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Canada needs to invest $349.2 billion to “Close the Infrastructure Gap” for First Nations across the country, according to the latest national estimate by the Assembly of First Nations.

BTY was engaged by the Assembly of First Nations (AFN) to quantify the capital and operating costs for asset improvements to bring their performance and access requirements on par with community infrastructure readily available to non-Indigenous Canadians.

Working closely within a team of industry leaders, including Associated Engineering, First Nations Engineering Services Ltd., and Planetworks, BTY’s report is the first comprehensive accounting of costs necessary to remedy current shortfalls, and future needs based on projected population growth.

The Indigenous population – now at 1.8 million – grew by 9.4% from 2016 to 2021, far surpassing the growth of the non-Indigenous population over the same period (+5.3%).

The gap between the levels of infrastructure amenities – and access to them – that First Nations have compared to those of non-First Nations individuals has remained stubbornly wide.

The scale and variety of First Nations infrastructure deficits are enormous and geographically diverse.

They span a wide range of asset classes for more than 600 First Nations across Canada, from utilities and housing to education, transportation, healthcare, broadband connectivity, and community facilities.

The infrastructure deficit is the direct result of decades-long lack of adequate funding, and asset deterioration due to a further lack of reliable long-term funding for operations and maintenance.

The working group behind the report also analyzed the reasonability of how the total investment can be broken down regionally, by zone, by asset category, and per community.

The report summarizes the urgent need to Close the Infrastructure Gap in First Nations, including the need for Canada to fulfill its fiduciary commitments, the national opportunity to unlock economic growth and make a positive impact on socioeconomic outcomes, and the integral link between investing in First Nations infrastructure and Canada’s commitment to meeting net-zero targets.

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