I'm asking because I have a connection to Tom Longboat in my riding. I have a school that is named Tom Longboat Junior Public School. Tom Longboat is, of course, known as the dominant long-distance runner of his time, but what some people might not know is that he was born into poverty. He was forced to attend a residential school at the age of 12. He grew up poor. This is the legacy, the history that has been passed on from generation to generation, faced by indigenous youth.
I look at this issue and I'm new to this committee, I'm a guest today, but I know that the government committee led by Dennis Mills, a former MP who is a predecessor to the Chair's riding, released a report in 1998, and I just want to quote from that report:
Aboriginal people have a poverty rate comparable to that found in developing countries, an unemployment rate among adults of almost 25%, a poorly educated population and a dramatic suicide rate, which among 10- to 19-year-olds, is more than five times higher than that of their non-aboriginal counterparts.... Forty-four per cent of aboriginal people smoke daily, 61% report problems with alcohol abuse and 48% report problems with drug abuse.
I know that there was a significant investment made in last year's budget, $47.5 million over the next five years, as my colleague mentioned, that is specifically targeted to expanding the use of sport to achieve social mobility in indigenous communities. From my other committee, public accounts, it was a very stark message that our Auditor General, the late Michael Ferguson, shared last year. He described Canada's inability to help improve the lives of indigenous peoples in Canada as “an incomprehensible failure”.
We have come a long way, yet there is a lot more work to do. Can you share with me anything that has changed since that 1998 Mills report? What do you anticipate this budget of $47.5 million will do to turn this around, so that the next auditor general does not come back and say that Canada has again failed our indigenous people?