Evidence of meeting #138 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 data.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Sheldon Kent  Chairperson, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba
Louis Harper  Senior Legal Counsel, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba
Barry Lavallee  Medical Advisor, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba
Leona Star  Director of Research, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba
Bonnie Healy  Chair of Board of Directors, First Nations Information Governance Centre
Mindy Denny  Treasurer, First Nations Information Governance Centre
Ben Adaman  Senior Manager, Clinical Services, St.Amant
Norm Martin  Clinical Educator, St.Amant
Dan Vandal  Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, Lib.

10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, Lib.

Dan Vandal

Okay.

To Ben or Norm—we don't have a lot of time—what sort of advice would you give us as elected officials on how we can support the fine work you're doing?

10:35 a.m.

Senior Manager, Clinical Services, St.Amant

Ben Adaman

First of all, thank you very much for that kind feedback.

My suggestion would be, recognizing there's a little bit of self-interest here, to continue to support the Jordan's principle child-first initiative and to continue to support the opportunities for building capacity of a workforce that is in place and has a thirst for knowledge like nothing I've ever experienced before.

From sitting down with case managers from communities or spending time with front-line staff from communities I've had the pleasure of visiting—probably almost 50 of the communities now—I can tell you that they're an inspiring group of people. They want to do the best they can, and they need training that is accessible to them in the sense of being tailored to the nature of the work they're doing and positioning them for success. They come in with different levels of education and experience, so the training is proportional to their starting place, recognizing that they can go as far as they can go.

10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, Lib.

Dan Vandal

You mentioned a number of children who have been helped through Jordan's principle in Manitoba. I think you did. Can you repeat that number?

10:35 a.m.

Senior Manager, Clinical Services, St.Amant

Ben Adaman

Yes. St. Amant alone has supported about 300, but there are thousands of children who have received support—

10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, Lib.

Dan Vandal

That's in Manitoba.

10:35 a.m.

Senior Manager, Clinical Services, St.Amant

Ben Adaman

—in Manitoba, yes.

10:35 a.m.

Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, Lib.

Dan Vandal

I can tell you that in Canada there were well over 200,000 children who have received support from Jordan's principle.

Mindy or Bonnie, what advice do you have for us as elected officials on how we can help you better do your job?

10:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

You have 15 seconds.

10:35 a.m.

Chair of Board of Directors, First Nations Information Governance Centre

Bonnie Healy

No pressure.

We really need to be resourced to be able to address the data gaps. The fact is that first nations are living essentially in information poverty. First nations don't have privacy laws that cross over to their jurisdiction that protect their community. They're mimicking and mirroring what government does, and government ministries don't share data very well together. If you're really going to approach it from an inherent way of what we call aakaakstimaan, a collective way of addressing problems, we have to be able to share our information systems so we can help solve problems and address issues, and close those gaps and achieve better health outcomes for our people.

Also, we really need to use the data and the evidence that's in front of us, as well as develop our own indicators and our own world views, to really try to develop our own culturally relevant and respectful ways of service delivery to help us achieve a better life for our members.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

All right, MP Arnold Viersen has given up a minute of his time.

So you've got two minutes left.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

I have two minutes, all right. Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to our guests for being here.

Dr. Lavallee, you mentioned the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada. Are you a member of that?

10:40 a.m.

Medical Advisor, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

How do you bring to bear the expertise that's built within that organization on this particular organization that you're here representing today?

10:40 a.m.

Medical Advisor, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba

Dr. Barry Lavallee

The intention of the Indigenous Physicians Association of Canada is to mentor indigenous people who wish to enter health care fields. It's really based on an attempt to address health inequities and health outcomes, as well as health parameters for first nations, Métis and Inuit. Statistically, when we look at the data, we see that the impact of colonization bears most of the brunt of disease and unwellness patterns in first nations communities. Really, the intention of that organization is to work with universities across Canada to ensure that those universities work with the local communities to address some of those health workforce gaps where first nations people are not represented. It's a volunteer organization, basically.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Yes. Are you seeing any trend lines at all? Are we starting to see more and more first nation people taking up the task of being a doctor or—

10:40 a.m.

Medical Advisor, First Nations Health and Social Secretariat of Manitoba

Dr. Barry Lavallee

Well, I wouldn't orient it in that way. I would say that when we look, as an example, at the University of Manitoba, we see that people who apply to medical school are predominantly—80%, or maybe 90%—self-identified Métis, with very few first nations. So the parameter and the proxy of what changes in colonial society is really indicated, in my professional opinion, by the number of first nations people who apply and apply successfully to enter medical school.

We're far behind. We see very little change. The change occurs because communities are reorienting their schools and telling the kids that it's time to go to university, to finish grade 12, and to really point to the health care systems to address our own health care needs. That is a function of the strength of communities.

10:40 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Thank you so much.

10:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We are now moving to MP Georgina Jolibois.

February 21st, 2019 / 10:40 a.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Good morning, and thank you for coming. I appreciate the presentations by all organizations.

I'm from Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan we're having similar conversations among Northern Medical Services, Saskatchewan Health, FNUC, as well as INAC and other groups. We are having similar experiences and similar thought processes on the idea behind increasing indigenous participation to be professionals in various fields, including physicians and nursing, and the list goes on.

That's really great work that you're doing, but there's the question of statistics. The presentation you provided is really important. I'm sorry if I missed it, but how can the federal government continue the support that you're seeking from various levels, including federal? That would be helpful.

10:40 a.m.

Treasurer, First Nations Information Governance Centre

Mindy Denny

I think that if Canada made significant investments in info systems for first nations the way that it does in its own governance, it would be supportive of good governance practices for first nations.

When statistical capacity is developed in first nations and they have an opportunity to have jurisdiction over the information and mitigate further harm from misuse or misinterpretation of data, I believe that first nations can support Canada in achieving the UN sustainable development goals, as well as arrive at sustainable and predictable funding for first nations at the community level. I think that data is important for first nations to plan appropriately. It's essential. No good government would make investments or plan for their population without information that gives them a clear understanding of what they need to do. The investment in statistical capacity serves first nations much more than just for planning. I think it will help us to evaluate how well we're doing.

10:45 a.m.

Chair of Board of Directors, First Nations Information Governance Centre

Bonnie Healy

I will wrap it up quickly. One of the committees to which I've newly been appointed is the AFN-Indigenous Services Canada committee of former Minister Jane Philpott. The 10-year grant funding is based on outcomes—to measure that they've closed the gap, so to speak. The data sources they've used include things like Stats Canada's Indian registry. We discovered in Alberta how flawed those data sets are and that using bad data has gotten us into the problems we're now facing because of inadequate funding and improper policy. For example, the first nations health policy is really meant only to contain disease on reserve; it was never meant to prevent disease from happening. In the Indian registry, the flaws we discovered were that 10% of the population in Alberta on the Indian registry were 106 years old and half the children were not accounted for. The Indian registry doesn't have a natural relationship with vital stats and thus does not include timely updates of births and deaths. If nations and the funding formulas are dependent on that, first nations are always going to be underfunded.

We're in a real catch-up mode. We do need to look at possibly funding the first nations statistical institute in the FNIGC, which really addresses free, prior and informed consent, and implements the ownership, control, access and possession of information. With that, we can have a respectful relationship to clean the data in the way that it needs to be done.

10:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you so much. Meegwetch.

I think you really articulated the value of data very well in your final comments. We took note of that previously, but I just think you really succinctly described how it impacts every family. If we don't have the right numbers, then people will be the losers.

Thank you to everybody who travelled so far. We appreciate it.

That closes our meeting. Meegwetch.