Evidence of meeting #53 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was program.

A recording is available from Parliament.

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Michael Wernick  Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
  • Michael Nadler  Director General, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

9:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

We were given direction that we shouldn't be making offers related to fish while the Cohen inquiry is under way, so that has had an impact on treaty tables.

Several tables are active. We are at the table. There is a ratification vote this week at Yale,I think, and as the minister said, we'd like to close on Sliammon. There are places where I think we can make progress this year.

The option is always open to the first nations if they want to sign an agreement on all the other aspects of the treaty and leave the door open to add a fisheries chapter later, but it's a decision for the first nation.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Thank you.

It's totally unacceptable that the irrelevant fish are holding up agreements.

You spent about $2 million on the food mail, and the final report hasn't been released yet. Is it going to be released soon?

9:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Which report? I'm sorry.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

The food mail, Nutrition North. There was an interim report. Is the final report the consultants were doing going to be released soon? You've already made decisions on the program.

9:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

I'm not aware there's anything outstanding. I'll certainly undertake to release everything we have.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Is the advisory committee appointed, and has it met?

9:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

It has been appointed. The list of members is on the website.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Has it met?

9:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

There's a conference call. They haven't physically met. They will be meeting, I think, in the next month.

9:50 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

And for fiscal year 2011-12, my understanding is that it's about $53 million for the subsidies, $7 million for administration, and for Health Canada for their programs.

9:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Yes, plus the cost of the measures the ministers announced yesterday, which would be approximately.... We're not absolutely sure, because we always need to know how many kilos, but that could be another $8 million, $9 million, $10 million next year.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bruce Stanton

Thank you, Mr. Bagnell.

Let's go to Mr. Dreeshen for five minutes.

March 10th, 2011 / 9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the department officials for being here today.

As you know, the committee recently tabled a comprehensive report on economic development in Canada's north. We had the opportunity to travel there, and saw first-hand the barriers and the opportunities northerners were faced with. We spent a lot of time on this study.

When you have a committee report that's entitled “Northerners' Perspectives for Prosperity”, you can imagine that many aspects of our study and recommendations seem to tie in with the department's activities that are already being undertaken in the Arctic.

My question is with regard to research. Can you explain what the specific areas are where the government is investing in research in the Arctic?

9:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

We are aware, as we have the committee's report, and of course we'll respond to it in due course as a government response to the committee.

In the area of science there are two main pillars. One would be the International Polar Year activity, which was a serious injection of resources around IPY, and the moving forward on improving facilities. Under Canada's economic action plan about 20 facilities across the north got money for renovations, upgrades, and so on. The list of those is on the website. All those projects were completed on time as part of that. The third pillar would be the high Arctic research station in Cambridge Bay that the minister alluded to, which we look forward to in the next few years.

The science priorities are very much around environmental monitoring and management, what is going on up there as the climate changes: ecosystems are changing, wildlife is changing. A lot of it's related to the science that will allow regulators and governments to make decisions about economic development projects: where is it safe to drill, what are the consequences of mining, and so on?

The other big priority is human science issues, health issues in the north, which Health Canada is particularly interested in.

9:50 a.m.

Conservative

Earl Dreeshen Red Deer, AB

Thank you.

My second question--perhaps it even ties into some of that--has to do with education. Your department announced last December that a panel of experts would be appointed to report to the minister on education issues that were facing first nations. I wonder if you can update our committee on what the department has done since announcing this panel.