Evidence of meeting #154 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 video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jean-François Tremblay  Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada
Paul Thoppil  Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Valerie Gideon  Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

10 a.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

With all due respect, Minister, we're not talking about a woman fleeing a bad situation. We're talking about a current situation where a woman is still missing, and the mom, the dad and the family are looking for support for mental health, police support and other support. She's not alone. There are other women across Canada, I'm pretty sure. What is the government doing to address that specific support system required?

10 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Well, through new funding, we are enabling greater access to mental health supports, cultural supports and emotional supports for those survivors, for families, for those impacted. We saw that yesterday at the closing ceremony with individuals who wore purple shirts there assisting survivors, family members and attendees. They were there providing those supports to people who were present.

We remain committed to supporting survivors and their families as they seek answers. I mean, systemic institutional failures led to this tragedy.

10 a.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Your answer is very disappointing because the family is currently still looking for support. The government fails to understand the immediate need to provide support when a family member is missing and looking for support.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I am going to interrupt the proceedings because, as we see, there has been the call for a vote. I'd ask that the committee give unanimous support to continue for the next 15 minutes. That will give us enough time to get to the House, and we do have motions that we'd like to take care of as well.

10:05 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

We will group them?

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

If we get through them in five.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

With all due respect, I still have about 15 seconds.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Yes, yes, I didn't take your time away. We have a seven and a five and a five.

Agreed.

You're ending seven and five.

10:05 a.m.

NDP

Georgina Jolibois NDP Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

I'm sorry, can he make a comment, please?

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Yes.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

I will quickly say that our government was the one who initiated this unprecedented national inquiry because we understood the importance of this national tragedy. We have a lot of work to do with provinces and territories to make sure that we have that response time available to families. I know that the RCMP is creating a special unit that responds to requests from the national inquiry on specific files.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you. I'm sorry about interrupting.

We're now moving to MP Bossio for seven minutes.

Then we'll move to the Conservatives, and then to the votes.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Thank you, Chair.

Thank you, Mr. O'Regan, for being here again, representing our government. It is greatly appreciated to have you here today.

I want to respond to some of the questions you've received here this morning.

There has been $21.3 billion in new money since being elected. We just had Minister Bennett here. There has been $20 billion in new money since being elected for her department.

Have we ever remotely seen this kind of an investment into indigenous services and Crown relations?

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Not that I'm aware of, no. Not even close.

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Not even close, correct?

Of course, we recognize that's there's so much more that needs to be done.

However, given the investment that we've made so far, do you feel that we're making a big difference in indigenous communities, in the lives of indigenous peoples?

10:05 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Most definitely.

I'll leave it to these guys to maybe provide you with specific numbers. I can certainly say that it is amazing to me.

In the past number of months, when I've dealt with leadership, despite the significant challenges that they still face in their communities, their bands and their regions, they understand now and have confidence that this money is coming. They appreciate things like the 10-year grant, which I'm quite aggressive in promoting when I meet with leadership who have not yet applied. It allows them the ability to know about and plan for the next 10 years.

They are not having to reapply every year, and fill out paperwork for a program or something on an annual basis. I think there are enough people around this table who have worked for non-profits, or have worked in places where you are constantly reapplying for government funding.

The fact is that you have a limited pool of people in small communities who are doing this hard and meaningful work. If you can make sure that they spend more time concentrating on closing the gaps and making their communities more prosperous for all, instead of filling out paperwork needlessly, year after year, program by program, that is real. That is energy and time that they can now be dedicating toward the people, the quality of life of their people and the future prosperity of their people.

That is a very real and significant movement. Leadership now, knowing and feeling some assurance that our commitments are real, are feeling them on the ground. They are not where they need to get to yet, as the national chief keeps reminding me. He's quite right. This is not parity. Progress is not parity. We're not there yet.

They want to talk more about the issues of economic development. They're looking at wanting to become self-sufficient communities: “We do not want to be relying on government. We want to increase professional capacity within our communities. We want to be the ones doing the heavy lifting.”

It is really quite heartening to see that corner being turned by some leadership.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

I can certainly tell you that for the Mohawks of the Bay of Quinte in our riding, it's been transformational for them as well. There was the ending of long-term boil water advisories through the new plant. They have enormous pride in the training that has been received. It is Mohawks who are running and maintaining the plant. There have been new lines built year after year to different parts of the community, to bring them into the water treatment plant. This water filtration plant is making a transformational change within their community.

Then there are the investments in housing, in culture and in heritage. All of these things are raising, as you just mentioned, the self-sufficiency and the economic development to move forward.

We often hear about our government's commitment in relation to eliminating long-term boil water advisories—on public system, on reserve—by 2021.

I've been, as you know, following this closely, but we don't hear much about the 126 short-term boil water advisories. I think that's something that's really important, because we're getting ahead of the game. We're not just chasing this endless goal; we're making that leap to ensuring we don't have other communities that are on the verge of potentially being....

Could you maybe talk to those specific areas and why that's making such a difference?

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Seamus O'Regan Liberal St. John's South—Mount Pearl, NL

Prevention is part of the cure, yes, and that also speaks to the increased capacity that we've been able to develop on the ground, that these can be identified quickly and that we have the resources now. Again, the resources are not enough—otherwise we would have everything done by tomorrow, but this is simply not how it works—but we do have a much stronger capacity on the ground to address these things as they come.

Did you want to speak any further to that?

10:10 a.m.

Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

Jean-François Tremblay

I'll just mention that, in terms of results, we talked about the 16,000 houses, the long-term drinking water issues. You're right that there are also the ones that are at risk, the vulnerable ones, so we're trying to be ahead of the curve on this one.

We built up more than 74 new schools and there are still 59 that are under way, and that's without counting the renovation of existing schools. More than 85 schools are being renovated.

We have made progress with the grants. You heard about the grants. We have 85 of them. CFS, of course, increased in funding but also the reform is going ahead.

I will turn to Val to speak about the mains and especially Jordan's principle.

10:10 a.m.

Valerie Gideon Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

Sure. On Jordan's principle, we're up to 227,000 requests received. We had a 78% increase in the number of approved requests between 2017-18 and 2018-19. In 2017-18, we had already assisted 78,000 children across the country. It's absolutely transformative. These are individual children, individual families and communities.

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Do I understand correctly that there's also now an Inuit-specific program?

10:10 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

Valerie Gideon

Absolutely, $220 million over five years was committed in budget 2019 for an Inuit-specific child-first initiative, and the first thing that we want to do in partnership with the national Inuit committee on health is assist families with food security issues.

June 4th, 2019 / 10:10 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Just like Jordan's principle and Bill C-92, it starts with children, correct?

10:10 a.m.

Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Department of Indigenous Services Canada

10:10 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We are concluding with MP Cathy McLeod.