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 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

We approved $20 million over five years to ensure that Bill C-3 applicants could be registered efficiently. That started on January 31 of this year.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

How many applicants do you anticipate, Minister?

4 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

We anticipate that 50,000 applications will be received, with about a 10% ineligibility rate, resulting in about 45,000 new entrants.

As of the middle of this month, we had received 22,900 applications. Of those, 8,800 have been processed, 6,700 have been finalized, 5,300 have been registered, 530 have been denied, 950 files were closed due to non-response from applicants, and we've requested additional information on just over 2,000 applications.

4 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Thank you, Minister.

I understand that the department had an opportunity to gain some valuable experience in the processing of these applications, and may have made some modifications. Can you talk a little bit about those?

4 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

I gather there have been a lot of efficiencies created since the process started. There was a staff of 55 dedicated solely to that function of registering Bill C-3 applicants. The department also augmented its call centre capability and capacity to ensure efficient client services.

We are anticipating the completion of 23,000 files by the end of March, which will bring us within our service standard to register applicants within six months.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

I appreciate that. So it's about increased efficiencies and additional resources.

I'm going to talk a little bit about the Specific Claims Tribunal in the last minute-plus here. Can you describe, Minister, what progress has been made on resolving specific claims since the coming into force of the Specific Claims Tribunal Act on October 16 of 2008?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

This has been a real success story of this government, because the specific claims process was so bogged down. I have chiefs in my riding who have been chiefs for more than 20 years and who've basically had specific claims for the length of time they've been in office.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

I understand there was a significant backlog, Minister.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

I think the backlog was around—

November 30th, 2011 / 4:05 p.m.

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

It was 900 at least.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Yes, around a thousand. So we've cleared up a backlog of over 500. We've also settled 40 through negotiations, totalling $925 million. We now have an inventory that's reduced by more than half. We have 102 claims under assessment and 300 claims in negotiation, for a total of 402. We have concluded 1,029 claims altogether. I remembered around a thousand. So that's where we are. I think it's a real success story.

One of the things we didn't know as we dealt with the backlog was whether we were going to get another onslaught. It hasn't happened. There are a few that have dribbled in. But basically we see this backlog as one that we can deal with, and then the regular intake will be very simple and straightforward to deal with.

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Kenora, ON

Do I have any more time?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

No, your time is up.

Ms. Bennett, you have seven minutes.

4:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Thanks very much.

Minister, when were you first notified of the state of emergency in Attawapiskat?

4:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

I would say it was last week, about Thursday.