Evidence of meeting #81 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 provincial.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Serge Beaudoin  Director General, Sector Operations Branch, Regional Operations Sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Patrick Tanguy  Assistant Deputy Minister, Government Operations Centre, Emergency Management and Programs Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
Lyse Langevin  Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Mario Boily  Acting Director General, Government Operations Centre, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Only four and a half.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

It depends. Are we doing a five-minute round now, or are we going back to the seven-minute rounds?

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

She wants to—

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I'll keep going.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

That's fine. The questions she's asking are good ones.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

And if they weren't?

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

They're always good.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Considering fire safety in communities, we continue to hear about many tragedies in our first nations communities.

Has there been an assessment and/or a comparison done in terms of rural remote communities with similar kinds of populations or similar kinds of rural remoteness in terms of the responsibilities that these communities have? Is there any kind of work out there done around that?

12:15 p.m.

Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Lyse Langevin

In terms of assessment of comparability of responsibilities, I don't know that there has work done that way, except for the fact that the non-indigenous communities off reserve are under the chapeau of the provincial authority in terms of building codes and firefighting, whereas on reserve is outside of the provincial authority, and there is no coverage that way. The first nations are pretty much on their own with the funding that Indigenous Services provides.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Certainly, I know that representing a community that has many rural remote areas is an ongoing issue in terms of decisions that are being made. There are many off-reserve communities without any fire protection at all, and there are some less than adequate.

Is there any work that's been done? How many have their own services versus purchasing agreements with nearby communities? Is there any information out there on that?

12:15 p.m.

Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Lyse Langevin

I'm sure we have that information.

I don't have it on hand, but I can provide that. Is it how many have their own fire protection services?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Fire protection services versus—

12:15 p.m.

Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Lyse Langevin

For example, an agreement with the neighbouring municipality type of thing?

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Yes.

12:15 p.m.

Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Lyse Langevin

Okay. I can look into that.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

You were talking about a national fire marshal. Where are you at in the process of making that a reality?

November 2nd, 2017 / 12:15 p.m.

Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Lyse Langevin

It's an indigenous-led initiative, and the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada is now funded to focus on that. The fellows who are going to work on it started as of November 1 for the interim part of setting it up.

The first piece is they have to engage with the first nations, the chiefs and the bands, to see how far they want the legislation to go. You can go as far as condemning a building or just implementing building codes. It has to be an agreement across the indigenous population and community as to how far they want that legislation to go and how they want to see themselves regionally. There is a lot of capacity at the regional level, and they have to engage for the next year. After that, they would be full-fledged.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Okay.

I'm going to suggest that we allow the other five who are on my list now to speak.

MP Boutin-Sweet, welcome.

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Thank you very much, Madam Chair.

Good morning. Thank you for being here.

My questions are in the same vein as the previous questions.

First, I would like to obtain a clarification about what Mr. Beaudoin was saying earlier. I believe it was about reports that are required from provinces. The 2018 wildfire season will surely be as devastating as the others. Unfortunately, climate change causes a lot of problems.

What types of questions are asked? According to what I understood, you consult local groups, councils and local villages, but how does this work, exactly? Does the province put its own questions to local groups? Does the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development suggest questions to the provinces? I would like to know more about the process.

12:20 p.m.

Director General, Sector Operations Branch, Regional Operations Sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Serge Beaudoin

I simply want to make sure I understood your question.

What do you mean when you talk about the questions put to the communities?

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

I am talking about the reports concerning what happened in 2017 that aim to improve the evacuation program for the 2018 season, and to strengthen prevention.

12:20 p.m.

Director General, Sector Operations Branch, Regional Operations Sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Serge Beaudoin

Once again this varies from one province or territory to another.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Yes, I expect it would.

12:20 p.m.

Director General, Sector Operations Branch, Regional Operations Sector, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Serge Beaudoin

The principle remains the same. The majority of operations centres follow the same procedure. When an event occurs, we examine it to see what lessons can be drawn from it. In addition, we usually invite affected partners to the table, or we consult them in another way in order to be able to take lessons learned into account.

Before each season, we and our colleagues from Public Safety Canada begin to prepare. There are cycles. For instance, regarding flood season, in January we assess the situation to see whether the grounds are waterlogged and if there is going to be a thaw, and so on. We begin to prepare at that point. This exercise is also conducted to prepare for fire season. A risk assessment is done. The national assessment is done by Public Safety Canada, and we then apply it to a given region in order to determine which communities could be affected.

Last year, for instance, we detected a flood threat as early as February for Manitoba communities. This was done by radar. We met with Red Cross groups and the communities that were most at risk because of nearby rivers. We invested a large amount in prevention. I don't have the figures to hand, but I think it was $5.6 million. For preventive purposes, we removed snow close to homes, installed dykes, and cleaned trenches in order to ensure that water would be able to drain freely, and so on. All of this meant that there were very few evacuations during flood season, even though the risk was high. Those investments were very useful.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

And what about evacuations due to fire?