Evidence of meeting #17 for Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was first.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Michael Wernick  Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

I'm just suspending the meeting. I fully hope that we will have some opportunity to question further.

If members hurry back after the vote, we should have some time for questions and some answers, and then we'll want to vote on the supplementary estimates before 5:30.

Thanks, colleagues.

We'll suspend now.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Members, we will call this meeting back to order. We are still considering the estimates.

The officials are here with us for the next number of minutes.

Colleagues, we will want to complete our questioning by 5:20 so that we can vote on the estimates.

We will now turn to Monsieur Genest-Jourdain, for seven minutes.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Have you initiated any new federal laws with your cabinet to ensure environmental assessment and regulation on first nations' lands, including in the north?

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

The department of Environment is in charge of environmental assessments on reserves. It works with the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency on projects on reserves. However, there is no bill per se.

5:05 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

Are there directions or measures to apply in order to help populations that have problems with, for example, oil spills or things like that, in isolated communities, say North of 53?

Are there directives on that?

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

There is a legal framework for oil development on reserves. It is the Indian Oil and Gas Act. During the last Parliament, several amendments have been passed, and the act has been updated. We are now implementing the new regulatory framework. This is done with the full cooperation of the first nations who own these resources. The Indian Resource Council is the custodian of this process.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

So the communities must be directly engaged in the review process?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

That's something else. Consultations about pipelines going through aboriginal lands and reserves are led by regulatory agencies, such as the National Energy Board or the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency. They operate in a set fashion, and the process is financed by a third party.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

This is a question I would have liked to ask the minister, but do you have plans to clean up the school property in Attawapiskat?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

I don't have any specifics about that community, but I'll forward the answer to your clerk.

We manage contaminated site all over the country, in the North and in the South. I know your committee looks into this. The program has just been renewed for five years. We are now priorizing the sites and rehabilitating them according to a five-year plan.

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain Manicouagan, QC

I'll now leave the floor to my colleague.

November 30th, 2011 / 5:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Thanks, Chair.

I'm just going back to some of the items in the main estimates. One of them is “Northern Land, Resources and Environmental Management”. The budget was reduced from $293 million in 2010-11 to $73 million this year. Could you tell me what programs have been sunsetted or eliminated under that?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

I'll have to check with my colleagues. I'm guessing that the main estimates reflect the fact that there was sunsetting. Main estimates are usually prepared before the beginning of the fiscal year and do not reflect decisions taken in the budget. I know that this frustrating for committees like this. Whatever was renewed in the budget shows up in supplementary estimates (A), supplementary estimates (B), or supplementary estimates (C).

5:10 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Do you have anything that's been added to Northern Land, Resources and Environmental Management in supplementary estimates (B)?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

In this particular package, no. But there will still be supplementary estimates (C) this year. I can certainly find out if there is something. My understanding is that there will be three rounds of supplementary estimates this year.