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View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
I thank the NDP very much for the opportunity to have some time here.
I greet you, Chief Turtle. Thank you for your phone call a couple of nights ago and for our conversation again yesterday. I want to send greetings to the entire Asubpeeschoseewagong community. I want to speak in support of the request the community has made for a trust fund. I think I share that sentiment with my colleagues who have offered me this time.
Chief, when we talked about this, you gave me the reasons you believe it's important. We talked about the moral imperative, about the fact that thousands of people—both in your community and in surrounding communities—have been impacted by the mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon river system, and about how there is no other group of Canadians who would accept suffering such health consequences and not have appropriate health facilities to treat them.
The commitment was made on behalf of the government, as I know very well. I believe that it's incumbent upon the government to continue with that commitment.
You and others have outlined a clear clinical need. I urge people who haven't read the Mergler report to do so. It does outline not only the effects on adults, but the severe neurological effects on children of mercury contamination.
Chief, you talked to me about the exceptional circumstances that you're under and that is why you have asked for this $89-million trust. My question for you is: What do you think are the reasons it has not come to pass? I have a list of five potential theories; I wonder if any of them are reasons that you have as to why this agreement has not yet been reached.
Earlier, the officials talked about the fact that it was the mechanism of a contribution agreement versus a trust fund that was the debate. I wonder if, in fact, it's not so much the mechanism, but the amount of money because the amount of money in the trust fund is significantly larger—in the order of $89 million. However, I would argue that one can calculate $89 million to be 0.025% of what the federal government is going to spend this year. I think most Canadians would argue that spending 0.025% of this year's money to give 30 years of treatment to the people of Grassy Narrows is a very good investment.
The second possibility I have heard is that it's a question of time. Officials talked about the fact that they didn't have time to prepare the details of the trust fund. I wonder, Chief, whether you think that the thousands of officials who work in Indigenous Services Canada—along with their colleagues, the thousands of officials who work in Finance Canada—could not somehow find the time over the next couple of weeks to write up what would be necessary for a trust fund, knowing that there are examples in Ontario and others that we've heard about this morning that could be seen as a template for this.
The third theory I have is that it's a lack of political will. I don't actually believe that to be the case. I know my colleagues in the Liberal Party and in the government want to do right by indigenous peoples, so it is my sense that this is not the actual problem. I think there is, as others have said here, a shared political will of all members of Parliament to see justice for the people of Asubpeeschoseewagong.
The fourth theory I have is the trust issue. The minister spoke last week about the fact that possibly you weren't trusting the government to be able to come through with the long-term expenses. My theory is that perhaps it's the other way around. Do you think it's possible that the government doesn't trust you and your officials to be able to administer a trust fund appropriately? I'll put that to you as a possibility.
The fifth area that I think may be a stumbling block is that, in my understanding, this would be because of the size of an $89-million trust fund. It would require an off-cycle budget ask from a government that's just tabled its final budget. If that is the case, Chief, I wonder if there's a way that we could support you—and perhaps members of this committee could support you—by collectively asking the Minister of Finance to consider the possibility of an off-cycle budget ask, even at this late stage, in order to find the money necessary for this trust fund.
Imagine the legacy that this government could share with you and your community, Chief, as well as the members of this 42nd Parliament, if in fact this could be put in place before the end of the term.
I'd be interested in your thoughts on whether there are other reasons that I haven't considered and in what ways we could support you to be successful in the coming weeks.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Sikand, for sharing your time.
It's good to see you again, Stanley, Scott and Patrick.
One of the things that I've always said about Nunavut is that it's an untapped resource. The rest of Canada has been explored, dug into and capitalized on, but Nunavut hasn't. I think one of the things that we need as a country, to be able to tap into that resource and allow Nunavut to create a sustainable and stable economy, is that investment infrastructure. I've always said that national programs like this one, whether they be programs or formulas, don't take into account the uniqueness of the north: the time frame that it takes to get things done and the higher cost of doing stuff up there. I've always said that investment in infrastructure in the north is an investment in the Canadian economy, because everything that we need up north comes from the south.
I guess, having said that—and I'll leave it up to who would like to answer this—what would be the economic benefit to Canada from this project? Do you have any specific numbers that you'd like to share with us on that?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
You hit the nail on the head there I think. It's just something like...can we afford not to invest in it?
I think everyone knows there are very limited opportunities in Nunavut to create a stable, sustainable economy, and the numbers you just pointed out make it very clear that here's something that—and you can confirm—would create economic prosperity as far as jobs in the region for individuals, and also the business opportunities in the region and in the south.
Thank you.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
Yes, thank you.
This is a fairly straightforward amendment. It was received on the basis of feedback that I heard from indigenous peoples: that they want it to refer not to “a child's well-being is often promoted when”, but to “a child's best interests are often promoted when”. This is because the concept of best interests is a concept that I heard repeatedly, particularly from first nations with regard to the highest goal that they were seeking. It was more inclusive of considering cultural continuity, and we certainly heard that cultural continuity is something that is at risk when children are taken from their homes. I think that it would not take much to change that to say that it is a child's best interests that we are seeking.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
I propose this amendment to clause 12. This and my following two amendments all have to do with the fact that children are often taken from their parents without proper warning to the parents, without proper preventative measures being put in place and without information about what's being done.
This particular amendment in clause 12 has to do with adding some clarity of language so that there's a requirement for the service provider to give information as to exactly what measure is being contemplated for the child, and there would be advance notice of such.
There is also a part of this amendment that speaks to the privacy provisions in here so that there's no personal information about the child in the notice that's given unless it's necessary to convey information about the measure and that there should be a privacy officer to ensure that information is treated in the manner that is respectful. I heard stories of people where their privacy was not protected when children were taken from them. Unfortunately, the privacy of the child and family was not respected.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
I move this amendment to clause 14. I feel very strongly about this amendment. Every single day in this country, a child is taken from the parent in the hospital at the time of birth. A birth alert is put on the chart; there is no requirement currently for the family to be notified about that and there is no obligation on the care providers to show that they have tried to do something else other than to take that child away.
This would put an onus on the service providers to, first of all, make sure there was advance notice given to the family about a potential removal of a child. They would also be required to say that they had tried other measures: they had looked for an aunt or a grandmother or they had tried to solve the economic challenges that the family was facing.
This, in itself, would absolutely save lives. This would prevent children from being apprehended. I put it to my colleagues—find it in your hearts to support this amendment.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
Yes, I wanted to speak to this amendment because my amendment following is very similar, and I'm afraid that if it gets voted down I won't be given an opportunity.
Again, I just want to implore colleagues to consider what happens in reality, which is that a child is taken from its family, and the reason given is that the family doesn't have enough money or doesn't have an adequate house. Then somehow we manage to find hundreds of dollars per day, adding up to thousands of dollars per month, to go to a non-indigenous foster family to care for that child. It seems absurd to me that we would take a child away because of socio-economic challenges the family has, but that somehow we can magically—we or the provinces—find enough money to put thousands of dollars into the hands of non-indigenous families to pay for that child.
We have a chance right here at this table to be able to say that is wrong. You cannot take a child away from its family because of poverty. Poverty is not neglect. Poverty is not within people's control. We have a chance, right now, to be able to say that positive measures have to be taken to remediate the inadequate housing, to remediate the economic opportunities and to make sure, for goodness' sake, that the Canada child benefit gets into the hands of the indigenous family, and not into the hands of the province never to see that family benefit.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
I would say that, yes, there was co-development, and in fact I think it was quite good. It's not perfect. I think we have a lot of work to do as a country to figure out what co-development looks like and how you make sure all the voices are heard.
There were changes made after all of the information was gathered, and sometimes things were weakened in that process. After I left the portfolio, I know that there were further changes made.
I would say that PS Vandal has already talked about the fact that, yes, there already are some provisions in there around socio-economics, but they're aspirational. I think the amendment that I have proposed—and that both the Green Party and the NDP have proposed similarly—puts the onus on the positive measures that have to be taken.
What ends up happening is that these laws are then something that, for example, first nations or Inuit families have so that they can go and say, with the help of those around them, “Look, you have a positive obligation to be able to help me in my financial circumstances or with my housing need, and you can't take the child away simply because I am poor.” None of us around the table want children to be taken away from their families simply because they are poor. We want to solve that underlying problem first.
I would say, then, that the co-development led to a piece of legislation that got some of the strength taken out of it in the process. This is trying to add that strength back into it.
I will just say, while I have the floor, that I would prefer to change one word in my amendment. I don't know how it slipped by me, but the word “neglect” is in there.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
As I was saying earlier, I think I've already spoken out for putting the positive obligation on service providers to address the socio-economic challenges the family may be facing.
If this were to be passed, I would like to see if there would be a way to change the word “neglect”. I feel it's a very offensive, pejorative term to say that families are neglecting their children just because they don't have an adequate house, or due to poverty. This is not in the parents' control in most cases. I would simply change my amended clause 15(2) to say, “...being placed on this basis, positive measures must be taken to remediate the conditions related to the lack of financial means of the child's parent or care provider” so as not to make accusations that are unfair.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
I move this motion as a follow-up to the member of Saanich—Gulf Islands in terms of the importance of responding to the TRC call to action 2, so that we will get the kind of information that's required about how many children are in care and how they're doing.
My amendment includes a number of provisions. One would be that this information-gathering would be performed according to the best practices of established research ethics. The Inuit would like to make sure that when an Inuk child is taken into care there is more detail and that their land claim organization is specified. There's more clarity here on the privacy policy that needs to take place around the gathering of information. It also adds in some of the most important pieces of information that need to be made available, which are the number of placements, the amount of money that's spent and who's spending it on child and family services.
This is taking what is in the bill and expanding it, so that we can actually respond appropriately to call to action 2.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
I propose an amendment that would add an additional clause 30.1. The initial desire here was from the cries that I heard from indigenous peoples to create an office of the commissioner of indigenous child well-being or a commissioner of the best interest of the child.
I recognize that that would be out of scope and it's unfortunate that it wasn't included in the bill in the first place.
I think the closest that we would get that would not be deemed out of scope would be to include the requirement for the minister to establish an advisory committee to assist the minister and submit reports to the minister on a regular basis about the implementation of this bill. A national advisory committee on indigenous child welfare already exists, but this would put that advisory committee into legislation and would support making sure that the work of this bill would see follow-through.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
The first part of my motion that I move now I gather will not be supported in terms of moving to every three years rather than every five years; but the second part of my amendment I would still like to be considered. It is that when undertaking the review, the minister must specifically study the adequacy and method of funding. This is, again, one of the only tools that we have to get around the issue that was raised most consistently by first nations, Inuit and Métis—the adequacy of funding.
In lieu of the better option of statutory funding, at least this would allow a tool so that we would be able to say that a future government would get the information and there would be a requirement on the minister to report on that.
This is something that I believe is very important and I would seek your support.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
I move this amendment. It follows along on the issues raised by my colleague, the member from Saanich—Gulf Islands, about the need to ensure that these regulations will in fact be put into place and that this will support the implementation of the bill. I have heard what officials have said before about the fact that regulatory-making provisions are already in the bill, but the problem that will arise is that one may be forced to return and amend the bill because the provisions already there are interpreted as being too narrow. This gives us an opportunity to broaden the regulatory-making ability, including such things as the procedures for consultations and what that will look like.
I would argue that this is where we will be able to see the bill have its effect and not be simply a piece of legislation that's passed without having an impact. I urge further clarity around the obligations on regulations, through this amendment.
(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
You'll see, as I move this motion, that I'm quite determined to try to find ways to make sure that regulations are actually done. One of the parts of this amendment speaks to a review of what's taken place on amendments every three years and that the minister must, in collaboration with indigenous governing bodies, review regulations to make sure they're adequate and sufficient. One of the provisions says that the Governor in Council must make at least one regulation. They only have to do one, but they have to do a regulation within two years. That will have the effect of revving up the system, as soon as the bill is passed and has royal assent, to get partners working together on making sure there are regulations put in place. If we could just make the requirement of one single regulation within the first two years beyond royal assent, I think that would be a great way to ensure that the work gets done.
I know that our wonderful public servants are always good at getting things done when they are written in law. I think if we put this requirement in law, it would be very helpful in terms of making sure the bill is as effective as it could be.
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
Thank you so much, MP McLeod, for giving me an opportunity to ask a question.
I want to greet the colleagues who have come today and congratulate you on all of the work you have done on this. I thank the committee for their excellent work on what I think is possibly the most important bill the government is working on, because it will make a difference in the lives of children.
I agree with MP McLeod that the bill is not perfect. One of my questions is particularly in terms of the financing piece on this, which I think is probably one of the strongest critiques. Bobby, I think you raised some really excellent points.
The way I've argued that it would be ideal if this bill had financing is, number one, following Jordan's principle, which requires that children not be discriminated against on the basis of jurisdiction. I think there are ways to get funding for child welfare through the application of Jordan's principle, but it's not the ideal methodology. The second are the commitments that the government made related to the Human Rights Tribunal, obliging the government to pay the actual costs preventing the removal of children. Then, of course, I think there's the very pragmatic argument of the fact that in the end, financing and providing statutory funding for child and family services will save society in both financial and other measures in the future. There's no question that statutory funding is the ultimate goal.
I guess my question is, what do we do in the next seven weeks? What are your recommendations? In terms of getting this bill passed, I have proposed an amendment suggesting that the review should not be not at five years but at three years. I have also proposed that the review should specifically include an analysis as to whether the funding has been adequate, which sets obligations both on governments and agencies to ensure that these services have been appropriately funded, and hopefully will lead us in the direction of the opportunity in three years from now to move towards statutory funding.
Do you have other, better suggestions than that? I suspect that you do in terms of how we can deal with this. Some have suggested that the bill should not pass if the funding isn't there. I think that the bill should be passed, but how can we strengthen it so that we move toward a world in the very near future where statutory funding is a reality?
View Jane Philpott Profile
Ind. (ON)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I hope nobody's indifferent to doing it this way.
Thank you, Madam Chair and members of this committee, for the opportunity to speak in support of the amendments I proposed to the draft indigenous languages act.
Before I continue, I just want to note that I'm Inuk. I think everyone here knows that, but I do not speak my language, the language of my forefathers and ancestors, due to the history of discriminatory government policies referred to in the preamble of Bill C-91.
I believe that this bill, as currently drafted, is incomplete. It fails to take into account the unique geographic and linguistic situation of Inuit. The Inuit languages and dialects that make up Inuktitut were spoken on this continent long before the arrival of French or English, whose languages are now recognized as Canada's two official languages.
This year Canada celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act and intends to review and modernize it. It is entirely fitting, in my view, that this committee take the very important step of acknowledging the irony of excluding Inuktitut—the majority language in the vast northern Inuit regions known as Inuit Nunangat, which is probably close to a quarter of this country—from enjoying enhanced legal status similar to that of the two majority languages in southern Canada. The amendment I am proposing in clause 9.1 would lay the groundwork to begin addressing this exclusion.
The intent of the amendment is to allow, but not commit, the minister to go beyond the matters referred to in clause 9, which are restricted to negotiating indigenous language programs and service delivery, subject to as yet unknown terms and conditions. Under my proposed clause 9.1, the minister would be able to enter into an arrangement or agreement with provincial or territorial governments, indigenous governments or other indigenous governing bodies that goes beyond program and service delivery.
Clause 9.1 would allow the minister to further the promotion and the use of indigenous languages in light of the distinctiveness, the aspirations and the circumstances of indigenous people in a designated region or territory. This would encompass a large territory like Nunavut, where 84% of the population speaks Inuktitut, or a large region like Inuit Nunangat. Clause 9.1 would make it possible for the minister to negotiate the status in Canadian law of an indigenous language in such a region or territory. It would also be possible for the minister to do so incrementally.
Importantly, if adopted, this amendment would allow the minister to keep the dialogue open with our national Inuit organization, ITK, whose current views about the shortcomings of Bill C-91 are quite clearly on the record for this committee. In fact, I understand that the government members have been told to vote against an amendment that is being brought forward by Mr. Nantel, which reflects changes that would make Bill C-91 amenable to ITK. I can't underline enough the importance of continuing dialogue with ITK on the matter of protecting our Inuit language.
It was mentioned that this was co-developed. I think ITK and NTI have made it very clear that this piece of legislation was in no way co-developed with Inuit. ITK said it was negotiated in bad faith. In developing my amendment, I tried to find a way to put an olive branch out there, or a sign of good faith, for ongoing negotiations, which I understand is where the government wants to go.
I think that all committee members are very capable, as we've heard over the last few weeks, of making their own decisions. I look forward to that. I would encourage you all to do the right thing—support Inuit, support this amendment. I think that would show that this government is serious about what they're saying.
I also urge all committee members to consider carefully what I'm proposing and the consequences of moving forward with a bill that excludes Canada's oldest languages.
With that, Madam Chair, I'm prepared to respond to any questions that any committee members may have.
Thank you for your time.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Monsieur Nantel.
I think one point you made was on the scope of the bill. I understand going in and looking at developing an amendment. One of the concerns that the government had with the amendments that ITK put forward was that they didn't fall within the scope and mandate of the bill. I had some discussions with a lawyer to help me draft this, to try to put it forward in a way that fit within the scope and mandate of this bill. I believe that I've been able to do that with this amendment. I didn't want to cross a line with it, to come up to the line, and I think it's a good compromise as a potential win-win scenario. Neither side would be doing the happy dance, but it would put in place a mechanism in the legislation to allow both sides to get to where they want to go in the future.
Thank you.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I know that in Nunavut and the NWT, Inuktitut is an official language. The amendment I am proposing talks about a region or a territory, and I think that's one of the things ITK was looking at in what they're trying to achieve with the goal of it, so it's not imposing it on a whole territory but it would be within a region.
The wording I put forward to the person I had draft this was much simpler than the legalese that came out of it, and I think you can all appreciate that. This is just consistent language with the existing legislation, which is why that's in there. Also, she said many of these things are included in the other clauses, but not all of them.
The main thing is that it does not take into account the unique geographic and linguistic situation of Inuit, or the distinctiveness and the aspirations of indigenous people, especially Inuit. I say Inuit, but the way I worded it, again, wasn't singling out any indigenous group. It was mentioned earlier that if we just put one in there it's going to exclude others. I was very careful to put it forward in a way that was inclusive and broad, which wouldn't exclude any possible group.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I think the intent of this and the intent of what ITK was looking at, and also in discussions with the minister, was to find a way, in a region where it is the majority language spoken, that it could be considered an official language, but only within that region. Again, that is something yet to be negotiated.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
It would allow the minister to negotiate with a group with its.... If ITK said they want it to be recognized in Nunavut, where 85% of it is, then they could negotiate or come to an agreement to allow that to happen. It doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be everywhere else, either. It would be up to that region to come to the table to negotiate with the minister if that's something they chose to do. It doesn't necessarily mandate that it has to be.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I'm sorry—
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I know everybody's getting hung up, and the deputy minister, on the word “province”. That was something the lawyers put in there. They said it had to be like that. It doesn't mean that it's going to force it on all of them. My understanding from what the lawyers tell me is that it was just for consistency with the existing legislation. Again, the intent is within a region or territory, like Nunavut.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I've been looking at and developing legislation for over 20 years now. Usually there are two words in there; it's either “shall” or “may”. When you use the word “shall”, it means you have to. When you use the word “may”, you don't have to. That's where I was making my point. One concern coming from the government was that it would be binding on them to do it, but if you put “may” in there, it's non-binding. They can do it if they want to. If everyone agrees that's where they want to go, then they can do that. It just allows a mechanism, in there, to get there.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
You may get a different answer depending on how you vote.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, committee members, at least some of you, for listening and not just going along with what you're told.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you very much, Madam Chair, and everyone, for allowing me to ask some questions.
I know I probably surprised a few people today. I'm very confident that through this committee process and my discussion with the minister that, with some amendments, including with the Inuit, we will be able to come to some common ground so that we will have unanimous support at third reading. I want to make that very clear right off the bat. Those are topics for another meeting.
Professor Newman, while looking at the different clauses, I noticed that clauses 5 and 8, for instance, talk about co-operation with provincial governments. Provincial and indigenous governments are mentioned throughout the bill. From your point of view, would that include territorial governments, or are they excluded by their not being named here?
Thank you.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Okay. Thank you.
Again, Mr. Newman, I'm not sure if you're familiar with the Nunavut Agreement and the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. It's an anomaly; it's unique. It's a land claims agreement with Inuit that instead of choosing to go to self-government, as in Nunatsiavut where a lot of these things are geared toward, they chose to have a public government to administer all of the programs and services.
In the beginning of the bill, in the definitions where it talks about “indigenous governing body”, the unique situation of Nunavut, where the land claims agreement chose to have a public government to administer the territory, should be included because if I read this “indigenous governing body” wouldn't cover the territorial government that has the responsibility for delivering programs and services, especially with the languages as well.
Thank you.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Amos and Madam Chair.
Welcome to both of you. It's good to see you again.
In your comments, Mr. Lavallée, you said that “the bank should take into account the specific challenges of developing infrastructure” and that “the bank should also consider how it can contribute to the government's commitment to achieve reconciliation”.
What specifically are you looking at in those areas to take that into account? It just says “should”; it doesn't say “shall”.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
Mr. Campbell, you said you were recently up in my hometown of Rankin Inlet. The folks from Agnico Eagle were here presenting before the committee, along with—at a different time—the Kivalliq Inuit Association. One of the projects that they're looking at moving forward is the Manitoba-Kivalliq hydro and fibre project. One of the challenges was being able to attract some private sector investment. They've indicated that they have that. I'm just wondering if that's something that's moving along through either of your processes to be considered.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Maybe I won't stop, Madam Chair. Thanks.
Voices: Oh, oh!
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Welcome. It's good to see you again.
In listening to your stories, it seems like it could be our premier saying the same thing for Nunavut. It's one thing the Inuit have in common, I guess. We've been ignored for far too long by the federal government.
I guess you want to talk about the infrastructure deficit. I can totally relate. We're in the same kayak, if you want to say that, right? Do you think the federal government needs to focus more directly with the Nunatsiavut government, the Nunavut government and the governments of the jurisdictions to come up with something to address that infrastructure deficit insofar as what your priorities are and in dollars that will actually get something done quickly?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thanks, Mike and Madam Chair.
I have a couple of things.
Maybe I'll start with you, Mike.
With regard to the support for the Kivalliq hydro and fibre link going north, KIA's David Ningeongan was here last week, appearing before us and pitching the project. You've been around a long time. I know that. We were both a lot younger in Churchill in those days.
The positive economic impact that a project like that would have, not only on the Kivalliq region, but also on Churchill and the communities along the line coming up in Manitoba....
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
Maybe I'll just ask my good friend Jackie. I know Larry talked earlier about the effects of climate change. I know some of the challenges of getting stuff by barge from Hay River up to the Arctic Ocean and our communities, including yours, with the low water levels on the Mackenzie River, and a lot of that has to do with climate change.
You're talking about having a port in Tuk and trucking stuff up there and shipping stuff out from there. Do you think that would be a much more reliable solution, with what's happening with the Mackenzie River?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Rusnak.
Welcome, David.
David is from my hometown. This project he's presenting for us today was probably something that was being talked about when we were teenagers running around Rankin Inlet. That's how long it's been on the books.
Much as we heard earlier, there's a lack of infrastructure. This type of infrastructure will open up the northern region to considerable economic growth and economic development, and will help create and maintain a sustainable economy in the north.
This has been talked about for a long time, and I know your study is well under way. What are some of the key things right now that are critical to getting from where we are now to where we need to get to, to get over the finish line and be able to provide the region with cheap energy and fibre connection?
Thank you, Madam Chair.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
For that project it seems as though the stars are all aligning and everything is taking shape where you're having private sector investment plus industry, as they are already operating and willing to contribute to the project as well.
In your comments you mentioned that what you have set up right now with them would help the federal government, with their support, to leverage a considerable amount of private sector funding.
Do you have an idea of what kinds of numbers we're looking at as far as how significant the private sector investment budget for this project would be?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Okay. I know that's always been one barrier: Where's the support from the private sector, rather than not just relying 100% on the government?
Do you have a ballpark figure, like 40%, 50%, or 60%, or whatever it would be, that would come from the private sector, where a portion of the project funding from the federal government would be leveraged from the private sector?
Thank you.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Mr. Harvey, for sharing your time.
My first question is for Mr. Hutton. You talked about how you're developing this multimodal Arctic transportation policy framework to put yourself in a better position to address our needs.
When do you expect this to be done?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
As you mentioned, and everyone knows, air and marine transportation are our only two modes of transportation. Are you consulting with the folks who work up there in those industries and provide those services to us in the north? They're the ones with first-hand knowledge of the challenges and issues that they face on a daily basis. Will you be consulting with them as well?
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Ind. (NU)
Are you looking at talking to the airline industry folks as well? I know there are some changes being made right now in some of the regulations on flight duty time that are impacting their operations. Will you be talking with them about any challenges they face, which can help you deal with it?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you very much.
I'll move on to Mr. Lick. It's good to see you, sir.
I'll just start by saying that I appreciate all the investments that have been made by the Coast Guard in the north. The rescue boat that was there for the trade show in Rankin Inlet was a big hit. It was great.
You talked about these caches that you have, and I know they are in a number of different communities around the north. One, are you looking at expanding to more communities as the ice seems to be opening up more? Two, how often do you go around to these communities and work with either the local hunters and trappers organization or the municipality on looking at the equipment and what's there, and some instruction on how to use it as well?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'll turn it back over to Mr. Harvey.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Hardie and Madam Chair.
Minister Garneau, it's good to see you here.
First, I want to thank you for the five new terminals throughout Nunavut that were announced a few weeks ago. The replacements were badly needed. It's greatly appreciated.
The Government of Nunavut had submitted some other projects under the national trade corridors fund, being the airport relocations in Pangnirtung and Kimmirut as well as a winter road from Kivalliq down to Manitoba. I know they were turned down. I'm wondering why, and if there's any advice we can give to the Government of Nunavut to reapply or look at a different pool of funds to apply to for them.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Amos.
Welcome to the witnesses. My question is for Ms. Joe and Mr. Grondin.
Francyne, you talked about self-determination, participating members, the overrepresentation, and all the social ills. I think, Mr. Grondin, you discussed that as well. It's no secret in my riding in Nunavut, and, I'm sure, in any indigenous community across the country.... A lot of these problems, I look at them as effects. To address the cause, I've always said that we need to make sure people's basic needs are met. I think for 150 years now that hasn't happened. We've been kind of choked off at the wallet. You talk about addressing some of these issues, obtaining self-determination, and ensuring that Canada is falling in line with the rights of indigenous people. I think, Mr. Grondin, you mentioned that we need not just cosmetic but deep changes, financial changes.
Do you think there needs to be a significant investment from Canada in all indigenous communities to make those changes? We hear all the time that we can't afford it, but my view is that we can't afford not to. I'd like to hear your thoughts on that.
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Ind. (NU)
How much time do I have?
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Ind. (NU)
Maybe before I go on, Mr. Grondin, there was my previous question. I don't know if you remember it, but it looked like you wanted to respond. I'll give you a chance. Do you remember it?
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Ind. (NU)
I think it's not only high-quality services, it's basic services.
I won't have time, Mr. Fox, but I know in Nunavut we have a very good regulatory regime that developed under a land claims agreement and a regulatory regime that involves the federal government, the territorial government, and Inuit organizations. I'm wondering if you've thought of setting up something like that—
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Ind. (NU)
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Ind. (NU)
Mr. Chairman, I hope this is not a case where you use your word of the day.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman and committee members, for the hard work you guys are doing, especially on this very important piece of legislation. I'm here just briefly, as I committed to you yesterday, Mr. Chairman, to speak to the amendment I've proposed for Bill C-55.
The ultimate goal of this amendment is to reduce and directly address any procedural ambiguity regarding the ministerial decision-making process of the marine protected areas in areas where there are established land claims agreements. I'm putting this in the context of the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement, but there are also other land claim agreements across the north, including Labrador, northern Quebec, and the Northwest Territories. It's understood in those agreements, and accepted as part of the agreements, that nothing should happen to our lands or to our waters without the input and involvement of Inuit. I think this applies to all facets of decision-making, any activities, as well as the management of those areas.
I feel that the proposed amendment makes this distinction very clear in the particular case of marine protected area designation. I spoke to Inuit back home, and to representatives from Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and the belief is that the proposed amendment would help ensure that the federal government is living up to its obligations under ratified and approved land claims agreements, especially the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. I believe the acceptance of this amendment would not only substantiate the Inuit-to-crown partnership, but it would also further highlight the government's commitment to honouring the appropriate consultation process with the indigenous people of this country.
I know that this is something we heard in the House from all parties, so I'm looking forward to support for this. I think it also shows that this government is serious and is committed to honouring its obligations under land claims agreements.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Gary.
Welcome to both ministers. I congratulate both you and the government for dissolving that entrenched, paternalistic, colonial structure that I think everyone in this room recognizes was a challenge to deal with. I'm optimistic about the change in that approach.
No one will disagree with me that Inuit are indigenous people in this country. My question is for Minister Philpott.
When you talk about indigenous services, which specific services? There are some that specify first nations. For my benefit and knowing where to go, what specific services for Inuit and Nunavut will we deal with under the new and improved department?
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Ind. (NU)
Okay, thank you, Minister Philpott.
I guess one of the other things, and it was mentioned earlier in comments, is that under the land claims agreement, there is a public government established under that modern treaty. The territorial government is responsible for providing some of those services like health care, education, and housing. I'm just wondering, because you talk about working with Inuit leaders, is there also a committee that you're working on with the territorial government as well so that they're not being left out of the picture?
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Ind. (NU)
Okay, thank you. I'll go very quickly.
On your priorities, you mentioned transforming the way health care is delivered in first nations, and your mandate letter talks about how to deliver health services to indigenous peoples. I just want make sure—that may have been just an oversight—that Inuit and indigenous peoples are included in that.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thirty seconds is not enough time, but I look forward to more time, hopefully.
Thank you, committee members, for giving me the chance.
Thank you, Minister LeBlanc, for being here.
I know there have been some concerns about the bill's potential conflict with the Nunavut Land Claims Agreement. As we all know, Inuit have constitutionally protected rights regarding access to wildlife and conservation area development within the Nunavut settlement area.
I'm just wondering, if any of these issues do arise, how you would plan to resolve them with NTI, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Ms. Jordan.
Minister, as you know, the Inuit are a coastal people, and we rely on the waters and the life in them to survive. On this piece of legislation, I know there have been some suggestions made in the House and in our legislative assembly about the lack of consultation and the importance of indigenous consultation in general.
Although I'm confident that appropriate consultations will take place, the Government of Nunavut is concerned with the interim protection provision of the act. From their perspective, any decision made without consulting the Government of Nunavut could potentially have a drastic impact on future devolution talks and economic benefits from which Nunavummiut will benefit. I just want to know what assurances the Government of Nunavut can have that they will be consulted prior to any interim protected MPA.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have a few questions, but maybe I'll start off with either Ms. Woodley or Mr. MacKay.
You talked about the overlap agreement with the Denesuline. I vividly recall that a memorandum of understanding was reached between Canada and Nunavut in 2016 that ensured that the jurisdiction of the Government of Nunavut couldn't be altered, and that the Government of Nunavut wouldn't incur any financial obligations through any amendment to those final agreements and implementation plans without its consent.
It seems to me a no-brainer that the Government of Nunavut would be a signatory to those agreements. Can I get your thoughts on that?
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Ind. (NU)
I'll go quickly to Natan, and then I hope to get another chance to go back to the GN.
You mentioned the Inuit-crown partnership committee.
I think it's about time, but since that's been created, what kind of real progress are we seeing? What do you envision there?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Romeo, and thank you, Madam Chair.
Ullaakkut and welcome.
My first question has to do with implementation. You talked about the lack of implementation coming from the federal government. Some of the reasons I've heard over the years for not following through on implementation or for having a narrow view, as you say, on what implementation means, have to do with the simple fact of a loss of control or the fact that it will cost some money.
I'm wondering about your experience with the coalition. Have you found that restricting the resources or the funding, having that narrow view, and the losing of control over those some of the issues are challenges that are faced in the actual true implementation of these treaties?
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Ind. (NU)
That's a good stab at it, I think, Alastair.
Another thing you talked about was appropriate consultation and the lack of participant funding. You mentioned Clyde River as a really good example. They said they weren't consulted, they ended up having to go to court, and they won. You mentioned the Nunavut Impact Review Board, There are other institutes of public government. My understanding of that process is that if they are funded to ensure that the consultation does take place, that will cover off the federal government's duty to consult. My understanding as well is that when these things were developed, it was envisioned that it wouldn't be necessary, that they wouldn't be doing these consultations.
Do you think the NIRB and other institutes of public government should have participant funding to ensure that the community, the people, will have an opportunity to properly bring forward their issues and challenges in relation to any type of development?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
The other thing you mentioned was that there is a deputy ministers oversight committee now. I think that's probably a step in the right direction. I'm just wondering if you think that's enough. Is there something more that could be done to help ensure that oversight is followed? I've been attending this committee over the last year, and a lot of groups are saying that they're hearing the political will, but they're not seeing the direction coming from the departments. I'm just wondering if there are any other suggestions either of you might be able to add to try to help move that forward.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thanks, Romeo and Gary.
Following up on that, I've heard a number of stories about how NNI and northern Inuit procurement issues are completely ignored in federal contracts. What types of challenges are there, or what are you running up against from the federal government, in developing that policy?
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Ind. (NU)
What message would you pass on to the committee here to help achieve that and finally cross that finish line?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Hardie.
Welcome, Minister Garneau.
I only have one question on this, and it's an issue that's been brought up a couple of times this summer in Iqaluit.
As you know, Nunavut is quite different from the rest of the country. We don't have dealerships. I know of one case where a recall was ordered for a vehicle and another case where there was a warranty the dealer was fixing automatically on his own. Because there's no dealer there, and they're saying an authorized dealer of the vehicle has to do the work, they're being told they have to put their vehicle on a ship, ship it out, get the work done down here, and then wait until next year to get it back.
I'm wondering if anything in here could help address that concern, where we're forced to utilize dealers. We have garages in the communities up there, but they're not authorized dealers. They have licensed mechanics. We need to address that so that work can get done. There are people who can't be without a vehicle and people have to pay for the shipping of their vehicle down south to get it fixed and get it back so they are still using those vehicles with those defects. There's no opportunity to change that. I'm wondering if there's something in the bill to help address that issue.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
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Ind. (NU)
Madam Chair, I was wondering if I could ask the witnesses a couple of questions.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I have three quick questions for the officials in regard to some of the things in here.
My first one, given the government's commitment to working collaboratively with indigenous people of this country and renewing the relationship—
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Ind. (NU)
This one is specific to all of it, but there are some specific ones with regard to dates and registration.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
In part of it, on that topic of those amendments, the word “consultation” was used. I'm wondering if the department consulted with first nations on this bill and on these different amendments.
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Ind. (NU)
I appreciate that, and I think I got the response: there's no real consultation on it. I think the grand chief would agree with that.
The other question I have is about 1951 as a date. Where did that date come from?
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Ind. (NU)
In talking with the grand chief, I think he feels that it should go all the way back if you want to deal with it.
The other quick question can be ruled out of order. I know one thing, from my discussions with the grand chiefs, is that they want self-determination. They don't feel that it should be, with all due respect, someone here determining whether you're an Indian.
As Inuit, we have that. A local group in our communities decides who a beneficiary is and who is not. Why not just do that instead of going through all of this? It was good and right for us. Why can't we extend that same leeway to first nations?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Mr. Sikand.
Welcome, Mr. Ferguson. It's a pleasure to meet you and to work with you. I'm very pleased to see this report.
I've had the pleasure over quite a few years of working with your office, with Ms. Fraser and with Mr. Campbell, in your office's capacity as auditor for the Government of Nunavut. I've always enjoyed a good working relationship with your office.
You indicated that Transport Canada has well documented what these issues and challenges are for the north. Could you give an idea of how far back and what kind of documentation?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Ferguson.
You also say that the department hasn't taken adequate leadership. We all know that the cost of doing anything in the north is much higher than it is in the south. It's almost three times the cost to do anything up there. You mentioned the airport capital assistance program as one vehicle to address some of these needs. If my understanding is correct, a lot of these smaller airports don't qualify for funding under that program. Is that something that has been pointed out as an issue?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you, Mr. Badawey.
Mr. Ferguson, I'm very happy to have this opportunity to take advantage of your valuable time.
One of the things you talked about was the ACAP. It's well known that these national programs like ACAP, social housing agreements, and health funding don't fit or work for the north.
Do you think that a specific northern ACAP would help the government and the Department of Transport address some of the critical needs of airport infrastructure in the north?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Ferguson.
Another thing you mentioned in your report is that if the infrastructure is not maintained, it becomes very costly to repair and upgrade. If memory serves me correctly, it's actually through the Government of Nunavut that funding is flowed, through its territorial formula financing agreement with the Department of Transportation and the Arctic airports to maintain those airports.
In your work as auditor for the Government of Nunavut and with this report, do you think there may be issues with providing adequate resources to the Government of Nunavut to maintain the existing infrastructure that's in place?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Ferguson.
You also noted in your report that just in Nunavut alone, with its 25 airports, close to $500 million in 2014 dollars is needed, and a little over $75 million is needed to relocate two airports in order to meet Transport Canada safety regulations.
With all these deficiencies that you pointed out in your report, and the quality of infrastructure and information that's there for pilots, if those conditions existed in an urban airport, for example, do you think they would still be allowed to operate?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair. Thank you, Mr. Badawey.
I like the analogy that this infrastructure bank is a vehicle. I think everyone realizes that Nunavut has probably got the biggest infrastructure gap in the country. We're hoping that this is a tundra buggy, so we can get that vehicle working up north.
In regard to specific projects, I can think of three right off the top of my head that would not go ahead without the help of the infrastructure bank. I would look at the Grays Bay road and port project, the potential road, the hydro and fibre link from Manitoba to the Kivalliq region, and a hydro project in Iqaluit that uses just about half the diesel that the territory consumes to generate electricity.
One of the concerns that I'm hearing in the north is that these are new, transformative, and nation-building projects, as any projects in the north would be. When they built the railroad, they didn't have to worry about doing environmental assessments and going through the regulatory regime that's there now. It takes time and costs money to get it to a stage where the project is ready to go. The concern is that if we have this pot of money there for these projects, but there's no money to help the already cash-strapped territorial government or the Inuit organizations or the municipalities to get a proposal to the point where it's ready to be looked at, that money is just going to sit there.
I'm just wondering if there's a possibility of looking at providing some funding through here to help some of these major projects that are going to take two or three years. I heard that with Grays Bay, when they were looking at the next few years, just to get it to that stage was over $15 million.
Is there a way to support those initiatives, to get them to the stage where they are ready to go?
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Ind. (NU)
Right now I think the problem is that they're looking at doing feasibility studies and working it through the environmental assessment process, and that costs money. I'm just wondering if there could be some support and some funding through this vehicle to be able to help with those—and I know it's the territorial government, the regional Inuit organizations, and industry—to support them in getting the project through that process. The territorial government just doesn't have the resources to be able to do that.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
I'd like to welcome the witnesses.
My question is for Mr. Speer. As you know, I'm on one of your flights tomorrow morning heading up to Iqaluit.
Throughout your presentation you talked about the lack of infrastructure and the implications of that on an airline operating in the north. Throughout your submission you talk about the one-size regulations not fitting everything. I think that's one thing that most people don't understand, the uniqueness of flying in the north.
On the issue of fatigue, they're looking at changing the regulations for duty time and stuff such as that. I know specifically with the trans-Arctic route that you guys fly from Ottawa, all the way across the top over to Edmonton, there are some potential issues there. Could we first just get an idea of some of the issues and challenges around that for you, and also, as you pointed out, the complete lack of infrastructure in the north and how that relates to safety as well?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
One of the other things I see in your submission is that you were involved heavily in the steep slope approach into Pangnirtung. We all know what it's like trying to get into Pangnirtung, where there is no GPS approach; it's all visual. I think it's about 2,300 or 2,600 feet and three-mile visibility, plus the runway is right in the middle of town.
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Ind. (NU)
That's a safety issue as well.
You also mentioned the unintended consequences and the need for possible exemptions. Maybe you could elaborate on that also.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you.
I have one last question. You mentioned it may require the need for some exemptions, or some modifications, to fit the uniqueness of the north. I was just wondering if I can get you to elaborate on what some of those might be.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Hardie, and thank you, Madam Chair.
My question is for the department. In your opening comments, you mentioned taking steps to address flight crew fatigue. I'm sure you're aware of, and indeed mentioned, the dual system, looking at the uniqueness of the circumstances in which airlines fly. As you can imagine, the third coast, up north, is very vast. I know the commercial airlines and cargo providers that fly up there have raised concerns about the rigidity of crew times.
I just want to confirm what I've heard from departmental officials, that there is a willingness to look at it, and that if a company can develop its own fatigue management system that satisfies Transport Canada, they will not be held directly to the letter of the new regulations that are being looked at.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Sorbara and Mr. Chair, and welcome. It's always good to see a fellow Nunavummiut here in Ottawa. I have three or four questions, whatever I have time for.
Mr. Premier, you mentioned carbon pricing and the impact on the territory. I think it's no secret that we are unique, and we are 100% reliant on diesel, as you pointed out. Until some opportunities arise for that, that's not going to change. I know the three territories have been discussing with Canada a way to address that uniqueness on carbon pricing in the territories, and I understand you guys were in discussions with Canada on that.
I'm wondering if the goal of those discussions was to recognize the unique challenges and circumstances of Nunavut, and when it does come, that it would be either cost neutral to the territory or have exemptions that take those unique circumstances under consideration. Is that the direction you'd like to see it go?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Premier. Yes, I think it's no secret that it costs three times as much to operate anything in the north. I always say that a dollar down here is like 33¢ in the north.
I think another important point is the fact that any investment in infrastructure in the north, whether it be housing or any kind of infrastructure, is actually a direct investment in the southern economy, because anything we buy up there to build with comes from the south. You talked about major infrastructure. You mentioned the Grays Bay port and road project. I was in Winnipeg about a week and a half ago for the Hudson Bay regional round table. We just had the 20th mining symposium in Iqaluit this week. There are two major projects there, Grays Bay and the Manitoba Hydro road project coming up into the Kivalliq region.
We all know that in order for the economy to grow...and that's what this is about, economic growth for the territory and the government's commitment to look toward creating a sustainable economy in the north. Canada invested in the roads across the country in the south. They invested in the railway. They invested in the harbours. The only jurisdiction left in Canada that hasn't had that investment is the north, and specifically Nunavut.
Do you think there is a requirement for this type of infrastructure investment to allow for the economy to grow and to have the opportunities there for the territory to create employment, lower the cost of living, and bring in alternative sources of energy? As Minister Savikataaq mentioned, there's also the connectivity with fibre optics. I know it's something that the territory can't afford.
As we know, an investment like this would be high up front, but with dividends would pay for itself in the long run and create that opportunity. What we all want is a sustainable, self-sufficient, self-reliant territory, and these investments would help achieve that.
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks, Don.
In your comments you mentioned the territorial health funding. I've raised questions in the House before. Actually, if you look at the percentage of the Government of Nunavut's budget that goes towards health care compared with what it receives from Canada it is about 11%. For the rest of the country, the average is around 20% or 21%.
If you look at the social housing agreements and the infrastructure funding in the past, as you mentioned, on a per capita basis, those don't work. I think that's the problem with these national formulas, they don't take into account the unique circumstances that we have in Nunavut.
Do you think there needs to be a different way, a different mechanism, or a way to think outside the box of these national formulas for funding the territories so that the level of services they provide to their residents can be comparable to that in the rest of Canada?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Premier.
You touched on the mental health funding. You actually declared suicide a crisis in Nunavut. Our numbers are staggering. You talked about the announcement in the federal budget on mental health funding, and my understanding is that this year Nunavut is going to get maybe $300,000 for that. Going forward, for years after, it's $500,000 a year. Given the lack of services available across the territory, there needs to be much more significant investment in addressing mental health challenges to help curb the suicide rate in the territory.
How would you see the way forward to address those sad statistics that we face in the territory?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair. To your suggestion about per capita funding, I think everyone but you would agree that maybe we should move to a land-mass-based formula for funding.
An hon. member: That wouldn't work so well for P.E.I.
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Ind. (NU)
You talked about connectivity, education, and health care. I think you get better service on your cellphone down here than you get in most communities in Nunavut, and again the cost of any project in the north is high. I know one proposal was looking at bringing in fibre optics underwater from Greenland over to Iqaluit, which uses probably between 60% and 70% of the bandwidth of the territory.
How do you see something like that would help not only increase Internet services and connectivity to the rest of the territory, but also bring down the cost of health care and improve educational opportunities for Nunavummiut?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thanks, Dan.
I'd like to go back to something you mentioned earlier on, looking at your request for $250 million over 10 years to help modernize and maintain capacity in some of the power generation plants that are in the territory. As you said, the majority of those plants were built before I was born. I don't know about you, Joe.
How important do you think being able to modernize is? When they were built back then, there was probably no energy efficiency, not clean. In this request, would that be looking at not only increasing capacity but also incorporating cleaner and more energy-efficient technology into those systems?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's good to see you again, Premier McLeod. I see there are two Mr. McLeods here—clan McLeod.
I have three questions that I will try to get through. You mentioned, along with Nunavut and the Yukon, sitting down and coming to a mutual agreement with the federal government in relation to carbon pricing. I think all three of us understand and recognize the uniqueness of the circumstances of the north, which is totally reliant on diesel and already hitting the highest cost of living in the country. Would your goal be to look at coming to some kind of agreement that would mean that for all the territories, this would be a cost-neutral exercise?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Premier.
The second question I have affects all three territories similarly.
These national formulas that you mentioned on a per capita funding basis historically haven't worked for us, for all three territories. With the huge infrastructure deficit, the low level of services and health outcomes with health care funding and things like that, do you think that these national formulas don't work for the territories and that the government needs to look at thinking outside the box and outside these national formulas in dealing with the unique circumstances of the north?
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Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I think you hit the nail on the head in your opening comments when you talked about the lack of public infrastructure. To me, that's probably one of the biggest barriers to sustainable economic growth in all three territories. Canada put in the roads across the country. It put in the rail line. It put in the airports. It put in the ports on the east and west coast, but that didn't happen in the north. I think Canada needs to make a significant investment in infrastructure in the north beyond where they are right now.
Increasing your borrowing limit is just like giving you more rocks in a leaky boat. Recognizing that the territories have limited opportunities to generate own-source revenues and that because of the historic way that things have been rolled out we are so far behind, to me, that's an investment. It's expensive for some of the projects, like the Grays Bay project, or the Manitoba road and hydro project, and the deep sea port in Iqaluit. All these types of infrastructure projects cost a lot of money. You have to remember that a dollar down here is 33¢ up there because of the high cost of doing things. Investing in infrastructure in the north, or any investment in the north, as you pointed out, is an indirect investment into the southern economy.
Do you feel that the federal government needs to make a significant investment in infrastructure in the north in order to create a strong, stable, vibrant economy that will lead to the self-sufficiency of the territories and help with your problem of people leaving because there are no opportunities?
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Ind. (NU)
Okay. Thank you, Madam Chair, and thank you, Mr. Bossio.
Welcome to the witnesses.
You mentioned earlier on that you're hearing a lot of talk from the government on nation-to-nation relationships and reconciliation, but you're not seeing much action, and in the last round of questioning, little support is coming from the third party managers. I want to draw a clear distinction between the government and the bureaucracy. The third party managers should be trying to work themselves out of a job as quickly as possible to bring up capacity, but it seems as if it's in their own interest to keep things the way they are, at half a million dollars a year.
From the bureaucracy's point of view, they're probably looking at it as they know how much it's going to cost them. They don't have to worry about expanding the expenditure base that may be required and has been ignored for years. I look at that—I've heard a lot about it—and it seems to be an entrenched culture within the bureaucracy. I'm wondering if both the witnesses seem to be hearing one message coming from the political leadership and running into the same old challenges dealing with the bureaucracy.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'll start off by saying that this is a little less nerve-racking than the last time I appeared before this committee.
[Witness speaks in Inuktitut]
Good morning. Thank you for allowing me to speak about the seal harvest, and in particular about the act respecting national seal products day
I would personally like to thank committee members, and Mr. Simms for his work in supporting this act, and for inviting me to be here to speak with you today. I would also like to take this time to thank the many members of Parliament, including some who are on this committee, who have spoken out continually in support of this act in the House of Commons.
Last, but definitely not least, I would like to thank former senator Céline Hervieux-Payette, who championed this initiative in the Senate in 2014, and whose hard work has led us here to this stage of the process today. Thank you.
The seal harvest is a crucial aspect of Canada's Inuit culture and livelihood, and it has been for thousands of years. The sad truth is that very few people truly understand the importance of this issue to Inuit. Many southern Canadians are aware of the seal fur market, and can understand how this could be beneficial from an economic standpoint. What people have difficulty grasping is the necessity of this harvest for sustenance for our communities.
Although the nutrition north program is well-intentioned, it's insufficient, and broken by the way. On that, I would like to say that I look forward to some positive changes coming soon.
Food insecurity is one of the biggest issues in Nunavut, where nearly 50% of the households experience it. What's worse than that, and deeply concerning, is that 60% of children are living in food-insecure households. Inuit rely on the seal for food. When a hunter returns to his community with a harvested seal, the food feeds his family and several others members of the community. It provides much-needed protein and vitamins, and allows the communities to survive. It also brings the community together, and this is the way it has always been.
Beyond the immediate use of seal as a food source, seal furs have traditionally been used as clothing to keep us warm in the winter months. Over the years, furs have become a commodity used to trade with merchants who travel the north, generating much-needed income for northern communities. The sale of seal products like fur, and the international commercialization of seal products led over time to economic sustainability, which allowed Inuit to continue to harvest seals and enjoy food security.
However, with the United States' Marine Mammal Protection Act, enacted in 1972, and later, the European Union's ban on seal products, the market for seal products has slowly declined. As a result, the cost of and demand for our products has been driven down, diminishing profits from trade, and making the market non-viable.
This industry is small. It's important that we work together to ensure its success.
There are exemptions in the European Union ban that allow for the trade of seal products produced by Inuit in Nunavut. However, Inuit in several other regions of Canada, particularly those in northern Quebec and Labrador, are so far not part of this exemption. I would really encourage new partnering approaches from sealing organizations with those in these regions, in an effort to include them as well in taking advantage of and maximizing the indigenous exemption in the ban.
By limiting our ability to trade and sell products in an international market, a crucial revenue stream has been diminished, and Inuit now struggle to afford being able to go harvest seals. Harvesting seals is expensive. You have to buy equipment, fuel for snowmobiles and boats, and ammunition for your firearms. It's not cheap, especially in the north. With these harvesting costs and the increased costs of living in Nunavut, the need to generate income from the seal fur industry is needed now more than ever.
European animal activists groups initiated the mission to end the seal fur trade, and in doing so, a major source of economic growth was lost. To this day, they present false information regarding seal populations and the harvesting of baby seals.
This is very upsetting because this fraudulent sales pitch is done in an effort to gain monthly donations and is currently being used now even in China, a potential market for seal products. In reality, the seal population, as we've heard, has tripled over the last 30 years, and the current population of between eight and nine million could double by 2030. Also, the harvesting of baby whitecoat seals, as we all know, is illegal and hasn't been practised for almost 30 years.
There is also a European seal cull that surprisingly continues. They like to keep that one quiet. Over several years thousands of seals have been killed off the coast of the United Kingdom in an attempt to protect their fish stocks. This cull is much different than what Inuit and Canadian harvesters practise because the seals are not harvested. They're just killed, left in the water, and wasted. As you can imagine, this is frustrating for Inuit and Canadian harvesters to hear as European activists, some from Britain, initiated the anti-sealing hunt movement. I find it somewhat ironic and completely hypocritical that this cull is done with the intention of preserving a food source.
On this topic, I feel it's important that government continue to conduct research on aquatic populations, and science-based approaches must be practised to ensure that an increasing seal population doesn't deplete cod, salmon, and shrimp populations in Canadian waters.
To close, I think it's extremely important that Canada support this bill to promote seal products and reverse the current negative mentality towards this market. Enacting national seal products day will reinforce Canada's support for its cultural coastal communities. Speaking on behalf of the people of Nunavut and as a person who is aware of the industry in eastern Canada, this recognition is extremely important. It will strengthen the relationship between Canada and Inuit. It can contribute to the revival of a much-needed source of income for the Inuvialuit and those who have relied on it on the east coast.
With that, thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you for the question.
You know that old saying, “ignorance is bliss”. In this case, with these groups, it's not. Mr. Sopuck said they're not nice people; they're not funny. They're not. One thing they are, though, is ignorant. One thing that I always detest is people taking advantage of other people's ignorance, and that's what these organizations are doing in putting false, fraudulent information out there to get money from them, to take advantage of them, to take money. To me, that's fraud.
If you look at the Europeans, you see that they killed off everything over there in Europe. Now, they'll say, “Well, we have to save something so we'll come over here where there's still something to save”, without realizing the impact of it. It's the same with the Americans, with the whalers. They're the ones who came up and they were big on whaling, and they left garbage behind. They just took the oil; they left the bones. In 1999, if you remember, there were some whalebone marionettes that were sent to the States to get looked at by a professional puppeteer. They were confiscated at the border. Stuff that they would leave behind as garbage wouldn't even be let back into this country. I think it's important.
It's bills like this and folks like us that educate people to the reality of it, and not the myth that's being portrayed out there.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
I think that's something the government made very clear during the campaign, and I think it's falling under a review from the INAN standing committee. It took a program that's meant to provide affordable food to northerners.... The change from the food mail program to the nutrition north program is just not working. Fewer things are being subsidized. As a result, the other things that used to be subsidized aren't anymore, so the cost of buying stuff that you need actually goes up and not down.
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