A reserve is a tract of land, legal title to which is vested in His Majesty, set aside by the Crown for the use and benefit of a First Nation. Registered band members have the right to live on reserve, and in 2020, approximately 50 per cent of them do so.
A range of socio-economic problems plague reserves. These include limited economic opportunities, low incomes, poor education and health outcomes and inadequate housing. The reasons for these problems are complex and still subject to ongoing dialogue and debate. But it is generally accepted that the social disruption and cultural genocide wrought over generations by displacement and discriminatory legislation such as the Indian Act has left many Aboriginal peoples with enduring hardships.
The quality of life on reserves is largely tied to the availability of affordable and suitable homes. The condition of on-reserve housing varies significantly, with some communities having access to well-maintained, affordable and secure homes, while others struggle with inadequate and unsuitable houses. In addition, the cost of housing in some areas is higher than in the general Canadian population.
A wide range of programs are available to support the development and maintenance of affordable housing on reserves, including formula-based support for housing and proposal-based and capacity building initiatives. These include Ministerial Loan Guarantees and the shelter allowance component of the Income Assistance Program. These programs are complemented by initiatives offered by other departments and agencies such as Health Canada, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and First Nations Market Housing Fund. reserve residences