Evidence of meeting #152 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 agreed.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Philippe Méla  Legislative Clerk
Isa Gros-Louis  Director General, Child and Family Services Reform, Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Marcus Léonard  Social Policy Researcher, Child and Family Services Reform, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

MP Amos.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Because Member Philpott has engaged the discussion around her motion, I feel like it's better to continue that flow of discussion.

I would like to understand better. If the legislation was co-developed and celebrated as co-developed—I was at the announcement of the legislation of the bill, as were you and as was Member Bossio—what is it specifically about the original formulation, which you and your team worked on previously in the co-development process, that is so grossly inadequate?

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

MP Philpott.

May 28th, 2019 / 10:05 a.m.

Independent

Jane Philpott Independent Markham—Stouffville, ON

I would say that, yes, there was co-development, and in fact I think it was quite good. It's not perfect. I think we have a lot of work to do as a country to figure out what co-development looks like and how you make sure all the voices are heard.

There were changes made after all of the information was gathered, and sometimes things were weakened in that process. After I left the portfolio, I know that there were further changes made.

I would say that PS Vandal has already talked about the fact that, yes, there already are some provisions in there around socio-economics, but they're aspirational. I think the amendment that I have proposed—and that both the Green Party and the NDP have proposed similarly—puts the onus on the positive measures that have to be taken.

What ends up happening is that these laws are then something that, for example, first nations or Inuit families have so that they can go and say, with the help of those around them, “Look, you have a positive obligation to be able to help me in my financial circumstances or with my housing need, and you can't take the child away simply because I am poor.” None of us around the table want children to be taken away from their families simply because they are poor. We want to solve that underlying problem first.

I would say, then, that the co-development led to a piece of legislation that got some of the strength taken out of it in the process. This is trying to add that strength back into it.

I will just say, while I have the floor, that I would prefer to change one word in my amendment. I don't know how it slipped by me, but the word “neglect” is in there.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We'll get there soon.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

On IND-5, MP Philpott, it is deemed moved, so if you wish to speak to it, now's the chance.

10:10 a.m.

Independent

Jane Philpott Independent Markham—Stouffville, ON

As I was saying earlier, I think I've already spoken out for putting the positive obligation on service providers to address the socio-economic challenges the family may be facing.

If this were to be passed, I would like to see if there would be a way to change the word “neglect”. I feel it's a very offensive, pejorative term to say that families are neglecting their children just because they don't have an adequate house, or due to poverty. This is not in the parents' control in most cases. I would simply change my amended clause 15(2) to say, “...being placed on this basis, positive measures must be taken to remediate the conditions related to the lack of financial means of the child's parent or care provider” so as not to make accusations that are unfair.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Can she amend her amendment?

Perhaps we can get clarification on the rule from our clerk.

10:10 a.m.

The Clerk

The mover cannot amend his or her own amendment, but somebody else can.

10:10 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

In the context of the motion I mentioned earlier, we are actually here—Jane Philpott, Jody Wilson-Raybould and I—with no ability to move our own amendments; they're deemed moved. We can't withdraw our own amendments; they have to be withdrawn by someone else. We can't amend our own amendments or amend each other's amendments, because this motion was designed to deprive us of rights, not increase our rights.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

MP Blaney.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

Well, thank you for explaining that, Ms. May.

I would be happy to make a motion to amend this amendment to change the word “neglect” to “conditions”.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

First we have to deal with the amendment to the amendment. The word “neglect” is changed, replaced with the word “conditions”.

(Subamendment agreed to)

(Amendment as amended negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

We'll move to NDP-13.

10:10 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

I'm happy to move this.

Again, it's very similar. You've heard all of the arguments. This is about recognizing that there's a bigger issue here, that children of indigenous communities should not be asked to pay for that and that it should be something that the government is willing to work with and support the nations in the way that they need to go forward.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

(Clause 15 agreed to on division)

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We will suspend for a 10-minute break.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We will resume. We're moving through the bill. I believe, overall, we all want to do what's best, so I really appreciate everyone's co-operation.

(On clause 16)

We're on clause 16 and we have four proposed amendments, beginning with NDP-14.

Ms. Blaney.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

I'm happy to move this amendment.

This is an important issue that was brought up by multiple witnesses who live in more remote communities. This is an amendment that says that when children have to be removed—hopefully, as the very last choice—they are not taken too far away from their community, and that the placement be acknowledged. This is really about honouring those rural and remote communities, so that the children are not taken so far away that family and loved ones can't be part of their lives on a day-to-day basis.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We know that's challenging in a place like Manitoba.

Mr. Bossio.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

We will not be supporting this amendment. If this amendment were adopted, it could have unintended consequences on the bill as currently written. For example, it could create confusion as to which rules prevail between one, the order of placement; two, placing the child with his or her siblings; and three, with non-indigenous families located closer to the communities. This amendment could result in more placement occurring with non-indigenous peoples, if located close to the indigenous communities.

Once again, the bill aims at affirming the jurisdiction of indigenous peoples over child and family services, and at establishing national principles to help guide the provisions of child and family services as they relates to indigenous children.

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Ms. Blaney.

10:25 a.m.

NDP

Rachel Blaney NDP North Island—Powell River, BC

I want to clarify that, within the amendment, it's acknowledging a placement with a non-indigenous family or a non-indigenous adult. Some of the arguments that were made don't quite answer the intended impact. I wanted to clarify that for the record.

(Amendment negatived [See Minutes of Proceedings])

10:25 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We are on LIB-3.

Mr. Bossio.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

I will move this amendment, but I would like to pass it over to Mr. Ouellette to speak to it.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

Robert-Falcon Ouellette Liberal Winnipeg Centre, MB

We did hear in some testimony that customary adoption is still practised in many indigenous communities, but currently, in a number of locations and jurisdictions across Canada, in fact, there is no mention of it in law. This introduced significant challenges to indigenous peoples when they tried customary adoption. This is a traditional form of child-rearing. When it's used in ceremony with elders, and done in an appropriate way, it confers responsibility on new parents. It's often used in communities.

Often, the courts have found that, because it's not mentioned in Canadian law at any level, except perhaps in Quebec or in the Far North, this represents significant challenges for them to understand, and represents significant costs to legalize, in the western way, customary adoption. The purpose of this is to ensure that it is mentioned somewhere in some federal statute, that it actually does exist and it is important.

10:30 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Mrs. McLeod.