Interventions in Committee
 
 
 
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View Earl Dreeshen Profile
CPC (AB)
Thank you.
Again, the point I was trying to get at was the reciprocity of how we are engaged in that compared with our competitors. I think that was the point being brought out.
The second thing I want to talk about is this. Industry, Science and Technology is about to study rural and remote Internet access and service and so on.
BDC and EDC, when you look at your customers, are there aspects of this that you feel we should be working to improve? I know from when we were down in the U.S. with that committee that the U.S. has the same issue there.
Ms. Glenn, could you perhaps fill us in a bit there?
Shannon Glenn
View Shannon Glenn Profile
Shannon Glenn
2017-11-06 16:27
In the survey we just conducted on emerging trends, there are a number of concerns that companies raised with respect to e-commerce, but I don't have the numbers here in terms of all of the concerns. The top ones were shipping costs, hassles of returns, and worries about cybersecurity, as opposed to connectivity. That said, we certainly recognize that it's a challenge on the intuitive level, but we don't have that quantification.
Serge Beaudoin
View Serge Beaudoin Profile
Serge Beaudoin
2017-11-02 11:00
Good morning, Madam Chair and honourable members. Thank you for inviting us here today.
I am accompanied today by Lyse Langevin, Director General of the Community Infrastructure Branch of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development.
I am here today to provide information on this year's wildfires affecting first nations communities, emergency management on reserve, and on-reserve fire protection. I will also talk on our department's work on partnering with first nations and supporting their efforts to advance community resiliency.
In the spirit of reconciliation, the Government of Canada is committed to partnering with indigenous people in building resilient communities. It is really through this partnership that we action our shared priority of ensuring the health and safety of first nation residents. A critical component in ensuring the achievement of our shared priorities is departmental support of indigenous communities to effectively respond to and recover from emergency events, such as the wildfires that occurred this year.
As with any community in Canada, the responsibility for emergency management on reserve starts with the first nation communities themselves as the first level of response. When an emergency event exceeds the capacity or capabilities of the communities, they seek assistance from the provincial or territorial government, and if necessary, from the federal government.
Currently, the department supports first nation communities during emergency events through the emergency assistance program. This is a program that supports the four pillars of emergency management: preparedness, mitigation, response, and recovery.
For response to emergencies, the emergency management assistance program reimburses first nations, municipalities, provinces, and territories, as well as third party emergency management service providers, up to 100% of eligible response and recovery costs, including costs of evacuations. Eligibility is determined according to the program's terms and conditions.
In recent years, events such as wildfires and floods are increasing in frequency, severity, and magnitude. This is a global trend, but this trend is also true in Canada. These events can result and have resulted in severe social, environmental, and economic consequences for both indigenous and non-indigenous communities alike. However, due to their relative remoteness and isolation in fire-prone areas, many first nation communities are more vulnerable to emergency events and the vulnerability can be exacerbated by remoteness or access to services during emergency events.
Thus, despite making up less than 1% of Canada's total population, one-third of wildfire evacuations over the last three decades in Canada have involved on-reserve indigenous communities. This year, 2017, has seen highly significant wildfires in four provinces affecting indigenous communities, including Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. During this period, first nations experienced the largest ever number of wildfire emergencies, 49 in total, resulting in their second largest ever number of evacuees. We're looking at over 12,800 people evacuated from first nations.
Alberta saw almost 500 evacuees as a result of wildfires in the southern part of the province. Statistically, this year, British Columbia experienced the largest ever provincial state of emergency. They experienced a record-breaking burnt land mass and approximately 3,200 first nation community residents were evacuated. In Manitoba this year, close to 7,000 remote indigenous community residents were evacuated and in the case of Wasagamack First Nation, community members resorted to using locally owned boats due to the immediacy of the wildfire threat. I'd like to emphasize that this was an extremely high-risk evacuation for the residents and demonstrates how quickly an emergency event can evolve and impact communities. Finally, in northern Saskatchewan, close to 2,300 indigenous community residents were evacuated from Peter Ballantyne Cree Nation.
Overall for 2017, the estimated departmental response costs to support first nations communities in emergency events have been identified at just over $34 million.
During the immediate response phase of an emergency event, communities leverage existing service delivery capabilities within first nations, municipalities, provinces, territories and third party emergency management service providers such as the Canadian Red Cross.
Access to the services beyond the first nations capacity is secured through comprehensive emergency management service agreements between the department and the provinces or territories. Five such agreements are currently in place, and where an agreement is not yet in place, historical arrangements are in place, or other mechanisms to ensure a comparable level of service to those offered elsewhere in the province or territory.
However, the service agreements formally ensure that first nation communities have access to comparable emergency assistance services to those provided to neighbouring communities and non-indigenous communities.
In the spirit of partnership, the new agreements are being negotiated with the full participation of regional indigenous organizations. In the recovery phase of an emergency event, the department supports the repair or restoration of critical infrastructure on reserve to a pre-disaster condition to allow evacuees to return home. With the increase in wild land fire activity and increasingly strained fire suppression efforts, ensuring sustainable community recovery is becoming more and more critical.
In recognition of this, the department is also focusing efforts on the mitigation and preparedness pillars of emergency management. For preparedness and mitigation efforts, the department, in partnership with first nations, invested approximately $12.5 million in non-structural emergency mitigation and preparedness projects. These first nations community-led projects enhance capacity, placing emphasis on indigenous knowledge and practices. For example, since 2015 the department has funded regional partners to a total of $6.9 million to support FireSmart projects in indigenous communities.
To support the protection of first nation communities from the threat of wildfires, the department provides $16.5 million to provinces and territories annually under the emergency management assistance program for wildfire management agreements. Services provided in these agreements range from prevention to pre-suppression to suppression costs.
In addition to wildfires, community fire protection is an essential service that can make the difference between life and death for community residents.
First nations manage fire protection services on reserve. Community officials make the decisions regarding fire protection services under the annual core capital funding they receive from the department. To this end, first nations may establish their own fire departments or contract fire protection services from nearby communities.
Since 2008-2009, the department has provided almost 27 million dollars per year for capital investments, operating and maintenance costs, as well as firefighting training.
The department also funds the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada to support them in coordinating a number of fire prevention awareness and training activities, and advising on implementation of our joint first nations fire protection strategy. This strategy promotes initiatives that focus on fire prevention in order to support indigenous communities in reducing the risk of fire-related deaths and injuries, as well as losses to critical infrastructure.
The department is also committed to the creation of an indigenous fire marshal office. This would provide support to indigenous communities in their efforts to improve life safety and protection of residents, property, and environment. It would also support the development of appropriate indigenous fire services and relevant programs and services. We will continue to work in full co-operation with the Aboriginal Firefighters Association and other key partners on these and other critical elements that we know are needed to enhance fire safety for first nation communities across Canada.
The Government of Canada recognizes that a greater focus on fire prevention is absolutely critical to keeping people and communities safe from fire. This is not just about raising awareness of the importance of smoke alarms and fire safety, but also increased investments in first nation housing to help make homes on reserve meet applicable building codes and regulations.
I'll conclude by emphasizing that the department remains absolutely committed to partnering with indigenous organizations and communities in ensuring the health, safety, and resilience of their communities.
Finally, we will continue to work with them and other partners to ensure that indigenous communities receive comparable services to those of non-indigenous communities in Canada.
Thank you for your time. Merci.
View Phil McColeman Profile
CPC (ON)
Thank you, Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Walbourne, for your testimony today and for being here.
I read your latest report, and when I look at the things you're saying, it makes me wonder what you would do if you had a clean slate, if none of these barriers existed.
In other words, you're a painter and you have a blank canvas. How would you establish a system that would work for the best possible delivery of benefits for our serving members in that transition time to Veterans Affairs? What would it be? What would it look like?
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2017-11-02 8:57
It's a bittersweet thing, if I may say, because I do believe the mechanical pieces we require are in place in one form or another. I think the fundamental change that needs to happen first and foremost is that we must define what we want our programs of benefits and services to be. What ability we are trying to bring back to this transitioning member first needs to be determined.
I think the secondary issue that we're having is on who is responsible for what at any point in time. It's very convoluted now. I mean, there are various entities that can reach back to a member, so it's a little confusing on who's doing what. I believe there are programs that are running in duplication that could be sequenced. We could even see reductions in costs to the Government of Canada. There are many possibilities, but I think it's first and foremost, clear lines of responsibility and setting the program needs to our desired outcomes.
If we look at where the chief of defence staff is going, talking about the journey, he's talking about building some of these things. The JPSU needs to be the centre where these people are assigned, with a clear chain of command and one person responsible to decide when a member is being released and when Veterans Affairs Canada should be engaged.
The pieces are there; it's how we're exercising them, I think, is where we find the problem. Then we'll come up against some legislative...where there are certain authorities given to Veterans Affairs or not to the department, or they are given to the department. We need to decide who should have these responsibilities and who should be given this legislative right to implement these programs and services.
I think that the pieces we need are in place. It's a matter now of clearly defining what the programs are to be, who should be responsible, and giving that person the resources they need to do the job.
Gary Walbourne
View Gary Walbourne Profile
Gary Walbourne
2017-11-02 9:29
I've spent many years in the private sector also. I knew what my deliverables were, and if they weren't delivered, I knew my paycheques were going to be numbered in the future. If I have a public service standard that I've committed to meeting, and I'm consistently not doing it, there should be some questions. Why aren't we meeting this goal? Is this goal important? Is this the one we should be chasing? These questions, I think, are part of day-to-day business. They should be continuously answered, not addressed at a committee or in a report. These are things that everyone should be addressing every day.
If I'm not meeting 80% and I'm at 26%, what's the problem and what do I need to do to get there? No one is asking that question. I haven't seen any push or agitation in the system at all about the 26%. It seems to have flown under the radar.
View Cathay Wagantall Profile
CPC (SK)
Also, in the business world you communicate a great deal with your customers to find out if they're happy or not. Do we do that to the extent that we should with our armed forces and our veterans?
View Martin Shields Profile
CPC (AB)
View Martin Shields Profile
2017-10-31 12:27
Okay. Thank you.
One of the other things you talked about is the multi-ethnic part of banking that you try to work at. One of the things in the community that I am from is that we have a very diverse community, probably one of the most diverse in Canada. I found the banks responded to that first in the sense that immediately you saw front-line staff from different ethnicities, and you saw them moving into management positions very quickly.
The one really interesting thing I saw was that in our health system we were having real problems in our ERs with the different languages. I went into a bank and I saw people of different ethnicities being taken back to talk on a phone. The bank had established a network in which they could get 200 languages online within two minutes. The private sector, your banking industry, did that quicker.
Do you have examples of where your banking industry has moved to do things like that?
Andrea Nalyzyty
View Andrea Nalyzyty Profile
Andrea Nalyzyty
2017-10-31 12:28
Yes, not only with respect to gender issues, but all kinds of diversity issues and bringing products and services to clients in the way that they want them to be delivered and in what they want those products to deliver.
There are several examples of that. We obviously have branches. We have over a thousand branches across the country, or banking centres, but not everybody wants to bank with us that way. We make our services available through various channels—digital channels, telephone banking channels, mobile banking channels—and what we try to do is listen to our clients and bring them what they need. We also have a newcomer offer that we have developed to meet the unique needs of newcomers, and we have various employees supporting those offers.
View Alice Wong Profile
CPC (BC)
Thank you very much.
First of all, I'd like to acknowledge a number of people who are here. The first is Mr. Soulière, for serving as the president of the national seniors council.
For your information, the seniors.ca map, which shows all the different provinces and their different benefits, is gone. They took it down in August.
The national seniors council has done a lot of studies, and those studies contain very valuable data on the healthy act of aging, seniors in social isolation, aging at home, and extending the work of seniors in the workforce. All of these are wonderful studies, and the data is still there. Hopefully it has not been taken away.
I thank Ms. Mackenzie for your work as an advocate in my province of British Columbia. I was there when you did the presentation for home care. Thank you very much for all the good work.
I thank the folks from academia as well, because the synergy is right there. It's in exactly the kind of panel we have here, with academics and government. We have at least two levels of government here.
I'll go back to the questions. The first is about caregiving. It may be related to Mr. Sangha's question about looking after seniors at home. I know that Australia supports family caregivers. I was also in London, England, with the minister and spoke with the carers' association. They have the term “carers”, which is informal. When we talk about caregiving, we have to distinguish between the unpaid, informal family caregivers and the paid, formal caregiver. I think I'm talking more about the informal caregiver .
Within our strategy we really need to look after those people as well, because they're there and their jobs are in jeopardy if their employers do not even recognize that their employees have those questions. I started the employers' panel and then, again because of the change of government, it's gone.
My question is this. Do you see the need for all three levels of government to be working together, and also for bringing back the federal-provincial-territorial forum, where two levels of government look at all the services so that there's no duplication, and then at the areas of need that both levels of government can identify? You need a leader in those areas.
This is open to all of you.
Sayward Montague
View Sayward Montague Profile
Sayward Montague
2017-10-05 17:04
The veterans independence program is something that's accessible to veterans who are eligible for it, obviously. It does some things quite well, and in other ways it could be improved. Obviously, scaling that with our geography and the numbers of people involved would be a challenge. The veterans independence program looks at those extra things that Ms. Mackenzie was talking about, which come to be considered necessities of living as we age: housekeeping, grounds maintenance, personal care, and so on.
The way the program is delivered permits some flexibility in which of those additional items the veteran chooses, to some extent, or what they must access the fund for. What works well is that there is some level of integration with provincial and municipal services or programs that may be available too, so it manages to tread that line between federal-provincial programs quite well in terms of its delivery.
View Mona Fortier Profile
Lib. (ON)
Are there any other solutions you would recommend from your experience in delivering such services in your community?
Lola-Dawn Fennell
View Lola-Dawn Fennell Profile
Lola-Dawn Fennell
2017-10-03 16:20
I think I have more questions than solutions, really.
I wonder about increased reliance on volunteers to provide services for seniors. I don't think those volunteers are always skilled to do so, because seniors' issues are very complex.
I worry about the increasing reliance on community-based organizations to provide services for seniors. Community-based organizations such as my own rely on annual grants and fundraising, and I never know whether I have a job from year to year. It depends on our community gaming grant.
Again, I have more questions than answers. This is a really complex issue, and I honestly don't believe that talking about income security alone is the answer. We also need to look at housing and at community programs, because those issues are all so complex and so intertwined that you cannot pull one single issue out to address it.
View Rachel Blaney Profile
NDP (BC)
Thank you.
I just want to say, Lola-Dawn, that my past was spent working in a non-profit organization, and I definitely know what it feels like to wonder every year whether you're still going to be able to provide those essential services.
I have definitely heard from my constituents that Service Canada is pointing them at a computer. In our riding, and I don't know whether it's the same in yours, they're actually not willing to print out the forms needed by the seniors. Our office is now printing out the forms and going out to service organizations across the community, because seniors simply cannot access those services.
Is that the same in your region?
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