Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
What message would you pass on to the committee here to help achieve that and finally cross that finish line?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Gary, and welcome to both of you. I'll try to be quick.
My colleague Romeo talked about political will. I think that will is there. We have the Prime Minister who is genuine about it now, as well as Ministers Bennett and Philpott. In my experience of almost 16 years in public life, which is half of Romeo's experience, I have always found the bureaucracy is great at spending all their time and energy telling you why you can't do something. They'll give you 100 reasons you can't do something, and I always used to tell them, “Give me 10 reasons why we should.”
You mentioned a review at INAC and the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. Do you feel that's part of the problem in moving some of these issues forward? There seems to be political will, but there has been 150 years of treating people as programs and numbers.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Long, and Mr. Chair and committee members, for giving me this opportunity.
I think you can guess I'm going to focus specifically on Nunavut, as we have Aluki here.
Mr. Robillard asked about the housing situation. When I was housing minister in Nunavut, probably about five years ago, we needed about 3,300 units just to meet our current demand. That was growing with a forced growth that I think is now between 75 and 90 units a year. That's over a billion dollars just to meet our current demand right now, and that was a number of years ago.
On top of that you have the other issue that was mentioned, the declining funding from CMHC on the social housing agreement. That's putting an extra burden on the jurisdictions to be able to maintain the units.
My question for Aluki is this. You mentioned long-term, stable funding. I know that's something that the Government of Nunavut has always been pushing for, to allow for better planning and expenditure of those resources, and not just with housing. Do you see the lack of what you called “social infrastructure” in the communities as partly the result of a flawed funding model, not only for Nunavut but for NWT as well?
Basically, the funding over the years has been allotted on a per capita basis. You have a jurisdiction with the highest cost of any kind of living, a small population, and one-fifth of the land mass of Canada. Do you see the inadequacy of historical funding as contributing to the lack of social infrastructure and making it difficult for Inuit people to get out of the poverty that we're stricken with?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Another thing I want to touch on that has been mentioned a few times here is the nutrition north program. I was at the indigenous affairs standing committee and there was a consensus that the program was like the analogy of the chicken and the egg. Everyone knew that egg was going to be scrambled before the program even started. That's how wonderful it is.
Do you feel the program should be just for nutritious food, or should it be adjusting and giving people the opportunity to be in line with the rest of Canada for basic needs. I mean things that you buy that you need every day, like toilet paper, diapers, toothpaste, different things like that? The program used to cover some of that stuff, and now that they've changed it just to cover nutritious food, it's more of a step backwards. The subsidy that there used to be for some of the basic things that you use every day has disappeared, and the price of that stuff has gone up.
Do you think that the program should focus on just the basic needs that everyone has on a daily basis, or should it be expanded?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Mr. Massé, for allowing me the opportunity to participate and ask some questions.
My question may be to both of you. I know you've heard it all along, but.... Mr. Richard, you mentioned intergenerational trauma, and that's something I've heard about since attending these meetings. How big of a role do you see that playing in looking at the horrific statistics we have for suicides in indigenous communities, and what are some ideas on how to address it? We've heard a lot on the need for mental wellness, trauma counselling and treatment, and just better mental health services being offered in indigenous communities all across Canada, including Nunavut.
I want to get your views on that, both of you, please. Thanks.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Okay. Thank you, Mr. Richards.
This is another thing we've heard. I think everyone can acknowledge the fact that a lot of our indigenous communities within southern Canada, and also in the north and in the far north in Nunavut and in the Northwest Territories basically live in third world conditions when you look at housing, education, and health care. The way these jurisdictions are funded is inadequate and it seems to be just the way it is, so this is how it's going to be.
There needs to be a shift in recognizing and ensuring that all these different jurisdictions and communities have the adequate resources to deliver the services required. Going back to the provision of services, we've heard a lot about culturally based, community-driven healing programs and the lack of addiction treatment centres, which are inhibitors. I'm going to get the view from both of you quickly on that. Thank you.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Thank you, Mike, for sharing your time.
Welcome to the panellists. I know this is a huge topic that affects us in Nunavut and I'm pleased to have an opportunity to be able to listen and participate. I appreciate that.
One of the things that was mentioned during the talks was the calls to action. Number 18 was mentioned, basically saying we're in the state that we're in because of how we were treated in the past. It doesn't matter, I believe, if you're Inuit. It doesn't matter if you're Métis. It doesn't matter if you're first nations. We all suffered the same and we need to heal. I think that is the most important first step that we need to go through.
Call to action number 21, calling upon the federal government to provide sustainable funding for existing and new aboriginal healing centres to address physical, mental, and emotional spiritual harms caused by residential schools and ensure funding of healing centres in Nunavut and the Northwest Territories, is a priority.
I know, and Michael and most of you from the northern rural and remote areas can attest to this, that there is nothing. In Nunavut and the NWT we have zero, and that's the same in most northern and remote areas of the provinces.
Do you feel it should be a priority for this government to fund healing centres in rural and remote areas where we're seeing the highest suicide rates from the statistics to be able to help people heal and move forward in a healthy way? Thank you.
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