Pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), a study of violence against aboriginal women, we have, from the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Aideen Nabigon, who's the director general, settlement agreement policy and partnerships; and Alia Butt, who's the director of policy and reconciliation. From the Department of Health, we have Kathy Langlois, director general of the community programs directorate, first nations and Inuit health branch; and Eric Costen, who is the director of mental health and addictions with the community programs directorate.
First of all, thank you for coming. Welcome. We will start with ten minutes for presentations. I think you've all probably been to committees before, so you know the routine.
We will start with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Who's going to make the presentation?
Thank you, Aideen.
I'm pleased to be here today to discuss the government's commitment to mental health and emotional support for aboriginal people under the Indian residential schools settlement agreement. The Government of Canada is committed to a fair and lasting resolution of the legacy of Indian residential schools and recognizes that bringing closure to the legacy lies at the heart of reconciliation and a renewal of the relationships between former students, their families, communities, and all Canadians. This commitment is embodied in the Indian residential schools settlement agreement.
Implementation of the settlement agreement began on September 19, 2007, following the consensus reached between legal counsel for former students and legal counsel for the churches, the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit organizations, and the Government of Canada.
The Government of Canada is fulfilling its continuing legal obligations to provide mental health and emotional support services to former Indian residential school students and their family members participating in the settlement agreement, including the common experience payment, the independent assessment process, and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission activities. Canada will provide these support services throughout the life of the settlement agreement.
The agreement includes two main health support mechanisms: funding for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and Health Canada's resolution health support program. The government provided an endowment of $125 million to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation for community-based healing services in support of 134 projects as well as 12 healing centres. In addition to the $125 million provided under the settlement agreement, the Government of Canada endowed the Aboriginal Healing Foundation with $350 million in 1998 and a further $40 million in 2005, for a total of $515 million. The last endowment of $125 million was for a time-limited mandate to 2012, as described in the foundation's corporate plan released in December 2009.
The Aboriginal Healing Foundation is currently implementing the wind-down strategy described in its corporate plan. As part of that strategy, 12 healing centres will continue to provide services until March 2012. Over the next three years, the foundation will fulfill the remaining work of its mandate, including publication of annual reports, corporate plans, newsletters, and five major research projects, and it will fulfill all of its corporate requirements.
The Government of Canada commends the Aboriginal Healing Foundation for the positive work it has carried out over the past 12 years.
Here, it is important to note that Budget 2010 funds for Health Canada have not been reallocated from funds previously allocated to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation.
Health and emotional support services continue to be offered to former students and their family members through Health Canada's resolution health support program. My colleague from Health Canada will be able to elaborate more on that program.
Budget 2010 committed $66 million in additional resources to the resolution health support program over fiscal years 2010-11 and 2011-12. The additional funding is to meet the demand for program services resulting from the increased volume of independent assessment process applications and hearings and for upcoming Truth and Reconciliation Commission events.
Budget 2010 also committed an additional $133 million to INAC. This funding is required to meet the higher than anticipated costs of administering the common experience payments, the independent assessment process, and the work in support of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. So far, our original projections remain valid with respect to the number of common experience payment applications received and paid out. However, technological issues and processes added by the courts have significantly increased the amount of work required to administer the CEP over the original expectations.
For the independent assessment process, the volume of claims has exceeded original expectations. In 2006 we projected there would be 12,500 IAP applications, and we have currently received close to 19,000 claims. We now anticipate receiving a total of 25,000 over the life of the settlement agreement, that is, until September 2012.
Additional initiatives designed to support survivors include the national Indian residential schools crisis line, at a cost of $4 million per year, and future care awards through the independent assessment process. The Indian residential schools settlement agreement provides that independent assessment process claimants may receive future care awards for treatment or counselling services totalling $10,000 for general care and $15,000 if psychiatric treatment is required. To date, the average independent assessment process award has been $122,810, and the average future care component has been $8,340.
Another key component of the settlement agreement is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The commission held the first of its seven mandated national events this past June in Winnipeg. The federal government played a significant role in this event, hosting a hospitality tent, providing CEP and IAP information booths, and providing emotional and health support services through Health Canada's resolution health support program. The former Minister of Indian Affairs took part in the pipe ceremony and the sharing circle, and he furthered the government's reconciliation agenda by offering a gesture of reconciliation. He announced the government's plan to repeal those sections of the Indian Act related to Indian residential schools. The Government of Canada plans to continue to have a significant presence at the remaining TRC events. In addition, we'll continue to work with the commission on the $20 million commemoration program that is part of the settlement agreement.
By implementing the Indian residential schools settlement agreement, we hope to contribute to addressing the legacy of the residential schools through an improved understanding and relationship between the Government of Canada and aboriginal people, as well as between aboriginal and non-aboriginal people in general.
Thank you very much. I'd be very happy to answer any questions either now or after my colleague from Health Canada has presented.
Thank you, Madam Chair, for the invitation to appear before the committee.
I am pleased to be here, to have the opportunity to present to you, and to respond to any questions the committee may have.
In follow-up to my colleague's presentation, I will describe Health Canada's Indian residential schools resolution health support program and the steps we have taken to support former Indian residential school students and their families, including actions taken to reach out to clients of Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects.
Through the Indian residential schools settlement agreement, the Government of Canada is responsible for providing mental health and emotional supports to former students of the schools and their family members as they participate in the common experience payments, the independent assessment process, Truth and Reconciliation Commission events, and commemoration activities. Health Canada provides these supports through the resolution health support program, which includes a range of culturally safe services for eligible former students and their families to address issues related to Indian residential schools, including the disclosure of abuse, throughout the settlement agreement process.
The resolution health support program is comprised of four elements: cultural support, emotional support, individual and family counselling, and transportation assistance.
Cultural support services are provided by local aboriginal organizations. Through them, elders or traditional healers are available to assist former students and their families. Specific services are determined by the needs of the individual and include dialogue, ceremonies, prayers, or traditional healing.
Emotional support services are also provided by local aboriginal organizations. Through them, an aboriginal community-based worker who has training and experience working with former students of Indian residential schools will listen, talk with, and support former students and their family members throughout the processes of the settlement agreement. These community-based workers are of aboriginal descent and many speak aboriginal languages.
Access to professional counsellors is also available. Professional counsellors are psychologists and other mental health professionals such as social workers who are registered with Health Canada and have experience working with aboriginal people. A professional counsellor will also listen, talk with, and assist former students to find ways of healing from residential school experiences.
In addition to these services, assistance is provided with the cost of transportation to access professional counsellors or traditional healers and elders, if they are not available in the individual's home community. Through this program, Health Canada provides access to over 1,700 service providers, including professional counsellors, community-based aboriginal workers, elders, and traditional healers located in every province and territory throughout Canada.
As a result of a greater number of common experience payment applications and increased rates of independent assessment process hearings, demand for this program has increased significantly in recent years. Program expenditures have steadily increased as we provide service to more people--from $5.1 million in 2006-07 to approximately $37 million in 2009-10.
Budget 2010 announced an additional $65.9 million over two years for the resolution health support program. The new money, plus the existing program budget that was there before, will result in a total budget of $47.6 million in 2010-11 and $46.8 million in 2011-12, allowing us to meet the demand for services under the settlement agreement, including the new demands that have resulted from the start of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission events.
The resolution health support program is one of several mental health and addictions programs funded by the federal government that provide important community-based services to first nations and Inuit families. Health Canada funds over $200 million in mental health and addictions services annually to first nations and Inuit communities through a variety of programs, which include the national native alcohol and drug abuse program and the national youth solvent abuse program, which provide both residential treatment services in 58 facilities, as well as community-based prevention programming in over 550 communities. There are also the Brighter Futures initiative and Building Healthy Communities program, which address mental wellness issues and crisis intervention programming, with funding provided directly to communities to support action on their own mental health priorities in over 600 communities. The national aboriginal youth suicide prevention strategy provides support for approximately 200 communities for youth mental health and suicide prevention strategies. And the non-insured health benefits program supports a short-term mental health crisis counselling benefit for first nations and Inuit across Canada.
Health Canada also recognizes the important work of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation over the last 12 years. Since the closure of 134 Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects, Health Canada has focused on ensuring that all eligible former students and their families who have received services from the Aboriginal Healing Foundation are aware of and may access health support services provided by Health Canada.
Health Canada is proactively responding to the needs of these former students and their families by increasing awareness of the resolution health support program and by ensuring access to this program. For example, prior to the end of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects on March 31, 2010, Health Canada's regional directors wrote to and made direct contact with the managers of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects to make them aware of the process to refer their clients to the services offered by the resolution health support program.
This effort to raise awareness is in addition to other activities that have been ongoing. Since 2007, over 420,000 brochures describing the program have been sent directly to former students, band offices, community health centres, friendship centres, nursing stations, treatment centres, and many other meeting places across the country.
Health Canada is also working to increase access to communities that were previously served by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects. We're doing this by identifying communities with high numbers of eligible former students but low rates of resolution health support program demand, and then following up by negotiating new service agreements to provide health supports consistent with the program criteria. In some cases, we've been able to work with an organization that delivered former Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects in order to build upon the staff and community expertise the organization has developed.
In Nunavut, for example, Health Canada officials met with organizations formerly funded by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, the Pulaarvik Kablu Friendship Centre and the Kivalliq outreach program in Rankin Inlet, where we discussed the continued need for health support services. As a result, $1 million in new funding was provided to deliver the program services in the Kivalliq region of Nunavut.
In Ontario, five new service provider arrangements have been entered into and two existing agreements have been amended to meet the increased demand for health support services. This resulted in the addition of 30 new community-based health support workers delivering mental health and emotional support services.
Those are some of the examples of how Health Canada is responding to the closure of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects. In total, Health Canada's regional offices have created, or amended upward, 55 contribution agreements with local aboriginal organizations across the country to ensure continued access to the program services.
These steps demonstrate that the Government of Canada is committed to ensuring former students are aware of and have access to mental health and emotional support services. The government remains dedicated to supporting former students and their families as they participate in settlement agreement processes.
Thank you for the opportunity to present today.
Thank you for giving me your attention.
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you all for being here this morning.
As you're undoubtedly aware, the study this committee is undertaking is on violence against aboriginal women. I have a number of questions.
The aboriginal affairs committee did a review of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation as well. I'm specifically concerned about how your programs are responding to the issues of violence against women. You've given us a view, a substantial listing of funding and program dollars, increases, decreases, reallocations, whatever. But we know that with the Aboriginal Healing Foundation...the native women's shelter in Montreal had to close its doors. We know that the—I hope I pronounce it correctly—Minwaashin Lodge in Ontario had to close its doors. We know that Tamara's House in Saskatchewan had to close its doors. And we know that there were other funded programs that dealt directly with violence against women.
I'm interested in knowing what focus is given specifically to the issues related to violence against women. We know that the legacy of residential schools is wide-reaching and profound, but our focus is on violence against aboriginal women. I'd like to hear your comments.
One other question I'd like to ask is one the analyst prepared. I understand, and we know, that there was a recommendation that the Aboriginal Healing Foundation be funded, that funding be continued, because the evaluation of it was positive.
Do you have any information not available to the evaluators that contributed to the non-renewal of funds for the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, as was recommended? If so, could you share that with the committee?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I would like to thank the witnesses for being here today.
I have many questions I would like to ask you. I am very concerned about this situation. The most vulnerable people are aboriginal women, especially young aboriginal women who are even more vulnerable because their mothers have been scarred by their experiences and cannot provide their daughters with the emotional support they need. This summer, I heard very touching testimony from women who lived in Indian residential schools. I was shocked. I was in my car, listening to these women, and I could not believe such things were possible.
I wonder if we are able to carry out the work done by the Aboriginal Healing Foundation. They have all the necessary tools and knowledge to do this work. The Foundation has developed tools that can be used by aboriginal peoples to heal themselves. Today, we are trying to do what they were doing, but with tools that we believe are adequate, although they may not be.
Ms. Langlois, you mentioned that there is financial assistance for transportation of eligible individuals allowing them to access the services of professional counsellors. Are room and board also covered when they have to travel to far away places? I am thinking of Nunavut, for example. Sometimes, they must travel to distant places.
Thank you for the question. There are five main elements of the settlement agreement, the first one being the common experience payments, which started with a $1.9 billion trust fund to pay to students who apply and are eligible for the experience they had at residential schools.
We initially anticipated that there were 80,000 survivors of residential schools still alive. To date we've paid out on more than 76,000 applications. We feel that it's very much on track and that our original assumptions were right with regard to the number of students alive.
As to the independent assessment process, we underestimated the number of people who would apply and the number of hearings. Originally we anticipated that there would be 12,500 applications. There have been closer to 19,000 applications, a total of $848 million paid in compensation, and 7,500 hearings held to date.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, as I mentioned in my opening comments, has had its first national event in Winnipeg and will have its second national event in Inuvik next year. We're working closely with them on the fourth component, which is commemoration. This is a $20 million pot of money to provide funding to communities for memorializing and remembering and commemorating what happened in the residential schools.
The fifth and last component is the healing and health supports, which continue to be provided by Health Canada.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
My understanding is that the Foundation has been one of the most important tools. It has helped advance the cause of students who lived at residential schools and who, together with their families, have been traumatized. As you mentioned in your documents, the families have also been impacted.
It has been said that an agreement will resolve some things, but that the scars will remain forever. As my colleague mentioned earlier, we visited a number of these communities. We saw first hand that there are still scars. The impact will be felt as long as these problems are not addressed.
You say that everything that was in place up to now will be set aside and that you will return to traditional programs—I am not sure if I am using the right term—to white man's programs. They will be implemented on aboriginal reserves, in your way, with existing budgets, rather than with budgets approved to deal with this specific problem.
How will you resolve the problems of the future?
Violence against women is more prevalent than ever before. We know it stems from that period. How will we solve these problems by using tools that are completely different than those used in the past?
Ms. Langlois, you pointed out the large increase in demand and the health needs. What is the specific budget for dealing with violence against women within that context? Apart from the 412,000 brochures that you mailed out—which surely cost a fortune—is there something that will truly guarantee continuity after 2012?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'd like to thank the witnesses for appearing today.
This study is on violence against aboriginal women, so I'd like to try to shift my questioning. With respect to the impact of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and to my colleague Ms. Neville's questions with respect to how it's affecting women, the shelters are shutting their doors and programs that were specific to this group are being shut down.
I'd like to refer to a bulletin dated March 29, 2010, from the Assembly of First Nations, wherein they write that:
||Indian and Northern Affairs Canada released its evaluation of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation this March--one day following the federal Budget. The evaluation, which identifies an ongoing demand for healing, outlines a management response and work plan and reinforces the point that the Aboriginal Healing Foundation has been very effective and efficient in its delivery of programming.
That's because it's integrated and, I also believe, because the communities bought into it. It just seems to me that we're going into a silo situation and that a lot of funding is being given to Health Canada for programs that may not be bought into in terms of who best could utilize the services.
I'd like to ask all of you this question. Would it not have been better to simply find the funding from Health Canada to at least extend the Aboriginal Healing Foundation funding to 2013, which is clearly what the Assembly of First Nations was looking to have done? Since they're the ones who are utilizing it, does it not maybe appear, top down, that we're not doing this?
I have a last quick question, and this will be directed towards Ms. Langlois.
Over 25 years ago, I was a nurse in an aboriginal community. I was young, from a big city. Within my first week there, there were three suicides. With the benefit of 25 years of experience, now I look back and realize how unprepared I was in terms of being a community worker and understanding what you were dealing with.
I think the health care workers have an absolutely critical role. I know there are more aboriginal nurses, of course, who probably have much better skills and experience than I ever had for being plunked into this particular environment.
You probably don't have this information available right now, but could you share with the committee, at some point, what you do to support and prepare your front-line workers in these communities in terms of their being that first set of eyes, knowing the programs and the services, and understanding how to deal with things?
I'm out of time. I went over on my own time, so I'll leave my answer.
We'll go on to Madame Demers.
Thanks for the question.
First of all, the resolution health support program does not have the mandate to replace the Aboriginal Healing Foundation projects. That's clear. However, we have a mandate to serve former students and their family members as they are going through the settlement agreement processes and provide mental health and emotional support services. If you look at some of the AHF projects, you'll see they're providing things that are outside the boundary of our program--for example, on the land kinds of programming, community-wide programming. Our programming is for former students and their family members. I think that answers the difference between the two programs.
In terms of our outreach, our regional director sent letters to every one of the former AHF projects, and we did an analysis that said 300 former students are in that AHF project catchment area; those are numbers we're able to get from INAC. We're saying that's a catchment area where we should be providing services. And if we weren't—and we would know where our people are coming from—then we would do more intense activity to find out, and contact the foundation projects to tell them about the services we have to offer to make sure there's no interruption in the types of mental health counselling people are receiving, and that people should be referred to our program.
In some cases, as I mentioned in my remarks, we met with some of the Healing Foundation project contribution agreement holders and then entered into our own contribution agreements with them. In 55 cases we either entered into new agreements or amended existing agreements upwards to serve those Healing Foundation clients who were previously served by Healing Foundation projects. That's all outside of whether we did brochures or not.
We had a fairly robust process to ensure that people were aware of our program. In cases where significant numbers of former students were being served by an AHF project, we took action to enter into contribution agreements.