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Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:05
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to speak to you as part of this consultation.
I am the president of FQSA, the Fédération québécoise pour le saumon atlantique, a non-profit organization that has been around for over 30 years and that represents all parties involved in salmon in Quebec. The federation's mission focuses on everything relating to salmon, including its conservation, its protection and its enhancement.
Our presentation today will touch on three points: the economic importance of Atlantic salmon in Quebec, the management and enhancement of stocks, and the aquaculture of salmon in Quebec.
Let's take a look at the economic situation of salmon in Quebec. In 2012, expenditures of Quebec fishers generated $573 million and $160 million in tax revenue for the governments, in addition to creating over 9,000 jobs. With these economic inputs, Atlantic salmon represents over $35 million in GDP and tax revenue, and maintains over 400 jobs.
For Quebec's salmon regions, salmon generates $26 million in revenue. Salmon is the species that provides by far the most significant daily benefits, which is due to the amount of daily expenditures observed. It generates $730 a day on average, which is 10 times more than bass, which ranks second when it comes to Quebec revenue.
In terms of managing and enhancing stock, I would like to make a small correction. In 1984, Quebec adopted the river-by-river management approach as the principle for managing its salmon rivers, unlike the federal government, which adopted a uniform management system by imposing catch-and-release for all large salmon throughout the Atlantic provinces. Under that principle, every waterway is fished based on its own characteristics. The implementation of such an approach is inevitably more complicated than the federal government's approach and requires a certain number of preconditions.
It should be noted that Quebec is at an advantage because a lot of its salmon rivers are small in area. So in all likelihood, they contain few different stocks. A large part of them are under very tight control owing to the organizations to which government authority has been delegated for the administration of recreational fishing and resource protection.
At one time, fishing season didn't open until the appropriate authorities felt that a river could support having a certain number of salmon caught, and salmon control was ensured by general application measures regarding the fishing season and daily and seasonal catch limits. The only possible choice for those salmon resource managers was to open or close fishing based on the status of stock in a given river.
Catch-and-release opens up the possibility for fishing without removing stock or catches geared toward a certain population segment. Catch-and-release is increasingly widespread in Quebec, and the majority of salmon fishers use this practice. For a number of years now, the FQSA has promoted among all salmon fishers in Quebec good approaches for practising catch-and-release. In this context, the FQSA feels that catch-and-release in one form or another is one of the preferred ways for managing salmon populations.
As we can see, the current river-by-river management approach enables Quebec to monitor the development of returns in real time and to order catch-and-release, if necessary, during the season, as it did in 2014 on the FQSA's recommendation. In the context of low salmon returns in 2014 and as a precaution, the FQSA resolved to maintain mandatory catch-and-release of large salmon for all Quebec rivers, with the exception of those in northern Quebec, until a new Atlantic salmon management plan is in place.
The FQSA is greatly concerned about maintaining salmon populations, and is in favour of using management approaches that will ensure the survival of this species while permitting sustainable economic development.
As for creating salmon habitats, the FQSA is currently managing a program to enhance North Shore Atlantic salmon habitats to compensate for the residual impact on the various salmonid species of moving the hydroelectric development from the Romaine River.
In 2011, the Quebec ministry for sustainable development, the environment and the fight against climate change, Hydro-Québec and the FQSA signed a co-operation agreement to develop, implement and manage this $10-million program over 10 years. Under this program, Atlantic salmon was designated a priority species because of its great ecological and socio-economic value on the North Shore.
This program includes five objectives: first, contributing to consolidating and expanding Atlantic salmon populations; second, creating or improving the production of Atlantic salmon habitats; third, acquiring the knowledge needed to plan and follow up on the performance of projects; fourth, protecting the salmon resource; and fifth, encouraging the participation of local communities and river management organizations.
One of the features of the program is that it can fund up to 100% of the costs for projects, which fall into four categories: major projects, community projects, scientific projects and projects for the maintenance of major facilities. Aside from the fact that it can fund up to 100% of projects, the program has generated additional investments to the tune of 30% by proponents and other funders. In addition, through these investments, the development potential of salmon populations is 10,000 salmon a year.
Currently, there is only one program of this type in place in Quebec, and it is not enough to meet the demand of the North Shore region alone. The needs in terms of managing the habitat of salmon rivers in the regions of the Gaspé Peninsula, Lower St. Lawrence, Charlevoix and Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean are also very great and present a good potential for population development. There are about $15 million in investments needed to enhance salmon habitats in these regions. These massive investments to improve the quality and availability of habitats would certainly make it possible to consolidate and develop our Atlantic salmon habitats, as shown by the current program to enhance Atlantic salmon habitats on the North Shore.
A second program has been put in place as part of realizing the development of the hydroelectric complex on the Romaine River. The program has an envelope of $20 million over 20 years. A corporation was created to manage this program. The FQSA is the agent and is therefore providing all of the administrative services for the corporation. The purpose of the project is to regenerate a salmon population in the Romaine River.
I will now talk about salmon aquaculture.
In countries that raise salmon in cages, the practice has led to heated discussions between industrial producers and environmentalists. Although Canada produces fewer farmed Atlantic salmon than Norway or Chile, it is still the third largest producer of this species in the world, with 8% of global production. These marine cages are concentrated on the west coast and on the east coast, mainly in the Bay of Fundy, which borders the shores of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.
Given environmental issues like the local pollution of marine environments and the biological impact, including the spread of parasites and disease, and the genetic pollution of wild populations related to escapes, such farming of wild salmon populations and salmonid populations, in general, are banned.
In a resolution, the FQSA is asking the government to impose a moratorium on all new projects for farming salmonids in marine cages; to exercise better control over existing marine cage farming facilities; to put in place an environmental and economic audit for all production sites; to gradually reduce the number of salmonid farming sites farming using marine cages; and to establish and implement a program to convert marine cages to land farming facilities, as is done in various U.S. states, including Virginia.
Following these statements, the FQSA sent letters to federal government authorities, but we have not had an answer yet.
In Greenland, Atlantic salmon fishing is mainly a cottage industry, using small boats and mesh nets. Since 1998, and under a NASCO agreement, no commercial fishing or exports are allowed. Fishers can keep their catches for their own personal consumption or sell them in the local market or to restaurants to support their community, which is often isolated.
Since Greenland's inhabitants have an historic right to catch salmon and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea, or ICES, has approved a catch of 20 metric tons, we cannot question this practice.
For the past decade, we have seen an increase in the number of salmon being caught in Greenland. In 2014, these catches amounted to 58 tons. The FQSA strongly questions the monitoring of these catches. The Government of Canada, through its presence on NASCO, should ensure that the harvest set out by ICES, namely 20 metric tons, is maintained and that the reliability of results provided by Greenland are as well.
Given that Canada exploits the natural resources of the North Atlantic under certain conditions, as does Greenland, it would be worthwhile for the government to initiate negotiations with Denmark and Greenland outside of NASCO on this particular issue. Diplomatic and socio-economic solutions could be considered to reduce the pressure on salmon stocks on Greenland's shores. It's important to know that fishing in Greenland directly affects Quebec's salmon populations.
Lastly, I will speak about the capacity to improve recreational fishing.
Salmon fishing is a public right that belongs to the entire Quebec community. The management model for recreational salmon fishing in Quebec is fairly unique in North America, both in how it biologically manages salmon stocks and socio-economically. The socio-economic component is unique in that it means that community and private bodies can offer salmon fishing, but that it remains a public resource. However, the social changes occurring in Quebec, particularly the aging population, are having an impact on salmon fishers.
The four important characteristics of the salmon fishing sector are as follows. First, the resource is in a precarious state, but it helps maintain an attractive economic activity. Second, fishers are aging, and although they are faithful, we are seeing signs that their numbers are dwindling. Third, the network of service provides is dualistic, meaning that a few businesses are flourishing, but a very large number of them are just getting by because of insufficient resources. Fourth, the salmon fishing industry is itself mature because of the state of the resource, but the increasing acceptance of catch-and-release makes it possible to keep fishing a worthwhile activity.
For a few years, we have seen an increased interest in fly fishing in Quebec. This interest, combined with a greater practice of catch-and-release, should help the salmon fishing sector to remain sustainable and possibly develop based on Atlantic salmon populations. To benefit from this interest, ad campaigns should be organized to maintain and develop the economic contribution generated by salmon fishing in Quebec, especially in a number of remote regions.
Finally, greater access to the funding of projects, including the program to enhance North Shore Atlantic salmon habitats, would allow for greater salmon production and for significant economic benefits for Quebec's regions.
Thank you very much.
View François Lapointe Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Gentlemen, I would like to thank you for being here to help us with this study.
First, can you please briefly remind us of the concerns that people had in 2014 about the Atlantic salmon stocks in Quebec rivers? In the decisions that have been made in 2015, how many rivers will require “catch-and-release” because of the state of the stocks?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:20
In 2014, about 50% of the salmon population was returned to the river. That number normally varies between 70% and 80%. So there was a significant drop. The FQSA reacted to that in early July, asking the Quebec government bodies to impose catch-and-release. That started on August 1, 2014. From that point on, all fishers on Quebec rivers were required to catch and release all large salmon for reproduction.
In 2015, we are in an interim phase. The ministry has added 16 rivers to the 30 rivers where catch-and-release is in place. In Quebec, there are now about 50 rivers where all or some salmon is returned to the water. There are still between eight and 10 rivers where it is still possible to catch large salmon, but quotas are imposed in those cases.
View François Lapointe Profile
As you said, the annual benefits of about $573 million were quite threatened. That's major.
Could we try to work together to determine solutions that could be used to establish the sustainability of stocks in the longer term, in the decades to come?
Out of all the witnesses we have heard from, you may be the one whose position on farmed salmon is the clearest and firmest. You immediately associated it with the risk of disease and pollution. You concluded by saying that a moratorium should be imposed. That's the first time I've heard that. You even suggested that we consider converting marine production to land production.
Could you provide more factual details about what you've observed? Have you seen any impacts of salmon farming that led you to make those conclusions?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:23
There are a number of studies, but we won't address the scientific details here. That said, the impact on the environment has been demonstrated. We're more concerned about the genetic aspect. Genetic transfer occurs when these salmon escape and mix with our wild salmon. Some elements may result in contamination and reduce the ability of our salmon to migrate and survive in the ocean.
Since we haven't had a response from the federal government, we have verified which fish farms—on land or elsewhere—existed in Quebec. In western Canada, there are—
View François Lapointe Profile
If I understood correctly, you spoke about a $15-million investment that would be required to improve the North Shore salmon habitat. What are your impressions about these investment needs? What role should the federal government play here?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:29
First, the $15 million would be for regions other than the North Shore. The current enhancement program managed by the FQSA, which amounts to $10 million, involves part of the North Shore. The $15 million is for an assessment for other regions of Quebec, including Saguenay, the Lower St. Lawrence and the Gaspé Peninsula. These regions also have needs related to salmon habitat development. The federal government has not invested in salmon in Quebec in over 10 years. The species has been ignored. There has been no investment, no support from organizations. An organization like ours receives no support from the federal government. That is why we have identified this aspect.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Thank you, and thank you to our witnesses for appearing for this most important study. We had to work very hard to get this study going. The Liberal Party was strongly against it; we had to overcome that resistance to get this study off the ground. So we're very pleased about our ability to do that.
How do you monitor the size of salmon runs in your specific rivers?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:31
It's quite variable in Quebec. As I mentioned earlier, in 2014, about 50% of salmon populations were returned to the river. As for larger regions, the North Shore is currently having more difficulty compared to the Gaspé Peninsula when it comes to the run of large salmon. The Gaspé Peninsula is doing fairly well. I would even say that fishing is really very good, if not excellent, there. The North Shore and Saguenay regions have the most need.
Does that answer your question?
View Robert Sopuck Profile
Yes. I'm also interested in your habitat projects. What kind of habitat conservation projects do you undertake in Quebec?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:32
The Government of Quebec is currently developing a legal approach to designate what a salmon river is and to establish guidelines for that. The salmon rivers that will be designated will have a special status. It will in some way make it possible to develop special legislation for protecting those environments. As a result, all development, restoration or infrastructure projects will be subject to specific regulations and standards.
Of course, the North Shore project that we spoke about earlier is very important for creating new salmon habitats. Those rivers can now produce 10,000 salmon a year.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
From previous witnesses, it's become apparent that open ocean mortality is quite significant, starting from the estuary and all the way to Greenland and back. The issue of striped bass came up in New Brunswick. Is there a problem with striped bass at the mouths of rivers in Quebec?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:36
In Quebec, there are two populations of striped bass. There is the one that comes from New Brunswick and migrates along the shores of the Gaspé Peninsula to the tip of Gaspé, and the one from the St. Lawrence, which was introduced about 15 years ago. The Chaleur Bay population is said to be a migratory species. It migrates in its nordic distribution area, which is the Gaspé Peninsula Shore, in Quebec.
When it arrives on the shore, the small salmon, which are called smolts, have already left Chaleur Bay. There is no conflict between the arrival of the striped bass and the departure of the smolts to the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Quebec has done scientific studies on the Chaleur Bay population to demonstrate this finding. So we can say that there really is no problem in Chaleur Bay.
However, the St. Lawrence population is growing and is spread out over the entire waterway. Studies are being done to ensure—since it is a resident population—that there is no impact on the downstream migration of smolts on the North Shore and in Saguenay—Lac-St-Jean.
View Robert Sopuck Profile
In your testimony did you talk about your organization undertaking salmon stocking programs? I thought I heard you say that.
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:38
No. Here in Quebec, it's a government responsibility. In the Quebec government's new salmon management plan, which should be ready for spring 2016, the possibility of fish stocking is being considered. There is currently no fish stocking program in Quebec at the moment, except for the project I mentioned earlier where $20 million was allocated to restore the Romaine River. The FQSA is carrying out a fish-farming project there, where the small local population in the Romaine River is reproduced to ensure that it increases and can be reintroduced to its habitat.
View Lawrence MacAulay Profile
Lib. (PE)
Is there a great need in the investment area? I'd like you to elaborate on the required investment for your province—and I think eastern Canada as far as that's concerned—and how we're to maintain or increase the supply of salmon in our rivers. With the decline taking place, how would you explain to the committee what's needed to reverse the decline and to make sure that the numbers increase instead of decrease?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:44
We're talking about Greenland. First, it's important that there is a decrease in catches. Second, research also needs to be done to document what is happening in the ocean. Third, a massive investment is needed, like we have done for the North Shore through our salmon habitat creation program.
The $10 million that we are investing in the North Shore will help generate 10,000 new salmon a year. We aren't using fish stocking. We are simply freeing up habitats to give salmon access to new habitats, which were previously limited because of obstacles like impassable waterfalls and things like that. We open up sections of the river and give salmon access. We are improving the habitat. So there is greater production, which increases the populations.
Fourth, fish stocking might be a worthwhile approach in some regions where populations are very low in order to generate a new population, which is what we did for the Romaine River.
View Patricia Davidson Profile
Thank you.
We've also had a fair amount of discussion this morning on the difference in the regulations between, say, Quebec and New Brunswick when we're talking about the river-based approach of management and the catch-and-release management regulations that are in place in New Brunswick. You've also talked about how much catch and release is now being used in Quebec, and the success you feel that's having when it comes to repopulating and sustaining the stock.
Would you be in favour of a harmonization of salmon management regulations for Atlantic salmon?
Jean Boudreault
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Jean Boudreault
2015-06-04 11:56
I think those two contexts are different. The problem that we see in the Maritimes—I am talking about New Brunswick and Nova Scotia—is much more dramatic than what we experience in Quebec.
In Quebec, our rivers are almost natural. The water is pure, the salmon habitat is in very good condition and our rivers' production is excellent. So we don't see the same threat to salmon as in New Brunswick or elsewhere. I think there is a way to keep the activity in its current form.
The catch and release measures apply to adult salmon, the large salmon. When we talk about small salmon, the grilse, you can always catch them in Quebec. By the way, more and more people release them back in the water. In that sense, we prefer a voluntary approach to a legal approach.
The question was not asked this morning, but I'd like you to note that when you buy a salmon licence in Quebec, there are seven stamps. Anglers are able to catch seven salmon, big or small. Of course, there are 15,000 anglers, but not all of them catch seven salmon every year. Most of them take one or two.
So we would like to review the number of stamps. However, there is a small problem and I think this is a good place to talk about it this morning. In the transfer of the salmon stock management between the federal government and provincial government, one aspect was forgotten: the stamps. The forestry, wildlife and parks minister does not have the legal ability to change the number of stamps per licence. That still falls under federal authority, so under Ms. Shea. However, the power needs to be delegated from that level so that the Quebec minister has that ability.
Right now, we are working with the office of the federal minister and the office of the provincial minister to try to establish a single channel, or a fast lane to be able to deal specifically with this aspect. By 2016, we want to be able to reduce the number of stamps by 50% and to perhaps have three or four stamps. We will see what the anglers are ready to accept. We would therefore have a direct impact on the number of catches in our rivers. Right now, we are stuck because of the political circumstances and we are not able to do anything about it.
Ricky Fontaine
View Ricky Fontaine Profile
Ricky Fontaine
2015-05-28 9:35
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good morning.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you for giving me this time to make this presentation on access to capital.
I will give you a brief description of who I am and the community I come from—which is the same as Jonathan Genest-Jourdain—its problems and its development. I will conclude by giving you a few recommendations about access to capital.
My name is Ricky Fontaine and I am an Innu from Uashat mak Mani-utenam. I have been a certified administrator since 1983. I am a member of the Aboriginal Financial Officers Association, and of the Collège des administrateurs de sociétés, whose members manage public corporations. I am also an auditor in the context of the Quebec land management program.
I began to do economic development work very early in my career. I worked on the economic development of the community at the regional level, and I also worked at the national level for many years. My career has already lasted close to 40 years. It's sad to say, but we don't get any younger.
We have faced a series of problems with regard to access to capital, and this will be the topic of my presentation.
In the beginning of the 1970s, Uashat mak Mani-utenam was a band registry agent, a secretary and a first registration program for Indians from the community of Uashat mak Mani-utenam. In 2016, it has a budget of $70 million, $58 million of which are for government services offered to the population of 4,500 souls who reside in Uashat mak Mani-utenam, close to Sept-Îles. This $70 million is made up of $58 million in transfer funds for government services, and $12 million in independent revenue.
The community also owns 14 different businesses in the construction, fisheries, real estate, services and processing sectors. All of this was done within the framework of the Indian Act, as it remains the only way to bring about development. The problems are great and the delays are long. Opportunities arise and disappear. The Indian Act is totally inadequate.
In 1974, we built a shopping mall. It was the first major project for the community; it cost $8 million. At the time, the financial structure was as follows: $300,000 in equity,and $7,700,000 in loans. That was a good recipe for disaster, all the more so since the iron ore sector took a nose dive after that.
But the mall is still active. It has been renovated and expanded. The company opened another supermarket across the way. The mall covers 250,000 square feet, and we have developed an additional 60,000 square feet in rental space just across from it. Last week, we opened a 60-room hotel. I would say that access to capital is a weekly issue.
I said that we have $12 million in independent revenue. What has happened in the course of the last few years? We signed five impact and benefit agreements with mining companies. This brought in additional capital, but by the same token, the income derived from that is much riskier than income from federal and provincial agreements. Because two mining companies filed for bankruptcy, the community lost $6 million in operating income, which caused major problems.
That is something else we are dealing with currently.
Uashat mak Mani-utenam is to some degree the regional service centre for the Innu nation, since Sept-Îles, which is right next door, is the regional service centre for the region. Government services are present in Sept-Îles, so everyone goes there.
In the near future, we will be dealing with some major investments for a third rail line, a $1.8-billion project. We have proposals for participation in equity and funding. We are talking about mining projects, getting involved in the supply chain, and accelerating things in order to be able to leverage the impacts and benefits from impact and benefit agreements.
Of course up until now, the negotiation model has been one where royalties were paid according to production, which meant that the impacts were immediate and the revenue highly precarious. This has caused major problems. Several major projects are in the pipeline, and funding remains an issue.
As I was saying regarding access to capital, the Indian Act is a major issue. The operations of the community have changed a great deal and that also is a factor. The level of risk has changed, governance has not followed the evolution of the various files, and the constraints are growing.
The size of projects has changed a lot as well. In 1976, a major project was an $8-million one. Now a major project is a $1.8-billion one. Even with a normal financial structure, the participation of the community in these projects, even on the order of 5%, may represent tens of millions of dollars, and the tools are not there.
The timelines for these projects are generally very long for the private partners, but short for the community stakeholders. The various Canadian government programs at this time apply criteria that are extremely difficult to meet for any community whatsoever. We are talking of course about national institutions that are quite far away. And so we have to find new ways of solving the problems that this causes.
I gave the clerk my brief, and so I am going to speak to my main recommendations.
The first recommendation is to encourage the development of financial know-how. You have heard about financial literacy. This isn't just lip service, it is an obligation. The community environment has changed a great deal and the governance has not evolved very much. We absolutely have to increase financial literacy.
Secondly, as for access to capital, I strongly suggest that you chart the products and services offered to aboriginal people, that you identify areas of overlap and ensure that financial activities are coordinated and that you support projects that reach communities that really need help. Just about all of the private sector businesses will head for the low-lying fruit and will collect those, but everyone will go to the communities that do not have an acute need for these services. Capacity development is an essential element, and I consider it the government's responsibility to facilitate entry into the market for the communities that have the greatest needs.
The third recommendation is to support the development of indigenous financial institutions and the efficient use of the resources at their disposal, and encourage the ones with a development plan that allows the largest number of aboriginal persons to participate. Put simply, there are a lot of players and everyone seems to want to play in the same service areas. Please--we need someone to coordinate the projects. The Government of Canada will be called upon to invest in all of these projects.
And so I strongly urge you to ensure coordination in the delivery of programs and services, to specify who does what, and if these people function efficiently, to continue to support them on condition that they have a development plan that involves as many aboriginal persons as possible.
Fourthly, you must ensure that the delivery of services is adapted to Quebec and takes the legal environment into account—the Civil Code seems to be a very serious deterrent for almost all of the national institutions—as well as aboriginal languages and French, and I ask that you be mindful of the large distances that separate the nations or even the communities of a single first nation.
To go from Montreal to Sept-Îles costs $1,250. If you want to go to Schefferville you must add $1,250. What this means is that if you set up the head office of a national institution in Toronto or Vancouver, you will not have any visitors.
The fifth recommendation is to give priority to aboriginal bodies that are the closest to the communities for the delivery of services. There are networks; tribal councils are one example. In this era of computers and electronics, I think it is possible to ensure local delivery of services, even from a distance.
The sixth and final recommendation is to ensure that government bodies whose mandate is to support local governments are present and develop an appropriate strategy for aboriginals. The Government of Canada has a fiduciary responsibility in aboriginal matters, and not just Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
Because I worked at Industry Canada, I know that this department has tools that are sometimes better adapted to intervene in particular projects than those of other departments. And so, please, review the mandates of everyone involved and ensure that their service offer is appropriate.
Thank you.
Ann Decter
View Ann Decter Profile
Ann Decter
2015-05-28 10:36
Thank you.
Good morning. I'm Ann Decter. I am the director of advocacy and public policy at YWCA Canada.
As the country's oldest and largest women's multi-service organization with member associations serving women and girls in nine provinces and two territories, YWCA Canada is pleased to share its remarks on part 2 of Bill C-59, which will implement the provisions of the budget tabled on April 21, 2015.
In our brief to this committee during pre-budget consultations, we recommended policies to support women, girls, and families, including a national child care system and increasing the national child benefit to reduce poverty. We specifically urged the federal government not to adopt income splitting in federal budget 2015 or at any time in the future as the benefits of this policy do not flow to vulnerable families. Our point of view has not changed.
According to the summary of Bill C-59, division 1 of part 2 implements income tax measures that introduce the government's family tax cut, known more commonly as income splitting.
Supporting women, girls, and families requires adopting policies that work for women, policies that are based on women's present-day lived realities, including high workforce participation rates. With a 65% employment rate of women with infants and toddlers—that would be a youngest child under three—and two-thirds of mothers with a youngest child in preschool or kindergarten, access to affordable quality child care would be a key support for families. Instead, it remains a social policy gap unaddressed by the federal government, and provincial governments struggle to offer a patchwork of responses across the country.
Families need child care, and child care needs federal government leadership.
According to a range of sources, the family tax cut as implemented by division 1 of part 2 will cost between $2 billion and $3 billion per year and will disproportionately benefit families with higher incomes. YWCA Canada would recommend withdrawal of this measure, maintaining the federal tax base, and using those tax dollars to increase the availability of affordable quality child care for Canada's families.
There are currently about 450,000 regulated child care spaces in Canada and 2.1 million children under six years of age. Increasing child care spaces will reach a greater number of families in need of support. It will support working mothers, who are the vast majority of mothers, and single mothers in particular.
Analysis of Quebec's low-cost, broad-based child care system has confirmed that child care is a social policy that strongly supports mothers, and single mothers in particular, to move out of poverty by dramatically increasing their access to employment. Between 1996, when low-cost child care was introduced in Quebec, and 2008, almost 70,000 additional mothers joined the workforce; employment rates for mothers with children under the age of six increased by 22%; the number of single mothers on social assistance dropped from 99,000 to 45,000; the after-tax median income of single mothers rose by 81%; and the relative poverty rates for single-parent families headed by women declined from more than a third to less than a quarter.
YWCA Canada would add that the mothers fleeing domestic violence with their children—who use our services across the country—can land on their feet in the community much more quickly when they can access affordable child care.
Division 2 of part 2 of Bill C-59 retroactively amends the Universal Child Care Benefit Act effective January 1, 2015, to increase the universal child care benefit to $160 per month for children under six and to create a new benefit of $60 per month for children from six to seventeen years of age, inclusive.
YWCA Canada's presentation to this committee during the pre-budget consultations recommended that the federal government streamline tax system supports for families into a single increased national child benefit with a maximum of $5,400 per year. Along with our partners, Campaign 2000, we recommended that the universal child care benefit be absorbed into the national child benefit. Bill C-59 does the opposite.
Nineteen per cent of families in Canada live in poverty. Campaign 2000's proposal focused this investment where it is most needed: on lower-income families. According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, 51% of universal child care benefits will flow to “families with no child care expenses and families with older children”.
On behalf of the women and children who turn to the YWCA for help and support on a daily basis, we would encourage the government to reverse their thinking, increase access to affordable, quality, regulated child care, and focus transfer payments on families in financial need.
Thank you.
View Nathan Cullen Profile
Thank you.
Ms. Decter, your numbers out of Quebec are somewhat striking: almost cutting in half the number of single moms on social assistance, greater participation of women in the workforce, and a greater productivity for the province overall. TD and others have pointed out that investment in affordable child care actually delivers back $1.70 for every dollar put in.
Ann Decter
View Ann Decter Profile
Ann Decter
2015-05-28 10:45
It's preventive. It reduces costs down the road.
Imagine you take half of the single mothers living on social assistance and their children go to child care. They get the benefit of all that happens every day in day care, and all of the literature is now clear that it's very beneficial. At the same time, you get the mother going to work. They grow up with an example of someone who goes to work every day. They get out of that kind of poverty trap. I think we all know that when we were growing up, whatever our parents did was something that we thought was a normal thing to do. Well, if the normal thing to do is to receive a cheque, and there's no chance of getting out of that hole, then kids grow up with that kind of attitude—or they can grow up with that kind of attitude.
View Pierre Dionne Labelle Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Decter, I appreciated your testimony a great deal.
I am going to share my experience with you. I feel it may be helpful for everyone here who may have not lived in Quebec.
I have been in two different situations with this issue. In the first, there was no daycare service and we had to find people to look after our child in a basement. We did not know whether we were going to get daycare at the right time. My wife was incredibly stressed because she did not know whether she was going to be able to work or not.
With my daughter, the experience was the opposite. There was a daycare in the early childhood centre, the CPE, as we call it in Quebec. It had set hours and the people who took care of my daughter were college- or university-educated. The groups were set up in an intelligent way. The hours allowed my wife to work and then to come back to pick up our daughter in safe places that were designed for the purpose.
It is pure ignorance to think that a daycare system like that is not superior to having to chase around in a way that undermines the confidence of parents looking for support.
In your testimony, you mentioned some figures that showed the impact that the daycare system had on women in Quebec. For those listening to us, and even those not listening to us, I would like you to repeat those figures, because they illustrate the positive impact of that daycare system.
Ann Decter
View Ann Decter Profile
Ann Decter
2015-05-28 11:04
This is for the period between 1996 and 2008, the first 12 years of low-cost child care. Almost 70,000 additional mothers joined the workforce; it was, I think, 69,700. Employment rates for mothers with children under the age of six increased 22%. The number of single mothers on social assistance dropped from 99,000 to 45,000, so by more than half. The after-tax median income of single mothers rose by 81%. The relative poverty rates for single-parent families headed by women declined more than a third—the figure is actually 36%—to less than a quarter. It was down to 22%.
From YWCA Canada's point of view, with child care I believe we are at the point that the country was with public schools in the late 1800s, when that was a system that was coming in and that was going to be accessible to everyone. You see it across the country: provinces struggling to make a response, increases in full-day kindergarten.
We'll never have an equal system unless the federal government shows some leadership. We're not talking about the federal government providing child care; clearly that has to come through provinces and locally. But as with other things for which there is shared responsibility, the government can work on agreements and they can support this. We just think the money is much better spent in that direction, because the fact is you have between 66% and 80% of women in the workforce.
Anik Bissonnette
View Anik Bissonnette Profile
Anik Bissonnette
2015-05-25 15:35
Mr. Chair and members of the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage, we would like to thank you for inviting the École supérieure de ballet du Québec to participate in your study on the importance of dance. I am joined today by Alix Laurent, executive director of our institution.
The École supérieure de ballet du Québec is proud to be here today to talk about dance in Canada, specifically the strategic role of training. In fact, the École supérieure is the only francophone institution in North America to provide world-class ballet training for almost half a century.
In 1952, Canada welcomed Ludmilla Chiriaeff, a Berlin-trained Russian dancer who founded Les Grands Ballets canadiens de Montréal, which became the École supérieure de ballet du Québec. Ms. Chiriaeff's passion, determination and pioneering perseverance helped dance to flourish in Canada in an unprecedented way. The École supérieure receives about 130 students who want to become dancers to its professional program. Because our institution has the exclusive mandate in Quebec for advanced training in classical dance, these 130 young people hail not only from Montreal and the various regions of Quebec, but also from other provinces in Canada, the United States, Europe, Asia and South America. They leave our institution with a strengthened knowledge of Canada's two official languages, and with a very high level of artistic skill.
Our professional program is spread out over 10 years. Our students do three to five hours of dance a day, five to six days a week, while pursuing rigorous general training. In fact, the École supérieure works with renowned academic institutions, including the Pensionnat du Saint-Nom-de-Marie, which is a secondary school. It is mentioned in Cambridge University's students' union's The Guide to Excellence, which lists the best schools in the world.
Our students have the opportunity to grow up in Montreal, which is a true cultural metropolis and one of the dance capitals of the world, which means that they are at the heart of an extremely stimulating and abundant environment. They live in a world of dance, and they are in constant contact with the most noted creators in the world. They are taught by some twenty outstanding teachers who have had great careers in the most prestigious dance companies in the world.
Every year, five to 10 students complete their advanced training in classical dance performance. Our graduates dance for Canadian companies, including Montreal's Grands Ballets canadiens, the National Ballet of Canada, Alberta Ballet, Ballet BC, and the Atlantic Ballet Theatre of Canada. Our graduates are also active abroad, including in Germany, the United States, France and the Netherlands.
Of course, the young people who pass through the École supérieure de ballet du Québec do not all become professional dancers. However, I can tell you that every single one of them, without exception, keep with them precious resources that will serve them throughout their lives. Learning classical dance responds to a flawless logic. It is methodical, structured and based on biomechanical principles structured around a language that has not stopped developing for over 300 years.
Our students learn rigour, respect and discipline, which are priceless assets on the labour market and essential in all job sectors. Furthermore, some of our graduates have become brilliant managers, others have careers in law, medicine and communications. All of them gained a dancer's mentality, which means that they made a habit of taking care of themselves, their bodies, their minds and their hearts, not to mention the natural altruism of all dancers, because this talent is hard-learned, and they know about giving back to the community. At once they are total artists and athletes, responsible citizens, and educated men and women. In fact, the practice of dance is an asset against dropping out of school, and it encourages the development of a structured way of functioning in society. Dance is a basic practice for a healthy society, even when it is a leisure activity, as is the case for the children and adults who register for our recreational program.
This program, which attracts nearly 1,000 individuals, generates nearly 20% of our revenue. The École supérieure has an annual budget of close to $3.5 million, with less than half coming from public funding. Our main funder is the Quebec ministry of culture and communications.
Last year, Canadian Heritage granted us $125,000, about 3% of our budget. This year, the amount was reduced to $115,000. No matter what the reason was for these cuts, this amount is still clearly insufficient to support the mission of an institution of our size, which is the only one in Quebec. It forces us to make disproportionate efforts to carry out our mission, and it is one of the main obstacles to our development, which is needed now more than ever because we have a major renovation project. Our spaces have become too small and no longer meet international standards. For about 30 years, we have been using the Maison de la danse, a building we share with the Grands Ballets canadiens de Montréal, which will be moving to the Quartier des spectacles in 2016. We are going to take this opportunity to get a construction site going so that we can have facilities worthy of the largest schools in the world. It isn't enough to give future professional dancers the best instruction; we must also meet their training needs in adapted fitness and rest areas. We also need to have equipment that is on the cutting edge of technology. To do this, financial support from governments is more than necessary.
For the dance sector to reach its full potential in Canada, it is more than urgent to solidify all the production steps for our discipline, particularly training, to ensure that these steps are in touch with the labour market. We must assure our graduates that they will be able to work here at the end of their studies. This is a crucial issue for an entire generation of young dancers. One solution might be to give dance companies in Canada specific funding so that they can hire strictly apprentices from the major Canadian schools, which are true hotbeds of talent.
I want to specify that this is not a pipe-dream for utopia, on the contrary; I am living proof that this method of transferring knowledge works perfectly because I, myself, benefitted from it. When I was 17, I was not ready for the professional stage. However, I was discovered by a company that took the time to refine my training as an apprentice, so much so that I danced all over the world and became the principal dancer of the Grands Ballets canadiens. In Canada, we are fortunate to have a pool of young future dancers with exceptional potential. Today, I hope with all my heart that Canada will allow them to have the same opportunities as those who allowed me to have such a great career. Lastly, generations of young Canadian dancers need to be able to continue to light up stages in Canada and around the world with their grace. Help us to train the ambassadors of the future.
Thank you for your precious attention.
View Stéphane Dion Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
I'd like to discuss an issue that concerns me, injuries. Being a dancer is wonderful, but it does have risks. Dancers are athletes. We often hear it said that dancing is a very tough profession and that many dancers put themselves at risk by dancing, even when injured, so as not to lose an opportunity to make a bit of money, practice their art and be seen by audiences.
In Quebec, the CSST provides some coverage, but is it enough? In other words, do dancers have adequate coverage in Quebec?
Anik Bissonnette
View Anik Bissonnette Profile
Anik Bissonnette
2015-05-25 16:14
More and more, schools are teaching students how to take care of their bodies. At the ESBQ, we have physiotherapists and doctors. There are hospitals where we can send our dancers. As I mentioned, training never stops, so safeguarding your health is even more important. Our teachers have the training to teach students how to take care of their bodies and prevent injuries. I think we have made huge strides in that regard.
View Rodney Weston Profile
View Rodney Weston Profile
2015-05-12 11:06
I call this meeting to order. I'd like to thank our guest, Monsieur Baril, for being with us today.
I assume the clerk has already advised you that we generally allow about 10 minutes for opening comments and remarks. Following that, we'll move into questions and answers. I'd ask that you try to keep your responses concise so that members can get as many questions in as possible.
Whenever you're ready, Monsieur Baril, the floor is yours.
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