An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session, which ended in October 2007.

Sponsor

Jim Prentice  Conservative

Status

Not active, as of Feb. 21, 2007
(This bill did not become law.)

Summary

This is from the published bill. The Library of Parliament often publishes better independent summaries.

This enactment repeals section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act and provides for a statutory review, within five years after the enactment receives royal assent, of the effects of the repeal by any parliamentary committee that may be designated or established for that purpose. It also contains a transitional provision with respect to aboriginal authorities.

Elsewhere

All sorts of information on this bill is available at LEGISinfo, provided by the Library of Parliament. You can also read the full text of the bill.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

June 12th, 2007 / 2:50 p.m.
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Calgary Centre-North Alberta

Conservative

Jim Prentice ConservativeMinister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, perhaps the hon. member could devote some of this new-found enthusiasm and fervour for human rights to the subject of first nations, particularly first nations women in Canada.

Bill C-44 has been before a committee of the House, including before the hon. member, for 83 days at this point, I am told. It is nine words long, including complicated words such as “is” and “the”. To this point, not a single amendment has been proposed by the hon. member or anyone else.

Perhaps she could dedicate the same enthusiasm to protecting first nation women in Canada.

June 12th, 2007 / 1:15 p.m.
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Candice Metallic Legal Counsel, Assembly of First Nations

I think the position of the Assembly of First Nations has always been that in an ideal world, consultation takes place first. I had the benefit of listening in on your question to the representatives from the Native Women's Association about this point. I agree with your proposed approach to consultations, and the law certainly points to that very process as well, with consultation at the beginning. But the Crown has an ongoing role to consult, and I think that's very important. They have an ongoing duty to consult throughout the various processes and stages of legislative and policy development.

In the circumstances in which we find ourselves with respect to Bill C-44, we gave it a lot of thought when we were looking at the position the Assembly of First Nations would take. We structured our amendments to extend the transition period to 36 months. And we tried to build in a consultation element. That's the reason we extended it to 36 months. It was to have a review period between immediately and within 18 months so those consultations can take place and so there will be this operational review and assessment to ensure that first nations have the necessary capacity to bring their buildings, their policies, and their laws up to the standard that would withstand the scrutiny of the Canadian Human Rights Act. But it was also to look at ways in which first nations governments can sustain the protection of human rights in general.

So there's a two-stage process here that we have to consider, and the way we have structured the amendments takes into account all of that.

June 12th, 2007 / 1:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

National Chief, there is no way that Bill C-44 will be passed as presently drafted. We are going to propose amendments. With your agreement, we will use yours. Would that meet with your satisfaction?

June 12th, 2007 / 1:10 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

My colleague was very concise. I am going to be even more so. I have your proposed amendments in my hands. I have just read them in French and English. If they were included in Bill C-44 and it was amended accordingly, would it satisfy you? That is what I want to know.

June 12th, 2007 / 1:05 p.m.
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National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

Chief Phil Fontaine

Very quickly, Mr. Chairman, if the proposed amendments fairly represent the consensus view of the witnesses who appeared before the committee, and you share their concerns that Bill C-44, as drafted, is flawed and would not give fair protection to our people, because our governments wouldn't be in a position to deliver, due to lack of capacity, then that will be okay. But if it's obvious that we need more time to give you ample opportunity to reflect on the validity, legitimacy, and appropriateness of our proposed amendments to make this bill as good as it ought to be, then that's what we would ask the committee to consider.

It's important that we note some of the technical considerations regarding this bill that make it extremely difficult for us to accept as is.

Richard.

June 12th, 2007 / 1 p.m.
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National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

Chief Phil Fontaine

I'll give you the general overview and then call on my able support team to speak to the technical details of your question.

It's clear that most recognize that our communities are in a very difficult situation. In an ideal situation, these communities ought to be in a position to protect the interests of all their citizens, whether we're talking about housing, water, health, education—you name the program or the service—that these programs and services be delivered in the most appropriate and effective way possible.

Given the situation we're in, the crisis we face with housing, the fact that there are too many first nations communities operating under a boil water advisory, and the fact that we're still struggling with attaining success rates in education equivalent to the mainstream, we need to ensure that the capacity within our first nations communities is such that all of our first nations governments will be in a position to deliver effective, fair, and just government services to all of their citizens.

That should be an overriding concern on the part of this committee, and in fact the House, when they consider the effects and impacts of Bill C-44 on our communities. It's pretty clear that if it were to pass as is, it would cast our leadership in a completely unfair position and we would be judged on standards that are completely unfair. Canadians believe in fairness; Canadians are fair-minded people. If they knew the dangers inherent in this bill as it is cast, they wouldn't support it.

June 12th, 2007 / 12:50 p.m.
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Chief Phil Fontaine National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

Yes, Mr. Chairman.

Thank you, and my thanks and appreciation to committee members for giving us another opportunity to present on a matter that we consider of vital importance to all of us. There should be absolutely no question or doubt that first nations leaders are concerned or committed to protection of human rights for all of our citizens. We are all very committed. We are all very interested. We all want to see the most appropriate protections be afforded all of our citizens: women, men, young people, and elders. We will do whatever we can as a national organization to ensure that these protections are in place for all of our citizens, on and off reserve.

I think there was some question or doubt about whether we were in fact committed. I want to underline that it's very important for us, and it's very important for you to know that we are committed. We've pushed very hard to ensure that all of the right and appropriate steps are taken so that Bill C-44 reflects all of the interests of all first nations citizens, and that whatever decision is ultimately taken on Bill C-44 it will not result in further jeopardizing the rights and interests of all of our people.

We've already made it very clear that we're very concerned about impoverished first nations communities. We're very concerned that too many of our communities can't access safe drinking water; that too many of our communities lack good schools; that there is a tremendous backlog in housing; that we can't access quality health care; that suicides are still far too high; and that there are too many children in care—27,000 now, mostly in western Canada. All of those matters are directly related to the human rights of our people.

Water, for example, is a human right. That right has been violated, not because chiefs and councils are corrupt or not sensitive or caring about all of their peoples. We didn't contaminate the water to begin with, so I don't know why people continue to blame leadership for those conditions. We didn't create the housing crisis that our communities face. We didn't insist that our people be unemployed to the levels they are. The list goes on, and it's completely unfair to keep pointing the finger at first nations chiefs and councils for being the cause of all of what challenges our communities.

So dispel the notion that we are somehow not concerned about human rights or committed to the human rights for all of our people; we are. But we need you to help us ensure that these rights are protected to the same degree that the human rights of all Canadians are protected. That shouldn't be too much to ask. In our view, it's a very straightforward and simple proposition.

That is the preamble to my speaking. I had a more detailed presentation, but I know you're pressed for time. I apologize that we arrived here late, and I know that some of you have to leave. I don't know how you want to proceed.

If you'll permit me the time, I want to make three points. These points are very important for the discussion you're having here.

I'll quickly summarize the key amendments that we advanced in our submission. I'm also tabling a list of amendments that we feel best address what we heard as a consensus of concerns raised about Bill C-44 from the witnesses who appeared before this committee in the last little while.

The first issue that underlies this whole discussion is the duty to consult. Inherent in this is the duty to accommodate and mitigate adverse impacts on aboriginal and treaty rights or undue hardships on first nations. We note this is completely absent in this bill.

Second, there is the need to amend Bill C-44 to include safeguards for the unique collective inherent rights and interests of first nations.

Finally, the last point relates to the need for effective and appropriate transition and implementation measures.

I should note that we've been following the presentations of the various witnesses who have appeared before this committee. It's pretty clear, from our perspective, that there's agreement on the need to address the human rights of first nations, as well as the need to repeal section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act. There's no hesitation on our part to advocate for that. However, it's also become very clear that Bill C-44, both in process and substance, may not have been the best way to do this.

I'll leave it there.

June 12th, 2007 / 12:35 p.m.
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Liberal

Todd Russell Liberal Labrador, NL

Okay. And the current minister is well aware of your proposal on consultation on the repeal of Bill C-44?

June 12th, 2007 / 12:15 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

I have read the Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

If an amendment to the bill says that Bill C-44, which repeals section 67, will come into effect after—, it is vital that there be an interpretive clause which must be defined in conjunction with the first nations. I do not have the exact words. This is why I was rereading the clause, and I am going to read it to you: “In relation to a complaint made under the Canadian Human Rights Act against an Aboriginal authority, the Act is to be interpreted and applied in a manner that balances individual rights and interests with collective rights and interests.“

This is what the Human Rights Commission suggests to us as an interpretive clause. Is this what you disagree with, the clause I have just read to you, that is?

It protects rights and interests of both types.

June 12th, 2007 / 12:05 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Good morning.

Good morning, ladies. I appreciate you being here.

I have listened carefully to what you said, and I have one very specific question, more or less. I will try to speak generally. The issue that concerns us today is the reason we asked you to come back to see us, and we would like to hear what you have to say. The issue is as follows. The question is a fundamental one. I assure you that we will ask the Assembly of First Nations the same thing. Several groups have come before us and have asked for consultation within the meaning of the Supreme Court decisions before Bill C-44 is passed. Perhaps I did not understand very well, I do not know, but I really want to be sure. You say that you would be ready to see the bill passed on the condition that it was amended to contain an interpretive clause, a delay in implementation, etc. We can look at the amendments again, and evaluate whether they should be included in the bill. My question is simple. We are torn at the moment. Should we interrupt our work so that another consultation can take place, or should we pass the bill—or recommend that it be passed—with very specific amendments? That is the issue at the moment. This is why I am asking for your opinion. You understand that it is very important in the context of the debate that will be taking place over the next few hours.

June 12th, 2007 / 11:55 a.m.
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Yvonne Boyer Legal Advisor, Native Women's Association of Canada

Thank you very much for the time considerations.

My name is Yvonne Boyer. I am one of the legal advisers to the Native Women's Association of Canada. My colleague, Mary Eberts, is with me. I will be making the opening statement, and together we can answer questions following my presentation.

President Jacobs and Ellen Gabriel were before you not that long ago and gave you a fairly detailed outline of where the Native Women's Association stands on these issues. Just to recap, I have eight points that I would like to clarify that came out of their presentations. I'll start with those, and then we would like to comment on the position of Indian and Northern Affairs and also the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

First of all, in relation to the repeal of section 67, we want to state that there is full agreement that this is long overdue. But there must be meaningful consultation as a strong first step in an evolving and collaborative process.

Capacity-building and education are necessary, and these are key factors in communities when they're implementing their own mechanisms of protecting human rights. What we're looking at as a timeframe is a minimum of 36 months from the repeal of section 67 to the coming into effect. This is to provide adequate consultation and to put into place capacity-building and education.

There has to be a balance between collective rights and individual human rights, without jeopardizing either set. A core of this issue is to address conflict through various forms of indigenous legal traditions that allow the communities to decide how best to address the conflicts themselves.

An interpretive mechanism is also very important to guide the application of Bill C-44. The process for deciding what would be included in the interpretive provisions would be addressed during the 36-month period before the act came into force.

In relation to INAC's position on some of the key areas, the Native Women's Association disagrees with INAC's stance that there already has been consultation because of various initiatives in the past to repeal section 67 and respectfully disagrees with the statement that there have been significant consultations in the past 30 years.

Further, the position that INAC has taken that there has been no direction from the Supreme Court of Canada regarding a duty to consult before passing legislation is directly contrary to the recent ministerial representative's report on matrimony and real property and the legal opinions she garnered—

Do you want me to slow down? I'm getting excited.

In relation to her ministerial representative's report on the duty to consult, Wendy Grant-John garnered legal opinions on this important issue. In fact, the result of these legal opinions was that she strongly stated that Canada needs to develop a policy on consultation and hasn't done so.

In their presentation, INAC minimized the potential impact on first nations of repeal of section 67, while also admitting they had done no real analysis of that impact.

In sharp contrast with its present position, the government expressed a number of concerns to the La Forest commission. This is recorded by the commission in its year 2000 report, and it's on page 129. These included: that the lifting of section 67 might lead to retaliation against claimants and extra costs to aboriginal governments called to defend their actions; that a period of transition would allow aboriginal governments to review their practices; that new litigation against the department might have an adverse effect on resources available for aboriginal programs; and that aboriginal people, especially women, will need to be educated about asserting their rights. Those statements that were made by INAC are in direct contradiction to their present position.

The Native Women's Association has made a well thought out proposal dealing with all of these issues, including consultation, capacity-building, education, and the bridging of indigenous legal traditions as a foundation and implementation of human rights after the repeal of section 67. To date, the government has not responded to the Native Women's Association's proposal.

NWAC's opinions on submissions made by the Canadian Human Rights Commission are as follows.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission has recommended that the minimum of 18 months before the act applies to first nations should be extended to a significantly longer period. NWAC agrees with this position but prefers a minimum of at least 36 months.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission would like to see an interpretive clause, as recommended by the La Forest review in 2000. NWAC agrees that an interpretive clause is necessary.

On June 7, 2007, the Canadian Human Rights Commission suggested wording for this clause. NWAC, however, disagrees with that approach and believes the final wording should be settled during the consultation phase that NWAC has called for.

The Canadian Human Rights Commission points out that to date no new resources have been allocated to support the commission's initiatives to engage with first nations stakeholders or to plan implementation. NWAC considers the need to provide resources for capacity-building and consultation is very urgent and must be attended to promptly.

Thank you.

June 12th, 2007 / 11:50 a.m.
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Conservative

The Chair Conservative Colin Mayes

I would like to convene the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development of Tuesday, June 12, 2007.

Committee members, you have the orders of the day before you. We're continuing our study on Bill C-44, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act. We'll have two sets of witnesses today. The first witnesses are from the Native Women's Association of Canada. With us today we have Mary Eberts, legal adviser, and Yvonne Boyer, legal adviser. After, we will be entertaining the Assembly of First Nations, the national chief, Phil Fontaine.

I apologize to the witnesses that we were interrupted by votes. I would ask the committee if they would like to extend the meeting past the one o'clock time set, if we can.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2007 / 3:35 p.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, I will not play politics. I will quickly ask my question.

I am very surprised to hear the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons talk to me about Bill C-44 when he is not familiar with the file. In fact, he is talking about Bill C-34 instead of Bill C-44. He should come to committee to see the work we are doing.

I have a very specific question. We have an all-party agreement on Bill C-51 on lands in the far north claimed by the Inuit, who have been waiting for 10 years. There is also an agreement on Bill S-6. We have an agreement among all parties, including the government party.

Why not put these two bills to a vote tomorrow? It would be done and resolved. There is no need for a study, especially since everyone agrees on fast-tracking these two bills.

Extension of Sitting HoursRoutine Proceedings

June 11th, 2007 / 3:35 p.m.
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Conservative

Peter Van Loan Conservative York—Simcoe, ON

Mr. Speaker, our way of operating is very simple. We are trying to deliver results for Canadians on the things we committed to do in the last election. Unfortunately, some other parties are more interested in political gamesmanship, or advantage, or delay or obstruction.

The hon. member for Yukon referenced Bill C-44, which has an operative clause of nine words. The bill's real effect is to give human rights to our first nations people, human rights they have been denied under the Canadian Human Rights Act. We are ready to proceed with that, we want to proceed with it and we would love to proceed with it. Opposition parties are intent on delaying the bill at committee. They would rather go on a summer vacation than give first nations human rights, and that is a shocking thing to me.

I cannot share the member's sentiment at all. We are determined. We are trying to get things done. We made commitments to Canadians in the last election, and now we are delivering on those commitments. The budget implementation bill is an important part of that.

The overall budget does great things for Canadians. In two budgets, in two years, we are paying down $13 billion and $9 billion on the debt, $22 billion paid down on the debt. That is a real benefit for every Canadian.

Canadians elected us to do these things. They elected us to keep spending under control, to help families make ends meet on the things—

Budget Implementation Act, 2007Government Orders

June 8th, 2007 / 12:15 p.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, before question period I talked about the dire need in the country for affordable housing and for a range of housing. I talked about the fact that an organization in Nanaimo said that housing was a part of a stable community. In the south end of my riding in the Cowichan Valley we also know that affordable housing is a crisis.

Homeless shelters have opened up. We have had some tragedies where people were squatting in buildings and the building caught fire. We desperately need affordable housing and not only in Nanaimo—Cowichan or British Columbia.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report said:

Increasing income inequality has further aggravated housing affordability issues for many Canadians. The rental market has stagnated in terms of supply, with a net increase of only 2,000 units across all of Canada between 1996 and 2001

The CCPA recommends the development and implementation of a national housing strategy which should be drafted in consultation with first nations and aboriginal groups where appropriate.

The budget does not contain the kinds of long range fundamental solutions to our affordable housing crisis and money that has been earmarked for housing is often flowed through the province with no accountability measures put into that flow through of money.

The budget also does not do enough to address questions of improving infrastructure of Canada and B.C. in particular. The federal and provincial transfers have declined by 37% in the past decade. Not only does the Conservative government have responsibility for this, so does the previous Liberal government.

As a result, Canada's municipal infrastructure debt is estimated at $60 billion and growing by $2 billion each year. An additional $21 billion is needed to improve urban transit. When we talk about infrastructure, that infrastructure includes roads, sewers, water treatment plants and also important heritage items.

In my riding we have a very important heritage item called the Kinsol Trestle, which spans the Koksilah River in the southern Cowichan Valley. It is one of the largest and highest wooden trestle bridges in the world. It was built in 1921, though there was an unfortunate fire and a number of years of neglect of this important artifact. That kind of infrastructure money is part of a trail system and infrastructure money has not been earmarked. We can designate things like the Kinsol Trestle as a heritage site, but there is no money to maintain it.

The budget also does not provide money more broadly on other infrastructure items. I point specifically to the flooding that is going on right now in British Columbia. There is a long term need for dealing with the dike system in British Columbia. That has been neglected year after year. This year flooding is removing people from their homes and cutting communities off. I encourage the government to take a look at that longer term need.

I will talk about forestry for a moment. My riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan has been reliant on the forestry sector for its economy for a number of years, and has been in transition. Over the last several years, between softwood lumber and raw log exports, we continue to see jobs lost in many communities in Nanaimo—Cowichan and Nanaimo—Alberni. I mentioned earlier that 185 jobs were cut last week. We continue to see lack of adequate attention paid to the forestry sector in British Columbia.

When we talk about economic prosperity, we need to ensure that we foster economic prosperity and make the kind of strategic long term investment. I would argue that British Columbia's forestry sector deserves that strategic long term investment.

When we talk about the pine beetle in the House. We have had nothing but hollow promises to deal with the pine beetle epidemic, which is decimating forests in B.C. Although there have been promises, that money still has not flowed. I will to read from an article dated Friday, June 8, entitled “We say when will the feds give a damn about beetle?”. In this article it says, “This is a disaster that directly affects the finances and pocketbooks of individuals every bit as much as other natural disasters like floods and ice storms”.

It goes on to say, “This is the case no matter how we might quibble over the definition. People struggling with the pine beetle devastation aren't asking for a free ride. They would simply like an indication that the federal government gives a damn. They would be grateful to receive even a small percentage of the cost”.

The article talks about the fact that there are $62,000 from the federal government toward the continuation of the Kamloops beetle wood pickup program, and that is it. We know we need to have a long term view of what is happening in British Columbia. Forests are being cut because they need to be, but what is the long term economic survival of the community? What is the transition plan for workers in those communities? We must pay attention to that. Thousands and thousands of hectares have been impacted.

It is clear when we look at housing, the forestry sector, fishing, health care and seniors in British Columbia, many of these issues critical to the health, safety and well-being of our communities, that they have not been a priority in this budget. It is also clear that citizens in British Columbia have not been a priority for the government.

I will turn my attention for a moment to an issue that confronts us on a national scale, which is the aboriginal peoples of our country. As the aboriginal critic, I was particularly interested in what the government saw fit to put in the budget. When it comes to first nations, Métis and Inuit peoples,we see there is very little commitment in the budget.

Close to one million Canadians identify themselves as aboriginal peoples, including over 600,000 first nations, 300,000 Métis and 50,000 Inuit. The aboriginal population is young, incredibly diverse and growing much faster than the rest of Canada, yet the government continues to miss the opportunity to pursue programs that benefit both aboriginal peoples and ordinary Canadians.

A budget is, at its core, a set of numbers that demonstrate a government's priorities. Canadians expected fairness toward first nations, Inuit and Métis people to be a priority, but as this budget clearly shows, it was not.

When adjusted for inflation and population increases, the INAC budget has dropped in real terms by 3.5% since 1999-2000. As a result of the discriminatory 2% cap, core services, which include education, social development, capital facilities and support of self-government for first nations people, have declined by 13% in real terms during the same period.

There are more numbers. Aboriginals make, on average, only 60% of what ordinary Canadians make. They are two to three times more likely to be unemployed. They are three times as likely to live in poverty. Aboriginals are two to three times as likely to suffer chronic health conditions and live in inadequate, crowded housing. This is an embarrassment for Canada. It is time we refocus on the issues that are central to Canada's aboriginal communities, good housing, good jobs and a bright future for their children.

When we talk about this we often forget there is a natural face. In a speech that National Chief Phil Fontaine gave on Tuesday, May 15, he put a face to the conditions in Canada. I will quote from his speech. He said:

We must admit that First Nations People in Canada live in the most disgusting and shameful conditions imaginable in any developed country.

In...Northern Manitoba, Chief Shirley Castel tells us that some two-bedroom homes have as many as 28 people living in them. People are forced to sleep in shifts and many parents often go without sleep to ensure their children are able to learn and play.

The Conservative answer to that is to put $300 million into market housing, but no additional money into on reserve affordable housing and no additional money into off reserve affordable housing. The fact is that $300 million in market housing only addresses one small part of what is needed in first nations, Métis and Inuit communities.

Further in National Chief Fontaine's speech he says:

The UN Human Development Index ranks Canada at about sixth in the world. First Nations on reserves rank somewhere around 63rd, according to Indian and Northern Affairs...

The Department's own officials have warned the federal government that First Nations' socio-economic status will continue to worsen and the gap widen—yet these warnings have not been heeded.

Later in Chief Fontaine's speech, and I noticed that the Ottawa Citizen ran a story on this very sad tragedy that took place in Ottawa, he says:

And so where is the public outcry about the loss of Kelly Morriseau...especially now with the Robert Pickton trial underway in B.C.

It's estimated that more than 500 First Nations women have disappeared or died violently during the past 30 years.

That is a litany of the tragedies facing many first nations communities in our country.

When the Assembly of First Nations put out a report on the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, it gave an overall grade of meeting their recommendations in that report as F. In one section of the report called “First Nations Homes”, and I talked a little about homes, but I will read the statistics. It says:

In addition to a higher rate of overcrowding, First Nations homes are about four times more likely to require major repairs compared to Canadian homes and mold contaminates almost half of First Nations homes.

1 in 3 First Nations people consider their main drinking water unsafe to drink, and 12% of First Nations communities have to boil their drinking water.

Six percent (over 5,000 homes) are without sewage services, and 4% lack either hot water, cold water or flushing toilets

I remind the House that this is in Canada. We would not expect that many citizens in Canada are living in third world conditions. When I talk about the international stage, I want to turn to a report that the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination published in March, pointing out Canada's shameful record in a number of areas in dealing with first nations, Métis and Inuit people.

Under Item 21, it talks about the commitments made in 2005 by the federal, provincial and territorial governments under the Kelowna accord. It goes on to say:

—the Committee remains concerned at the extent of the dramatic inequality in living standards still experienced by Aboriginal peoples. In this regard, the Committee, recognising the importance of the right of indigenous peoples to own, develop, control and use their lands, territories and resources in relation to their enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, regrets that in its report, the State party did not address the question of limitations imposed on the use by Aboriginal people of their land, as previously requested by the Committee. The Committee also notes that the State party has yet to fully implement the 1996 recommendations of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples.

In the same report we have heard Conservative members talk about the fact that Bill C-44 will address human rights on reserve. What they fail to acknowledge is that Bill C-44 does not allocate any additional resources to the things that might arise in human rights complaints around water, housing, adequate education. There is no remedy and this report cites, in fact, that without those remedies, human rights cannot be addressed on reserve.

We have often heard talk about the 2% cap. Again, I want to turn to the government's document. In a cost drivers report it indicated:

The rationale is that after nine years of a 2 percent cap the time has come to fund First Nations basic services costs so that population and price growth are covered in the new and subsequent years. Over the period of the 2 percent cap departmental per capita constant dollar expenditures for basic services have declined by six percent.

This is the context of the fact that population both on and off reserve continues to grow. Aboriginal population in the country is the fastest growing of any population in the country, and yet we have seen a net decline of 6%. This is the government's document.

I would suggest that when this budget was developed, surely the government would have received advice from its own departments in developing a budget that would adequately address even a minimum standard of care in the country.

Later on in the same cost drivers report, it talks about socio-economic influences. It talks about the fact that:

The real costs associated with First Nation schools implementing programs that assist those students affected by adverse socio-economic conditions, in achieving school success, however that may be defined.

It says that is a problem.

It includes things like remedial programs relating to basic skills, nutrition programs, extracurricular programs associated with sports and recreation, after school programs and so on.

It talks about the fact that when we compare the services of on reserve schools with off reserve schools, there is a funding gap of $64 million in the band school system for the year 2004-05. We know that the gap has continued to grow.

I could continue to talk about the overcrowded housing, the lack of clean drinking water, the lack of mould remediation programs and the lack of education. The Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development in the spring completed a report on post-secondary education. The committee called upon the government to recognize the 2% funding cap, to address the serious shortfalls in post-secondary education. There was no new funding.

We know that one of the ways that economic disparity can be addressed in first nations communities, Métis communities and Inuit communities across this country is by making sure that education is accessible.

With our aging population, it is really important that we invest in the skills and labour shortage. Although there was some money in the budget for the skills and labour shortage, I would argue that it was not nearly sufficient to meet this country's needs. If we fail, as this proposed budget does, our economy and society will not only forego this great potential, but also continue to incur large social costs. I have called for more funding for skills and development training, but it has to be a much broader base than what is in the current budget.

Justice Thomas Berger's report on Nunavut's education system pointed out that indigenous language training is vital to developing a skilled workforce. There is no money for indigenous language training in this budget. In fact, the program was gutted by $160 million. Many of the indigenous languages across this country are in serious trouble, so it is important that we continue to support language training because it helps the health and well-being of communities.

Perhaps one of the most important elements of any community is the hope that it has for its children. Yet, this budget robs aboriginal children of this hope.

There is no funding to provide child welfare on reserves to meet provincial standards. It is $109 million short. In fact, there has been a human rights complaint filed because of that funding gap.

We continue to see a 2% gap on programs and services, a 3% gap on health care, and there are countless other ways that this budget nickels and dimes aboriginal people. There is no additional funding for friendship centres. There is not the kind of support for infrastructure that is required for water or housing.

We have seen many broken promises over the years. This budget is just a continuation of the broken promises to first nations, Métis and Inuit people in this country.