Lack of modern infrastructure has long been a barrier to economic and social development among Canada’s Indigenous communities1. In northern Ontario, several First Nations communities are disconnected from the provincial electricity transmission grid. These communities are dependent on diesel-powered generators for essential power, with fuel delivered by trucks or helicopters.
To provide access to reliable power sources, institutional Clients of SLC Fixed Income, which is part of Sun Life’s institutional asset management business, made a five-year funding commitment totalling $110 million to tie the remote region into the broader provincial transmission grid. The first round of funding to the First Nations communities began in 2022 with $25 million drawn. As part of the partnership with an energy delivery business, this funding will be used by the communities for its equity commitment and enable the energization of 1,700 km of transmission lines 24 First Nations communities will gain a majority equity ownership stake in the project, enjoy long-term economic benefits and have access to reliable power year-round. This infrastructure aims to improve the quality of life of the residents and create new civic and economic opportunities for the communities.
The transmission grid will also offer environmental advantages. The project will eliminate thousands of tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions by replacing millions of litres of previously consumed diesel fuel with renewable electricity and more efficient, conventional power produced in other parts the province.
Sun Life is developing stronger, meaningful relationships with Indigenous communities across Canada through this project and similar initiatives. As part of the company’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, Sun Life is taking steps to increase our Indigenous representation within the company and creating professional development opportunities for Indigenous employees. We’re also contributing to key community initiatives focused on supporting Indigenous health outcomes. The company recently completed phase 2 of the Progressive Aboriginal Relations certification program2 through the Canadian Council of Aboriginal Business.
1 Honourable Marc Garneau. “Barriers to economic development in Indigenous communities: Report of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs”. April 2022.
2 As of March 6, 2023.