The FNTC welcomes the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board (NAEDB) report, The Aboriginal Economic Progress Report 2015, released on June 17, 2015. Under Chief Clarence Louie’s guidance, the NAEDB shed important light on the economic and social conditions in Aboriginal communities. While the Report’s findings suggest that First Nations and other governments need to do more to address significant gaps in many socio-economic indicators, we are nonetheless buoyed by the Report’s strong support for First Nation fiscal tools, like property tax.
The Aboriginal Economic Progress Report 2015
The Report notes that “Property taxation provides communities with access to stable revenue streams that can be reinvested into infrastructure and services, and provides communities greater autonomy in spending-related decisions independent of federal government involvement.
…the integrated relationship between good governance and an active property taxation framework is a common component to establishing greater control in financial matters and building economic success and independence.”
Early observations suggest that First Nations that have real property taxation bylaws tend to have better economic outcomes than those that do not. First Nations that have had property tax bylaws for longer periods of time demonstrate significantly higher outcomes than First Nations both with and without property tax bylaws.[/su_box]
There over 150 First Nations exercising property tax authority or approximately 25% of First Nations in Canada. These communities are in all regions of the country and represent the diversity of different First Nation communities. Some have historic Treaties with Canada, others do not. As disparate as they are, there is also a common thread. Collectively, they recognize that taxation is a fundamental pillar of governance, an integral part of the fiscal framework to support economic growth, and more importantly, a means to break the bonds of government transfer dependency.
This linkage between property tax jurisdiction and economic well-being is something the First Nations Tax Commission has long understood and documented. We have witnessed transformations in First Nation economies. Property tax revenue helps build infrastructure and improve services which leads to greater economic investment, and in turn to more property tax revenue. To the extent that property tax jurisdiction can lead to greater economic opportunities for First Nations and their citizens, we believe we are on the right track, and are pleased that the NAEDB Report draws the same conclusion.