Evidence of meeting #122 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 north.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Wally Schumann  Minister, Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Department of Infrastructure, Government of the Northwest Territories
Hilda Broomfield Letemplier  Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board
Patrick Duxbury  Advisor, Nunavut Resources Corporation
Yves Robillard  Marc-Aurèle-Fortin, Lib.
Tom Zubko  President, New North Networks Ltd.
David Ningeongan  President, Kivalliq Inuit Association
Don Rusnak  Thunder Bay—Rainy River, Lib.

4:10 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Thank you for those words.

I am interested in the National Indigenous Economic Development Board's recommendations from their report.

Could you tell me about the Grays Bay project included in those recommendations? Does the project have support from your board?

4:15 p.m.

Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier

Yes, there is support from the board, but we haven't been able to meet with the group. They have requested to meet with us. I'm not able to give full support on behalf of the board until we actually meet and I know that the full board agrees.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

When are you going to meet?

4:15 p.m.

Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier

We're meeting November 27 and 28. We were going to actually meet with them when we were up north, but we were switched to having our meetings here in Ottawa.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

I want to thank you for your numbers. Every dollar spent on transportation and energy will yield $11 in economic benefits and $11 in fiscal benefits. Thank you. We need to see these. The north can generate $3 for every dollar the government spends on providing services to people, but we have to have infrastructure up there.

It's interesting, because, as you know, per-capita funding allocation means that the territories—Nunavut and all up north—receive less than the southern provinces do.

4:15 p.m.

Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier

Yes, per-capita funding hurts the north because of the smaller population. Costs are higher and investments don't go as far, so it makes it difficult.

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Mr. Duxbury, there were no federal programs that funded nation-building projects, i.e., projects that will not generate a positive return on investment in kind of a 20-year horizon, but still generate significant economic benefits to this country. The Canada Infrastructure Bank will consider only a project's ability to generate a positive return in the medium term of five to 15 years, so you're shut out before we even start this.

4:15 p.m.

Advisor, Nunavut Resources Corporation

4:15 p.m.

Conservative

Kevin Waugh Conservative Saskatoon—Grasswood, SK

Let's talk about this. It's ridiculous that you have the most growth, I would think, in Canada up north and yet you're shut out because of these rules against you. What can we do as a committee to help you open up Nunavut, Yukon and Northwest Territories? If the Canada Infrastructure Bank provides only five to 15 years, what good is it to you up north?

4:15 p.m.

Advisor, Nunavut Resources Corporation

Patrick Duxbury

We've looked at the Canada Infrastructure Bank as a potential opportunity for funding. However, you're pretty much right; what it offers is not going to help our project, mainly because while the Grays Bay road and port project offers an economic return—and I mentioned hypothetically that one mining company would generate $665 million of tax revenues to government—that isn't taken into account, as we understand it, by the Canada Infrastructure Bank. It's focused on a market return. We can't offer a market return in these 20-year time frames. Under a 50-year time frame, it's a different story, but that's not what's on the table at this time.

What could the committee offer? I'd strongly recommend to the committee to really develop a vision about nation-building projects. Nation building is not complete. We're not finished as a nation, and the north is definitely the frontier where this has to happen. I pointed out, and I think it's confirmed, that there is amazing potential in these areas. It requires effort and a leap of faith, but one that's based in reality. It's confirmed in geology, and it's confirmed in the capacity of the people here to actually make it move forward.

4:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

The questioning will now move to MP Rachel Blaney.

4:15 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I thank all of you so much for being here with us today.

I'm going to go to the National Indigenous Economic Development Board first.

Thank you for your presentation. One of the things you talked about was housing. The shortage of suitable housing is a huge challenge. I would ask you to just talk a little bit more about what that actually looks like in your region.

4:15 p.m.

Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier

Our report comes at an opportune time as the Government of Canada moves forward with a partnered approach to investing in infrastructure that will improve social, environmental and economic outcomes for northern and indigenous peoples and communities. The Government of Canada has welcomed our board's report and its recommendations for improving northern infrastructure in support of greater social and economic outcomes. Canada's new government has indicated that it will make significant new investments in public transit, green infrastructure and social infrastructure.

It's extremely important. One of the things we've noticed right from the beginning is that the money that's put out there for northern infrastructure can't be utilized because of basic needs like clean water, healthy food, a good place to live, etc. All the money that comes in for northern infrastructure can't even address the basic needs, so we're already behind. It makes it really difficult. We keep recommending that more money be put into northern infrastructure, because if you can't even survive, how can you think about those kinds of things when you need to take the money to pay for food? There are communities that don't even have clean water to drink.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Thank you for saying that. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs was here earlier this week, and one of the things they heard very clearly from the north was, “enough of the remedial approach; we need transformative infrastructure investment.”

One thing you talked about is that it costs roughly 150% more to build and maintain infrastructure in your region. Do you have the ability to give us an example of what the real cost is? I think it would be very helpful for the committee to have a better understanding of what this really means.

4:20 p.m.

Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier

That is definitely something I can bring back to the committee, with actual statistics for you. I wouldn't be able to give you them right now.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

That would be fantastic.

4:20 p.m.

Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier

I'll be happy to get them back to you.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

I can't even imagine. I represent a northern riding on Vancouver Island. I think of some of our remote communities, where we have to ship in food. It's so much more expensive, and that challenge is not even close to the challenges you're facing. I think those numbers will really help us.

You also talked about 50% of the communities across the north being dependent on satellite backbone to support basic telecommunications. Can you tell us a little bit more about the challenges this dependence creates?

You talked about how high the costs are. Again, can you give us a figure of how high the costs are?

4:20 p.m.

Board Member, National Indigenous Economic Development Board

Hilda Broomfield Letemplier

I would also look to give that information to you as well. I wouldn't be able to tell you now exactly what it is.

It's sad, because the lack of telecommunications puts such a damper on what we can do, but with correct telecommunications we can do much more, with education, training, and all the things that are taken for granted, I think, in the south. We don't have the opportunity to get to those things in the north.

There is so much more that can be done with the youth. This whole telecom issue is so innovative, and this is how the youth operate. I do things the old way, but they don't. I just brought in a CPA who is a young girl who shows me things in leaps and bounds. That's what the youth have to bring now. We definitely have to work on telecommunications, because being stuck away where you can't just jump into a vehicle and go to the local store or have access to all the things we have in the south makes it so much more difficult.

4:20 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Yes, absolutely. Thank you so much.

Mr. Duxbury, you talked about your project, the Grays Bay project. I really like what you said. You said the infrastructure deficit is a bottleneck for the economy up there.

Could you talk a little bit more about what that bottleneck really looks like, for the sake of people like me? I don't know; I'm not from that area. It would be really helpful to get an idea of how this actually looks.

4:20 p.m.

Advisor, Nunavut Resources Corporation

Patrick Duxbury

I think I'll refer you to the map that was passed along. The fact is that there are world-class mineral deposits in this area, many of which sit on Inuit-owned land, that are basically inaccessible at this point. In particular we talk about base metals, ones that really require transportation infrastructure. There's mining going on in Nunavut—gold mining particularly in this area, the Kitikmeot. There is a gold mine, but it's a very limited commodity, in the sense that you can take it out in a bucket, whereas obviously with the heavier materials, such as the base metals, we need ports and roads to access them.

That's a physical bottleneck. Without that infrastructure, these projects just don't go forward and they're not economical. One project or one mining company can't be expected to build infrastructure for an entire region; it's unfair. Where else does that happen, really?

If Canada is serious about building this country, we need to alleviate these bottlenecks through infrastructure that will allow not just one company to benefit but multiple companies and also the Government of Canada. As I mentioned in my notes, there are significant issues around sovereignty and around being able to basically have a presence in this part of the world.

I'll leave it there.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Yes, that is important.

I have a last question for you. You said that the northern funding envelopes just simply are not enough. What would you propose would be more effective in that region? Now's your chance.

October 17th, 2018 / 4:25 p.m.

Advisor, Nunavut Resources Corporation

Patrick Duxbury

To be honest, ten times the amount of money would be required.

I'll give an example. In the national trade corridors fund, which is a $2 billion pot of funding, there is a $400-million set-aside for northern projects. That is going to be expended over a ten-year period.

I'll leave it there.

4:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

The next question goes to MP Will Amos, and he's agreed to allow me a short question for the minister.

I understand that the NWT has a transportation policy, which is connecting every community. Is this a wise position, given new technologies? Can you just very briefly discuss your connecting community policy? Is it road connection?

4:25 p.m.

Minister, Department of Industry, Tourism and Investment, Department of Infrastructure, Government of the Northwest Territories

Wally Schumann

Are you talking about transportation?