Evidence of meeting #110 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was vote.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Paul Thoppil  Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

The questioning now goes to MP Mike Bossio.

May 29th, 2018 / 5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Thank you so much, Minister, for being here today, and thank you also to Mr. Thoppil and Mr. Perron.

Minister, Mr. Amos raised some of this a little earlier around the long-term drinking water advisories, and I'd like to delve into it a little bit more. As you mentioned, it is a very important issue to all Canadians, and I hear about it from my constituents. It was great that you came to my riding and met with the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte and saw their state-of-the-art water system that has been built. I think we'd like to see this happen across all indigenous communities at some point. I'm happy to see the added investments that are being made to expand on that system in the water mains.

Can you please speak to the progress that your department is making and has made in lifting long-term drinking water advisories on reserves?

5:20 p.m.

Liberal

Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Thank you for the question.

As I indicated earlier, this is an issue that comes up all across the country when I speak to Canadians, whether they're indigenous peoples or non-indigenous Canadians. We all believe in the fact that every Canadian should be able to access clean drinking water in their community. The Prime Minister put a big emphasis on this by making sure that we have long-term funding, and making a commitment in budget 2016 to $1.8 billion. We have added to that this year because of the fact that communities like yours—the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte, in your riding, was one of the communities—had water systems in their country that previous federal governments had not taken on the responsibility to support, even though they were public systems on reserve.

We expanded our commitment to the number of systems that we are supporting in the Prime Minister's commitment, so that by March of 2021 we will lift all long-term drinking water advisories for public systems on reserve. This is not a small feat, otherwise previous governments would have been able to do this. We have invested the long-term funding. We have the absolute political will on this and the meticulous organization behind it that, I think, is going to get the job done.

To date, we have lifted 62 long-term drinking water advisories. There are still 76 in place as we speak, I believe. Seventy-five or or 76; that may need to be updated. There's much more work to be done, but we are tracking each one of these advisories very diligently.

You'll note that, during this time, we're not shy about saying that 32 long-term drinking water advisories have been added. That has highlighted to us that there was a need, not only to address the communities that had the long-term drinking water advisories but those that were at risk of developing one. We have added work on these communities to our diligence, where we believe there's a risk that they will slip into a long-term drinking water advisory. This is something that we follow very closely. We work with communities to address issues like the training of water operators on reserve, and making sure that they are also well-supported to be able to do the operation and maintenance over the long term.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

It's interesting that you raise the fact that 32 have been added in that time. Is it a case that this just came about, or is it that, in the past, the government wasn't recognizing that these needed to be added? Can you tell me a little about why that discrepancy existed? Why have some of these been added in that time?

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Jane Philpott Liberal Markham—Stouffville, ON

Thanks for asking the question so I can clarify what I meant by that.

When I talked about the 32 that were added, I meant that during the time that we've been lifting long-term drinking water advisories, there are some communities that have developed a long-term drinking water advisory. Those have been added to our total number, to bring the number to the 76, I believe, that are in effect right now.

The other issue I was referring to earlier is that when we did—if you'll pardon the pun—a deep dive into this issue early on, under Minister Bennett and the really hard work of our officials, we determined that we had a list of long-term drinking water advisories. Nobody had ever before even itemized, in this sort of meticulous detail, which communities had advisories. It became apparent to us that there were a few dozen communities that had long-term drinking water advisories and they were in public places like community centres, or nursing stations. The previous federal government hadn't taken the responsibility to support those communities. We said that's just not right. We actually wanted to add to our commitment and make our work a little bit harder. That's why you'll notice that I made this announcement in January of this year when I did a major press conference. We announced that we were adding a number of other communities to our commitment, including the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Am I done?

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I'm going to ask for the committee's attention, because we do have to go through the votes.

I want to thank you. It was feisty, as predicted. I'm so glad that you were able to answer many of those questions. Obviously, we care deeply about the issue. We're very pleased that you came here to our committee.

Don.

5:25 p.m.

Liberal

Don Rusnak Liberal Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

I just want to compliment Kevin Waugh on his coat tonight.

5:25 p.m.

Voices

Oh, oh!

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Here we go to the main estimates, 2018-19: vote 1 under the Canadian High Arctic Research Station; votes 1, 5, 10, L15, and L20 under the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development; and votes 1, 5, and 10 under the Department of Indigenous Services Canada.

CANADIAN HIGH ARCTIC RESEARCH STATION

Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$28,089,505

(Vote 1 agreed to on division)

DEPARTMENT OF INDIAN AFFAIRS AND NORTHERN DEVELOPMENT

Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$613,211,553

Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$15,091,444

Vote 10—Grants and contributions..........$2,359,854,884

Vote L15—Loans to native claimants..........$25,903,000

Vote L20—Loans to First Nations in British Columbia..........$30,400,000

(Votes 1, 5, 10, L15, and L20 agreed to on division)

INDIGENOUS SERVICES CANADA

Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$1,514,225,594

Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$5,411,792

Vote 10—Grants and contributions..........$7,726,188,009

(Votes 1, 5, and 10 inclusive agreed to on division)

Shall I report the main estimates 2018-19 to the House?

5:30 p.m.

Some hon. members

Agreed.

5:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.

This meeting is adjourned.