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View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
I was very troubled to hear that a CBC radio host in the Yukon felt compelled to resign because, as an indigenous person, she could not speak her truth. While we know the Broadcasting Act states that the Canadian broadcasting system should reflect the linguistic duality and multicultural and multiracial nature of Canadian society and the special place of indigenous peoples, it would seem there are some challenges.
Therefore, does the Minister of Heritage share the concern of some journalists that problems of systemic racism in Canada are still existing within the institution of the CBC, and will the government now acknowledge the need to recognize the jurisdiction of indigenous governments?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
When I was in the government, and as a minister, I learned the term “red meat” issues. I understand these issues to be ones that challenge societal norms, that are not politically expedient to address because they can lose you votes, even though addressing them is morally right and a smart thing to do. Mostly these are issues addressing inequality and the most marginalized in our society.
In the justice system, examples include mandatory minimum penalties, defunding police, and even investing in restorative justice. Red-meat issues often become defining issues for society and for governments as the world changes. Surely now these issues are politically less of a consideration than the tragic reality of even more slain indigenous Canadians at the hands of police, or thousands of indigenous people still incarcerated or living in poverty.
Will this government please finally commit to the necessary work originally promised in 2015 and repeal in the justice system the vast majority of mandatory minimum penalties, assuring the necessary discretion for judges, and meaningfully invest in restorative justice measures?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I'll go on to another red meat issue. In British Columbia we are in the fifth year of the opioid overdose public health emergency crisis. Sadly, May marks the deadliest month of overdose-related deaths. We are halfway into the year and have currently passed 500 deaths caused by overdose. Many of the deaths are related to COVID-19 measures that have prevented people from accessing supervised consumption sites, so they are overdosing alone. While the provinces welcomed the federal backing of safe supply exemption back in March, it is to expire in September of 2020.
Echoing the call of the chief coroner of B.C. and Dr. Henry, more is needed from the federal government, more action. Will the government provide the necessary supports to the province and help support safe supply initiatives in the provinces?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
While there seems to be general consensus that systemic racism exists in Canada, there's been much recent debate about what it means. Can the government please tell this committee how it defines “systemic”, and provide specific examples of policy and legislative initiatives that are under way or being considered?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I didn't hear a specific definition of “systemic racism” there, but I'll move to my next question.
With respect to indigenous peoples, would the government agree the Indian Act is one of the most, if not the most, egregious examples of systemic racism in Canada, in particular in sections 5 through 17, where the Crown is still legislating and determining who is legally an Indian, and sections 74 through 80, where the Crown is still legislating how those people so define and govern themselves? Would the government not agree that these are both examples of systemic racism?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you. I'm not sure I heard agreement with my question.
Surely it is the height of racism when one group of people tells another who they are and how they make decisions about themselves. Does the minister agree that the determination of who are indigenous persons and how they govern themselves and make internal decisions should be an exclusive power of a recognized indigenous people?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Just to clarify and be certain, does the minister agree that these powers of governance should be the exclusive powers to recognize indigenous peoples?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
This government has stated numerous times that it is committed to advancing sentencing reform that will “stand the test of time”. It also states it is “committed to...[addressing] the tragic problem of overrepresentation of indigenous peoples and marginalized Canadians while holding offenders to account and protecting victims.”
I think most members in this House would agree that the time for empty promises is over and that action is required. Evidence clearly shows that mandatory minimum penalties are a big part of the problem and not smart justice policy. There has been enough study and too much delay due to political expediency.
When will the government confirm that it will repeal mandatory minimum penalties for all but the most serious offences?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Chair.
Today is our 16th COVID committee meeting, and while this committee has certainly been and remains important, so too are all aspects of our democracy and our institutions. I believe, as I have heard from many constituents, that we need to ensure that the House of Commons resumes on September 21. There is no question that there are critical issues that we need to discuss, both domestically and globally.
Will the government commit to taking all necessary steps to ensure that we will meet in Parliament on September 21, whether virtually, in person or in a similar manner as we are today?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
While all Canadians can look with shock and horror at the events unfolding south of the border, we cannot be complacent in our own country when it comes to issues of racism against black Canadians, indigenous peoples and other marginalized groups.
With respect to indigenous peoples, we have made strides forward, yet we are only now beginning to come of age as a country. There is still systemic racism. We still have the Indian Act. We still have significant levels of over-incarceration of marginalized people. I know for certain that significant work has been done at the Department of Justice on necessary sentencing reforms and restorative justice measures to address the overrepresentation of indigenous peoples in the justice system, and there is a clear plan for getting rid of the Indian Act through rights recognition.
We know what needs to be done. Will the Prime Minister please tell this country why the government has failed to support these comprehensive and transformative plans? Nice words need to be translated into action. If not now, when? If not us, who?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you. I definitely agree that we need action and we need it now.
Relatedly, today, as we know, is the one-year anniversary of the murdered and missing indigenous women and girls report and its calls to action. Many ministers of the government have stood in this committee in the last few days and emphasized the importance of hearing the calls for justice from across the country and around the world.
The murdered and missing indigenous women and girls report has 231 calls for justice. Can the government commit today, on the one-year anniversary of the report, to releasing the action plan on MMIWG? More consultation should not be an excuse for inaction.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Minister of Employment has stated that measures would be forthcoming for individuals with disabilities, similar to the one-time payment increase given to seniors on OAS and GIS.
Could the minister please provide some more details with respect to the statement she made? When can individuals with disabilities expect meaningful financial assistance?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you for that.
My office has heard from many constituents who are frustrated over the lack of information on eligibility requirements from the government regarding the business credit availability program. Furthermore, banks are giving small and medium-sized businesses mixed messaging.
How will the government ensure that the messaging for BCAP and similar programs is articulated properly?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Mr. Chair, members may not be aware, but there are ongoing restrictions on when some civil servants can access government servers and their files due to the pandemic, to ensure that those dealing directly with the pandemic have priority. For example, this is affecting negotiations with indigenous peoples.
Can the government please tell us when the system will have sufficient capacity so that all civil servants can do their work remotely and without limitation?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
As current and former parliamentarians call for a national inquiry into long-term care homes, something I would strongly support, can the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations please give the members an idea as to when the action plan on murdered and missing indigenous women and girls will be released?
In asking this question, I certainly understand the need for consultation and the reality of some delays due to the pandemic.
There are of course many actions that we all know need to take place now that do not need more consultation. The need for consultation cannot be an excuse for the lack of action.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I have a short question for the Minister of Transport.
Does the government have any plans to step in and encourage airlines to return money to customers rather than vouchers? I've heard from many constituents and businesses in this regard.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Race-related crimes are on the rise against persons of Asian descent in Canada. I think we can all agree that there is no place for this in our society.
Having issues with the manner in which the government of another country conducts itself does not give licence for being racist. It has absolutely no bearing on how we expect people to treat one another. For thousands of Asian Canadians, this is their home too.
What is the government going to do to step up actions against hate crimes in this country and send a clear and public message that Canada will not tolerate other countries' failure to respect the rule of law?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
There is going to be significant cost to some charities and not-for-profit organizations to adopt some of the government health and safety policies in light of COVID-19, not dissimilar to the costs incurred to provide physical security to houses of worship in light of the rise of hate crimes globally.
Will the federal government consider a scenario where there is a new program or update to the security infrastructure program to help cover these costs?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
As many jurisdictions begin lifting restrictions, and as we Canadians adapt to our new normal, we need to be prepared for a second wave of COVID-19. Can the government confirm that it is planning for a second wave? Will the existing aid programs be reinstituted in the event of a second wave? Will there be enough PPE and critical medical equipment? Are we ensuring that we have all the necessary authorities in place to respond quickly and effectively?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
I appreciate that answer.
There's still some time before there's going to be a vaccine, and it's good to see the international cooperation around respect for information sharing. I believe Canada has a significant international role to play.
Will Canada take a strong stand at the World Health Assembly to support vulnerable populations around the world having access to the vaccine and for equitable distribution? What steps is the government taking in this regard?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
While recognizing the federal jurisdiction for the border, many of my constituents, like most British Columbians, are extremely concerned about the possible spread of COVID-19 from the United States. In lifting the restrictions, other parts of the country seem to be doing that more quickly. This is also the concern.
With health and safety being of paramount importance, can the government please confirm that it has no intention of opening up the border to the United States for non-essential travel anytime soon, and that it will respect the wishes of the British Columbia government, which has been very emphatic on this point?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Last week at this committee I reflected that, thankfully, there were no major outbreaks of COVID-19 in indigenous communities in Canada. However, this no longer appears to be the case with La Loche and the Clearwater River Dene. There are growing concerns among indigenous communities that there will be more outbreaks, particularly as restrictions are lifted. [Technical difficulty—Editor] to support indigenous steps to protect their communities from COVID-19 and affirm their inherent right to do so.
One of the consequences of the pandemic is to highlight the conditions in indigenous communities, such as overcrowding, lack of infrastructure, food insecurity and lack of appropriate governance, that make indigenous populations more vulnerable. Can the government please explain why we still do not have a recognition of rights framework to support true reconciliation, self-determination and nation rebuilding that would have helped indigenous peoples to be less vulnerable during this pandemic, and when is it coming?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
[Technical difficulty—Editor] the answer [Technical difficulty—Editor] the concerns and situations in indigenous communities will continue.
Mr. Chair, over the last few weeks, our office has heard from many organizations and businesses that do not meet the criteria for the Canada emergency wage subsidy and/or the Canada emergency business account because they do not have a business account with a financial institution or, in some cases, their payrolls are handled by umbrella organizations. These businesses and organizations need to be included. Does the government plan on expanding the eligibility for these programs?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, I want to acknowledge that the government has introduced many programs from which we and all Canadians are benefiting. Thank you for that and thank you to the hard-working public servants who implement those programs.
As we've heard here today, seniors are falling through the cracks. I get an inordinate number of calls in my office in terms of seniors and their inability to qualify for individual programs. Can the government tell us what specifically they're doing for seniors in need, and can seniors expect a similar program as was introduced by the government in other areas?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, as other members in the House have commented and asked questions about, I'm wondering if the government will be setting national standards for long-term care.
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Thank you.
Will the government be introducing a national licensure system, so that doctors and nurses can have their credentials recognized in all provinces?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, recently my office has been made aware that some small businesses are running up against landlords who are refusing to take part in the Canada emergency commercial rent assistance program. For small businesses, what is the government's intention with respect to these challenges that they're facing?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, recognizing that we are all focused on COVID-19 and making our way through COVID-19, we also recognize that we need to look towards the economy and the challenges we're facing with respect to the economy. Will the government be tabling a 2020 budget and has the government considered raising the GST?
View Jody Wilson-Raybould Profile
Ind. (BC)
Madam Chair, gilakas' la. I'd like to acknowledge the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
Our nation and the world, our ways of being, indeed our humanity, are being tested as we respond to COVID-19. This is unprecedented in recent times and our response will have far-reaching implications for the years to come. I think we all understand the gravity of the weight we feel in this place to get it right. Our hearts go out to all those suffering with the virus. We recognize the sacrifices being made to protect those most likely to succumb to the disease, it being not about what I can do for myself, but about what I can do for others.
We must also acknowledge the government, supported by civil servants, for the unprecedented steps it has taken to establish numerous emergency relief programs, from CERB to CEBA to mental health programs and many others. The emergency programs are helping, and new programs have been created and, aided by this place, adapted as needed.
That said, there are issues. My constituency office, like those of all MPs, has heard from many, including seniors, who are still struggling and are in need of government support. There are ongoing challenges for small businesses in meeting the criteria for CEBA, and there are issues about rents and what constitutes a livable income.
What is more, after some two months of extreme social distancing measures, the residents of Vancouver Granville, like all Canadians, are eager for some normality to return to their lives. While we wait for a vaccine, we turn our minds to what comes next as we move from the emergency response to the new normal, the end of the beginning, as has been said.
Clearly, physical distancing and proper hygiene are the new normal as we learn to live with COVID-19. In some cases, it will need to be institutionalized, particularly within situations of congregate living. Within long-term care facilities, there should be national standards that provinces adhere to in order for them to get a portion of financial support earmarked for elders. Further, there should be some standardization of pay, benefits and schedules for personal support workers.
As to the timing and the extent of removing restrictions, we of course must continue to be guided by science and our health experts. We must not be tempted to make the mistakes that are being made in some other jurisdictions. We do not save jobs and the economy by sacrificing lives.
As the pandemic has evolved differently across Canada, given our geographical and political diversity, the plans of the provinces and territories to reopen their economies will not be, and do not need to be, the same. However, given our system of co-operative federalism, there is a role for federal coordination. We are all connected and our Constitution protects mobility rights. We still need more efficient ways to test and track, and that need is national in scope. As electronic tracking and contact tracing become more widespread, we must be mindful of privacy rights and how we use data. We may need to regulate.
There is much to consider as we plan out our post-COVID economic strategy. Under the new normal, and even after restrictions have been lifted, it is unlikely that we will see people simply returning to life as before, at least not until a vaccine is found. Even with an optimistic 90% return to the pre-COVID economy, it will not be the same. There are longer-term fiscal implications. The federal debt-to-GDP ratio is projected to be 48.4% in 2020-21. While manageable, this is certainly not ideal, especially if we factor in provincial, municipal and indigenous debt. We need to consider the fiscal tools available to support provincial and other governments beyond the current transfers and stabilization mechanisms.
Other fiscal measures may be required. Some are suggesting raising the GST. What we do know is that the current level of expenditure to get us through the initial period is not sustainable.
At the same time, some are also leading us to consider new ways to deliver assistance to Canadians, such as potentially establishing a basic livable income, something that other nations are also considering.
Moving forward, not all businesses will survive, despite the emergency measures. We will need to decide what industries and businesses we offer additional support to, and under what circumstances. We should be providing essential products and services, and if we do intervene, it should be primarily through equity investment.
I certainly hope the Minister of Finance will be tabling the 2020 budget soon. We need projections, and we need to debate our plan.
Every day in Vancouver, as I know happens elsewhere, we make noise at 7 p.m. to support front-line workers. When I hear this, I cannot help but think how work is valued and how it is paid. While we show gratitude reflective of our reliance on each other, the gratitude is not matched in wages. In our society, we need to reward work on a different value system. We need to understand this and we need to be reflective.
Yes, we all support the middle class and those working hard to join it, but what this pandemic has shown us is that it is really the working class and the most vulnerable who need our help. Societies are judged by how they treat their most vulnerable. If we had a society that truly supported one another, that had great health care for all, especially for our seniors and the most vulnerable, health care that provided them with the safety, care and attention they deserved every day, this crisis likely would not have been as much of a struggle for those people. If we cannot see that now, then when will we ever see it? If we are able to do something during a pandemic, then why not permanently?
Thankfully, and mindful of Alert Bay in my nation, there have not been major outbreaks of COVID in indigenous communities across Canada, but this could change. We must remain vigilant, and we must support indigenous communities that are taking steps to protect their communities from COVID-19 and affirm their inherent right to do so.
There are also growing mental health concerns in terms of isolation, particularly in remote communities. The pandemic only highlights the ongoing need for true reconciliation and a rights recognition framework so that we can properly address issues of overcrowding, lack of infrastructure, poverty and good governance.
Bringing back our economy is also a necessary lens through which we must view our post-pandemic socioeconomic plan to follow the lead of nations like Germany. The Prime Minister often says that the environment and the economy go hand in hand. The truth, and what this virus is showing, is that the environment, of which we are all a part, dictates the economy, and it will continue to do so more dramatically as our temperatures increase.
While stories of dolphins in canals in Venice may have been premature, the planet does appear to be healing. This is not to suggest for a moment that we should not restart our economy. Quite the contrary, but what it does make you think about is what sort of economy we should be restarting. It also makes one think about how we measure social well-being and success. It is not just about growth in the GDP.
GDP per capita has historically been used to make assumptions about the standard of living within a nation, the assumption being that the higher the per capita amount, the better the standards are. However, as I read in a recent article, GDP has mixed results when trying to measure the social well-being of a population. As an economic tool, it only makes assumptions about the basic standards of living, which can be different across the socioeconomic spectrum of a nation. Moreover, better standards of living do not necessarily equate to increased social well-being. We need to ensure that we look at this idea.
When we look at the crisis through the lens of our international relationships, it is coming at a time when democracy is under pressure and when the international rules-based order is being challenged and power is shifting. In many ways, COVID-19 is about a brewing perfect storm internationally. When the vaccine does ultimately come, Canada can show leadership and insist that it be made available to populations with the greatest need.
We have a lot to do, as members of Parliament in this House, and I know that when working together we can achieve many great things in terms of responding to this pandemic in a way that ensures we are caring and compassionate. As Bonnie Henry, our amazing public health officer in British Columbia, always sums it up: Be calm, be kind and be safe.
Gilakas'la.
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I'll turn it back over to Mr. Harvey.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
How much time do I have?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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—
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Mr. Chairman, I hope this is not a case where you use your word of the day.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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?
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
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?
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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?
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)
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
Madam Chair, I was wondering if I could ask the witnesses a couple of questions.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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—
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
Ind. (NU)
This one is specific to all of it, but there are some specific ones with regard to dates and registration.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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.
View Hunter Tootoo Profile
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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