Mr. Chair, before I begin, I would just like to indicate that I will use the first 10 minutes of my time to speak, and the last 5 minutes to pose questions for our minister.
I appreciate the opportunity to speak in today's discussion of the main estimates for 2013-14 of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. The funds provided by these estimates will allow the department to continue fulfilling its mandate of improving the lives of aboriginal people and northerners. Our government's top priority is jobs and economic growth for all Canadians. This priority is particularly crucial when it comes to achieving our goal of healthier, more prosperous and self-sufficient aboriginal communities. Our government's strategy has been to focus on finding real solutions to specific economic obstacles, and we remain focused on creating jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity.
Business owners and operators, entrepreneurs and investors have vital roles to play in spurring Canada's economy by starting new businesses and expanding existing ones, thereby encouraging job creation and economic development. The role of the government is to help foster predictable, consistent and reliable conditions that give Canadian businesses, entrepreneurs and investors the certainty and the incentives they need to take calculated risks to invest, expand and create jobs.
Our government continues to concentrate action to ensure that the necessary conditions for aboriginal communities to create and take advantage of economic opportunities do indeed exist. Our government is committed to supporting aboriginal businesses through the aboriginal business development program. This program, as we know, had its inception in 1986. The program has provided $730 million in direct non-repayable contributions to support over 11,600 aboriginal businesses. In addition to direct non-repayable contribution support to aboriginal entrepreneurs, the aboriginal business development program also provides operational support and loan capital to a network of aboriginal owners and operators in the financial institutions, also known as AFI.
Since 1986, $232 million of loan capital has been invested into the network, from which over 35,700 business loans totalling $1.49 billion have been made available to aboriginal entrepreneurs. The AFI is one of the most cost-effective Canadian job creation mechanisms available to government. A 2010 analysis revealed a cost to government of $12,479 per job created and maintained. Furthermore, each new AFI loan advance produces and maintains more than three full-time equivalent jobs.
It is also important to note that aboriginal self-employment is on the rise. According to the 2006 census, there are more than 37,000 first nations, Metis and Inuit persons in Canada who have their own businesses and are doing quite well, a significant increase of 85% since 1996.
Our government continues to expand the first nations land management regime, which is a shining example of the concrete steps we are taking to enable first nations to assume greater control over their day-to-day affairs and economic development. The first nations land management regime provides the opportunity for first nations to opt out of the 34 land-related sections of the Indian Act, and assume greater control over their resources. Communities assume greater control over their reserve lands and their natural resources, which is an important stepping stone to economic development.
There has been significant progress made under the first nations land management regime over the past few years. I am very proud of what our government has accomplished, and extremely impressed with what some first nations have achieved. Many first nations have shown great interest in opting in to the first nations land management regime.
To date, the regime includes a total of 69 first nations that are either developing land codes or have ratified and are operating under their own first nation land management land code.
We have invested in the first nations land management regime so that more first nations can take advantage of the economic opportunities it creates. In economic action plan 2011, our government reallocated $20 million over two years to respond to the growing interest from first nation leaders who recognized the benefit to their communities by participating in the first nations land management regime.
Through economic action plan 2013, we will invest a further $9 million over two years into the first nations land management regime. Last spring, we welcomed 18 new entrants into the first nations land management regime, and just this past March, we welcomed another 8 new entrants. These 26 first nations are now positioned to assume greater control over their reserve lands and natural resources. This leads to new investments and jobs and opens the path to greater prosperity and self-sufficiency for their communities.
With these recent entrants, there are now 32 first nations developing their own land codes and 35 first nations now fully operational under this regime, and 2 first nations have since moved into further self-government positioning. While there are many first nations across the country that have achieved success under the first nations land management regime, I will raise two success stories as examples.
First, Westbank First Nation in British Columbia has attracted investment to its lands since its self-government agreement of 2005. In 2010, investments generated annual tax revenues of $80 million, $50 million of which goes to the federal government. Over the past decade, the Westbank First Nation's GDP has grown from some $100 million to $458 million. A sizable success.
Since 2005, Westbank First Nation created 3,300 working opportunities, raised over $300 million in building permits and attracted $245 million in construction investment. This first nation has become a recognized entity in the Okanagan Valley and works with governments and partners to sustain profitable, sustainable and culturally appropriate development within and beyond its borders.
Second, also in British Columbia, the T'Sou-ke First Nation on Vancouver Island has become the largest solar energy-producing community in B.C. Its participation in the first nations land management regime opened the door to this opportunity, which has become a thriving business venture. FNLM is a powerful tool for first nations seeking greater control over not just their land and resources but economic futures as well.
We have also taken some steps to help unlock the economic potential of lands for those first nations that remain under the Indian Act.
In December of last year, the Jobs and Economic Growth Act received royal assent. The act included amendments to the land designation sections of the Indian Act. First nation designated lands are reserve lands that a first nation has agreed to release for commercial, agricultural, recreational or other purposes. Similar to how municipalities would zone land for a specific purpose off a reserve, first nations that operate under the Indian Act identify lands on their reserve for specific purposes, following a land designation process. The land remains reserve land.
I see I am running out of time. Let me just conclude this by saying, for first nations operating under the Indian Act, land designation is a prerequisite for economic development on reserve and is a legal instrument that permits leasing of first nations land.
It is also critical to Canada's future economic prosperity. Our vision is one of a future in which first nations are self-sufficient and prosperous, managing their own affairs and being full participants in Canada's strong economy. All Canadians benefit from strong, healthy, self-sufficient aboriginal peoples and communities.
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and I have a couple of questions for the minister. Since the minister is absent, I will ask the parliamentary secretary.
Mr. Chair, budget 2013 will expand the first nation land management regime by investing $9 million over two years to create further opportunities for economic development on reserve. This would add 33 first nations to the regime, including the 8 announced earlier this year.
What does budget 2013 announce for additional investments into first nation land management regimes for first nations?