Kelowna Accord Implementation Act

An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord

This bill was last introduced in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session, which ended in September 2008.

This bill was previously introduced in the 39th Parliament, 1st Session.

Sponsor

Paul Martin  Liberal

Introduced as a private member’s bill.

Status

This bill has received Royal Assent and is now law.

Summary

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

This enactment requires the Government of Canada to fulfil its obligations under the Kelowna Accord.

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.

Votes

March 21, 2007 Passed That the Bill be now read a third time and do pass.
Feb. 21, 2007 Passed That Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be concurred in at report stage.
Oct. 18, 2006 Passed That the Bill be now read a second time and referred to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development.

Aboriginal AffairsOral Questions

October 23rd, 2006 / 2:55 p.m.
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Conservative

Ron Cannan Conservative Kelowna—Lake Country, BC

Mr. Speaker, last Wednesday the House voted on a private member's bill, Bill C-292, the Kelowna press release. In typical Liberal fashion, all but one of the Liberal leadership candidates could not be bothered to stand up for the occasion.

If they were concerned about aboriginals' well-being and actually believed in the Kelowna press release, they would have supported it, would they not?

Could the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development tell us how Canada's new government is taking real concrete action to improve the lives and well-being of aboriginal Canadians?

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

October 18th, 2006 / 6:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The House will now proceed to the taking of the deferred recorded division on the motion at second reading stage of Bill C-292 under private members' business.

The House resumed from October 16 consideration of the motion that Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

October 16th, 2006 / 11:45 a.m.
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Liberal

Nancy Karetak-Lindell Liberal Nunavut, NU

Mr. Speaker, I am very honoured to speak to Bill C-292, a very commendable private member's bill from the member for LaSalle—Émard.

I am also very honoured to have been involved in the discussions and preparations that went into the Kelowna accord. There was over 13 months of work by the Inuit organization and other aboriginal organizations in Canada. For the party across the way to oversimplify that is very discouraging. For people to say that it was not an agreement or an accord, that it could be disregarded because there was no signed agreement and no budget for it really is oversimplifying the situation. It also adds insult to all the preparatory work that people did on the agreement.

I was in my riding last week speaking with different groups that are suffering badly from the recent cuts to the social programs. The various cuts announced by the Conservative government affect literacy programs, the museum assistance program, and women's groups. The cuts are really affecting the work that communities have been trying to do at the ground level. The Conservative government does not realize the impact these cuts are having on communities. This solidifies my belief that the Conservatives do not understand what reversing the Kelowna agreement has done to our people. I speak mainly for my riding of Nunavut because that is the region I understand the best, but I have spoken with people all across the country and they believed that the Kelowna accord would give them the tools for them to provide their own solutions. They believed that the government of the day recognized their ability to run their own affairs, to come up with their own solutions and to put into play ways of governance that had been there for them in the past.

The recent history of this country has made it very difficult for people in the communities to practise their own ways of governing, their own ways of reconciling differences, their own ways of educating their people, which really are not very different from those of the rest of the country. It is just that we have learned to look at things through a different lens. We all have the same end goals, but the way to achieve those end goals can differ from one part of the country to another, or from one cultural group to another. As I said, the end goals are the same, and they are to provide a good future for our children and to take advantage of this country's resources, which every Canadian should be able to access. How we reach those goals can be different.

We certainly have different ways of looking at things and understanding things as a native people, but at the end of the day we all want what is best for our children. We all want to achieve those goals in a way that works for us. It means understanding that we have to do things our own way and, yes, make our own mistakes. Since Nunavut has become a new territory, we have certainly experienced challenges and have made mistakes along the way, but at least they have been our mistakes.

The Kelowna accord gave us the tools, the mechanisms and the resources, because we do need investments in a different way than has worked for people in the south. Education is a very strong component. The Berger report indicated very strongly that we need to educate our people in a way that is different from that in the rest of the country. It is not to say that we are any less able to be educated but that we need to look at different ways of reaching the knowledge that people have.

The Kelowna accord was certainly a step in the right direction for this country. I ask members in the House to support this private member's bill because it would put us back on the right track to where we were going before. We have been derailed but I certainly hope that we can get back on the right track with this accord.

I thank the members of other parties who have indicated they will support this private member's bill. Again, I urge all members to support this bill. I give credit to my colleague for bringing forward this private member's bill. I know he truly believes this is a way we can bring a group of people from our history back on a level playing field with the rest of the country. I take this opportunity to thank my colleagues who have been very strong in their support. I certainly will be supporting this private member's bill.

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

October 16th, 2006 / 11:35 a.m.
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Winnipeg South Manitoba

Conservative

Rod Bruinooge ConservativeParliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise today to speak on the second reading of Bill C-292.

I commend the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard for providing us with another opportunity to discuss and consider the issues of importance to all Canadians and especially aboriginal and non-aboriginal alike.

Although I welcome this occasion to speak, I cannot support the proposed legislation for a very good reason. The previous Liberal government, after 13 years, clearly neglected aboriginal people all across Canada.

I am very proud to say that our new government and our new Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development is interested in doing the thing the previous government was unable to do and that is to look at the structural changes needed to actually bring benefits to the people in the communities, the people who have not seen benefits in the past, and are the ones who need it; We will not be growing the bureaucracy and not growing the system like the previous government would so love to do.

I would like to point out two other objections today. First, the bill is poorly conceived. It is not proposing a clear detailed policy and blueprint but rather a series of broad political commitments in a unilateral press release. Furthermore, it purports to extend statutory recognition to a one-time event and create a vague legal obligation to fulfill a series of wide-ranging commitments, a dubious proposition at best and certainly one which is unenforceable.

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, September 25, you yourself mentioned that Bill C-292, in clause 2, does state that the government shall take all measures necessary to implement the terms of the accord, but it does not provide specific details on those measures. You said that the measures are simply not described.

In addition, Bill C-292 provides members with absolutely no idea of what obligations it would impose on government, nor whether those obligations would also apply to provinces and territories. That is an important issue for many of my colleagues in this chamber.

The second objection that I have is that Bill C-292 is redundant. Since taking office and in collaboration with our aboriginal, provincial and territorial partners, the new government has undertaken a new approach that will produce real solutions to the problems facing aboriginal people in Canada.

The approach focuses on moving aboriginal people from dependency to self-reliance through targeted efforts in four areas. The first is to empower individuals to take greater control and responsibility for their own lives through directing investments toward housing and education. Next, we are working to accelerate land claims. We are also promoting economic development, job training, skills and entrepreneurship. Finally, we are laying the ground work for responsible self-government by moving toward modern and accountable government structures.

We are already achieving results. Earlier this year, the government developed and launched an action plan to address drinking water concerns in first nation communities. This comprehensive plan consists of measures to identify communities at risk from unsafe water, ensure treatment facilities are managed by certifying operators, and implementing standards for the design, construction, operation, maintenance and monitoring of treatment facilities.

Furthermore, there is a three member panel of experts who are conducting public hearings across the country to examine and provide options on the establishment of a regulatory framework to ensure safe drinking water in first nation communities.

We are also moving forward in collaboration with first nations people, the provinces and territories to reach workable legislative solutions to resolve the challenges presented by the current situation regarding matrimonial real property on reserves which affects a disproportionate number of women and children on reserves, particularly those experiencing family violence. Matrimonial real property on reserves is obviously a pressing equality issue and one we are committed to resolving.

Unfortunately, members from the party opposite, including the member for Winnipeg South Centre, have indicated that perhaps this is not something we should be proceeding with as soon as possible. I find that to be rather surprising coming from this member whom I thought was very concerned about this issue. To that end, this government has recently announced a national consultation process aimed at resolving the difficult issue of on reserve matrimonial real property.

In this day and age, it is unacceptable that women and children, families and communities on reserve are still struggling with an issue that has been long neglected, and it is a shame. This situation is the result of a legislative void because provincial and territorial laws that deal with the matter elsewhere in the country do not apply on reserve. The federal Indian Act, which governs practically all aspects of life on reserve, is very silent on this issue.

As a result of this legislative gap, legal rights and remedies that are applicable off reserve are not available to individuals living in first nations communities. As a consequence, many women are subjected to discrimination and denied basic human rights that other Canadians all take for granted. It is essential that we deal with this issue as soon as possible because clearly, after 13 years, the previous government made no efforts in that area.

Education is yet another area in which our government is enabling real change for first nations people. In July we signed an agreement with the province of British Columbia and the British Columbia first nations education steering committee to enable first nations in B.C. to assume meaningful control on reserve elementary and secondary schools in areas such as curriculum, educational standards and teacher's certification. This means that first nations children in British Columbia will be able to obtain an education that meets provincial standards but that is also culturally relevant. That is essential.

As we know, first nations individuals all across Canada, in fact all aboriginal people, are just as capable of learning, but learning is something that requires a cultural sensitivity that we have not seen in the past. I am proud that our government is moving forward in this area.

Another issue which is very important, again left by the previous government at our feet, is a process that our minister has put forward to accelerate land claims. There is a huge backlog of claims which is completely unacceptable and indicates that the current system is clearly not up to the task.

Settlements are about justice, respect and reconciliation. More than coming to terms with the past though, settlements are also about building a better future for communities that are sometimes isolated and far from our current economic setters. Each settlement clears a path to strengthened governance and will also strengthen new economic and social opportunities. Settlements can also mean that valuable resources are spent on communities rather than courtrooms.

The Prime Minister, the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and I are steadfast in our resolve to work with aboriginal partners on shared priorities to develop effective, sustainable approaches to overcome the pressing challenges in our aboriginal communities.

The government's approach to resolving aboriginal issues, including water, matrimonial real property, education, housing, women and children is all focused on tangible results and clear accountability. Bill C-292 proposes an approach characterized by vague promises and general objectives, something that the previous government was excellent at doing.

Accordingly, I will be voting against Bill C-292 and I encourage all of my colleagues to do the same.

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

October 16th, 2006 / 11:15 a.m.
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NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in support of Bill C-292 and the New Democrats will be supporting this private member's bill. However, it is a sad statement that we need to bring forward a private member's bill to deal with some very serious and pressing issues in first nations communities from coast to coast to coast.

Lest we think that these conditions are new ones, the conditions that are currently in place in first nations communities are a result of decades of neglect and need to be laid, not only at the doorstep of the current Conservative government but also points to a failure of the previous Liberal government to deal with these issues.

I want to talk about some statistics that the Assembly of First Nations has put forward and the fact that it has launched a “Make Poverty History: The First Nations Plan for Creating Opportunity” campaign. The conditions it is talking about have not arisen since January 2006. These conditions have accumulated over decades. I will only talk about a few of these numbers because they are depressing and a shameful legacy for this country to be talking about the kinds of conditions that exist in first nations, Inuit and Métis communities across the country.

Let us talk about children. We often talk about family values and how important children are to our country. We talk about needing to protect our children and yet in first nations communities one in four children live in poverty compared to one in six Canadian children. The rate of disabilities among first nations children is about one in eight and is almost double the rate among Canadian children, and over one-third of first nations households with children are overcrowded.

Let us talk about homes. In my riding of Nanaimo—Cowichan many homes on first nations reserves are contaminated with mould and yet we seem to have very little action that addresses the crying need in these communities to have safe, clean, affordable housing. About one in three first nations people consider their main drinking water supply unsafe to drink and 12% of first nations communities have to boil their drinking water and mould contaminates almost half of all households.

In my own community there is a band called Penelakut on Kuper Island and its water source is below a decommissioned dump. The reserve has cases of rheumatic fever and the physicians in the area say that they have not seen rheumatic fever since they were in third world countries. Some of the band members talk about turning on their taps and having brown stuff come out.

I live on Vancouver Island where we have some of the cleanest water in Canada. The Cowichan Valley says that it has the cleanest water in Canada and yet the people of Penelakut cannot access clean water on a regular basis.

Let us talk about our communities and how we rank internationally. According to the AFN “Make Poverty History”, applying the United Nations human development index would rank first nations communities 68 among 174 nations. Canada has dropped from first to eighth due in part to the housing and health conditions in first nations communities. Most first nations, 80%, have personal incomes below $30,000 per year and half of all households have total incomes below that level. When people do not have the incomes to even attempt to improve their living conditions, how can we expect people to bring themselves up out of poverty?

Much has also been made about how much money is spent on first nations people. The section entitled “Fiscal Imbalance: The Truth About Spending on First Nations” states:

Per capita spending on First Nations is half the amount for average Canadians (between $7,000-$8,000 compared to $15,000-$16,000). Spending on First Nations through core federal programs is capped annually at rates lower than inflation and population growth.

A recent Auditor General's report talked about the fact that funding only increased at 1.6% per annum whereas population increased significantly more than that.

Those were just a few statistics of the reality in first nations community and it is no different for the Inuit peoples in the north, the Métis people and the off reserve and urban aboriginals.

In any other country we would be pointing to these figures, facts, conditions and quality of life and saying that it was a shameful statement on that country. In our own country we continue to have those conditions and we ignore them daily.

The Conservatives have said that the Kelowna accord was signed on November 25 and that it was scratched out on a napkin somewhere. That is a total disrespect for the 18 months of work that went into the Kelowna agreement, 18 months of people from across the country coming together to lay out a framework and address the very serious and pressing needs in communities.

In my province of British Columbia, the premier and the then prime minister took it to heart. They saw the agreement as being something real and something that Canadians, including aboriginal peoples, wanted implemented. In fact, they signed a tripartite agreement. The first nations leadership from British Columbia, the prime minister and Premier Campbell, in good faith, signed the agreement called the transformative change accord and it was between the Government of British Columbia, the Government of Canada and the leadership council representing the first nations of British Columbia.

This agreement was done with a great deal of responsibility, fiscal, social, environmental and economic. People recognized that what happened in Kelowna was a framework that would allow people to move forward. It was a commitment on the part of the Liberal government of the day and the first nations peoples and they fully expected the future government to honour that commitment.

Recognizing that people wanted to see accountability and responsibility, the agreement laid out specific items. It laid out benchmarks for improving relationships by supporting a tripartite negotiation forum to address issues having to do with the reconciliation of aboriginal rights and titles. Numbers of treaties and increased awareness by public diversity were talked about. Benchmarks were laid out for closing the education gap and for improving housing.

Nothing in that agreement said that it was a fictional exercise in Kelowna. People expected some action but instead they got a Conservative government that rolled back the work that had been done.

The Conservatives have indicated their commitment by rolling back the Kelowna accord, by failing to invest in those key areas that first nations peoples said were critical and essential to their health and well-being and they have further demonstrated their lack of commitment by failing to look at the declaration on human rights for indigenous peoples.

I just want to go back to my own riding for one moment. The Hul’qumi’num Treaty Group is a group of six nations that has been involved in treaties and it is currently looking at the dire circumstances in many communities. Under Canada's community well-being index used to examine the well-being of Canadian communities, the six Hul’qumi’num communities score between 448th and 482nd out of 486 communities surveyed in British Columbia. They could not get much farther down the list in terms of well-being. It is a shocking statement that this continues in this day and age.

The Kelowna accord was a good first step but it failed to address land claims, treaties and specific land claims. I would urge all members of the House to support the private member's bill but I also would encourage every member of the House to push for much more fair and equitable treatment in the country.

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

October 16th, 2006 / 11:05 a.m.
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Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to say that the Bloc Québécois will be supporting Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, introduced by the member for LaSalle—Émard. I will mention a few of the reasons why.

The Kelowna accord is not, was not and will not be a cure-all for the problems faced by aboriginal communities. What the Kelowna accord was and will be is merely a way to alleviate the major problems of these communities. On Monday, May 8, 2006, in support of the accord, I tabled a motion, on behalf of my party, to the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development recommending the implementation of the Kelowna accord reached by representatives of Ottawa, Quebec, the provinces and national aboriginal leaders.

The tabling of this motion and Bill C-292, which we are debating today, remind us that, once again, the federal government has not respected its commitments and has not taken its responsibilities toward the aboriginal people. I would like to read the motion that I tabled and that the Standing Committee on Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development adopted:

That, pursuant to Standing Order 108(2), the Committee recommends that government to implement the Kelowna agreement, entitled Strengthening Relationships and Closing the Gap, which was reached on November 25, 2005 between the First Ministers and the National Aboriginal Leaders.

That the Committee adopt these recommendations as a report to the House and that the Chair present this report to the House.

We must not kid ourselves: the Kelowna accord is only a temporary measure that will not improve the living conditions of native people in the long run.

The accord would represent $5.1 billion over five years for education, health, housing and economic opportunities for aboriginal peoples. If we consider that those funds are to be divided among federal, Quebec, provincial and territorial governments before reaching first nations, Inuit and Métis, where the needs are critical, we realize that that is very little to really reduce the gap.

Quebec's first nations have tremendous needs, particularly in housing. Currently, they need over $700 million to provide the 7,000 housing units they lack—a figure that grows by hundreds of units every year. As we know, this housing deficit has extremely severe human and social consequences. Some health problems are linked directly to the housing shortage. We must quickly put a stop to increasing incidences of poisoning, infection, tuberculosis, and so on. The incidence of diabetes, fetal alcohol syndrome and suicide is also very worrisome.

Suicide is a serious problem. Even though rates vary considerably from one community to the next, they are too high overall. Suicide rates among first nations youth are 5 to 7 times higher than among non-aboriginal youth. The suicide rates of Inuit youth are among the highest in the world—11 times higher than the Canadian average. We must therefore invest time and resources without delay.

As far as education is concerned, if the government finally decided to tackle the problem, it would take 27 or 28 years to close the gap with other Quebeckers and Canadians, according to the 2004 Auditor General's report. That is very serious.

A number of reports from the Auditor General, as well as findings of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and, more recently, the latest report from the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights on the living conditions of the aboriginal people of Canada, are alarming.

Many recommendations supported by aboriginals, Quebeckers and Canadians have been presented to Ottawa and have fallen on deaf ears.

On the eve of the conference of first ministers, the Bloc Québécois publicly supported the common position held by the Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador and the Quebec Native Women's Association, who rejected the government's initiative.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador and the Quebec Native Women's Association deplored the fact that the approach to narrowing the gap between the living conditions of first nations people and those of Quebeckers and Canadians did not address the real causes behind the first nations' situation, which are the lack of fair access to land and resources, and respect for their rights.

The Assembly of First Nations of Quebec and Labrador, and the Quebec Native Women's Association also deplored the fact that the objective of the Kelowna agreement, through its blanket treatment of all aboriginals and lack of consultation with the communities to identify the real challenges, would maintain the cycle of dependence of the first nations.

The Bloc Québécois feels that concrete solutions are needed that are adapted to the reality of the various aboriginal nations to correct at the foundation the inequalities that affect their communities. In addition, these measures must come out of discussions with the first nations, because money alone will not solve the problem. On the contrary, it perpetuates the paternalistic approach of the federal government toward aboriginals.

Now we know, here in this House, that the federal government has an obligation to meet the great needs of the aboriginal people, among other things those related to housing, infrastructure, education and health care.

The Bloc Québécois continues to make sure that Ottawa does not shirk its obligations as a trustee. The federal government should assume its responsibilities as long as all aboriginal nations do not have the tools for self-government. The first indications of this government's handling of the aboriginal issue are not very reassuring. For example, the initiative for a protocol for safe drinking water for first nations communities is commendable in and of itself. However, when the initiative sets aside communities with the greatest needs, those that still do not have a drinking water system and are still hauling their water in buckets, there is cause for concern.

I have just two minutes remaining, but I could talk about this for hours without putting this House to sleep. I will wrap up quickly.

The Bloc Québécois supports Bill C-292. The commitments made by the federal government in Kelowna mark a first step toward bridging the gap between aboriginal nations and Quebeckers and Canadians. Let me be clear: this is a first step.

Aboriginal people must have all the tools to develop their own identity, namely the right to self-government and the recognition of their rights.

In closing I want to say that in a few days a socio-economic forum of the first nations will be held at Masteuiash in the Roberval area. It is an exceptional location for the current federal government to show a little more empathy toward the first nations and to announce, in Masteuiash, important decisions for those first nations. We must prevent the things we are currently seeing in the media. An article on October 7 said that aboriginal peoples are the most overrepresented group in Canada's prisons. This must stop. We believe that the Kelowna accord was a step in the right direction. We want to reiterate in this House that we will support this accord and this bill.

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

October 16th, 2006 / 11 a.m.
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Conservative

Harold Albrecht Conservative Kitchener—Conestoga, ON

Mr. Speaker, thank you for giving me the opportunity to finish sharing my views on Bill C-292

I rise today in opposition to Bill C-292, an act to implement the Kelowna accord.

As I mentioned in my earlier remarks, I commend the right hon. member for LaSalle—Émard for providing members with the opportunity to discuss this issue that is of great importance to all Canadians. It is a pleasure to see the member for LaSalle—Émard in the House today.

This issue is important for all Canadians. Although I welcome the occasion to speak to this pressing matter and listen to the contributions of other members, I cannot support the proposed legislation.

My opposition to Bill C-292 is rooted in two main objections. First, the bill is poorly conceived. It is not a precise, detailed policy blueprint but a series of broad political commitments. Furthermore, it purports to extend statutory recognition to a one-time political event and create a legal obligation to fulfill a series of wide-ranging commitments.

As I mentioned earlier, the short text of Bill C-292 provides members with absolutely no idea of what obligations it would impose on the government, nor whether these obligations would also apply to provinces and territories. This is an important issue for many of my colleagues in this chamber.

Until members are provided with clear details on the nature of these programs and the related accountability measures, and until a long term sustainable financial plan to fund these programs has been approved by Parliament, I cannot see how this House can approve or support Bill C-292. So it will come as no surprise to members of this House that I continue to speak today in opposition to this bill.

The health and prosperity of aboriginal and northern communities is critical to the health and prosperity of our entire nation. Thus, we must take concrete steps to address issues of aboriginal women, children and families, education, water, and housing.

Mr. Speaker, on Monday, September 25, you yourself mentioned that Bill C-292, in clause 2, does state that the government shall “take all measures necessary to implement the terms of the accord”, but the bill does not provide specific details on these measures. You said, “The measures simply are not described”.

Bill C-292 fails to establish a clear plan of action to resolve these issues. It fails to assign responsibilities. It fails to detail financial arrangements. It fails to adequately define procedures to achieve its targets. In other words, the bill before us today is not a fully developed strategy and could not be legally enforced.

With $3.7 billion allocated for aboriginal and northern programs, the budget created by Canada's new government includes targeted investments in key areas. Those key areas include aboriginal housing, water, education, and economic development. The returns on these investments will deliver real improvements in the quality of life for aboriginal and northern peoples.

Those investments will fortify relationships with provinces, territories, aboriginal leaders and organizations and create a more promising future for all Canadians.

It is important to note that the government's $3.7 billion investment in aboriginal and northern peoples is in addition to increases to aboriginal health programs, as well as increases to the budget of the Department of Indian and Northern Affairs.

This number, $3.7 billion, also excludes budget initiatives already aimed at both aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples. Aboriginal peoples deserve no less than the same opportunities we all seek for our families, for our communities and for our country. We are committed to securing these opportunities for aboriginal Canadians.

Three hundred million dollars will go directly to affordable housing programs in the territories, benefiting both aboriginal and non-aboriginal peoples. Nunavut, where the problem is most pressing, will receive $200 million. Yukon and the Northwest Territories will receive $50 million each.

Another $300 million will be used to improve housing through the off-reserve aboriginal housing fund.

Furthermore, $450 million has been set aside to fund initiatives for water, housing, education, and women, children and families. Through education, aboriginal communities can successfully battle poverty, while initiatives to improve the quality of life for women will nurture healthy children and families.

A settlement agreement that was signed on May 10 launched an advanced payment program for seniors who suffered abuse while in residential schools. Victims will share in a $2.2 billion fund to help them deal with the emotional and psychological trauma that many of them continue to experience to this day.

We do not believe that money and ad hoc remedies resolve the challenges facing aboriginal peoples. We must take on the hard work of renovating our laws and our institutions. This new Government of Canada is identifying and implementing effective and lasting solutions through collaboration and mutual respect.

I strongly advise my hon. colleagues to join me in voting against Bill C-292.

The House resumed from June 2 consideration of the motion that Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act--Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderOral Questions

September 27th, 2006 / 3:10 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair is now prepared to rule on the point of order raised by the hon. government House leader on June 16, 2006 in relation to the procedural issues relating to Bill C-288, the Kyoto protocol implementation act, standing in the name of the hon. member for Honoré-Mercier.

I want to begin by thanking the hon. government House leader for having raised this matter and by thanking the hon. members for Mississauga South, Honoré-Mercier and Winnipeg Centre for having made contributions on this matter.

In his submission, the government House leader argued that this bill commits the government to significant expenditures and therefore requires a royal recommendation. In support of this fact, he referred to the spending which was included in the supplementary estimates for the 2005-06 fiscal year by the previous government. Parliament was dissolved in November 2005 before the appropriation act emanating from those estimates could be voted on, and subsequently the moneys were authorized through Governor General special warrants. The House leader therefore concludes that it is evident that this bill entails considerable spending and so requires a royal recommendation.

In a ruling earlier this week on a similar matter, namely, C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, the Chair made a distinction between a bill asking the House to approve certain objectives and a bill asking the House to approve the measures to achieve certain objectives. So too in the case before us, the adoption of a bill calling on the government to implement the Kyoto protocol might place an obligation on the government to take measures necessary to meet the goals set out in the protocol but the Chair cannot speculate on what those measures may be. If spending is required, as the government House leader contends, then a specific request for public monies would need to be brought forward by means of an appropriation bill, as was the case in 2005, or through another legislative initiative containing an authorization for the spending of public money for a specific purpose.

As it stands, Bill C-288 does not contain provisions which specifically authorize any spending for a distinct purpose relating to the Kyoto protocol. Rather, the bill seeks the approval of Parliament for the government to implement the protocol. If such approval is given, then the government would decide on the measures it wished to take. This might involve an appropriation bill or another bill proposing specific spending, either of which would require a royal recommendation.

As Bill C-288 stands, however, the Chair must conclude that the bill does not require a royal recommendation and may proceed.

Private Members' Bill C-292--Speaker's RulingPoints of OrderRoutine Proceedings

September 25th, 2006 / 3:15 p.m.
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Liberal

The Speaker Liberal Peter Milliken

The Chair is now prepared to rule on the points of order raised by the government House leader and the hon. member for Wascana on June 1, 2006 in relation to Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord.

At the outset, I wish to thank both hon. members for having raised their concerns early in the legislative process for, in so doing, they have afforded all members an opportunity to become better acquainted with this initiative and its procedural implications.

I also wish to thank the government House leader and the hon. member for Wascana for tabling the Kelowna accord, thus adding to the material available to me in preparing this ruling.

The Chair has also noted that the hon. member for Wascana has explained that, in November 2005, as the then minister of finance, he had made provision in the fiscal framework for the implementation of the Kelowna accord. That said, I must make it clear that while the machinery of government could not operate without such planning, it is irrelevant to the question before the Chair.

Hon. members will know that, as Speaker, I can only address procedural issues and that these issues are separate and distinct from fiscal management issues.

The Chair must judge, not whether funds were set aside to meet the government's obligations, but rather whether this specific private member's initiative, Bill C-292, seeks authorization to spend funds. In other words, does Bill C-292 actually propose to spend public funds for a distinct purpose?

The contentious section is in clause 2 of the bill, which reads as follows:

The Government of Canada shall immediately take all measures necessary to implement the terms of the accord, known as the “Kelowna Accord”, that was concluded on November 25, 2005 at Kelowna, British Columbia, by the Prime Minister of Canada, the first ministers of each of the provinces and territories of Canada and the leaders of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Metis National Council, the Native Womens’ Association of Canada and the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.

The Chair must decide whether clause 2 is a provision that contains a clear authorization for funds to be drawn from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for a distinct purpose. If clause 2 does seek such authorization, then I must be guided by House of Commons Procedure and Practice, which explains on page 709:

Under the Canadian system of government, the Crown alone initiates all public expenditure and Parliament may only authorize spending which has been recommended by the Governor General.

In other words, the bill would require a royal recommendation.

As I stated in a decision on March 21, 2005, at page 4373 of the Debates:

--a bill effecting an appropriation of public funds or an equivalent authorization to spend public funds does so immediately upon enactment. Once Parliament approves a bill that requires a royal recommendation, there should be nothing further required to make the appropriation.

So, in the case before us, we need to ask what specific spending is contemplated?

Bill C-292 in clause 2 does state that the government shall “take all measures necessary to implement the terms of the accord”, but it does not provide specific details on those measures. The measures simply are not described. In the absence of such a description, it is impossible for the Chair to say that the bill requires a royal recommendation.

This conclusion may seem somewhat surprising and may well lead members back to a question raised earlier by the government House leader: namely, if Bill C-292 does not require a royal recommendation and the bill were to pass, what would be the obligations of the government in terms of implementing the Kelowna accord?

As I read it, the Kelowna accord tabled in the House sheds light on the plan of action, but it is not clear whether the accord could be implemented through an appropriation act, through amendments to existing acts, or through the establishment of new acts. From my reading, implementation would appear to require various legislative proposals.

In any event though, this is more of a legal question than a procedural one. The government House leader's legal advisors are best placed to reply to that question. As my predecessors and I have said on many occasions, the Speaker does not rule on matters of law. When, or perhaps if, enabling legislation comes forward, the Chair will, as usual, be vigilant in assessing the need for a royal recommendation.

In summary then, Bill C-292 can continue through the legislative process and the Chair can put the question at third reading since this bill does not require a royal recommendation.

I thank the House for its patience in allowing me to review this rather complex matter.

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActPrivate Members' Business

June 2nd, 2006 / 1:30 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

moved that Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord, be read the second time and referred to a committee.

Mr. Speaker, on too many reserves and in too many cities there is an unacceptable gap between what ought to be the hopeful promise of youth and the experience of aboriginal adulthood, a gap made even more unacceptable by the fact that aboriginal Canadians represent the largest segment of our youth and the fastest growing segment of our population.

We face a moral imperative. In a country as wealthy as ours, a country that is the envy of the world, good health and good education should be givens. They are the pillars underpinning equality of opportunity, which in turn is the foundation on which our society is built.

I rise today because the descendants of the people who first occupied this land deserve to have an equal opportunity to work for and to enjoy the benefits of our collective prosperity. Today the majority do not because of gaps in education and skills, in health care and housing, and because of limited opportunities for employment. Put simply, these gaps between aboriginal Canadians and other Canadians are not acceptable in the 21st century. They never were acceptable.

Last fall the Government of Canada came to an extraordinary agreement with an extraordinary group of people. These included the leadership of the Assembly of First Nations, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the first ministers of Canada's provinces and territories.

Together we developed a plan to narrow and eventually eliminate the gaps that afflict aboriginal Canadians. It became known as the Kelowna accord.

The history of aboriginal communities is heart-rending. For a year and a half, we worked to establish objectives in order to make progress in five crucial areas: education, health, housing, drinking water and economic development. Our goal was to make a real difference, to do everything in our power to change what is a harsh reality for many of our fellow citizens through investments that would bring about real change in the daily lives of aboriginal peoples.

We began by studying the gap in education. Giving young people the chance to reach their potential is essential to all of the other initiatives we set out. This means building schools and training teachers. This means ensuring that students complete their studies. This means making all types of post-secondary education available to young people. This means encouraging them to get professional training so they can get better jobs. We must ensure they have the means to succeed at all of these pursuits.

This is why the government committed to establishing a network of first nations school systems run by aboriginals in cooperation with the provinces, which are responsible for education. Our plan also included making aboriginal, Inuit or Métis culture an integral part of the curriculum in certain urban public schools.

The number of major economic projects underway in the north is staggering. Employment opportunities are abundant, and the number of well-paid jobs is remarkable. Aboriginal people will really be able to benefit from this, but only if training starts now.

This is why we committed to working with our public and private sector partners to create the apprenticeship training programs Canadian aboriginals need to get good jobs. The goal of the Kelowna accord is to close the gap between aboriginals and non-aboriginals within 10 years. The accord will ensure that the aboriginal population has the same proportion of high school graduates as the non-aboriginal population, and it will halve the post-secondary studies gap. That is just the beginning.

In terms of health care, the gaps that persist between aboriginal health and the health of most Canadians are simply unconscionable. The incidence of infant mortality is almost 20% higher for first nations than for the rest of Canada. Suicide can be anywhere from three times to eleven times more common. Teen pregnancies are nine times the national average. It is evident that these heartbreaking statistics and facts speak not just to health care. They speak to the psychic and emotional turmoil in communities, which we must find ways urgently to address.

We started this effort two years ago when aboriginal leaders participated in the first ministers meeting on health care. There we recognized the need for a new health framework and we began work on an unprecedented document, the aboriginal health blueprint, a comprehensive plan for the delivery of reliable health care in every province and territory on and off reserve.

We aimed to double the number of aboriginal health professionals in 10 years from 150 physicians and 1,200 nurses today. We aimed to focus on core measures of health, which we can monitor and improve upon in each community. We set goals to reduce the gaps in key areas, such as infant mortality, youth suicide, childhood obesity and diabetes.

This is only a start. No one will be satisfied until these gaps are closed completely.

We addressed the issue of clean water and housing. Housing is about more than having a roof over one's head. It is about dignity. It is about pride of place. It is about having a stake in the community and an investment in the future. We recognize the need to reduce these gaps significantly with a comprehensive effort to expand the skills of first nations, Inuit and Métis to manage their land, infrastructure and financing. It is estimated, by implementing the Kelowna accord, that we could realistically close the housing gap on reserve by 40% within 5 years and by 80% within 10 years.

The Kelowna accord is a comprehensive 10 year plan to achieve a clear set of goals and targets. We provided $5.1 billion for the first five years. Let me be very clear. The funds were fully provided for in the fiscal framework. The government has the money. It is a fiscal framework, incidentally, which has, since that time, produced a surplus substantially larger than was originally projected. We made it clear that for the second five years of the program, enhanced resources based on the success obtained would be provided.

It is a measurable plan, with targets to be attained and evaluated every two to three years, giving Canadians the ability to hold everyone who is involved accountable. It was developed through a non-partisan, collaborative approach in concert with the aboriginal leadership. All political parties and government across the country, Liberal, Conservative and NDP, were at the table. The Government of Canada, on behalf of the people of Canada, gave its solemn word that we would work to achieve these goals.

Aboriginal Canadians, provinces and territories have made it clear that they want to see a commitment from the new government to honour the Kelowna accord. Despite this, five months later, after inheriting a very healthy balance sheet, one much better than it had anticipated, the new government refuses to say whether it will support the nation's commitment to these goals and objectives. Its budget did not confirm the funds necessary to attain those goals.

Wherein lies the problem? Is it that the government disagrees with the goals that are set out in the accord? Is it that it does not want to work with the provinces, territories and the aboriginal leadership, all of whom share these goals?

On the other hand, the government agrees with the objectives that are laid out in the accord. Why will it not take advantage of a plan that was developed over 18 months by experts in 14 governments across Canada and in our aboriginal communities?

Let us be honest, we have consulted long enough. We have studied enough. The time has come for the government to act. Why will the government not recognize that, because of its lack of commitment, it has already wasted precious months, precious months in which critical progress could have been made toward the attaining of our interim targets?

The goals and objectives of the Kelowna agreement will not go away. This was never a partisan issue. The premier of British Columbia, speaking recently in his legislature, said the following:

I characterized that agreement as Canada's 'moment of truth.' It was our time to do something that has eluded our nation for 138 years. It was our chance to end the disparities in health, education, housing and economic opportunity. All first ministers rose to that moment of truth alongside Canada's aboriginal leaders to undertake that challenge....

Similarly, this week during their meeting in Gimli, western premiers said the following:

Having previously made an extraordinary national commitment, failure to follow through on that commitment will only make us poorer as a nation.

That is the premiers talking about a commitment.

The premier of Manitoba, who chaired that meeting, added that it would be morally wrong to walk away from the accord.

It is because of this that I have taken the unfortunate necessary step of introducing the bill entitled an act to implement the Kelowna accord. I do so with only one goal in mind, and that is to provide the government and the House with the opportunity to reaffirm what was, by all accounts, a historic agreement for Canada, for Canadians.

The bill is about confirming national commitment lest it be lost. It is also about another potential loss, the loss of the goodwill and the optimism that characterized the Kelowna meeting, the positive spirit, which played a huge role in helping us reach an agreement. All of us at that meeting left imbued with a new sense of hope for the future. That hope was underpinned by an expectation that all the parties to the agreement would live up to their commitment.

Unfortunately, for aboriginal Canadians, new hope has been replaced by doubt. Goodwill has been displaced by worry as the government engages in red herring after red herring. Too many aboriginal Canadians today endured crushing poverty in one of the world's most prosperous countries. That is why I chose, as a new prime minister, to make it a central issue for my government.

The new government is responsible for making a clear commitment to aboriginal peoples. It must respect the promises made and honour the Kelowna accord.

We need a clear commitment, not just in words but in action. We need a clear commitment to meet the challenges facing our aboriginal people by living up to the Kelowna accord.

I ask the government and the ministers here present to rise above partisanship. I ask them and all members of the House, for the sake of our aboriginal people and the future of our great country, to support the bill.

Kelowna Accord Implementation ActRoutine Proceedings

May 17th, 2006 / 3:25 p.m.
See context

Liberal

Paul Martin Liberal LaSalle—Émard, QC

moved for leave to introduce Bill C-292, An Act to implement the Kelowna Accord.

Mr. Speaker, the Government of Canada has signed a historic agreement with the provinces, territories and leaders of the aboriginal peoples of Canada to close the gap between the quality of life of aboriginals and that of non-aboriginals.

The Government of Canada entered into a historic agreement with the provinces, the territories and the leadership of Canada's aboriginal people to close and ultimately eliminate the gaps between our aboriginal Canadians and non-aboriginal Canadians in the areas of health care, education, housing, access to clean water and economic opportunity.

I believe and we believe it is vital that the Government of Canada honour its commitment. That is the purpose of this bill.

The government must keep its promises. That is the purpose of this initiative.

(Motions deemed adopted, bill read the first time and printed)