Fiscal power provides decision making power, financial security and autonomy as a government and community. When a community has fiscal power, they can contribute towards service jurisdictions such as education, health, land management and other local services. It’s the foundation of the jurisdiction based fiscal relationship.
The idea of having fiscal power may be unknown or completely new for some communities. Some may not even believe it can be accomplished. Yet many communities that have opted into the First Nations Fiscal Management Act (FMA) have experienced fiscal power through the creation of the local revenue account and the linking of associated service jurisdictions. This experience has allowed participatory First Nations to gain independence, knowledge and expanded economies. We’ve learned the best way to improve lives in our communities, isn’t necessarily another program. It’s providing the tools we need to succeed.
Since the FMA was enacted in 2005, over 230 First Nations have opted into the framework. Over 1,400 laws have now been published in the First Nations gazette and over 100 communities have received financial management certification. First Nation communities have generated over $1 billion in cumulative tax revenues and established new jurisdictions over revenues such as development cost charges, taxation for the provisions of services, and business activity taxes since the FMA was enacted. This has attracted over $2 billion in cumulative investment and First Nations have utilized that investment to issue $400 million in debentures on the capital markets. It has saved First Nation governments millions of dollars in administrative costs by building capacity through template laws, standards, a law registry, and other practical administrative tools through support from the FMA fiscal institutions: First Nations Tax Commission (FNTC), First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB) and the First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA).
In my community, Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc, we have been collecting property tax in the FMA for over ten years now. Throughout that time, we have collected about $100 million dollars in tax revenue and generated over $300 million in investment. Just last year alone, we collected over $7 million in tax revenue.
In Tk’emlúps, we have experienced the direct impact that taxation has brought to our community. Through the creation of the Powwow Arbor, the ability to build infrastructure, paved roads, street lights, fire protection, good drinking water, and most importantly, the ability to create meaningful jobs. We look at economic development as a method to build our nation through long-term planning and the delivery of the best possible services to all Tk’emlúps te Secwepemc members and residents.
These are some of benefits that we’ve seen come to fruition through taxation and our participation in the FMA, that wouldn’t be enjoyed without own source revenue. We are not tied solely to funding agreements and we can implement the communities’ vision and fund projects and services that unite the people culturally, spiritually, and socially.
Our story is one of many amongst FMA First Nations. We are creating our own fiscal relationship.