First Nation Housing

Housing is the foundation for strong and healthy communities and the Government of Canada is actively working with First Nations to provide safe and affordable housing.

Roles and Responsibilities

The provision and management of housing on reserve lands is the responsibility of First Nations, with support from the Government of Canada. In addition to government funding, First Nations are encouraged to identify funding from other sources for their housing needs, including shelter charges and loans.

Federal Investments in housing for First Nation communities

The Government of Canada makes significant annual investments for on-reserve housing and will have provided more than $2.3 billion in on-reserve housing support to First Nations between 2006-07 and 2013-14. This includes $1.3 billion provided by AANDC.

In addition to funding support, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada issues Ministerial Loan Guarantees (MLG) to provide First Nations living on reserve with the security necessary to obtain financing from lenders for housing projects.

How Federal Funding Investments Are Used

First Nation communities that receive an annual capital allocation from AANDC for on-reserve housing have the flexibility to use these funds for a range of housing needs, including construction, renovation, maintenance, insurance, capacity building, debt servicing and the planning and management of their housing portfolio.

The Government of Canada’s investments for on-reserve housing have resulted in the construction of 11,364 new units and more than 21,212 renovations between 2006-2007 and 2012-2013.

Other Sources of Funding

Ministerial Loan Guarantees:

The Crown ownership of First Nations lands can create difficulties for community members who need to obtain financing for housing construction or mortgages. That is why Ministerial Loan Guarantees (MLG) are a requirement to secure most on-reserve housing loans. AANDC has had the authority to provide MLGs to First Nations since 1966. MLGs can be used to secure loans for the purpose of construction, acquisition, or renovation of on-reserve housing projects.

First Nations Market Housing Fund:

The Government of Canada established the $300 million First Nations Market Housing Fund to give First Nations’ members greater access to housing loans on-reserve and on settlement lands.

Building Codes on Reserve:

As the authority having jurisdiction, the Chief and Council in a First Nation community is responsible for ensuring that housing is built according to the National Building Code, as a condition of funding. This may include the development and enforcement of by-laws, as well as housing planning, zoning and building standards. Ensuring code compliance, combined with appropriate maintenance programs, reduces the premature deterioration of housing stock. Employing tradesmen and contractors that are experienced and properly certified also improves the outcome of any housing project.

For First Nations in British Columbia under the subsidy program, the Department provides subsidies for building inspections, and requires the submission of proof of inspection as a funding requirement.

While AANDC requires infrastructure built with departmental funding to comply with all relevant codes and standards, including fire and building codes, current provincial and territorial infrastructure codes do not apply on reserve land.  AANDC is currently exploring options to address the regulatory gap on reserve lands related to infrastructure codes.

To support the management of on-reserve housing projects, First Nations may choose to draw upon the resources and expertise of a variety of First Nations associations and organizations. The First Nations National Building Officers Association is one such resource available to First Nations. Technical organizations, such as the Alberta First Nations Technical Services Advisory Group and the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation, also offer training, information and tools to build capacity and improve the management of First Nations’ housing.


Have an idea or example of a housing success story in a First Nation community? Submit your comments below or via email.


Mould Issues in First Nations Communities

Why are there mould issues in First Nation communities across Canada?

The Government of Canada recognizes that mould is a problem and a health hazard. In general, there is not one specific cause of mould. Construction methods, occupant lifestyle, and maintenance practices can all contribute to the problem.

AANDC, working with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Health Canada and the Assembly of First Nations, has developed a comprehensive mould strategy to address mould problems in First Nation communities. This strategy promotes a greater awareness of the causes of mould occurrence, while building capacity among First Nation home occupants, communities, institutions and technical service providers to prevent and remediate mould. For more information on mould visit the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation and Health Canada websites.

The majority of First Nations receive an annual capital allocation from AANDC that they may use to meet a range of housing needs, including mould remediation. For communities in British Columbia specifically, the housing subsidy program supports new home construction, renovations and mould remediation.

What are the roles and responsibilities of the various federal departments when there are mould issues in First Nation homes?

AANDC provides First Nation communities with an annual capital allocation from the Department for on-reserve housing.  First Nations have the flexibility to use these funds for a range of housing needs, including mould. For communities in British Columbia specifically, the housing subsidy program supports new home construction, renovations and mould remediation.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation provides technical expertise on mould prevention and remediation. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation is working with First Nation communities to provide skills training and tools to help them improve the quality and durability of housing and better enable them to identify and address mould contamination. Health Canada provides public health inspections and raises awareness of the potential health effects of mould, and provides guidance for mould prevention and remediation.

First Nations’ Success Stories

Home Ownership

Housing Programs

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