British Columbia is more than doubling the forestry revenues that will be shared with First Nations as part of the work to co-develop a new forestry revenue-sharing model.
This will lead to an immediate increase of $63 million for First Nations this year.
“We are co-developing a new fiscal relationship to bring immediate benefits to First Nations and enhance government-to-government relationships in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” said Murray Rankin, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation. “We are moving away from the short-term transactional approach of the past toward a new fiscal framework that recognizes, respects and supports Indigenous Peoples’ right to self-determination.”
Katrine Conroy, Minister for Forests, said: “Our vision is for First Nations to be full partners in sustainable forest management and to receive meaningful benefits from forestry taking place on their territory. By immediately doubling the amount of forestry revenue shared with First Nations and starting work to co-develop to a new revenue-sharing model, we are taking another important step to realize this vision and expand opportunities for Indigenous Peoples across B.C.”
Forestry revenues are a significant component of resource revenues in the province, with most First Nations receiving benefits. However, the current forestry revenue-sharing model is “inadequate”. The Province has heard this feedback through various engagement initiatives with First Nations, including engagement on the BC First Nations Forest Strategy and the Forestry Modernization Intentions Paper.
Engagement on co-developing a new forestry revenue-sharing model is expected to take at least two years. The interim enhancements will be in place until a new forestry revenue-sharing model is finalized.
B.C. was the first jurisdiction in Canada to recognize in law the international standards of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UN Declaration). The steps taken help achieve the commitments expressed in Actions 1.4 and 1.5 of the Declaration Act Action Plan 2022-27 to co-develop with Indigenous Peoples a new distinctions-based fiscal relationship that supports the operations of Indigenous governments and new distinctions-based policy frameworks for resource revenue sharing.
The first step in developing a new fiscal relationship began in 2019 with gaming revenue sharing, which provides all First Nations in B.C. with 7% per year of net provincial gaming revenues through 2045, which is approximately $123 million from 2019 to 2021.
- Under the existing forestry revenue-sharing program, First Nations received $58.8 million in fiscal year 2021-22.
- One hundred and twenty-six First Nations have Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreements (FCRSA) and 184 are eligible.
- The interim enhancement will be effective April 1, 2022 and will increase FCRSAs rates by five percentage points – from 3%, 4% or 5% to 8%, 9% or 10%.
- There will also be an additional enhancement of 3% on BC Timber Sales revenue.
- If all eligible First Nations enter an FCRSA with the enhanced rates, revenue sharing is expected to total up to $130.8 million in fiscal year 2022-23.
- FCRSAs were established in 2003.
- B.C. has long heard from First Nations that the language contained in FCRSAs is inconsistent with government’s commitment to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- While B.C. works to co-develop a new revenue-sharing model, the Province will also work with agreement holders to update this language and address some of these concerns, with a focus on government-to-government relationships.
For more information on the Declaration Act and to download a copy of the action plan: https://declaration.gov.bc.ca/
List of current Forest Consultation and Revenue Sharing Agreements: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/natural-resource-stewardship/consulting-with-first-nations/first-nations-negotiations/forest-consultation-and-revenue-sharing-agreements
A backgrounder follows.