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Evidence of meeting #39 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 estimates.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Michael Wernick  Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Maybe I'm seeing it under a different—

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

—the “Explanation of Requirements”. If you look at page 64 and you go to “Grassy Narrows and Islington Bands Mercury Disability Board”—

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

It seems like that is previous estimates to date, not supplementary estimates (A).

5:25 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

So we can't get some clarification on the previous estimates to date even though it's there...?

5:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

I'll recognize a point of order from Mr. Rickford.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

We have tried, but this motion has been put forward by your colleague, dealing specifically with the supplementary estimates (A), and some latitude has been afforded for some discussion—

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

There has been no latitude afforded—

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

There actually has—

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

This isn't a point of order.

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Okay. I'm going to go to another—

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

Greg Rickford Conservative Kenora, ON

My point would be then, Chris, that this is a previous estimate and not a supplementary (A) estimate.

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

I'm going to go to another question because obviously people are refusing—

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Ms. Hughes, I'll turn it over to you to ask another question that's pertinent to the supplementary estimates.

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Minister, I understand that this is as frustrating for us as it is for you. We've never had problems with some latitude with respect to answering questions that are related to the estimates, so I'll go to child welfare, because obviously they're trying to protect something—I'm not sure what.

I'm going to refer now to page 66 and vote 1. How's that?

More first nations children today are in state care than at the height of the residential schools, yet funding for first nations child welfare is less than what other Canadian children receive. This makes it very difficult to keep families together or even to keep those children in communities.

Given the fact that the federal government is appealing the Federal Court's decision to compel the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to hear the complaint by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society that this inequity represents discrimination, I'm wondering if the government has any intention to commit to increased access to prevention services by working with first nations and provincial and territorial partners to implement the enhanced prevention focused approach.

In that, I'm wondering if, in the $1.9 million, whether or not that actually is improving funding and equity for these services.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

I find the question passing strange. The reason I find the question passing strange is that we are doing exactly what the thrust of your question is, which is that we're entering into tripartite arrangements with first nations, the provinces, and the federal government to improve child and family services to make it better. We've entered into six agreements. We've put a lot of extra money into it. We're continuing in that vein. This is the direction of the government.

One of the things we have accomplished is that where we do have measurable outcomes, we know we've made a difference, but we need to.... In order to run programs properly and to be able to effect change to make things better, you have to be able to measure them, and that's what the investment in the supplementary estimates is all about, as we just described in the previous line of questioning.

5:30 p.m.

NDP

Carol Hughes NDP Algoma—Manitoulin—Kapuskasing, ON

Minister, I'm just trying to get some sense of the $1.9 million that is for the information management system. I'm wondering how that moves us forward with respect to improving funding and equity for these services.

5:30 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Well, this is just the amount in the supplementary estimates. In the main estimates, you will find money for child and family services, and it's considerable. It's a lot larger today than it was in 1995, because we entered into those child and family service agreements. There was an agreement with these tripartite arrangements, and in each and every case we provided additional funds so the programs could be more effective at keeping children either with extended families or in their communities, as opposed to apprehensions, as was the model before.

As a matter of fact, the child and family service model prior to these agreements in many cases actually had an incentive for children to be removed from their families, because each removal was an incremental transfer of money from the federal government to the provincial government or other authority. So we've changed the incentive, and that has changed the results. Now we want to be able to measure the results and outcomes better.

5:35 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Thank you, Minister. Unfortunately, that hour went fast. Thank you for staying a little bit longer. I held you here for five minutes extra to ensure that Ms. Hughes had an opportunity to ask those final questions, so thank you so much for being here.

Colleagues, thanks so much.

The committee meeting is adjourned.