ARCHIVED - Renovating Programs in Support of Lands & Economic Development - Atlantic Region Engagement Session

Archived information

This Web page has been archived on the Web. Archived information is provided for reference, research or record keeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please contact us to request a format other than those available.

July 6-7, 2010
Halifax, Nova Scotia

This report was produced under contract with Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) by a firm of independent conference content specialists whose responsibility was to capture and synthesize as accurately as possible the discussions from this engagement session. Opinions expressed are those of the individual participants cited and should not be considered as endorsed by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada.


Table of Contents



Stakeholder Engagement Reports

Released in June 2009, the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development provides a new and comprehensive approach to Aboriginal economic development that reflects the significant, real and growing opportunities for Aboriginal people in Canada. The Framework provides for a focused, government-wide approach that is responsive to new and changing economic conditions and leverages partnerships to address persistent barriers that impede the full participation of Aboriginal people in the Canadian economy.

While the Framework represents a modern and strategic approach to Aboriginal economic development, several of the economic development programs delivered by Indian and Northern Affairs Canada have been in place for many years and need to be updated in order to be more responsive to the unique needs and opportunities of First Nations, Metis and Inuit.

In keeping with the Government of Canada's commitment to develop meaningful partnerships with stakeholders, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada organized a series of national and regional stakeholder engagement sessions to obtain input on how Aboriginal economic development programs may be renovated to better meet the needs of Aboriginal people across Canada.

These sessions took place from May to December 2010 and focused on obtaining input from individuals and organizations with direct experience in Aboriginal economic development. The process also focused on building and strengthening existing partnerships with all stakeholders and determining the unique needs and goals of First Nations, Metis and Inuit as they relate to economic development. In total, nineteen sessions took place reaching approximately 860 stakeholders.

All of the input obtained during the regional engagement sessions was captured by a firm of independent conference content specialists. The content specialists have carefully synthesized the feedback received from the Atlantic regional stakeholder engagement session and prepared this final report. The report captures the discussions from the Atlantic session including details regarding the aspects of programming that stakeholders consider to be working well, areas requiring improvement and key recommendations regarding priorities for funding and changes to program design and delivery.

The input provided by stakeholders, as detailed in the report, is now being used to inform program renovation options for the lands, business and community economic development programs administered by INAC.

Return to Table of Contents




Purpose of Meeting

The purpose of the meeting was to seek feedback from stakeholders in the Atlantic region on how programs may be changed to better meet the needs of clients, to align with the strategic objectives of the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development, and to support overall efforts to increase the participation of Aboriginal Canadians in the economy.

Return to Table of Contents




Welcome and Opening Remarks

Lead Facilitator
Stan Wesley

Speaker
Ian Gray
Regional Director General–Atlantic Region

Mr. Ian Gray welcomed participants and thanked Grand Chief Ben Sylliboy for his opening prayer. He introduced Assembly of First Nations Vice-Chief Rick Simon from the Union of New Brunswick Indians and John Paul from the Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs Secretariat (APC). Mr. Gray thanked Allan Clarke and his team for their work with central agencies and cabinet and for getting the support of Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.

"It's a critical time," Mr. Gray said. "This is our opportunity to have our input." Economic development is tied to education, and both are closely linked to social development and all aspects of life in a community.

Return to Table of Contents




Context for Program Renovation and Engagement

Speaker
Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – Headquarters

Mr. Allan Clarke provided the context for program renovation and stakeholder engagement in support of lands and economic development. He said the purpose of the engagement sessions is to open a dialogue on economic development, to make sure that what INAC is doing makes sense and works for everyone involved. There is no limit on the input, he said; the intention is to hold an open and honest discussion.

By adopting the new Framework last year, the federal government indicated that it was moving forward in a different way, that economic development is important to the Aboriginal agenda, and that this is the beginning of something potentially exciting. Mr. Clarke said it is important to look at the relationships among all programs with outcomes that relate to economic development, like lands management and infrastructure. He said he wanted to talk about "how we got where we are now and where we are going," adding that there would be no constraints on thoughtful advice regarding where the Department should be going.

There have been dramatic changes in needs, conditions, challenges and opportunities of Aboriginals since the Canadian Aboriginal Economic Development Strategy (CAEDS) was developed in 1989, a decade before the Marshall decision. The Aboriginal economy, the Canadian economy and the global economy, and the relationship with the Crown have changed, and INAC must keep up with the changes, Mr. Clarke said. Interest on the part of the non-Aboriginal community in working with Aboriginal businesses must also be taken into account.

CAEDS set the stage for some of the things INAC is doing now, such as the three programming streams that are still being used to support: labour market development, business development, and community economic development. These remain important, Mr. Clarke said, but it is time to consider how they work in today's context.

The Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development proposed a vision to ensure Aboriginal Canadians have the same opportunities as other Canadians to participate in the economy. The Framework evokes some specific themes including opportunities, being responsive to new and changing conditions, leveraging partnerships, and focusing on results.

"It represents a fundamental change in how we intend to go about our business" that takes account of the differences among communities and regions and is "much more responsive to the needs that are on the ground," Mr. Clarke said.

The Framework was developed through consultation with people across the country, including many of the participants in the current engagement session. Now INAC needs to use that to shape its future work.

Mr. Clarke described the Framework's priorities:

Strengthening Aboriginal entrepreneurship must be seen in the context of broad conditions that affect people's ability to have successful businesses—the interdependencies that exist around economic development. Impediments include the Indian Act and other legislation that affects business on-reserve, as well as access to debt and equity. There are straightforward issues, such as access to capital, and more complex issues, such as how lands are managed.

However, the government does not have all the tools, funding and expertise, Mr. Clarke said. It needs partners, including non-Aboriginal business partners as well as all levels of government and the 20 different departments and agencies that have responsibility for policies and programs that affect Aboriginal Canadian interests and economic development.

In the 10 years since the Marshall decision there have been some significant gains, such as the greater access to fisheries, yet the government must still take a more coherent and strategic approach. Mr. Clarke said the new Framework opens a dialogue, and program renewal is key to moving forward. In consultations across Canada, building capacity has been an almost-unanimous first choice as a priority.

Sustainable economic development is not compatible with the "one-size-fits-all or first-come/first-served" approaches that we have been taking to program delivery, Mr. Clarke said. It requires the creative thinking of a wide range of people that will consider the interdependencies of lands, resources, people, and infrastructure, laws and regulations, fiscal relationships, capacity, governance and investments and efforts to activate the economic base and make all the elements work.

"If you don't have a climate that attracts business and investment, you're not going to be moving forward on economic development," he said. The programs must work within the vision of the federal Framework and bring together all of the elements that support economic development. The federal government's role has to be clear and coherent; the government must do what it is best equipped to do, in a way that is consistent with the rules of the Treasury Board for managing contributions and grants.

Mr. Clarke said INAC must move from its old-fashioned approach to a more client-centred approach. For example, the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency differentiates the needs of programs in the north from those in the south of Canada.

Evaluations and audits over the years have suggested changes that should be made, and programs have to fit the needs of clients. INAC must understand what is working and what should change and how. The department manages the Aboriginal business development programs, the lands and environmental management programs, and community economic development programs. Mr. Clarke asked how, at its broadest level, INAC can best use the whole of the $200 million funding for these programs to align programs with opportunities and priorities.

Mr. Clarke said INAC has set out the following principles to guide program renewal:

A year and a half ago, the government consulted on the new Framework with about 700 individuals across Canada, invited input from organizations, and asked for reports and advice from anyone who wanted to talk about economic development. The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Affairs also prepared a report that helped shape the government's approach.

Now at this stage of the process, the government is looking for more detail, Mr. Clarke said. Nine engagement sessions, including this one, are to be held across the country, and there will also be consultations based on themes, including urban, the North, and gender, as well as considerations flowing from audits and evaluations. The government is looking for input from other organizations, such as the APC Secretariat, and is holding targeted sessions with key stakeholders, as well as working with the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board. "There is nothing that is not on the table," he added.

Mr. Clarke listed the key themes for this work:

These engagement sessions will end by November 2010. INAC's website indicates how people can contact the department. There will be follow-up, and then INAC will look at how to implement changes and what kind of transition is needed. "Nothing is not on the table," Mr. Clarke repeated.

Discussion

In answer to questions about funding for programs, Mr. Clarke said there are no indications that there would be cuts or changes to the current funding level and that the $200 million will continue to be part of a four-year commitment. The funding for 2010 includes the money in Budget 2008.

Return to Table of Contents




Atlantic Perspective on Lands and Economic Development

Speaker
John G. Paul
Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nation Chiefs Secretariat

Mr. John Paul provided a community perspective on the current suite of programs that support Aboriginal economic development and talked about how efforts had been helped or hindered by them.

"The important part about the framework is 'What do you do with it?'" Mr. Paul said. Atlantic Canada has looked at how to deal with the framework on the ground, with the communities, the business sector, Aboriginal Business Canada, the private sector, and people who work with housing and capital. It is time to get everybody engaged in a process that will create wealth, jobs, and economic opportunities and to look at how that benefits communities in the end. Mr. Paul said sometimes confusion leads people to ask how the community fits the program. The better question is to ask how the program benefits the community.

Each community is different in its governance, its management, its opportunities, and the results it achieves in economic development. Mr. Paul told participants it is important to ask how the framework makes sense to them. The money adds up to $4 million in the Atlantic region.

"We know what our assets are," but what is unique in Atlantic Canada is that a few years ago the chiefs came up with their own strategy. They decided to work with the economic development officers (EDOs) and staff and communities to set priorities, decide on the results they wanted, and figure out a way to track results and progress.

"We can't just spend whatever money we're spending to keep the wheels going," Mr. Paul said. "That's 20 years ago." Rather, the communities need to decide where they want to go in the future, and that is tied to things like self-government, lands and resources, negotiations, the growing population of young people, and what is happening in the university centres and the employment market, "because nowadays you need a degree to pump gas in some places. You need to be high-tech."

Everyone has seen the successes in the region, Mr. Paul said: an airline, the Membertou Trade & Convention Centre, and the Days Inn in Oromocto. Those have created real revenue in their communities and have made a difference.

First Nation communities must think about where they want to go, on- and off-reserve, Mr. Paul said. Creating on-reserve economies is not enough: "We need self-sufficient communities, both on- and off-reserve," to move from being dependent on government to independent. He talked about the resource of First Nation young people and the need to create an educated and skilled workforce, with people following careers and doing real jobs that make sense, on- and off-reserve.

First Nations must look at diversifying from gas and bingo to become "vertically integrated in what the Atlantic economy is doing and where the Atlantic economy is going," he said. They also need parity of employment. For example, Halifax Regional Municipality employs no First Nation people even though there are many jobs; and Mr. Paul said he knows of one First Nation person working at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation—"That's one out of 1,200 employees."

There is a correlation between education and health: the higher a person's education, the better their health, Mr. Paul said. First Nation communities have many serious problems and issues, but if the fundamental issues of poverty are addressed by giving people a chance to move beyond social assistance, "we'll go a great way in terms of creating a future."

Mr. Paul said that the Atlantic chiefs had laid out the following goals:

First Nations need to develop a sound baseline of information and a way to collect it, so that "we know whether we're sinking or floating or progressing." Mr. Paul asked how many Aboriginal jobs First Nations got out of the Atlantic Gateway, the nuclear power plant in New Brunswick, or the aerospace industry. The universities also have opportunities for jobs. First Nations need a regional development corporation, Mr. Paul said, adding that Ulnooweg Development Group is developing its own capacity, but other things are needed to support where Atlantic First Nations are going.

The region has done a lot over the last year, Mr. Paul said, "but in terms of Aboriginal business, it's about increasing the numbers." The amount of tax revenue from non-Aboriginal people working at places like the Days Inn Oromocto is significant, and First Nations must find a way to get that back. The region has to look at procurement that creates business and creates jobs and wealth.

Mr. Paul said Ulnooweg is trying to access larger equity pools, to set up a way to borrow money over the long term at a good rate. In addition, a way to coordinate efforts to allow the Atlantic region to match people with opportunities, such as in the knowledge economy and other new wave sectors, is needed.

The critical factors are how to market First Nation people, how to create opportunities wherever they want to go, and how to support them—how to set up a systematic way across the region to find the best people for the jobs that exist.

At a 2009 conference, people from the private sector talked about how to build relationships with First Nations in the region, Mr. Paul said. Part of the goal was to take away the fear of non-Aboriginal people coming to Aboriginal communities to do business.

Everyone should understand the plan that has been developed for the region, Mr. Paul said. The goals are about finding partnerships that produce wealth, jobs, and opportunities and using what the region has to create other opportunities, "whether it's things we own or land or anything." First Nations must decide which sectors they want to grow in, he said.

"This year we took a hit in the snow crab. . .a 63% cut." Such issues will always exist, so First Nation communities must create the diversity that will let them survive and move on. Creating prosperity in a community means that people have the independence to do what they want. Many young people are independent thinkers, but the communities have to find ways to support those who want to get training and become certified.

In their strategy paper, the APC passed a resolution calling for the funding for the Community Economic Development Program to be revisited to allow each community to hire at minimum one full-time, skilled, trained EDO. Mr. Paul said a band would not be able to operate without a band manager and a director of finance, and the same principle applies to having an EDO, someone who can "champion the issues of economic development." The cost for an EDO who will do all the things in the strategy is $70,000. If First Nations are serious about building capacity, Paul said, "We have to invest in it," putting the needs of people first, and then programs.

The chiefs also passed a resolution to develop a community-based impact project. Communities must be able to show what they are doing in order to convince others to be a partner and to work with them. The powwow and all those demonstrations on the Halifax Commons mean that 70,000 people now know about and potentially support what is going on in First Nation communities "and know that they are not going to get mugged if they go there," Mr. Paul said. The communities are home, and people want better for all their communities. This is part of building on what people are doing well. "We need to tell our stories better, and this position paper talks about what we need to do."

However, Mr. Paul said, First Nations are always worried that funding will be cut if they are doing well. One of the most important things the region has been trying to do is to get out of the social section of the newspaper and into the business section, with articles like the July 6 piece in The Chronicle Herald, "Aboriginal youth key to filling labour gap." A piece in the business section "creates a different perspective on the stories," he said. To get into the business section, First Nations need to involve communities developing their own plans, which is difficult if they "have to take from Peter to pay Paul" to do something over the long term rather than just meeting short-term requirements. In the past, community planning never got linked to money, he said.

In this region, the Regional Program Management Advisory Committee (RPMAC) has been important to the kinds of strategies the Atlantic chiefs are trying to pursue. The priorities are based on projects that they look at over a long time. Communities need to hook together at the levels of community, sub-regions, and regions to make better links between what First Nation communities are doing and how that connects to a regional target.

Mr. Paul said universities do not know what research needs to be done with First Nations, but the 11 universities in Atlantic Canada are involved in a research project now that will help shape their future research agendas so that they can use their capacity and expertise to do research that makes sense to the communities and produce information that people can do something with, rather than having individual researchers continue to "study Indians." Research must have credible value to First Nation people, chiefs, leaders and EDOs, he said.

Work that was started two or three years ago is now paying off, Mr. Paul said. Communities have taken ideas that were developed in the strategy sessions and have implemented them. The framework is there, and, like it or not, First Nations must determine how to apply it so that Aboriginal people are happy and the government is happy.

"Otherwise, we'll get caught in the same old thing," Mr. Paul said. "We need to figure out what to do to create the opportunities so that those young people in all our communities have real opportunities for training, employment, and business."

Return to Table of Contents




Reflections on Current Programming: Summary of the Round Table Discussions—What is Working and What is Not Working

Participants gathered around eight tables to talk about the current suite of INAC programs that support economic development among First Nation people.

Elements of programs that are working

Participants identified the following as elements of programs that are working:

Elements of programs that are not working

In general, programs do not address the main fundamental issue, which is the lack of lands and resources; instead, they focus on "addressing the symptoms of a dysfunctional economy." Participants identified the following as elements of programs that are not working:

Key recommendations

Participants offered the following recommendations:

Return to Table of Contents




Exploring Options for Financing Community Infrastructure

Speaker
Sébastien Labelle
Director of Policy, Infrastructure Branch
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada - Headquarters

How INAC and Communities Can Support Infrastructure

Key Recommendations

Return to Table of Contents




Innovative Program Options—Lands and Economic Development

Speaker
Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – Headquarters

After 20 years of staying the same, all programs are now open to discussion. Mr. Clarke said the changes INAC is inviting range from small to fundamental, and the department wants "to really encourage some outside-the-box thinking when it comes to the programs." The exercise is about keeping what works and changing what does not, and through these engagement sessions and other consultations, INAC is inviting input from all stakeholders.

Participants were invited to look at INAC's programs and beyond them to identify what works, what does not work, and what other possibilities exist.

Elements of the programs that are working

Participants identified the following as useful, with some reservations:

Participants said CEDP should be flexible enough to accommodate a project as it develops, adapts to changes, and requires a better report structure, and must provide enough funding to hire and support an EDO.

They said land set aside for commercial development is useful because it allows leases, attracts corporate investors, and removes the government and band politics that could affect property and business by giving tenants the protection of Canadian law. Also, corporations can be locked into leases that provide bands with revenues.

New or changed programs that could address barriers

A participant said it is time to move "from making jobs to looking at how we can build wealth in our communities and wealth in our regions." He said people are looking for meaningful work with proper training, adding, "Money to make a contribution to our people, that's what we hope the difference will be."

Participants identified several ways programs could address barriers to economic development:

Ways that renovated programs could support differing capacities

Participants identified ways that programs could support the different capacities of different communities:

Return to Table of Contents




Making Programs Work

Speaker
Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – Headquarters

Mr. Clarke said the principal objective of the consultation sessions is to make sure INAC's programs are working for both INAC and its clients in ways that are useful and relevant. The work has to align with the objectives of the Federal Framework for Aboriginal Economic Development and be responsive to the needs for funding and to the changes that must take place. Mr. Clarke commended the APC strategies outlined by John Paul, such as combining base funding and adjusted funding for some programs. Assuming there is no increase in the available funding, Mr. Clarke asked what the priorities are and how the formulae could be changed to better support the needs and opportunities of communities.

Mr. Clarke said the breakout sessions would also look at timely decision making: "People don't get answers as quickly as they could or want," nor do they get reimbursed in a timely way for money they have spent. The questions for the breakout sessions deal with service standards and also with how programs can be combined or linked to better support economic development.

Priorities for funding within the current budget

"A lot of these questions are better suited to band managers, who really know where the money goes," said one participant. Only a few participants knew what RLEMP programs are, and participants said INAC changed programs constantly without letting people know about the changes, which means that applying for funding is hit and miss.

Participants outlined the following priorities:

Participants highlighted specifically three papers by the APC: Atlantic Aboriginal Economy Building Strategy, CEDP Position Paper, and Community Based Project Impacts Study (CBPIS) Position Paper.

Ways to support the differing needs and opportunities of communities

Participants offered suggestions for how to make funding more responsive to the needs of those applying:

Support for timely decision making—working at the speed of business

Participants identified the following problems that arise when funding is slow to come:

Key elements of program service standards

Participants outlined a number of service standard elements that should be in place:

Ways to combine existing programs

Participants said this process should begin with setting up internal controls at INAC to monitor linkages between programs. This would show what programs can be combined and suggest ways to set up links with other departments.

Participants offered the following guidelines for making changes:

Upgrade communication with the new programs, following these guidelines:

Return to Table of Contents




Measuring Success

Facilitators
Stan Wesley / Terence Wade

Speaker
Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – Headquarters

The challenge for INAC is "being able to tell a performance story that makes sense," said Mr. Clarke. In the new Framework, the government talks about closing the gap between Aboriginal Canadians and other Canadians. Aboriginal communities have made progress in the last 10–15 years in income, participation in the labour market, and employment, "but the gap persists," he said, which leads to the question of how to make programs support the vision. INAC must decide what performance measurement is, what measurements to use, and how the measurements will help show what is happening for long- and short-term goals.

A report from the Auditor General found that, on average, each First Nation provides about 250 reports a year—more than five reports a week—to the government. Even so, people do not mind reporting if they know why the information is needed and that some value will come from it, Mr. Clarke said. What is needed is a strategy for measuring performance. He invited people to comment today and in the future.

Terence Wade said people in communities know what the real outcomes of INAC's programs are, or could be—people with jobs, sustainable businesses, kids taking pride in being First Nations. At the moment, reporting is focused on outputs – how much money was spent, the number of people trained – rather than outcomes, such as whether people are happy in quality jobs for which they have been well-trained. He said the final round table discussions would be about how to make the reporting tell the story of the outcomes rather than the energy spent.

Summary of the round table discussions: Measuring success

Participants in one group said they did not want to list performance indicators randomly because these could be cherry-picked, thus compromising the work that has been done over the last five to 10 years. Instead, they referred INAC to the reports and position papers of organizations, tribal councils, and other groups, including the APC chiefs' strategy and position papers, which are filled with recommendations and suggestions.

One participant said, "We are trying to do so very much at the top, and there isn't enough being done for the women and the youth." He said he had promised to raise this issue if he ever found himself in a group speaking about economic development. One can empower people, particularly women and youth, by using micro-credit, he said. This has been tried in the past, and now is the time to give it the proper resources.

How communities measure success

Participants said entrepreneurship cannot necessarily be measured in the same ways on- and off-reserve, and different groups, including government, the private sector, and individuals, might measure success differently. They also said not every community has a critical mass of people who support economic development.

Measuring success for economic development

Participants listed the following indicators of successful economic development:

Measuring success for land management

Land management is a challenge in Atlantic Canada because this region has the smallest amount of reserve land in Canada. Land management is linked to economic development.

Participants identified the following indicators of successful land management:

How communities report economic development

Participants said reporting to the community and receiving reports as members of the community are important. They also said it is important for the community to give feedback to those who are governing and are involved in economic development and land management, especially for planning.

Participants identified the following ways communities could report success:

Performance indicators INAC should use

One participant suggested INAC use measurements that have already been developed, such as United Nations' indices that are available, or perhaps the Gross National Happiness index used by the King of Bhutan. Participants suggested these as useful performance indicators:

The following are in place:

Ways to make reporting to INAC more user-friendly

One group member reported, "Our top pick is if INAC didn't lose our reports."

Participants suggested the following for making reporting more user-friendly:

Return to Table of Contents




Closing Remarks

Speakers
Stan Wesley
Lead Facilitator

Ian Gray
Regional Director General
Atlantic Region
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada

Allan Clarke
Director General, Policy and Coordination Branch
Lands and Economic Development
Indian and Northern Affairs Canada – Headquarters

Mr. Wesley thanked people from INAC for "coming down to our territory with good intentions." He said great work was done and "there are a lot of things that need to be re-addressed."

Mr. Gray said while he felt he was on the hot seat at times, he appreciated the conference, and he encouraged people to speak to him about any issues in the region. He thanked his national colleagues for their willingness to cooperate, work positively, and address these issues.

Mr. Gray also congratulated Louis Joe Bernard for winning an award for his work with Michelin's Strategic Partnership with Indigenous Peoples.

Mr. Clarke said he wanted to reflect back on the conference to show that INAC was listening. He said this session was part of a larger strategy of consulting with people and organizations that are doing good work in economic development, as INAC looks at how to renew and renovate programs.

In looking at economic development in the Atlantic region, the Atlantic Aboriginal Economy Building Strategy is a good place to start, he said. APC "and others in this room" are giving good direction to this region, in ways that align well with the work INAC is doing, he said. There are obvious connections around things like control of and access to lands and resources, and unlocking the economic potential associated with them, as INAC looks for ways to support business development and entrepreneurship. There is a range of things to consider: skilled labour, the workforce, and a whole continuum of human capital, as well as the linkages between social assistance, education, labour market, and skills development.

Baseline data around reporting may seem dull, Mr. Clarke said, but by observing this session he has been able to measure the extent to which INAC is succeeding. While progress has been made in closing the gap between Aboriginal Canadians and the rest of Canada, there is still a lot of work to do.

Mr. Clarke said leaders in the Atlantic region see economic development as important, and the region is well organized. Each region has its own needs and strengths, and INAC must be able to adapt to that reality.

Mr. Clarke mentioned comments INAC staff heard during the conference:

All this "sounds fair," Mr. Clarke said.

INAC must consider the role of the different Aboriginal financial institutions. For example, the LLR might simply need to be reconstructed. Mr. Clarke said the minister believes the major banks should support economic development, and the LLR as it is may not properly support that.

Mr. Clarke said it was interesting to hear about how things work together, and to note that people were not fully aware of programs. INAC must give thought to how to build greater understanding of the tools it has.

The role of RPMAC and the idea of the speed of business came up several times. Approval has to align with activities, Mr. Clark said. INAC's fiscal year end should be irrelevant, along with other arbitrary deadlines.

Reporting must reflect due diligence at all levels while becoming more relevant and scalable to the amount of money involved, Mr. Clarke said. Approvals should be based on mitigating risk rather than on avoiding it. More could be done with PSAB, and that fund is being promoted and given more money to get Aboriginal businesses ready to participate in federal procurements.

Mr. Clark said INAC should be looking at different ways of funding programs using multi-year, flexible, and sector-based models, and setting priorities that are aligned with the priorities of communities and regions. "We should be thinking about economic development not as a project, [but] as a strategy, not a series of non-interdependent projects," he said.

The minister has talked about accelerating the ATR process, Mr. Clarke said. Things like CEDP and RLEMP work conceptually, but not necessarily in practice.

Mr. Clarke said INAC is open to looking at ways to de-silo the programs and make them more complementary. Building capacity is important both for the communities and for INAC. Now INAC must pay attention to timelines for projects and approvals, pre-approvals, risk management, creating clear standards and transparency so that communities know what to expect from INAC.

Return to Table of Contents




List of Participants

Date modified: