Good morning, everyone.
We're so pleased to have our first department coming to talk about our new study, community capacity building.
Before we get started, I just want to recognize the leadership and willingness to work with the committee. I sincerely thank them on behalf of the clerk and the administrative team. We really appreciate it. It turned out that our schedule was tight, and you came forward. Thank you very much.
Truth and reconciliation is a process—200 years of apartheid doesn't get turned around easily. Canadians are curious and feel responsible, I find, which is the beginning step of understanding truth. It's not only a formality, especially in this committee, but a necessity to recognize that we're on the non-surrendered land of the Algonquin people. We appreciate that they worked with us—those who are settlers.
Now, we are pleased to have you. Since you're the queen, we can be flexible. We're not going to worry too much about time. Take your time, present what you like, and the MPs will of course have opportunities for questions.
Thank you very much.
Go ahead when you're ready.
Good morning, everyone. Thank you so much for having us today on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people, where we have the privilege to live and work.
I'm Karen Campbell, the Acting Director General of the Indigenous Affairs Directorate at the skills and employment branch, ESDC. I'm joined today by my colleague Jean-Pierre Gauthier, the Director General of the Indigenous Programs Directorate in the program operations branch. Together, our groups are responsible for policy design and coordination of delivery of ESDC's indigenous labour market programs. We're pleased to provide you information today on these programs and their impacts, particularly those related to human resource development and capacity in first nations communities.
Since 2010, ESDC has funded 84 indigenous organizations, with more than 600 points of service, to deliver employment and skills training under the aboriginal skills and employment training strategy. We call it the ASETS. ASETS invested $292 million annually, with one-time increases provided in 2016-17 and 2017-18. Specifically for first nations, ASETS funded 66 service delivery organizations, with over $188 million annually to provide services to individuals living in first nations communities, as well as those in urban and rural centres.
First nations organizations offer a wide range of training and employment services, from life skills and employment counselling to supporting post-secondary education. An assessment is made based on the needs of the client weighed against available resources and opportunities for success.
Through these investments, around 319,000 first nations clients have received employment and skills training. Of these, following their participation, almost 101,000 were employed and 4,500 returned to school.
In 2016 and 2017, ESDC undertook extensive engagement on the future of indigenous labour market programming to fully understand the strengths of the current approach and what needed to be improved.
We heard that new funding was needed, since organizations were continuing to work with budgets set decades ago, in the face of growing demographics and increased costs of doing business in a rapid technological change.
We heard that organizations wanted longer-term agreements with greater flexibility to provide wraparound supports; to address and remove barriers to participating in or completing training for those further from the labour market; a need for increased ability to support youth through transitions to prepare them well in advance for participation in the labour market; a greater role for leadership and priority setting, including moving to a distinctions-based approach to labour market programming; and recognition and reflection of the success of clients and organizations across the skills continuum, and not just looking at jobs found or entry to labour market as the success of the program.
The new indigenous skills and employment training program, or the ISET program, captures and reflects what we heard and builds on the strong foundation of the ASETS. It will invest $2 billion over five years and over $400 million per year ongoing, ensuring new and sustainable funding to indigenous organizations to help close the skills and employment gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous peoples.
The new ISET program will be in place on April 1, 2019, in a few short weeks, following extensive work this past year to co-develop implementation with indigenous partners.
The ISET program recognizes and introduces distinctions-based funding streams, to recognize the unique needs of first nations, the Métis Nation, Inuit, and urban and non-affiliated indigenous peoples, as well as their different labour market conditions. The first nations funding stream specifically received $101 billion over five years and $235.7 million ongoing.
I'm going to continue, if I may.
Good morning. I'm pleased to be here today.
I'd like to begin by sharing some policy directions and facts with you. Through your questions, obviously, we'll be able to provide more detailed information on different subjects, depending on where your interests lie and what you'd like to know.
One of our main goals is to refocus the department's approach away from risk and administrative tracking and on organizational capacity, to help build that capacity and promote results as opposed to day-to-day transactions.
With that in mind, we are working very closely with the communities. I think how we work is a crucial component in building a new relationship with indigenous organizations and communities, and over the past two years, we've deployed significant efforts to that end.
We will be carrying out a joint evaluation of each organization, looking at their management model, structure and capacity to achieve desired outcomes for clients. That way, we will be able to properly identify where they are in their development. The process will enable us to focus more energy on the long-term goal of building community and organizational capacity to better serve clientele.
Consequently, we want to remain engaged with our indigenous partners to understand their needs, realities and challenges, while doing everything we can to support their organizations and build their capacity. I believe that fits into the study the committee is undertaking today.
In collaboration with indigenous partners, the department is co-developing a performance measurement strategy. Again, it's in the same spirit of reaching out and making sure we do it together as opposed to us doing it to them. It will basically rely on robust program data, which we currently have. It will also need to rely on jointly determined research, jointly because they have their own interests and they, too, are accountable in many ways to their communities. It speaks both to their interests and to ours to make sure that we have a good performance measurement strategy.
This includes, among many things—and I think you've heard of it already in a previous appearance—the labour market information pilot with first nations that the department is conducting. We can provide more information if the committee wants to spend more time on this. We have more information updates for you if that's an area you'd like to explore more.
Collecting data, research and doing the analysis will therefore support both the communities and us in terms of identifying our success, our gaps, the areas where we can do better and where we can improve—we is all of us: the organizations, us, the communities—and also in terms of being able to report back to places like here about the success and the achievements of the program, of these investments.
We also have another program that I want to touch on very briefly. You may know the skills and partnership fund. It's a slightly different program from ASETS, but it's very related. Actually, the two are very much complementary. From that perspective, I think it's interesting.
The fund is a demand-driven and proposal-based process, as opposed to ASETS, which is a partnership with an established network of organizations. It focuses, as well, on training for the labour market. It puts emphasis on establishing partnerships, so it has a little bit of a reaching out type of a spin to it to try to make sure that the organizations establish good partnerships that make sense for the communities at the local level and, again, with an objective and a target. That's where the two programs are complementary because they are aligned with the same overall objectives of skills development, job training, and supporting employment and access to the labour market. Ultimately, the two instruments are working very much together.
The fund was launched in 2010. It has about $50 million per year. We've basically managed to leverage $150 million from 2010-17 through the partnership side of it, so that basically is pushing further the public investment on the SPF. We see about 450 partners in the private sector, and other organizations as well, that have been fostered by this program. We're very happy about this.
It is based on a call for proposals. The last one was done in 2016-17. We have a series of projects currently at play for five years. We're monitoring their progress. We're getting information on their achievements to date. We'll basically look at how we move forward with that program, in about a year or two from now, as we approach the end of this five-year cycle, which is aimed roughly at March 31, 2021. I say “roughly” because not all projects are the same, but the timeline was March 31, 2021.
To date, according to the information we have, the fund has allowed 32,000 people to be served, 14,000 to actually find jobs and about 2,000 people to go back to school using those projects and partnerships.
That gives you a bit of an overview of a second program that will also, I think, be interesting for the committee to study.
We'll stop here and open it up to your questions. We'll do our very best to provide all the information that could be useful to the committee.
Thank you both very much for being here today. We really appreciate it.
Your organization is pivotal to the future success of young indigenous people realizing their dreams and their careers. I think we all want to try to ensure that we maximize the potential of our indigenous youth.
In some of the questions I'm going to ask, I'm going to try to be as diplomatic as I can. This program has not been overly successful in the past, from what I can see and given what the Auditor General had to say in his last report. I know there are changes being made, but I'm most curious as to what we're doing to ensure that this becomes indigenous-driven, indigenous-created and indigenous-led.
I guess my first question would be: What percentage of the staff leading this program today at ESDC is indigenous?
Everywhere I go within indigenous communities, other than my own, thankfully.... The Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte have a very strong governance and institutional structure, so they deliver most of the programs directly by their own people. However, the vast majority of indigenous communities don't do that.
Last night, I was at a youth conference here in town. There were five indigenous youth from Attawapiskat, who were there with their teacher. Their teacher was from Belleville, from my riding. I couldn't believe that he was all the way up in Attawapiskat as a teacher. I asked him whether he was finally seeing other indigenous teachers coming to the fore in the school. He said that they have eight teachers in the high school and they're all from away. He said he was in the elementary school before that, and all the teachers were from outside the community. There was not one single individual from their community teaching their own youth.
This is a recurring problem. We see it over and over again. I don't see that we're breaking down the barriers on this. In the south, we seem to be able to find that ability, but in a lot of our northern and remote communities, we're not finding that strength. You have members who used to sit here, such as , who talked about how when they finished school, they'd have to go back to school for two years before they could go south to a post-secondary institution.
My question goes back—and the AG spoke about this—to how we can do better in ensuring that we're bringing in all those capacity needs within our indigenous communities. How can we raise them up so that they are delivering to their own communities?
Voices: Oh, oh!
Mr. Kevin Waugh: Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, departmental officials. You're the first of seven that we expect to see. Mr. Gauthier and Ms. Campbell, I thank both of you for coming.
You know what the Auditor General said. I'm not going to pick away at it, but obviously we have not done a very good job. The current government has thrown $2 billion more at it, as we've seen.
I'm just going through your numbers, Ms. Campbell. We have 319,000 clients and we employed 101,000. We don't have a tracking system. Are they employed for a month or for a year, or are they still employed?
That was part of what was from the Office of the Auditor General, that we don't have a tracking system. With this plan and this $2 billion over five years that you're going to get, is that the first thing we can address? You had 218,000 out of this program unemployed, and yes, it was nice to see 4,500 returning to school, but we still had 213,500 who were unemployed out of your number of 319,000.
I think that is the first thing. Do we have tracking? Are we going to once and for all track employment in your department?
He was very critical. I think this is something that all politicians and all Canadians are concerned about. Just throwing money at a program is no good. It's absolutely no good. You have to have a tracking base. He sat here and talked about that, so hopefully your department and other departments heard the message loud and clear from the Auditor General and will look after that.
In my province, I know that the problem with this program, to be honest with you, is that sometimes, as my colleague Mr. Bossio pointed out, it is southern driven. Also, projects that could go to the north aren't in the north. I'll give you a couple of examples.
One is building homes in southern Saskatchewan and moving them to northern Saskatchewan. Could we not do a better job in our skills training whereby those homes actually would be built in northern Saskatchewan? Up there, they know the weather conditions and they know what's needed. Often we have seen flawed homes. They're built in southern Saskatchewan and they're just ready-to-move homes. They move them up north to reserves and so on.
It's good that we have that, but at the same time, there's no skills development on reserve. We have it in the Saskatoon public school system. In our schools, we build homes and then move them out to Whitecap, a reserve. It's an urban situation, which is good, but you know what I'm saying. We need more hands-on reserve training, if you don't mind me saying that. Are there any kinds of examples in northern Canada where that could be happening that you can share with me?
We are tracking all of the projects we're funding. That includes all the partnerships. Partnerships, however, let's keep in mind, are actually between the indigenous community and the promoter or the mine or whatever it is that you have taking place. But we are definitely monitoring, through the reporting they provide to us, how the project is developing and evolving over time.
Partnerships will vary in scope, as we can all imagine. Some of them will have longer tenures, will last longer. They will establish a basis going forward. A mine can be in operation for decades, but if you're dealing with something that's more limited in time, the partnership will be for that moment. At least they can get access to some of those jobs, whereas right now, in some cases, they don't even have access to those jobs, because everything comes from the south, as we were saying.
We're trying to support, through the projects that are funded but also through the trade training that's getting done in the asset network, and trying to provide opportunities for at least some of the members of those indigenous communities to access some of those jobs as much as we can.
Thank you very much, Mr. Gauthier and Ms. Campbell. We appreciate your being here today, since you were the only officials who could make it.
As you know, the riding of Pontiac is on Algonquin land, so I'm going to frame my questions in a way I think the Algonquin people would want me to.
Can you explain? When I'm looking at these two programs, the skills and partnership fund and the indigenous skills and employment training program, why is it that the department runs these? I feel as though the band council of Kitigan Zibi would say, “Just give us the money. We will train, thank you very much. We will retain, thank you very much. We will capacity build, thank you very much.” Why is it that it's done out of Ottawa?
The program data is provided by the organizations that you're talking about. They provide to us every quarter an update as to how many people they served and so forth, so we do have that data.
What we're lacking—and it's what the Auditor General was saying—is our ability to track people to see how they are progressing along the spectrum, which is much harder to do, by any measure. But we are getting information from them and we compile that. That's how we can have the stats and numbers we use and that we talked about.
We're working with them, trying to see how we can do better in terms of performance management, and measuring how much of a difference the program actually makes in terms of its results. That work is shaping up with them to actually develop the framework that will allow us to move forward on this.
The challenges are big, but we'll see how far we can push it. We need to do better. We all know that. We all want that. It's going to improve, but that work is currently ongoing.
What we heard repeatedly.... I can do our top three pretty handily, I think.
Number one was the need for increased resources. The program was built on a foundation that had been put in place in 1999, and those were the resources that continued over time, as I said earlier, in the face of growing demographics and economic changes. Organizations were continuing, in fact, to achieve fantastic results with the same funding they've always had. That was number one that we heard.
Number two was around the amount and the relationship with the department, and the kind of oversight that was being brought to organizations, which was a heavy focus on tracking of expenditures in a pretty detailed way as opposed to looking more broadly at the kinds of results that were being brought by organizations. That's the transformation we're looking at.
Of course, we are all accountable for public funds. The department has in place those kinds of accountability measures, as do organizations that deliver this program, and we would never say any different. But really, we're trying to focus on how best those public funds are used to deliver these results, and that's a change going forward.
Number three, if I had to pick number three, was around the flexibility to provide those kinds of needed supports to the most vulnerable of individuals as they try to access skills and enter the labour market.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you to our guests for being here.
I'm going to take a bit of a different tack. I found that the Auditor General was a little harsh on you. From where I come I know a number of the organizations that you fund very well, such as the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council and the Rupertsland Institute. They do great work.
I don't think the entirety of their funding comes from your organization; they are able to get funding from a number of sources. I know that the Kee Tas Kee Now Tribal Council, for example, gets provincial education funding, and they mix that funding with the funding they get from you. There's apprenticeship funding that they get from the province, and they also use funding that comes from you for that purpose.
Do the two organizations which I mentioned represent the norm? Would you say that the experience you have across the country is similar to that with those organizations?
I can understand why there isn't clear reporting, because by the time the funds reach Kee Tas Kee Now, they are mixed. They get funds from their local band council, from the province and from the federal government, and it becomes mixed around. They'll take funding from a local university that they....
Is that kind of story common across the country?
Yes, I can see how difficult it is to say that this dollar went in and here is what result came from it. I can see, when it all becomes mixed around, how hard it is to tie the two things together.
There is another thing I'd be interested in knowing, particularly in the case of Rupertsland, which is a very interesting organization. One thing I've had a bit of feedback on from a number of people is that they've had an agreement with Rupertsland.... It's as though they're an apprentice, and Rupertsland says it will cover their tuition and your books.
That happens the first time they go, but it's a four-year program—you go for two months out of the year. The first time everything works fine, but then they seem to become lost in the system, and in the second, third and fourth years the funding doesn't come around again. When they go in, Rupertsland says, “We're not sure. It's a new person; something has changed.”
Is there an appeal process that these individuals can go through? Can they appeal to your organization saying they received an email from Rupertsland saying they would cover tuition and books for all four years, and they covered it for the first year, but they've been having trouble with the second, third and fourth years?
Is there an appeals process of any sort?
We've flipped the page.
With the indulgence of the committee, I have a couple of questions. Maybe you don't even have to reply. You could send the information to us, or if it's available and you know it....
How many of your employers of SPF require a grade 12 education? Typically, in Manitoba just about 100% of employers require grade 12. If you look at graduation rates—of great interest to MP Waugh and me, as former school trustees—you see this becomes a huge barrier.
Can you give us an impression of what the graduation rate is? A band has both members on the reserve and 70% off. What is the graduation rate of students who complete on reserve versus students who complete off reserve?
ESDC has funds for training. Those funds were frozen from 1999 until 2015 or 2016. Could you give an indication of how much that was and how much it is now?