In a previous post, we talked about the importance of the Communication Clause in your MTSA. It helps make sure you and your service partners are communicating regularly during the life of your MTSA. However, in some cases, you may need a communications protocol before you get started on your MTSA. This is where a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) can be useful.
What is an MOU?
An MOU lays out how you and your service partner will communicate while you are in the process of developing an MTSA. An MOU doesn’t have to be long or complicated. It can be a simple, one-page document. The most important thing is that it outlines how you and your service partner want to work together to develop your MTSA or accomplish some other MTSA-related goal.
Do we need an MOU?
It may be good for you and your service partner to have an MOU if any of the following apply to your situation:
- You are starting a new MTSA with a service partner you’ve never worked with before.
- You are starting a major update to an MTSA.
- You are negotiating a capital contribution from Indigenous Services Canada (ISC).
- You and your service partner are planning a major upgrade to infrastructure.
- You and your service partner have a history of poor communication or misunderstanding.
- Either you or your service partner has recently had major staff turnover and the working relationship between representatives is new.
What should we include in our MOU?
- Who is the point person at each organization who will be driving the project to completion?
- Are there other parties involved? For example, representatives from the Government of Canada or consultants.
- When should lawyers get involved?
- What are our general principles for working together? For example, mutual respect, transparency, good will, seeking to understand, etc.
- When and how often are we going to communication or meet?
- How are we going to share information with each other?
Plan for Developing the MTSA
- How are we managing the pre-work? For example, how are we providing information for a study needed to develop an MTSA? How are we sharing work or studies that are completed by consultants hired by one party?
- When do we need to share information at the political level? What information needs to be shared with our Chief and Council and their Mayor and Council?
- What is the timeline for negotiating the MTSA?
- What resources are we using to develop our MTSA? For example, are we using a template or guide?
Taking the time to prepare an MOU before you get started can help you make sure that the process starts on the right foot and that both parties are on the same page.