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

9:40 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

I think my numbers, which are about a month old, show just shy of 18,000 claims. A little less than half have had their hearing and have had a disposition. So about 7,000 have had full decisions rendered. The claims are generally paid out within about three weeks of the actual hearing by the independent adjudicators.

So we've paid out about $949 million to $950 million to the claimants, plus contributions toward the claimants' legal fees. The average payment for IAP—and there is quite a range—would be running about $120,000 to $125,000 per case.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

Is there any plan for additional deadlines for the IAP?

9:40 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

It's important to be clear that it's not a government program; it is a court-administered settlement agreement and the judges supervise and make all the decisions about this. We are on track for the original agreement plan, and we will be putting out notices in March and April that the deadline will come for applying for CEP. People have been given four years to apply. We'll have a very aggressive advertising plan to try to reach every corner of the country so that people have had a fair chance to apply.

The IAP gate is supposed to close in September 2012, but frankly I think that will be up to the courts to review about a year from now as to whether they're comfortable with that date or not.

9:40 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

In terms of the additions to reserves, could you tell me how many ATRs were completed in 2010?

9:40 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Additions to reserve are exactly what they sound like: it's taking land and adding it to an existing Indian reserve. Most of these south of 60 involve dealing with provincial crown land, so the process involves the province making land available and then we go through a legal process to add it to the reserve. There's a lot of discussion with neighbouring municipalities, third-party interests, and so on. So it's never a very straightforward process, but we do have quite a bit of momentum on that.

My figures for the last year, the fiscal year March to March, are that we've done 21 of them in Saskatchewan; eight in Manitoba, which involved some pretty serious acreage; five in British Columbia; two in Ontario; two in New Brunswick; and one in Quebec. It adds up to quite a number of acres, or hectares if you're metric.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Medicine Hat, AB

It sounds like quite a lot of work that your department has done moving that forward.

Can you tell me how many there are outstanding? What do you look at in terms of progress for that?

9:45 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

There's quite a potential out there. One of the largest reasons to add land to reserves is outstanding obligations under the prairie treaties, which you'll be familiar with, in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and other parts of the country. At the original time of taking treaty the nations were promised so many acres per man, woman, and child. Those haven't all been fulfilled. We have a framework in Saskatchewan and Manitoba to move through those. As I said earlier, we need the full cooperation of the province, because it's largely provincial crown land we're talking about.

The other reason would be specific to the circumstances of a community. They might simply have run out of room for housing. They might want to add land for economic development purposes and create an industrial park or something like that. So there are other reasons that ATRs happen, and we have quite a lot of business right across the country.

9:45 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Bruce Stanton

Thank you.

Thank you very much, Mr. Payne.

Mr. Bagnell, we are starting the five-minute round now. Please go ahead.

March 10th, 2011 / 9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Thank you.

Thank you, Mr. Nadler, for being here. Pass on to your management our thanks for the great job they're doing, and we're looking forward to the answer on the Whitehorse winter games project.

Mr. Wernick, it's great to see the person who, within two months, will be the longest-serving deputy minister at Indian Affairs. Congratulations for surviving.

9:45 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Not ever, Mr. Bagnell, just in recent days. One of my predecessors was there for 26 years, and I have no intention of trying to break his record.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

You've survived this long, which is good.

I'd ask you to be really quick with your answers, because I have a lot of questions.

The committee heard glowing reports on the Aboriginal Healing Foundation--even from the last minister, who thought it was a great program--and recommended it continue. But last weekend one of our projects, Project CAIRS, was doing a fundraiser to stop from closing its doors. Is the department going to continue these great projects that were going on under that program?

9:45 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

The Aboriginal Healing Foundation to the best of my knowledge is alive and well and still has resources, and got additional resources from the churches last year. The government contribution was reduced in last year's budget, as we discussed at this committee before.

I'm not aware of any intention of the government to make additional contributions directly to the foundation. They are trying to do the best they can with the resources they have and do other fundraising and make sure that the churches meet their commitment.

If you have information about a specific project, we would certainly be happy to bring it to the attention of the foundation's management.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

Thank you. It's not acceptable to us, but that's fine.

You've negotiated an agreement with the Northwest Territories on devolution. I'm wondering if you're willing to sit down or have already sat down with the Yukon government to look at renegotiating the resource revenue sharing aspect of their agreement.

9:45 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

The resource revenue sharing issues would be decided by the Department of Finance, the Minister of Finance. They're caught up in territorial financing agreements, all of which I think run their course a year from now, if I'm correct. The whole territorial formula financing--TFF, as they call it--will be on the table. All three territorial premiers are interested in a new deal on resource revenue sharing. That's really a question for the Department of Finance.

We are working with the Government of Yukon on the YESAA, Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act, the act that governs project review, and we're engaged in that part of it.

9:45 a.m.

Liberal

Larry Bagnell Yukon, YT

The department stalled all the negotiations on the B.C. land claims because of the fishery study on the Fraser River. A number of the claims had nothing to do with sockeye and the Fraser River, and they still stalled their land claims. Will you go ahead with those?