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 first.

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

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

How many applicants are you anticipating?

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Since January 31, we have received about another 4,000, so we're just under 8,000 applications in the door. The projections under the Clatworthy study and others were that we would get about 70,000 applications, of which about 45,000 would be successful. It's too early to know if we're on track or not.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

That's fair, yes.

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

But we actually have registered our first, if you want to call them that, C-3 Indians. About 220 people have received registration.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

And the registration process, as I understand, has been amended to take into account the uniqueness of the cases, to ensure that we have an efficient service model. Is that true?

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

That's right. Unlike all the other generic things, such as births and deaths and adoptions and marriages, this is a specific set of tests that are clear on the website. You start with who your grandmother was. It should be relatively straightforward to sort out whether applications are in the ballpark or not. We are developing a specialized team that really knows this subject area well, and we're sure that we'll get the processing times up as people adapt and learn how to handle the files. We think that will be an efficient approach.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

The Treasury Board had approved a specific number over a five-year period. Are you satisfied that those resources are appropriate for the scope of work?

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Yes, it's about $20 million, give or take. What we're really trying to do is have an efficient process that deals with people coming into the registry for all kinds of reasons. We're going to handle the cases related to the Qalipu Nation in Newfoundland, we're going to handle the Bill C-3 surge, the normal life events I referred to, and we're trying as much as possible to compress the process of registering and getting a card into a single process, so that if you come in you'll get the card quickly, and if you apply for the card for other reasons, it helps us clean up the data in the registry. So we look at it as one project with two or three components.

March 10th, 2011 / 10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Because we are televised today, I might take this opportunity to say that I understand there is a special application form for Bill C-3 now available on the INAC website. This is available through the regional offices, Service Canada centres, or call centres. Do you have any information you'd like to put out there right now?

10:20 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

We're trying to bring together the card issuance with the registry process. Bill C-3 is an opportunity to try that out with a specific target population to perfect our business process. If we can do it well for the Bill C-3 intake, we'll be able to do it for everybody over the next few years.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

I hope it's easy enough for somebody like me to go online. I'm not that technologically literate, but I hope it's accessible for folks.

I think Ms. Crowder had a question she wanted to get to.

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bruce Stanton

Yes. I have Mr. Lemay, then we'll come back to see if there's anything else, and then we'll come back to Ms. Crowder.

Monsieur Lemay.

10:20 a.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Wernick, since your staff is extremely competent, I invite you to get hold of the Saturday, March 5 edition of La Presse. I know you can't engage in politics, but I'm inviting you to read the article by Michel Girard on the Harper government's sense of priorities. It concerns a number of things about Indian affairs that I find very interesting.

I don't need an answer today. You're going to cut $289 million. With all due respect to the parliamentary secretary, he will no longer be able to talk about Canada's Economic Action Plan as of next week. The government created expectations with Canada's Economic Action Plan, particularly among the aboriginal communities, which learned late—and I mean very late—about the possibility that they could request new schools, housing, water mains and sewers.

I don't need the answer today; you can send it to me in writing. I'd like to know, for the Quebec region, how many schools will be built, altered and transformed using funds provided under the 2011-12 Estimates. How many water mains and sewers will be modified and transformed? How many houses will be built and in what communities? I need that information unless you can give it too me right now.

I have a question for you on Bill C-3. I've been told, and I'd like you to confirm for me whether that is the case, to watch out because Bill C-3 should have a specific effect. New people will become status Indians, but those status Indians will be living outside the communities, taking advantage of post-secondary education and education, and also health care. Can you confirm that for me? If so, have you informed your colleague the deputy minister of health? I get the impression he'll be paying the bill. In your case, have you set aside any budgets for, among other things, the post-secondary education of a lot of aboriginal students, who will now become status Indians or become status Indians again?

If you can't answer those questions, you can send me answers in writing.

10:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

In response to your first question, we can provide the lists of specific projects. For the fiscal year starting on April 1, there will be a list of schools, treatment plants and so on. We can provide you with very specific lists from our budget for next year.

As for housing, there may be a little more flexibility with regard to possibilities for the building season, but we'll do our best to provide you with that kind of list. We had a long list of projects that were ready to start under the Economic Action Plan. There have to be projects, including all the plans, characteristics and sites, which are approved by the community. That adds a little time because these are very important projects. They're going to discuss and decide on the details for each project, and that adds a little time. However, there are still projects that are in an advanced state across the country.

I believe the question you asked me about Bill C-3 is the same as the one raised by Mr. Rickford. We'll see how soon people register as Indians. It's true that, from the moment they're registered, they're eligible for Health Canada's programs and for our post-secondary student support program. We've sent our analysis to our colleagues. They're ready to receive it. These programs will not draw any distinction between a "Bill C-3 Indian" and other Indians.

10:25 a.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Is the site bilingual? A lot of aboriginal people live off-reserve or far into the reserves. Obviously, they won't have Internet access. Are there any other ways?