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Results: 1 - 12 of 12
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
I'll begin.
I'd like to acknowledge that we are on the unceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe people.
I'm here today to discuss, and respond to your questions on the 2021-22 supplementary estimates, and the 2022-23 main estimates for Northern Affairs.
Joining me today from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada are Deputy Minister Daniel Quan-Watson, Associate DM Paula Isaak and Acting ADM Wayne Walsh.
The CIRNAC supplementary estimates (C) for 2021-22 include $20.4 million in funding for Northern Affairs. These funds are critical to advance the work to create more economic opportunities, and a higher quality of life in Canada's north.
New funding for Northern Affairs this year includes $4.2 million for the continued implementation of Canada's new marine conservation targets. It also includes $5 million this year for the Government of the Northwest Territories. This funding is to support the transformation of Aurora College into a polytechnic university. It also includes a targeted investment to address gaps in post-secondary education in the north and to help implement Canada's Arctic and Northern Policy Framework.
In addition, this budget includes $7.5 million in unused carry-forward funding from the previous fiscal year for the Northern Abandoned Mine Rehabilitation Program. These funds are required to reduce the health and environmental risks and financial liabilities associated with contaminated sites that are a federal responsibility. This includes remediation work at the Faro Mine site in the Yukon.
The main estimates for Northern Affairs total $656 million to continue to make progress on a number of priorities, notably climate change, clean energy, environmental protection and economic development.
Climate change poses a threat to all of Canada, but in Canada's north it is clear that the consequences of climate change are severe. We are therefore requesting $54.8 million for climate change adaptation and clean energy in these estimates and $16.3 million for northern and Arctic environmental sustainability.
Our government is working with partners to protect the environment while providing economic opportunities through our efforts to clean up contaminated sites in the north. For this we have requested $339.5 million in the estimates for northern contaminated sites.
The guiding principles for our work in the north and the Arctic are in the co-developed Arctic and northern policy framework. Last December I met with indigenous, territorial and provincial governments for the second framework leadership meeting to advance implementation of the framework and governance structure. We are seeking $98.3 million for the northern and Arctic governance partnership, $5.9 million for the strategic and science policy program, and $19.5 million for the northern regulatory and legislative framework.
All Canadians, regardless of where they live, deserve access to affordable and nutritious food. Northern Affairs Canada is working closely with other federal departments and indigenous partners to find common solutions to improve food security in the north. A long-term strategy requires a whole-of-government approach that addresses key income and employment factors.
I would also like to acknowledge the work of the committee on this issue, and look forward to continued collaboration.
We are therefore requesting $121.7 million for this program.
Nutrition north Canada has seen a number of improvements, including the addition of several communities to the program and the very successful harvester support grant providing funds directly to indigenous partners for costs associated with traditional hunting and harvesting activities, increasing access to traditional country foods.
Thank you very much, and I'd be very pleased to take your questions.
Qujannamiik, marsi, merci and thank you.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
We do know that climate change is very real. We know that the effects of climate change are more drastic in the north than the south. In our funding we realize that we have to do a better job of bringing green energy to the north, to all the territories, including Nunavut.
Through programs like Northern REACHE, Climate Change Preparedness in the North, and Indigenous Community-Based Climate Monitoring, our government is partnering with indigenous nations to address climate change through work in their communities. I've been to Rankin Inlet and I've seen a very creative program that has elders working with young people to monitor the ice levels as a way to share the knowledge and the information with the local community.
I'm also working very closely with the Kivalliq Corporation, which is working on the Kivalliq fibre optic hydroelectricity line to bring hydro up from Manitoba Hydro in northern Manitoba all the way up to the Kivalliq region so that they can get off diesel. That's something that the Canada Infrastructure Bank is now involved in, as is CanNor, which has supported that in the past. There will be some very exciting announcements into the future.
As you know, we want to follow a policy to be net zero by 2050. That means having some very aggressive initiatives all over Canada, including in the north. We want to, as part of a policy, replace all of the diesel that's being used in the north with alternative, greener, more sustainable forms of energy.
If you want specific dollar figures, I will maybe turn it over to our deputy minister or the associate deputy minister to provide very specific numbers.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
I have found a number on protecting the environment, just to go back. It's $55 million for climate change adaptation and clean energy, which is an increase of $20 million, but we realize that's simply Northern Affairs. There are other government departments, including Environment and Climate Change and NRCan.
We're taking a whole-of-government approach to the whole issue of climate change and green energy, where there are many more hundreds of millions of dollars that will be invested in Canada. To actually pinpoint it for the north, we'd have to get you that information at a later time.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
It's an excellent question, once again.
We know that infrastructure in all parts of Canada is very old. I would imagine that in the north and the Arctic they're equally old. That is something that's a priority, not only for Northern Affairs, CIRNAC and Indigenous Services. We are taking a whole-of-government approach to that. Again, for specific numbers, we would have to get back to you at a later date.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Sure. Thank you for that very important question. There's nothing more important than nutritious food for Canadians—young people, elders and seniors.
First of all, I'm very pleased that there is $121.7 million for nutrition north in the main estimates that are before you today. Through budget 2021, we also expanded the nutrition north program with an additional $163.5 million for funding, which was done in collaboration with indigenous partners to address food insecurity in the north.
The issue of food insecurity is a long-standing issue. It's not going to be solved by one program. It has to involve a whole-of-government approach. It has to involve territorial governments, indigenous governments, the business sector and the non-profit sector to look for creative solutions and innovation.
We're very proud of the harvesters support grant that we co-developed with indigenous nations about a year and a half ago. Over the last year alone over 5,500 harvesters, over 150 hunts and over 120 food-sharing initiatives were supported by the harvesters support grant.
To more directly answer your question on food being out of date, that's not acceptable. I can follow up with you after this meeting and with the public service to get more detail so that we can get you a more precise answer.
I do know that we have a nutrition north advisory committee. We are constantly consulting on how we make the program better. I'll be the first to admit that it's very good, but there's always room for improvement.
We will talk.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Thank you. It's good to be here.
Tansi. Bonjour.
I'm speaking to you from my constituency office in Saint Boniface—Saint Vital in Winnipeg, homeland of the Métis Nation on Treaty 1 territory.
Thank you for inviting me to appear today to discuss indigenous economic development.
I'm joined by Paula Isaak, president of the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency; Serge Beaudoin, assistant deputy minister of Northern Affairs; and Mohan Denetto, executive advisor for Prairies Economic Development Canada.
As Minister of Northern Affairs, Minister responsible for Prairies Economic Development Canada and Minister responsible for the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, I had the opportunity to listen to indigenous partners tell me about the barriers that they face in terms of economic development.
Access to skills development and educational opportunities is often limited by infrastructure, connectivity, housing, and so on. Our government continues to make progress in eliminating many of these barriers. I'd like to provide a few examples.
Access to high-quality education for young people is critical not only to individual success, but to local economies and Canada as a whole. This is an issue that's personal to me from my days as a Winnipeg city councillor where I led the development of the aboriginal youth strategy, which was the first of its kind in Canada, and as a social worker and youth worker with the Mamaweyatitan Centre in downtown Winnipeg.
We're making new investments in education in the north. We've provided funding to construct a new science building at the Yukon University and to transform Aurora College into a polytech university as a well as investing $13 million for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning. I have also announced a task force on post-secondary education, which will provide recommendations on ways to close the gaps in education and skills development that exists between the north and the south.
CanNor has been particularly important across the territories for indigenous businesses. Over the last three years, CanNor has provided over 60% of its funding to indigenous recipients. In Nunavut, CanNor has invested in small-scale fisheries development projects, working in partnership with the hunters and trappers associations. The project supports exploratory inshore fisheries research to develop community-owned commercial fisheries in three hamlets.
In the Northwest Territories, we have invested in the Cheetah Resources Nechalacho rare earth demonstration project, which supports sustainable resource development in collaboration with the Det’on Cho corporation, which is the economic arm of the Yellowknives Dene First Nation.
In Yukon, we're supporting a local indigenous-owned company, Grandma Treesaw's Bannock and catering services, in a one-year project to export dry bannock mix to the United States.
Our government is working with partners to manage and remediate northern contaminated sites that will promote employment, training and business opportunities for indigenous nations and northerners.
Indigenous businesses in the prairies face unique challenges. We are delivering investment programs to foster economic growth and prosperity. The indigenous business development services, IBDS, provides early-stage support for new and existing indigenous entrepreneurs and business organizations.
The Arctic Gateway Group in Manitoba is helping maintain operations of the Hudson Bay Railway located in Churchill, Manitoba. Approximately 70% of their employees are indigenous.
Recognizing that there is much to be done, we know that economic diversification and innovation are key elements to resilience and reconciliation. To achieve this, indigenous partners have to be at the table. This is why we have launched the Arctic and northern policy framework. Together, we're developing long-term opportunities to protect the north's rich natural environment, build healthier communities, respect the rights and interests of indigenous peoples and support a diversified, sustainable and dynamic economy for the north and the Arctic.
Once again, thank you for the opportunity to appear before the committee.
I'll be happy to answer your questions.
Qujannamiik. Merci beaucoup. Thank you.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
The government has a 10-year, $2.2 billion program to clean up contaminated and abandoned mines throughout the north. Significant investments have been made and will continue to be made. The programs are intended to ensure that the lands and the waters are remediated and are healthy for future generations. When the mines are cleaned up, it's incumbent on us to ensure that the jobs, the procurement and the benefits of the cleanup go to indigenous nations in and around the mines and to other locals who live in the north.
Over the last couple of years, you and I, and Minister Bennett who has done a tremendous job on this, have formed a very good partnership with the Yellowknives Dene for the Giant Mine remediation. It was really one of the saddest parts of Canadian history, where the land was mined and the arsenic was simply thrown all over the land and the water and ingested by indigenous peoples. It's a very sad part of Canadian history, which was, frankly, ignored for too long.
We're no longer ignoring it. We're at the tables with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations: me; you as a local MP; and most importantly, the Yellowknives Dene. Speaking as one person, one MP, I won't be satisfied until the Government of Canada issues an apology to the Yellowknives Dene.
We're working in partnership. There's great local leadership with you and the Yellowknives Dene. We're going to continue working with the Minister of Indigenous Services, the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Prime Minister on this very important program.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
Every minister is committed to the procurement process. I'm a member of the indigenous caucus with Mr. McLeod and Vance Badawey, and we've been pushing the administration for a long time. I know that we have significant improvements to make, but our government is committed. Every minister has reconciliation, and in reconciliation, I believe, is economic—
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
We all know it's a universal principle that the key to a better life is a better education. Unfortunately, for indigenous nations and peoples, because of the effects of colonization and the government policy of beating the Indian out of the person, there have been horrendous effects that have affected education attainment.
As Minister of Northern Affairs, I know our government is committed. First, we've invested tens of millions of dollars through budgets in the past few years. There's been $13 million over five years for the Dechinta Centre for Research and Learning and $26 million over five years for a new science building at the Yukon University.
As important as that, about a year ago, we launched an independent task force on improving post-secondary education in the north, which was part of budget 2019. We have representations from all territories in the north, including the Arctic, northern Manitoba and, I believe, northern Ontario. Their goal and their mandate is to do consultations, talk to the public service, talk to the educators and really give our government some recommendations on what we need to do to improve post-secondary education outcomes in the north. However, it's hard to separate post-secondary from elementary education, because if you don't have a good base, then you're not going to have a good post-secondary system, so it's all connected. In order to have a good base, you need to make sure society is delivering good social determinants of health.
One thing that's apparent is the use of technology. If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is that we need to connect the country. We have a very ambitious universal broadband fund. We want to get 100% of Canada connected by 2030, I believe. That connectivity is so important for education, but also for health, for long-distance health care, which could be very valuable, and for commerce and business. That's something that we're depending on now.
You asked about the aboriginal youth strategy in Winnipeg. That was quite a few years ago. The main idea was that the city of Winnipeg's workforce was aging. We had an aging workforce on this side, and on the other side we had young indigenous people, the fastest-growing population in the city of Winnipeg. We needed to connect the two through mentorships, training programs and co-operative working arrangements, including education systems. I'm a bit out of the loop now as to where that is, but at the time, it was something that landed positively. It's something that our country needs to be doing.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
I'm sorry, was that a question for me? I had trouble hearing the translator because it was very low.
View Dan Vandal Profile
Lib. (MB)
That's a great question. I can tell you that it's in our government mandate to be net zero by 2050. That means we have to get northern communities off diesel. I'm actively engaged in promoting green energy in the north, and we're directly working through CanNorth, through the Infrastructure Bank and through other departments for the Kivalliq hydro-fibre project that would bring hydro and fibre up to the Kivalliq region from Manitoba.
We've invested tens of millions of dollars to work with the Kivalliq corporation, which is Inuit-owned and -led. There's much work to do, but we're committed to the partnership.
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