Evidence of meeting #74 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 s-8.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Graham Gagnon  Director, Dalhousie University, Centre for Water Resources Studies
Steve Hrudey  Former Panel Member, Expert Panel on Safe Drinking Water, As an Individual
Ernie Daykin  Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver
Gary MacIsaac  Executive Director, Union of British Columbia Municipalities
Ralph Hildebrand  General Manager, Corporate Counsel, Corporate Services, Metro Vancouver
Dean Vicaire  Co-Chair, Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat
John Paul  Executive Director, Atlantic Policy Congress of First Nations Chiefs Secretariat
Robert Howsam  Executive Director, Ontario First Nations Technical Services Advisory Group
Mathew Hoppe  Technical Manager, Ontario First Nations Technical Services Advisory Group

10:20 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

You've mentioned the duty to consult. I just want a clear definition of what you thought was the duty to consult.

10:25 a.m.

General Manager, Corporate Counsel, Corporate Services, Metro Vancouver

Ralph Hildebrand

In terms of our concern with “duty to consult”, it's the fact that as local governments we have a lot of experience in dealing with water and wastewater issues. We would like to be able to come to the table to discuss and give our perspective on those issues and let our concerns be known, where appropriate and where our interests are at stake. I assume they would be addressed in the regulations that follow.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Rob Clarke Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

I'd like to turn my time over to Ms. Ambler, please.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

First of all, I'd like to acknowledge, Mayor Daykin, the essential role that you play, as underscored when you were speaking to Mr. Bevington. I understand that Minister Valcourt assured the municipalities that you will have a strong role to play should Bill S-8 become law. It's heartening that you're working with FCM and that you're representing their views as well as the views of Metro Vancouver.

I noticed in your position paper that there are a number of open-ended questions and concerns. Words like “unknown” and “unclear” require clarification. Would you agree that a regulatory framework is what's needed? Are you relieved, and are some of your concerns assuaged by the fact that Minister Valcourt has said the department really wants your input afterwards in the development of the regulations?

10:25 a.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

Yes. It's been a work in progress. When the delegation came to the aboriginal relations committee in October, they made their presentation. Throughout it, consistent references were made to significant investment by the federal government in the delivery of water and significant investment by first nation communities. There was not, in our view, an acknowledgement of what local government and the regional government had done. We received that correspondence and it was very encouraging. Again, it's about having that strong, positive relationship. In terms of ongoing consultation, yes, I think there's a framework there, but it will be in having that dialogue on an ongoing basis at a number of levels that will make it successful for all of us.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Sure. That I think can take place, too, after the legislation is passed as well.

Also, in Minister Duncan's letter, a little further back in February, he did specifically say that “Bill S-8 will not affect municipalities’ ability to choose to pursue or not to pursue municipal service agreements with First Nations. As well, S-8 will not delegate powers or costs to provinces or municipalities with respect to First Nations drinking water — jurisdiction will remain with the federal government.”

In the spirit of alleviating your concerns, did that help as well? I know that both you and Mr. MacIsaac talked about financial and legal liabilities, but municipalities can choose or not choose to enter into a service agreement and include these issues in it. So I guess I just....

10:25 a.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

We would like an assurance on that. I think there's still the feeling or understanding that we could be required to do that.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

But the letter says specifically that you won't be.

10:25 a.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

Fair enough.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Okay. I'm sorry. It's just....

10:25 a.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

Again, I'm a glass-half-full kind of guy. I don't like to be a skeptic.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Okay. I can tell.

10:25 a.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

But there are questions, and I'll give you a really brief example with waste water. If there's contamination or a problem with what's going into the wastewater system at the municipal level, we find out where the source is and there are bylaws and opportunities in place to deal with that. There could be fines imposed, because that's the source that's causing a problem for the system.

It's not clear if the same thing would be applicable in a first nation....

Maybe Gary can help—

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

Stella Ambler Conservative Mississauga South, ON

Well, I hope that in your involvement with the...will help with that. Thank you.

10:25 a.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Chris Warkentin

Ms. Ambler, your time is up. I do apologize. These clocks keep running.

We'll turn to Ms. Bennett now, for the next seven minutes.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

I think what you're telling us is worrying, as is your position paper. The words that we see are: point 1, “lack of consultation”; point 2, “unknown”; point 3, “unclear”; point 4, “challenges”; point 5, “uncertainties”; point 8, “unknown”; and point 9, “lacking”. Oh, I left out one “unclear”, and one “require clarification”.

So clearly, the bill as drafted does not reflect the concerns you expressed at the meeting. I guess my question is, if this bill is passed in its present form—because it didn't really address the complexity of your situation, which I think is an excellent case in point.... You have first nations sitting in a region, and the way the bill is drafted at present, you feel that you will be affected by it and that that's not addressed.

Just tell me how this ought to work. Seeing that you're going to get this bill, is there a way we can fix it between now and when it's shoved through?

Secondly, what kind of consultation would you require in the development of regulation?

What do we have to do to this bill to reassure you that this doesn't increase your liability? A letter from a minister doesn't mean anything if you have a bill that you believe really affects your ability to do your job.

10:30 a.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

As mentioned at the beginning, we can provide inputs and suggest amendments. Our hope would be that those would be given strong consideration and provide us with some clarity and assurances.

I know that Gary had something to say, though.

May 23rd, 2013 / 10:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Union of British Columbia Municipalities

Gary MacIsaac

MP Bennett, if I understand your second point, you were asking at what level the consultation needs to occur.

The bill sets out the powers to do a lot by regulation. As you heard from your previous delegation this morning, on a technical level there are many ways to achieve satisfaction with regulation. So we think there would need to be consultation at a local government and first nations level, because they're neighbours and work together on the same system and both want it to be delivered.

I would also say there's a great technical need. As these regulations are built out and developed, there is a real technical need. So there very clearly needs to be technical input from the local government and community on it, as well as political input.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Do you believe that the water safety plan approach, if that were better articulated in a preamble, would help?

10:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Union of British Columbia Municipalities

Gary MacIsaac

I'm not sure I'm clear on your question.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

In the previous panel, Dr. Hrudey was concerned that this doesn't have the over-arching articulation, the need for individual water safety plans.

10:30 a.m.

Executive Director, Union of British Columbia Municipalities

Gary MacIsaac

What we at UBCM are saying here today is that we understand there is going to be a regulatory framework and that there's no debate on that, because there seems to be a merit in and a need for doing that. So there are no debates about that. We just think that the framework could be developed much better for all the partners if there's local government involvement early and often in the process.

So we are where we are in the process, from where we got today. What we said coming in today is we're very much willing to work as a local government community, both at Metro Vancouver and UBCM, in the development of these regulations.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

But Mayor Daykin, what would your concerns with the way the bill is drafted right now? What areas would you like to see amended?

10:30 a.m.

Director and Chair, Aboriginal Relations Committee, Metro Vancouver

Ernie Daykin

Again, we want a clarity on what is required of us and what the potential liabilities are and how those can be alleviated at our level. I think that's one of the uncertainties we're faced with.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal St. Paul's, ON

Have you had a response from the department to your position paper, to all of the nine areas you are seeking clarification on, and...?