Frequently Asked Questions

Financial Management Questions

Is the Government of Canada committed to supporting AFNWA?

The Government of Canada agreed to work with AFNWA to fully operationalize the utility by Spring 2022. AFNWA and Indigenous Services Canada [ISC] signed a Framework Agreement to define the relationship, facilitate the transfer of water and wastewater services, and begin full autonomous operations.

The relationship signifies a commitment from the Government of Canada to provide sustainable funding as AFNWA moves to full operations. This agreement advances the new service delivery model and represents a step towards self-determination and greater control of First Nations service delivery. Most importantly, the Framework Agreement outlines the negotiation process and responsibilities for all parties to transfer responsibility, control, and management of water and wastewater services.

First Nations will make all decisions regarding their water and wastewater infrastructure priorities, not the federal government.

With the Framework Agreement signed with ISC, how much funding was promised and over what time frame?

Aspects of AFNWA operations are subject to regular compliance checks. AFNWA will readily comply with audits and compliance examinations to ensure that all operations conform to generally accepted accounting principles[GAAP] and governance best practices. External of the BOD, AFNWA also reports to the Government of Canada. AFNWA has established its Audit and Finance Committee to oversee all financial activities.

For the purposes of its annual audited financial statements (March 31st), AFNWA shall establish accounting policies consistent with GAAP for control of revenues and expenses.

The Audit and Finance Committee recommends the appointment of the external auditor to the Board The membership shall appoint the external auditor annually at the Annual General Meeting by resolution.

The Audit and Finance Committee, with AFNWA Senior Management, shall oversee the audit process:

  • Communicate and meet with the external auditor.
  • Assess AFNWA’s accounting policies and ensure that the policies are consistent with GAAP.
  • Review the financial statements and report to the Board of Directors for approval of financial statements; and
  • The Manager of Corporate Services will present the financial statements for approval by the owners at the Annual General Meeting.

Work is currently underway with ISC to identify the appropriate business regulator, external to AFNWA, for full objectivity.

AFNWA’s formation results in operational funding being reallocated from First Nations members to the utility. Does this result in a funding shortfall in band operations? If so, what are the plans to relieve the impacts of potential deficits?

No, AFNWA uses currently available federal funding along with requesting additional funds to provide better quality service. Communities should not expect a shortfall as members of AFNWA. Based on current projections, it is expected that greater funds will be provided for operations and capital upgrades to community systems with direct economic benefits to member communities.

Will AFNWA charge Bands any additional fee(s) if they join AFNWA?

No individual resident nor the Bands will be asked to pay for any central water and wastewater services that AFNWA provides.  Under current policy (protocol for ISC-funded infrastructure) the Government of Canada will not provide additional funding to AFNWA for the operations and maintenance of individual wells and septic systems.  If any individual Band wants AFNWA to also oversee operations and maintenance of individual wells and septic systems, it could be carried out on a fee-for-service basis. If the federal government changes its policy and provides funding directly to AFNWA for operations and maintenance of individual wells and septic systems, the utility would be pleased to provide this service.

How is funding managed?

AFNWA funding is managed by professional staff reporting regularly to the BOD. Business Plans are developed for both long-term and for annual basis, containing projected capital and operations budgets for Board approval. In support of Business Plans, AFNWA will develop an asset management plan and long-term capital and operations budgets to ensure all member communities receive necessary upgrades to their systems and a high level of service through operations.

What are the financial accountability measures?

AFNWA is designed with dual financial accountability to the Government of Canada and to the owner communities. AFNWA and ISC are in discussions to determine the appropriate agency to regulate business activities. The BOD is set up to provide oversight for the utility and guide its strategic direction, and to delegate specific financial accountability to the Audit and Finance Committee.

Will AFNWA cost more than the current way that communities’ water services are managed?

It is expected that operating costs will be higher, but communities will receive a significantly higher level of service. In addition, we anticipate that capital funding will increase, closing the infrastructure deficit that exists in First Nations communities. Communities will not be charged for AFNWA member services.