Summative Evaluation Report - Infrastructure Canada Program First Nations Component - Introduction

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background

In the 1999 Speech from the Throne, the Government of Canada outlined a new vision, which provided for measures to improve the quality of life for Canadians and make a long-term contribution towards a dynamic economy through the building of infrastructure for the 21st century. In Budget 2000, the Government of Canada reiterated its commitment to supporting the country's physical infrastructure by allocating $2.05 billion over six years to improving urban and rural municipal infrastructure across Canada through the Physical Infrastructure Project (PIP).

The municipal component of the PIP is the Infrastructure Canada Program (ICP), approved by Cabinet on June 13, 2000. The goal pursued by the ICP was to improve urban and rural municipalities' infrastructure in Canada through cost-shared federal/provincial/territorial projects. Program objectives included improving Canadians' quality of life through investments that enhance the quality of our environment, support long-term economic growth, enhance community infrastructure, and build 21st century infrastructure. At the same time, Cabinet also approved the First Nations component of the ICP. Budget 2000 provided a total of $2.05 billion in funding for the ICP, of which a total of $31,125,000 was allocated for the First Nations component to improve the quality of life for First Nations communities.

The First Nations component of the Infrastructure Canada Program (ICP-FN) was implemented from 2001 to 2007 under the umbrella of the Infrastructure Canada Program (ICP). However INAC was solely accountable for program delivery of the ICP-FN. The Program operated within INAC's Capital Facilities Program, with some adjustment to meet specific requirements of the ICP. Funds for the ICP-FN flowed directly to INAC. Reporting for ICP-FN was the responsibility of the Minister of INAC.

INFC undertook this Summative evaluation in keeping with the requirement in the TB Submission.

1.2 Program Description

1.2.1 Purpose

The ICP-FN was a multi-year collaborative and cost-sharing initiative involving the Government of Canada, First Nations communities, and non-First Nations partners such as neighbouring municipalities.

The purpose of the ICP-FN was to help build strong First Nations communities, people, and economies by supporting planned capital investment in their communities' infrastructure.

1.2.2 Objectives and Scope

The objective of the ICP-FN was to improve First Nations' quality of life through investments in community infrastructure that:

  • enhance the quality of the environment of First Nations communities,
  • support their long-term economic growth,
  • improve their community infrastructure, and
  • build 21st century infrastructure using new approaches as well as best technologies and practices.

The scope of investments supporting the objectives of the ICP-FN included:

  • as the first priority, green infrastructure, such as infrastructure for solid-waste management, and rehabilitation or expansion of existing water and sewage systems, and
  • as the secondary priority, other local infrastructures, such as roads, recreational and cultural facilities, affordable housing, and infrastructure that supports tourism.

1.2.3 Eligible Recipients and Projects

Eligible recipients under the ICP-FN included: First Nations on reserves in all ten provinces, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories, Cree communities signatory to the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement, Innu communities, and self-governing First Nations who had preserved their right to access federal programs.

Two categories of projects, classified by priority, were eligible under the Program. The first priority (as mentioned above) was green infrastructure projects, such as those relating to water and wastewater systems, solid waste management, and flood control. Green infrastructure projects were collaboratively funded, as follows: First Nations applicant (at least one sixth of eligible project costs); INFC (at least one third of eligible project costs); and INAC (up to one half of eligible project costs). Projects falling under the secondary priority (also defined above) were those involving all other local infrastructure (such as roads, recreational, or cultural facilities, affordable housing, local transportation, tourism development, and telecommunications). Funding for secondary-priority infrastructure projects was divided among the First Nations applicant (at least one third), INFC (one third), and INAC (one third).

1.2.4 Stakeholders

The key stakeholders under the Program were the following:

  • INAC HQ was responsible for the overall Program and played an active role in the implementation and delivery of the Program as it had the resources and expertise relating to First Nations infrastructure needs;
  • INAC regional offices, which managed the Program regionally and to whom the Program's funding was transferred; and
  • First Nations communities whose project applications under the Program were accepted and with whom INAC signed contribution agreements.

1.2.5 Planned Results

The ICP-FN operated under the provisions of INAC's Capital Facilities Program. For the ICP as a whole, INFC developed a horizontal results-based management and accountability framework (RMAF).

To ensure linkages between the ICP-FN and the broader objectives of the ICP, INAC developed a program implementation framework that was approved in November 15, 2000. According to this framework, four action targets and their activities and outputs were required for the ICP-FN: cooperation; program management; monitoring and reporting; and communications.

Planned Results
Target Activities and Outputs
Cooperation The stakeholders cooperated in order to negotiate contribution agreements and coordinate program delivery. Presentations to the Treasury Board were made, and cost-sharing agreements were signed.
Program Management

The program was managed in accordance with ICP national objectives as well as federal statutes, policies and regulations, and funds were allocated to the projects selected.

Infrastructure projects were funded and contracts for infrastructure projects were signed, monitored to be within established budgets and environmental requirements, as well as within fixed timelines.

Monitoring and Reporting

Projects were also monitored and supported, and accompanied by progress reports and expenditure approvals.
Data on project outcomes were entered into the SIMSI database.

As well as all cooperation, program management and monitoring and reporting targets, the Program was to generate increased investment in new or improved infrastructure in First Nations communities, as well as an increase in the number of new or improved existing infrastructures.


Communications aimed at demonstrating federal participation in First Nations infrastructures were to be developed.

The projects selected were announced, and communications activities were carried out.

The evaluation study expected to find that these four action targets produced the following immediate and intermediate program outcomes as defined in the ICP-FN RMAF:

  • Improvements in the quality of the environment through: improved air and water quality; improved water and wastewater management; improved solid-waste management; and more efficient energy use.
  • Support for long-term economic growth through: increased economic opportunities in communities; safer and more efficient movement of people and goods; greater access to the new economy through improved telecommunications for public institutions as well as in remote and rural areas; and increased tourism.
  • Improvements in community infrastructure through: improved community safety; an increased supply of affordable housing; support for First Nations heritage and culture; and support for the development of official-language minority communities.
  • Development of 21st century infrastructure through: encouraging innovation; applying new technologies and best practices; making more efficient use of existing infrastructure; and expanding partnerships.
  • Increased awareness on the part of First Nations communities of the federal government's role in the area of infrastructure through greater federal-government visibility; and a common understanding by all partners of the federal government's role in the area of infrastructure.

Given the program's modest funding, and as stated in the integrated RMAF for the ICP, "it is important to keep in mind that the ICP is not the sole factor that will contribute to the attainment of the Program outcomes." Strengthening the infrastructure of First Nations communities is "influenced by a number of other factors, including the existence of complementary programs, economic conditions and availability of resources, to name a few."

1.2.6 Program Delivery Model

Our evaluation team found that, during the six years of the Program, ICP-FN operated within the standard procedures governing INAC's Capital Facilities Program, with some adjustments to meet specific ICP requirements. The objective was for the essential requirements of the ICP to be met without overburdening human resources, both at INAC and in First Nations organizations. Specifically, the ICP-FN was delivered across Canada by INAC regional offices, whose existing systems and procedures for the delivery of the Capital Facilities Program ensured that the Program would be managed effectively and that due diligence would be exercised.

Funding under the ICP-FN was allocated to INAC regional offices, which, in turn, entered into project contribution agreements with eligible recipients with respect to the federal share of eligible costs for approved projects. Payment procedures were to meet the terms and conditions of the existing INAC capital contribution arrangements and comply with the Treasury Board of Canada Policy on Transfer Payments.

Under the Program, each eligible recipient submitted an application, including a project proposal, to its local INAC regional office. All proposals had to meet the standard requirements under INAC's Capital Facilities Program as well as ICP-FN requirements, and had to include a band-council resolution showing that project proposals had been authorized and endorsed by chiefs and councils. The project referrals process for the ICP-FN was as follows: a regional committee consisting of officials with the relevant INAC regional office and representatives from the appropriate First Nations organizations reviewed and assessed project proposals against established screening and selection criteria.

These regional committees then made funding recommendations to INAC headquarters for the necessary approvals. INAC's roles and responsibilities were identified in the ICP-FN implementation framework.

All projects that received funding were to be announced publicly, and INAC regional offices were to input the requisite information into INFC's Web-based SIMSI. SIMSI is an information-management tool used for monitoring project status; it provides project registration, status information, milestone monitoring, benefits tracking, payment tracking, due-diligence analysis, and related documentation throughout the life of a project. It was created to manage program information for all INFC programs, including the ICP-FN.

1.2.7 Program Allocation

During the six years of the ICP-FN, $31,125,000 was committed to the program, including $334,000 for administrative costs to assist INAC's headquarter and regional offices in the implementation of the program. These amounts were used to cover salaries and operation and maintenance costs. INAC was able to broker with FN communities a match to INFC's contribution. Projects proceeded where First Nations committed to funding under a match-funding formula.

The formula to allocate funding among First Nations communities was based on the population and the unemployment figures for First Nations in each province, territory, or region. The overall target was for at least 50 percent of the projects funded to come under the green infrastructure category. Table 1 provides the breakdown of the ICP-FN budget by regional office.

Table 1 Funds Allocated for the ICP-FN
Province/Territory/Region Proposed Regional Allocations
Alberta $3,828,000
Atlantic Canada >1,856,000
British Columbia 5,729,000
Manitoba 5,482,000
Northwest Territories 1,092,000
Ontario 5,060,000
Quebec 3,700,000
Saskatchewan 4,035,000
Yukon 343,000
Total $31,125,000

Source: Terms and Conditions for Payment of Contributions, Infrastructure Canada Program—First Nations Component.

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