Using innovation and programmatic thinking to drive infrastructure progress for Indigenous communities in Canada.
It is time to revisit our approach to First Nations, Inuit and Métis housing and infrastructure in Canada. In spite of the fact that Indigenous issues are a stated federal government priority, and some progress has been made, many communities still struggle to provide the critical resources, capacities and infrastructure required not only to sustain themselves but also to help them adapt to current and future needs.
To be sure, we can do something about this. With innovative new thinking and evidence-based approaches, we can more effectively focus our collective efforts to align community infrastructure assets with local needs and priorities, address key issues and challenges, and capitalize on new opportunities to the benefit of community members.
According to the Canadian Council for Public-Private Partnerships, the infrastructure deficit across Canada's Indigenous communities has been estimated at between $25 and $30 billion, and almost $9 billion of that gap resides in Ontario alone. Indeed, this is a growing concern and must be addressed. Encouragingly, the federal government has announced that it plans to relax the annual "use-it-or-lose-it" constraints on First Nations, Inuit and Métis community infrastructure funding. But while the challenges associated with the infrastructure deficit are too significant to be addressed with much ease or haste, this policy move is nevertheless an open door to innovation and the kind of multi-year, programmatic thinking that we believe can help Indigenous communities more fully rise to the overall challenge.
In this Canadian edition of Foresight, we highlight the 4 key areas - planning, financing, construction and maintenance - that need innovation in infrastructure as well as address the hurdles in the way of progress.