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

12:20 p.m.

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

Serge Beaudoin

In this area, lessons were learned. That said, every province or territory uses the method, the principle being to determine what was learned and to integrate it into the next cycle in order to see what can be done to solve the problem.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Does some of what you learn from those experiences come from the information provided by groups in the field, in the indigenous villages and reserves?

12:20 p.m.

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

Serge Beaudoin

It is essential to establish a link with the affected community. Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada has a robust system, in that we have regional offices. People work with the province and with the first nations in order to make improvements. We have not reached perfection, far from it, but the purpose of that process is to improve.

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

My next question is about prevention. My colleague Ms. Jolibois told me that $26 million is available for prevention, for all of Canada. That is not a huge sum.

I would like to know whether Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada has put in place processes to develop partnerships. The last questions I heard were about partnerships between communities.

I would also like to know what your department's responsibilities are for remote communities with whom partnerships cannot be established.

12:20 p.m.

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

Serge Beaudoin

Mr. Tanguy talked about funds to mitigate risks. Such sums are also available from Infrastructure Canada in Budget 2017. They total $2 billion, a considerable amount. We work with these people to determine what can be done for indigenous communities and how we can access more substantive amounts than the funding available from the department.

In the context of our service agreements, we must ensure that when the province establishes measures to mitigate risk, this does not increase risk to indigenous communities. It could happen, for instance that when installing a water diversion structure, the water is routed toward reserves, or vice versa. When we invest in structural risk mitigation, we share information, the idea being that communities know what the others are doing. If we know there is to be an investment project, the best thing is that we talk to each other, and possibly improve the project by cooperating.

At the very least, our service agreements require that we go and talk to each other. We ensure that neighbouring communities inform each other about investments. When it is possible, because often the risks are comparable, we cooperate.

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet NDP Hochelaga, QC

Take a location like Pelican Narrows, in northern Saskatchewan. There aren't many communities nearby, and there certainly aren't any fire trucks.

Even though there are agreements, there is no infrastructure, and this makes things more difficult. There may be fire trucks in villages that are an hour away from Pelican Narrows, but everything can burn to the ground before they get there.

What can Indian Affairs and Northern Development Canada do in such situations?

12:25 p.m.

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

Serge Beaudoin

At a minimum, the communities must have good emergency plans. The community is in the best position to identify the risks it is exposed to.

The community of Pelican Narrows you mentioned is exposed to fire risks, and no neighbouring communities can help. The community has to determine what resources it needs on the ground in order to be as autonomous as possible before asking for help. It can ask another community to provide assistance, but that community may not be close by.

We have to proceed one community at a time, establish emergency plans, identify the risks and take whatever measures are necessary to face those risks.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

That ends your time.

We'll go to MP Harvey.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Good afternoon. Thank you for being here with us.

I want to talk a little bit about the Aboriginal Firefighters Association of Canada. We met this summer when there was a competition in one of the indigenous communities in my riding, so we had a chance to talk. When I was there I felt the overwhelming sense of pride from that group and camaraderie within their group.

How do you feel we can best leverage with INAC? How can we leverage that relationship the federal government has with the Aboriginal Firefighters Association and, in turn, take advantage of the relationship they would have within their communities to implement strategies that are going to help mitigate risk and help build the type of system we need to see in these indigenous communities, especially in ones that are rural and remote? How can we leverage that opportunity, recognizing that chances are that a lot of the solutions we need to look for lie within that group already?

November 2nd, 2017 / 12:25 p.m.

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

Lyse Langevin

Thank you for that question. You are correct that it is a very tight community.

Over the past few years working alongside that community, because they do have a national reach through what they have been doing through the funding that INAC has provided to them, what we've been doing with them is a national poster campaign, a “be fire safe” fire prevention campaign, the firefighters competition, and they do work in as many communities as they can to work on prevention. Once the prevention is looked after, the second step is investment in capacity development. The third step is investment in actual equipment. If you haven't done your prevention and you buy a fire truck that you can't use.... The AFAC is very active in that at this point. It's all about prevention, help, and training.

Moving forward, that group who suggested the fire marshal is the one that's developing that concept, as I have said, and they are working across the province. The first three involved are, one from B.C., one from Quebec, and one from Saskatchewan. They are going province by province to see what the expertise is. That's what the engagement is for next year, to make sure they build something that all indigenous firefighters see themselves in that equation.

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Within the four pillars you mentioned earlier, indigenous fire marshal service, data, fire, life, and then the structural training to ensure that they're all equally trained at an equal level, it seems to me from the outside looking in like a perfect segue to go through the Aboriginal Firefighters Association with these initiatives. They could use them as an opportunity to build that critical mass within their organization, and recognize that the strategies that they're going to come up with might not be exactly the same as we might see in another sector, whether it's private firefighting or in the public sector, but that those solutions would come from within and would reflect the intentions they have.

Do you think that's an area where the Government of Canada should be putting an increased focus on that relationship between the departments on a whole-of-government approach with aboriginal firefighters?

12:30 p.m.

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

Lyse Langevin

Absolutely, and that's how the department is advancing this file, 100% with the aboriginal firefighters. They will be creating an indigenous organization. It's indigenous-led. Responsibilities of this file will be taken over by an indigenous group. It's quite exciting to move forward in that direction.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Okay.

Is there a perceived timeline around that? Is there an overarching idea of how long that process could take to get from where we are today to where we see a separate entity that's indigenous controlled and completely engulfed by the indigenous viewpoint?

12:30 p.m.

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

Lyse Langevin

They are hoping to be in place and operating by April 1, 2019, but there's a lot of machinery of government, legislation, approvals, and things like that, which need to happen before then.

We are working actively with them, as I said, as of yesterday. We have enabled them with funding to do what they have to do to get there.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Does anyone else have anything to add on that?

From a service delivery standpoint, Mr. Waugh spoke earlier about some of the challenges when communities are displaced and come into the larger city centres. Would you agree that, by growing that relationship, there's an opportunity to mitigate some of those challenges?

12:30 p.m.

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

Lyse Langevin

We haven't strayed into that field at this point. We're going one step at a time, trying to get to the building codes, the standards, the basic fire prevention, fire training, and purchasing the right equipment. As they see fit in their community of expertise, it might go that way.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Okay.

As it pertains to the DFAA money or disaster recuperation money, I guess, is the structure the same as it is with the provinces as it pertains to regular municipalities?

12:30 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Government Operations Centre, Emergency Management and Programs Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Patrick Tanguy

DFAA, the disaster financial assistance arrangements, basically apply the same way as with all provinces and territories, except there is a threshold. It's a very complex formula to establish the threshold, but basically for instance, B.C. had to reach a threshold of $14.9 million before we start triggering, we start actually recognizing some eligible expenses and paying back British Columbia in this.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

I recognize that it can be different from province to province or territory to province, but within each province, is the same model used, the same pool of funding used for indigenous communities?

12:30 p.m.

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

Serge Beaudoin

Thank you for the question.

Just to clarify, the disaster financial assistance arrangements—

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Right.

12:30 p.m.

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

Serge Beaudoin

— is a Public Safety-led program that applies to all communities in Canada with the exception of indigenous communities. For indigenous communities, it is the emergency management assistance program, which in terms of eligibility criteria is mimicking the DFAA a bit. The difference is that the thresholds that my colleague talked about are non-applicable. We will fund 100% of on-reserve cost related to response and recovery within a first nation community.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Then I guess—

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I think you've used up more than your seven minutes.

12:30 p.m.

Liberal

TJ Harvey Liberal Tobique—Mactaquac, NB

Okay, thank you.