Interventions in Committee
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View Kevin Waugh Profile
The Inuit-Crown partnership committee released its report at the beginning of April, which suggested that funding delays for Inuit housing and infrastructure were eroding the overall effectiveness of these investments.
How can the government ensure stable, predictable and sustainable funding moving forward?
View Carolyn Bennett Profile
Lib. (ON)
What's exciting is that Inuit housing now has stable, predictable funding of $400 million over 10 years. There is $40 million a year that will go forward. That's exactly what was asked for so that they can plan.
I also think we should salute the hard work at the Inuit-Crown partnership committee, because that's how we are co-developing the priorities, listening to our partners and being able to move forward on the things that really matter to them.
It was fantastic to get in to see some of the new homes in Inuvik when we were in the Inuvialuit territory. We know that housing really matters, particularly up there, where it's too cold to be homeless.
View Seamus O'Regan Profile
Lib. (NL)
Before getting into my remarks, I would like to, first of all, thank members of the committee for their work over the last month studying Bill C-92 and the proposed amendments. The amendments accepted last week from all sides strengthened this bill. As many of you know, I was glad to see that it passed third reading last night unanimously. Thank you very much. Your hard work on this was really appreciated.
A vital component of our government's renewed relationship with indigenous peoples is our commitment to take action and dismantle the colonial structures of the past. Since the Prime Minister's announcement on August 28, 2017, my officials and Minister Bennett's officials have been working hard to establish the necessary structures and processes to make this transformation a reality.
In 2019-20, we look forward to dissolving Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and in its place creating Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada as one department and Indigenous Services Canada as another. This change will better enable the government to continue its work on a renewed relationship with indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership. It better positions the government to build that relationship while closing the socio-economic gaps between indigenous and non-indigenous people and improving the quality of life for first nations, Inuit and Métis people. It finally responds to a very clear recommendation by the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.
Our focus at Indigenous Services Canada is working with partners to improve access to high-quality services for indigenous people. Our vision is to support and empower indigenous peoples to independently deliver services and address socio-economic conditions in their communities as they move forward on the path to self-determination.
As Minister of Indigenous Services, I am continuing the important work of improving the quality of services delivered to first nations, Inuit and Métis. This includes ensuring a consistent, high-quality and distinctions-based approach to the delivery of these services. A rigorous results and delivery approach is being adopted, focused on improving outcomes for indigenous people. Over time it is our goal that indigenous peoples will directly deliver programs and services to their peoples. We are working with partners to do this. I am working my way out of a job.
I would like to turn your attention to the reason that I am here today. I am now pleased to present to you my department's main estimates for 2019-20, which would total $12.3 billion if approved by Parliament. The 2019-20 main estimates reflect a net increase of about $2.9 billion, or 32%, compared to last year's main estimates. The net increase in budgetary spending primarily reflects the continuation of our investments in budgets 2016, 2017 and 2018 and in our most recent budget: all in all, investments totalling $21.3 billion to support stronger indigenous communities and to improve socio-economic outcomes.
Here are a few examples of where this year's increase will help.
There is $404.1 million in renewed funding for Jordan's principle: supporting children who need orthodontics, medical transportation, respite, land-based culture camps, medical supplies and equipment, educational assistance, mentorship, wheelchair ramps, vehicles, nutritional supplements.
There is an increase of $481.5 million for the first nations water and waste-water enhanced program, improving monitoring and testing of on-reserve community drinking water, and building on investments that have not only led to the lifting of 85 long-term drinking water advisories since 2015, but that also keep us on track to lift all LTDWAs by March 2021.
There will be an increase of $357.9 million related to non-insured health benefits for first nations people and Inuit.
There will be an increase of $324.8 million for infrastructure projects in indigenous communities.
There is an increase of $317 million for the first nations child and family services program, ensuring the actual costs of first nations child and family services agencies are covered fully, but also supporting initiatives to keep children and families together.
There is an increase of $300.2 million for first nations elementary and secondary education, supporting a renewed approach for K-to-12 education on reserve as co-developed by us and the Assembly of First Nations.
There is an increase of $113.6 million to build healthier first nations and Inuit communities, including our work to eliminate tuberculosis in Inuit Nunangat by 2030.
And there is an increase of $101.1 million to advance the new fiscal relationship with first nations under the Indian Act.
These investments continue to build on the work we have already done to foster a renewed relationship based on respect, co-operation and partnership. Together with indigenous partners, we are working hard to improve the quality of life for first nations, Inuit and Métis people. Through budget 2019, we are making investments in first nations and Inuit health, social development, education and infrastructure.
In addition to Jordan's principle and ensuring first nations children now receive the services they need when they need them, our investments in the child first initiative ensure that Inuit children have access to the essential government-funded health, social and educational products, services and supports that they need when they need them.
Budget 2019 proposes an investment of $220 million over five years to the Inuit-specific child first initiative, which will address the immediate needs of Inuit children. This investment would also support the ongoing work among the Government of Canada, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Inuit regions, and provinces and territories to develop a long-term Inuit-specific approach to better address the unique health, social and education needs of Inuit children.
There are also new investments to address urgent health and wellness needs to reduce suicide rates in Inuit communities. In order to deal with the ongoing suicide crisis in the Inuit communities, $5 million has been set aside to support the national Inuit suicide prevention strategy.
The government is also making unprecedented new investments in indigenous post-secondary education, including 2019's proposal for $327.5 million over five years to renew and expand funding for the post-secondary student support program while the government engages with first nations on the development of integrated regional education strategies.
There is $125.5 million over 10 years, and $21.8 million ongoing to support an Inuit-led post-secondary strategy, and $362 million over 10 years, and $40 million ongoing to support a Métis Nation strategy.
Starting this fiscal year, a new transfer to first nations communities, entitled “Grant to support the new fiscal relationship for First Nations under the lndian Act”, more commonly known as the 10-year grant, has been implemented.
More than 250 first nations expressed interest in the 10-year grant; 103 first nations were determined to be eligible based on criteria that we co-developed with first nations partners. They have received an offer, and I am happy to say that 83 first nations have now signed 10-year grant agreements.
The new grant, representing $1.5 billion, is funded through the existing programs of Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, which are primarily related to education, social development, infrastructure, and first nations and Inuit health programs.
To ensure that the 10-year grants grow with the needs of first nations, budget 2019 proposes that starting April 1, 2020, funding for core programs and services provided through the 10-year grants will be escalated to address key cost drivers, including inflation and population growth. The 10-year grant provides communities with the flexibility and predictability needed to support effective and independent long-term planning. This initiative is a key part for establishing a new fiscal relationship that moves towards sufficient, predictable and sustained funding for first nations communities.
Last, I think it's imperative for me to highlight the work of everyone involved in making progress on our commitment to end long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March, 2021. Since 2015, a total of 85 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted, and 126 short-term drinking water advisories were lifted before becoming long term. We are well on our way to meeting our commitment. This will be aided through the 2019-20 main estimates by an additional $66.7 million proposed by budget 2019, which has been dedicated to keeping us on track. I am extremely proud of this, as all Canadians should have access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water.
We have made, and are continuing to make, important changes in the government's relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis people. While there is still a lot of work to do, our government's historic investments are making a difference in closing the gaps that exist, and improving the quality of life for indigenous peoples.
I'd now be happy to answer any questions that the committee may have.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Valerie Gideon
View Valerie Gideon Profile
Valerie Gideon
2019-06-04 10:13
Absolutely, $220 million over five years was committed in budget 2019 for an Inuit-specific child-first initiative, and the first thing that we want to do in partnership with the national Inuit committee on health is assist families with food security issues.
Alyssa Flaherty-Spence
View Alyssa Flaherty-Spence Profile
Alyssa Flaherty-Spence
2019-05-09 11:44
[Witness spoke in Inuktitut]
Good morning. Thank you for having me here. My name is Alyssa Flaherty-Spence. I'm the President of what was previously known as Ottawa Inuit Children's Centre, now Inuuqatigiit Centre for Inuit Children, Youth and Families. We created this new name to reflect our community.
Thank you for having us here, members and Madam Chair. At Inuuqatigiit, we serve Inuit children, youth and families in the city of Ottawa. Our objective and mandate, in partnership with parents and the community, is to foster strong Inuit children, youth and families by providing a learning environment that will enhance the children's overall development through foster parenting, support and education, while encouraging Inuit to be proud of their Inuit culture and language.
We were established in 2005 by parents and children enrolled in the head start program in Ottawa. Today we are a multi-service Inuit organization that provides cultural, educational, recreational and social support services to children, youth and families of Ottawa's growing Inuit community. By providing equitable access to services and family support networks, Inuuqatigiit encourages Inuit children, youth and families in Ottawa to be strong, healthy and proud community members with knowledge of their cultural connection to the local Inuit community. We do this work through strong, culturally based programming and individualized services for children, youth and families, all with a view to improving their ability to live good lives. Inuit principles form the basis of all our programs and advocacy work.
Whom do we serve? As many of you may know, there is a large Inuit population in Ottawa, and they have come here for many different reasons—professional and specialist medical services and appointments, education, work, serving detention times and the needs of Nunavut children related to foster parenting, adoption and group homes. Overall, this bill will affect our Inuit community here in Ottawa and across southern Canada, because we are a service delivery agent for Inuit children, youth and families, with a focus on assisting in areas concerned with child and family services.
How will this bill affect children and youth in Ottawa? Inter-jurisdictional consequences and realities come into play here. As I mentioned, a lot of Inuit children are coming to Ottawa from Nunavut. Currently we have a large number of Inuit in Ottawa who need access to essential services simply because they are not provided in their homeland in Nunavut. This issue gives rise to inter-jurisdictional concerns that need to be addressed in this legislation. A large number of Inuit children need to access basic services here in Ottawa, and many have to avail themselves of child and family services in Ontario.
The second aspect of this legislation is data disaggregation and collection, specifically in paragraph 28(a), as Natan Obed, my colleague from the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, mentioned the other day. Currently we have incomplete data for Inuit children and youth in care in Ontario and in southern Canada generally. However, because we are an ongoing, on-the-ground agency focused on community partnerships, we have relationships with people like CAS, but this is not the case for all agencies and we can be taken as an exception.
Where are our children? This is what we need to know with this data collection. Inuuqatigiit knows that we have a large population of Inuit accessing services like CAS here in Ottawa, because we are on the ground assisting families day to day. However, we still need this data collection and we have Inuit-specific data needs.
We need provinces and territories to have exact numbers to ensure Inuit children are being serviced outside Inuit Nunangat in a way that is accessible, equitable and culturally appropriate for Inuit.
On Inuit-specific data—my colleague to my left mentioned this—we have a pan-indigenous approach right now under paragraph 28(a). Inuuqatigiit is successful because we provide Inuit culturally based programming and services for Inuit children and families, and we take pride in this. We need active and ongoing Inuit-specific data and reports to understand where the needs are for Inuit children, youth and families and to provide equitable, accessible and culturally appropriate services.
One part I will commend you for is paragraphs 9(2)(a) to (e), connection to culture and continuity. This section is vital to the well-being of Inuit children as they are involved with child and family services. Many children we service need this cultural continuity more, given the distance and isolation from their homelands in Inuit Nunangat. Homesickness and being away from their communities in Inuit Nunangat can have harsh consequences and can cause more harm than anything. Inuit are coming to Ontario and other provinces from their homelands, and this can have a strong influence on their livelihood.
Last, but certainly not least, are the funding gaps that are not within this legislation. As we are children and youth service providers, we are currently doing this work, as is, without resources. Children, youth and family agencies look to this type of legislation and wonder what this type of legislation is going to do that we aren't already doing. Inuuqatigiit and community-based organizations do this work but with little to no resources. It would be disrespectful to Inuit children, youth and families in Ottawa and within Inuit Nunangat if I did not make this a priority and speak to you about it. I'm asking for funding to be incorporated into this legislation. I'm hoping you strongly consider this and, if so, in a distinctive and equitable way for Inuit.
I will now pass the mike on to my colleague and executive director, Karen Baker-Anderson, who has been involved in the community for many, many years.
Anita Pokiak
View Anita Pokiak Profile
Anita Pokiak
2019-04-09 9:45
Qujannamiik, Madam Chair.
Ulaakut, members of Parliament, Chair, Co-Chair, guests and staff.
My name is Anita Pokiak, and I'm pleased to be here with you today on behalf of our president, Rebecca Kudloo. I am a member of Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada's board of directors from Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, representing the western Arctic. Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, incorporated in 1984, is the national representative organization of Inuit women.
Our homeland is important to our culture, our way of life. Our population is approximately 65,000, and we mainly live in 51 communities across Inuit Nunangat. Most of our communities are small, isolated and only accessible by plane. Our elders have always played and continue to play an important role demonstrating leadership through their wisdom and knowledge. They are the keepers of our tradition, heritage, culture and language. In our culture, both men and women are recognized as elders.
We must remember that, before the 1940s, we lived out on the land. Beginning in the 1950s, we were forced to permanent settlements with promises of education, health care and housing. By 1970, those born on the land had witnessed the creation of permanent settlements without adequate conditions to ensure our well-being. Our communities continue to face a large gap due to the Government of Canada's ongoing underinvestments. We do not share the same standards of living or access to health and social services, food, housing, employment, education or socio-economic development as most other Canadians. These conditions have a distinct negative impact on our elderly and can lead to circumstances for elder abuse.
For example, because of the severe shortage of housing, extended family often have to rely on elders for housing or other financial assistance. Elders are often the leaseholders of social housing units. They can be taken advantage of by other family members who moved in and cannot contribute to household costs, including rent.
For elders, a home should be a safe environment. Living in the crowded conditions such as three families in a two-bedroom home creates significant stress for all family members. It puts everyone at risk for poor nutrition, disease and family violence, including elder abuse. It can also make it difficult for elders to receive home care services. Social housing policies prohibit retrofitting any accommodation such as ramps to suit wheelchairs.
For elders in the communities with a safe shelter, the few existing services might not be appropriate for older women. Shelters are only intended for short-term stays. When elder women need somewhere to stay long term, there is no second-stage housing available in the Inuit Nunangat.
Inuit who face the highest vulnerability to food insecurity are single mothers and elders who often rely on pension income. Even with access to social assistance, because of the extremely expensive cost of food in the north, many elders can not buy healthy food and simply struggle to have enough to eat.
There are not enough trained Inuit home care service workers to assist our elders. The need to travel for most health care services affects the quality of life for elders and their families. Communities with limited health care services may not have access to the medical technology, equipment and supplies required to meet their needs. The lack of culturally appropriate and safe palliative care in communities is a large gap.
In Nunavut, there are 25 communities with only 44 long-term beds spread between Igloolik, Gjoa Haven, Cambridge Bay, Iqaluit and Arviat. The wait-list is nearly three years.
There are no facilities in Inuit Nunangat for dementia care. As a result, elders are routinely being sent to residential care facilities thousands of kilometres away. Here in Ottawa, there are around 30 Nunavummiut elders at Embassy West Senior Living. In my region, because of the lack of long-term care facilities, our elders are being sent to facilities in Inuvik and Yellowknife, which often have long wait-lists. We should not have to send our elders out of our communities or down south for specialized care. Saying that it is challenging and expensive to provide care for Inuit Nunangat is not an excuse.
Many of our elders who are being sent out of Inuit Nunangat to the south for care are the same elders who experienced colonization and residential schools first-hand, only this time they are being sent away and will never return. First they took our children and now they are taking our elders. Our families and communities are losing our elders. They should not be removed from their families, traditional foods, language, culture and environment. In another 50 years, will there be another payout and an apology for this? This is not reconciliation.
Inuit women are the main providers of care for family members, including elders. The federal government must take leadership in consultation with Inuit women to develop a solution to provide for dignity and better quality of life for our elders. This requires a dual investment, both in facilities that incorporate our way of life and in building capacity within our own communities so that we can take of our elders.
Thank you for listening.
View Eva Nassif Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Eva Nassif Profile
2019-04-09 9:52
Thank you, Madam Chair.
I want to thank the witnesses for being here today.
Ms. Pokiak, you said that elder women were the ones who took care of the family. You also said that health care was neglected in the north because of the remoteness and the living conditions of elder women.
Could you tell us about this? How does the remoteness of Inuit communities affect elder Inuit women?
Anita Pokiak
View Anita Pokiak Profile
Anita Pokiak
2019-04-09 9:54
Yes, the hardest is that, number one, Inuit women look after their own families, their grandchildren and their great-grandchildren. They are in overcrowded homes. The other part is that when our elders have to be placed away from home, they are thousands of miles away, and people don't have the financial means to go and visit people who are placed down here in Ottawa, for instance, because of the financial cost.
I hope I answered your question.
View Eva Nassif Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Eva Nassif Profile
2019-04-09 9:55
The work of your organization, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, revolves around three top priorities. You spoke about improving social and economic development, improving health outcomes and preventing violence.
Could you elaborate on the relationship between health, social and economic development, and the prevention of violence against elder Inuit women?
Anita Pokiak
View Anita Pokiak Profile
Anita Pokiak
2019-04-09 9:56
I'm not sure if I understood you correctly on that, but I will try my best.
Pauktuutit does a lot of work all across Inuit Nunangat regarding the three subjects you just mentioned. We have a board member from each region. They all work very hard on those three subjects.
View Eva Nassif Profile
Lib. (QC)
View Eva Nassif Profile
2019-04-09 10:00
Madam Pokiak, can you please tell me your top two priorities in recommendations for the federal government, for Inuit seniors?
Anita Pokiak
View Anita Pokiak Profile
Anita Pokiak
2019-04-09 10:01
Okay. For that one, our priorities would be to have facilities in Inuit Nunangat instead of sending our elders away from the community, and also financial assistance.
Thank you.
View Rachael Harder Profile
View Rachael Harder Profile
2019-04-09 10:01
Thanks so much for joining us.
My first question is for Ms. Pokiak.
Thank you for sharing testimony with us with regard to the experience of Inuit women. My question for you is with regard to respect for tradition and culture.
We had another witness who talked about the importance of women being able to hold their autonomy, their independence, their will, their strength, their power and their importance without being isolated, to be honoured and respected within their communities and to be given a place of importance, value, worth, dignity and respect.
In Inuit culture, I would imagine that some of these things would stand true or be important as well. I'm wondering if you can comment on that.
Anita Pokiak
View Anita Pokiak Profile
Anita Pokiak
2019-04-09 10:02
That is something else that we are losing in our culture, with other stuff. It's language and respect of not only Inuit women, but of family as a whole. Elders are our teachers for the younger generation. Removing our elders from their environment, their community, their traditions and culture and sending them into a very different culture down south is, to me, taking respect away from our elders.
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