Good morning. Welcome, .
We are the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs, the 42nd Parliament. Pursuant to standing order 81(4), main estimates 2019-20, vote 1 under Canadian High Arctic Research Station, votes 1, 5, 10, L15, L20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50 and 55 under the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, and votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 and 65 under the Department of Indigenous Services Canada be referred to the committee on Thursday, April 11, 2019.
Before we start, we always recognize that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people. Four hundred years ago when settlers arrived, our indigenous members welcomed Canadians—the foreigners, the settlers—to Canada and have continued to be patient and understanding. Unfortunately, we've seen that their generosity has been met with apartheid, genocide and programs that have really hurt their people.
We have change in the winds, with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Yesterday we received the report on missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. It was an extensive review, with many challenges and changes recommended. We look forward to being part of the positive change, to change our legacy as Canadians and take positive steps on reforming what has been a dark history.
Welcome to the minister and all department staff. We appreciate your being here. I know that the minister has opening remarks and that members have questions.
Go ahead whenever you're ready, Minister.
Thank you, Madam Chair. It's great to be back. As always, thank you for the land acknowledgement as we meet here as a committee on the traditional unceded territory of the Algonquin people.
I'm joined by Diane Lafleur, associate deputy minister; and Paul Thoppil, chief finances, results and delivery officer.
That's a really nice title, Paul.
I'm here to speak to the main estimates for Crown-Indigenous Relations as well as on behalf of my honourable colleague , who is responsible for northern affairs. We hope he will be well and back with us soon.
As you know, in August 2017 the announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of two new departments, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, and Indigenous Services Canada. Indigenous and Northern Affairs was a vestige of the colonial era. It was completely unsuited to support and partner with indigenous people based on their unique histories, circumstances and aspirations. The two new departments are designed and organized to better serve the needs of indigenous peoples and structured to better support first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples in implementing their visions of self-determination.
The Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, the department for which I'm responsible, has been advancing forward-looking and transformative work to create a new relationship with indigenous peoples as well as support the self-reliance, prosperity and well-being of northerners.
I'm pleased to appear on my department's main estimates, which total $7 billion.
This year's main estimates reflect a net increase of $3.9 billion, or 126%, compared to last year. The increase is primarily attributable to the inclusion of $933.9 million for budget 2019 investments, as well as the following major items: an increase of $2 billion for the childhood claims settlement; an increase of $750 million for the sixties scoop settlement; and an increase of $141 million for infrastructure projects in indigenous communities, including solid waste and Inuit housing.
Budget 2019 investments are reflected in the department's main estimates under separate votes. As their Treasury Board submissions are approved, departments will be able to access funds from these votes for their investments.
These investments build upon the government's historic investments of $16.8 billion through three previous budgets to achieve the shared priorities of indigenous peoples in Canada, now totalling more than $20 billion of new funding.
Across the country, indigenous leadership, non-indigenous Canadians and the government are working in partnership to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Together we are making progress.
Budget 2019 makes significant new investments that support indigenous peoples' plans for self-determination and their work of rebuilding.
These include concrete measures to remove impediments to reaching agreements that affirm indigenous rights and address past grievances.
The budget also includes investments to support the government's continued progress in implementing the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action.
Budget 2018 ended the practice of funding comprehensive claim negotiations through loans and replaced them with non-repayable contributions. Budget 2019 goes even further by including funding of up to $1.4 billion to forgive all outstanding comprehensive claim negotiation loans and to reimburse indigenous governments that had already repaid these loans. More than 230 indigenous communities will immediately benefit from having these loans off their books or reimbursed. This will allow them to take advantage of opportunities that were out of reach, and to focus on investing in their priorities, such as governance, infrastructure and economic development.
Budget 2019 also replenishes the specific claims settlement fund for another three years, and increases the funding for specific claims research by $8 million per year for five years. These investments will support the resolution of claims more efficiently and effectively, so we can move forward together in a good way.
The Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action provide all Canadians a path forward for Canada's journey of healing and reconciliation.
Our government is working with its partners to accelerate progress on the 94 calls to action and has made significant progress on the calls to action under federal or shared responsibility.
I am very proud of the significant investments made by budget 2019 specifically through our department to support further progress on implementation. Budget 2019 provides $126.5 million in 2020-21 to establish the National Council for Reconciliation and endow it with its initial operating capital, which addresses calls to action 53 to 55.
To address calls to action 72 to 76, the budget invests $33.8 million over three years to develop and maintain the national residential school student death register, and to work with parties to establish and maintain an online registry of residential school cemeteries.
The budget provides $9.1 million over three years to support the construction of an indigenous legal lodge at the University of Victoria, and $10 million over five years in support of indigenous law initiatives across Canada. Through the justice partnership and innovation program, these investments support the implementation of call to action 50.
The budget supports call to action 66—this is one of my favourites—with $15.2 million over three years for an indigenous youth pilot program, delivered by the Canadian Roots Exchange. Funding will support the establishment of a distinctions-based national network of indigenous youth to help ensure that the Government of Canada's policies and programs are informed by the diverse voices of indigenous youth, and provides support to community events and gatherings for indigenous youth and reconciliation-focused, community-based indigenous youth activities.
The budget also provides $10 million over two years advancing call to action 80 to support communities to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools on the proposed national day for truth and reconciliation.
Our government also understands that success will require taking a truly whole-of-government approach to the TRC's calls to action. I can assure you that every department is taking up the challenge to advance the calls to action in their areas of responsibility. For example, just last week, introduced the change to the oath of citizenship, which responds to call to action 94.
Our government has been working with northerners and indigenous and territorial partners to build strong, diversified, sustainable and dynamic Arctic and northern communities.
Budget 2019 invests over $700 million in new and focused funding over 10 years to ensure that Arctic and northern communities continue to grow and prosper. Additionally, territorial formula financing transfers will total over $3.9 billion in 2019-20.
Budget 2019 investments, through Northern Affairs, include three important initiatives: cleaning up the largest and highest risk contaminated sites in northern Canada; supporting diversified post-secondary education options in the north; and building connections in Canada's Arctic and northern regions. We are committed to co-developing initiatives for the north with northerners and making the necessary investments to support those co-developed solutions.
I look forward to discussing these priorities in more detail through your questions.
Meegwetch. Thank you. Merci.
Thank you for having me here. I wish I was on this committee more. I'm the chair of the trade committee.
Minister, welcome, and with all the travels you've done over the years, you've probably visited most of the communities in Canada. You have come to many communities in my riding. I have the largest population in eastern Canada of first nations, and the largest community is Eskasoni. You're very well aware of Eskasoni. You visited there.
There are a couple of big success stories in our community, and one is the education part. We have one of the highest graduation rates, not only in first nations communities but in Nova Scotia, right in Eskasoni.
We see a situation in Eskasoni that we think creates an opportunity, and I'm asking you if you see this across the country. Many of the elderly people in that community would have gone to the residential schools. Housing has always been an issue, and we're getting better at it, but we see an opportunity coming out of that community, where the elderly people should probably be leaving those homes but staying in the community. Many went to the residential schools and do not want to leave the community for various reasons. They'll get flashbacks. The opportunity that they see is having assisted housing or places for them in these communities. I'm wondering if you see that in other communities across the country. They want to stay in these communities but have assisted living or whatever so they go from the family units to just up the road. They're in a unit where the family can see them and work with them, and the community can work there.
It's a general statement, but is it something that our government, a future government, should look at more? I think it would not only really help the family units in the communities, but also the whole truth and reconciliation part.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm pleased to be appearing once more before the committee to discuss the main estimates of Indigenous Services Canada.
I'd like to begin by acknowledging that we're on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I'm joined by Jean-François Tremblay, deputy minister; and Paul Thoppil, chief finances, results and delivery officer.
Now if my French didn't wake you up....
Also, I am also pleased to have Valerie Gideon here.
Before getting into my remarks, I would like to, first of all, thank members of the committee for their work over the last month studying Bill and the proposed amendments. The amendments accepted last week from all sides strengthened this bill. As many of you know, I was glad to see that it passed third reading last night unanimously. Thank you very much. Your hard work on this was really appreciated.
A vital component of our government's renewed relationship with indigenous peoples is our commitment to take action and dismantle the colonial structures of the past. Since the 's announcement on August 28, 2017, my officials and Minister Bennett's officials have been working hard to establish the necessary structures and processes to make this transformation a reality.
In 2019-20, we look forward to dissolving Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and in its place creating Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada as one department and Indigenous Services Canada as another. This change will better enable the government to continue its work on a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. It better positions the government to build that relationship while closing the socio-economic gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous people and improving the quality of life for first nations, Inuit and Métis people. It finally responds to a very clear recommendation by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Our focus at Indigenous Services Canada is working with partners to improve access to high-quality services for indigenous people. Our vision is to support and empower indigenous peoples to independently deliver services and address socio-economic conditions in their communities as they move forward on the path to self-determination.
As Minister of Indigenous Services, I am continuing the important work of improving the quality of services delivered to first nations, Inuit and Métis. This includes ensuring a consistent, high-quality and distinctions-based approach to the delivery of these services. A rigorous results and delivery approach is being adopted, focused on improving outcomes for indigenous people. Over time it is our goal that indigenous peoples will directly deliver programs and services to their peoples. We are working with partners to do this. I am working my way out of a job.
I would like to turn your attention to the reason that I am here today. I am now pleased to present to you my department's main estimates for 2019-20, which would total $12.3 billion if approved by Parliament. The 2019-20 main estimates reflect a net increase of about $2.9 billion, or 32%, compared to last year's main estimates. The net increase in budgetary spending primarily reflects the continuation of our investments in budgets 2016, 2017 and 2018 and in our most recent budget: all in all, investments totalling $21.3 billion to support stronger indigenous communities and to improve socio-economic outcomes.
Here are a few examples of where this year's increase will help.
There is $404.1 million in renewed funding for Jordan's principle: supporting children who need orthodontics, medical transportation, respite, land-based culture camps, medical supplies and equipment, educational assistance, mentorship, wheelchair ramps, vehicles, nutritional supplements.
There is an increase of $481.5 million for the first nations water and waste-water enhanced program, improving monitoring and testing of on-reserve community drinking water, and building on investments that have not only led to the lifting of 85 long-term drinking water advisories since 2015, but that also keep us on track to lift all LTDWAs by March 2021.
There will be an increase of $357.9 million related to non-insured health benefits for first nations people and Inuit.
There will be an increase of $324.8 million for infrastructure projects in indigenous communities.
There is an increase of $317 million for the first nations child and family services program, ensuring the actual costs of first nations child and family services agencies are covered fully, but also supporting initiatives to keep children and families together.
There is an increase of $300.2 million for first nations elementary and secondary education, supporting a renewed approach for K-to-12 education on reserve as co-developed by us and the Assembly of First Nations.
There is an increase of $113.6 million to build healthier first nations and Inuit communities, including our work to eliminate tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat by 2030.
And there is an increase of $101.1 million to advance the new fiscal relationship with first nations under the Indian Act.
These investments continue to build on the work we have already done to foster a renewed relationship based on respect, co-operation and partnership. Together with indigenous partners, we are working hard to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit and Métis people. Through budget 2019, we are making investments in first nations and Inuit health, social development, education and infrastructure.
In addition to Jordan's principle and ensuring first nations children now receive the services they need when they need them, our investments in the child first initiative ensure that Inuit children have access to the essential government-funded health, social and educational products, services and supports that they need when they need them.
Budget 2019 proposes an investment of $220 million over five years to the Inuit-specific child first initiative, which will address the immediate needs of Inuit children. This investment would also support the ongoing work among the Government of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Inuit regions, and provinces and territories to develop a long-term Inuit-specific approach to better address the unique health, social and education needs of Inuit children.
There are also new investments to address urgent health and wellness needs to reduce suicide rates in Inuit communities. In order to deal with the ongoing suicide crisis in the Inuit communities, $5 million has been set aside to support the national Inuit suicide prevention strategy.
The government is also making unprecedented new investments in indigenous post-secondary education, including 2019's proposal for $327.5 million over five years to renew and expand funding for the post-secondary student support program while the government engages with first nations on the development of integrated regional education strategies.
There is $125.5 million over 10 years, and $21.8 million ongoing to support an Inuit-led post-secondary strategy, and $362 million over 10 years, and $40 million ongoing to support a Métis Nation strategy.
Starting this fiscal year, a new transfer to first nations communities, entitled “Grant to support the new fiscal relationship for First Nations under the lndian Act”, more commonly known as the 10-year grant, has been implemented.
More than 250 first nations expressed interest in the 10-year grant; 103 first nations were determined to be eligible based on criteria that we co-developed with first nations partners. They have received an offer, and I am happy to say that 83 first nations have now signed 10-year grant agreements.
The new grant, representing $1.5 billion, is funded through the existing programs of Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, which are primarily related to education, social development, infrastructure, and first nations and Inuit health programs.
To ensure that the 10-year grants grow with the needs of first nations, budget 2019 proposes that starting April 1, 2020, funding for core programs and services provided through the 10-year grants will be escalated to address key cost drivers, including inflation and population growth. The 10-year grant provides communities with the flexibility and predictability needed to support effective and independent long-term planning. This initiative is a key part for establishing a new fiscal relationship that moves towards sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for first nations communities.
Last, I think it's imperative for me to highlight the work of everyone involved in making progress on our commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March, 2021. Since 2015, a total of 85 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted, and 126 short-term drinking water advisories were lifted before becoming long term. We are well on our way to meeting our commitment. This will be aided through the 2019-20 main estimates by an additional $66.7 million proposed by budget 2019, which has been dedicated to keeping us on track. I am extremely proud of this, as all Canadians should have access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water.
We have made, and are continuing to make, important changes in the government's relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis people. While there is still a lot of work to do, our government's historic investments are making a difference in closing the gaps that exist, and improving the quality of life for indigenous peoples.
I'd now be happy to answer any questions that the committee may have.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'm going to move on to the boil water advisories.
As you know, I don't share the government's enthusiasm about this. You're not going to meet your quotas. I'm going to give you some examples.
I know that you're touting the 85 long-term drinking water advisories that have been lifted, but I have met with so many indigenous groups and I'll give you one example: Slate Falls First Nation in northwestern Ontario. They had all 11 long-term boil water advisories—drinking water—lifted last year, in March 2018. I see that some of your staff know where I'm going on this. They got a new water treatment plant. Seventeen days later, it was back under a drinking water advisory. Today, Slate Falls is under a drinking water advisory, and it has been since August 29.
I can tell you that there are dozens of bands in this nation that are going through this problem—
Hon. Seamus O'Regan: Yes.
Mr. Kevin Waugh: —and you keep saying, well, we've removed the long term, but we still have the short term, and we're not going to tell you what the long term is or what the short term is.
There is still a crisis, so don't tell me that we're going to reach this in 2021—because we will not reach it—but I would like to know what your department is going to do. I laugh when I see these reports come out, because I know they're not true. I can go to Slate, and I can give you a list if you want, but where are we going on this? You're not training band members properly. We can give them all the new equipment, but then we leave the reserve and then—in this case, 17 days later—they're back on.
What are we doing to rectify this when we leave the situation and leave them in charge of the water treatment plant? I think that's one of the issues that we need to address with your department.
I'll leave it to these guys to maybe provide you with specific numbers. I can certainly say that it is amazing to me.
In the past number of months, when I've dealt with leadership, despite the significant challenges that they still face in their communities, their bands and their regions, they understand now and have confidence that this money is coming. They appreciate things like the 10-year grant, which I'm quite aggressive in promoting when I meet with leadership who have not yet applied. It allows them the ability to know about and plan for the next 10 years.
They are not having to reapply every year, and fill out paperwork for a program or something on an annual basis. I think there are enough people around this table who have worked for non-profits, or have worked in places where you are constantly reapplying for government funding.
The fact is that you have a limited pool of people in small communities who are doing this hard and meaningful work. If you can make sure that they spend more time concentrating on closing the gaps and making their communities more prosperous for all, instead of filling out paperwork needlessly, year after year, program by program, that is real. That is energy and time that they can now be dedicating toward the people, the quality of life of their people and the future prosperity of their people.
That is a very real and significant movement. Leadership now, knowing and feeling some assurance that our commitments are real, are feeling them on the ground. They are not where they need to get to yet, as the national chief keeps reminding me. He's quite right. This is not parity. Progress is not parity. We're not there yet.
They want to talk more about the issues of economic development. They're looking at wanting to become self-sufficient communities: “We do not want to be relying on government. We want to increase professional capacity within our communities. We want to be the ones doing the heavy lifting.”
It is really quite heartening to see that corner being turned by some leadership.
Thank you. That concludes our time.
We have two pieces of business. One is to deal with the 2019-20 main estimates. The second is to deal with the budget allocation for the Grassy Narrows study.
We will group all of the motions.
CANADIAN HIGH ARCTIC RESEARCH STATION
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$31,704,049
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$3,316,984,242
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$5,491,717
Vote 10—Grants and contributions..........$2,625,384,706
Vote 25—Advancing Reconciliation by Settling Specific Claims..........$883,000,000
Vote 30—Enhancing Indigenous Consultation and Capacity Support..........$1,500,000
Vote 35—Honouring Missing Residential School Children..........$7,758,176
Vote 40—Indigenous Youth and Reconciliation..........$4,874,600
Vote 45—More Connectivity=More Affordable Electricity..........$6,000,000
Vote 50—Supporting Indigenous Business Development..........$25,777,783
Vote 55—Strong Arctic and Northern Communities..........$5,000,000
Vote L15—Loans to Indigenous claimants..........$25,903,000
Vote L20—Loans to First Nations in British Columbia..........$30,400,000
(Votes 1, 5, 10, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, L15 and L20 agreed to on division)
DEPARTMENT OF INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$1,954,110,539
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$5,617,593
Vote 10—Grants and contributions..........$9,496,193,599
Vote 15—Better Information for Better Services..........$4,279,699
Vote 20—Continuing Implementation of Jordan's Principle..........$404,100,000
Vote 25—Core Governance Support for First Nations..........$24,000,000
Vote 30—Ensuring Better Disaster Management Preparation and Response..........$5,520,000
Vote 35—On Track to Eliminate Boil Water Advisories On-Reserve..........$66,700,000
Vote 40—Improving Assisted Living and Long Term Care..........$40,316,600
Vote 45—Improving Emergency Response On-Reserve..........$32,705,600
Vote 50—Safe and Accessible Spaces for Urban Indigenous Peoples..........$3,700,000
Vote 55—Supporting Indigenous Post-Secondary Education..........$78,546,789
Vote 60—Supporting Inuit Children..........$30,000,000
Vote 65—Supporting the National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy..........$5,000,000
(Votes 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, 35, 40, 45, 50, 55, 60 and 65 agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall I report the main estimates 2019-20 to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
The Chair: Thank you.
I believe that the budget has been distributed. I need approval for the Grassy Narrows First Nation project study, $10,000, and for Bill , the Mackenzie Valley, $20,200.