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Results: 1 - 74 of 74
Jerome Berthelette
View Jerome Berthelette Profile
Jerome Berthelette
2015-03-30 15:35
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I thank the committee for giving us this opportunity to discuss chapter 5 of our report, entitled “Support to the Automotive Sector”. It is in our 2014 Fall Report. Joining me at the table is Richard Domingue, Principal, who was responsible for the audit.
The global economic recession of 2008 negatively affected Canada's production and employment in the automotive industry. Vehicle sales declined sharply in the United States and Canada, and some companies, including Chrysler and General Motors, could not generate sufficient income to fund their operations.
In December 2008, the governments of Canada and Ontario joined the U.S. government and offered financial assistance to Chrysler Canada and GM Canada. In total, the federal government provided $9 billion of financial assistance to support the restructuring of Chrysler and GM, including their Canadian subsidiaries.
We looked at how Industry Canada, the Department of Finance Canada, and Export Development Canada managed this financial assistance. The assistance involved complex transactions, high uncertainty, and tight timeframes. These circumstances had an impact on what Industry Canada could do to manage the assistance.
We found that Industry Canada, the Department of Finance Canada, and Export Development Canada managed the financial support to the automotive sector in a way that contributed to the viability of the companies and the competitiveness of the sector in Canada over the short and medium terms.
Industry Canada adequately assessed the recovery prospects of Chrysler and GM. This helped the government decide whether to participate in the financing of the companies' restructuring. However, Industry Canada had limited information on required concessions from unionized labour and other stakeholders, and on GM Canada's pension liabilities. This lack of information made it difficult for the department to understand the impact of its assistance on the long-term viability of the companies.
Industry Canada's information on the use of funds was limited to broad categories. For example, Industry Canada had limited documentation on the actual use of a $2.8-billion loan made to GM Canada for capital expenditures, warranty claims, and other general corporate purposes. However, the department adequately monitored the companies' production commitments in Canada.
Mr. Chair, we also found that there was no comprehensive reporting to Parliament of information about the restructuring assistance. Based on the information publicly available, we found it impossible to gain a complete picture of the assistance provided and of the amounts recovered and lost.
In 2008, the federal government launched the automotive innovation fund program. The program's objective is to support automotive firms in their strategic, large-scale research and development projects to produce innovative, greener, and more fuel-efficient vehicles. In addition, the government expects the program to contribute to a more competitive Canadian automotive sector.
We looked at how Industry Canada managed this program. Overall we found that Industry Canada's assessment of each project proposal was consistent with the program's terms and conditions, but in our opinion its risk assessment framework was more comprehensive than required. The department could streamline its risk analysis, given that recipients assume all of the technical risks and most of the financial risks of their projects.
Industry Canada has adequate information coming from progress reports and site visits to allow the progress of each project to be tracked.
However, Industry Canada has not yet used this information to determine whether the program is achieving its objectives.
Industry Canada has agreed with our recommendations and set deadlines for their implementation. Last December the department met one of its deadlines by issuing a report entitled “Summary Report on Canada's Support for the Restructuring of General Motors and Chrysler in 2009”.
Mr. Chair, this concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer any questions the committee may have.
Thank you.
Philip Jennings
View Philip Jennings Profile
Philip Jennings
2015-03-30 15:42
With that, thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, for allowing me to provide you with a brief overview of Industry Canada's response to the Auditor General's 2014 fall report on the restructuring assistance provided to General Motors and Chrysler during the economic crisis of 2009 as well as the automotive innovation fund.
As you are aware, Canada has a strong automotive sector, which generates $17 billion annually of value-added, or 10% of Canada's manufacturing GDP. With some 730 automotive suppliers supporting our 11 assembly lines and three engine plants, the industry employs some 117,000 Canadians directly, and another 377,000 Canadians indirectly. In fact, in 2014, Ontario was the largest automotive manufacturing jurisdiction in North America—larger even than Michigan.
The auto sector is also export orientated. There are 90% of Canadian-made vehicles sold abroad, the vast majority of these in the United States. The proximity to the U.S., one of the most profitable auto markets, is one of our competitive strengths. Our auto sector is truly part of an integrated North American market.
Industry Canada is always interested in views and ideas that will help us support and grow Canada's automotive sector. While we hope we will never face a situation like the crisis of 2009 again, we are also interested in learning from such circumstances and in continuously improving how we prepare and respond. In this light, we welcomed the Auditor General's four recommendations. In fact, Industry Canada has already acted upon two of them and plans to act on the other two recommendations in a timely fashion. I will discuss this later in my remarks.
As you know, Mr. Chair, late 2008 and early 2009 was a period of extreme uncertainty and volatility. Credit was tightening, consumers were scaling down and postponing their spending, and economies around the globe appeared to be heading into recession, if they weren't already. The auto sector was experiencing first-hand the impacts of consumers postponing major expenditures. Annual vehicle sales plummeted in the U.S. in 2009, from about 17 million vehicles per year to a little over 10 million.
With shrinking sales, the financial situation of all companies was becoming desperate, but for GM and Chrysler it was particularly bad, as it did not have access to capital like the others. In November 2008, GM announced it would run out of cash around mid-2009 without a combination of government funding, a merger, or sales of assets. No credit institution was in a position to help either GM or Chrysler.
While Canadian sales did not dip as much, Canadian assemblers were not sheltered by the events in the U.S., given that close to 90% of Canadian-made cars are exported to that country. Canadian subsidiaries were directly impacted by their parent companies' difficulties. There was a real risk that GM and Chrysler might shutter their Canadian operations in an attempt to restructure.
GM and Chrysler were at the time, and continue to be, the two largest carmakers in Canada, accounting for more than 55% of total production. Many of Canada's suppliers depended on contracts with GM and Chrysler. Without this work, many would not have survived, leading to a hollowing out of the suppliers and creating problems for the other original automotive equipment manufacturers.
That would have triggered a collapse of the entire Canadian automotive supply chain. The strong links and interdependencies between our supply chain and our assemblers were the key motivation for government action and support of GM and Chrysler. GM and Chrysler in Canada had to be protected from being collateral damage of the events in the U.S., not only for their sake but for the entire suppliers sector and ultimately the entire automotive industry in Canada.
Mr. Chair, as the Auditor General concluded, the Government of Canada did what it set out to do: prevent the disorderly collapse of the auto sector and ensure a viable automotive sector in Canada.
The clock was ticking. There was a very short timeframe to find a viable remedy for both GM and Chrysler. Both were in dire financial straits, and Chrysler needed to find a buyer. From the point that the crisis started and GM submitted high-level restructuring plans to the U.S. Congress in late 2008, governments had less than a month to decide whether to provide an initial set of loans. Again, once the company submitted more detailed plans, there was only about six weeks to assess their long-term viability.
As these events demonstrate, the restructuring of GM and Chrysler took place under intensely challenging circumstances. It required unprecedented collective action by the federal, Ontario, and U.S. governments.
While Charles and I at Industry Canada were not there at the time of the restructuring, the federal government did quickly organize an automotive response team. It was headed by Mr. Richard Dicerni and Mr. Paul Boothe, the deputy minister and associate deputy minister at Industry Canada at the time, and Mr. Ron Parker and Mr. David Moloney, who are my predecessors and who led a team of dedicated public servants who worked tirelessly and in unique ways to manage the government's response to the crisis. It supported a steering committee made up of deputy ministers from Industry Canada and Finance, as well as representatives from Export Development Canada, the Privy Council Office, and the Ontario Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Economic Development and Tourism, who all played important roles.
The team also reached out to stakeholders and experts to ensure it quickly had access to the necessary knowledge and expertise, whether on financial corporate restructuring from KPMG and Ernst and Young or on U.S. and Canadian insolvency law from Cassels Brock or on the automotive market from CSM Worldwide and Casesa Shapiro Group.
There were external discussions with those in the industry, including assemblers and suppliers, to gather essential information needed to assess and understand the risk. The government then made a responsible decision and took decisive action. Afterwards, my department monitored the two companies to ensure they fulfilled their end of the bargain and to ensure that the restructuring would deliver the desired results.
Mr. Chair, I am impressed by the work accomplished by my predecessors for the Canadian industry and its workers. Their work was the basis of the government actions and it paid off. It also proved to be pivotal in securing the immediate future of Canada's automotive industry and the economy at large. In early 2009, GM and Chrysler assembly plants directly employed an estimated 14,000 workers. Today both companies continue to be Canada's largest automotive manufacturers, employing about 19,000 Canadians, and the economic benefits extend far beyond the two companies. At the time of the crisis, the Department of Finance estimated that a total of 52,000 jobs were directly or indirectly tied to production at GM and Chrysler. Another study, by Leslie Shiell and Robin Somerville at the IRPP, estimated that in 2010 a total of 100,000 jobs, including jobs in the supplier sector, could have been lost without the restructuring. The study further suggested that in 2009 alone the economy could have suffered losses of $23 billion had GM and Chrysler not successfully restructured. The government's decisive actions ensured that there was business for hundreds of suppliers. The effects even spilled over into industries across the Canadian economy.
Today, all Canadian automakers, including GM and Chrysler, are investing in their operations. In the last two years in particular, each of Canada's five automotive assemblers has reinvested in Canada, and auto parts manufacturers have also invested in their operations. Another sign that the sector is doing well is that Canada's production increased to almost 2.4 million vehicles in 2014. The auto sector will continue to contribute significantly to the Canadian economy for many years to come.
All this work was and continues to be recognized, not only by the industry but also by third party analysis such as the IRPP study I mentioned, which concluded that the restructuring assistance was successful. Furthermore, Industry Canada received recognition for its accomplishments, including in the form of the Institute of Public Administration of Canada's 2010 innovative management award. I believe it is a remarkable success story that we were able to partner quickly and effectively with our counterparts at home and abroad, within and outside of government, to provide sound advice and ultimately save thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses, and to secure a future for Canada's auto sector.
With respect to the automotive innovation fund, I am pleased that the report reflects a program that continues to be well managed. In many respects, it's still early days for the program. It was established in 2008 and seven projects have been supported. The initial projects are just now being completed, yet we know from the initial evaluation we did in 2012 that the program is meeting its short-term objectives. It has leveraged about $2.8 billion in investments since its inception, and as the Auditor General has recommended, we will continue to report against its longer-term objectives as projects are completed.
Mr. Chair, I want to conclude my remarks by noting that we have learned a great deal from these experiences, and the Auditor General's recommendations have helped embed these. The recommendations have highlighted that clear and comprehensive reporting on support provided and the management of that support contributes to the public understanding of the restructuring success. In order to increase the ease of access to the information, last December we published a single summary report on the restructuring support and recoveries. We've also committed to undertaking a review of the management of the restructuring assistance with a focus on identifying lessons learned. This work will be completed this year.
The Auditor General also recommended reviewing how we evaluate proposals for support from the automotive innovation fund, and monitoring the performance of the program.
We have updated the program's risk assessment framework and made explicit the manner in which risk profiles of applicants are assessed. We will also evaluate the program again in 2017-18 to determine to what extent it achieves its long-term objectives.
It is fair to say, just like all Canadians, we hope we never face such a challenge again, requiring us to use the lessons learned from the 2009 crisis.
Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members. We will be pleased to respond to your questions.
Jerome Berthelette
View Jerome Berthelette Profile
Jerome Berthelette
2015-03-30 16:01
Mr. Chair, I agree with what you say.
I would make reference to paragraph 5.88, which is our conclusion:
...we concluded that Industry Canada, the Department of Finance Canada, and Export Development Canada managed the financial support to the automotive sector in a way that contributed to the viability of the companies and the competitiveness of the sector...over the short and medium terms.
Generally, this is a good news story.
Mr. Chair, I would then make reference to paragraph 5.23. While I just noted that it is a good news story, there are certain areas where we saw that some more work could have been done. There were areas where there was limited analysis and limited information.
We recognized, as we state in paragraph 5.25, that, “The federal government made its decisions on financial assistance in a period of high uncertainty and within tight time frames.” We understand that. We think more work could have been done in terms of the analysis, maybe relying less on the material presented by the companies and doing a little more independent analysis of it, and perhaps doing a more independent challenge of the information that had been presented.
I think that a final restructuring plan would have been good. It would have provided a place where all of the details related to the restructuring could have been brought together in one place. It would have made it easier for the department and for Canadians to follow what had gone on in the restructuring, and would have made it easier for the department to report against the restructuring.
We have in appendix A, which I believe is at page 25 in my document, some suggestions related to going forward if there is ever another situation like this. We made suggestions related to the planning, monitoring, and public reporting related to such large interventions by the federal government.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
2015-03-30 17:14
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Jennings, how and when do you plan to report the final cost of the financial assistance to Parliament?
Philip Jennings
View Philip Jennings Profile
Philip Jennings
2015-03-30 17:14
As I mentioned before, we put a report on the web. As highlighted by the Auditor General, there was no one place where all the information was together. A report was posted in December 2014, which essentially highlights all the funds that went into the restructuring, as well as all the funds that have been recovered to date.
The final recovery of some funds that make up the equity in General Motors is not yet known. The Government of Canada still owns equity in the company and the two principal factors that will determine the value of those recovered funds will be the share price for General Motors, as well as the exchange rate, so any depreciation in the exchange rate for Canada leads to more recovered funds.
The report highlights what the value of those funds was at the time the report was written, but that has been fluctuating since that point. I should also say that since the report was published, General Motors did call an option on its preferred shares. They bought back preferred shares from the Government of Canada, and Ontario exercised its rights to sell its remaining shares to General Motors, which took place in February of this year.
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
Lib. (ON)
View Judy A. Sgro Profile
2015-03-30 17:15
Why do Parliament and Canadians have to wait until 2017 or 2018 to know whether the program achieved its goals? That's a long time.
Philip Jennings
View Philip Jennings Profile
Philip Jennings
2015-03-30 17:16
As I mentioned, in 2012 we conducted an evaluation of the automotive innovation fund. It found that it was on track to meet the objectives. However, it did conclude that it was too early to be able to have a full assessment of the impact of the program, given that it was four years into the program.
We have committed to another evaluation, so we're able to assess that it is meeting its long-term objectives. That date has been set for 2017.
Philip Jennings
View Philip Jennings Profile
Philip Jennings
2015-03-30 17:16
We know that the immediate and medium-term objectives of the program are being met, but to know if the long-term objectives are being met will be evaluated in 2017.
View Malcolm Allen Profile
View Malcolm Allen Profile
2015-03-30 17:26
So in essence the government maybe needed to lend the company less money, based on.... Of course, there was $1 billion that GM eventually did need because they self-financed the pension plan. Perhaps they needed to give them less money because there were greater concessions given by the labour force to the company than we perhaps knew about because there was a bit of deficiency in the analysis—albeit it's difficult to do, Mr. Jennings; I understand the timeline you were up against.
Listen, some of us have a real vested interest in making sure that General Motors actually succeeds. I'm one of those people in this country. I happen to be a retiree from General Motors, so I have a vested interest. It goes beyond my general community. I have other colleagues around here as well who have folks in those communities and represent those folks—as Mr. Carrie said, “real” folks in those communities, and I agree with him.
On page 15, Mr. Berthelette, you talk about the lack of comprehensive reporting to Parliament.
I do accede, Mr. Jennings, that your department finally finished the report by the end of last year.
Mr. Berthelette, from what I'm reading at paragraphs 5.62, 5.63, and 5.64, are we talking about the sense that Parliament actually didn't receive any timely reporting in any succinct way, other than unless you chased three or four departments to figure things out, as to what actually happened with a report back on where the moneys were spent? Is that what I'm reading there?
Jerome Berthelette
View Jerome Berthelette Profile
Jerome Berthelette
2015-03-30 17:28
Yes, Mr. Chair. As we say in paragraph 5.63, we found it impossible to gain a complete picture of the assistance provided, as no single entity had pulled the information together and put it forward in a clear or coherent manner.
View Shelly Glover Profile
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Good day to my fellow members. Thank you for having me here for the first time in my role as Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages. I remember my visits to this committee when I was parliamentary secretary. My greetings to Mr. Godin who was a member of the committee at that time and is one still. All the other members have changed.
So, let us begin.
I would like to recognize this committee's achievements. Your study on immersion programs across the country is an indication of your commitment to promoting our national languages. I was, however, a little disappointed that I did not receive an invitation to appear, especially given the fact that, as the product of an immersion program myself, I have often expressed my concerns regarding the changes that have been made to programs since I was in school.
That said, the vitality of our national languages is important to me both as the minister and as a member of the Franco-Manitoban community. I am honoured to work in both Saint-Boniface and Ottawa toward the advancement of French and English, as well as official language communities.
As you know, in the summer of 2012, we undertook official language cross-Canada consultations. Canadians told us that we have made significant progress in key areas since 2008. However, they also mentioned that there was still work to be done to unleash the full potential of our linguistic duality and contribute even more effectively to developing our minority communities.
In its report on the previous Roadmap, your committee shared the concerns expressed by the general public and representatives of organizations in francophone and anglophone minority communities. In the budget tabled on March 21, 2013, our government committed to measures reiterating support for our national languages and showcasing their importance for our identity. A week later, we rolled out the Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018.
This new strategy for official languages translates into $1.1 billion invested over five years in education, immigration, and communities. I'm pleased to confirm that all of the road map's initiatives are now funded on a permanent basis. This is important as only three-quarters of the funding in the previous road map took the form of ongoing support. Road map 2013 to 2018 provides clear testimony of our continuing commitment to official languages in this country.
As I explained in the 2011-2012 Annual Report on Official Languages that I tabled in Parliament last November, Canadian Heritage oversees two main programs supporting official languages. One aims to develop minority official language communities. The other's objective is to promote French and English in Canadian society.
Our programs support the offer of minority-language services at the provincial and territorial level in sectors such as education, justice, culture and health. Our actions have tangible results. For example, working closely with the provinces and territories, we are supporting minority-language education. Every morning across our country, more than 240,000 students in minority communities go to school in their own language.
We support second-language learning. A total of 2.4 million young people are learning French or English as a second language in Canada, more than 340,000 of them in immersion classes. Our young people are among our greatest resources. That is why I am pleased that we were able to offer bursaries to 7,800 students in 2011-2012 that enable them to improve their skills in their second national language. We also created some 700 summer or short-term jobs for bilingual young Canadians. These jobs allow them to practice their knowledge of French and English.
The annual report also provides details about my role in coordinating official languages support within federal institutions. In 2011-12, Canadian Heritage adopted a broader approach to coordination to make the accounting process uniform among all institutions. For three years we've been using this approach, adopted jointly with the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.
Some 170 federal institutions now have the opportunity to showcase their achievements, which provides Canadians with a complete picture of national efforts to promote French and English.
In the interest of efficiency, we also launched a review in 2013 of our support for organizations in official language communities. Through this review, we want to ensure that our measures effectively meet the needs of communities, particularly in key areas such as youth and culture. This review is being carried out in consultation with community organizations. Our investment levels remain unchanged. I simply want to ensure that we are achieving the best possible results.
The Commissioner of Official Languages has also acknowledged these results. In his 2012-2013 Annual Report, he applauded the efforts to date of Canadian Heritage and other federal institutions with regard to respect for official languages. We will be continuing along this path. We welcome the Commissioner's report and the recommendations in it. They will be used to inform our government's actions. I want to mention here that, last year, our government renewed the appointment of the Commissioner of Official Languages, Mr. Graham Fraser, for three years. This reappointment was applauded by numerous key stakeholders in official languages. I also want to note that I agree with the Commissioner when it comes to the importance of promoting our linguistic duality as part of large-scale events.
Let's talk about celebrations.
We are currently conducting online consultations and holding roundtables across the country to learn more about how Canadians want to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary in 2017. The consultations taking place are mindful of our commitment to promote our linguistic duality as part of the celebrations.
The Commissioner also mentioned in his report that he will be monitoring the implementation of the protocol for agreements for minority language education and second language instruction. I am very pleased that we recently renewed our co-operation with the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. The protocol for agreements that we signed with the council provides for more than $1.3 billion in federal investment over five years to support the provincial and territorial governments in the area of official languages in teaching.
we have taken concrete action to promote respect for national languages. We will continue our efforts in this regard, because our action generates results for Canadians and benefits for minority communities.
Thank you for your attention. I am ready to answer your questions.
View Lise St-Denis Profile
Lib. (QC)
You mentioned grants that you give out. Your report lists dozens upon dozens of small programs. You hand out grants for activities involving three people, and no follow-up is done to ensure accountability. You measure neither the direct nor indirect effects of the funding you give out to numerous small groups of individuals, small programs. Are these small programs making things better for francophone groups? Or is the thinking that it's better to run them even if they don't do much?
Don't these programs warrant better evaluation so you can determine which ones are really making a difference for Canada's francophonie?
View Shelly Glover Profile
I don't know of any.
The cultural program Juste pour rire has a budget of about $1 million. Another event we support is Montréal en lumière. I was there last week. It attracts thousands of people. Funding for the festival comes from our department and the roadmap, obviously, as well as the Canada Council for the Arts. Thus, we support opportunities that enable people to take part in activities in the minority language, and that applies not just to English in Quebec but also to French in the rest of the country. Both the QCGN and ELAN receive funding as well.
I repeat, Canada is the only G7 nation that did not make cuts in the area of official languages, and we should be proud of that.
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
View Shawn A-in-chut Atleo Profile
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
2013-12-05 19:19
[Witness speaks in Nuu-chah-nulth]
Greetings. I am A-in-chut.
[Witness speaks in Nuu-chah-nulth]
I want to join others in acknowledging that we're here in unceded Algonquin territories.
It's my privilege to offer up some thoughts as National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. As I said, I am A-in-chut, or Shawn, Atleo.
I am joined here tonight by my colleagues.
With me is Alberta Regional Chief Cameron Alexis, who holds the national portfolio with the Assembly of First Nations executive. We have executive members representing 10 regions from coast to coast to coast. He carries the executive responsibilities for justice matters, has also served his community as chief, and brings with him over 20 years as a police officer with the RCMP.
Also with me is Charlene Belleau, a former chief of Alkali Lake first nation.
Thanks to the chair for acknowledging that she is a former chief herself.
She works with the Assembly of First Nations and, in my view, has demonstrated some of the most important leadership on the issues that are before us this evening at this committee, as well as in her community, in addressing safety, security, justice, and healing issues.
I really appreciate the opportunity to be here and to provide you with contributions to your recommendations.
In doing so, the Assembly of First Nations would like to recognize you, Dr. Carolyn Bennett, for your leadership in introducing the motion to create this committee.
We also recognize the support among all parties that was given to moving this forward. We welcomed the reconstitution, Madam Chair, of this committee in the new session of Parliament. I wanted to share that with all of you.
You've heard from a number of witnesses at this point and have a clear understanding of the contexts and the background, and I will not spend time going over that with you this evening.
We know there are many factors that work together to increase the vulnerability of indigenous women and girls: that historical, socio-economic, and legal realities have come together to create the conditions that allow this violence against indigenous women and girls to persist. You also know that it is simply and sadly true that there continue to be unacceptable levels of violence against indigenous peoples, particularly women and girls. The safety of indigenous women and girls is central to the health and well-being of all of our nations.
The factors that have led to the current rates of violence are absolutely complex, and they're intersecting, as was just articulated. Therefore, our responses must similarly be comprehensive, and they must be far-reaching.
At the 2012 annual general assembly of the Assembly of First Nations, over 800 chiefs, leaders, and citizens made a pledge to “live violence free and to personally work to achieve safety and security for all Indigenous peoples—women and men, girls and boys”. At the 2012 Council of the Federation, the premiers took up this pledge as a reminder in their professional and personal lives of the responsibility to ensure the safety of indigenous women and girls.
Since that time, thousands of first nations citizens and Canadians alike have taken the pledge. The pledge is clear recognition that ending violence and ensuring the safety and security of all citizens, particularly those most vulnerable, is everyone's responsibility.
Change starts within all of us, and we all have a role to play. In April of this year, the Assembly of First Nations and the Native Women's Association of Canada together convened a national forum on community safety and ending violence. We came together to identify the key elements and actions that needed to be brought forward for prevention, response, and ongoing support.
Specific actions were identified under broad themes of addressing structural/state violence and racism, rebuilding strong and healthy communities through capacity-building and support, increasing and strengthening partnerships, and building awareness and accountability. We've provided all of this to you, this national action plan, and I encourage you to incorporate it into your findings.
In the preparations leading up to this joint event, we summarized recommendations from previous inquiries and studies, and I remarked that if we stacked up all of the reports and studies related to first nations justice matters and violence, this body of work would simply tower over all of us. We don't lack for reflection. What we lack is accountability, and what we lack is action.
When I and others met with the Prime Minister last January and spoke specifically about a national inquiry into missing and murdered women, he responded that he had not yet seen the evidence that another inquiry could make a difference. Instead, he wanted to know what actions should be taken. I've heard these words echoed since by the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.
I want to be very clear with all of you tonight. The families who have lost loved ones—mothers, sisters, daughters, and friends—are not asking for more study to delay moving forward on what we know needs to happen. The AFN is not in any way saying that we sit back and not undertake the needed efforts now to stop violence against indigenous women and girls. Instead, I want you to know that a national public commission of inquiry is critical for accountability and to create change. What has prevented us from moving forward in the past? Has it been cost, negligence, or has it been oversight?
The children, families, and communities that have been indelibly marked by violence deserve answers and accountability towards the future, a commitment that we all strive to achieve safety.
I believe you have a unique and very powerful role and I urge you to use it for the best outcomes. Structural change and achieving true reconciliation in this country, overcoming decades of failed and oppressive laws and policy, will take time, but there are immediate actions this committee can recommend take place, actions that demonstrate the commitment and political will needed to create change.
These actions include the creation of an independent national public commission of inquiry on violence against indigenous women and girls with a focus on developing action plans to address violence and the factors that lead to it, one that is inclusive and reflective of the perspectives of indigenous women, communities, and the families of missing and murdered women.
We seek a clear and unmitigated commitment to taking action demonstrated through the creation of a national public action plan. Indigenous communities, organizations, provinces and territories, are advancing strategies to end violence, but without clearly articulated national goals and coordinated efforts led by the federal government these initiatives will not fully address the magnitude of response required to prevent and end violence against indigenous women and girls and bring accountability to the families of those who are missing and murdered.
Thirdly, there need to be immediate increased investments in front-line services and shelters on reserve and in rural areas so that every first nations woman and girl experiencing violence has access to immediate support. As well, there needs to be a coordinated focus on prevention among youth and across populations, with particular outreach to remote communities and, as was expressed, in the urban centres.
You've heard from police services, and our work has brought forward specific recommendations for police that are worth noting here and in your final report. Police services need to work together to produce verifiable numbers on incidents of violence against indigenous women and girls so that progress can be measured. Adequate sustainable resources are required for first nations police services. Compulsory protocols are needed between and amongst police services to share information and immediately respond to and appropriately investigate reports of missing persons by indigenous families.
In conclusion, addressing violence against indigenous women and girls is all of our responsibility: individuals, elected representatives, legislators, and police. I believe we know what the solutions are. What is needed now is the commitment, the will, and the leadership to get there.
Thank you.
View Yvon Godin Profile
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:52
I have another question for the minister.
$120 million dollars has been earmarked for the new Roadmap. Earlier, you announced that $149.5 million had been allocated for the language training of economic immigrants. Your department already provides such training under the Immigrant Settlement and Adaptation Program for newcomers. Is this new money or is this money transferred by your department?
View Jason Kenney Profile
The money was not transferred but several departments are investing in the Roadmap. This is not new funding.
Mr. Sylvester, do you wish to add anything on this matter?
Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 15:53
I will provide some clarification.
Of the $149.5 million, $22.5 million represented new funding.
View Yvon Godin Profile
View Yvon Godin Profile
2013-06-13 15:54
The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages said that the Roadmap represented new funding, but that is not really the case. There is some new money, but not all of it is.
Peter Sylvester
View Peter Sylvester Profile
Peter Sylvester
2013-06-13 15:54
The total government contribution to the Roadmap was $1.1 billion. This amount, which was divided amongst 13 departments, included $266 million in new funding. This has been spread over five years.
View Erin O'Toole Profile
View Erin O'Toole Profile
2013-06-13 16:31
Thank you, Mr. Chair. If my friend Mr. Godin had just been a tad more patient, but maybe he's following the lead of his leader.
Some hon. members: Oh, oh!
Mr. Erin O'Toole: My second question was, after laying that groundwork in Ontario, Minister.... I know specifically a group involved with Maison de la Francophonie in Toronto, and—Mr. Dionne Labelle touched on this—there immigrants from several French African countries coming to Canada who are targeting and actually living in Toronto. So there are primary French speakers.
I'm wondering what role your department has in supporting centres like la Maison in Toronto, which provides a range of basic health information, access to justice, that sort of thing.
View Jason Kenney Profile
We fund about 170 points of service is what we call them. They are typically non-profit organizations. I don't know about that particular group, but they are groups like it. They provide services to francophone immigrants, and these are outside of Quebec. I think this is a pretty clear indication of our commitment to support francophone immigrants outside Quebec.
Let me use that to segue back to the last question I received. The question was why we aren't doing more to increase francophone immigration from francophone countries. I pointed out that we don't choose how many immigrants come from a particular country. It's really a demand-driven immigration system. I don't sit down at the beginning of the year and say that we're going to take 10,000 from India and 20,000 from France. It doesn't work that way.
The only program we have currently that deliberately promotes Canada as a destination for immigration is destination Canada. It is done specifically in francophone countries—France, Belgium, and Tunisia—but it's also regional.
I'm pleased to announce to you, colleagues, that we are also going to be expanding a very important program that we developed in 2006 called the Canadian immigration integration project. This is pre-arrival orientation for selected economic immigrants. It's a two-day free seminar and personalized counselling after they have been selected for immigration but before they have arrived here, when they're wrapping up their affairs back home. This is helping them line up jobs in Canada, find housing, apply in advance for credential recognition for the professional licences. We now have it available to about 80% of our economic immigrants and are about to launch a pilot for this out of Paris to help serve our selected francophone immigrants coming to Canada.
Corinne, do you want to add something?
Corinne Prince-St-Amand
View Corinne Prince-St-Amand Profile
Corinne Prince-St-Amand
2013-06-13 16:34
Sure. Thank you.
The pilot is for this fiscal year, 2013-14. It will be run by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges. As Mr. Kenney has said, it will be available in Paris and in Brussels for individuals of francophone descent wishing to come to Canada and to settle in official language minority communities outside of Quebec.
View Matthew Dubé Profile
View Matthew Dubé Profile
2013-06-13 16:45
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Thank you for joining us here today, Minister.
I would like to ask you a few questions about a very specific issue. I know that my colleague, Mr. Claude Gravelle, has already spoken to you about it. It has to do with the Northern Ontario Francophone Immigration Support Network. It's a program that was coordinated by Sudbury's Contact interculturel francophone. Its funding was recently denied by your department. There is a great deal of concern over the lack of clarity of the assessment criteria and the impact this will have, because the program is temporarily going to be managed from Ottawa.
Given the economic opportunities in northern Ontario nowadays and the strong francophone community there, could you clarify those criteria?
In addition, could you explain to us how you are going to make sure this does not adversely affect northern Ontario?
Corinne Prince-St-Amand
View Corinne Prince-St-Amand Profile
Corinne Prince-St-Amand
2013-06-13 16:47
In the case of one of our 13 networks, the one from Sudbury to which you are referring, a contribution agreement has not yet been signed. In the department, I am not responsible for those agreements, but I do know, based on what my colleague has said, that there are still some things that need to be clarified before the contribution agreement is signed. With your permission, we could provide a more detailed description of the status of that contribution agreement.
View Jason Kenney Profile
I can discuss this in general terms.
When it comes to the criteria we base our decisions on, departments use a point system to assess the quality of an organization's positions and performance over time. This has to be done fairly and objectively.
Frankly, we cannot accept all of the applications. However, for each application they get from an organization, officials do an analysis using a point system.
View Tilly O'Neill Gordon Profile
View Tilly O'Neill Gordon Profile
2013-06-13 17:06
And I want to take this opportunity now to congratulate and thank Mr. Sylvester for writing that letter and retracting it, because I did have constituents who were concerned about the first article, and it did make a difference when it was made clear as to what really was happening.
The other question I had was that the “Roadmap for Canada's Official Languages 2013-2018: Education, Immigration, Communities” has earmarked $120 million over a period of five years for language training for economic immigrants. I'm just wondering how these funds will be distributed and who will be responsible for providing the language training.
View Jason Kenney Profile
The funds are distributed on a per capita basis per province now. That didn't used to be the case. We try on an annual basis to adjust the investment in settlement services by province so that it is the equivalent of about $2,900 per immigrant, and then it's actually spent by non-profit organizations—we call them service providing organizations—with which we have contribution agreements that are arrived at following a request for proposals process. Basically, once every three years we put out a request for proposals. We say that we have this chunk of money and we'd like to receive proposals on providing language training and other services to immigrants. Non-profit organizations submit their applications. Our officials then score those proposals, often based on historic performance, and then they make the funding decisions. I don't interfere in that. They make the funding decisions, although I do, of course, have final sign-off, and then we monitor the performance.
View Sean Casey Profile
Lib. (PE)
View Sean Casey Profile
2013-06-13 17:08
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
After hearing some of the questions from my colleagues from the NDP, I'm very, very tempted to ask you about the closure of the CIC office in Charlottetown, and to explain to you how devastating it has been. I do hope that at some point I will be able to get you to listen to me on that.
Today, I have an obligation to carry out my marching orders issued by Mr. Dion.
Minister, you don't need me to tell you that under the Official Languages Act and under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, your department has certain positive obligations with respect to official language minority communities.
Now we have a road map. The title has changed from emphasizing linguistic duality to different wording. We know that the financial commitment under the old road map and the new road map has gone up really only because of this $120-million fund, which you admitted today is demand-based, and will likely very well be used for purposes other than promoting the languages of the minority.
I guess my question for you is, do you not see that this is not only not fulfilling the role you are statutorily obliged to fulfill, but it is actually taking away from it, given the change in emphasis and the fact that the funding that is in there now, based on your frank admission, is likely to be used to teach people the language of the majority?
View Jason Kenney Profile
I think there's a misunderstanding implicit in your question, and I'm sorry if I contributed to that.
Earlier when I said that the language services are demand-driven, I meant that globally. That relates to the overall framework of these things. We try to provide services where they are requested in the official language in which they are requested.
Having said that, we have dedicated a specific amount of funds in my ministry, $30 million, to provide services in French for French-speaking immigrants. We have some very specific projects in that regard. For example, in St. Boniface we have African francophone refugees who we settled there, and we have a contribution agreement with a local francophone service-providing organization to help those francophone immigrants in French. We do that sort of thing all across the country. There are specific dedicated minority language services in addition to which we write into many of our contribution agreements a requirement that they offer services in the minority language in that area. If you are an immigrant in Vancouver and you want to learn French—you already have English but you want to learn French—you can go into one of the service groups that we fund and ask for services in French.
Is there anything else I can add to that?
Jean-Pierre Gauthier
View Jean-Pierre Gauthier Profile
Jean-Pierre Gauthier
2013-05-28 16:43
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The multilateral protocol for agreements that we have in effect provides us with broad parameters. We negotiate bilateral agreements with each province according to their needs. On page 4, you see a quick overview of the content of the protocol for agreements.
First, the annual funding for immigration has been set at $259 million. You can see that the major part of the funding is set aside to support provinces in minority-language education or second-language learning. Those two aspects combined come to $234.5 million. A little less than 10% of the funding is allocated each year to two youth programs managed by the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. These programs provide exchanges; they also allow language monitors to join teachers in classrooms in order to help with and enhance the teaching of the first or second language. That gives you an idea of the scope of the protocol for agreements in financial terms.
As we talk about the factors that go into the federal-provincial-territorial agreements, we must deal with the way in which the performance and the outcomes are evaluated. Page 5 explains that the agreement protocol sets out six outcome domains that are agreed with the provinces. Within those outcome domains, each province is asked, in each bilateral agreement, which initiatives it wishes to undertake in the areas of second-language or minority-language teaching. The table gives you some examples of the kinds of initiatives that provinces or territories can undertake in order to reflect the outcome domains identified in the agreement protocol.
Page 6 shows how the accountability system is subsequently structured. We are well aware that this is an area of provincial or territorial jurisdiction. The provinces therefore establish their priorities according to their overall priorities in the area of education. During the discussions that they have with us, the provinces also identify and specify performance targets and indicators that they are going to use. We document the objectives, the targets and the indicators as established by the provinces and we are content with them. Each year, we make sure that the funds spent by the provinces match the planning established under our agreements.
First, the provinces and territories submit annual financial reports. Every two years, we ask them to measure their progress in terms of their targets. A discussion between our offices and the provinces then takes place. The goal is to make sure that the progress and the efforts that have been made are fully measured.
In addition, you have the regular processes in the departments—that is, evaluations and internal audits—that are also applied to these agreements for these programs.
Finally, in terms of reporting, we have the annual reporting of the department, which captures the essence of our activities.
You'll find on pages 7 and 8 a selection of examples of those targets to illustrate a bit better what kinds of things we are talking about. If I take the first example, it will give you, for teaching of the second language, what kinds of targets have been established by, for example, the Northwest Territories with respect to the participation of students.
You have the target they set at the beginning of the agreement, and in the right-hand column you basically have the results of what they achieved so far, at the interim report stage, which is year two, 2010-11. We just concluded year four on March 31, and we're expecting reports from the provinces and territories that will give us a complete overview over the whole four years of the last protocol agreements we have.
Just in passing, you have the same thing on page 8, but this time it's for teaching in the minority language as part of the activities we have with provinces and territories. Again, it's a selection of targets and the kinds of achievements provinces have reported back to us in their biennial reports on progress and results.
Let us now move to pages 9 and 10. By taking a step back, we try to get an overall picture of which results and which achievements we can identify as activities in the area of second-language and minority-language learning.
On page 9, we can see the achievements in second-language education. About 2.4 million young Canadians are learning English or French as a second language. That is a little more than half the school population. We also see that immersion programs are highly popular, with strong growth and demand.
Among the achievements in the second-language area, we also see innovative second-language teaching methods like, for example, intensive learning in one language. At the moment, 8,000 students are involved in the provinces and territories.
We also see improvements in the measurement of learning, but that is an area that you have already heard about. This is the ability to properly measure and certify the level of language mastery attained by a student. In a second language, of course. Thought and work is needed in this area, and steps are being taken to properly measure the quality of the learning.
We can also see that particular attention is paid to exchanges and cultural activities in immersion in order to enrich the experience of learning a second language, so this is not simply an experience limited to a classroom.
The next page, page 10, shows more or less the same approach, but this time it deals with minority-language education. About 240,000 young Canadians are studying in their language in a minority situation. This student population is increasing, whereas the general student population across the country is dropping slightly. This is encouraging.
We see that schools want to play a greater role in their communities. They want to be part of community life. So a number of schools also want to become involved in community activities after school hours or on weekends. They want to provide services like public libraries, for example. To the extent possible, things are brought together in different facilities. You will see figures from various places, like the 37 community learning centres in Quebec, where there is an attempt to play a greater role in minority situation schools. They do not want to limit themselves to teaching the Department of Education's program. They want the school to play a role in the community as well.
Efforts are also being made a post-secondary level. You can see in the presentation that there are programs in more than 40 colleges and universities in minority situations. I would also like to highlight the work that is being done by our colleagues at Health Canada and Justice Canada, each of which is trying, in its own area of activity, to develop a program in various colleges and universities.
There is a list of other more specific achievements at the bottom of the page, but I will not spend time describing them. I will quickly wrap up with the last page.
In short, the current protocol agreements that we have in place ended on March 31 of this year. That was the end of the fourth year. We are well advanced in negotiating the next agreement, which will be for five years. We've pretty much finished, so we're optimistic that we will have the agreement in place. That will set the stage to get discussions going with the various provinces and territories to establish a bilateral agreement. That is the document by which we gain authority to start funding their activities, whether it be for second language learning or minority schools.
I will stop at this point.
Roger Paul
View Roger Paul Profile
Roger Paul
2013-05-23 16:15
Thank you, Mr. Maddix.
Good afternoon, everyone.
To begin with, I would like to set the record straight on language learning. First of all, allow me to quote Pierre Calvé, a former linguistics and education professor at the University of Ottawa, to explain our point of view on immersion programs. He said the following:
A language basically serves four purposes: a) to communicate; b) to think, reflect and develop ideas; c) to obtain and store information; d) to forge an identity as a member of a specific human community.
In our view, learning the language both in immersion programs and in French-language schools achieves these four functions of a language, be it a person's first or second.
I want to draw a distinction between immersion and French-language school. In addition to making it possible to communicate, think and obtain information, learning a second language in an immersion program helps build a Canadian identity characterized by linguistic and cultural duality. In French-language schools, language learning occurs in a linguistic, cultural and civic context. In other words, all activities related to teaching the curriculum contribute to the learning of French as a first language, whether it be shows, the arts, celebrations, mathematics or science. We learn and we build our cultural identity as much during mathematics and science classes as in French classes. This characterizes our French-language schools.
As a result, the cultural approach of teaching in a French-language civic community school contributes to and influences the construction of an individual and collective cultural identity. When students enter the school, they therefore construct an individual and collective cultural identity characteristic of the francophone and Acadian communities that created Canada.
You asked us to offer some recommendations. The Fédération nationale des conseils scolaires francophones has three recommendations to submit to you. Immersion programs and French-language schools respond to specific and complementary needs from a national unity perspective. We therefore think it is essential to ensure they are developed and promoted in an enlightened and fair way for all Canadians.
Our first recommendation concerns information and promotion. Therefore, we hope your committee will recommend in its report that the Canadian government support the steps taken to inform the Canadian population, including immigrants, that we have a French-language education system and immersion programs in English-language schools, and to explain the distinction between the particular scope and mandate of both systems. We believe that if all Canadians had a better understanding of this distinction, there might be a decrease in the high percentage of students from eligible families who do not attend French-language schools.
According to Rodrigue Landry's studies, barely one in two rights holders attends French-language schools. Where are these rights holders?
This approach, which is based on information and promotion, might help resolve the problem of the capacity of immersion schools to respond to the ever-growing demand and enable French-language schools to fulfill their mission.
Our second recommendation concerns funding. The basic distinction between immersion schools and French-language schools also involves separate funding. In that respect, we hope your committee will recommend better accountability with respect to education transfer payments from the federal government to the provinces and territories. Currently, it is almost impossible to know exactly how these amounts are used. However, it seems that considerable amounts intended for education in French as a first language were used to develop immersion programs, and perhaps vice versa as well; we do not know. There is a significant need when it comes to French-language education, and federal contributions set aside for it are essential to deploying a French-language education system.
Our third and final recommendation concerns the continuum.
When the time comes to make the important choice of education language, Canadians consider a combination of factors related to accessibility and quality of instruction, among other things. One factor influencing this decision is the possibility of doing postsecondary studies in the language of choice.
To that end, we hope your committee will recommend to the Canadian government that it look into postsecondary teaching in French so that Canadians can choose a school that offers French-as-a-second-language immersion or French-as-a-first-language education, with the assurance that they can continue their studies in French at the postsecondary level. That goes directly back to what our colleague Mr. Corbeil just mentioned. Students do not have the opportunity to speak the language. There is therefore no follow-up and perhaps no opportunities. Consequently, they become discouraged.
By doing so, we are guaranteeing our country a generation of bilingual young professionals who are able to take on our society's political, economic and cultural levers.
Lucien Bradet
View Lucien Bradet Profile
Lucien Bradet
2013-05-23 11:24
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, thank you very much for having invited us.
The Canadian Council on Africa, for those who don't know, was created about 12 years ago. We recruit members who have a clear common objective: economic development in Africa. These members are large and small companies, universities, colleges, the Association of Canadian Community Colleges, provincial governments—Quebec, Alberta, Ontario—and federal agencies—EDC, CIDA, DFAIT. You name them, they're all around the table because they believe very strongly in economic development.
ODA, diplomacy, and trade are the three pillars of our place in the world. Canada ranks well on ODA—maybe not well enough for some, but we still rank quite well. On the diplomatic front, we are not a superpower, and will never be, I guess, but our role in the G-8 and G-20 has made us a significant country. Without trade we'd have to say that we would be in deep trouble.
One might argue that we don't need the merger if we are that successful. We have seen in the last decade a new paradigm evolving in the world that dictates that governments act strategically and develop coherent policies.
A few years ago Canada could count on a major market without fear for its income and so forth—the U.S.A. That's no longer the situation, at least not to the same degree. Canada could count on a regulatory budget increase to be devoted to ODA. The succeeding economic crises have changed that to a certain extent.
The African countries were dependent more on aid than investments to grow and prosper. This is not true anymore. In fact, since 2006, there's more investment than ODA.
A few years ago, Canada at the United Nations had no problem being elected to the Security Council. No more, for whatever reason.
A few years ago, China, Brazil, India, and Turkey were not really present in Africa.
Ten years ago China had less than $10 billion of trade; this year they're going to reach $200 billion—in ten years $200 billion of trade with Africa. In fact, last year China gave as much aid to Africa, $75 billion, as the U.S. Maybe the terms aren't the same, but still it's a reality.
Ten years ago Brazil was exactly the same as Canada, with 17 embassies and $2 billion in business. Brazil now has 32 of them—Canada has a little bit less than that—and they almost tripled their business with Africa. Canada has doubled its ODA in Africa but has reduced the number of countries, and you know that in the last couple of decades—and I say in the last couple of decades, not in the last few years—it has declared a number of times that there should be more coherence between the different elements of its international activities, but none of these has ever taken off. It's a reality. I remember two or three governments back, it was, yes, we're going to do a better job, and, yes, we want to do a better job, but it never took off, for whatever reason.
These new circumstances require Canada to take a hard look at how it makes its decisions and how it develops its strategies on the world stage and ensures that poverty reduction and human rights remain a top priority.
There are a number of reasons why I believe strongly in the merger. One, time has come for the Minister of International Development, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Minister of Trade to be at the same table. We will never be able to do what we are looking for if those three persons don't sit together on a weekly basis and discuss policy. The time has come also for the senior officials from those three organizations to work together and, again, have their management meeting every week to discuss those things. And you know how important it is. If one is absent, it's generally speaking the loser, and in this case CIDA was a loser in many of those instances.
You don't know how many times—and these people will confirm that because they were ambassadors before—I have heard, “We didn't know about this new approach or policy.” I had senior officials saying that to me, or other people, or, “It's not easy to work with them because they don't understand the bigger picture.” One was going to the left, one was going to the right, not purposely, but the way the structure was in place didn't help. How many times did I hear Canadian ambassadors tell me, “ODA is very important, but I have very limited say on establishing the priorities and managing them. It is difficult, nearly impossible, to explain it to Canadians, but even more so to African countries that are recipients.”
The time has come to involve all Canadians in the economic development of Africa, and other developing countries are doing that. Governments, NGOs, and the private sector have responsibilities, but also opportunities to create a better living situation for the people.
In the proposed legislation, we applaud the provision that spells out clearly that the Minister of Foreign Affairs is also responsible for international development, in proposed subsection 10(2). I won't repeat this, because you said that at the beginning. In fact, we will have two ministers responsible for that instead of one, which I think is a win for everyone. This provision is a very positive step to ensure that ODA does not take a back seat in the new department.
However, we believe the proposed act has a couple of weaknesses. My colleagues didn't talk about that. They almost talked about it, but I want to be very precise about this. It's a question of appropriation and budgetary allocations. I'm nervous about that. Many critics have claimed over the years that it's kind of difficult to find out how the money is spent at CIDA. I know there is a blue book and I know there is a budget and all of that, but we have to talk about the reality. With regard to the reality of it, people are saying this, and maybe it's right and maybe it's wrong, but it's a reality.
To start with, the large number of programs and the large numbers of developing countries and multilateral organizations make the reporting exercise quite complex. However, we know that the budgetary allocations of CIDA are spent by CIDA for the CIDA mission. This is a very serious potential issue. I think Canadians will want to be assured that in the new department there are no grey zones when it comes to the use of funds for international development.
I'm sure that some of the people who were here before me made similar comments and arguments. I would not be surprised to see that the largest number of objections are also on that topic. Will there be some fence around ODA money? That is the question. This bill does not provide an answer to this. Yes, the minister needs some flexibility to properly manage the department, the human resource programs, and, as was mentioned, the trade and everything. We do not have a solution to this potential problem, but I think the committee should look at it very carefully.
The second aspect of the financial issue that I'm a little bit concerned about is the policy coherence—and my colleague talked about that—not only within the department but outside the department. I don't know if you realize that 69% of ODA is spent by CIDA, but 31% is spent by others. In fact, there are six other departments and agencies spending ODA money. It's going to be diminished a little bit because about 8% to 9% is spent by DFAIT, so it would be about 75%.
The minister should, in the act, and I'm talking about the Minister with the big “M” and also the Minister of International Development, so I should say the “ministers”.... The ministers should, in the act, be clearly responsible for developing the overall annual plan. You can talk about strategy, plan, and policy, but I think it's important to do that.
I would recommend to the committee to ask CIDA for the changes over the years in the numbers. Many are claiming that the CIDA portion has also been declining; that's something I cannot verify, but maybe the committee can ask the questions of the officials. That 69% was higher before and has been declining steadily. This is a worry that we should be concerned with.
In closing, Mr. Chair, I think my message from CC Africa is that if we are vigilant in the design—and people are very important, because structure is not enough—and the implementation of the merger, and if everyone cares about poverty reduction and human rights, and I do, and about Canada's future, as we've talked about, the quality of the diplomatic agenda will be enhanced, I think.
Our expanded trade will also be good for Africa and Canada in that case. Canada's international help, or ODA, will gain significant influence—that's what we need here—on the development of government policy. Poverty reduction and human rights will still be very important for Canada. It's one of our very important business cards in the world, but business cards also mean private sector involvement and other people involved in Canada.
Thank you very much.
Ernie Daykin
View Ernie Daykin Profile
Ernie Daykin
2013-05-23 9:50
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Committee members, we appreciate the opportunity to speak to you this morning.
My name is Ernie Daykin. I'm the mayor of the District of Maple Ridge in British Columbia. I'm also a director on the Metro Vancouver board and chair of the Vancouver Aboriginal Relations Committee.
As you mentioned, Mr. MacIsaac is with us from the Union of B.C. Municipalities, and Mr. Ralph Hildebrand, general manager of corporate services and corporate counsel and manager of Vancouver's Aboriginal Relations Committee.
At the local government level we fully recognize and support the need for all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to have access to clean, safe drinking water, and the proper disposal of waste water.
We're here today to present a local government perspective on Bill S-8, An Act respecting the safety of drinking water on First Nation lands, and represent some issues that are common to local governments not only in Metro Vancouver and British Columbia, but, we believe, across the country. In this regard I want to acknowledge the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, which supports Metro Vancouver's views on Bill S-8. FCM's comments are reflected in some of the statements that are made in this presentation to the standing committee.
For everyone's benefit, I'll give an overview of Metro Vancouver. It's a federation of 24 local authorities, including one unincorporated area and one treaty first nation, the Tsawwassen First Nation. Tsawwassen First Nation reached the first modern urban treaty with the governments of Canada and British Columbia in 2009, under the B.C. treaty process.
Metro Vancouver works well together and collaboratively as we deliver plans and regional services, including drinking water, wastewater treatment, and solid waste management. Metro Vancouver also regulates air quality, plans for urban growth, manages a regional parks system, and provides affordable housing for our residents.
Metro Vancouver's population is currently 2.3 million, and over 50% of B.C.'s population live within the Metro Vancouver area. It's also home to 52,000 aboriginals, according to the 2011 census.
As I mentioned, I'm the chair of the Aboriginal Relations Committee, which is a standing committee of the Metro Vancouver board. It's been established to provide advice on treaty negotiations and aboriginal relations within Metro Vancouver to the board and to individual municipalities.
A key part of the committee's scope of work is strengthening relationships with first nations. We are participating actively in two tables with Katzie and Tsleil-Waututh as part of the provincial negotiation team's monitoring of emerging aboriginal treaty and non-treaty related issues, and assessing their impact on regional and municipal governments.
The relationship building and day-to-day interaction between municipalities and first nations that's taking place in our urban setting presents a number of challenges that we feel are unique, including higher population densities, competing private interests, unique land use considerations, rapidly growing servicing needs, and limited available crown land for treaty settlements.
Faced with these complex realities, Metro Vancouver has committed to building effective, positive working relationships with our first nations. This will ensure alignment and achievement of our common interests.
The regional district has been successful in communicating regional interests on a number of emerging policies and legislation that have been developed by the senior levels of government, and ensuring its continued involvement in the B.C. treaty process.
With respect to Bill S-8, Metro Vancouver has been concerned about the proposed legislation and its potential impact and implications for local governments since it passed first reading in the House of Commons in June 2012. Metro Vancouver has significant concerns about how Bill S-8 will affect its delivery of services in the Metro Vancouver area.
In response to Metro Vancouver's invitation in October 2012, staff representatives from the Vancouver offices of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada attended an Aboriginal Relations Committee meeting and made a presentation on Bill S-8. The federal representatives outlined a legislative framework for managing drinking water and waste water on first nations lands, and encouraged Metro Vancouver to submit its input into the parliamentary process by appearing before your committee.
Given the commitment on the part of the federal government—as expressed by the federal delegations—to consider and address local concerns as providers of water services to local communities, including first nations, we're pleased to be here today and provide you with our perspective.
To clearly formulate our interests and concerns with respect to Bill S-8, Metro Vancouver drafted a position paper on that bill, the safe drinking water for first nations act. That was drafted and presented to the board in November 2012. Based on the interest articulated and the issues identified in the position paper, local governments believe that it is at the community level that the effectiveness of this bill will be tested—including funding, improvements, and the need to execute and sign servicing agreements.
As such, the Metro Vancouver position paper identifies the following issues with respect to Bill S-8. One of the primary concerns expressed in the position paper is the transfer of responsibilities. From our interpretation of Bill S-8, an obligation to provide utility services and enforcement regulations could be imposed upon local governments if the federal government and respective provincial governments enter into an agreement under which the provincial governments are obliged to compel local governments to provide water and wastewater treatment services to first nation communities. Provincial governments may create or amend legislation to impose duties and responsibilities on local government as provincial bodies established by a provincial act.
Local governments do not want to be put in this position. There's a long history in B.C. of reaching agreements for services between local governments and first nations, as evidenced by the 550 servicing agreements between local governments and nearly 200 first nations.
Level of service is another concern. It's not clear whether Bill S-8 and the regulations passed pursuant to Bill S-8 will impose new requirements on local governments, and whether a regional authority such as Metro Vancouver will be required to provide water services to all municipalities to meet the obligations imposed, or whether Metro Vancouver will be required to increase its level of service to accommodate all growth and development within first nation lands.
Local governments in Metro Vancouver are compelled to comply with a regional growth plan. The projections for population growth and development are coordinated within the planning and development of regional services, such for the supply of drinking water and disposal of waste water. The imposition of requirements to provide drinking water and wastewater services to first nation lands that are developed outside of our regional planning principles could create, or will create, an imbalance between water and sewage plans and the regional growth plan.
Another concern that was expressed is bylaw regulation and enforcement. It is our understanding that Bill S-8 would permit local governments to apply their bylaws and regulations to first nations' lands to enforce and regulate the use of water and wastewater services to first nation communities. However it is not clear how the federal government will facilitate the enforcement of local government bylaws on reserve lands regarding the provision of utilities and other services to first nations. This includes first nation lands that are subject to future applications for additions to reserves.
Another closely related concern is regulatory authority. Bill S-8 is not clear on how the federal government proposes to protect local governments regarding environmental and public health liabilities related to servicing agreements for first nation lands when local governments have no regulatory authority over reserve lands and Indian bands do not have natural persons powers to enter into contractual agreements with local governments.
The financial liabilities are another concern that have been highlighted in the position paper. Regulating drinking water on Indian reserves would have significant capacity and resource related implications for local governments. It is not immediately clear how Bill S-8 will protect local governments that provide utility services to first nations against financial liabilities when local governments do not have taxation authority over first nation lands that are serviced.
In addition to undefined financial liabilities, there are also undefined legal liabilities presented by Bill S-8. For example, with section 13, the bill appears to remove the Government of Canada from legal liabilities associated with the regulations to be developed and implemented under the act.
In this regard, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities has asked us to seek clarification from the standing committee as to what person or body the legal liability will reside with for the regulations developed and implemented under the act.
In addition, there is a concern with funding capacity. It is not clear whether the federal government and first nations across Canada have the proper funding capacity for the proposed infrastructure improvements on Indian reserves under Bill S-8.
The national assessment report, released in July 2011, estimates that over the next 10 years the combined projected capital and operating costs to meet the water and wastewater servicing needs of the communities of the 618 individual first nations across Canada will be approximately $4.7 billion, plus a projected operating and maintenance budget of $419 million annually.
The report further notes that in 2009 the water and/or wastewater systems of 153 of B.C.'s 203 first nations were considered to be high-risk systems. As indicated in the 2012 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card, released by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, local governments across Canada also face major challenges while maintaining and managing decaying water and wastewater infrastructure to meet current public needs and minimum performance standards. The substantial infrastructure deficit is of great concern to municipal and local governments.
The upgrading and replacement of drinking water and wastewater systems will require considerable investments in many communities across Canada. Consequently, the capacity of local governments to expand the provision of water and wastewater systems and services may be limited. The infrastructure capacity gap for both local government and first nations must be closed to ensure that all Canadians have access to clean and safe drinking water.
We agree that the process needs increased funding to be successfully implemented. Bill S-8 outlines a legislative framework for managing drinking water and waste water on Indian reserves, but still lacks an adequate implementation plan, such as detail and substance required to improve water resource management on first nations' lands.
The issues I have just mentioned outline the difficulties that will be faced as a result of Bill S-8. At the local government level, when enacting plans, bylaws, and regulations that affect residents and businesses in the region, we seek input and consultation, and have other processes to ensure that we obtain a broad vision of ramifications of our actions and to ensure that we can practically address the concerns and avoid the law of unintended consequences.
Here, unfortunately, local government input in the enabling legislation is lacking. With Bill S-8, local government interests were not considered in the drafting of the legislation. Adequate communications and meaningful consultation with local governments are necessary, as local governments, we believe, will be impacted by Bill S-8.
In summary, I'd like to reiterate that local government recognizes and fully supports the need for all Canadians, aboriginal and non-aboriginal, to have access to clean water and to wastewater disposal. To achieve this goal, senior governments must first make provisions for appropriate funding to first nation communities.
As local governments, we feel we have a unique perspective on this issue, its implementation, and potential implications. We remain hopeful that the regulations to be drafted for Bill S-8 will address the following requirements: reliable certification of water and wastewater treatment operators; binding and consistent water standards; clear oversight and reporting responsibilities; clear delineation of the roles of health, environment, and water officials, including first nations officials and their governments; clear and comprehensive monitoring and testing of drinking water; clear delineation of responsibility for responding to adverse events; opportunities for public involvement, disclosure, and transparency; opportunities for receiving expert third-party advice; available resources and funding mechanisms; and proper capital and infrastructure planning over time.
The tasks at hand are very large and challenging for any level of government, including first nations; therefore, all parties need to work together. There are significant investments that the federal government and first nations have made on this issue.
I think it's important to note that at the local government level we have also made significant investments. That needs to be acknowledged. Local governments request some clarity on cost recovery and the liability issues identified earlier, and which appear in Metro Vancouver's position paper.
Bill S-8 has potential implications for local governments. Given these issues identified, local government seeks a commitment from the federal government that Bill S-8 will be amended in consultation with local government and first nations.
Further, local government would like acknowledgement from the Government of Canada that local governments will not be affected by Bill S-8, and further, a commitment from the Government of Canada that local governments will be kept apprised and engaged in the process of developing the regulations for Bill S-8.
That concludes my remarks.
Thank you.
I'm going to pass it off to Mr. MacIsaac.
Tom Scrimger
View Tom Scrimger Profile
Tom Scrimger
2013-04-16 15:39
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
If you would permit a suggestion, we were going to make opening remarks on behalf of all departments, and I will do this in a few moments. I would be pleased to introduce the delegation of the departments, and perhaps that will save us a few moments. Then we can move from there.
Assisting me today, Mr. Chair, is Sue Stimpson, the chief financial officer of the Canadian International Development Agency. From Human Resources and Skills Development Canada is Ms. Nancy Gardiner, director general of program operations management and accountability. From the Public Health Agency of Canada is Carlo Beaudoin, acting chief financial officer. And from Western Economic Diversification Canada is Donald MacDonald, director general of operations.
Mr. Chair, thank you for the opportunity to speak about Chapter 2 of the fall 2012 report regarding the federal government's grant and contribution program reforms.
In addition to considering the role played by the Treasury Board Secretariat in the reforms, the Auditor General of Canada also examined selected activities undertaken by the five federal organizations I just mentioned. I would like to start by thanking the Auditor General for his work in this file.
As the report notes, the Auditor General last looked at how the federal government managed grant and contribution programs in 2006. At that time, concern was expressed about the heavy financial and administrative burden associated with applying for funding programs and with meeting the various requirements of these programs.
In June 2006, the President of the Treasury Board commissioned an independent blue ribbon panel on grant and contribution programs to recommend measures to make the delivery of grant and contribution programs more efficient while ensuring greater accountability.
In its report “From Red Tape to Clear Results”, published in December 2006, the panel provided recommendations aimed at simplifying the administration of grants and contributions, while at the same time strengthening accountability and risk-based approaches for managing programs.
The Government of Canada' s action plan to reform the administration of grant and contribution programs, announced by the President of the Treasury Board in 2008, outlined how the government would improve the management of grants and contributions as well as the expected results.
The plan consisted of three elements.
First, to build the right foundation, the new policy on transfer payments was introduced. This new policy and its supporting directive and guidelines have clarified accountabilities and simplified administration. The policy reform also established a new regime that is more sensitive to risks and is citizen and recipient focused.
Second, departments developed their individual plans to fundamentally improve their delivery of grants and contributions.
Third was sustained leadership to help guide reform across government. New approaches were developed, shared, and implemented throughout government, such as risk-based management and oversight, simplified approval and claims processing, service delivery standards for recipients, consolidated multi-year agreements, and coordinated recipient audit approaches.
The Auditor General's report has recognized the progress made in implementing the action plan. The Treasury Board Secretariat actively led the policy reform, supported the implementation of departmental action plans and fostered coordinated activities across federal organizations.
Federal organizations are increasingly using recipient monitoring and reporting requirements focused on risks. They are also consulting applicants and recipients on program changes and establishing service standards.
However, the report has also highlighted the need for additional work in two areas.
First we need to better assess the impact of efforts on departmental and recipients' administrative burden. In response, we are undertaking an assessment of the impact of our collective reform efforts, as measured against the expected results in this regard, which were outlined in the action plan.
In collaboration with federal organizations, an assessment will be completed by fall 2013, with a final report made publicly available thereafter. The timing of this assessment aligns with the five-year administrative review of the policy on transfer payments to commence in spring 2013. The results of the assessment will be used to inform this policy review and to identify opportunities to further strengthen the policy.
Secondly, we need to provide additional guidance to federal organizations to ensure that the risk ratings they apply in the ongoing management of their programs and agreements are appropriate and current. We are now working with departments to strengthen the policy guidance related to risk management. The new guidance will provide clearer direction on the need to review and validate risk assessments throughout the life cycle of grants and contributions. We are looking to implement this in spring 2013.
In closing, I would like to acknowledge the ongoing efforts of my colleagues in departments in implementing the action plan.
Mr. Chairman, we look forward to answering your questions, as well as those of the committee members.
View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Mr. Scrimger, one of the concerns that was raised by the Office of the Auditor General in 2001 and 2006 was that the government was indeed moving more and more towards a granting system as opposed to the accountability of a contribution system. There was a criticism and a concern raised by the Office of the Auditor General at that time. In 2005, total votable grants and contributions totalled $27 billion. Now total grants and contributions, votable grants and contributions authorized by Parliament, are $37 billion per year. The Auditor General expressed the concern that the Government of Canada was moving more and more to the granting-based system as opposed to a contribution-based system. The concern was that grants do not have accountability built into them. Of the $37 billion now in grants and contributions, how much of that is grants and how much of that is contributions? Have we actually moved to limit the use of grants and moved more towards contribution agreements?
Tom Scrimger
View Tom Scrimger Profile
Tom Scrimger
2013-04-16 16:42
I'm afraid I don't have the number in front of me of the split between grants and contributions, but I would comment on your comment that there is no accountability with grants. I would suggest that between a grant and a contribution there are different accountabilities that departments have between the two instruments. Certainly there is a larger accountability regime attached to most contribution agreements, but there is also the accountability that's required in departments when they're dealing with grants that very much focuses on ensuring the eligibility of the individual or the organization receiving that grant having been confirmed or verified.
When it comes to your other question, I really don't have an ability there.
View Scott Simms Profile
Lib. (NL)
These are the festivals, maybe, and all those sorts of things.
Is there any way you feel you can improve the process of transparency within your own department when it comes to festivals, if certain festivals don't get their funding?
View James Moore Profile
We're pretty up front.
I can give you an example. There are two communities in British Columbia that are celebrating their centennial years this year....
I extend this to any member of Parliament. I say this often.
Many communities, as you know, especially municipalities that are very small, or organizations....
As you know, Scott, there are many organizations in this country that are volunteer-led. These are not people who are professional politicians at getting government funding and support; they don't have a bunch of lawyers and accountants and actuaries who can go in and get all this stuff. They are working on a volunteer basis, and sometimes the applications can be too cumbersome and a hassle.
What I often tell organizations, especially those who are applying for funding for the first time, is to call my office. We'll sit them down with the Department of Canadian Heritage staffer in the regions, because we have offices all across the country.
They sit down with staffers at Canadian Heritage and say: “Here's what we have in mind for our festival. How do we put together our festival in a way that will be successful for applications?”—not “How do we apply?” and then be turned down, and then “Omigod, it's the eleventh hour; we can't have our festival this year.” Start it the other way around: what does one have to do to qualify for funding?
Design your festival that way, and then you have a successful outcome. We've had great success with that all across the country with organizations. That's what we do to try to get rid of any mystery there might be between the department and organizations seeking funding, because that's not how it's supposed to be: we don't want to have a tall wall that's impossible for small organizations to scale.
Ronnie Campbell
View Ronnie Campbell Profile
Ronnie Campbell
2013-02-28 15:32
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I'm joined today by Glenn Wheeler and Nadine Cormier, who worked on this audit. With that I'll begin my opening statement.
Mr. Chair, thank you for this opportunity to discuss chapter 6, Transfer Payments to the Aerospace Sector—Industry Canada. Joining me at the table are Glenn Wheeler, Principal, and Nadine Cormier, Director, who were responsible for the audit.
The Government of Canada sees the aerospace sector as crucial to Canada's economic development, sovereignty, national security, and public safety. Since 2007, Industry Canada has managed two programs that provide repayable assistance to support industrial research and development in Canada's aerospace sector.
The strategic aerospace and defence initiative, SADI, is the federal government's second largest program of direct spending on research and development. Under this program the department has authorized assistance of just under $825 million since 2007. The program was created to support private sector industrial research and pre-competitive development in Canada's aerospace, defence, security, and space industries through repayable project contributions. At the time of our audit, the department managed repayable contribution agreements for 25 individual projects with recipients.
The Bombardier CSeries program is intended to encourage research and development that will result in the development of new commercial aircraft technologies. The department authorized assistance of $350 million to the Bombardier CSeries program in 2008. Industry Canada manages two repayable contribution agreements under this program.
Mr. Chairman, we examined whether Industry Canada had sufficient information to determine if the transfer payments were meeting the programs' objectives. We also looked at whether the department managed these programs according to the key requirements of the Treasury Board's policy on transfer payments as well as the terms and conditions of the programs. In addition, we examined whether Industry Canada collected repayments from recipients for contributions that are repayable under two previous transfer payment programs.
The work on this audit was completed in July 2012 and we have not audited actions taken by the department since then.
When funding for the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative was approved in 2007, Industry Canada agreed to report publicly each year on contribution recipients as well as on program results and accomplishments. This reporting is in response to its commitment to set new standards for transparency following the end of its predecessor program in 2006—Technology Partnerships Canada.
We found that Industry Canada has yet to report publicly on the results of the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative, as required by the funding approval it received in 2007. This means that both Parliament and Canadians do not know whether a program is meeting its objectives.
Before 2010, Industry Canada had inadequate performance information to determine progress being made to achieve the program's objectives. This information was needed to meet its requirement to report publicly each year on overall program results and accomplishments. Since 2010, the department has made improvements and now collects and consolidates sufficient information to allow it to determine progress against the program's objectives.
However, Industry Canada has delayed and cancelled some of its evaluation commitments, potentially missing out on early improvement opportunities. The department will need to follow through on commitments to collect additional performance information so that it can complete its planned evaluation of the program in 2016-17.
Similarly, the department needs to complete the final evaluation of technology partnerships Canada's longer term technological, economic, and societal outcomes. It may then be in a position to integrate lessons learned from this evaluation to potentially improve performance measurement for the strategic aerospace and defence initiative.
For the Bombardier CSeries program, Industry Canada has not collected all documents required by the two contribution agreements to determine progress toward the program's objectives. Therefore, it has a more limited picture of the program's performance. Again, this means that both Parliament and Canadians do not know whether the program is meeting its objectives.
Industry Canada has managed most aspects of these transfer payment programs appropriately, by using a reasonable control framework. For example, it reviews recipients' claims and progress reports before issuing payments. Also, the department funded only recipients that met program eligibility requirements. It also undertook a detailed review of proposed projects before signing contribution agreements with recipients.
In cases where contributions under two previous transfer payment programs—the defence industry productivity program and technology partnerships Canada—were repayable, the majority of repayments we examined were obtained by Industry Canada on time.
Industry Canada agreed with our recommendations and made commitments in its responses, several of which were to be implemented by the end of 2012. Mr. Chairman, the committee may wish to explore the progress made by the department to date in addressing our recommendations.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my opening remarks. We would be pleased to answer the committee's questions.
Thank you.
Udloriak Hanson
View Udloriak Hanson Profile
Udloriak Hanson
2012-12-10 15:33
[Witness speaks in Inuktitut]
Thank you very much for asking us to present today. My name is Udloriak Hanson. As you mentioned, I have John and Dick with me. They're both with NTI as legal counsel. It's nice to see some familiar faces here. We have Nunavut Sivuniksavut students, our college students, all from Nunavut. It's great to have that support. We have people from NTI and my son here, so I'm very pleased to be here. Thank you.
First, I'd like to give thanks to the committee again for the invitation for NTI to appear today. NTI, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc., represents more than 25,000 Inuit of Nunavut for the purpose of asserting and defending the rights of Inuit under the 1993 Nunavut Land Claims Agreement.
Part 1 of the bill before you today arises directly from the Nunavut agreement. It is our job as representatives of Inuit, as we believe it is yours as legislators, to ensure that the bill fully respects and implements the treaty promises made by the crown to Inuit. We take that responsibility very seriously.
NTI is a not-for-profit, non-partisan organization incorporated under federal law. We have a board of directors headed by a slate of executive officers who are popularly elected by Inuit across Nunavut. Actually, today is our election day for presidents. The Nunavut agreement covers some 20% of Canada and a larger portion of Canada's marine areas. Our agreement is the bedrock of Canadian sovereignty in much of the Arctic. It is a treaty under section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.
The Nunavut agreement requires that legislation set forth the powers and functions of the resource management bodies created under the agreement, in this case the Nunavut Impact Review Board and the Nunavut Planning Commission,but there is an obvious risk to the aboriginal party in this legislative exercise. A land claims agreement is a contract. All its provisions, both large features and small details, are the outcome of negotiation and compromise. Neither side gets everything it wants.
The wording of many provisions reflects a careful balancing of interests. Implementation legislation proceeds differently. One of the parties to the agreement gets to draft the legislation. Recognizing that imbalance and reflecting the crown's duty to act honourably, the Nunavut agreement expressly requires that implementation legislation be prepared in close consultation with the designated Inuit organization, in this case, NTI.
There must be fair and sufficient collaboration and accommodation. Inuit cannot just be stakeholders in such a process. We have to be partners in the bill's design and wording. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the crown is under a duty to consult and accommodate aboriginal peoples and to act honourably when aboriginal rights are involved. This duty logistically extends to the crown acting as part of Parliament, so that these principles should also be respected and applied by this committee.
Between 2002 and late 2009, the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, NTI, and the Government of Nunavut worked together on the development of this bill. The Nunavut Planning Commission and the Nunavut Impact Review Board also participated in that work. The working group operated on the basis of consensus, building on the practical experience of the Planning Commission and the impact review board since they came into existence in 1996. The strength of the bill is the result of that consensus-based process. It is a credit to the federal officials with whom we worked that at this concluding stage of the process, NTI can say that it has been a partner in the bill's development. This is the first time NTI can say that about a federal legislative project.
Having said that, NTI did not draft this bill, nor did it instruct the legislative drafters directly. Therefore, NTI cannot warrant that this bill complies in all respects with the Nunavut agreement. As provided in the agreement, in the event of any conflict, the Nunavut agreement will prevail.
In fact, NTI will be proposing today a number of changes to the bill. While relatively minor, many of these changes are needed to ensure clearer compliance of the bill with the Nunavut agreement.
It is important to note that due to the limited time available, and the length and complexity of the bill, NTI has not been able to conduct a review of the French language version. Parliament must look to the Department of Justice and its own staff to ensure that the two official language versions are consistent.
In NTI's view, the strengths of the bill include: a requirement that public hearings and reviews be conducted in Inuktitut in addition to French and English, at the request of a board member, proponent or intervenor; specific direction to regulators not to issue permits unless the land use planning and environmental assessment processes authorize the granting of a permit; and direction to regulators to include in their permits applicable terms and conditions of land use plans and project assessment certificates. Another strength is offence provisions that backstop the duties of regulators in relation to land use plans and project certificates.
As well, other strengths include: a requirement for Inuit approval of land use plans, which is consistent with the unique Inuit role in the land management system in Nunavut and the Inuit ownership of much of the land; instructions for how projects will be scoped in advance, so as to avoid problems such as project splitting; and provisions to facilitate commission and board operations, such as recognition of their legal capacity to hold property and sign contracts.
Notwithstanding these positive features, a number of aspects of the bill should be corrected.
Contrary to the Nunavut agreement, the bill fails to identify cabinet as a body responsible in all cases to implement land use plans and project certificates. The result is a gap; where cabinet has exclusive authority for land-related functions, plan or project certificate requirements will be without anybody responsible to implement them.
The bill expressly requires that in exercising their functions with respect to land use plans, the Planning Commission, ministers, and Inuit must give specific attention to “existing rights and interests”. However, existing patterns of natural resource use and“economic opportunities and needs are already factors that must be considered. The introduction of another factor emphasizing the same or similar points improperly skews the delicate negotiated balance of the agreement.
There are some areas of the bill where process should be improved. For example, under clauses 141 and 142, proponents are the only source of notice to the Planning Commission and the Impact Review Board of modifications to a project during assessment. Regulators should also be required to notify the Planning Commission or Impact Review Board if they receive an application with a project description that differs from the project under assessment or that has been assessed by the Planning Commission or Impact Review Board.
In a number of places, the wording of the bill varies from the wording of the agreement for no good or agreed reason. This is unsound in principle and in law and is likely to create confusion and uncertainty in the day-to-day operation of the new act.
Draft amendments for these and other proposed changes are included in NTI's written submission, and I've been told you all have a copy of it. NTI requests the committee to make these amendments.
Finally, NTI reminds the committee that a law is only as good as its day-to-day administration. The bill gives the Planning Commission and the impact review board a number of new or expanded functions. For example, both bodies will have an extensive public registry responsibility that exceeds current federal record-keeping requirements. Functions such as these naturally require the allocation of appropriate levels of new funding.
Another funding need relates to the increase in the number of existing and anticipated mines and other resource development activities in Nunavut. Land and water inspection in Nunavut is already overtaxed. Adequate funding for these functions is long overdue.
The bill appropriately contains strengthened monitoring, inspection, and enforcement provisions. However, we have had no assurances whatsoever that sufficient funds will be allocated to implement the bill.
Arctic ecosystems are fragile, and this is an urgent priority. NTI invites you to ask federal government witnesses to identify specifically how and when the necessary additional funding to implement this bill will be made available to the boards and to relevant federal offices.
Nakurmiik. Thank you for your attention.
Michael Ferguson
View Michael Ferguson Profile
Michael Ferguson
2012-10-25 11:37
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Mr. Chair, I am pleased to present my report, which was tabled in the House of Commons last Tuesday.
I am accompanied by Assistant Auditors General Jerome Berthelette and Wendy Loschiuk, as well as by Glenn Wheeler, the principal responsible for the audit of transfer payments to the aerospace sector.
The report contains the results of that audit. In the first chapter, we looked at how Public Works and Government Services Canada, Health Canada, and Human Resources and Skills Development Canada plan their use of professional service contractors. We found that the departments plan their needs for employees and contractors separately. This hampers their ability to assess whether they have the best mix of employees and contractors to meet their objectives.
Departments need to consider the full range of options that will enable them to most effectively deliver programs and services to Canadians.
I'll move now to our report about grant and contribution program reforms. In May 2008 the government announced an action plan to reform the administration of grant and contribution programs and to streamline the administrative and reporting burden on recipients. Our audit looked at whether the government has adequately implemented this action plan. We found that the government has in fact focused its actions where they're most important. Treasury Board Secretariat has provided leadership and guidance to federal organizations to make the necessary changes, and these organizations have acted on most of their obligations. The government has made good progress in implementing the 2008 action plan. Now it needs to determine if the actions taken have made a difference for recipients.
Let's turn now to our audit about what government is doing to help protect Canadian infrastructure against cyber threats. Critical infrastructure includes the power grid, banking and telephone systems, and the government's own information systems. The government has a leadership role to play in ensuring that information about threats is shared, and it has to improve the way it does this. This is important because officials are concerned that cyber threats are evolving faster than the government can keep pace.
In 2001 the government committed to building partnerships with the owners and operators of critical infrastructure systems to share information and provide technical support. We found that 11 years later, those arrangements are not fully operational. Similarly, the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre has only been operating eight hours a day, five days a week. It's not the 24/7 information hub it was designed to be in 2005. Furthermore, it's not being kept abreast of cyber security incidents in a timely manner.
Since 2010, the government has made some progress in protecting its own systems and building partnerships to secure Canada's infrastructure. The government must now ensure that the sector networks are in place and working with the Cyber Incident Response Centre.
We are also reporting on how National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada manage selected programs, benefits, and services to support eligible ill and injured Canadian Forces members and veterans in the transition to civilian life.
There are many support programs, benefits, and services in place to help ill and injured members of the military make the transition to civilian life. However, we found that understanding and accessing these supports is often complex, lengthy, and challenging. The lack of clear information about programs and services, the complexity of eligibility criteria, and the dependence on paper-based systems are some of the difficulties for both clients and departmental staff.
We also found inconsistencies in how individual cases are managed and problem-sharing information between the two departments. As a result, forces members and veterans did not always receive services and benefits in a timely manner or at all.
National Defence and Veterans Affairs recognize they need to work together on solutions. I'm pleased they've accepted our recommendations, including to streamline their processes to make programs more accessible for ill and injured forces members and veterans.
The next report also concerns National Defence—specifically, how the department is managing its real property at 21 main bases across Canada. The Canadian Forces rely on real property such as buildings, airfields and training facilities to carry out missions. These assets are valued at $22 billion. I am concerned that the department is not yet adequately maintaining and renewing its assets.
We found several weaknesses in the department’s management practices. For example, the approval process for construction projects is cumbersome and slow. It takes an average of 6 years to approve projects over $5 million.
We also found that National Defence is behind in its spending targets for maintenance and repair, and recapitalization. As such, weaknesses in National Defence’s management of real property could jeopardize the Canadian Forces’ ability to carry out its missions. National Defence recognizes it needs to improve and change its approach to managing real property.
We also looked at two programs that provide repayable assistance to support industrial research and development in Canada’s aerospace sector. Since 2007, Industry Canada has authorized almost $1.2 billion in assistance to 23 Canadian aerospace companies through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative and the Bombardier CSeries Program. Industry Canada has done a good job of managing most of the administrative aspects of the two transfer payment programs. However, we found that the department has been slow to measure progress against program objectives and report results publicly. Repayable support to the aerospace sector represents a significant investment on behalf of Canadians. Industry Canada has a responsibility to ensure that funding contributes to meeting the government’s objectives in this area.
Finally, in our audit focusing on long-term fiscal sustainability, we found that Finance Canada analyzes and considers the long-term fiscal impact of the policy measures it recommends. However, at the time of the audit, the government had yet to make public its reports on long-term fiscal sustainability. Analysis that provides a long-term budgetary perspective would help parliamentarians and Canadians better understand the fiscal challenges facing the federal government.
The department has accepted our recommendations. Following the tabling of my report in Parliament, the department issued its first long-term analysis for the federal government. We also recommended that the department publish, from time to time, an analysis for all governments combined—federal, provincial, and territorial—to give a total Canadian perspective.
Mr. Chair, that concludes my opening statement.
We will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Marie-France Kenny
View Marie-France Kenny Profile
Marie-France Kenny
2012-10-23 17:13
Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne du Canada to participate in the pre-budget consultations.
I am appearing before you today on behalf of 2.5 million French-speaking citizens and taxpayers living in nine provinces and three territories.
The Canadian government's priority is to create jobs and stimulate economic growth. That objective is shared by the citizens of francophone and Acadian communities. We contribute to that goal in a concrete way. Recently, the Conference Board of Canada carried out another study that showed the full contribution of those francophone citizens to our country's economic growth.
However, there is still much to be done. Although a large portion of French-speaking citizens seem to be doing well on an individual basis, the same is not true of francophone communities, where there are still discrepancies in access to services and economic vitality.
By creating favourable conditions for francophone communities to be able to thrive in French, the government will be much more successful in reaching its economic growth objectives. We recently presented those conditions as part of the consultations on official languages held by the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Honourable James Moore.
First, the government should invest in our population. I am talking about support measures for young families and young people to enable them to pass on the French language and strengthen their sense of identity through increased access to cultural and heritage activities, and child development support programs. But that is not all. Like all of Canada, our francophone communities depend on the contribution of newcomers who settle among us to succeed and help our regions grow. That requires investments in the promotion, recruitment, welcoming, economic integration and retention of French-speaking migrants and immigrants.
Second, we recommend investing in our space. To be successful, francophones must have access to a wide range of services and activities covering all areas of our daily life—from education to health, from justice to culture, from young people to seniors.
Third, investments should be made in our development. We need measures to create thriving francophone communities where people can be successful. Communities play a role in regional economic development. That involves investments in workforce training—be that in terms essential skills, such as literacy, or post-secondary education—and support for entrepreneurship, and for cultural and heritage tourism initiatives.
For those investments to produce the anticipated results, emphasis should be placed on strengthening the capacities of organizations and institutions on the ground. They deliver those services and activities, and achieve that development by and for the community. Francophone citizens increasingly want to live in French, and they want to have those services and activities provided in that language. Organizations and institutions that produce results for Canadians have not received additional support for doing that work. They are trying to meet a growing demand, with resources that, in most cases, have not increased since 2005.
That has prompted us to issue two recommendations.
The first recommendation is for the next federal budget to announce the renewal of the Roadmap for Canada's Linguistic Duality with investments in the three major priorities we have just presented—our population, our space and our development.
The second recommendation is for the budget to announce increased support for organizations and institutions that ensure the provision of services to francophone citizens. That increased support would involve, among other things, improvements to the Community Life component of Canadian Heritage's Official Languages Support Programs.
However, creating favourable conditions for our communities to contribute more to Canada's economic growth is not limited to investments. As I have already pointed out to this committee, very often and too often, the Canadian government's investments—through federal, provincial or territorial agreements—did not benefit the French-speaking citizens we represent.
Currently, nothing is stopping provincial and territorial governments from being accountable when it comes to the way funds from transfers in areas such as health, education, immigration or labour have translated into concrete services for francophones. We are talking about taxpayers' money and services for all citizens.
Improvements must be made in order to ensure efficiency and responsibility. That is why the FCFA recommends that, in future federal/provincial/territorial agreements, the Government of Canada identify an amount dedicated to services specifically intended for French-speaking citizens of the province or territory with which an agreement is being signed.
We also recommend that those agreements systematically include strong linguistic clauses that make provinces and territories accountable.
Thank you.
Joseph Richard Quesnel
View Joseph Richard Quesnel Profile
Joseph Richard Quesnel
2012-10-22 15:38
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Thank you for the opportunity to address Bill C-27. I rise in support of this bill, but will express some concerns later.
My name is Joseph Quesnel. I'm a policy analyst of Métis descent with the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, an independent western Canada–based think tank.
I'm lead researcher on a project that we call the aboriginal governance index, or the AGI, which is an annual consultation of average first nations members in the prairie provinces on their perception of the quality of governance and services in their communities. This past year's AGI reached over 3,000 average residents on more than 30 first nations in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan.
The AGI seeks an understanding of the views and expectations of first nations people about what constitutes good, effective governance, and provides an assessment of the extent to which those expectations are being met.
The highest-scoring bands in our index are the most transparent and adopt the practice of posting financial information, including salaries, online already. The best bands adopt open-book policies where members can view any information from the band office at any time. I'm familiar with many of these communities.
We have been surveying members since 2006, and it is clear, despite the policies in place, that the disclosure of salary and financial information is still absent in many communities. This is why we support Bill C-27 in providing a legislative base for these policies, not just policies, and some enforcement mechanisms to make the policies real for members.
We argue that first nations should not have to wait for local leadership to grant transparency that citizens should already be receiving. We also believe that band members feel they shouldn't have to wait either. First nations, despite their unique cultures, have clear expectations about governance. They desire and expect highly transparent local governance.
Our prairie-based data confirms this observation. When asked whether they thought all residents should be able to learn how much money is paid to band chief and council members, 77% of all respondents said definitely, yes; only 9% of respondents said this information should definitely not be fully available to anyone who wants it. These are randomized surveys of people from all factions on first nations.
When we asked if in practice everyone in the community who wants information is allowed to learn how much money the band chief and council earns, we were encouraged to find that 35% of respondents told us that the information is definitely available to everyone. However, a troubling minority of 25% gave the opposite answer; that is, the information is definitely not available.
The public disclosure requirements imposed by Bill C-27 would advance transparency in the communities where it is not already practised, which is what we're trying to do. Average members are victimized within a system they did not create, and find themselves unable to change it. They have no well-funded lobby groups. With some exceptions, first nations citizens often lack major independent media sources that can scrutinize band affairs. First nations citizens should not have to pay for ineffective checks and balances on many first nations. We feel that Bill C-27 would fill that gap.
Having this information posted online could also help avoid conflicts in some first nations. Increasingly, communities are resorting to confrontation where disclosure is not forthcoming. A few years ago, members from the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, a Manitoba band near Brandon, Manitoba, operating under a custom election and band constitution mandating financial disclosure, demanded full financial disclosure from their chief and council when it was not coming, and they had to actually physically confront the chief and council to get that information. Luckily, in that situation it worked out. Other communities must resort to Federal Court, which is very costly and divisive in the community. This information being available would potentially avoid these kinds of situations.
As well, band-owned entities must come within these disclosure requirements. According to a 2011 study by TD Economics, economic development corporations are one of the fastest-growing components of the emerging aboriginal economy. If proprietary information is protected, as the minister has reassured us here, band-owned entities should be included in this.
Increasingly in our surveys we are hearing more and more complaints from average band members about lack of information about band-run entities, especially those run off reserves, such as gas bars and casino revenues. People want to know where the money's going and how much people are making. It's important to get the complete picture of how band entities are helping or hindering indigenous progress, and that includes financial information.
In terms of some specifics on the bill itself, members must have access to real enforcement, which in this case involves a superior court. Perhaps this committee could explore using first nations-led independent dispute resolution mechanisms or community ombudspersons for this role, instead of more costly and divisive litigation. That's just something to think about.
Lastly, under the administrative measures—this is more of a question—I'd recommend the language be altered, if I'm correct on this, to require the minister to develop an appropriate action plan before proceeding to any kind of denial of funds to a community. As is, the language, as I'm reading it, reads that the minister could proceed directly to withholding the funds as one of his or her options at the get-go.
I think this would place the government in a potential confrontation with the first nation government much too easily. We don't want to get into a situation like in Attawapiskat, where the courts ruled that Ottawa prematurely adopted punitive measures before exhausting more cooperative measures. We'd encourage that, a more cooperative relationship, perhaps even working towards incentivizing disclosure as another remedy.
On that note, thank you for your attention. I look forward to your questions.
Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
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Shawn A-in-chut Atleo
2012-05-29 18:42
Thank you Mr. Chair, members of the committee.
[Witness speaks in Nuu-chah-nulth]
Thank you for that pronunciation as well. My name is A-in-chut...[Witness speaks in Nuu-chah-nulth ]
Just a few words in my Nuu-chah-nulth west coast of Vancouver Island language to express my appreciation for being here in Algonquin territory.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about part 3 of Bill C-38.
As you are aware, I am currently national chief for the Assembly of First Nations. We are a national political advocacy organization for first nations in Canada.
In January of this year, first nations and representatives of the crown and the Government of Canada participated in a historic crown-first nations gathering. The intent of this gathering was to strengthen and reset the relationship between the crown and first nations, to move away from unilateral imposition of policies or laws that have had impacts on first nations peoples and territories to one that recaptures mutual respect and partnership.
Bill C-38 and the wide-sweeping and comprehensive changes to other pieces of legislation it contains continues historic unilateralism and imposition that we have worked, and continue to work, to overcome.
In November 2010, Canada endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which reflects the recognized customary international legal standard of free, prior, and informed consent. Free, prior, and informed consent, Mr. Chair, is not mentioned anywhere in Bill C-38.
Domestic law recognizes and enforces the duty to consult and accommodate first nations when crown conduct or omission may adversely impact established or potential aboriginal and treaty rights. Part 3 of C-38 will have a direct impact on the federal government's ability to fulfill these standards.
The Assembly of First Nations, to be very clear, is not a first nations government. Consultation or engagement with the AFN does not replace or fulfill the crown's duty to consult and accommodate treaty and rights holders where their rights may be infringed. To date, first nations have not been engaged or consulted on any of the changes to the environmental and resource development regime proposed within Bill C-38. This opens the crown to future risk and will have numerous and likely unintended consequences.
The stated intention of these legislative and associated regulatory changes has been said to improve the timeliness and efficiency of environmental regulations and project assessments. In its current form, part 3 of C-38 clearly represents a derogation of established and asserted first nations rights. If enacted, it will increase the time, costs, and effort for all parties and governments, as first nations will take every opportunity to challenge these provisions.
There are a number specific concerns, Mr. Chair, with the changes proposed in part 3 of C-38, which I will outline.
As I know you're aware, C-38 changes the scope and purpose of the Fisheries Act to the protection of fish that supports commercial, recreational, or aboriginal fisheries. Previously the act had prohibited “harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat”. The proposed change prohibits “serious harm to fish”, defined as “the death of fish or any permanent alteration to, or destruction of, fish habitat”.
I come from a fishing people, the Nuu-chah-nulth, as I said, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
[Witness speaks in Nuu-chah-nulth]
In my language, core principles that we govern ourselves and live by are how our people manage aquatic resources within our respective territories. These words in my language describe an understanding about the interconnectedness of all life forms, that nothing is isolated from other aspects of life around it and within it—in essence, the ecosystem. These principles are the basis for respect for ourselves, others, and nature. In managing aquatic resources, these values bring respect for the oneness between humans and the environment and respect for all other life forms. Our obligation is to sustainably manage all aquatic life forms that exist, regardless of their perceived economic value.
The balance of resources in habitats is one that changes over time, and this is something well-known to first nations. However, only enabling the protection of aquatic species once there is certainty of their demise or permanent destruction of their habitats is likely too late and will not restore the necessary balance for their sustainability.
Specifically, C-38 would remove protection for fish habitat from the Fisheries Act and enable the minister to create regulations allowing for the deposit of deleterious substances. This may leave fish species and habitats vulnerable to destruction and prevent first nations from continued enjoyment of their constitutionally protected right to fish.
I feel strongly that first nations have a shared vision with all Canadians, particularly for clean water. Our watersheds provide us life, food, and health. Bill C-38 clouds that vision by creating new political discretion to poison our waters by changing section 36 of the Fisheries Act. Instead of allowing deleterious deposits to destroy our water, we must fulfill our inherent obligation as responsible stewards of the environment.
Changes to the Fisheries Act will also reduce federal decision-making about fisheries management, the effect of which will be to narrow the triggers to consult and accommodate first nations, thereby reducing the federal obligation. First nations will vigorously oppose any attempts by the crown to erode or evade lawful obligations and responsibilities to first nations, which leads to an important element regarding the honour of the crown being called into question.
The CEAA last underwent a legislative review prior to Supreme Court decisions that established the duty to consult and accommodate. The sequence here is very important to point out. It has never been updated to operationalize the duty to consult and accommodate. In this regard, Mr. Chair, CEAA 2012 is a step backward.
Under the current CEAA, projects with minor environmental effects may have profound effects on first nations' rights, which triggers the duty to consult and accommodate. CEAA 2012 ends environmental assessments for minor projects currently referred to as “screenings”.
In addition, CEAA 2012 will continue substitution of provincial environmental assessments for the federal process as well as deem equivalency of such processes, which would exempt CEAA 2012 from further application.
The government is correct to note that where relationships with first nations, provinces, and the federal government have already been established, such as the Mi'kmaq-Nova Scotia-Canada consultation process, substitution in those cases may work well. But this also raises significant concerns, and it could very well lead to more situations that I know many are familiar with, such as the Prosperity Mine project in the interior of British Columbia, which was approved through the provincial environmental assessment process but subsequently rejected following more stringent federal review.
This also invokes for many first nations—for those of you familiar with the situation across the Prairies—the Natural Resources Transfer Agreement, or NRTA, of 1930. This was a unilateral agreement between Canada and the provinces of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta to transfer resources and lands that were never ceded or surrendered by way of treaty by the first nations—another major impact.
The impact of the NRTA has been to lesson the scope and implementation of the numbered treaties in the Prairies, and it is a source of continued and ongoing conflict and litigation over 80 years later. This is about all of us, and for Canada, learning from history. This is what the recent crown gathering was an effort to reflect on, and to do much better going forward. First nations will not stand for such unilateral actions and will take all avenues available to them to prevent further derogation of their rights.
The increase in discretionary powers afforded to the minister within the Fisheries Act and the number of cabinet decisions under CEAA 2012 and the National Energy Board Act will severely impair transparency and accountability to first nations. The broad restrictions around cabinet confidences will mean first nations will find it increasingly difficult to know how the government considered first nations rights when developing accommodation measures. This too compromises the crown's ability to discharge its duty to consult and accommodate first nations and is an area for clear challenge.
Finally, on the issue of timeframes established for first nations to respond to notices under CEAA 2012 and the National Energy Board Act, they are insufficient, not allowing adequate time for appropriate review, analysis, and response. It's unreasonable to provide first nations with only 20 days to provide comprehensive scientific and legal materials related to assessing the potential impacts of a project. Any notices under CEAA, NEB, or the Fisheries Act related to development, authorizations, regulations, or policies must be sent directly to communities in an accessible form. The use of online notices limits first nations participation and is therefore insufficient to fulfill the crown's duty to consult with first nations.
While the government has an established legal duty to consult and accommodate first nations under Bill C-38, part 3, as well as any regulations developed under the authority of the act and any new policies created to interpret the act, such consultations have not yet taken place.
Numerous organizations in addition to the Assembly of First Nations, including MKO, in Manitoba, and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, have all registered protest to the CEA agency's call for public comments on regulations to be developed under CEAA 2012, which had a deadline of May 23, 2012.
Paragraph 62(h) of the CEAA and paragraph 105(g) of the CEAA 2012 state that one of the objectives is to consult with first nations. However, to be clear, there's been no identification of a process for funding for such consultations to take place.
In conclusion, Canada, in our view, needs to take a step back and reconsider its approach. Hastily moving forward on significant and broad changes that will impact the exercise of established and asserted rights by first nations will have long-reaching and expensive consequences, contrary to the interest in moving in this direction.
Taking time to work with first nations jointly on resource management and protection plans will achieve far better outcomes in terms of certainty and increased prosperity, and we have many examples we can point to. This is the spirit in which, as I said earlier, we participated in the crown-first nations gathering, and it's in this spirit of a renewed and respectful relationship that we urge Canada to proceed.
We have the following three recommendations:
Part 3 of Bill C-38 needs to be withdrawn to take the time to work with first nations to ensure their rights and interests are reflected and will not be compromised through such legislation. Failing that, I would recommend that the legislative amendments in part 3 be separated from the main bill to ensure appropriate study and amendments can take place with engagement and input from first nations.
Specific funding allocations should be made to engage and consult with first nations on CEAA 2012, amendments to the Fisheries Act, amendments to other legislation within part 3 of the act, regulations under the amendments, and any new policies relevant to the interpretation of amendments to new or existing environmental regulation.
Finally, any and all notices provided with regard to project reviews must be sent directly to first nations.
Bill C-38 unacceptably impacts first nations' rights. While I've been speaking about fish tonight, really I'm talking about the lifeblood that connects all of us, and that's our waterways, our watersheds.
I will close on that notion that we not forget about the need for a vision going forward to achieve pristine water in our country.
View Peter Kent Profile
View Peter Kent Profile
2012-05-17 9:09
Thank you.
Good morning, honourable members.
Mr. Chair, I am pleased to be here this morning as you commence your study of Bill C-38. I will focus my remarks on proposals for a new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, as well as important changes to the Species at Risk Act and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999.
Some comments during the debate about this bill have emphasized the proposal to repeal the current Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. This is not accurate. The current act will be repealed and, I must emphasize, replaced with the proposals in Bill C-38 for new and effective environmental assessment legislation.
Environmental assessment is a key part of my portfolio. It's an important part of the government's plan to strengthen environmental protection today and for the benefit of future generations of Canadians.
This is why we have protected funding for the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency at a time of fiscal restraint. Despite what the media has reported, there are no cuts to the agency's funding. In fact, the agency's budget will increase by $1.5 million.
Sufficient and stable funding, when combined with the amendments two years ago to the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, have laid the foundation for the fundamental changes proposed by Bill C-38. These changes will make the process more predictable and timely, reduce duplication, strengthen environmental protection, and enable meaningful consultation with aboriginal peoples.
As my colleague, the Minister of Natural Resources, has pointed out, these are the four pillars of responsible resource development. Some may erroneously view these as conflicting objectives. I do not. They are at the heart of Bill C-38 and the new environmental assessment process. I'm confident that Canadians will benefit from timely, high-quality environmental assessments that avoid duplication and needless double effort with provinces.
Bill C-38 will strengthen protection of our environment. With the time available I want to provide members of the committee with some of the highlights.
First, I've spoken in the House and elsewhere about the importance of enforcement. Bill C-38 builds on the past work of this government. This issue first came to the forefront through Budget 2008, which stated that:
Environmental laws alone are not enough to guarantee a cleaner, better environment. These laws also need to be enforced.
My predecessor followed through with the Environmental Enforcement Act that was passed by Parliament in 2009.
Bill C-38 builds on this excellent legislation by closing the enforcement gap for environmental assessment. The new Canadian Environmental Assessment Act creates a decision statement that will include enforceable conditions. These conditions are backed up by inspection powers to confirm that mitigation measures are being implemented. There are penalties ranging from $100,000 to $400,000 for violations.
Legislation is just part of the solution. The government has permanently increased resources to environmental enforcement by $21 million annually to ensure that we have the officers, the equipment, the forensic science, and the tools to do the job.
Today, there are 50% more enforcement officers than there were just five years ago. They are stationed in offices across the country. They are working in the fields to detect those who violate our environmental legislation, and take action against them.
These officers will be able to inspect and take action on violations of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. These new enforcement provisions are complemented by a requirement for a follow-up program after each and every environmental assessment. These programs verify the accuracy of an environmental assessment's predictions and determine whether mitigation measures are working as intended.
This is the way we will identify environmental results. It's also a means to learn and build on past successes and avoid past mistakes. It is a means to improve the practice of environmental assessment.
The bill also includes new authority for the Minister of the Environment to launch regional environmental assessments in cooperation with other jurisdictions.
Currently, the act is restricted to a single-project focus. It is a challenge to assess cumulative effects of multiple projects and activities in a region experiencing significant development. The requirement to assess cumulative effects is nevertheless carried out from the current act—it is carried over, rather, from the current act. It is an essential part of the federal regime.
What we are proposing to add, Mr. Chair, is a new tool for regional studies to deal with the issue of cumulative effects. The Minister of the Environment will have authority to establish an independent committee of experts to conduct a regional strategic environmental assessment in cooperation with another jurisdiction. The results of these studies can feed into the assessment of specific projects, and the gains therefore would be twofold.
First, we will have a deeper understanding of the ecosystem involved. This will translate into better environmental assessments and approaches to mitigation. Second, by doing much of the upfront scientific work, regional studies will streamline project-specific reviews.
Mr. Chairman, once again, the conclusion is clear. We are proposing changes that support the four pillars of responsible resource development.
With regional studies, we have a tool that will promote timely and predictable project reviews. We will gain information that strengthens environmental protection. By working with the provinces, we avoid duplication. Finally, such studies provide an opportunity for aboriginal peoples to make their concerns known, thus informing later consultations with respect to specific projects.
Mr. Chair, there has been much talk and great exaggeration and misrepresentation about the changes to environmental assessments under the responsible resource development initiative. I've brought forward some facts to correct the record.
First, and most important, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency's budget is not being cut. Second, with new enforcement provisions, mandatory follow-up programs, and a new tool for regional studies, we are enhancing—not gutting, as some would perceive—federal environmental assessment.
Mr. Chairman, I'd now like to speak about aboriginal consultations.
The environmental assessment process is uniquely situated to assist the Government of Canada with its constitutional duty to consult and, where appropriate, accommodate aboriginal groups when their rights might be adversely affected by a proposed project.
Environmental assessment, Mr. Chair, starts early in the planning of a project, when it is still possible to design changes to reduce impacts. Changes to the environment that affect aboriginal peoples, including their current use of the land and resources for traditional purposes, are one of the “environmental effects” specifically referred to in this bill. There are also logical points in the process to directly obtain input from aboriginal groups to learn of their concerns and to develop means to avoid or reduce negative effects.
For these reasons, the government will continue to integrate, to the extent possible, aboriginal consultations into the environmental assessment process.
Budget 2012, Mr. Chair, provides the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency with $6.8 million per year to support consultations with aboriginal peoples. Of this, $5.3 million is a renewal of funding first provided in 2007, and it is now being topped up by a further $1.5 million in new money.
While the exact allocation of all these resources is still being determined, I can say that a significant portion will go directly to aboriginal groups involved in consultations. The remainder will be provided to the agency to support its involvement in consultation activities.
Mr. Chair, I want to assure all members of this committee that the federal government takes its responsibilities very seriously. This is why enhancing consultations with aboriginal peoples is one of the pillars of the responsible resource development initiative. Agency staff and review panels are engaging, and will continue to directly engage, aboriginal peoples in their communities.
As part of the responsible resource development plan, the government is also proposing some changes to the Species at Risk Act and to the disposal at sea provisions of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999. These changes allow legally binding timelines for permitting decisions to be set in regulations.
Amendments to the disposal at sea permitting process will also allow for permit renewals for routine, low-risk projects. They will change requirements to allow publication on the CEPA registry website, rather than in the Canada Gazette. This will create a more efficient and transparent process for issuing permits.
The Species at Risk Act amendments allow for longer-term permits and make the conditions for these permits enforceable. These changes will support effective protection of listed species, while allowing the government to issue authorizations for a time period better suited to large projects.
In closing, I wish all members of the committee well as they embark on this important study of the proposed Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012.
Thank you.
Philip Baker
View Philip Baker Profile
Philip Baker
2012-05-02 16:14
You're referring to something that in the popular press is discussed as the process of villagization. The government of Ethiopia calls it a commune program. It is under way in Gambela and three other regions of the country. The stated aim of the government was to target the four least developed or least-reached regions in order to bring improved access to basic services for the population. It is a program that has not had donor support, so it's a little different from some of the other pooled funds or national programs that donors support through the World Bank.
Still, donors have been extremely interested and keen to ensure that violations of human rights are not occurring. The intent of the program is voluntary, not involuntary, relocation, and the notion is to bring better access to water, housing, and opportunities for improved livelihoods. The donors have started to look at Gambela and several other regions. They are looking at just how this program is being implemented. And the conclusion of the donors is that there are definitely some good results. It is voluntary. That has been the conclusion of the donor's review. At the same time, they have identified several areas where they feel that improvements could be made, but they have seen no credible evidence of widespread or systematic violation of human rights.
So that's key. It doesn't mean that they sit back and think that everything's good. The process continues. The donors collectively developed and presented to the government a set of guidelines for resettlement together with an action plan. One of the examples of the recommendations, for instance, was that they have to do a lot more work on preparation of these areas before they move people into them. They found that there were people coming into areas that had limited sanitation facilities.
Leslie Lefkow
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Leslie Lefkow
2012-05-02 16:29
Thank you very much for inviting Human Rights Watch to participate. It's a great opportunity to discuss some of these issues that we've been concerned about for some time at Human Rights Watch.
I'd like to touch briefly on three issues in my opening remarks. One is that I would just like to give a very brief picture of the human rights situation in Ethiopia as we see it at Human Rights Watch. Secondly, I'd like to talk about the challenges of monitoring in Ethiopia, because some of these challenges are very unique and severe. Thirdly, I'd like to describe, very briefly, the research that we've done in the last few years on the manipulation of development aid.
To start off with, let me just say that Ethiopia is a country of great promise, but one that we see as moving in the wrong direction. The worsening human rights trend that we see today did not begin in 2005, but with hindsight, 2005 was a very critical moment when the Ethiopian government chose a path of greater repression and, unfortunately, that's been the path that it's stuck to until today.
As you know, the elections in 2005 ended in controversy with a government crackdown and leading opposition politicians alleging election fraud. The security forces arrested an estimated 30,000 people and beat to death or shot nearly 200 people in Addis Ababa.
Since 2005, many observers, including me, have hoped that the government would reverse course after the next parliamentary elections in May 2010, but unfortunately we haven't seen that trend reverse.
The repression in Ethiopia today affects both prominent dissidents and ordinary citizens alike. Across Ethiopia and particularly in sensitive areas like Oromia and the Somali region, we have documented local officials harassing, imprisoning, or threatening to withhold government assistance from perceived critics.
Critics are often accused of serious crimes such as membership in insurgent or terrorist organizations. Most are released without being brought to trial due to the lack of any evidence against them, but generally only after they have spent extremely long periods in prison and sometimes torture or mistreatment.
Even more alarming than this pattern, though, is the fact that Ethiopia's military has committed serious abuses amounting to war crimes and crimes against humanity while responding to security threats. Those responsible for these crimes have enjoyed almost complete impunity from prosecution or even investigation. The abuses and the impunity seem to be systematic. From western Gambella region to Somali region in the east, as well as in neighbouring Somalia, the security forces have, in recent years, responded repeatedly to insurgent threats with atrocities against civilians.
To date, the Ethiopian response to serious allegations of international crimes such as these has been to deny the allegations and disparage the sources, be they Ethiopian human rights groups, my own organization, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty, or even the U.S. State Department. Instead of responding with genuine efforts to investigate and address these issues, the Ethiopian government has denied the allegations and conferred impunity upon the perpetrators.
Today, Ethiopia has become one of the most intolerant environments on the continent for independent voices. The government consistently uses violence, intimidation, and repressive legislation to silence political opposition, independent media, and civil society activists. Since 2009, as you know, it has enacted two new laws, one on non-governmental organizations called the CSO law, and one on anti-terrorism that effectively criminalized human rights work in the country and undermined political and civil rights. Taken together, these laws contain provisions that give the government powerful tools to criminalize human rights work, treat public protests as acts of terrorism, and broadly expand government power to curtail the rights of free association, assembly, and expression.
Prior to the passage of both of these laws, Human Rights Watch published detailed analyses of both bills, and we highlighted the worst provisions. Many of our concerns were echoed by donor governments, and some of those recommendations, of course, came out in the UN universal periodic review process on Ethiopia in the last few years.
We predicted that these laws could restrict non-governmental activity in Ethiopia and that the anti-terrorism law could be used to prosecute journalists and political opponents and, regrettably our fears have proven to be accurate. Just last year, as you may know, more than a hundred political opposition members, journalists, and others were arrested and detained. Many of them are being tried on the basis of the anti-terrorism law essentially for expression that would be covered by the Ethiopian Constitution as part of freedom of expression.
The effects of the CSO law, the NGO law, on Ethiopia's civil society have been devastating. The leading Ethiopian human rights groups have been crippled by the law, and many of their senior staff have fled the country. Some organizations changed their mandates to stop doing any kind of human rights work at all; others such as the Ethiopian Human Rights Council, Ethiopia's oldest human rights monitoring organization, and the Ethiopian Women Lawyers Association, which had launched groundbreaking work on domestic violence and women's rights, were forced to slash their budgets, their staff, and their operations.
The effects of the CSO law are particularly important for donors because of the social accountability component of many of the large aid programs to Ethiopia. That social accountability component, as I'm sure you know, was intended to bolster monitoring of aid programs on the ground. So the fact that many of the independent organizations that would have been expected to provide information and monitoring on the effects on the ground are no longer able to function is a very serious problem for monitoring of human rights generally, as well as in terms of the development aid programs taking place in the country.
Meanwhile, while we have seen on the one hand this devastating blow to civil society we've also seen the government encouraging a variety of ruling party affiliated organizations to fill the vacuum. These include the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, a national human rights institution that has been set up by the government. In theory it should be independent, but, unfortunately, in Ethiopia it's not.
I mention the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission again specifically because it is one of the institutions that has received considerable donor funding under the democratic institutions program, which CIDA, among others, has funded over the past few years. Human Rights Watch has called on donors to suspend funding for the democratic institutions program because of the problems and concerns we have with funding these institutions within this grim broader picture of the human rights environment and our concerns about how effective this kind of program can be when you see this worsening trend of repression affecting core rights.
Human Rights Watch has considerable experience working with human rights commissions across the world, including in many other countries in Africa. In our view independence is an absolutely critical component for the effective functioning of such an institution. Another component that is generally acknowledged to be essential is the ability of such an institution to work with civil society. Again, when we have the problems that we see in Ethiopia today in terms of the ability of independent organizations to function this raises serious questions about any donor program that funds this institution in the absence of core conditions for success.
Ethiopia's government has also had very little tolerance for the independent media. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Ethiopia has driven more journalists into exile over the past decade than any other nation in the world—79 at last count—and today seven journalists are in jail, a number that's only rivaled in Africa by Eritrea. That of course includes two Swedish journalists who were arrested and convicted of terrorism charges in December because they went into the eastern Somali region to investigate allegations of abuses.
I want to touch very briefly on the challenges of monitoring in Ethiopia against this backdrop, because this is a core concern that we've raised repeatedly with donors about the development programs taking place in Ethiopia. I've worked in Africa for 15 years doing human rights work and Ethiopia is without question one of the most difficult places to work. That is based on a number of factors. One reason is the Ethiopian government's restrictions on independent access and monitoring by independent organizations trying to investigate abuses, particularly in areas that it deems to be sensitive such as the Oromia or Somali regions.
It's partly also a problem because of the extensive security apparatus that's deployed at every administrative level of the country. The surveillance machine extends into almost every household in the country and as a stranger, be you Ethiopian or non-Ethiopian, if you go into a village in rural Ethiopia, your presence will be noted almost immediately. This of course has very important implications for how you can collect information in a confidential way, in which witnesses and victims of abuse will feel comfortable talking openly and confidently about what they've experienced.
Leslie Lefkow
View Leslie Lefkow Profile
Leslie Lefkow
2012-05-02 16:40
I want to talk very briefly about the development aid work we did in 2009. This was research that we conducted across 53 kebeles in three different states of Ethiopia. Essentially we found that opposition supporters were routinely barred from access to government services, including agricultural inputs like seeds and fertilizers, access to microcredit loans, and job opportunities. To give you one example, our researchers interviewed an elderly man who, when he went to register for humanitarian assistance, was told that he had to provide the receipts for his ruling party, the EPRDF Party fees, in order to actually receive food in the distribution.
We also found that capacity-building programs were used to indoctrinate school children in party ideology, to intimidate teachers, and to purge the civil service of dissenters. Many of the officials implementing or tolerating these policies are being paid through the basic services program, their multi-donor funded program that provides funding to regional governments.
In our conversation with donors since that report was released, unfortunately we have not yet received any real assurances that our concerns have been addressed. We raised a number of very specific points about the monitoring mechanisms in place and the need for field investigation by donors to investigate these allegations. To date, there have not actually been any such field investigations. That is one of our core recommendations, which we would urge all donors, including CIDA, to act upon as soon as possible.
We published a report in January, looking at large-scale resettlement programs in Gambella. This is part of a broader national scheme also taking place in Benishangul and other areas where whole communities are being resettled, purportedly for part of a development program where they would receive better services. Our research finds that people are being forced to move without compensation, without consultation. This underlines some of the concerns we have about continuing large-scale abuses, where donors in Addis, involved either directly or indirectly in some of these programs, are not investigating and really highlighting concerns with these programs in the way that we feel would be appropriate.
Thank you very much. I'm happy to answer any questions you have.
Leslie Lefkow
View Leslie Lefkow Profile
Leslie Lefkow
2012-05-02 17:02
This is what I mentioned before about donors, particularly the large donors—the U.S., the United Kingdom, Canada, the European Union, the World Bank and others—really needing to put their feet down, first, in terms of actually monitoring their own programs. As I mentioned, there are real deficiencies in the monitoring and investigation of allegations, and that's where donors should flex their muscles. They are pouring a lot of money into Ethiopia, and they should at least have the ability to monitor what is happening with that money.
To date, that has not happened at the level it should.
View Lois Brown Profile
View Lois Brown Profile
2012-05-02 17:05
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Ms. Lefkow, thank you very much for your presentation today.
I'm going to have to keep my comments very short, because I'm sharing my time with my colleague, Mr. Norlock.
I just want to point to a partnership that we have with the World Bank on joint governance assessment and measurement. Canada is putting considerable money into Ethiopia, through CIDA. Under the leadership of the World Bank, the intent is ultimately “to enable CIDA and other development partners to fully integrate governance into programming priorities and foster a more informed and harmonized dialogue on governance with the Government of Ethiopia”—and then it lists a few departments—“civil society and other development partners”.
What I'm hearing you say is that if we are going to be putting this money in, we have to take more responsibility for what's going on within Ethiopia.
Our government is very intent on untying our aid and making sure that the money gets to where it needs to go, without strings attached. Are you suggesting that we should be putting more restrictions on our aid and how it gets spent in Ethiopia?
Leslie Lefkow
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Leslie Lefkow
2012-05-02 17:07
I think that you have to very seriously question handing over funds to a government that has a proven track record of serious human rights abuses.
Marie-France Kenny
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Marie-France Kenny
2012-05-01 8:46
Good morning. Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. First of all, I would like to thank you for inviting the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadienne to appear once again before you as part of your study on the Roadmap for Linguistic Duality.
My name is Marie-France Kenny and I am the president of the federation. Today, I am accompanied by our director general, Suzanne Bossé. We are privileged to be the last to appear of the francophone and Acadian community organizations that have appeared before you. This provides us with a wonderful opportunity to draw from everything that has been said to look towards the future and set the foundations for the next initiative, an initiative which, as Senator Comeau put it, is not a new roadmap but rather a GPS to update everything that will follow the roadmap as of 2013.
The participation of all Canadians in our linguistic duality and community support for official language minority communities are the two main pillars of the Roadmap for Linguistic Duality. Initiatives and projects that resulted from the roadmap were aimed at meeting these objectives. The community organizations that appeared before you described, in quite eloquent terms, the results that have been achieved. They have mentioned the challenges, but also the successes, the obstacles met along the way, and also the opportunities that have been found.
The mid-term report published by Canadian Heritage a few weeks ago also makes mention of certain successes and progress, but was somewhat laconic when it came to challenges. The testimony provided to this committee regarding the mid-term report shows us that, in looking towards the future, the two objectives of the roadmap remain quite relevant. We are therefore recommending that the government initiative, which will follow the roadmap starting in 2013, should also strive to ensure the participation of all Canadians in linguistic duality and support official language minority communities.
Let us now take a look at the substance of this next government initiative. Francophone and Acadian communities set development priorities in the Strategic Community Plan that resulted from the broad consultative process which took place during the Sommet des communautés francophones et acadienne in 2007. The community representatives who appeared before you are all members of the Leaders' Forum, a group of some 43 organizations and institutions involved in the implementation of this plan. Several of them have, moreover, talked to you about this issue.
Given the objectives that we have just recommended, it would be quite logical and natural that the initiative following the roadmap be aligned closely with this Strategic Community Plan. After all, the government and the communities are both seeking the same result: communities or individuals that have everything they need to be successful and to contribute to the development of our country. The Strategic Community Plan includes five major themes, three of which show the way with respect to the priorities that the post-roadmap initiative will be focusing on; mainly, our population, our space and our development. They too align closely with the priorities of the government.
When we talk about our population, we are talking about strengthening the demographic weight of our communities. We are talking about supporting youths and families so that they will be able to pass on the French language and strengthen their sense of identity through greater access to cultural and heritage activities and child development support programs. We are also talking about strategies to welcome, integrate and retain migrants and immigrants who settle in our regions so that they can be successful and contribute to the development of our communities and regions. Mention, moreover, should be made of roadmap investments that enabled the Department of Citizenship and Immigration to provide better support to our communities in reaching the Strategic Community Plan objectives to promote immigration within the francophone minority communities.
Such support should also be renewed and expanded so as to strengthen, as well, community capacity in this area. The initiative that follows the roadmap should also include the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade so that it can equip communities and embassies to engage in promotion activities abroad. The theme Our Space is about access of francophone citizens to a wide range of activities and services in French delivered effectively, enabling them to participate actively in the growth of their community. It is also about providing a continuum of services that deal with every aspect of daily life, from education to health, from justice to culture, from youths to seniors.
This theme also deals with empowerment, ensuring that citizens themselves become involved in the growth and economic and social well-being of their communities. This leads me to the important consideration of priorities that should be in the initiative following the roadmap.
The implementation of the roadmap was undertaken by a well-coordinated and committed network working on behalf of francophones. The roadmap emphasized services to citizens, but it was the organizations and institutions in the communities that delivered the services.
They did this without any significant strengthening of their capacity. However, it seems to us that the more you invest in the capacity of the service delivery agency, the greater yield you get from the investment in terms of effectiveness, results and client satisfaction. Hence it is important that the initiative following the roadmap focus on service delivery and on strengthening this network of associations and organizations which, from one end of the country to the next, focus on the citizen and are best able to provide services at the least cost.
Let us now examine the theme of development. Francophone and Acadian communities have given themselves the objective of dealing with the aging population and rural exodus, stimulating jobs and economic growth. They want to achieve this by relying on the vitality of their network, on both private and community entrepreneurship, on innovative local development strategies, on the strengthening of human capital, on the acquisition of those skills required to ensure that everyone is successful and on the recognition of foreign credentials.
It is essential, to do this, that the initiative following the roadmap include, in particular, investments in manpower training, either through the development of essential skills such as literacy or through post-secondary education. Supporting entrepreneurship and cultural and heritage tourism initiatives is also important.
I have provided you with a few brushstrokes to give you a general overview of the objectives of the Strategic Community Plan and what will become the next Roadmap for Linguistic Duality. Moreover, I would really like to emphasize the importance of making sure that the primary initiatives of the current roadmap not come to an end on March 31, 2013. These initiatives will create momentum that must not be halted at a time when the benefits are starting to be felt.
I would also like to say a few words about the participation of Canadians in this linguistic duality. In this respect, the current roadmap rolled out certain initiatives which included the implementation of Canada's language portal and universal access to the Termium software.
Although these initiatives are commendable, it is important that we make a distinction between the strengthening of linguistic duality in the public service and in Canadian society. Since the initiative that follows the roadmap will bring us to 2017 and the 150th anniversary of Canada, we would look favourably on any initiatives that would create opportunities for dialogue and exchange amongst Canadians, leading to a better understanding and interest in this linguistic duality.
To conclude, I would like to provide you with a few key concepts regarding the governance of the next Roadmap for Linguistic Duality. We feel that the success of this initiative will depend on the extent to which we define the roles and responsibilities of those called upon to implement it. I am referring here not only to federal institutions but also to provincial, territorial and community governments.
We need to create a management and accountability framework, and our communities need to participate in defining objectives, indicators and timelines. Moreover, community organizations and institutions will no doubt be called upon to play a lead role in implementing this new roadmap, as they were in the case of the current roadmap.
In planning services and in ensuring a positive outcome for such an initiative, it is essential that we all have a good idea of how it is to be implemented along the way. We are recommending that the next roadmap include a monitoring tool that will enable us to follow investments as they are made, by department, by year and by program.
To conclude, I would like to leave you with some more general thoughts. The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, the Hon. James Moore, asked us, last fall, which story francophone and Acadian communities would like to tell in the next roadmap in 2017-2018, as part Canada's 150th anniversary celebrations. We would like to be able to say that the support of the federal government has enabled francophone and Acadian communities to make giant strides in achieving substantive equality, that we have stopped being looked at solely as minorities, but rather as fully-fledged citizens who, shored up by this substantive equality, contribute fully to development and economic prosperity, and that we are more confident than ever that our children and grandchildren will, after us, be able to continue building this country in both official languages.
And finally, we hope that more than ever before, Canadians will have had the opportunity to talk to each other, to understand each other, and to appreciate all of the richness of our linguistic duality.
Thank you.
I am ready to answer your questions.
Jules Custodio
View Jules Custodio Profile
Jules Custodio
2012-04-24 9:02
Mr. Chair, members, my name is Jules Custodio, and I am President of the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador. With me is Gaël Corbineau, Director General. First we would like to thank you for your invitation to appear and thus for giving our community the chance to speak about the roadmap.
Since 1973, the Fédération des francophones de Terre-Neuve et du Labrador has worked for the advancement, vitality and recognition of the francophone and Acadian communities of our province. The federation now has six members; three represent the main francophone regions of the province and the other three are provincial organizations operating in early childhood development, youth and the economy.
Our communities, which have been in existence for more than 500 years, are now mainly scattered across three regions, separated from one another by distances of 800 kilometres to 2,100 kilometres. As you will guess, geographic isolation is a major obstacle for us.
According to the 2006 census, our community represents 0.4% of the provincial population. Another 25,000 people or so are able to speak French. In 2009, with the support of Canadian Heritage, we established an overall development plan for 2009-2014, which sets out the priority areas for action and objectives for our community corresponding to the areas outlined in the roadmap 2008-2013.
Now let's consider the impact of the 2008-2013 roadmap on our communities. The interdepartmental approach of the current roadmap has facilitated our development in all priority areas by emphasizing the responsibility of all federal departments in the development of our communities. Since 2008, the roadmap has had numerous positive effects on the everyday lives of our communities.
First, there are early childhood services. By supporting continuity of offer, the roadmap has promoted sharp growth in this area, to the point where the challenge for us is now to respond to the demand and thus to limit the assimilation of our youngest children. For example, the francophone child care centre in St. John's has space for 14 children, but has an average of 30 on its waiting list. All these children are at great risk of being assimilated because they cannot be accommodated in a francophone environment.
Second, we have community infrastructure. In recent years, our community has benefited from extensive new infrastructure that is important for our development, including a new building for the Boréale French-language school in Goose Bay, the creation of community websites to facilitate communication about activities and services in the community, and the establishment of our provincial community radio station. These investments are essential to maintaining and developing our communities and make it possible to offer citizens even more activities.
We have also created a francophone immigration network. As we carry little demographic weight, and the community wishes to maintain and even increase it, we have established a francophone immigration network. Our results are improving from year to year. We assist newcomers, the community and employers whose demands are growing in proportion to our province's positive economic situation.
There is also funding for a French-language services office. Through the roadmap, our provincial government is funding the Bureau des services en français, which provides invaluable assistance to our organizations by guiding them through the processes of the provincial government. We regret that the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has yet to implement a policy on French-language services. We nevertheless see that the awareness work done by the Bureau des services en français with provincial officials has been productive, given the regular increase in the offer of services and the supply of information in French.
Now I'm going to present our findings and recommendations by addressing the lack of transparency regarding funding allocated under the roadmap. We have unfortunately observed that it is very difficult to determine with any accuracy the amount of funding that is being spent in our province under the roadmap and how it is being used. Furthermore, uncertainty prevails with regard to the way in which funding that goes through the provincial government is used.
We believe it would be beneficial for the federal government and the minority language communities for a policy of complete transparency to be adopted with regard to the monitoring of funding under the roadmap. This would make federal government action much clearer for citizens by providing information on amounts actually spent in their communities rather than on significant national amounts that very often are unclear in people's minds.
With regard to the cultural sector and program funding, of all the fields on which the communities are working, the cultural sector is suffering terribly from a lack of funding, whereas it is a priority under our overall development plan. Since culture is essential to the preservation of our cultural identity, the need in such a small community as ours is proportionately more glaring. Although we have done everything to increase and diversify our network's revenues in recent years, we unfortunately see that it will be impossible for it to be financially self-sufficient if it has to rely solely on project funding. Consequently, we would like future roadmaps to provide for operating budgets for the cultural networks so that they can meet these challenges and provide our citizens with the service they are entitled to expect.
With regard to the multi-year nature of contribution agreements, we are delighted that multi-year contribution agreements are increasingly being signed, but that is not always the case. This is a factor in the instability and vulnerability of our organizations, particularly because it is difficult to retain our staff in these kinds of situations. We therefore hope that a three-year term becomes the general rule for all contribution agreements signed between the community organizations and the federal departments and that a commitment is made to ensure that the process for renewing those agreements is completed no later than three months before they expire.
As for early childhood development, Mr. Chair, we believe that it is fundamentally important that it remain an urgent priority of the future roadmap and that efforts be increased to reduce assimilation by promoting the retention of children in the French-language system.
In conclusion, in these times of budgetary restrictions, we note the disastrous effects that cutbacks to the already tight budgets of the community organizations would have, and we unreservedly recommend that the roadmap be renewed and improved, as that is essential to the vitality and dynamism of our communities and to Canada's bilingualism.
Mr. Chair, members, on behalf of all the francophones of Newfoundland and Labrador, we thank you for your attention.
I feel as though this is a race against the clock.
View Yvon Godin Profile
View Yvon Godin Profile
2012-03-27 9:28
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I would like to thank our witnesses.
It's really good to hear what you have to say, Justin, and congratulations.
I want to tell you this. When I started, I went to northern Ontario. I didn't know one word in English. I started learning it at the age of 16. I remember my first job was at a gas pump. My boss came to me and asked if my restroom was clean. I thought she was talking about the restaurant and I said, no, not here, across the road. I almost lost the first job I had. The little bit I have today I'm so proud of, and I want to translate that to my children.
I really believe our country is a bilingual country, and it should be bilingual. The services should be. We're not asking all the anglophones to become French. We're not asking all the francophones to become English. But we have to give services in both languages. We created and fought hard and worked hard to build this country with the aboriginals, and to be in peace instead of dividing ourselves. Your message to me is very positive.
And for you, Madam Perkins, it is the same thing. You did learn and it's not easy. It's not an easy task and I really believe you're proud of it. Parents for French, I lift my hat to you people because you're doing a great job.
In New Brunswick, for the first time in my life, I saw anglophones rally in the streets because they wanted to learn French. They did that in Fredericton. There were about 350 people in front of the legislature. When the government decided to start immersion at grade 5 instead of grade 1, parents were not happy. The government was not listening to the parents. The government of the only officially bilingual province in our country—in the Constitution—told parents that they were not allowed to have their children in immersion until grade 5.
I saw that in your report you gave to us this morning, you spoke about four other provinces, but you didn't speak about New Brunswick, except to say that New Brunswick is not doing its job. Now, this morning, the Premier of New Brunswick will hear Yvon Godin tell him that they are not doing their job. They should listen to the parents, work with the parents, and help them to do what needs to be done. I hope it gets done and I want to say that.
Now, Madame Perkins, I want to hear more about the road map and the money put into the provinces. The Commissioner of Official Languages says that he cannot go in the provinces and see where the money is spent. You know that money is going to the provinces. It's supposed to put money towards the language, to help francophones be able to stay alive and keep their language. At the same time, anglophones would be able to learn the other language. Do you feel that there is enough transparency in this, or do you just not know where the money is going?
Lisa Marie Perkins
View Lisa Marie Perkins Profile
Lisa Marie Perkins
2012-03-27 9:31
Mr. Chair, members of the committee, thank you for your question regarding the transparency of road map funding, or funding for official languages in the provinces.
Across Canada we have, I would say, different degrees of success of being able to follow where the money goes, from the national right down, in some cases, to the school boards themselves. Our branches and our national office has been working with Canadian Heritage, with ministries of education, and indeed with local school boards to increase that transparency. Most important for us is knowing where those funds go, because I think it celebrates some great success of what those moneys go for, and translating that into those outcomes. However, it is a current challenge that our parents are facing across the country.
Robert, do you have anything to add?
Robert Rothon
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Robert Rothon
2012-03-27 9:32
I would like to mention that transparency in terms of how those funds are used is always somewhat problematic, given that it depends on the province. Some provinces have rather tough reporting requirements, other less so.
I come from British Columbia and we have one of the most developed systems where school boards have to fill out a form and then post it on the website of the Ministry of Education. However, the ministry does not have enough staff to check those expenses. So the system is sort of based on good faith, but it is not really verifiable. If I were an accountant or an auditor, I would not be very happy with it.
Kenneth V. Georgetti
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Kenneth V. Georgetti
2012-02-27 15:39
Thank you very much.
By way of opening comment, let me say that the Canadian Labour Congress has a long history of working with trade unions and non-governmental organizations throughout the world. We've managed projects in over 30 countries, many of which were funded by CIDA, the Canadian International Development Agency.
The CLC does not agree with the government that partnering with the private sector to fund foreign-aid projects is the best way to improve the lives of the world's poor. It's unconscionable that our government wants to achieve this by making Canadian profit-driven extractive, agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and other companies collaborators to foreign aid.
Already some $531 million in 2009 and $336 million in 2010 were spent by CIDA on NGOs and others doing so-called private sector development to support the likes of micro-credit, credit union capacity-building, value-chain developments, and support for small and medium-sized businesses. We have concerns about the facts that these often exceed expenditures of many of CIDA's other categories. In 2010, spending on education, health, environment, and governance were all declining relative to 2009, while private sector development increased. We don't know about 2011 because last year the government stopped reporting its spending on this.
Now CIDA is funding NGOs to implement corporate social responsibility projects--CSR--projects with contributing companies such as Rio Tinto Alcan, IAMGOLD, and Barrick Gold, whose clear mandate is to maximize profits for their shareholders—that's what they do. CIDA is poised to continue along this vein.
Please understand, we don't object to Canadian investments abroad for the purposes of making profit; that's what they do. However, trade unions from throughout the world are involved with multinational companies, and we know how their self-interest can conflict with the public interest. This is what we're worried about. Regrettably, NGOs with good reputation and credibility are being drawn into collaborating, no matter how laudable the results of their work might be. The approach will certainly ease Canadian investors' access to local resources and soothe the waters with communities that have already suffered or would oppose mining and other operations. The whole approach will also invariably reduce their costs of doing business. But a point of contention is about enabling companies to protect their profits back in Canada, companies that are already reaping tremendous benefits from tax breaks right here at home.
We worry about the impacts of Canadian companies competing among themselves and others within a developing country context. Yet Canadian taxpayers have been led to believe that funding these corporate social responsibility projects in connection to large corporations will somehow yield some form of company accountability or corporate responsibility. We don't believe that. We think it's nonsense, frankly. The CSR projects do not in any way implement company accountability principles as understood by the international community dealing with these issues. We're worried that these projects will serve instead to gloss over local conflicts that have already emerged or will arise as a result of any investment project.
The government is well aware of the degree of opposition to Canadian company projects in quite a number of countries. In 2005 this awareness led to a ground-breaking parliamentary report calling for strong norms to deal with corporate misbehaviour, such as environment and human rights violations, which are now on the rise. Instead, the government created a weak-kneed extractive sector CSR counsellor, who's already proved to be ineffective in handling a number of recent complaints, leaving a total vacuum for available tools to ensure company accountability.
The CIDA corporate social responsibility projects cannot be a substitute for corporate accountability. Moreover, it's very misleading to suggest that these CSR projects will do much, if anything, to reduce poverty.
Business leaders have already appeared before this committee, but their testimony raises a number of questions. They may be justified in saying that specific projects would benefit training, work experience, or could result in economic effects for jobs and improved incomes. It's what they're not saying that we think is a problem. Their statements have to be measured against a more complete picture of costs and benefits, both positive and negative. They have to be seen in light of social and environmental costs beyond the lifetime of those projects compared to other scenarios that could yield better scenarios.
Evidence submitted by MiningWatch to this committee convinces me that company operations do far more in the long term to exacerbate income gaps than to reduce poverty. The committee cannot turn a blind eye to these realities. At the core of any analysis about poverty is the question of jobs.
I remind this committee that Canada joined the G-20 and other countries last year to support a decent work agenda put forward by the International Labour Organization. So where's the analysis to show the impacts of company operations on full-time and part-time jobs that will be created or lost, and what is the quality of those jobs, and what are the conditions of the work environment and the human rights in the workplace? What about the livelihood issues for community well-being? What other scenarios for investment or for CIDA expenditures would create more jobs than the paltry few that have been talked about here? I repeat, where is the analysis on all of this?
Witnesses have also argued that company operations contribute to the tax base and thus strengthen the autonomy of local and national governments. There is strong evidence to show that company activities do quite the opposite, and we've provided that to the committee in our formal brief.
In many countries, the very presence of extractive companies in rural areas also jeopardizes the integrity of indigenous communities. I would like to suggest that the committee follow up by encouraging our government to perform an analysis of both the negative and positive impacts of these company operations before venturing further on CSR exercises that blindly support or justify them. The government should also report annually to Parliament detailing the full picture of all aspects of private sector funding.
You should follow through with the commitments to implement the 2011 Busan high-level forum, which emphasizes the importance of ensuring strong country ownership of development, accountability, and of course transparency through a new global partnership for effective development.
You should establish a Canadian legal framework for private sector accountability based on internationally agreed ILO standards, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines on multinational enterprises, and the United Nations guiding principles on business and human rights.
The government should be guided by the outcomes of the Canadian Westray mining disaster in instituting criminal penalties for egregious activities abroad.
These corporate accountability measurements are important for stemming any drive to lower the occupational and other standards due to competition.
Lastly, we'd like to say that you should promote the G-20 commitments to implement the ILO decent work agenda as a direct means for eradicating poverty in the world.
Thank you.
Catherine Stewart
View Catherine Stewart Profile
Catherine Stewart
2011-12-08 17:17
There are three things.
Yes, in a lot of its published material and particularly in international scientific forums, I think DFO, to maintain its credibility with scientists from other countries, has to acknowledge and does acknowledge that there are problems associated with net cages. It's pretty hard to deny when you look at the effects the lice have had in Norway, the problems they're increasingly having with resistance to chemical treatments.
Trevor Swerdfager, a former director general at DFO, told me in a face-to-face meeting one time when we were discussing this that on the east coast he had been seeing lice infestation levels per fish of 200 to 300 lice per fish. Those numbers are staggering and indicate why it's possible that one of the companies may have broken the law and, in a desperate attempt to control the lice, used cypermethrin, which is a banned chemical in Canada.
I think the department is very aware of the problems. They don't acknowledge that a lot publicly and domestically, but internationally they will acknowledge it, even in writing in their reports, for example, the one I cited from NASCO.
Yes, DFO is actively engaged in promotion of the open net cage aquaculture industry. Again, I have to stress that I don't criticize our government supporting industry and business in Canada, but I think the government has a responsibility to support those industries that are making an effort to be responsible and trending toward more sustainable practices. It's disheartening for me to see DFO chasing us around when we talk to retailers, showing up afterwards to try to undermine what we have said and to promote the open net cage industry with claims of sustainability. I don't mind our department giving the facts, but I think they do an awful lot of work and give an awful lot of money to the aquaculture industry for promotion and marketing. That should be the industry's own responsibility. Our department's responsibility should be the health and protection and sustainability of ocean ecosystems and of our wild stocks. I think they have a fundamentally conflicted mandate, acting as both the regulator and PR agency for the aquaculture industry.
Certification is going to be an increasingly prominent issue. A host of certification schemes are in development. The Canadian government is working with the CGSB and DFO in developing organic standards for open net cage aquaculture in Canada. I believe those standards are going to undermine the credibility of Canadian organic certification as a whole, if they continue to be as weak, as they currently are. Certification and labelling initiatives are being developed by the industry in isolation, by multi-stakeholder groups like the Salmon Aquaculture Dialogue. I think they're going to take increasing prominence and importance.
We'll see similar trends to what we've seen with the Marine Stewardship Council, whereby more retailers and more consumers are going to be seeking a certification label they feel they can trust. That's going to be the key issue. There will be a proliferation of branding and labels and eco-labels, but at the end of the day, there will be a hierarchy of which ones are credible and which are just a rubber stamp.
View Mike Sullivan Profile
View Mike Sullivan Profile
2011-11-16 16:05
Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Mr. Webster.
One of the goals of a national public transit strategy is to take politics out of transit decision-making. I'm not sure whether you were around in the mid-nineties when we dug a hole in Eglinton Avenue and filled it in again. We're digging it again, this time with big boring machines.
Do you agree that having some kind of overarching strategy applied to transit decision-making to ensure that funding is transparent and not politically motivated would be a good thing?
Gregory Thomas
View Gregory Thomas Profile
Gregory Thomas
2011-10-24 16:32
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As the federal director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, I'm here representing 70,000 supporters from across Canada. We are Canada's largest and oldest taxpayer advocacy organization, proudly non-partisan, and funded solely by voluntary contributions from supporters. We've never accepted government funding of any kind—we never will—and we're not a charity.
As we discuss the concept of a national transportation strategy, it's important that we have some context. The government just reported a budget deficit for last year of $33.4 billion. It's interesting to note that revenues surged $18.5 billion from the year previous, a healthy rise of 8.5%, bringing the government to within $5 billion of the record revenues reached in 2007-08. Yet just three years prior, those record revenues were sufficient to throw off a surplus of nearly $10 billion, while in this past year the government ran a deficit of $33.4 billion, owing to surging annual expenses that shot to over $270 billion from $233 billion in the same time frame.
So to the extent that government revenue was sufficient last year to have generated a surplus if the minority Parliament had merely held the line on spending, we now have a spending problem, and a major spending problem at that.
In the context of four years of massive deficits that erased 10 years of progress in reducing Canada's federal debt, we approach the proposition of a national transit strategy with some trepidation. We note the enthusiasm of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities for such a strategy. In their brief, the FCM put forth the notion that they represent 90% of Canada's population and they argued for more money from Canadian taxpayers to fund municipal transit systems.
Look, we have sympathy for Canada's city governments. They have built the lion's share of Canada's roads, and for years they had to witness the federal government collecting a user fee for roads, in the form of a gasoline excise tax, while not spending any of the money on roads at all. So we do support the transfer of the gas tax to cities for road projects. We would rather that all the revenue from the gas tax be directed towards roads and bridge-building and maintenance and we'd rather that the municipalities and provinces collect the revenue, rather than delegating the job to the federal government and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Let's be clear: the Government of Canada has no reason to collect an excise tax on gasoline, except for the obvious and disheartening reality that it can, so it does.
Of course, the Government of Canada has spent $5 billion on transit since 2006, including $1.1 billion in gas tax revenue that it rightfully ought to have invested in roads and bridges, not transit systems. Once the diversion of the gas tax into transit began, it failed to satisfy the demands of the FCM and city governments, which see only the insufficiency of the federal financing.
So let's not kid ourselves: the concept of a national transportation strategy, especially as set forth in the official opposition's proposed legislation, is nothing more than a money grab. The so-called legislation contains no strategy, only the proposal that the government convene a conference and gather a group of money-seekers together to draw up a list of demands and submit them to Parliament.
In case there's any confusion that this is something other than a naked cash grab, the province of Quebec is fully exempt from any strategic element of the strategy at all. The bill only provides that any element of strategy that would have an effect on Quebec's sovereign soil simply be monetized, turned into a federal cheque, and handed over to the National Assembly.
The relevant passage says, “Recognizing the unique nature of the jurisdiction of the Government of Quebec with regard to...transit”, and ends with the statement that Quebec shall “receive an unconditional payment of the full federal funding that would otherwise be paid within its territory under...” the title of the legislation--
An hon. member: [Inaudible--Editor]
Mr. Gregory Thomas: Yes, entitled “National Public Transit Strategy”, so--
An hon. member: [Inaudible--Editor]...Quebec?
Mr. Gregory Thomas: We have no quarrel with Quebec's jurisdiction over transit, but we don't submit that it's unique. We think that provinces have jurisdiction over transit. Perhaps if Parliament stopped collecting a heinous excise tax on gasoline, the provinces could go and tax it, fund away, and do what they like.
We were recently asked to comment on proposed tolls to finance the replacement of the Champlain Bridge in Montreal, in a radio interview, and the interviewer was shocked to hear that we enthusiastically support them. I had to point out that we're the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, not the Montreal bridge motorists federation, and we believe that those who use a service should pay for it.
So we put it to you that the FCM, collectively, have been proven to be bad managers of taxpayer dollars, and they should not be rewarded with more federal money for more municipal empire-building. We put it to you that voter turnouts in municipal elections are woefully low, way short of 90%, and that the municipal politicians are principally beholden to people on city payrolls who extract outsized pay packages, benefits, and pensions in exchange for their support, and also to people who buy land as far as possible from transit, schools, municipal infrastructure, and other amenities, and then proceed to build housing on it.
Here in Ottawa, you just need to look at last weekend's daily papers to see ads for new housing located nowhere near any transit.
City governments cheerfully approve these projects, extract massive development cost charges for parks, street lights, sidewalks, street trees, and then send their lobbyists to you to demand billions for elaborate transit systems to get all these newcomers to their distant jobs. The cities’ approach seems to be to fill pastures with two-car garages, and then demand federal assistance for ever wider roads and ever more elaborate transit systems to prevent their regional economies from collapsing into gridlock.
An hon. member: Tell us what you really think.
Voices: Oh, oh!
View Brad Butt Profile
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Thomas, for being here.
I'm not quite sure if my NDP colleague who just spoke understood how Canada's economic action plan, the infrastructure stimulus program, worked, because it was actually the municipalities that recommended the projects they wanted funded. I know that in Mississauga there was a unanimous vote by the mayor and members of council as to which 122 projects would be funded in the city of Mississauga.
So when they talk about pet political projects, they weren't the federal government's pet political projects at all. It was municipalities, which understand the infrastructure on the street and what they need in their communities, that recommended to the provincial and federal governments what should be funded. Let's get the facts straight on how that program worked.
Do you support a federal role in funding infrastructure for capital costs, for operating costs, for both, or for neither? Where do you folks draw the line? I think you did indicate that some infrastructure should be funded at the federal level of government. Do you believe the federal government should fund ongoing operating costs for transit systems or just contribute toward capital costs?
Susan Eng
View Susan Eng Profile
Susan Eng
2011-10-24 16:17
Thank you very much. I could say all of the above; indeed, all of those points are extremely relevant.
We have talked with our membership. We are engaging with them all the time, and we do focus on the fact that lots of work has been done around the country in a patchwork. There are all kinds of pilot projects that are taking place, but what is needed is a comprehensive set of strategies that can only come with a national conversation.
The health accord presents the opportunity for the federal government to set aside money to actually fund these initiatives, but a condition of having that money transferred to the provinces is to set certain national standards, certain national priorities, and to ensure there's accountability for the money being spent. In observing and reviewing the work that has been done according to the existing accords, we find the accountability is lacking.
While there may be projects that are happening—we know a few of them are very promising—we're not certain the knowledge is being shared. A lot of good work and a lot of serious money has been spent, so I think the federal role, and there is definitely a federal role, is to set the large framework. The coordination, the strategy, the accountability is implicitly a federal role.
The provinces, of course, have to deliver. Even in the latest elections this fall, all of them addressed many of these issues in a patchwork. They all had pieces of the puzzle, but none of them had the whole. The single most important message for us is that there be an overall framework.
The second piece, and I want to re-emphasize this because it's important from the point of view of fiscal management, is home care was identified as the next essential service to respond to an impending challenge, which is valid all by itself. But we feel that it's also important because it has the opportunity of restructuring the health care budget for the future. We're worried about its sustainability. We're hearing arguments for private pay, etc., and yet we're not looking at restructuring our actual delivery of those health care dollars and using them more appropriately. The opportunity arises with home care and caregiver support to actually divert a massive amount of demand, and therefore the opportunity to also put our fiscal books in balance.
Those would be our major recommendations for the federal role.
Joe Sardinha
View Joe Sardinha Profile
Joe Sardinha
2011-10-20 15:32
Thank you very much for this opportunity. Through the miracle of modern technology we're able to participate in these consultations, something I would like to do in person, but unfortunately I'm still harvesting my apple crop here in B.C. It's a little bit late this year, so that has kept me at the farm.
In terms of science and innovation, I believe the right mix of investment in research will lead to innovation at the farm level, resulting in a more competitive and, more importantly, a profitable farm sector. We need to get it right. We also anticipate that the risk management tools we have today and are developing for the future would experience a decline in demand if we do get that basic research flowing correctly throughout the industry.
Research is a vital part of agriculture's unbroken record of improvement in quality and productivity. It is particularly important to Canada as a nation of exports with vast agricultural capacity. Canada has a stake in advancing farm productivity, with research as a key component.
Food security may not be an issue in Canada but it is an issue as food supplies tighten. In Canada we're looking more at the issue of rising food prices than food shortages. Comparing this to the Canadian agricultural sector, where the road of productivity is allowed to slide compared to other competing jurisdictions, we know that other world areas have higher yields than Canada, and we have to continue on the research and innovation front to maintain our competitiveness in that regard.
The value of inventions that are created in Canada can alone compensate for the investment in productivity enhancement. This is particularly important to the tree fruit industry in terms of variety development or the plant breeding programs we currently have. It's key to the innovation in the tree fruit sector.
I want to address a question that we developed here. It states, what are the interests of agricultural producers, especially tree fruit growers in research? Growers are most keenly interested in improvements to horticultural practices, for example, more efficient irrigation, more efficient pruning/thinning, picking, grading, and storage of produce, using automation and computer technology. As I've said, the development of new varieties that are suited to our northern climate is extremely important, as is more environmentally friendly pest control, which builds on successes of integrated and area-wide pest management, enabling producers to manage both current and emerging pest and disease issues. We are an importing nation and seem to be landing new insect and disease species on our shores on an ongoing basis.
What is the reality? We've seen with Growing Forward 1 that the delivery of research programs to high-value Canadian horticulture needs to be upgraded so that we are competitive and build value for Canadians.
The switch that established national research science clusters was well intentioned but poorly implemented. It took longer that expected to launch and the criteria and eligibility of research projects changed up to the final moment.
The Canadian Horticulture Council assumed the role of administrator of the edible horticultural science cluster and has done a commendable job in dealing with the many changes to the science initiative since its inception. Under the CHC's guidance, the Canadian apple industry, a very big part of which I am in, invested substantial effort in synthesizing provincial research priorities into national research priorities. The industry then worked to develop its top three project proposals, as did other commodity representatives of the CHC. Application deadlines were met, but the guidelines changed after the fact, and two of the industry's three proposals were turned down because they involved federal research employees at AAFC research centres—some of the criteria that was not spelled out from the outset of the industry developing its research priorities.
The process really undermines the industry's confidence in investing all this time and effort when projects are rejected for what we feel are new and inconsequential reasons.
Following that debacle, the CHC was informed just this past summer that additional unallocated funding existed for the horticultural science cluster. It was a last-minute scramble by all to submit new project proposals in a very short timeframe to take advantage of this additional funding that no one knew anything about prior to the government's announcement. The apple industry did submit for a new project, but this was done in a very ad hoc way and it didn't really follow the priority-setting process that we had used in identifying our previous three projects.
So was it the right project for our scarce resources? Perhaps not, but it certainly exposed some inadequacies in the funding process, and certainly all the changes we've been hit with in the cluster initiative have led to much confusion.
If agricultural associations are willing to commit their share of research investment, it's perhaps time that government programs are made more transparent at the outset, and certainly the science cluster initiative could have used more transparency and better program development because we saw far too many changes throughout the implementation of the program. We need less bureaucracy so as not to sideswipe industry’s efforts to capitalize on research that I believe will ultimately enhance the competitiveness and profitability of the agricultural sector.
We do have some Growing Forward 2 recommendations that we'd like to propose to your committee. The government has increased other types of agriculture and processing research at the expense of horticultural practices, often referred to as primary production research. We recommend ensuring the level of funding for research and horticultural practices be balanced with other research needs.
The government has let key research positions go unfilled when retirements occur or are imminent. In a round of consultations a few years ago, this was a high priority to resolve, yet no strategy is emerging, and the erosion of our science capacity continues.
For tree fruit, we recommend that a weed scientist, a post-harvest physiologist, and a plant breeder be hired to replace recently retired or soon to be retired scientists at the Pacific Agri-Food Research Centre in Summerland.
We recommend that advisory committees for research stations, composed of producers nominated by provincial commodity associations, be re-established, with meaningful input into business plans, including succession planning for researchers and adequate and balanced resources required for senior researchers and technical staff to ensure a balance between horticultural and other types of research.
Lastly, we recommend that the federal government provide incentives for consolidation of research. We believe that research can take on a more focused approach throughout research stations across Canada. We recommend that Agriculture Canada's research branch take strong measures to re-establish consolidation of research activities, such that we may not have a model where we're doing horticultural research at every station across Canada, but we will have what I believe will be centres of excellence for applied research that will deal with horticultural issues, grain, grains and oilseeds issues, and animal and livestock issues--so it is more targeted, much more efficient, and we can have the appropriate expertise placed at those positions.
I would like to thank you for this opportunity to present. I did want to speed it up, so if there are any questions, I would be more than willing to answer them.
Thank you.
View   Profile
2011-10-17 17:17
Thank you very much. That's a good question.
One of the things that CNA has been talking about is an accountability framework. We'd be glad to send more information to the committee.
First of all, I want to thank the federal government for the leadership it has influenced in health care, given our constitution and the difficulties that it raises. I'd like to be a bit provocative and talk about, or at least allude to, the example of the HST and the kinds of harmonization issues this has caused in various jurisdictions.
In terms of an accountability framework, it's the ability, then, to grant funds to our jurisdictions with the provision that they demonstrate, for example, how they have harmonized or integrated their multiple governance systems. So does home care have to be separate from acute care? Do there have to be separate entities providing those services? What kind of accountability can we demand in terms of accepting the funding that the federal government's provided to bring to bear?
View Gerry Byrne Profile
Lib. (NL)
Thank you very much.
It strikes me that increased comptrollership improvements to the internal audit functions were not able to pick these things up. In fairness, they were probably not designed to do that. Would you be able to inform the committee as to whether or not the government, in this act of contrition, noting its failures and shortcomings here, has communicated to you and your office any specific measure, standard, or procedure that it is now instituting across government to prevent this from happening again?
John Wiersema
View John Wiersema Profile
John Wiersema
2011-10-05 16:13
Mr. Chairman, I don't think this is a situation that requires more rules. I believe the rules are there. This office has taken the position in the past, and I absolutely support that position, that we don't need more rules. What we need is consistent application of the existing rules. I'm not waiting for the government to say it put a new rule and procedure into place, because I don't think it's necessary in this case.
Helen Cutts
View Helen Cutts Profile
Helen Cutts
2011-10-05 15:32
I am pleased to be here. My understanding is that as you embark on your work on the north, it would be useful for you to have a briefing on how environmental assessment works. My purpose is go to over a deck; I don't have any prepared remarks. I will review the deck, which explains the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and how it works, and I'll be very happy to answer your questions.
Turning to slide one, you can see that environmental assessment has been in place in one way or another since 1974. It was a very thin cabinet directive at that time. It wasn't until 1995 that we brought the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act into force. Since then, we've had one round of parliamentary review, and we brought in amendments by 2003. We had a small round of amendments in July 2010. That was part of the jobs and economic growth package that came with the budget that year.
Before I get into slide three, I want to emphasize that environmental assessment is a planning tool. It's a way for the government to work with companies such that before a shovel goes into the ground there is a discussion of what the environmental impacts are and how to mitigate them. This is beneficial for proponents because they get to see early on what changes in design they might need to make or what adjustments to their strategy might be needed before they invest a great deal of money.
The act itself applies to federal authorities. It asks those federal authorities to carry out assessments. These are departments and agencies, typically. There are a number of limited conditions under which those authorities are asked to carry out an environmental assessment having to do with whether a decision is required from them on a project. If they are the project proponent or if that department or agency is offering some sort of financial assistance, then they need an environmental assessment--or if they are a source of land, or if they are a regulator.
The regulation is a very common one. A company that needs to get a permit related to fish would then go to DFO and would indicate that they believe they need an environmental assessment.
We have three types of environmental assessments. Those are screenings, comprehensive studies, and review panels. I'll briefly go over each of these three types.
Most of them are screenings; these are required for any project. Our act works such that any project requires an environmental assessment, and then we have a tier that says a subset of the projects we will name requires a more comprehensive approach. Those will need comprehensive studies.
The vast majority of our environmental assessments are screenings, about 6,000 a year. The responsible authority, the one with the decision to make, is the one that carries this out. We end up with 40 or 50 different agencies involved across the board. They make a decision about what type of opportunity they want to give for public participation, they determine whether to require a follow-up program of the proponent, they make the final decision, and they're also responsible for the implementation of the mitigation measures and follow-up.
Just as an aside, I'll explain what follow-up is. Follow-up means that somebody needs to verify that the particular mitigation measures that were set out in the environmental assessment are doing what they were expected to do. This is a little different from enforcement. If we felt there was some concern about the habitat and said the company needed to make an adjustment, needed to build a ditch to ensure that the water flow was in the right direction and beneficial to the fish or other habitat that use the stream, then you would want to make sure that building the ditch did indeed divert the water and create the level of water that you expected to be sufficient when you set out those plans.
A comprehensive study, as I mentioned, is a more intensive and generally thicker document that looks at environment assessment. It meets the same types of criteria as a screening, but it has a few additional elements; for example, it would be required that you look at alternative means of carrying out the project.
The agency to which I belong is responsible for most of the comprehensive studies. The only exceptions are the ones that involve the Nuclear Safety Commission or the National Energy Board.
With comprehensive studies, one thing that is different from screenings is that we have a participant funding program; therefore, if an aboriginal group or an environmental group or a citizen would like to participate in some way and needed some funding for some research or to collect the views of their members, they can apply to us for participant funding. That's an important element of our comprehensive study program.
At the end of a comprehensive study, it is the Minister of the Environment who has to make a decision, deciding whether or not there are significant adverse environmental effects from the project. That decision would be based on the project as modified; it would not be based on the original project but on the project as described in the comprehensive study, taking into account any design changes and any mitigation plans.
Though the Minister of the Environment has that responsibility, it would still be a particular department that would be responsible for ensuring that those mitigation measures were taken. Often, as I say, it might be the Department of Fisheries and Oceans because the issue at hand was an issue surrounding fish habitat, for example. The follow-up programs under a comprehensive study are mandatory.
The third way we do environmental assessments involves situations in which the Minister of the Environment appoints independent experts, who will do research, call upon witnesses, hold hearings, and make recommendations to the government. This is another case in which we offer participant funding. The role of the agency in this particular case is limited to being a secretariat for that panel.
In the end, the responsible authority, the one with the decision to make, makes the final decision, with the approval of the Governor in Council. Again, the responsible authority checks to make sure that the mitigation measures are undertaken and that follow-up is done to ensure that mitigation is working as planned.
The last element I would like to flag to you today is on federal-provincial cooperation. The environment is really a shared responsibility between the federal government and the provinces. Many of you will already know that the provinces have their own environmental assessment processes.
This situation has the potential to create overlap and duplication. It is difficult for proponents if they have to respond to two sets of requirements. What we try to do is work with the provinces to run a process that is as seamless as possible. In order to facilitate that process, we have bilateral agreements with a number of provinces that set out how we would run a particular project when we are working together.
When we get into these cooperative arrangements, it's usually the provinces that take the lead and we participate actively.
That is simply the nuts and bolts of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and I'd be pleased to answer any of your questions.
Richard Dicerni
View Richard Dicerni Profile
Richard Dicerni
2011-09-28 15:33
Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, for inviting us to your first meeting.
I've been asked to do a bit of an overview of the department. I will start by noting my two colleagues: Simon has been with us for over a year now, and Kelly has been with us for two or three years.
I'd like to give a brief overview of what the department does and speak briefly about the industry portfolio, which encompasses the granting councils and so forth.
Now, first things first. We note on the first slide that we work with and support four ministers:
Mr. Paradis, who is the current minister; Mr. Goodyear, who is the Minister of State (Science and Technology) (Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario); Mr. Bernier, who is the Minister of State (Small Business and Tourism); and Mr. Clement, who has maintained his responsibilities for FedNor.
If you come and visit the department, you will see that, as public servants, we support the work of four ministers.
If you turn the page to Industry Canada's mandate, I'd like to focus on each of our mandates and then discuss with you some of the initiatives we are involved with in each.
The department in the portfolio seeks to achieve three overarching and interrelated objectives. First is to develop and administer sound marketplace policies and programs. Second is to foster and encourage a knowledge economy. Third is to support small, medium, and large business. Let me speak to each one of those.
In terms of the marketplace, it is important that all modern economies have sound, effective marketplace policies. People need to know what the rules are; people also need to know what the framework policies are. The department contributes in a number of ways to this. I'll give you a few examples. Within Industry Canada lies the Competition Bureau, which is very active in making the marketplace work. It is currently involved, for example, in reviewing the Maple Group's desire to acquire TMX. Recently it got involved in and sought to take remedial action against the Canadian Real Estate Association for anti-competitive rules that it thought the association was imposing on real estate agents. So the Competition Bureau is one framework policy program.
We also work with the Department of Canadian Heritage on a very important piece of legislation dealing with copyright. That's important framework legislation.
We also administer—and my colleague Simon is the lead on this—the Investment Canada Act to ensure that transactions which are subject to the act are of net benefit to the country.
Other offices within Industry Canada include the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, where we issue patents and trademarks; Measurement Canada; and Corporations Canada. So there is a whole series of small agencies whose purpose it is to make sure that marketplace programs and policies work to the benefit of Canadians, both consumers and businesses.
Second is the knowledge economy. In 2007 the government released its science and technology strategy on maximizing its investment in S and T for the benefit of all Canadians. The department is very directly involved in this, but also with partner organizations in the portfolio, which I'll speak about in a few minutes.
I'll give you a few examples of the initiatives that the department has taken to encourage and support the knowledge-based economy.
We managed the Knowledge Infrastructure Program. As part of the Economic Action Plan, within the department we spent $2 billion, which resulted in further spending of $3 billion for post-secondary institutions and the private sector. In total, $5 billion was invested to increase the quality of the infrastructure in colleges, CEGEPs and universities across the country. Some 500 projects have been supported through this program.
We also launched the Canada Excellence Research Chairs Program. With a third party, we designated 19 recipients around the world and invited them to come to Canada. They were granted chairs worth $10 million over seven years. I think that we found a fairly extraordinary class of individuals.
We have other programs, including the Centres of Excellence for Commercialization and Research. All of this is intended to support the knowledge-based economy.
Third is support for business. As I said, the department is involved in supporting small, medium, and large businesses. We work on a wide range of projects and initiatives. Obviously, the department was quite involved during the auto restructuring in working closely with the U.S. government, as well as with GM and Chrysler, to assist in their restructuring, which I think has turned out to be a good initiative.
We also work closely with the aerospace sector. We have a program that supports partnerships, which contributes to Canada punching above its weight in regard to civil aviation market share in international matters. This program has supported a number of initiatives across the country--Magellan in Winnipeg and Pratt & Whitney in Montreal--and I think it's an essential part of our tool kit to support the aerospace industry in order to always achieve higher degrees of productivity and innovation.
We also have programs in the department that support small-business financing, whereby we will insure some loans that are provided by financial institutions.
So that's it in a nutshell, and I say “in a nutshell” because I've appeared before some of you in the past to discuss certain specific programs, and this is a very brief overview of what the department does.
Let me briefly talk about some of the policy and legislative initiatives that we are working on presently.
On the digital economy strategy, including spectrum auctions, the department released last year a discussion paper about auctions pertaining to both the 700 megahertz and the 2,500 megahertz. The minister recently had further consultations. The assumption is that over the course of the next two or three months some fundamental orientation will be identified, so either later this year or early next year, some decisions around the spectrum should be made public.
Building the critical infrastructure is one of the major pillars of the digital economy strategy. Other pillars include enhancing skill sets and ensuring that there is a very solid statutory framework. I can refer in that respect to the spam bill that was passed. I can refer to the copyright bill, which will be, I believe, shortly reintroduced, and to our PIPEDA legislation. Those are important statutory pillars.
There's also another pillar that is related to improving ICT adoption. One of the key aspects that explains the difference in productivity between Canada and the United States is the lack of ICT adoption by small and medium-sized businesses. We are working with the Business Development Bank to enhance awareness among SMEs regarding the usefulness, from productivity and competitiveness perspectives, of higher ICT adoption.
Speaking of the BDC, we are also working on the BDC's legislative review. Every five to ten years, the BDC act must be reviewed, so we're in the process of looking at how well it has done over the last five to ten years and identifying possible enhancements to its legislative mandate to support more effectively Canadian SMEs and Canadian entrepreneurs.
The department is also working under Mr. Bernier's stewardship on a federal tourism strategy to bring together in a more focused manner the various elements that are in play at the federal level to support tourism.
Lastly, in terms of policy initiatives, I would note that the government asked Mr. Tom Jenkins, chairman of OpenText, to launch a panel on research and development last October. We expect him to be submitting his report in October of this year. This panel will focus on the expenditures of the federal government in support of R and D in order to make sure we have the right mix between tax expenditures and program expenditures.
Overall the government spends about $7 billion in this area; $3 billion or $4 billion of that is for tax expenditures, and the rest for a series of programs.
In terms of legislative initiatives, I mentioned copyright and PIPEDA. They are two of our major initiatives in regard to our digital economy strategy. I believe these pieces of legislation will be reintroduced shortly.
Let me say a word on the Industry Canada portfolio. I would draw your attention to pages four and five. If you look at those two together, it will be more productive.
I would now like to speak about Industry Canada's portfolio.
First, with regard to the obligation to be accountable, all these agencies and corporations are headed by executives or presidents whose position is at a level equal to that of the deputy ministers, meaning that they do not work for me; they are part of the Industry Canada portfolio. As deputy ministers, Simon and I have some duty to supervise what they do and how they do it. If things are not going well, that clarifies our interventions a little. Still, these organizations are independent entities. I am sure that these people would be pleased to meet with you and tell you about their activities.
Please allow me to give you an overview of these institutions.
The National Research Council, which has been around for 90 or 100 years, is focusing on two interventions: the IRAP, a very useful program for supporting SMEs and launching new businesses, and institutes across the country that aim to increase the commercialization and the participation of the private sector in certain targeted sectors.
We have two granting councils: the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. They support fundamental research in universities. In the case of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, we are talking about approximately $1.1 billion, and with the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, it's approximately $700 million. A large part of this is recouped by the Indirect Costs Program. The grants they are awarded equal about $300 million. As part of the Science and Technology Strategy, these are obviously important partners, given that they work with the universities and, increasingly, with colleges.
There is also the Canadian Space Agency, in Saint-Hubert, which aims to support space exploration and the space industry.
I spoke earlier about the Business Development Bank of Canada, in Montreal, which supports some 29,000 or 30,000 clients annually through loans. It played a significant role during the economic crisis by increasing the credit available to entrepreneurs to ensure that the money was circulating in the economy.
The portfolio also includes Statistics Canada, which has just completed the census and the National Household Survey. As you know, the census went well, and the participation rate was high at 98.1%, which is very good. I think that Statistics Canada will soon make public the results of the national survey.
There is also the Canadian Tourism Commission, located in Vancouver, and it promotes tourism.
I'll stop now.
View Tony Clement Profile
By staying focused on balancing the budget and reducing the debt, we aim to keep taxes low and promote long-term economic growth.
We want to ensure Canada continues to be a place where people invest their money and grow their businesses. We want to ensure Canada will offer Canadians opportunities to work and contribute to their communities. These are the objectives driving us. And despite the large injection of stimulus funding we made over the past two years, I am pleased to say we are on track to balancing the books by 2014-15, a year ahead of the plan outlined in March.
Our government's commitment to this goal is clear in the responsible spending plans set out in the 2011-12 main estimates and supplementary estimates (A). The main estimates currently total $250.8 billion in expenditures for operating and capital costs, transfer payments, and the public debt charge. This represents a reduction of $10.4 billion in planned spending from the 2010-11 main estimates.
Also in the main estimates, program and operating votes are down by about $720 million, or 1.5%, from the 2010-11 main estimates. This amount is accounted for mainly by the winding down of the infrastructure initiatives we had under the economic action plan. The reductions also include a $3.4-billion decrease in planned statutory spending on interest and other costs.
Also shown in the main estimates is a $1.1-billion decrease resulting from the implementation of the harmonized sales tax.
The 2011-12 main estimates are in line with decisions from budget 2010 and previous budgets. Budget 2010 outlined our three-point plan to balance the budget. The first part of that plan is the winding down of the stimulus. The second part includes a number of measures to ensure the government lives within its means.
These include a freeze on the operating budgets of departments, and many other measures to restrain the growth of spending. But they do allow for some flexibility to implement budget priorities, among other things, and to accommodate cost pressures related to essential services.
Essentially, we have taken the same approach to balancing the books as Canadian families have. They have looked at their expenses and set priorities. They expect their government to do the same, and that's what we have been doing to great effect.
The third part of our government's plan to balance the budget includes continuing the strategic reviews on all of our program spending. This process requires departments to assess whether programs are achieving their intended results, are effectively managed, and are appropriately aligned with the priorities of Canadians and with federal responsibilities.
In 2010, the last year of the first four years of strategic reviews, 13 organizations were involved. They identified savings of more than $500 million annually. Together with measures to restrain the growth of national defence spending, this first cycle of strategic reviews resulted in $11 billion in savings over seven years, and more than $2.8 billion in ongoing savings.
Eliminating the deficit will also require new actions planned in the most recent budget, including the strategic and operating review. This process will involve the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations and programs in order to ensure ongoing value for Canadians. We will put about $80 billion of direct program spending under the microscope. The goal is to find at least $4 billion in ongoing annual savings by 2014-15. Every organization will be asked to develop two scenarios: one representing a 5% reduction, and one representing a 10% reduction in their spending. Unlike strategic review, the spending base will include all operating expenditures, including wages, salaries, and professional service contracts, for example, as well as grants and contributions, capital, and payments to crown corporations. Indeed, about two-thirds of the review base is represented by operating expenses. With this approach, we are taking a page from the private sector, which regularly conducts operational reviews to find areas for cost savings and productivity gains.
This is the first time in 15 years the government has conducted a review of the scope, and we believe that challenging times like these can also be opportunities to look critically at the programs and services we provide, their relevance, and how best to deliver them.
Let me also take a moment to describe the highlights of supplementary estimates (A), both government-wide and TBS-specific. Supplementary estimates (A) are part of the normal parliamentary approval process to ensure that previously planned government initiatives receive the necessary funding to move forward.
Specifically, the government-wide Supplementary Estimates (A) support the request for Parliament's approval of $2 billion in expenditures in 19 organizations. This amount is within the spending level specified in Budget 2010. In the Treasury Board Secretariat Supplementary Estimates (A), we are seeking $1.3 billion. This amount results from the Secretariat's role in funding a cash-out of severance pay for public service employees. This is happening in accordance with the collective agreement for three occupational groups, signed on March 1.
All these measures are part of the government's larger commitment to the prudent management of taxpayer dollars.
Mr. Chair, I'm proud of the government's economic record and its plan to ensure Canada remains at the forefront of economic growth and job creation. These main estimates and supplementary estimates (A) show the government is on track to implement its freeze on operating budgets.
As I mentioned earlier, program and operating votes are down by about $720 million from the year before. Also, if you compare spending in the estimates tabled to date for 2011-12 to total spending put before Parliament for 2010-11, you actually see a $2.7 billion decrease, excluding transfer payments and public debt.
Mr. Chair, we are also committed to improving the accountability and transparency in reporting to Parliament, and have been so for some time. For example, there are changes to the format of the 2011-12 main estimates. Part I now includes the trend of the budgetary main estimates accounts for the last ten years. In part II, for each department and agency we have added a brief description of the mandate or purpose of the department and the department's explanation of the major reasons for a material change in requirements from the previous year.
This change to the format of the main estimates is on top of improvements we have made over the past decade to supplementary estimates documents. These include a listing and description of horizontal initiatives requesting funding through supplementary estimates, and that means initiatives involving two or more organizations; an expanded introduction that includes descriptions of the largest dollar-value items; and summaries of authorities by ministry.
In addition to my responsibilities as President of the Treasury Board, I am also the minister responsible for FedNor, the Government of Canada's economic development organization serving northern Ontario. It's a position I've held proudly since 2006. In this regard, I'm joined today by Industry Canada's assistant deputy minister for regional operations, Mitch Davies, and at the back, FedNor's director general, Aime Dimatteo, should be around here somewhere, I hope.
Since April 2006, FedNor has invested more than $263 million in over 1,240 projects to benefit northern Ontario's economy. Our goal is to ensure that these investments and projects are having a positive impact on the economy of northern Ontario communities.
I was pleased to see that budget 2011 included a further commitment to northern Ontario of $4 million over three years to establish a cyclotron laboratory in Thunder Bay. This investment, through FedNor, will help create medical isotopes for early detection of cancer cells. The Government of Canada is pleased to support the Thunder Bay Regional Research Institute as it continues to develop new leading-edge technologies and products in medical science and research that will benefit the world.
Starting this August, we'll be taking another step to improve accountability and transparency in reporting to Parliament. We will require federal departments and crown corporations to prepare quarterly financial reports and to make them public. This will allow each department to provide a window into its own financial situation on a quarterly basis and give parliamentarians and Canadians enhanced information on government spending. It will facilitate timely oversight by parliamentarians of government expenditures and it will complement other information currently provided by the government, such as departmental performance reports and the annual public accounts of Canada.
I’m joined by the Secretary of the Treasury Board, Michelle d’Auray, and by other officials here, Bill Matthews and Christine Walker, and I previously introduced Mitch. At this point we are certainly here to take your questions.
Thank you, Chair.
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