Evidence of meeting #31 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was companies.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Paul Hébert  Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada
Ryan Montpellier  Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resources Council
Philip Bousquet  Senior Program Director, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada
Scott Cavan  Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

4:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

As you know, the purpose of this study is to look at land use and sustainable economic development. Some of the issues are around the impact and benefit agreements or how we make sure that first nations are able to benefit from the resources extracted from their land.

If you were writing the report for this committee, what would be some of the recommendations?

Obviously, there seem to be some problems, even in terms of the legislative framework or the lack of clarity. People do not really know what's in the regulations. Also, if the regulations aren't good enough, what would you do to make them better? What would you do to have more people understand that it's not optional. And what would you do to maybe celebrate some of the ones that have worked really well. They could be sort of a blueprint for how this can work well.

If you were thinking of the researchers writing a couple of paragraphs explaining what works and what doesn't work, and then a couple of recommendations for tightening it up, what would you suggest we put in this report?

4:15 p.m.

Scott Cavan Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Is this specific to on-reserve activity? This is what you're examining, right?

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

The basis of this study is pretty well on reserve. But obviously, we would love to hear what you would suggest in terms of territorial land as well.

4:15 p.m.

Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Scott Cavan

Some of the pieces we stand for are government-side resource revenue-sharing, helping to create a sustainable environment, economic input into the communities, and helping to create capacity development to allow further participation in the industry itself through government-side resource revenue-sharing.

4:15 p.m.

Senior Program Director, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Philip Bousquet

An example I might suggest would be the Paix des braves in Quebec. It goes back to 2002. It involved resource revenue-sharing from hydro, minerals, and energy. It results in annual payments, some of which contribute to the establishment of entrepreneurial initiatives. The Cree Mineral Exploration Board has a role in reviewing projects.

I think there are examples like that that you can look at in different parts of the country.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

In terms of the communities, obviously some have done this before, and for some this is their first one.

Do you think that communities have the capacity to get the best possible IBA for their communities? Or how do you build that capacity in terms of negotiating a deal?

4:15 p.m.

Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Scott Cavan

Basically you're getting into whether the community has the capacity, be it access to the legal field, consultants, and the expertise needed.

You're talking about the last time, which was an impact benefit agreement, which was probably leading into a mine. We're dealing with this on the exploration side—early exploration agreements, MOUs, communications pieces, and protocols with communities.

Again, I think it falls to both sides. Both the communities and the smaller junior miners and exploration companies are not exactly experiencing the best capacity, and there is a training and education deficit in the aboriginal communities that's been well documented, of course. I know that some people will be talking about that.

4:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

The challenge is that most of the IBAs are private agreements, so it's difficult to get into the agreement and hold it up as a best practice. However, some are available, and Natural Resources Canada and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada have an inventory of those IBAs. They have begun to catalogue a list of best practices in the negotiation and application of IBAs.

Those kinds of resources would be very useful for communities in the early stages, to let them know what kinds of resources they need and where they can get access to them so they can negotiate an agreement that's best for them.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Is there a concern that maybe some of the environmental assessments could be downloaded to the provinces? What would be your interpretation of the role of the federal government if environmental assessments were downloaded to the provinces and territories?

4:15 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

It's not my understanding that a downloading is being envisioned; it's more that it's an issue of elimination of duplication. In cases where there are two environmental assessments taking place, one federal and one provincial, the mechanism would be in place that only one assessment would stand. That could be either the provincial or the federal level, whichever agency is best positioned on a case-by-case basis.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Certainly in the territories, it seems there's a lack of clarity. The Northwest Territories compared to the Yukon was certainly pointed out to me when I was up there.

Is there anything you would want in our report that could move you more quickly to get the kind of certainty people need for exploration and/or mining?

4:20 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

In the far north, the territories, the one big issue would be the resolution of land claims, so that all parties can have a more clear understanding of where they stand and their authority. If I had to choose one, that's what it would be.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Ms. Bennett.

Mr. Rickford.

4:20 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Thank you.

I'd like to thank the witnesses for coming here today.

I want to congratulate PDAC on another successful convention. You had more than 30,000 people visiting, I believe. I might add, the prominence of aboriginal folks and organizations involved in the process is certainly a credit, Scott, to the aboriginal outreach that PDAC is doing. I know that the Mining Association of Canada and the Mining Industry's Human Resource Council are actively involved, so congratulations to you on those two activities.

Obviously, coming from the great Kenora riding, you can imagine that there is some mining activity going on there, and some vast potential in this regard.

I'll just share with all of my colleagues that I probably overcame one of the biggest fears I've ever had, and that was—for all my work with mining companies—going down to the deepest drill site at Goldcorp, at 6,300 feet, which is three times the height of the CN Tower. Minister Raitt and I managed to make our way down there last week, and it was a tremendous experience.

As my colleagues have said on both sides of this table, we are primarily talking about reserve activities for the purposes of this part of the study, and I think the conversation has developed nicely, or segued, if you will, into this whole idea of capacity building.

Scott, you alluded to it, and certainly Ryan made some comments in this regard. The minister of HRSDC, the minister of aboriginal affairs, and myself were pleased to announce an investment of more than $700,000 into the Oshki-Pimache-O-Win Education and Training Institute in Thunder Bay. You may be familiar with it.

This is going to be specifically to steer young people between the ages of 16 to 29 toward careers in the mineral or mining sector. The course is called Mining 101, and I think it fits nicely with this, guys, because in terms of on-community, it's really creating a baseline, if you will, of information for mining literacy on reserve for folks to make informed choices about what kind of job or career in the mining industry they might be interested in. I'll flesh that out in a question very shortly.

There are two elements to this course. One is online, for youth, primarily, who need—as we understand—to stay in their communities. Many of them want to, and many of them have to.

The second part is through the Sudbury community college, the Cambrian College SkyTech mobile training trades trailer, which is an innovation that is developing out in northwestern Ontario as well.

This is great news for Webequie First Nation and their work in the Ring of Fire, of course, and the potential that holds.

My questions, probably to Scott and Ryan, are along these lines.

In what areas have you been the most successful in terms of the kinds of work in the mining sector that first nations people are typically interested in? I know that some companies have an aboriginal liaison officer as well, which is one interesting career track.

What are the most successful ways of increasing mining literacy? This may be a really good example. You may have others.

Finally, there seem to be a lot of programs out there that hold tremendous potential. My colleague, Linda, mentioned earlier that ECO Canada is doing some capacity-building work there. I'm concerned that the ordinary, average first nation in an isolated community may not immediately know where to go and how to get there. Is there a coordinating effort afoot to put this menu or constellation of options, if you will, out there?

I'll stop there. Ryan and Scott, perhaps others, proceed.

4:25 p.m.

Executive Director, Mining Industry Human Resources Council

Ryan Montpellier

Where to begin? You're absolutely correct that there is a plethora of mining and essential skills-related programs available to aboriginal communities, and it's sometimes very difficult to cut through the clutter of what does exist and what the best path is to move into a career—beyond just a job but really into a career—in the mining sector.

I don't think there's a cookie-cutter approach or one approach that works best, but it is a collection of tailored programs that fit the local community, and it's a partnership between either the community college or the ASETS or the ASEP or the mine.

What we've seen as having the most success is when you have a very active aboriginal community mining partner of some sort, be it an exploration company or a mining company, and some form of post-secondary or maybe even secondary—some form of formal education that is offered.

Increasing mining literacy and awareness of different careers is something that is absolutely required, because the potential is there. Bringing people and integrating them into the workforce has been part of what my organization has been aiming and striving for during the past five to six years. We work closely with ECO Canada and the Aboriginal Human Resource Council as well to try to achieve this.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

Scott, just to cut to you quickly, because time goes by when we're on these questions, you mentioned Glenn Nolan, and I think this speaks to the prominence aboriginal Canadians have and are going to have in the future, and with you there's an opportunity for mentoring.

Again, I go back to the question. Are there mentoring and coordinating efforts afoot so that first nations living in an isolated community, whether they're actively involved in a site or not, can think about a mining career? Where do we plug in and who do we plug into—a great role model such as you, etc.?

4:25 p.m.

Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Scott Cavan

I think there are a number of different programs under way, both provincially and probably nationally. On the national front you have the newly rebranded Indspire, formerly the National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, with careers in mining, which actively goes out into the secondary schools to teach about mining in a one-day course.

What we offer through the Mining Matters program is active in-community teaching of aboriginal youth about mining and mineral resources and the opportunities involved, and actually getting their hands involved in that. It's really about getting in and showing them, and when they can experience that on the ground, I think it resonates the best.

You talked about different outreach programs. You mentioned the Oshki-Pimache-O-Win. I understand they're looking at an online learning system. Again—

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

I think 40% of their intake, in fact.

4:25 p.m.

Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Scott Cavan

As Ryan was saying, there's no cookie-cutter approach. You can't just say this is what is going to work. But developing on a regional basis and looking at the capacity of the regions.... Now you're talking about broadband infrastructure, and there are lots of pieces that have to come around about this. I think the idea of the trailers and the mobile training facilities to go into these—it's much harder in the remote far north, of course, and you'll understand that, being from Kenora.

The question is how we move that around. I think there needs to be a look at a better coordinated approach, because it's happening everywhere across the country. We're seeing the mine training centres starting to travel this way, and we might start to look at asking what's a better effort, to make sure we're not actually stepping on each other's toes and duplicating efforts.

Just to add one last thing, I know we'll probably be working with the AFN in and around trying to capture some of this, but I'll leave it there.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you.

Yes, we always run against the clock in this business.

We're going to Mr. Genest-Jourdain for five minutes.

March 27th, 2012 / 4:25 p.m.

NDP

Jonathan Genest-Jourdain NDP Manicouagan, QC

Gentlemen, I will speak in French. Bousquet, Hébert and Montpellier are francophone names. I will give you all my questions at once. You can decide who will answer them.

Do you think it would be a good idea for the industry players to consult aboriginal people living on a given territory, prior to the exploration stage in mining?

Could you tell us what the real effect of the positions and interests of the country's aboriginals regarding mineral development initiatives are, considering their absence at the decision-making level, within the Canadian mining industry? You talked about 1% or less.

Could you also tell us what you think about the real redistribution of wealth and social benefits stemming from resource extraction on a given territory, within the population? In your documents, you mentioned Attawapiskat. I don't need to tell you that the media have exposed a fairly problematic social situation in that community. Once again, I submit this respectfully.

You can decide who will answer these questions.

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Government Relations, Mining Association of Canada

Paul Hébert

I can begin by answering the last question.

The exposed situations in Attawapiskat make it clear that there are some considerable challenges involved. Those situations are making me wonder. For instance, we know that De Beers earned $325 million through contracts with companies that belong to the Attawapiskat community. However, the profits are not being redistributed. I have no answer as to why; I don't know. There are clearly some challenges involved.

There are other examples of agreements that are working very well. In those cases, whole communities, and not only a few owners, are benefiting from the economic activity. Each case is unique, since each community is different. Every community has different capacities. It would be worthwhile to compare the agreements of different communities in order to determine what is working and what is not.

You are correct in saying that this is a challenge. I think that we should build on the successes and work on targeting the problems.

As for the pre-exploration consultations,

I think I'll defer to my colleagues at the PDAC.

4:30 p.m.

Senior Program Director, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Philip Bousquet

Thank you.

With respect to consultation and the crown's duty to consult, the first step that we take as an association is to offer guidance to our members through our program e3 Plus: A Framework for Responsible Exploration. It is something that is apart from regulations. They're good practice guidance for social engagement, for community engagement. Beyond that there is a lack of certainty in Canada as a result of the interpretation of Supreme Court decisions, and provincial governments are revising mining acts to try to keep up with those decisions. We're seeing that in a number of jurisdictions. For instance, Ontario introduced a new mining act three and a half years ago. Now, after extensive consultation they're developing regulations that would have the intent of addressing the crown's duty to consult and those duties that can be passed on to third parties such as our members.

4:30 p.m.

Program Director, Aboriginal Affairs, Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada

Scott Cavan

On the last piece, one of the principles we abide by is we ask the industry, or if they ask for our advice, to engage the community early and meaningfully throughout the process from start to finish.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Mr. Boughen, you have five minutes.