Evidence of meeting #39 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 estimates.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

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

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

There is no reduction in money or staff. The money transfers to us and the staff transfer to us. There are 13 staff who are involved.

Of course, the friendship centres themselves have been advocating this measure for quite some time. They welcome the measure very much. I've talked with the national president. I've talked to members at individual friendship centres and also at provincial organizations. They all welcome the move.

We've brought them into the family where they feel most comfortable, and we look forward to actually being able to work very well together.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

In the departmental deficit reduction measures, it explains that there will be 480 positions lost across the department, with significant reductions, and yet the supplementary estimates (A) are seeking an increase of $156.4 million.

Could you explain if there would be any effect on the additions to reserve staffing and/or funding? Certainly this committee has been apprised at almost every hearing about the backlogs there and about how much is required.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

My understanding is that on the additions to reserve initiative there would be no impact on communities or on staffing, as per your question.

I could ask my officials to give you a little more detail on that if you would prefer.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett St. Paul's, ON

Yes.

June 6th, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

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

I don't have much to add, Mr. Chairman. There shouldn't be any impact on the service. We're trying to actually take out some of the duplication and redundancy between our front-line regional offices and headquarters, and streamline and speed up the process. We have a working group with the Assembly of First Nations on how to do this faster. Some of it depends on cooperation with the provinces, because we're often talking about crown land, but we should not expect any impact on service levels.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

Mr. Clarke, go ahead for seven minutes.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank Mr. Wernick, the minister, and Ms. Swords. Welcome back.

I have just a couple of questions for you, Minister. I understand the supplementary estimates (A) also include an internal reallocation of resources for the Canadian high Arctic research station. I'm hoping you can provide some clarity as to what this money is going towards.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

Thank you very much for the question.

There is approximately $400,000 in internal reallocation to the high Arctic research station. As part of the design phase for the station, these funds will be allocated to projects that test green building and alternative energy technologies for application at the station and across the north.

The station is to be a year-round, multidisciplinary facility on the cutting edge of environmental and resource development issues. The station will promote partnerships and collaboration among the private, aboriginal, academic, and public sectors, both domestically and internationally.

The international research community is very much looking forward to it. We just wrapped up the International Polar Year conference in Montreal in April, I believe it was. We had 58 countries represented there and 2,600 participants. This is a major Canadian initiative and a world-class facility.

The station will work with aboriginal people of Canada's Arctic and recognize the importance of traditional knowledge. It will include cutting-edge laboratories, offices, and meeting facilities to support collaboration, accommodations, and advanced mechanical and telecommunications systems to ensure safe and efficient operations.

This will all be delivered in partnership with northerners and will strengthen and develop our approaches in the Arctic.

There are a bunch of projects I could talk about, in collaboration with Yukon College, Nunavut Arctic College, the Nunavut Planning Commission, the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, which is where the station will be, and with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, ITK. That is what this allocation of money is for.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Can you describe the Inuit transfers to government departments' internal reallocations totalling $1 million included in these supplementary estimates?

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

This is a transfer between departments involving the transfer of program responsibility and authority, as well as associated funds from one department's appropriation to another department that becomes responsible for delivering the program.

The transfers and internal reallocations included in these supplementary estimates are a $630,000 transfer from Health Canada to fund the Sechelt Indian Band health programs under the Sechelt Indian Band Self-Government Act. This is a bunch of core program funding provided by Health Canada.

The core budget is $325,000. There's an aboriginal diabetes initiative, a head start on-reserve initiative, a drinking water safety initiative. In addition, there's a community care initiative. There's one on communicable disease control, sexually transmitted infections, and there's money for the Sechelt health centre, operating and maintenance.

There's also a $21,000 transfer from Health Canada for the self-governing Yukon first nations programs and a service transfer agreement on health. In addition, there's a $497,000 transfer to Human Resources and Skills Development to support the Kativik regional government, to streamline delivery of youth programming, to support youth programming and services delivered by HRSDC, including programs under the first nations and Inuit youth employment strategy, normally administered by my department. This will result in streamlined services and reporting.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Chris Warkentin

There's one minute left, if you have a supplementary question. Otherwise, we'll move on to the next questioner.

Mr. Bevington, we'll turn to you for five minutes.

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Seeing that we have a new procedure in committee now, and seeing that I'm sure your decision to proceed in this fashion will be upheld by your majority, I'll try to find something to talk about here.

I'm very glad the minister is here, but I find this procedure is very limited, compared to other occasions over the past seven years when we've had ministers in front of the committees on supplementary estimates.

I'm curious about page 67 under contributions. You have $420,000 for “Contributions promoting the safe use, development, conservation and protection of the North's natural resources”. Is that with reference to the high Arctic research station as well, or is that something separate?

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

What page are you on there?

5:15 p.m.

NDP

Dennis Bevington Western Arctic, NT

Page 67.

5:15 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Vancouver Island North, BC

That's a transfer from vote 5 to vote 10 for the high Arctic research station. You're correct in that.