Question No. 1982--Mrs. Cathy McLeod
With regard to the government’s closure to the public of the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada office in Winnipeg without an appointment: (a) what is the government’s rationale for no longer allowing access to general public without a prior appointment; (b) how many clients were served at this location between January 2015 and September 2018, broken down by month; and (c) what is the breakdown in (b) by purpose of visit, (for example, obtaining a status card, etc.)?
ResponseMr. Dan Vandal (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, as it relates to the office located at 365 Hargrave Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, no data is available, as there was no appointment process in place for this location while access was provided to the general public. In an effort to balance service standards with the safety of the public and staff, and following the closure of the office at 365 Hargrave Street to the general public, a new appointment process was put in place at the new location to minimize disruptions and to ensure that services continued as efficiently as possible.
The ISC office for secure certificate of Indian status, located at 391 York Street Winnipeg, Manitoba, was opened on November 23, 2016, and continues to provide services to the general public by appointment. The majority of appointments are for secure certificate of Indian status card applications, marriage and death registrations, name changes and amendments. The approximate number of visits from November 2016 to September 2018, broken down by month, are as follows: November 2016: 34; December 2016/January 2017: 235; February 2017: 172; March 2017: 250; April 2017: 141; May 2017: 213; June 2017: 221; July 2017: 253; August 2017: 373; September 2017: 297; October 2017: 331; November 2017: 384; December 2017: 273; January 2018: 331; February 2018: 381; March 2018: 408; April 2018: 349; May 2018: 435; June 2018: 299; July 2018: 624; August 2018: 382; and September 2018: 330.
Question No. 1983--Mrs. Cathy McLeod
With regard to the 10-year grant funding mechanism announced by the Minister of Indigenous Services on December 6, 2017: (a) how many First Nations provided a written expression of interest by the July 13, 2018, deadline; (b) how many First Nations have met the eligibility criteria, as confirmed to the Department of Indigenous Services by the First Nations Financial Management Board; (c) what is the breakdown of (a) and (b) by province or territory; (d) what are the details of reporting mechanisms for accountability to band members; (e) will the Department of Indigenous Services or the First Nations Financial Management Board body determine if the reporting mechanisms for accountability to band members are adequate and have been met; and (f) what is the complete list of First Nations individuals and organizations that were consulted between December 6, 2017, and October 16, 2018?
ResponseMr. Dan Vandal (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), there were 214 first nations that provided a written expression of interest by the July 13, 2018 deadline. As of October 15, 2018, a total of 252 first nations had submitted a written expression of interest.
With regard to (b), the First Nations Financial Management Board has not yet completed its assessment of the first nations who sent in an expression of interest.
With regard to (c), the breakdown of eligible first nations by province or territory is not yet known. The number of first nations who expressed interest in the 10-year grant is distributed by province or territory as follows: Alberta, 17; British Columbia, 88; Manitoba, 30; New Brunswick, 8; Newfoundland and Labrador, 3; Nova Scotia, 11; Northwest Territories, 2; Ontario, 45; Prince Edward Island, 2; Quebec, 14; Saskatchewan, 32.
With regard to (d), under the 10-year grant, measures for accountability to first nation members are codified in the financial administration law, FAL, or financial administration bylaw, FAB, of the first nation and reinforced in the funding agreement. First nations must enact and maintain a FAL or FAB in order to be eligible and to maintain eligibility for a 10-year grant.
Under a FAL/FAB, the first nation must have a policy for first nation information or involvement. The council must establish such a policy and/or procedures or give directions respecting the means by which members of the first nation must be informed about or involved in consideration of the following: the annual budget; the multi-year financial plan; and budget deficits or extraordinary expenditures. Additionally, the council must post a public notice of each council meeting when each of the following is presented for approval: the multi-year financial plan; the annual budget; and amendments to the annual budget. Members of the first nation may attend that part of the council meeting when the matters referred to in the above are being considered.
With regard to (e), under the 10-year grant compliance measures are replaced by practices that strengthen first nations governance and empower first nation citizens to hold their leaders accountable. This includes ongoing monitoring of the co-developed eligibility criteria for 10-year grants by the First Nation Financial Management Board. This monitoring would include an assessment of the adequacy of reporting to band members as per the reporting provisions codified in the first nation’s financial administration law, FAL, or financial administration bylaw, FAB. On an annual basis, the First Nations Financial Management Board will report the results of their assessment of eligibility criteria to ISC. ISC will support the first nations to remediate any issues related to maintaining eligibility for 10-year grant, including the reporting mechanisms for accountability.
With regard to (f), from October 11 to November 20, 2017, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, INAC, and the AFN met on nine occasions with first nations leaders and technical experts around the country to seek their input on options to address predictability of funding, sufficient funding for program delivery, and mutual accountability. The feedback from participants on their priorities and major concerns were considered and reflected in the report entitled, “A new approach: Co-development of a new fiscal relationship between Canada and First Nation”. The Assembly of First Nations presented this report to all first nations chiefs in attendance at Assembly of First Nations’ special chiefs assembly in Ottawa, on December 6, 2017. Department of Indigenous Services Canada officials continue with ongoing co-development work related to the 10-year grant with both the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Financial Management Board. Beginning in January 2018, Indigenous Services Canada staff participated in a number of information sessions across many regions to provide first nations participants with more information about the grant.
Question No. 1984--Mrs. Cathy McLeod
With regard to funding for the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework: (a) for what will funding be utilized, broken down by item; and (b) what is the percentage and total of the funding that will be utilized for administrative costs?
ResponseMr. Adam Vaughan (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development (Housing and Urban Affairs), Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, with regard to (a), in support of the indigenous early learning and child care, ELCC, framework, the Government of Canada is committing up to $1.7 billion over 10 years to strengthen early learning and child care programs and services for indigenous children and families starting in 2018-19. This is part of the commitment of $7.5 billion over 11 years the government has made to support and create more high-quality, affordable child care across the country.
Over the next 10 years, up to $1.02 billion will support ELCC for first nations and will be managed in partnership with first nations. Up to $111 million will support ELCC for Inuit and will be managed in partnership with Inuit. Up to $450 million will support ELCC for the Métis Nation and will be managed in partnership with the Métis Nation. New funding will be aimed at improving and increasing access to culturally rooted early learning and child care programs and services, aligned with the co-developed goals and priorities set out in the Indigenous ELCC framework.
In addition to distinctions-based funding, enhanced funding of $34 million over 10 years will also be available to enhance the aboriginal head start in urban and northern communities, AHSUNC, program. In addition, a total of $44 million over 10 years will support quality improvement projects, that is, application-based, indigenous-led projects to advance foundational elements of indigenous ELCC.
With regard to (b), of the total new funding of $1.7 billion, $46.8 million, or 2.7%, over 10 years would be allocated to administrative costs related to federal operating requirements. These funds will enable Employment and Social Development Canada, ESDC, Indigenous Services Canada, ISC, and the Public Health Agency of Canada, PHAC, to support implementation of the indigenous ELCC framework and ensure effective program monitoring and reporting.
Question No. 1985--Mr. Dean Allison
With regard to the October 2018 announcement that the government would provide $50 million to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees: (a) what specific written guarantees, if any, does the government have that the funding will not be used for anti-Semitic or anti-Israel activities; and (b) what is the website location where the text of any written guarantees mentioned in (a), can be located?
ResponseHon. Marie-Claude Bibeau (Minister of International Development, Lib.)
Mr. Speaker, on October 12, 2018, Global Affairs Canada announced Canada’s continued support to Palestinian refugees through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA. Canada committed $40 million over two years to help meet the basic education, health and livelihood needs of millions of vulnerable Palestinian refugees, especially women and children. In addition, Canada committed $10 million to UNRWA’s emergency appeal for Palestinian refugees impacted by the regional crisis caused by war in Syria.
Importantly, Canada’s funding is also contributing to UNRWA’s neutrality activities, which include regular inspections of the agency’s facilities by specially trained UNRWA officers who can identify, report and take action on violations of neutrality; training for UNRWA staff on neutrality, including in social media, and for senior staff on how to carry out effective installation inspections; promotion of students’ knowledge and skills reflecting United Nations, UN, values, including human rights, conflict resolution, gender equality and tolerance, through educational activities and materials; and UNRWA’s development, distribution and use of additional educational materials, as part of the agency’s approach to enable teachers to promote neutrality. This support also builds on funding Canada provided from 2017 to 2019 to hire a neutrality coordinator to monitor activities and respond promptly to allegations of neutrality violations. This assistance demonstrates how Canada and UNRWA are working together to ensure respect for the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, operational independence and impartiality. This is essential to the effective delivery of its work and to Canada’s continued support to UNRWA.
Canada is aware that UNRWA has faced various criticisms and allegations. In Canada’s view, UNRWA has demonstrated its commitment to establish conditions to ensure that assistance is provided to the most vulnerable while increasing strong accountability and neutrality measures among its over 30,000 employees. Canada is working with UNRWA to establish additional measures to ensure thorough monitoring, reporting and accountability. Our funding enables us to be an active member of UNRWA’s Advisory Commission, and we continue to work on a regular basis with UNRWA and other donor governments to advance reforms related to governance, effectiveness, monitoring and financial administration. Canada’s participation provides an opportunity for oversight, influence and engagement on key issues.
Canada and other donors support UNRWA’s efforts to ensure that UNRWA students learn UN values such as neutrality, human rights, conflict resolution, tolerance, equality and non-discrimination based on race, gender, language and religion. UNRWA has in place a formal framework to review all textbooks and, where needed, provides additional training for teachers to address any problematic issues related to neutrality, bias, gender equality or age appropriateness.
Canada exercises enhanced due diligence for all international assistance funding for Palestinians, including funding for UNRWA. This includes strong anti-terrorism provisions in funding agreements, ongoing oversight, regular site visits, and a systematic screening process. All programming and funding mechanisms are thoroughly examined to ensure consistency with Canadian values and to meet the highest standards of transparency and accountability. If and when issues arise, Canada and UNRWA engage quickly and openly.
Regarding additional measures that Canada requires UNRWA undertake to ensure its neutrality, Canada and UNRWA have agreed to a framework for cooperation that outlines shared commitments and Canada’s expectations regarding the implementation of UNRWA’s reform initiatives, regular monitoring and reporting, and compliance with Canadian anti-terrorism requirements. This framework for cooperation is publicly available on the Global Affairs Canada Internet site: http://international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/priorities-priorites/where-ou/gac_un_unrwa-amc_nu_unrwa.aspx?lang=eng.
Upholding the neutrality of its operations allows UNRWA to deliver effectively on its important assistance to Palestinian refugees. Canada will continue to take all allegations of neutrality violations very seriously.
Our government will continue to support the provision of assistance to the most vulnerable on behalf of Canadians, in a way that reflects Canadian values. Thanks to UNRWA’s work, more than three million people have access to primary health care, and over half a million Palestinian refugee girls and boys benefit from the quality education provided to them in UN schools.