Evidence of meeting #19 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 40th Parliament, 3rd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was know.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michael Wernick  Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Nicole Jauvin  Deputy Minister and President, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

4:50 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Housing is much more small-scale. We have four units here and five units there, and so on. I could get you the overall number.

We do about half of the on-reserve housing, and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation does the other half. We tend to do more in making the lots serviceable and ready for housing in terms of infrastructure and so on.

We do some of the housing, but CMHC does a lot of the rest. I could get you... I think the nunber is close to 2,000 new units and about 3,000 renovations, but I'd want to double-check those numbers.

4:50 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Okay, thank you.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

That will do it. Thank you very much.

4:55 p.m.

Conservative

LaVar Payne Conservative Medicine Hat, AB

Thank you for allowing me those few extra seconds, Mr. Chair.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

You're kindly welcome.

I'm going to take the Liberal slot and ask a couple of questions to departmental officials.

Is there a way for you to present committee members with an understanding comparing, over the last three years and looking forward in the next two years, how much money is going into the healing program for residential school survivors? As you know, with the cancelling of the Aboriginal Healing Foundation—and there was some debate around that, and I know it crosses two departments at least; that is, INAC and Health Canada... Is there some way we can get a breakdown of the numbers, including what was given to the Aboriginal Healing Foundation, of course? I know there was...what, $125 million over three years? This is wrapping up, so I wonder whether we can get that, because there's a certain amount of trepidation out there about what resources are going to be available to deal with the need.

4:55 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Yes, I can undertake to get that to you in writing, within the next few days, actually.

Just in broad-brush terms, the support to the survivor community, let's call them, who are actually going through the process of the adjudication of their claims and people who will be participating in the activities of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and are at risk of some triggering of trauma as they relive and go through those experiences... That's what Health Canada does. What the healing foundation tended to do and had done for some time was work on community-based projects, and we can get you the numbers on those.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

I think everybody realizes the value of community-based projects.

On the food by mail program, I'll just let you know that while we love northern Manitoba, the six Labrador communities are in Labrador, not in Manitoba. That's on your website.

Could we get that changed? We were very surprised to see that we had geographically shifted, even with climate change, that far. I just mention that.

At the same time, can you give us a sense of when we can get more detail on the program implementation and how it's going to be administered? We have some broad strokes right now, but there are a lot of questions out there by folks in the communities. When can we as parliamentarians get a briefing on how this is going to be actually implemented and administered?

4:55 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

On the first point, I certainly apologize if there's an error on the website. I know the Government of Quebec sometimes plays with the line between Quebec and Labrador. If the federal government has done that, I certainly apologize.

4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

I don't think they jumped over Ontario and went to Manitoba.

4:55 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

No. I apologize to you for that, and thank you for the feedback. We will get that fixed.

We can offer officials to come to brief the committee anytime at your convenience. I'm not sure we have all of the answers, because we just announced the program and we want to use the advisory committee to do a lot of the fine-tuning, and most of the changes only come into effect next April 1. But we have a sense of how it's likely to run.

Many of the issues will involve going out and tendering and having competitive processes for people to win contracts to take over some of this business. I can't tell you now who's going to win that, but we have an aggressive set of timelines to meet to have the program up and running next April 1.

May 27th, 2010 / 4:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

I really appreciate that, sir.

My last question deals with the Office of the Federal Interlocutor. In the main estimates there was a huge decrease, and then in supplementary estimates A there seemed to be a replenishing of the funds at OFI. Can you explain just what's happening there?

My final question is about Bill C-3. If Bill C-3 were to go forward, have any moneys whatsoever been budgeted for the possibility of new entrants, even based on Mr. Clatworthy's sense of when people might come on stream?

4:55 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

On the first one, my understanding would be the Powley program the minister referred to sunsetted so we couldn't get it in the main estimates. It was renewed. Cabinet took the decision. It was approved by Treasury Board and it has shown up in supplementary estimates. That is typically what happens with sunsetters. It's not always helpful to Parliament to understand the flow of that, but that's what's happened on that one.

On Bill C-3, the minister explained that since we didn't know whether the bill would pass, when it would pass, and in what form it would pass it wouldn't be possible to get money appropriated or ask for money to be appropriated relative to the cost of implementing Bill C-3. Depending on how the bill goes, there could be very different numbers of people entitled to registration.

We have the expert panel presided over by Mr. Emerson, and we would expect to go to cabinet this fall based on the final form of the bill, if it passes, and some work on its likely cost. We have put a lot of that out there, and there are really only two areas likely to experience immediate pressure, because we expect about 95% of the people who will be enfranchised to be off reserve on day one, so they would be eligible for Health Canada's health benefits program, and we can do the ballpark of how many people multiplied by typical use of that program. The other would be our own post-secondary program that Ms. Crowder was asking about.

Other than that, you have to make some assumptions about whether people will ever want to move back to their reserve communities or not.

5 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

I thank you for that.

I've even been liberal with my own time.

Let's move now to Mr. Duncan, on the government side, for five minutes.

5 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Thank you very much.

Five minutes goes quickly.

Nicole Jauvin, you have had a lonely time. You'd never know we were in the middle of a northern economic development study from the fact that no questions have been directed your way. You've now been in place long enough that you can probably give us some pretty good updates on some things that we're not that familiar with, such as progress on the Arctic research station, maybe some progress on economic diversification, energy diversification, possible port or airport development. I don't think this committee knows where we are on Pangnirtung, and perhaps you can describe to us where that might sit.

We did have witnesses the other day who talked about how some of our national codes--the building codes, fire codes, and things--don't fit the north. I wonder if that has come into your orbit at all in terms of thinking about whether there would be a role for CanNor in all of that.

That's it.

5 p.m.

Nicole Jauvin Deputy Minister and President, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Thank you very much for the question; I really appreciate it.

First, if I may introduce Michel Robillard, who's VP at CanNor and who is living in Iqaluit as the first senior management person in the agency. Michel has first-hand experience of living in the north. I think he's attended the committee before.

You asked with respect to the Arctic research station, which is a file that is in the hands of the department of my colleague here, Michael, so he may want to add, but first I'll talk, if you don't mind. It's the same thing with the Pangnirtung harbour facility, which comes under the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. I understand there are plans to complete phase one of that file in the next year or so. Again, that's a file that comes under Fisheries and Oceans.

What I could talk to you about in terms of progress on our part is the opening of the northern project management office, which was announced by the minister on May 3. That office will provide advice to major proponents of resource projects in the north in navigating through the process and will coordinate the role of all federal agencies that have a role in the process.

Our aim is to use this office as a great way to support economic development in the north by providing us, first of all, a bit of intelligence before the fact as to what projects are likely to come through, and by giving proponents a bit of assurance in terms of timeliness and predictability and transparency with respect to the federal regulatory process.

The interesting part is a link that we can make with the economic development side of our shop, where we can support some of these projects within the communities that are close to some of these projects and try to work on opportunities for them with respect to these major projects.

I hope that provides some answers to your questions, Mr. Duncan.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

In all your project proposal funding and so on, there must have been some energy-related proposals.

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister and President, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Nicole Jauvin

There were. The one that comes to my mind is in Nunavut. We have a project recently with the Qulliq Energy Corporation, where we have contributed $5.8 million toward a broader $14 million project to replace the diesel generators with new generators that will be more efficient. The project did begin last fall. It's expected to create nine person-years of employment. Also, very interestingly, it will result in an annual reduction of diesel fuel use—I have the numbers here—of 1.6 million litres, a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of more than 4,000 metric tonnes. So that's one example.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

That will do it, Mr. Duncan. Thank you very much.

I don't have anybody else on the list. Mr. Lévesque has the next opportunity. Mr. Lévesque for five minutes. Does anybody else have a question? Ms. Crowder? And that may end it for this afternoon.

Mr. Lévesque, then Ms. Crowder.

5:05 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

As for the nutrition north Canada program, I would really like to know the nature of the committee that will be in charge. Will it be an administrative or advisory committee? Do you have an organization chart in mind, in terms of how it will operate? I am giving you just one direction right now, because our committee wants to have a meeting on this program specifically, to review all the ins and outs.

Furthermore, at the beginning of the week, on Tuesday—and this is more topical as far as today goes—we welcomed individuals from Nunavut and the Northwest Territories. The big problem they have, and it is pretty well the same in all northern communities, is housing. The problem is finding skilled people to train the residents, because skilled people do not stay around long enough to teach and train people who will in turn train others.

Does the current budget set out any funds for housing specifically?

5:05 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

That is two questions.

As for the nutrition program, as offered, our experts can appear before the committee and provide clarification. As for the council's role, it is an advisory committee that works directly with the department. It gives the minister and the department feedback on the program's implementation. Administration of the program, which will be done by officials in my department, as well as program accountability will be very clear: the department will be in charge of administering and implementing the program. There will be activity reports and so forth. It will certainly be an issue for the committee in the future.

Furthermore, housing has indeed been identified as a problem throughout all of northern Canada, in the territories as well as the northern parts of the provinces, including Nunavik. Our department does not deliver training programs. That is more the domain of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada and the provinces, given that the federal government has more or less delegated labour and training matters to the provinces.

We are looking for coordination on the ground. If we fund new housing construction, we will mobilize, if possible, training and apprenticeship programs to create future capacity. The needs are so great that, in theory, there should be job opportunities in the communities in the years ahead.

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister and President, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Nicole Jauvin

I would like to add something, if I may. At CanNor, we are working with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada to more clearly identify the needs. And as for training—not in terms of housing construction—our programs offer adult training opportunities, for example, funding the establishment of a curriculum and so forth. We are working actively on that with Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, because that is a role we can and should fulfill.

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Do I still have some time left, Mr. Chair?

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Vice-Chair Liberal Todd Russell

Keep going, sir. You have another minute.

5:10 p.m.

Bloc

Yvon Lévesque Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

In terms of managing individual affairs, I noticed you had a $231 million increase over last year. What subactivities under this heading have led to this increase? What is the funding breakdown for each subactivity?

5:10 p.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

Thank you for your question, as it also gives me a chance to answer a previous question from Ms. Crowder.

The document shows the transfer of certain responsibilities related to residential schools and the processing of residential school files. In the past, it was categorized under “claims litigation settlement”. We tried to make things clearer—obviously, it did not work—by transferring these activities to the management of individual affairs. Therefore, you see a decrease on one side and an increase on the other, but the total has not changed.