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View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Mr. Speaker, I would like to acknowledge my presence today on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
I would like to say a few words on the current social climate in Canada. Right now is a moment when Canadians are recognizing that there is unfairness built into our systems. These systems have always been unfair toward indigenous people.
I look to my colleagues in the House to reflect on why injustice toward indigenous people still happens and how we can move forward in the short, medium and long term. I know that in my capacity as Minister of Indigenous Services, I face those questions every day, as does my ministry. These are difficult and uncomfortable conversations, but important ones to have.
With that, I welcome this opportunity to provide the House with an update on our continuing effort to confront the evolving COVID-19 pandemic. I can assure members that the top priority of the Government of Canada during this time remains the safety and physical and mental health of all Canadians and indigenous people living in Canada.
As of June 16, Indigenous Services Canada is aware of 255 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in first nations. Of those, 210 individuals are considered to have recovered.
Indigenous Services Canada continues to work closely with communities to identify a surge in health infrastructure needs, supporting efforts to screen, triage and isolate individuals in the event of a possible COVID-19 outbreak. We will continue to work closely with communities and partners to coordinate resources and keep people and communities safe.
To date, the Government of Canada has provided indigenous peoples and northern communities with approximately $1.5 billion in funding to successfully fight COVID-19.
A large portion of this funding is found in the Supplementary Estimates (A), 2020-21. These estimates include more than $280 million to support health measures provided by Indigenous Services Canada in first nation and Inuit communities.
This is essential funding that will be used primarily to provide first nation and Inuit communities with the following: the services of additional health care providers; personal protective equipment; health infrastructure, in particular the repurposing of existing community spaces or the purchase of mobile structures to support isolation, assessment and shelter measures; and prevention and infection control measures at the community level.
In addition, these estimates reflect $305 million for the distinctions-based indigenous community support fund. Of this amount, $215 million was dedicated to first nations, $45 million to Inuit and $30 million to Métis nation communities, plus $15 million in proposal-based funding for first nations off reserve and urban indigenous organizations and communities.
An additional $75 million was also sought for organizations supporting first nations individuals off reserve and Inuit and Métis living in urban areas, as well as $10 million in funding for emergency, family violence prevention, shelters on reserve and in the Yukon.
As part of our COVID-19 response, we are also providing $270 million to respond to financial pressures on income assistance for essential living expenses due to COVID-19.
In addition to funding for our COVID-19 response, these estimates include funding to ensure that first nations children and families receive the services they need and to which they are entitled. We have committed $468.2 million to maintain the first nations child and family services program, which brings the program's total annual budget to $1.7 billion.
This includes support to implement the decisions by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal issued before September 2019 and connected to the complaint by first nations child and family services regarding child and family services and Jordan's principle; coverage of expected maintenance costs for service providers; operating costs for the new agencies; response to pressure from provincial agreements; and implementation of a reserve fund to ensure that money is available should the actual numbers call for reimbursement.
The Government of Canada is committed to implementing Jordan's principle and ensuring that first nations children have access to the products, services and support they need in the areas of health, social services and education.
The Government of Canada is committed to implementing Jordan's principle and is taking action to ensure that first nations children receive the products, services and support they need in health, social services and education. The supplementary estimates also include $230 million to respond to the year-long financial pressures arising from the implementation of Jordan's principle.
Every year since its implementation, Jordan's principle has led to a significant increase in the number of approved applications submitted by individuals and groups. As a result, associated spending has increased significantly.
Since 2016, the Government of Canada has adopted an interim approach to Jordan's principle that has allowed it to inject more than $1 billion to meet the needs of first nations children. We are determined to continue to meet those needs and work to keep our promise on implementing the principle.
To further safeguard food security in the north, our government has committed up to $25 million to support temporary enhancements to nutrition north Canada in these estimates. This funding will help ensure nutrition north Canada fulfills its mandate to improve access to healthy food through additional education and subsidies during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We have also invested up to $72.6 million to address urgent health care and social support needs in the territories in response to COVID-19, with $18.4 million allocated to Yukon, $23.4 million to the Northwest Territories and $30.8 million to Nunavut. In addition, we have provided up to $17.3 million to enable the continuation of northern air services to support essential resupply and medical services in the north. We do recognize the essential role that a focused and reliable air network plays in enabling the movement of essential goods and services to respond to the pandemic. Funding has already been disbursed for the urgent health care and social support needs in the territories in response to COVID-19 and to enable the continuation of northern air service supporting essential resupply and medical services in the north.
We have also committed to a needs-based funding approach that involves $23.4 million in Vote 10 grants and contributions, including $9.9 million to support research and higher education in Canada's north; $6 million to support planning activities of the Government of the Northwest Territories, for the proposed Taltson hydroelectricity expansion project; $6 million to respond to the final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and $1.5 million toward indigenous consultation and capacity support activities.
I thank members for the opportunity to speak about this crucial and important work. Meegwetch, nakurmiik, mahsi cho.
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