Thank you very much, Chair. I can tell you had a carpentry background by the way you pounded that gavel when you started.
Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada's supplementary estimates (A) for fiscal year 2012-13. The supplementary estimates (A) include a number of additional investments that demonstrate our government's concrete efforts to improve the quality of life and economic prosperity of aboriginal peoples and northerners. They include more than $159 million in initiatives, on top of the $7.8 billion approved in the main estimates, bringing the total investment to approximately $8 billion. There may be additional supplementary estimates in the fall that change this total.
More than 90%—$150 million—of these supplementary estimates will go to fund the settlement of specific claims. As members of this committee appreciate, negotiated settlements resolve outstanding legal obligations of the Government of Canada and enable first nations to access the resources they need to realize their full potential.
The action plan launched in 2007 on specific claims has had a dramatic impact on the number of settled claims. Since 2007, 77 claims have been settled, totalling $1.2 billion. There are currently more claims in active negotiation than ever before.
In March I had the pleasure of announcing the final settlement of an outstanding specific claim made by Long Plain First Nation in Manitoba. On December 16 of last year, our government, the Government of Ontario, and Fort William First Nation announced the final settlement of a 160-year-old land claim that will strengthen the economy and create jobs in northwestern Ontario.
In July of 2011, the Government of Canada and the Roseau River First Nation announced the final settlement of a long-standing land claim in southern Manitoba. The negotiated settlement provides the first nation with $80 million to resolve the claim. Other negotiated settlements will soon follow.
The second item in the supplementary estimates now before you relates to self-government agreements with a number of Yukon first nations: Ta'an Kwach'an Council, Kluane First Nation, Kwanlin Dun First Nation, and Selkirk First Nation. A total of $3.4 million is needed to support the implementation of these agreements. The full implementation of these self-government agreements will have a positive impact on the lives of all Yukon residents.
These estimates also include $1.6 million to support the implementation of the historic Sechelt Indian Band self-government agreement, concluded more than 25 years ago in British Columbia.
Another item listed in supplementary estimates (A) is $2.6 million for the first nations and Inuit youth employment strategy, under youth initiatives. This program provides work placement opportunities for first nations youth living on reserve, enabling them to gain valuable skills training in the field of information and communications technology as well as the work experience they need to find employment or continue their education. The funds listed in these estimates will be allocated to seven first nations regional management organizations that provide training and technical support to first nations schools.
The supplementary estimates now before this committee also include $2 million in 2012-13 to design and build phase one of an $8 million first nations child and family services information management system. In recent years, this government has concluded tripartite agreements to improve the delivery of on-reserve child and family services in six provinces. Thanks to these agreements, nearly 70% of all first nations children and families residing on reserves across Canada can now access enhanced services that focus on prevention and early intervention.
When all three phases of the information management system are completed in 2014, we will be in a better position to measure the impacts of our investments to support the well-being and safety of first nations children and families and report to all Canadians on the results achieved.
The next item I'd like to discuss relates to the major projects management office initiative. These supplementary estimates include $1.4 million to support this department's role in the review of large resource projects and to implement the responsible resource development initiative that was announced recently. Major resource development projects can provide valuable opportunities for aboriginal people, enhanced opportunities for well-paying jobs near their communities, and the opportunity to negotiate direct benefit agreements with industry. The major projects management office embedded at Natural Resources Canada coordinates the review of proposed projects through a whole-of-government approach.
The additional funding included in the estimates for my department will ensure that more than 70 projects currently managed by the major projects management office are reviewed in a timely and thorough manner and that meaningful aboriginal consultation obligations are respected and well integrated into the new environmental and regulatory processes.
Mr. Chair, this government believes that all Canadians, regardless of where they live, north or south, on or off reserve, should be able to fully participate in our strong Canadian economy. As the committee conducts its review, I encourage members to consider each item of these estimates in the context of the government's larger strategy. I'm confident these investments will lead to further progress for aboriginal people, northerners, and all Canadians.
With that, I'll do my best to answer any questions that members of the committee may have pertaining to supplementary estimates (A), 2012-13.
Thank you, Chair.