Evidence of meeting #30 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 39th Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was cmhc.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sharon Matthews  Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Christine Cram  Acting Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Socio-Economic Policy and Regional Operations, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Gina Wilson  Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

4:45 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

The decision was made by government.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

So it's made by government. It's not made in consultation with the three organizations?

4:45 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

That's right. We get proposals from a number of different organizations. We assess them based on the terms and conditions. We also assess them based on last year's performance and the deliverables that were provided. And we try to find out where we can maximize the use of the dollars.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

I just have to ask if you take into account the complicating factors with those deliverables you talked about? We have a region—and I know you're aware of this—in which we have had difficulties throughout this process with partial payments and the ability of individuals to follow up. Just in that process, it has been really challenging for people who do not speak the language, who do not have English as their first language, and who do not have the appropriate assistance within their communities.

So if we're making decisions because of budgetary constraints, and people on the ground are not being served through this process, what are the answers? I mean, there are many individuals who most need the assistance.

4:45 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Actually, the objective of the information dissemination program is not as much to be filling out forms and to be working in that capacity, because we have other services and initiatives available for form filling—the Service Canada centres, the CEP response centre, and so on.

We recognize, though, that some of those organizations use the funds provided for information to support former students. That's an acceptable aspect of the contribution agreements, but it's not the specific objective of them.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

If that's the reality, why isn't it a specific objective?

4:45 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Well, it was how the funding was sought a number of years ago. It was for information to be provided to former students as part of the settlement agreement, doing workshops and making presentations, and so on.

4:45 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Barry Devolin

Thank you.

Mr. Lemay, you have five minutes.

4:45 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

There is one thing I would like to understand. We know that the pupils in those institutions have not written a lot down, so everything is probably passed down orally. I can tell you that it is working relativity well in Québec. The Assembly of the First Nations of Quebec and Labrador has not had a lot to say. The system of compensation is going relatively well. They want to know how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will work.

Do you have those details? Is there a procedure that will be sent to all First Nations? Given the fact that the Prime Minister is supposed to be delivering the official apology on June 10, and given the fact that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is now in place—we know who will chair it—I would like to know how it is going to work in practice for the people who want to attend. Will there be in camera sessions? It is certainly going to be difficult for some people. Can you give us details about the rules of procedure, or tell us whether we will get them later?

4:45 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Thank you.

I would first like to clarify that the Prime Minister will deliver the apology on June 11.

Here are some details about the commission. The three commissioners will be Mr. Harry S. LaForme, Ms. Claudette Dumont-Smith and Ms. Jane Brewin Morley and the commission will begin its work next week on June 1 st. It is possible to have discussions with the three commissioners now, to make plans and even to design a workplan. I think that hearings will begin only in the fall, perhaps in September.

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

May I interrupt you, Ms. Wilson?

I understand that the three commissioners are going to start work on Monday and that it is a full-time job. Have you set a term for the commission's work?

4:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

The work is supposed to go on for five years. The process calls for seven national events to be held. At the moment, it is impossible to say in which cities or in which regions they will take place. However, the commissioners have reviewed the events with former pupils. Perhaps it would be a good idea for school staff to take part, such as religious orders and the like. There is a lot of truth; there are stories of abuse at the schools, but there were positive experiences too. The people who lived in that setting had a number of experiences.

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Will there be rules of procedure for appearing before the commissioners? Are the commissioners going to travel?

I have a very specific example. In my riding in Abitibi, there was one such school at Amos. There were not 40,000 schools, there were just a few.

Is it intended that the commissioners will travel to some places that are easy to get to, like Amos, for example?

4:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

It is possible.

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

Who makes the requests?

4:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Requests could come from organizations or from former pupils.

It is up to former pupils to decide the way in which a hearing will proceed. Former pupils can ask for a hearing to be held in camera, but they can also decide to appear in public.

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

What is the goal of the commission in your opinion?

4:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

That is a good question.

Reconciliation can be seen in a number of ways.

4:50 p.m.

Bloc

Marc Lemay Bloc Abitibi—Témiscamingue, QC

I have read a number of them, but what is yours?

4:50 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

For me, it is about becoming knowledgeable about the history of residential schools in Canada. It is also possible to...

a better understanding of why our people are the way they are--why we have problems with addictions, why we have problems with employment, and so on. A lot of this goes back to Indian residential schools. When Canadians perhaps begin to understand that fact at increased levels, it will be possible to achieve a better understanding and more reconciliation at a very individual level--a town next to an Indian residential school, or a non-native person who meets an aboriginal person. That's my vision.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Barry Devolin

Thank you, Ms. Wilson.

Ms. Crowder, you have six minutes.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for coming to the committee today.

When Mr. Harrison was here on the estimates he gave us some numbers, and I know you talked about some numbers. He said they had received 92,480 applications since September 19. We've paid out 64,572 payments to individuals; 17,814 have been ineligible for a variety of reasons, so a fairly significant number have been ineligible.

Some of the stories I've heard from elders in my own riding are that sometimes the records are incomplete or they don't.... It's a long time ago; I couldn't tell you who my teachers were 40 years ago, never mind 60 years ago.

Could you tell me, first of all, whether that percentage is fairly accurate? Have that many been rejected, and could you give us a ballpark figure on the numbers of reasons?

Also, out of the ones who have been paid, do you know the percentage that have actually been full payment versus partial payment? I've heard from a significant number of people who say they got payment, but it was really only for part of the years.

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

I can speak to that. Just to contextualize it again, we've received over 90,000 applications. We've paid over 65,000 now.

I should mention there's a category of applications. There are over 5,000 of them where there is missing or incomplete information. Most of that is regarding missing records. So on those particular files we have certain policies and procedures to deal with that particular group of 5,000 claims.

We also have 17,647 claims that have been deemed non-eligible. I will just give you a breakdown of those non-eligible claims. A lot of students have applied who are day students. Day students are not covered under this particular agreement, and 1,496 applications that came in were deemed day students.

Another 7,338 claims were schools not on the list. So it was people applying who don't have their school currently recognized on the list.

Another 8,812 applications that have come in as deemed ineligible are applications that have come in where we do not have records for those particular claims, but we do have complete records for the particular years they were asking for. That's that category. There are a number of reasons for the ineligibles and so on.

You're talking as well about lower than claimed. I don't have the particular statistics in front of me, but we do have a number of reconsideration requests. In fact, we have over 10,000 applications currently in reconsideration. That means they've been paid initially out of the 65,000, but they've come back to us and said, “You haven't paid me enough”, or “You've made a mistake”, or something along those lines. We're looking at those applications now. They're giving us additional information. They're providing us with additional details to help us locate specific information about their claim.

On some cases we've been able to provide them with more money based on the additional information they've given us. On other cases we've been able to determine that they were claiming for being a day student, because some students resided for a certain number of years and then they were day students for a number of years. For them, it's all one experience, so they see that as a full claim.

We've been able to explain to some of them that we don't cover for foster care placements or day schools. We've gone back and explained it in a better way and tried to give them more details.

That's what's happening right now. The reconsideration process just got under way in early March, so we're just getting through a lot of the applications for reconsideration now.

4:55 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

On the reconsideration process, what are the timeframes for reconsideration--a ballpark figure?

4:55 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

We expect to have about 4,000 of those claims processed by the first week of June. Then what we've set out as service standards is 90 days to have your reconsideration claim processed, for the majority of cases. However, for many cases, it'll take up to 160 days, because these particular claims are not easy to process. They require a lot of review and so on. For a lot of claims, people can be waiting to the end of the summer and into the fall.