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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 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

I would ask that members ask questions with regard to the supplementary estimates (A).

I'll turn it over to you, Ms. Bennett.

5 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Thank you.

I would just like to get it on the record that seeing there's been a refusal to divide up the budget implementation bill and that it will not be studied at the aboriginal peoples committee in the Senate, this is the time when the minister is before us to examine the implications of the budget, as well as the supplementary (A)s. The supplementary (A)s have already been reported back to the House.

We have the minister before us. This ought to be an opportunity for us to ask the minister what we want, and it won't be about non-aboriginal youth in downtown Toronto. It will be only about things that are the direct responsibility of the minister. I will try again.

The supplementary (A)s include $7.4 million for the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. As you know from the interim report of February 24, the commission has asked about extending the time of the mandate of the commission, but as well for significant dollars to properly do their work. I'd like to know what the minister thinks the $7.4 million will do, when clearly the commission is asking for a great deal more than that in order to do their work properly.

5 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

As you know, the—

5 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

I hate to do this, and I recognize the words are there and there's a reference to that program, but as you know, there are no adjustments for supplementary (A)s with regard to that. I take the point that members want to ask questions with regard to different files that may be under the minister's purview, but the committee specifically asked the minister to come here to speak about the supplementary estimates (A). These are allocations of cash that were put forward for the purpose of additional funds.

I'll turn it over to you, Ms. Bennett.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

With due respect, Mr. Chair, when the invitation was extended, we had not been led to believe that they would have already been reported back by the time the minister arrived. What is under scrutiny right now is the impact of the budget, as well as the supplementary (A)s. I do not think it's unreasonable to ask the minister to answer questions about the impact of the budget, as well as the supplementary (A)s, and particularly the things that actually are listed in the supplementary (A)s as an issue.

I would really encourage that you allow the minister to answer the question on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Ms. Bennett, I again have asked members to keep it to the subject matter that committee members asked the minister to come here to speak about.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

The $7.4 million is in the supplementary (A)s.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Ms. Bennett, I think maybe you and I are reading the document differently. I don't see an adjustment for supplementary (A)s with regard to that particular envelope. I'm sorry, but that's not within the supplementary (A)s, so I'd ask that you refer to a different line item—

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

I hope that these questions you have deemed out of order will be answered by the minister in writing.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

I'd welcome the committee to invite the minister to discuss a different subject matter at a later date, but there are committee members who are desperately looking for answers with regard to the supplementary estimates (A). I think it's important that we give members that opportunity. The minister really has only one hour, and I want to ensure that on the subject matter he's been asked to bring us information about he is asked those questions and that he is allowed to answer questions with regard to that subject matter.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

In the supplementary estimates (A), as of April of this year, the administration and control of the urban aboriginal youth and community programs unit has been transferred from the Department of Canadian Heritage to Indian Affairs and Northern Development. There was a report last year saying that didn't seem to make any sense. Can you tell me why that's happening?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Certainly, the—

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

What specific programs are you taking from Canadian Heritage?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

All the programs, the three major program elements that were under the aboriginal friendship centre program, which were funded from Canadian Heritage, are being transferred.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Is there any reduction in the money or the staff?

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

There is no reduction in money or staff. The money transfers to us and the staff transfer to us. There are 13 staff who are involved.

Of course, the friendship centres themselves have been advocating this measure for quite some time. They welcome the measure very much. I've talked with the national president. I've talked to members at individual friendship centres and also at provincial organizations. They all welcome the move.

We've brought them into the family where they feel most comfortable, and we look forward to actually being able to work very well together.

5:05 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

In the departmental deficit reduction measures, it explains that there will be 480 positions lost across the department, with significant reductions, and yet the supplementary estimates (A) are seeking an increase of $156.4 million.

Could you explain if there would be any effect on the additions to reserve staffing and/or funding? Certainly this committee has been apprised at almost every hearing about the backlogs there and about how much is required.

5:05 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

My understanding is that on the additions to reserve initiative there would be no impact on communities or on staffing, as per your question.

I could ask my officials to give you a little more detail on that if you would prefer.

5:10 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Yes.

5:10 p.m.

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

I don't have much to add, Mr. Chairman. There shouldn't be any impact on the service. We're trying to actually take out some of the duplication and redundancy between our front-line regional offices and headquarters, and streamline and speed up the process. We have a working group with the Assembly of First Nations on how to do this faster. Some of it depends on cooperation with the provinces, because we're often talking about crown land, but we should not expect any impact on service levels.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Mr. Clarke, go ahead for seven minutes.

June 6th, 2012 / 5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I'd like to thank Mr. Wernick, the minister, and Ms. Swords. Welcome back.

I have just a couple of questions for you, Minister. I understand the supplementary estimates (A) also include an internal reallocation of resources for the Canadian high Arctic research station. I'm hoping you can provide some clarity as to what this money is going towards.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

Thank you very much for the question.

There is approximately $400,000 in internal reallocation to the high Arctic research station. As part of the design phase for the station, these funds will be allocated to projects that test green building and alternative energy technologies for application at the station and across the north.

The station is to be a year-round, multidisciplinary facility on the cutting edge of environmental and resource development issues. The station will promote partnerships and collaboration among the private, aboriginal, academic, and public sectors, both domestically and internationally.

The international research community is very much looking forward to it. We just wrapped up the International Polar Year conference in Montreal in April, I believe it was. We had 58 countries represented there and 2,600 participants. This is a major Canadian initiative and a world-class facility.

The station will work with aboriginal people of Canada's Arctic and recognize the importance of traditional knowledge. It will include cutting-edge laboratories, offices, and meeting facilities to support collaboration, accommodations, and advanced mechanical and telecommunications systems to ensure safe and efficient operations.

This will all be delivered in partnership with northerners and will strengthen and develop our approaches in the Arctic.

There are a bunch of projects I could talk about, in collaboration with Yukon College, Nunavut Arctic College, the Nunavut Planning Commission, the Hamlet of Cambridge Bay, which is where the station will be, and with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, ITK. That is what this allocation of money is for.

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Can you describe the Inuit transfers to government departments' internal reallocations totalling $1 million included in these supplementary estimates?

5:10 p.m.

Conservative

John Duncan Conservative Vancouver Island North, BC

This is a transfer between departments involving the transfer of program responsibility and authority, as well as associated funds from one department's appropriation to another department that becomes responsible for delivering the program.

The transfers and internal reallocations included in these supplementary estimates are a $630,000 transfer from Health Canada to fund the Sechelt Indian Band health programs under the Sechelt Indian Band Self-Government Act. This is a bunch of core program funding provided by Health Canada.

The core budget is $325,000. There's an aboriginal diabetes initiative, a head start on-reserve initiative, a drinking water safety initiative. In addition, there's a community care initiative. There's one on communicable disease control, sexually transmitted infections, and there's money for the Sechelt health centre, operating and maintenance.

There's also a $21,000 transfer from Health Canada for the self-governing Yukon first nations programs and a service transfer agreement on health. In addition, there's a $497,000 transfer to Human Resources and Skills Development to support the Kativik regional government, to streamline delivery of youth programming, to support youth programming and services delivered by HRSDC, including programs under the first nations and Inuit youth employment strategy, normally administered by my department. This will result in streamlined services and reporting.