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Results: 1 - 15 of 142
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Kwe kwe. Ulaakut. Tansi. Hello. Bonjour.
I want to acknowledge that we are meeting on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
Today, I will give an overview of investments my government is making to ensure that Canada is honoring its lawful obligations to Indigenous Peoples and working to renew Canada’s relationship with treaty partners and all Indigenous communities.
We also continue to work with other government departments to implement investments and policies that address the root causes of missing and murdered Indigenous women, girls and 2SLGBTQQIA+ people.
We will soon begin the engagement process with First Nations partners on redesigning the Additions-to-Reserve policy to ensure it’s effective and inclusive. We are also working with First Nations to modernize the First Nations Fiscal Management Act, and are working closely with First Nations fiscal institutions and First Nations to ensure they have sufficient resources to further their visions for self-determination.
Crown-Indigenous Relations supplementary estimates (B) include initiatives totalling $6.3 billion, which will bring the total budgetary funding for the department to approximately $13.7 billion.
Roughly half of the estimates, $2.9 billion, is funding for out-of-court settlements. These funds are used to advance reconciliation by paving the way for more respectful and constructive relationships with indigenous peoples.
These estimates also include $673 million in new funding for the continued management of the indigenous childhood claims litigation, further supporting the compensation of survivors of physical and sexual abuse under the day school settlement agreement, as well as related administration costs for the day schools and sixties scoop settlement agreements. As of November 2 of this year, over 118,000 class action members have received compensation for the harms they suffered attending a day school, and 20,798 class action members have been deemed eligible for compensation for the harms they suffered related to the sixties scoop.
Additionally, the top-up of $678 million in new funding in this fiscal year for the specific claims settlement fund ensures that funds are available for the timely payment of settlement agreements reached through the negotiations with first nations, or any compensation awards that are made by the Specific Claims Tribunal.
In parallel to our ongoing efforts to work with First Nations to resolve their claims expeditiously, we are working with the Assembly of First Nations and other Indigenous partners on the joint development of reforms to improve the specific claims process.
In addition to reform efforts, we are striving to address the lack of housing for Indigenous communities, which has been a long-standing crisis. Our partners have informed us of their urgent need for safe and sustainable housing options for their communities.
New funding of $458 million was provided through budget 2022 to improve and expand indigenous housing and infrastructure for self-governing and modern treaty first nations, Inuit and Métis. This funding extends and enhances the distinctions-based housing strategy work that's already under way, such as the Métis nation and Inuit Nunangat housing strategies. This investment helps to address the critical housing needs of indigenous partners and supports better health and socio-economic outcomes overall.
Mr. Chair, the funding included in the Supplementary Estimates (B) will further support the department as we work to deliver on our mandate and priorities.
I appreciate the opportunity to discuss these estimates with the committee. I'm happy to now proceed to questions.
Meegwetch. Qujannamiik. Marsi. Thank you. Merci.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
First and foremost, I think we can acknowledge that it is entirely within their discretion to come out with that type of resolution. Clearly we've heard from partners. I have heard from partners about concerns with respect to Bill C-21 as recently as today and yesterday, particularly in side conversations I had at the AFN. That's work we will do with indigenous partners. The Prime Minister and Minister Mendicino have also signalled that, and they look forward to that engagement.
We know that long rifles in particular are used to sustain hunting practices and for food initiatives and sustainability. That's work we'll be doing.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
What I say around the cabinet table remains private, as you know, MP Schmale. I do voice concerns freely and openly, as my duty to indigenous peoples demands.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'll pass the substance of the question over to my deputy minister.
This is an independent public service. I will, however, defend to the bone the work my department has done, as well as the work Indigenous Services Canada has done, to keep indigenous people safe throughout COVID.
I'll let the substance of the question be answered by my deputy minister.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
But I'm here, so you're asking me the question.
Look, I had the honour of serving that department for two years during COVID, deploying extraordinary measures to keep people safe during a particularly difficult time in our history that we're still feeling the effects of.
What we've seen through that is that there are massive socio-economic gaps that need to be closed, so that increase is, in my mind, entirely justified. It's keeping people safe and alive. In the cases of flooding and fires, we know that indigenous communities are disproportionately exposed, partly because Canada placed them in swamps and areas in flood zones and has exposed them to it.
We can talk about climate change, which is increasing that vulnerability, but there's a role that Canada played, and we see that in some of the settlements that I have.... We've seen that with the flooding of Peguis, for example, just earlier this year.
We're not doing enough, and I think Minister Hajdu has acknowledged that. We will have to do even more if we don't start moving into mitigation projects, and clearly they are underfunding. Otherwise, we'll spend the money on the back end, as we've seen through the fire season and through the flood season.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
I'm not going to pretend to disagree with, perhaps, where you were going. I can't presume what the question was, but clearly we need to invest more in mitigation. It is clear as day, and it's only going to get worse if we can't tackle climate change in a mature way.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes. Often, infrastructure projects, as well-meaning as they are, just kind of drop on people, and the support and the capacity aren't there. What we do is as important as how we do it.
We know that with respect to missing and murdered indigenous women and girls the lack of housing is driving people into a precarious position of being vulnerable, and we know that it will continue to do so if we don't continue to tackle it through successive budgetary cycles.
That includes on-reserve housing that is adapted for women and children who are fleeing violence. That includes more housing generally, and it includes shelters and homes off reserve. We've often tended to silo our action in the quote-unquote on-reserve reality. It hasn't been sufficient, and it certainly hasn't represented what our ultimate responsibility is: to keep people safe in this country. Obviously what we've seen over the last few weeks is further evidence that as governments we continue to fail indigenous women and girls.
I was able to see this summer some really great investments by some of the modern treaty holders who are specifically targeting housing for women and girls who are fleeing violence in an on-reserve scenario. It's great to see it, because it's not just homes that they're building, which is important in and of itself, but homes adapted to people who need that safety and security and wraparound support. That violence is a legacy of our history in Canada, and it's ongoing.
The final report into murdered and missing indigenous women and girls outlined some substantive steps we need to keep following as Canadians, as the federal government, that don't touch necessarily the single moment where a traumatic tragedy occurs and all the steps leading up to the point where someone was put in that vulnerable position. We wish that it could have been solved in the snap of a finger, but we know that it can't.
We need to fix the ongoing tragedy of children in care and the overincarceration of indigenous women. It all ties into what the report has said, which is that we need to approach this in a systemic fashion, or else we will just continue patching it tragedy by tragedy.
I thank you for your presence last night, MP Atwin. I know that this is deep and profound for you, and I know you didn't have to be there, but I appreciate your remarks as well.
Thank you.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Call to justice 2.3 specifically called on the government to fund infrastructure projects for safe spaces for women and girls and 2SLGBTQI+ persons. Over the last year or so, we have been able to deploy about $100 million into that infrastructure. That covers over 65 projects. The envelope and the subscription to it were oversubscribed by a factor of nine. For the purposes of this response, whether they were eligible projects or ineligible projects, depending on the criteria, is relatively immaterial, but it shows the need to continue to invest in safe spaces.
What does that look like? Well, in some cases, it's a longhouse in Gwa'sala-'Nakwaxda'xw, which has some of the most impressive house posts that I've ever seen. I'm an east coaster, so maybe that isn't as impressive to MP Weiler, who has probably seen a lot more than I have. What it will do is honour a commitment we made 50 years ago to the community when it was displaced, and it was never honoured.
The final report underscored the vulnerability of people who are not able to reconnect with their culture, their ways and their language. This marvellous project, which will be about $6 million or $7 million, will allow communities to build their governance and have a safe space for those who are vulnerable in the community and ultimately keep them safe.
Sadly, I can't guarantee that if those projects had been in place years ago, they would have kept these people safe, but I know that they will keep people safe. I'm not so arrogant as to presume that the four women—we were horrified by the discoveries in what is a trash site—would have been affected by this. That's not the nature of my answer, but we do know that those investments need to occur as well in urban settings to keep people safe. That needs to continue, and that's work we'll do across all levels of government.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Thank you.
The percentages that you cited of the population living in urban areas or off reserve don't surprise me. They may be higher in certain parts of the country. Those numbers, in Quebec, don't surprise me.
Federal and provincial areas of jurisdiction are obviously a sensitive matter. Sometimes when we discuss Quebec, jurisdictional issues are fiercely debated on the backs of Indigenous peoples. However, I'm not claiming the federal government wouldn't have failed to meet its obligations absent this sensitive issue with Quebec because we see it all across the country.
As you very well know, the Canadian government's normal investments are made on the reserves, and it's making increasing numbers of investments. I'm referring, in particular, to targeted housing investments for Indigenous peoples worth many hundreds of millions of dollars. But I agree that's not enough.
Investments are being made in Val-d'Or and Montreal, for example. The organizations don't always have enough funding, and Quebec will also have to invest. I know it's doing that, but a very frank and open discussion of jurisdictional issues will be required, one that's still being conducted on the backs of Indigenous peoples both on and off reserve.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
Yes, there is some openness. I met with the same group as you today. I know those individuals very well. Among other things, they mentioned the extraordinary work they did during the COVID‑19 pandemic with the funding of Indigenous services to ensure that people stayed alive and healthy with vaccine and food distributions for seniors living in urban settings.
They did an outstanding job. At the same time, they also revealed something that we should have known: those needs are desperate.
A transition to a post-COVID‑19 era entails funding issues. I know that Minister Hajdu recently made an announcement on the subject in Vancouver. My parliamentary secretary, Mr. Battiste, announced the infrastructure investment at the friendship centre in Halifax. These are pivotal places for Indigenous people who choose to live in an urban setting.
There's always a discussion about funding to determine how much it takes. That requires the participation of the provinces, but the federal government has a duty not to be absent.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
That's a very appropriate question.
The objective is 2030, which will be here very soon, especially in the context of infrastructure that's being built under inflationary pressures.
I would note incidentally that we've made investments for the Cree nation in Nunavik. For them, we were able to provide a $200 million investment directly for housing in their community. These are record amounts and investments. However, I'm unaware of the percentages and exactly where it comes from. That has always been the issue between the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the Department of Northern Affairs and Indigenous Services Canada, as well as all those individuals who advocate for safe and affordable housing. There has always been this unfortunate tendency to throw figures around without knowing exactly where the money comes from.
We've recently made considerable progress with our partners, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, or ITK, the Assembly of First Nations, for AFN, and directly with the communities, in determining what the infrastructure deficit is, particularly with regard to housing. We've had breakthroughs, and we've formed an idea of the amounts involved. And they are enormous.
I will leave it to the Minister of Indigenous Services to discuss that at greater length, but the government as a whole, regardless of political party, must be prepared to make successive investments, year after year, to bridge this enormous gulf between now and 2030. I make no secret of the fact that the challenge is enormous.
View Marc Miller Profile
Lib. (QC)
On the devolution, there's progress and there are talks going on, hopefully in a productive way. I'm optimistic. Those are conversations we're having with the premier, NTI and Gwichʼin and Dene. I can't speak publicly about where that will be.
I don't know whether or not the question was more related to housing. In terms of housing, you know that the sums we've invested through the last budget—over $800 million over seven years—will not close that gap in Nunavut or any other of the regions.
I know that you had the opportunity to speak to Minister Vandal, and we need to keep investing. ITK has had a plan to move forward and close that gap.
The Government of Nunavut, as you well know, has recently asked us to move to their plan, the plan that they presented to the Prime Minister and me in supporting the government in its role as the territorial government to invest. It will take both the rights holders and the Government of Nunavut to work together, along with the federal government, to support those needs and all the communities that are crying out. They have been very responsible in putting together a plan. It's actually admirable, and they'll have to work through the finance to make sure it gets out.
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