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

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

That's right.

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Sharon Matthews

—and I had answered an earlier question that said—I won't repeat it—that we actually exceeded those targets. But we'll get you that information.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Did you exceed in all of those categories?

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Sharon Matthews

On the new construction the goal was 4,400, and we actually achieved 4,498. On the renovation side it was 1,100, and we actually achieved 1,296.

On the trust, again a question came up earlier, and neither of us is really in a position...it really is the Department of Finance. However, I can give you some key statistics on the aboriginal population in the north.

While the trust wasn't necessarily in the north allocated strictly to aboriginals, in terms of the statistics, 85% of the population in Nunavut is aboriginal, 50% of the population in NWT is aboriginal, and 25% of the population in the Yukon is aboriginal. So in Nunavut, for example, a great deal of that money, by definition, would be going to aboriginals.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

But do you have the numbers?

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Sharon Matthews

No. Again, it would be to the Department of Finance that you'd have to inquire.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

So the Department of Finance has the number of houses that are built?

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Sharon Matthews

Neither INAC nor CMHC were involved in the trust allocations. It was the Department of Finance that managed that, so any questions on the trust would be--

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Then let me just back up. What you're saying is that $300 million went north for housing, and we know those agreements actually didn't have specific targets for numbers of housing, so nobody is following up on the number of....

4:25 p.m.

An hon. member

[Inaudible--Editor]

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Well, I'm just asking because this is the accountability side of the House that always wants to know where the money is being spent. So I'm just asking if, at some point, somebody reports on the numbers of houses that are built.

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

You're talking about provincial governments. When health care dollars went to provincial governments.... This is not about first nations; this is about when there are agreements between two levels of government there is usually some accountability for how that money is spent, whether they were the health care agreements that were made under Bill C-39 or whether they were the early childhood learning agreements that were developed under the devolution about the numbers of child care spaces. So I'm just simply asking, to your knowledge...you have no involvement in the numbers of housing units?

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Assisted Housing Sector, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation

Sharon Matthews

My understanding is there are principles under the trust. CMHC has no involvement on that side.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Okay. So we have to talk to the Minister of Finance.

4:30 p.m.

Acting Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Socio-Economic Policy and Regional Operations, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Christine Cram

Could I just answer for INAC? Just in terms of the housing trust, I understand the Yukon got...$32 million of the $50 million that was provided to the Yukon government was provided directly to first nations governments for the purposes of housing for first nations.

In terms of the 2005 housing budget, and what INAC achieved with that, in terms of new units, it's 1,493; in terms of renovations, it was 1,003; and in terms of lot servicing, it was 5,119. So if you compare that to the targets, what you see is a lot more money was spent on renovations, and it was the first nations that decided what the priority was in terms of allocation. Clearly, they wanted to put the money towards renovations.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Barry Devolin

Thank you very much.

This brings this panel to a conclusion. I want to thank all of you for being here. We will suspend for one minute and bring panel B forward.

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Barry Devolin

I would ask members to come back to their seats, please. We have a lot to do before 5:40 p.m.

We are now ready to proceed with our second panel today regarding the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada process.

We have before us today, Gina Wilson, assistant deputy minister, and Aideen Nabigon, director general of policy, partnership, and communication. Welcome.

I understand Ms. Wilson will be making a presentation. The floor is yours, Ms. Wilson.

4:35 p.m.

Gina Wilson Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and good afternoon, everyone.

I'd like to thank the committee for giving me this opportunity to be here today to provide an update on the implementation of the Indian Residential School Settlement Agreement, which began September 19, 2007.

I would like to thank the committee for giving me this opportunity to be here today to provide an update on the implementation of the Indian residential school settlement agreement which began on September 19, 2007.

I will begin with an update on common experience payments that are being made to former students who lived in an eligible federal residential school. Payments are $10,000 for the first year or part of a year, plus $3,000 for each additional year or part of a year after that.

To date, the government has processed more than 82,000--

4:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Barry Devolin

Excuse me. Perhaps you would slow down a little bit for the translators, please.

4:35 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Okay. I'll speak slowly.

To date, the government has processed more than 82,000 common experience payment applications of the more than 92,000 applications received. This is in addition to the approximately 10,000 advance payments that have already been paid to former students 65 years and older.

If applicants are not satisfied with the outcome of their application, a reconsideration process has been established and is now actively processing requests. This is a review of the application by the government to ensure that the original decision was accurate and appropriate. If applicants are still not satisfied following the reconsideration process, an appeal process that is overseen, not by the government but by the parties to the settlement agreement, will be under way.

It is important to note that the administration of the common experience payments, reconsideration, and the appeal processes, as well as other elements of the settlement agreement, are court approved and implemented under the direct supervision of the courts.

Another important element of the settlement agreement is the independent assessment process that allows former students to settle claims of abuse suffered in Indian residential schools in a claimant-centred and culturally appropriate manner. The work of the independent assessment process is under way, currently processing approximately 3,600 claims, 40 of which have made it to the hearing stage of the process.

In addition to financial compensation, the settlement agreement includes the Indian Residential Schools Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The government recently announced the appointment of Justice Harry LaForme as the chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the naming of Claudette Dumont-Smith and Jane Brewin Morley as commissioners. With these three commissioners now appointed, the commission will begin its work on June 1, 2008.

The commission provides a unique opportunity for all Canadians to become aware of the Indian residential school system. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission will provide a safe environment where former pupils will be able to share their experiences, making all Canadians aware of the system of Indian residential schools and its impact on First Nation communities.

The Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement also included a $125 million contribution to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation and additional funding to Health Canada to ensure that former students and their families have access to the health supports they need.

In closing, the implementation of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement is well under way, and we will continue to work in partnership with the parties to the settlement agreement, former students, their families and communities to ensure that implementation continues in a timely and efficient manner that is in line with the courts' direction.

In closing, the implementation of the Indian residential schools settlement agreement is well under way and we will continue to work in partnership with the parties to the settlement agreement, former students, their families and communities, to ensure that implementation continues in a timely and efficient manner that is in line with the courts' direction.

Thank you for inviting me today. I'll be pleased to answer any questions.

I also want to introduce Aideen Nabigon. Aideen works with me on the common experience payment as well as a number of other initiatives in the department.

4:40 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Barry Devolin

Thank you very much, Ms. Wilson.

We will again have a single round of questioning for six minutes from each of the four caucuses, and I'll begin with Ms. Keeper from the Liberal Party.

4:40 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you for your presentation.

I do have a specific question in relation to a first nations political organization in my riding, which is the Manitoba Keewatinook Ininew Okimowin. They have been receiving funding to provide services and outreach for the first nations individuals in their region whom they represent, to help them complete their claims and make sure they're informed. They have been informed they will no longer be receiving funding as of May 2008.

This is a deep concern to the region, because as you may know, in northern Manitoba we have many remote communities where many individuals do not have English as a first language. I know you're familiar with these issues. Just in terms of what we deal with in our office with residential school survivors, we hear about numerous difficulties and challenges, and I know you're aware of that. However, losing this funding is going to be a serious detriment to many survivors in the riding. MKIO has suggested that 65% of the former MKIO Indian residential students will not be able to meet the deadline without support.

Could you respond to that, please?

4:40 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Indian Residential Schools Resolution Canada

Gina Wilson

Thank you for the question. We've had an initiative under way called the advocacy and public information program. In 2006-07, we had $5 million available in funding. Last fiscal year we had $6 million, and this fiscal year the program has been reduced to $4 million. So over a single year, the program has been reduced from $6 million to $4 million.

Obviously, this means cuts across the country for a number of the aboriginal organizations we've been working with. When it came to working with communities to get information out, which is the objective of the program, the majority of activity took place last fiscal year, and that was when the court approvals were taking place, the settlement agreement was about to be implemented, and so on. That's why we had $6 million for that particular year. But we had to figure out ways to reduce the number to $4 million.

In Manitoba we were sponsoring three aboriginal organizations, whereas in other provinces and regions we weren't supporting that number. So the decision was made to support one organization in Manitoba, and funding in that one organization was the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. So this was a decision for reduction.

4:45 p.m.

Liberal

Tina Keeper Liberal Churchill, MB

I'd like to ask you a couple of questions in response to your answer. First, who made the decision in Manitoba?