Briefing Note for the Prime Minister in Improving Housing Quality on the First Nations Reserves in Saskatchewan Canada Written By Officials
The primary goal of making this briefing note is to give out views and recommendations on how to improve housing quality on the first nations reserves in Saskatchewan; Canada was written by departmental officials to the prime minister addressing on different issues.
Various officials have complained about the housing quality on the first nations reserves in Saskatchewan, Canada. Even if various initiatives have been taken to improve the housing quality on the first countrys reserves, the funds provided by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) are not sufficient. Such finances should be used to build new and repair the existing houses. In addition, they can contribute towards other costs, but does not provide for full cost employed in the housing (Poliandri 2011). In the year 1996, the Government of Canada came up with the On-Reserve Housing Policy that gave freedom to the First Nations to participate in deciding how, where and when funds used for housing are to be invested. The concept applied to all provinces and Canadian territories with the exemption of British Columbia. However, allocations can still be received through regional offices (Monk et al., 2013).
Some of other available sources of funding include the ministerial loan guarantees, which enables ownership of First Nations lands. However, they can create difficulties for members of the community who are in need of obtaining a loan to buy an existing home or build a new one. In addition, the government of Canada provides support to the first Nation housing on reserve through individual programs, which are provided by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Company, Health Canada, and First Nations Market Housing Fund that is paramount.
The Canadian citizens who stay in the urban centers undergo housing challenges compared to the public in the rural setting. To assist in improving the living standards of these people the government works in collaboration with the first Nation communities, partners, provinces and Canadian territories and other organizations that can help in providing funding.
Statistics recently released by Canada explaining housing for persons in Canada clearly show that in each province, the number of accommodation reserves for First Nations is in tire need of an immediate repair, but the residents have minimal options because of financial difficulties (White, 2011). Nevertheless, a few parts do not need lots of repairs. The prime minister is interested in knowing what might be the cause of poor housing, which is thought as deficiency of rights on the property on reserve. Where a First Nations individual on reserve is not entitled to a single ownership and their rights are different compared to those who do not live in reserve setting. From the Indian Act, First Nations reserve land is held in trust for on-reserve members by the Federal government (Warkentin & Canada, 2014). Due to the policy, First Nations persons living on reserve have difficulties since they are unable to earn a living. Additionally, they cannot use their houses as collateral for accessing loan facilities. Moreover, they cannot sell their land, or allocate the ground to their beneficiaries.
The responsibility of first nations is to provide and manage the private lands with the help of the Canadian government since housing is the foundation of healthy communities. Income assistance program provides money to help protect the cost of housing informs of allowances. First Nation communities that are given annual capital from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) for reserve housing can use the funds in different ways, including construction, repair, maintenance, insurance and managing housing programs.
There are existing problems associated with housing in Canada, which can bring a health risk to human lives. They include the growth of mold and dampness that can be caused by different factors which include mode of building construction, the occupation of the building and how the building is maintained (In Durand, 2015). Various organizations are working together to deal with the issue of molds in first Nation communities. This helps in creating awareness to the house occupants and communities in order to prevent the growth of more molds. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) and additional funding done by Health Canada, Canada Mortgage, and Housing Company facilitates financial support towards the control of moulds.
Option 1: Extend simple ownership to on-reserve residents. The strong point of this option is that it would help in the restoration of values and rights, which the Indian Act prevents. Additionally, it will make the first nation partners in the open market economy. The disadvantage of this option is that land would now become more competitive and bring lots of overcrowding which is very dangerous to the community since it will have an adverse economic impact.
Option 2: Working with the First Nation communities in improving housing in reserve.The advantage of this is that it will help in developing an effective long-term approach to supporting enough satisfaction of accommodation reserve. The major weakness is that it might take a lot of time and finance for the two to start working together and achieve their goals.
Option 3: protecting and extending the life of existing houses through maintenance, renovation, and insurance to ensure that it meets the required standards. The advantage of this is that it will keep the ready existing homes in good conditions than the cost that can be incurred in constructing new ones, hence reducing the burden of the government. Despite the advantage, this also has a disadvantage, which is that the government can become reluctant in putting up new structures which will lower development.
Based on the above analysis, option 1 and option 2 are recommended since they are focused on long-term advantages as compared to the third option.
The government is committed to releasing funds so as to improve the housing conditions of people living in reserves since they are prone to overcrowding as compared to their counterparts (general public). This engagement will involve discussions from leaders of the first nations reserve and a well conducted explained research, which explains how property extension rights on reserve can improve housing quality in these communities (Prusak, Walker, & Innes, 2015). However, according to the Canada statistics numbers if property rights are considered in improving the quality of housing for persons who are not on reserve then it can have impacts for those who are in the reserves. The on-reserve houses are in need of more repairs as compared to the off reserve. Part of the funding provided by the government is used in the capacity building. First Nations communities in Canada hold training and distribute resources to help them achieve their housing intentions and obtain the required knowledge to manage housing on the reserves, which is of great benefit to the people.
Monk, L., Shaw, K., University of Victoria (B.C.), & University of Victoria (B.C.). (2013). Decolonizing Home: A re-conceptualization of First Nations' housing in Canada.
Poliandri, S. (2011). First nations, identity, and reserve life: The Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
Prusak, S. Y., Walker, R., & Innes, R. (2015). Toward Indigenous Planning? First Nation Community Planning in Saskatchewan, Canada. Journal of Planning Education and Research. doi:10.1177/0739456x15621147
Warkentin, C., & Canada. (2014). Study of land management and sustainable economic development on First Nations reserve lands: Report of the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
White, L. H. (2011). Federal Reserve Policy and the Housing Bubble. Causes, Consequences, and Our Economic Future, 451-459. doi:10.1002/9781118266588.ch56
In Durand, C. (2015). Native American housing: Federal assistance, challenges faced and efforts to address them.
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