Evidence of meeting #53 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 program.

A recording is available from Parliament.

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michael Wernick  Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Michael Nadler  Director General, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Bruce Stanton

Thank you, Mr. Lemay.

Ms. Crowder, go ahead, please.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you, Minister and department representatives, for coming. I have a couple of quick questions.

I noticed that in the supplementary (C)s there is reprofiling of funds. Of course, I ask this question every time you come, but I wondered why in this reprofiling there was no money for the First Nations Education Act in British Columbia.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

We've allocated $30 million, did we not?

9:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Michael Wernick

If we do get an agreement, we'll have the funds in place.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

So it hasn't happened yet.

9:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

There's a rumour going around that the Saskatchewan region is going to receive a $250-million cut in its budget. Can you just answer yes or no, is that true?

9:25 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

No, not true. Okay, great.

I want to look at the reprofiling of funds. Mr. Lemay touched on the first nations water and wastewater action plan, and I understand the plan is to put some of this money into future years, but I just want to turn for a moment to the 2010 report of the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development on monitoring water resources.

Of course I don't have time to go through everything in this report, but the report raised some very, very serious concerns about the monitoring of water on federal lands. In paragraph 2.31 on page 11 in the English version, and of course I don't expect you to have that in front of you, they're talking about Environment Canada, but they found that “the program is not monitoring water quality on most of these lands...it was unable to show how current monitoring sites on federal land met the criteria or why some federal lands are monitored and others are not.”

They go on to say, “the Department does not know whether other federal departments may be monitoring water quality or quantity on this land.”

This report was pretty scathing in terms of federal lands and Environment Canada, and the relationship with other departments. I guess, anecdotally, we hear fairly consistently from first nations that where there are water systems, not all of the people on reserve are connected to these water systems. We know there are a significant number of reserves, not included in the work that you're doing, that have contaminated wells, and they're having to truck in water.

I guess I have two questions. I'm wondering why there couldn't be projects that could be funded in this fiscal year, with this water money, number one. Number two, how is your department working with Environment Canada to address these very serious concerns raised in the environment commissioner's report?

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

One thing we've done is we've commissioned, and the field work's certainly done, a complete review of water systems on reserve—

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

Excuse me, Minister—

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

—and that includes the wells.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

It does include the wells—

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Yes.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

—and any other water.

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Yes.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

So it would give us a full overview—

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Yes.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

—of water on reserve, not just the systems that are...?

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Yes.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

When will that report be available?

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

It should be available before the end of June.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

How quickly will the parliamentary committee have access to that report?

9:25 a.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Before the end of June.

9:25 a.m.

NDP

Jean Crowder NDP Nanaimo—Cowichan, BC

So we'll get it then, that's great. So with these concerns that were raised in the environment commissioner's report, and this reprofiling of this money, there were projects and what not available that could have been funded in this fiscal year?