of transferring responsibility of departmental housing and community infrastructure programs to First Nations organizations.
ISC is also supporting these partners to ensure that First Nations-designed service delivery new models suit their needs while recognizing and implementing the inherent right to self-determination.
Creating new models for First Nations service delivery
With funding from ISC, First Nations organizations will determine new models of service delivery, including infrastructure services, that meet their own diverse needs, priorities and approaches. All models are opt-in and must be supported by leadership.
This funding supports engagements with communities, operators and leadership to develop new service delivery models. These engagements will guide the development of infrastructure service organizations and ultimately provide the foundation for First Nations care and control of housing and infrastructure service delivery.
Based on the needs identified through these engagements, First Nations organizations will determine the scope of infrastructure services they will be responsible for delivering.
The transfer process is a continuum, and requires approval and endorsement from First Nations leadership and ISC. The process will be marked through milestone agreements such as:
- framework agreement
- agreement in principle or draft service delivery transfer agreement
- final service delivery transfer agreement
Funding for transfer initiatives
Since 2017 the Government of Canada has provided $108.89 million (until 2025–2026) to support engagements and institution building related to transferring housing and infrastructure services.
Organizations eligible for funding to become partners in Infrastructure Transfer initiatives need to have:
- A mandate received from regional leadership or First Nations communities, as this will ensure possible economy of scale for the organization and confirm levels of interest
- An initial scope of infrastructure service delivery, which will serve as the starting point for engagement with communities, technical experts and leadership. The scope will be refined throughout the engagement process.
For more information on eligibility for ISC Infrastructure funding see section 4.1 of the Capital and Facilities Maintenance Program.
Eligible First Nations organizations can partner with ISC to determine models for delivering housing and infrastructure services such as:
- water and wastewater facilities and infrastructure
- education facilities
- solid waste management
- road and bridge construction
- energy system development
- cultural and recreational facility development
- fire protection
- planning and skills development associated with infrastructure management
The Government of Canada is also providing funding to support the implementation of a service delivery transfer agreement with the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA). Budget 2022 announced $173.2 million over 10 years (2022-23 to 2031-32) to support the AFNWA as it takes control of operating and maintaining water and wastewater systems on reserve in the Atlantic First Nations that choose to participate and have been supporting the AFNWA throughout its institution building phase.
This long-term, sustainable funding will support the AFNWA in delivering high-quality water and wastewater services to participating First Nations. This will be the first example of an infrastructure service delivery transfer agreement with a First Nations-led professional water utility in Canada.
Transfer initiatives underway
First Nations communities across Canada are already working towards taking responsibility and control of housing, water and other infrastructure services on reserves. As of January 2022 partners include:
In British Columbia
The First Nations Housing and Infrastructure Council of British Columbia is developing the scope, models, and framework agreements for First Nations housing and community infrastructures.
The Technical Services Advisory Group has begun engagements on service model development and has launched a value-for-money study.
The Blackfoot Confederacy Tribal Council is engaging and consulting on housing and infrastructure service transfer within the Blackfoot Confederacy Nations (Siksika, Pikanii, Blood Tribe).
The First Nations Capital and Infrastructure Agency of Saskatchewan signed a framework agreement with ISC. The organization is in the interim operations phase prior to transfer and their model covers all community infrastructures.
The Southern Chiefs Organization is in the initial engagement, scoping and model development phase for a water authority model.
The Chiefs of Ontario are engaging on an approach for the Ontario Regional First Nations' Housing strategy as part of the housing and related infrastructure initiative.
In the Atlantic
The Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA) and the Minister of Indigenous Services signed a historic final service delivery transfer agreement on November 7, 2022, initiating the transfer of responsibility for the operation, maintenance, and capital upgrades of all water and wastewater assets in participating First Nations to AFNWA.
The Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq is in the initial scoping and feasibility phase for program management initiatives.
The Union of Nova Scotia Mi'kmaq is in the initial engagement, scoping and model phase for delivering housing and infrastructure services.
The North Shore Mi'kmaq District Council is in initial scoping and feasibility phase for the development of a water and wastewater delivery hub.
At the national level
The First Nations Infrastructure Institute is scoping and developing models for policy and training, as well as procurement and project management standards.
How to get involved
If you have questions related to the information shared on this page or want to participate in First Nations service transfer, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Atlantic First Nations Water Authority makes history as first Indigenous Water Utility
- Investing in transformation
- First Nations education transformation
- Atlantic First Nations Water Authority and Canada sign framework agreement to facilitate the transfer of responsibility for water and wastewater services
- Blazing a trail: First Nations to control their water delivery services in Atlantic Canada
- Historic step made to transfer housing, capital and infrastructure services on Saskatchewan reserves to First Nations control
- National Indigenous Fire Safety Council
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