Evidence of meeting #150 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 services.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Daniel Watson  Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Jean-François Tremblay  Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Suzanne Grondin  Senior Counsel, CIRNAC/ISC Legal Services, Operations and Programs Section, Department of Justice
Jean-Pierre Morin  Departmental Historian, Strategic Policy Directorate, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Clerk of the Committee  Mr. Leif-Erik Aune
Jocelyn Formsma  Executive Director, National Association of Friendship Centres
Pamela D. Palmater  Chair in Indigenous Governance, Department of Politics & Public Administration, Ryerson University, As an Individual
Joshua Ferland  As an Individual
Chief Jerry Daniels  Southern Chiefs' Organization Inc.
Morley Watson  First Vice-Chief, Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations
Vera Sayese  Executive Director, Peter Ballantyne Child and Family Services Inc.
Lyle Thomas  Cultural Advisor, Secwépemc Child and Family Services Agency
Bernie Charlie  Senior Resource Specialist, Resources and Foster Care, Secwépemc Child and Family Services Agency
Judy Wilson  Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs

8:35 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Good morning, everyone. I'd like to call to order the committee on indigenous and northern affairs, a standing committee of Parliament.

Today we are starting our meeting with discussions on the new organizational plan, recommended years ago, that INAC be divided—and divided we stand. We're looking forward to understanding how this is proceeding.

Before we go there, I want to recognize once again that we're on the unceded territory of the Algonquin people. It's important for all of us to recognize that Canada is finally and bravely looking at the truth, and not only in this committee. I'm hoping that all Canadians start to reflect on our history—the good, bad and ugly—and start to move towards change through the process of truth and reconciliation.

You will have the opportunity to present for up to 10 minutes. After all the presentations, we will go into questioning from members.

We will begin with the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. We have with us Daniel Watson and Jean-Pierre Morin.

8:35 a.m.

Daniel Watson Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Thank you, Madam Chair. It's a pleasure to be before the committee today. Just as you have acknowledged, we too acknowledge that we're on the unceded traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

I'm pleased to be joined today by the deputy minister of Indigenous Services Canada. We'll both be speaking about Division 25 of Bill C-97, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2019 and other measures.

The Government of Canada is renewing its relationship with indigenous peoples based on the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.

A vital component of this renewed relationship is Canada's commitment to take action to dismantle the colonial structures of the past. On August 28, 2017, the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and the creation of two new departments. These departments are Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada and Indigenous Services Canada.

We need to begin building a truly renewed relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis. Division 25 of Bill C-97, the budget implementation act of 2019, is a key step in the ongoing process of reconciliation. It builds on the recommendation of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples from 1996:

...the enactment of companion legislation by the Parliament of Canada legislation to create the new laws and institutions needed to implement the renewed relationship. Their combined purpose is to provide the authority and tools for Aboriginal people to structure their own political, social and economic future.

More than 20 years ago, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples called for this move to improve the delivery of services for indigenous peoples and to accelerate the movement towards self-determination. Quite simply, two departments will better serve the distinct needs of first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples. Furthermore, the creation of two departments follows the direction of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and article 4 of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, ensuring the advancement of self-determination.

Division 25 would enact two statutes to establish the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs and the Department of Indigenous Services. These statutes define the powers, duties and functions of respective ministers, as well as repeal the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development Act in order to formally dissolve Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada will accelerate the work already begun to renew the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. Equally as important, the department will continue to promote the self-reliance, prosperity and well-being of the residents and communities of the north. It will continue to work to create first nations, Inuit, and Métis institutions to build the capacity needed to support the implementation of their vision of self-determination.

The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations guides the government's forward-looking and transformative work to create a new relationship with indigenous peoples. The minister has been tasked by the Prime Minister with better whole-of-government coordination, and the acceleration of self-government and self-determination agreements based on new policies, laws and operational practices.

As the needs of the north and northerners are distinct from those in the south, this bill would provide a basis in statute to establish the position of minister of northern affairs. The minister of northern affairs would guide the government's work in the north, including a new Arctic policy for Canada. In collaboration with the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, the minister of northern affairs would continue to advance work on a shared Arctic leadership model and support northern programming, governing institutions and scientific initiatives.

This proposed legislative initiative is an important step in the process of eliminating colonial structures. It would establish a new legislative basis that will better allow for collaboration and co-operation in assisting indigenous peoples in defining their vision of self-determination.

I want to thank the committee members for their attention.

8:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you very much.

We now move to the Department of Indigenous Services Canada. We have the deputy minister with us again, and we're very pleased to see you.

8:40 a.m.

Jean-François Tremblay Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

You said “again”; it sounds a bit negative.

I'm teasing, sorry.

8:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

No, no.

That's why we love you.

8:40 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

8:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We do enjoy having some levity. We're dealing with a lot of very serious issues.

8:40 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

8:40 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Jean-François Tremblay and François Masse are here on behalf of Indigenous Services.

Please go ahead.

8:40 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

Jean-François Tremblay

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I also want to thank you for the opportunity to address the committee today. I would like to recognize that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.

I'd like to follow my colleague the deputy minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada's remarks by addressing the impact of the bill on my department.

I will be very short, but I'm just coming back on some elements.

Through Division 25 of Bill C-97, the dissolution of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the federal government is establishing two departments that will be better equipped to work with indigenous partners. This is an important turning point in the relationship between indigenous peoples and Canada.

The mandate of the Department of Indigenous Services is to work collaboratively with partners to improve access to high-quality services for indigenous people. Its vision is to support and empower indigenous peoples to independently deliver services and address socio-economic conditions in their communities as they move forward on the path of self-determination.

The Minister of Indigenous Services is continuing the important work of improving the quality of services delivered to first nations, Inuit and Métis. This includes ensuring a consistent, high-quality and distinctions-based approach to the delivery of those services. A rigorous results and delivery approach is being adopted, focused on improving outcomes for indigenous people. Over time, one fundamental measure of success would be that the appropriate programs and services be increasingly delivered by indigenous people for indigenous people.

Madam Chair, transformation is about changing how we work, and that's basically what we're trying to do. We are changing how we listen and how we partner in a way that enables us to properly support the rights and self-determination of indigenous peoples.

I want to thank the committee members for their attention.

We'll be welcoming you questions.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We have Justice as well. It's always good to have Justice.

Suzanne Grondin, welcome to our committee. Please start whenever you're ready.

8:45 a.m.

Suzanne Grondin Senior Counsel, CIRNAC/ISC Legal Services, Operations and Programs Section, Department of Justice

Thank you, Madam Chair.

I want to thank both deputy ministers for their presentations. I'm joining them today to answer some questions that have more to do with the Department of Justice. These questions are more technical, and they concern the two pieces of legislation that will create the two departments.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you for your comments. MPs will take note.

We begin with the Liberal side and MP Mike Bossio will start us off.

8:45 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you all so much for being here this morning. We appreciate your company. You have come here to deliver important information about how we're progressing in the division of these different entities that at one time were INAC and are now three separate entities. We're happy to see that RCAP, after 20-something years, is finally being recognized, particularly the importance of dividing these INAC entities, which was communicated through RCAP in volume 2 of the “Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples”. The report recommends that:

The government of Canada present legislation to abolish the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and to replace it by two new departments: a Department of Aboriginal Relations and a Department of Indian and Inuit Services.

Can you speak to your understanding of the underlying reasons for this recommendation from RCAP?

8:45 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

Jean-François Tremblay

It was my understanding that the important objective at the time was to focus on the relationship, to separate the relationship side from the service side. It was important to make sure we really focused on re-establishing the relationship and the focus on the services would be a separate one.

It was also important to eliminate the old colonial structure that was INAC, which has been seen for years and years as the legislation that is basically implementing the Indian Act from A to Z. That's what the commission was focusing on.

For us, it also means, to be fair, the relationship will never disappear. It is important to continue to have a relationship with first nations, Inuit and Métis. On the delivery side, the objective is to make sure we have the structure in place to deliver the best services. We believe that, over the long term, the services should be delivered by first nations, Inuit and Métis.

If you look at the two departments, some aspects of my department are supposed to disappear over time while the other departments won't disappear. Our goal, as I say to the staff sometimes, is to be a species at risk, looking for its own extinction. At the end of the day, we're trying to implement, on the service side, the most efficient way of delivering those services.

We do believe that people themselves should be delivering those services. It's the same objective on both sides. On the Crown relationship, it ends up with the rights agenda. On our side, it could be the administrative structure that leads at some point to the rights agenda. However, on both sides, we're basically trying to encourage and promote self-determination.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

In your capital report it states “The mandate and organization of the Department of Aboriginal Relations and the Department of Indian and Inuit Services can be implemented initially by order in council”, which you've done. How long has the order in council been in effect for? What will the legislation do that is not already being done through the order in council?

8:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

The order in council came into effect at the end of November 2017. Obviously, the legislation would come into effect, if approved. It formalizes the decisions that were made through the order in council, but more importantly, it's a very clear signal this is not simply a short-term decision. This would be an act of the Parliament of Canada saying to all indigenous peoples and all Canadians that the business of reconciliation and the business of taking service delivery into account will be done in a very different way than in the past. That is a permanent feature and expectation of the Parliament of Canada. That would add a critical and symbolic value.

In terms of delivery, we will continue doing the type of work we have done over two years now, just over a year and a half, in terms of focusing on the different and distinct pieces of the mandates we each have, but it would be solidified now in legislation.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

What have been the outcomes of the splitting of these two departments? I know you have established a number of rights tables in numerous different communities. From the Crown relationship side of things, can you give us a sense of the progress you are making toward self-determination?

8:50 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Daniel Watson

From my perspective there are two things, but I would like to add a little bit to my colleague's earlier answer regarding the rationale. It's very hard to go and tell somebody in the morning, “Listen, I'll get back to you in two years about your dog-catching bylaw and let you know if it's okay,” and then in the afternoon say, “And we'd like to talk about a bright new future in which we're not part of.”

To have that type of a dynamic really doesn't work very well. Certainly, the focus here allows people to deliver the services and the eventual transfer of those services to those communities, which is an enormous task in its own right. At the same time, we're looking at what we've been doing for over 20 years in terms of renegotiating new agreements to see what has worked, what has not worked, and to develop the approaches that are needed for the future. That frees up the ability to have those conversations in a very different way.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Thank you very much.

8:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Mrs. Cathy McLeod.

May 14th, 2019 / 8:50 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you, Madam Chair.

Thank you to the officials.

I want to put on the record that this piece of legislation is buried in an omnibus bill. The finance committee so far has heard from over 100 witnesses. They have not had any opportunity to look at this particular aspect of it or bring in witnesses regarding that piece. We asked this committee to have one extra hour so we would have an opportunity to bring some witnesses other than department officials. I want to note that the committee refused to take one extra hour to bring in some organizations that might be impacted by this legislation, to get a sense from them of what's happening and how it's happening.

I want to compare that to Bill S-3, which was a stand-alone piece of legislation. When the officials came to us, they guaranteed that everything was fine. I'm hearing today that everything is fine without the opportunity to have witnesses. We heard through our witnesses that there were flaws. Amendments were needed. We are very uncomfortable with both the process and the fact that there has not been any ability for our committee to give it due scrutiny. Certainly philosophically we believe that the separation of the departments is a good move. The fact that we are not able to do our jobs is, I think, quite shameful.

I know that's not your responsibility. It was the decision of the current government to do what they said they weren't going to do: bury things in omnibus legislation and not allow committees to do the work they were supposed to do. When issues are pointed out down the road I think we can come back to not allowing proper process.

I'm going to start with a quick question. Hopefully you have it right there.

The FTEs for the two departments with health, pre the change, and the FTEs now.... Again, I want a combined total; it should be at your fingertips, including health because we acknowledge the transfer.

8:55 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

Jean-François Tremblay

The numbers I have at the moment, May 2019, on my side the total is 5,230 employees, which is an increase of 135 FTEs. It's not necessarily related to internal services. It could also be related to a lot of programs and new initiatives. As you know, we have received significant investment in budgets over the last few years.

8:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

That's 135 from what time, 2015 or 2016?

8:55 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

Jean-François Tremblay

From the time of the creation of the department two years ago. It's not necessarily 2015.