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Results: 1 - 15 of 91
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Tansi. Boozhoo. Good morning and hello.
First I want to acknowledge that I'm speaking to you from my office here in Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, in the city of Winnipeg, the homeland of the Métis nation and Treaty 1 territory.
This committee meeting comes at a time when our nation is grieving. The remains of the 215 children buried at the Kamloops Indian residential school sent shockwaves through our country. It has reignited a very important conversation and brought it back to the national consciousness.
I want to be very clear, reconciliation and the lives and well-being of indigenous peoples never stray from my mind. This is my focus and motivation as a minister and member of Parliament.
I am a proud citizen of the Métis Nation. I am honoured to live in and represent the constituency of Saint Boniface–Saint Vital. Louis Riel, who was born in Saint-Boniface and was laid to rest there, was never granted the same privilege that I am being granted. Louis Riel was democratically elected as a member of Parliament for the constituency of Provencher, not on one or two occasions but on three occasions, yet he was never allowed to rightfully take his seat in the House.
The opportunities that I have been granted are some that my ancestors would never have believed possible. I work every day with this knowledge; it drives and motivates my work.
As Minister of Northern Affairs, I strive to listen to northerners to ensure that their needs and priorities drive my department's work. A year and a half ago, when I was appointed minister, I stated that decisions for the north would no longer be made in Ottawa boardrooms. My team and I remain committed to that vision. We work for the north and with the north. That's why the Arctic and northern policy framework is so important to our combined work together.
The investments my department is seeking through supplementary estimates (A) are driven by this approach, focusing on the responses to COVID-19, as well as housing and infrastructure needs. The pandemic has highlighted what people have known for far too long, which is that indigenous peoples and northern communities have been underserved. Further, we have recently been reminded of the consequences of colonialism for indigenous peoples and communities.
We know that in Canada's north, food prices can be significantly higher than in the rest of Canada. Additional factors, such as geographic isolation, make northerners particularly at risk for food insecurity. This vulnerability has only been made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. In April 2020, our government provided an additional $25 million to Nutrition North Canada to increase subsidy rates on nutritious food and essential hygiene items. Our government also introduced the harvesters support grant, which was co-developed with Inuit partners to help with costs related to hunting and harvesting, and to create greater access to traditional country foods. Building on this, and to address the ongoing concerns, the estimates in front of you provide $20 million in funding to maintain Nutrition North Canada measures introduced in April 2020.
These supplementary estimates also provide $50 million in 2021-22 for the Governments of Northwest Territories and Nunavut. There is $25 million each to respond to their short-term critical housing needs. I view these as down payments on the housing situation in the north. The need is clear and we are committed to closing the unacceptable gap that exists in the north. These amounts are intended to address immediate and pressing housing needs this year.
We recognize that more investment is required. From budget 2021, northerners will also benefit from the $2.5 billion in new funding through the national housing strategy, delivered by CMHC across Canada, and the $4.3 billion in new funding in distinctions-based indigenous infrastructure, which can include housing.
Mr. Chair, as I stated before, reconciliation is always at the forefront of my mind as minister. I'm working toward a renewed relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples, including through the Inuit-Crown partnership committee, that respects constitutionally guaranteed rights and is based on collaboration and co-operation.
I want to thank you again for this opportunity to meet with you virtually today.
I welcome your questions.
Thank you. Meegwetch.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you for that excellent question.
I can tell you that neither the elected Métis governments nor the direct descendants of Louis Riel want a pardon. Our government respects the indigenous peoples' rights to self-determination and self-government. I know this is a major issue. Important discussions are underway in the communities.
I would say that it is up to the Métis communities to offer us guidance from their perspective.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you for that very important question on housing in the north and in Nunavut.
You're absolutely right. The gap is huge, and the gap was made even larger when, before 2015, 10 years of complete non-funding by the previous government only exacerbated an already bad situation—
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Since being elected in 2015, through our $70-billion national housing strategy, our government has helped over 9,000 northern families on housing issues, including finding homes for thousands of them. We've signed 10-year housing agreements with all three territorial governments—agreements that were non-existent before—who will invest close to $800 million over those 10 years.
We've signed a $400-million housing agreement with Inuit rights holders, who will invest in housing in Inuit Nunangat. In the last budget, 2021, we're—
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Since 2015, we've helped 9,000 northern families on issues concerning housing, including several thousand new units.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Listen, the gap in northern housing is huge due to chronic underfunding by previous governments, and I'll be fair—
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
—that is including some of our previous Liberal governments, but mostly there was zero funding under the previous tenure of the Harper government, but I will admit—
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
I will admit that we need to do a better job of breaking down barriers not only in Nunavut but also in Northwest Territories and Yukon. In NWT, we put together, with the government of NWT, a high-level tiger team with senior deputy ministers from both governments to really take those barriers down.
The funding is there. Why it's not flowing in at as adequate a pace as it should be needs to be addressed, and we're committed to working with all three territorial governments and indigenous governments to do just that.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you, Mr. Chairperson.
Tansi. Boozhoo. Greetings and hello.
I want to begin by acknowledging that I am speaking with you today from my office in Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, Treaty 1 territory, the traditional territory of Anishinaabeg, Cree, Oji-Cree, Dakota and Dene peoples, the homeland of the Métis nation, and a city that many Inuit call home.
I am proud to join you virtually today, alongside Minister Bennett, to speak about the 2020-21 supplementary estimates (C) and the 2021-22 main estimates, and what the Government of Canada is doing to assist first nations, Inuit and Métis in Canada, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The unique needs of indigenous people and northerners present their own challenges in these COVID times. While the pandemic is certainly not over, there is hope down the way.
I thank you for this opportunity to discuss the important work we are doing to confront the COVID-19 situation and to mitigate its impacts in the north, as well as to answer your questions on supplementary estimates (C) and the main estimates.
These estimates reflect our government's commitment to creating greater economic opportunity and supporting a higher quality of life in Canada's north and Arctic. Furthermore, these estimates demonstrate our government's firm intention to continue working to renew our relationship with indigenous peoples, to tackle climate change and its impacts, to promote economic development and economic growth for northern communities, and to create quality jobs for the people of the north and the Arctic.
Growing the economy while protecting the environment and addressing climate change is a priority for our government. Despite the challenges we all faced in 2020, it was still a year of progress and successes.
In November, with the Government of Yukon, we introduced the COVID-19 recovery research program. As I reported to the committee in November, northerners should not have to worry about putting food on their table or ensuring a continued supply of essential items. Our government provided an additional investment of $25 million to nutrition north Canada. We've also introduced the new harvesters support grant, which is increasing northerners' access to country foods by providing funding to support traditional hunting, harvesting and food sharing. We also marked the formation of the task force on post-secondary education in the north.
The supplementary estimates (C) reflects a net increase of $138.6 million for CIRNAC, including $120.9 million in new funding and $17.7 million of net transfers with other government departments. The total budgetary authorities for 2020 will be $6.9 billion.
More specifically, as announced in the 2020 fall economic statement, $64.7 million is allotted to funding for northern supports to territorial governments to support steps taken to respond to the pandemic. This initiative will contribute to ensuring that territorial governments have the capacity and the resources required to enforce preventative measures and to afford medical options to limit the spread of COVID-19, address regional challenges related to the pandemic and take immediate action to protect health and safety.
CIRNAC's 2020-21 main estimates will be approximately $4.7 billion. This reflects a net decrease of $189 million, compared to last year's main estimates, which my colleague Minister Bennett spoke to.
While there was an overall decrease in these main estimates, they also reflect increases in support of key initiatives, such as the northern abandoned mine reclamation program, which is building a better future for Canada's north by addressing federal contaminated sites.
The government's main objective is to provide support to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that communities are supported throughout the pandemic. We will continue to work with our territorial and indigenous partners to ensure that all remote and northern communities are protected and are in a strong position to recover when we can safely.
I want to take a moment of course to acknowledge the hard work of territorial and indigenous partners, public health officials and frontline workers who have done an incredible job of distributing and administering vaccines across the north.
Last week, eligibility opened up for every northerner in the territories over the age of 18, which is only four months after the first shipments arrived in Canada. I think we can all acknowledge the significance of this milestone, but we know there's still much more work to do.
Again, I want to thank you for this opportunity to speak to you. I look forward to your questions.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you so much.
That's an important question, so thanks for asking it. I get a lot of questions and feedback about that program.
First of all, the whole issue of food insecurity is a lot more complex and multi-faceted than one program. Nutrition north, for those who don't know, helps make nutritious foods more affordable and accessible to residents who are isolated in northern communities if they lack year-round road, rail or marine access.
For several years the government has championed the nutrition north program. There is a nutrition north advisory committee, which meets regularly to discuss these issues and discuss how the program could be made into a better program. On its own, I think it's a valuable program that subsidizes nutritious food—
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