House of Commons Hansard #101 of the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was indian.

Topics

Leak of Finance Committee Report
Points of Order
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5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am sure the House appreciates the comments made by the member.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
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5:50 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

There being no motions at report stage, the House will now proceed, without debate, to the putting of the question on the motion to concur in the bill at report stage.

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
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5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

moved that the bill, as amended, be concurred in.

(Motion agreed to)

Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act
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5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Stockwell Day Okanagan—Coquihalla, BC

moved that the bill be read a third time and passed.

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5:50 p.m.

Conservative

Dave Van Kesteren Chatham-Kent—Essex, ON

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place today to speak to Bill C-28, a bill that passed second reading as the fighting Internet and wireless spam act, or FISA. With this legislation, we would be providing Canadian consumers and businesses with a regulatory and legal regime that would help drive spammers out of Canada but permit legitimate online commerce.

Hon. members will recall that Bill C-28 recently received support from all sides of the House. In fact, several members pointed out the importance of passing this bill quickly. Indeed, we have been working for some time now to produce and implement legislation to reduce spam and related online threats that discourage the use of electronic commerce and undermine privacy.

The origins of this bill, after all, go back to the work of the task force on spam. The task force recommended that strong action be taken against unsolicited commercial emails, as it recognized that spam was becoming more than just a nuisance. It has become the means by which viruses, trojans and worms are spread through the Internet and it undermines confidence in the digital economy.

The task force made its recommendations, and Industry Canada followed up with its own consultations. In the last Parliament, Bill C-27, the electronic commerce protection act, or ECPA, was introduced in April 2009. The House unanimously passed Bill C-27 at third reading last November and it was sent to the other place on December 1, 2009.

The fundamentals of the former Bill C-27 and this Bill C-28 remain the same. With the new parliamentary session, Industry Canada took the opportunity to fine-tune some of the features of the bill before reintroducing it as Bill C-28. For example, given the more focused consent regime in the bill, it was necessary to make it clear that Bill C-28 takes precedence over the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act with respect to consent.

In review by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, all parties stood behind the principles of this bill and there was good discussion about how some of these principles would be applied. For example, realtors and other businesses would need to change some business practices with respect to third party referrals as a result of requirements for consent in Bill C-28.

Committee members also expressed concern that the government allocate sufficient resources to administer the new rules. As hon. members will recall, the CRTC, the Competition Bureau and the Privacy Commissioner will all have their respective roles in combatting the effects of spam and related online threats. These three enforcement agencies would be able to collaborate with each other and their international counterparts as a result of this bill.

The government has committed that all three agencies will receive additional funding and personnel to fulfill this role. In addition, Industry Canada will establish a spam reporting centre and support the Office of Consumer Affairs at Industry Canada in providing resources for education and awareness.

When it came time to go through the clause-by-clause study, every clause but one was passed by the committee. As per the report from the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology, clauses 2 through 92 were carried. Clause 1 was defeated. It would seem that there was unanimous consent in the committee and I believe in the House on the importance of this bill and the effect it would have on countering Internet and wireless spam and related online threats.

However, where the committee could not find its way to agree was on the short title of the bill. As outlined in clause 1, the short title of Bill C-28 is the “Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act”. The name was intended to reflect the concern that cellphone and other wireless spam has joined Internet spam as a source of malicious infections that undermine consumer confidence in the digital economy.

The government does not believe the short title of the bill should impede the progress of a much needed law. Canadians have waited a long time for legislation that would give spammers nowhere to hide in Canada. In the interest of having this bill move quickly through the House and on to the other place, we will support changing the short title of the bill to the name by which it was known under Bill C-27 in the last session.

The short title of the bill has been restored to what it was in the last session of this Parliament when Bill C-27 had succeeded in making its way through the House and to the other place but died on the order paper when Parliament was prorogued last December.

The change to the short title in clause 1 of the bill was the only change requested by the Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology. Clauses 2 to 92 remain the same. So we now call the bill the electronic commerce protection act, ECPA for short.

The fact that clauses 2 through 92 passed through the clause-by-clause study without amendment indicates the wide support this bill has from all parties in this House. In fact members from both sides of the House are eager to see this bill pass into law so that we can help eliminate spam and related threats from the Internet and from cell phones.

This bill is about reducing spam and related online threats that discourage the use of electronic commerce and undermine privacy. The Internet has become a powerful medium for communication in the economy, but it has also become more vulnerable with the rapid growth and increasing sophistication of spam and other online threats.

Unsolicited commercial email can carry associated threats like malware, spyware, phishing and various viruses, worms and Trojans. In fact the hon. member for Davenport pointed out during second reading that the Kroll Global Fraud Report maintains that cyber theft has overtaken physical theft as a criminal act.

The Government of Canada is committed to the passage of this bill. Over the past years, it has worked both with the industry committee and in the House to create effective anti-spam legislation as a critical element of Canada's digital economy. The goal has been to make Canada a leader in anti-spam legislation by providing a more secure online environment for both consumers and businesses.

Under the bill before us, the CRTC would be responsible for enforcing the no-spam provisions, the violations involving the alterations of transmission data in an electronic message, and prohibitions against installing software or causing it to be installed without consent.

The Competition Bureau would extend its powers under the Competition Act to prevent misleading and deceptive online practices. The bill contains amendments to the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act that would enable the office of the Privacy Commissioner to take measures against the unauthorized collection of personal information through hacking or illicit trading of lists of electronic addresses.

The bill before us would create an effective regulatory regime that would permit legitimate online commerce while protecting consumers and businesses through rigorous safeguards. It would provide powers to the CRTC and the Competition Bureau to administer administrative monetary penalties for those who violate the law. It also proposes a private right of action, which would allow individuals and businesses to take civil action against those who violate the law.

The end result would be to promote consumer confidence in online commerce, by protecting both consumers and Canadian businesses from unwanted spam and related online threats.

We saw one recent example of the power of the right of private action when a California court rendered a judgment against a Montreal-based Internet marketer. The marketer had posted spam messages on Facebook. This judgment was recently upheld by the Quebec Superior Court, which ordered the marketer to pay Facebook more than $1 billion in fines. It is unlikely the marketer will ever be able to pay the fine, but the judgment certainly sent a powerful signal to spammers.

During the debate at second reading, the hon. member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor reminded us that fighting spam is not the responsibility only of the designated enforcement agencies but is also the responsibility of businesses, citizens and all members of society writ large. I believe the Facebook judgment demonstrates how businesses are ready to take action against spammers.

The bill before us is part of a wider government strategy to build consumer confidence and put Canada at the forefront of the digital economy.

Last May, the hon. Minister of Industry launched a nationwide consultation on the digital economy. Industry Canada has been evaluating the input and advice, and the minister has indicated he will make further announcements in the coming weeks and months on steps we will take to put Canada at the forefront of digital economy.

We can reduce spam and related online threats through a concerted, co-operative approach involving the public sector and the private sector. We will continue to work closely with our domestic and international partners to address threats to online commerce.

I urge hon. members to join me in supporting Bill C-28.

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6 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak again to Bill C-28.

My colleagues may think I have become an expert on spam. I want to reassure them and the people who are watching us that I am not a spam expert and I have certainly never sent any spam. I have received spam, though, as I said in my previous speeches on this issue. People who work in offices today, especially decision makers, receive so much spam that there was a need for legislation on this issue, which is why the Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-28, the Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act.

I am not necessarily going to repeat all the criticisms the Bloc Québécois has offered in speeches in the House. But I do want to remind hon. members—and the Conservative member who spoke before me said this himself—that Bill C-27, which preceded Bill C-28 and concerned the same issue, died because the government prorogued Parliament, which is why Canada is so far behind other countries today when it comes to anti-spam legislation.

Better late than never, as I always say, but the damage that has been done is still there. People who have suffered losses, especially financial ones, because of all this spam will never get their money back. It is time to act, and we need to act as quickly as possible. We will see how quickly we can deal with this in committee. We will also see whether the government is willing to listen to people who might have improvements to make to this bill.

The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-28. We will listen to the relevant testimony in committee. This speech may give me the chance to draw some conclusions, which I had not had time to do. In our speeches, we often get sidetracked and end up not having enough time to say everything we planned to say. As I touched on earlier, over the years, unsolicited commercial electronic messages have turned into a major social and economic problem that undermines the individual productivity of Quebeckers. People all across Canada have the same problem.

Spam is a threat to the growth of legitimate electronic commerce. Clearly, new technologies can be practical. If legal businesses want to communicate by email legitimately, we must not stop them from doing so. However, spam is something else entirely. Fraud is not the only danger. Some companies harass people, which is a huge waste of time for people in offices trying to get rid of these unwanted emails.

Spam accounts for more than 80% of global electronic traffic, which results in considerable expenses for businesses and consumers. In light of this situation, legislation to protect electronic commerce is reasonable and appropriate.

On another note, some clauses of the bill are still problematic. We would like further information about the national do not call list. The current list is doing the job it is supposed to do, and it is used by millions of people. Compliance with the national do not call list required many companies to reorganize their resources and make a large financial outlay. Could we not use the existing list?

I do not know what mechanism might make that possible, but that can be covered in committee. A number of parallels may be drawn between the system proposed for emails and the existing system for telephone calls. For example, I have had my name taken off call lists, but that does not means that marketing companies cannot get in touch with me. There are certain categories of businesses that can do so. Political parties are one example. Since I subscribe to newspapers, they can call me. I am not completely sheltered from receiving calls. However, people who incessantly phone during supper to sell all sorts of things are now breaking the law.

As I said, could we not use this list to cut the cost of creating a whole new list? We will have to wait and see.

It might be worth looking into. Speaking of the do not call list, consumers should understand that registering will reduce but not eliminate all telemarketing calls. There are certain kinds of telemarketing calls that are exempt from the rules. The exemptions include telemarketing calls made by or on behalf of political parties, riding associations and candidates; Canadian registered charities; and newspapers of general circulation for the purpose of soliciting subscriptions.

Telemarketing calls from organizations with whom people have an existing business relationship are also exempt. A person is considered to have an existing business relationship with a telemarketer if they purchased, leased, or rented a product or service in the last 18 months from the telemarketer, have a written contract with the telemarketer for a service that is still in effect or expired within the last eighteen 18 months, or asked a telemarketer about a product or service within the last six months. In those cases, people can expect to receive calls at home.

Telemarketers may also call those who have provided express consent to be called. Express consent includes permission on a written form or an electronic or online form, or verbal permission. The do not call list rules do not apply to telemarketing calls made to businesses.

If you do not want to be called by a telemarketer making an exempt call, you can ask to be put on the telemarketer’s internal do not call list. Every telemarketer is required to maintain such a list and respect wishes not to be called. Organizations conducting market research, surveys, or public opinion polls are not required to keep their own specific do not call lists.

I am explaining all this to say that it is possible to have our telephone numbers taken off telemarketing lists. This list is working well. The very same principle should apply to email. Text messages can also come under this category. I think that Bill C-28 covers text messages as well as email.

I would remind the House that Bill C-28 was inspired by the final report of the task force on spam, which was created in 2004 and did an enormous amount of work. I have already had the opportunity to address some of the 22 recommendations made by the task force. Of course I will not list all of them here in the House, but I have already mentioned a couple of them. I would like to revisit some other, very interesting recommendations. Most of the 22 measures recommended to the government have been accepted and included in Bill C-28.

There are some very interesting recommendations regarding legislation, regulation and enforcement. The federal government was told it should establish in law a clear set of rules to prohibit spam and other emerging threats to the safety and security of the Internet—for example botnets, spyware and keylogging—by enacting new legislation—which will be done when Bill C-28 is passed—and amending existing legislation as required. It is worth noting that this bill also amends a number of other pieces of legislation, including the Competition Act, which I will talk about a little later, if I have the time. Of course this new legislation will affect the Competition Bureau.

It is important for people to know that they will have some recourse when it comes to sending and receiving unwanted emails. This is also covered in the final report of the task force, which was made up of experts, government officials and marketing experts, as well as leading experts in the field of these new technologies.

According to the task force on spam, the following penalties and remedies should be applicable: new offences created should be civil- and strict-liability offences, with criminal liability possible for more egregious or repeated offences. There should be meaningful statutory penalties for all offences listed in the recommendation. They also said that there should be meaningful statutory damages available to persons, both individuals and corporations, and that there should be meaningful statutory damages available to persons who bring civil action. The businesses whose products or services are being promoted by way of spam should also be held responsible for the spamming. Responsibility should also rest with other third-party beneficiaries of spam.

This leads us to the issue of private recourse. People should know that they will have rights once this bill is passed. Bill C-28 provides for the creation of a private right of action that would enable businesses and individuals to initiate civil proceedings against any person who contravenes articles 6 to 9 of the new act; this is found in clause 47 and onward. If the court believes that a person has contravened any of these provisions, it may order them to pay an amount representing either the loss or damage suffered, or the expenses incurred. If the applicant is unable to establish these amounts, the court may order the applicant to be paid a maximum amount of $20 for each contravention, not exceeding $1,000,000. This is found in clause 51.

That may seem a bit high, but in one of my earlier speeches on Bill C-28, I mentioned an individual from Montreal who was found guilty by a California court of hacking into the Facebook social networking site. This individual, who managed to send a slew of spam messages through Facebook, was fined $1 billion. Yves Boisvert wrote about this case in an article in La Presse, which I have quoted here before. The article said that this individual will never be able to pay $1 billion, but it served as a good scare for all those who use websites, social networks and email addresses to defraud or embezzle people and get away with it. These people flood us with unwanted emails or text messages, which are becoming increasingly popular, as I mentioned earlier. We all get them on our telephones. The individual in question in this case will perhaps not pay the fine, but he will certainly not have any desire to start up again.

Bill C-28 also proposes an extension of the co-operation and information exchange powers for anything that has to do with the Competition Act, the Telecommunications Act or the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. Earlier I said that I had some examples about the Competition Bureau. For example, any organization to which part 1 of that act applies may on its own initiative disclose to the CRTC, the Commissioner of Competition or the Privacy Commissioner any information in its possession that it believes relates to a violation of the act. The CRTC, the Commissioner of Competition or the Privacy Commissioner must also consult with each other and share any information necessary to carry out their activities and responsibilities in accordance with their respective acts.

And if agreements are signed to this effect, this information could be given to the government of a foreign state, an international state or government organization or one of their agencies, if the information is useful in ensuring compliance with laws that address conduct substantially similar to conduct prohibited in our laws. It is important that countries continue to consult more often in order to end this scourge of spam or at least reduce it; it will be difficult to eliminate it entirely.

On one hand, agreements must specify that the information can only be used to assist an investigation or proceeding in respect of a contravention of the laws of a foreign state that address conduct that is substantially similar to those I just spoke about. On the other hand, they must ensure that the information will remain confidential and cannot be otherwise shared without the express consent of the person responsible for the communication. These two conditions are fundamental to preserving the privacy rights of those concerned.

I said earlier that it was important to remember why countries enacted such laws, which are becoming increasingly strict. When a new technology comes on the scene, it is not always possible to know exactly how people are going to adjust to it and what powers the courts will have to deal with all the fraud and abuse that can be perpetrated with this new technology. But some countries have reacted much more quickly than we have, and we need to use their experience to help the victims of these unwanted emails. Spam is a real nuisance. It damages computers and networks, contributes to deceptive marketing scams and invades people's privacy. That list alone shows just how serious a problem spam can be.

More generally, spam poses a direct threat to the viability of the Internet as an effective means of communication. It undermines consumer confidence in legitimate electronic commerce and hampers electronic transactions. In the end, everyone loses.

I do not know whether it is because of my age, but when I buy things on the Internet, I am always reluctant to give my credit card number. It always gives me pause. If hon. members are like me, they wonder whether everything is secure or whether someone somewhere is looking at what they are doing on their computers. Maybe I watch too many movies—even though I do not have that much spare time—but I know there are hackers out there who can play around in people's home or office computers. Not only can they create computer problems, but they can also access the personal information of people who are using sites legitimately to purchase items.

In any event, like everyone else I got up to speed and managed to do my banking transactions, my transfers and all that on the Internet. So far, so good. However, before buying anything on the Internet with a credit card number, I check as much as possible to see whether the site is secured. So far, things have worked out well, but I know that everyone knows someone who has been a victim after making this type of transaction. We have to restore public confidence to ensure that those who have a legitimate business can make a living and that consumers can benefit from this properly.

New legislation to regulate unsolicited email has been needed for far too long now. The Bloc Québécois is pleased to see that Bill C-28 addresses most of the recommendations from the final report of the task force on spam.

Since I am being asked to wrap up, the time has come to talk about how we are behind on legislation that has been passed around the world. I am talking about the United States, Australia and Great Britain, for example. We must nonetheless proceed carefully. I invite people to read a very interesting article in La Presse about the Competition Bureau and how it has started to attack social networks. This September 25 article by Isabelle Massé addressed advertising on social networks and the importance of taking action.

I do not have enough time to quote it as much as I had hoped to, but it is worth reading this article that shows that the Competition Bureau has been able to take action. With Bill C-28, other organizations will be able to take even more consistent and concerted action.

As I was saying, it is time to take action.

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6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the member for Richmond—Arthabaska.

I am pleased that the Canadian chambers of commerce have decided to support the bill. I know when it was presented to the House in past machinations of what it is now as BillC-27, a great number of concerns were raised. Amendments have been made. One problem that had been identified with past legislation was the sending out of spam prior to any kind of approval or consent from the recipients. We wanted to prohibit the use of false and misleading statements that disguised the origins or the intent of the email and the insulation of unauthorized programs.

I am sure that every member of the House has received calls from constituents with regard to some of these vexatious annoyances. When one tries do some work on the computer there are these types of things and they are annoying.

Does the member think that Bill C-28 addresses with sufficient rigour the one that is of most concern, the one to prohibit the unauthorized collection of personal information? I know there are various laws to protect personal information. Specifically with regard to the Internet and the use of online services, does the member believe that with the checks and balances this is adequately addressed within the legislation?

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6:25 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the hon. member for his comments and question.

Clearly, that is why it is important to refer this kind of bill to committee, since I have never seen a perfect bill. I have been a member in this House for six years, and seeing a bill in which everything has been thought of, everything has be resolved from the beginning and which can be referred directly, without even examining it, now that is rare. I cannot say it has never happened, because sometimes we have had the time to read a bill, only to say that not much really needed to be changed in the end. Generally speaking, however, they need to be examined further in committee to ensure, as the member put it so well, that these kinds of problems are resolved.

Who has not been affected by the kind of messages he mentioned? For instance, a message supposedly sent from a bank or credit union asks for certain personal information and personal identification numbers to resolve an issue with an account, in order to ensure that everything is all right and that there are no problems. Unfortunately, some people are duped by this. Or else there are other kinds of messages from people who claim to be related to very wealthy individuals—for instance, presidents of certain African countries or other countries around the world—who need money. In return, those people will send us even more money. We have all seen these kinds of messages.

Whether Bill C-28 will specifically and completely prevent all fraud of this kind remains to be determined, but we need to conduct an extremely thorough examination of the bill in committee.

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6:25 p.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Mr. Speaker, the member talked about amendments to the Competition Act. It amends the definition of “record” to give it a much broader meaning. There seem to be several additions, including amendments to the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the CRTC.

I wonder if the member could briefly comment on what are the new roles and responsibilities being brought on to the CRTC regarding Bill C-28. Perhaps he could also, if he has time, briefly comment on the international aspect of it.

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6:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Deputy Speaker Andrew Scheer

The hon. member for Richmond—Arthabaska has 30 seconds to answer the question.

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6:25 p.m.

Bloc

André Bellavance Richmond—Arthabaska, QC

Mr. Speaker, if the member permits, it would be easier for me to speak of international co-operation rather than all the details about the CRTC. The bill affects a number of other acts. The CRTC will have a mandate and a role under this new law.

With respect to international co-operation, the task force gave very clear instructions to the government when it recommended the following, “The federal government should continue to pursue bilateral agreements on anti-spam policies and strategies with foreign governments.”

It also recommended that “the federal government, in consultation, collaboration and partnership with other stakeholders,...should actively promote” actions to stop this kind of unwanted spam.

A motion to adjourn the House under Standing Order 38 deemed to have been moved.

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a question that I raised in the House in September with regard to first nations education. There were two essential parts to my question: one was about the 2% funding cap and the other one was about the continuing two tier education system that exists in first nations communities.

I want to refer the House to the 2007 report of the standing committee called “No Higher Priority: Aboriginal Post-Secondary Education in Canada”. I want to talk about a couple of things in that report.

The introduction says:

It is rare to find unanimity on any topic in the realm of public policy. When it comes to Aboriginal education, however, the now overwhelming consensus view of experts and officials within and outside government...defies the rule. All agree, quite simply, that improving educational outcomes is absolutely critical to the future of individual Aboriginal learners, their families and children, their communities, and the broader Canadian society as a whole.

On that note, in an article by Paul Wells on November 12, 2010, he reminded us that by investing in education, according to the Centre for the Study of Living Standards, the total tax revenue would increase by $3.5 billion and government spending would decrease by $14.2 billion.

The standing committee report also highlighted the fact that there have been many reports and many studies on education, including post-secondary education. On page 8 of the report it says, “There were 6,000 reports on First Nations education in this country”. We can see that education has literally been studied ad nauseam. The challenges and problems are well-known.

However, on the government's website is a request for a proposal on public engagement, planning, development, delivery and expertise of services. This RFP is for $500,000 to $1 million. It is asking for proponents to engage in public engagement planning, development, delivery and expertise services in support of INAC education programs with an emphasis on aboriginal youth. This is to increase awareness of education opportunities and programs, obtain perspectives on aboriginal education, and gain a better understanding of the barriers to both access to education and to achieving successful educational outcomes.

Since we already have one of many reports from the standing committee that makes a series of recommendations to the government about how to improve post-secondary education for first nations in this country and we now see up to $1 million being spent on a further study, my question is three-fold. Were first nations included in the development of the terms of reference for this request for proposal for up to $1 million? If they were included, how were they included? If they were not included in the development of this proposal, why were they not included?

6:30 p.m.

Saint Boniface
Manitoba

Conservative

Shelly Glover Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise to respond to the question of the hon. member from Nanaimo—Cowichan.

First nation education is a priority for our government. Indian Affairs Canada at this moment is spending $1.7 billion on first nation education annually, including investments of $289 million for post-secondary education.

The department's approved annual growth rate for a bundle of basic services remains at 2%. However, and this is the important part, the overall annual growth rate is larger due to significant investments made in priority areas since 2006.

Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Health Canada and a number of other federal departments and agencies now spend more than $11 billion each year to fund programs directed to aboriginal people. This reflects the determination to make real progress by spending money more efficiently and working on structural reforms in key priority areas to get the most possible out of each of these funds.

The Government of Canada is working to improve education for first nations in partnership with both the provinces and first nation communities. We recognize that dollars alone will not address the challenges confronting first nations learners. Improving educational outcomes is a shared responsibility in which governments, communities, educators, families and students all have a role to play.

To this end, we have signed tripartite memoranda of understanding with provincial governments and first nations in seven provinces. These agreements help foster collaborative work between first nations, provinces and Indian and Northern Affairs Canada on initiatives to improve first nation student outcomes.

Of course, we want to make sure that every aboriginal young person who chooses to can pursue post-secondary studies. We want to see more aboriginal youth build the skills they need to find jobs and contribute to Canada's social and economic success, whether it is via university, college or an accredited trade.

Approximately 22,000 first nation and Inuit students across Canada receive funding from our post-secondary education program to help with the cost of tuition, books, transportation and living allowances. In total, we are spending $289 million on post-secondary education every year.

Since 2008, we have heard from first nations, Inuit and other stakeholders on how to improve the post-secondary education program's effectiveness and its accountability in coordination with other programs. We are currently looking at ways to improve the program.

We have made it clear, with our investments and our commitment to productive partnerships, we are committed to ensuring that aboriginal people have access to the same educational opportunities as other Canadians and we are going to continue that work.