Evidence of meeting #84 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 manitoba.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jean-Philippe Tizi  Chief, Domestic Operations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross
Bill Mintram  Senior Manager, Indigenous Relations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross
Chief Jerry Daniels  Grand Chief, Southern Chiefs' Organization Inc.
Jolene Mercer  Director of Operations, Southern Chiefs' Organization Inc.
Garry McLean  Elder, Lake Manitoba First Nation

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Procedurally, we cannot go in camera.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

Mike Bossio Liberal Hastings—Lennox and Addington, ON

Can you read the motion again, please?

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We have a motion on the floor that the debate be adjourned.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

It failed.

11:50 a.m.

An hon. member

My hand was up.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Yes, but it was three to four, so....

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

I did do it fairly quickly. I didn't grab your attention that we have a vote, perhaps—

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Excuse me. We were discussing the testimony and we didn't realize that there was even a vote.

11:50 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Okay. The recommendation is that we ensure that everybody understand that we have a vote. There's a motion on the floor that the debate be adjourned.

(Motion agreed to [See Minutes of Proceedings])

All right. The debate is adjourned.

MP Viersen.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

I'll hand the rest of my time over to MP McLeod. Thank you very much.

11:50 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Obviously, I'm very disappointed with the outcome on that really important issue.

My first comment is on something which I think would be good feedback.

I know that in British Columbia there was a system whereby people were given certain dollar amounts, which the Red Cross was responsible for administering. I would look forward to you perhaps, as you reflect on how that went.... I know that you were at the direction of the province in terms of how you did it and how much it was per household, etc., but I think there were challenges in terms of the uniqueness of a number of families living in one household and in terms of address issues.

When you do your reflection, if you could look at that particular issue in terms of how it might work better with first nations communities, that might be helpful. I appreciate that you were just the deliverer and not the policy person.

11:55 a.m.

Chief, Domestic Operations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross

Jean-Philippe Tizi

No. Thanks very much for this question.

First, we have reached over 50,000 people, through the registration and through electronic funds transfer. This is amazing. Two years ago we were not able to do that. It was the same thing in Fort McMurray. More than 100,000 people in fact were reached through digital means. I will just put that on the table first. It's fascinating.

Second, yes, we know that not everyone can be reached through this digital fashion. It is about having the teams on the ground, outreach, in remote communities to deliver assistance in another fashion. We know it, and it is about continuing to build the capacity to reach a bigger number of communities more quickly.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

I'm sorry, but I think what I'm really focusing on is your recommendations to the province, because I know there were circumstances in which perhaps three families would live in one household, and they would be eligible for one reimbursement, because it was per household.

That's something I just put on the table. I think the Red Cross does fantastic work, but I would say that the ability of emergency support services in the community to be flexible and culturally sensitive.... I looked at the evacuation centres in British Columbia versus those in Manitoba. I know you spoke about being able to respond to the different cultural needs, but I saw a tremendous difference between those two places in terms of the actual ability to introduce ceremony, to have traditional foods, and to be welcoming.

I would like you to comment on that particular component. As I say, I have nothing but respect for the work that you do, but I think the ability to be flexible and respond to first nations communities was somewhat limited.

11:55 a.m.

Chief, Domestic Operations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross

Jean-Philippe Tizi

I'll respond to the first part and I'll let Bill do the second.

On the first part of the question, on financial assistance, I would say two things here. Obviously, the criteria of eligibility and households were defined by the province.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Yes.

11:55 a.m.

Chief, Domestic Operations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross

Jean-Philippe Tizi

If I may, I will just correct the information here. It's not by address; it's by household. So here that was, I think, solid enough. Where we faced some difficulties was mainly around the fact that some communities were on alert and some were under evacuation order, and sometimes there were different situations on either side of the street. It was very complicated.

The only thing we would say then, as a lesson, is can we get organized in advance with regard to eligibility criteria, on the way to manage evacuation, on the way to deliver assistance? Is $600 enough for the first tranche? That's the kind of thing we need to go back to, and for us, it's about discussing ahead of time.

Bill, maybe you could complete the response.

11:55 a.m.

Senior Manager, Indigenous Relations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross

Bill Mintram

In relation to serving and trying to meet the unique needs of indigenous communities, we also understood and continue to learn that the modality of electronic money transfer may not be the best choice, given people's access to banking. We do want to ensure that we have a variety of modalities so that we can meet the needs of people wherever they are, and can respond and work with leadership and communities in such a way that we can provide that vital support when it's needed. Within that, we as the Canadian Red Cross also offer a variety of different programs, as was mentioned, with community partnerships, support to small business, and other measures to provide additional supports that some of those policy measures provincially may not cover. Within that, we try to work with community and meet unique community needs.

I could go further, but I'll stop there.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

I'm sorry if I'm not being clear.

If I look at evacuation centres, and I look at where people were being supported, it's a very difficult job. In the evacuation centres in Kamloops, for example, they built in ceremony. They built in traditional foods. They built in some cultural practices. Those same things in Winnipeg, when we went to the evacuation centres there, seemed to be very lacking. When people wanted to bring in traditional foods, I think it was discouraged. Volunteers who might have been able to have some training in terms of registration, who knew their communities, were not encouraged. They were there. They were, quite frankly, often bored and would have been happy to help with some of the processes. So the ability to grab community members who wanted training to register and to respond to food issues.... I saw a real difference, and I'm wondering whether it was just something local that I was noticing or whether the framework for the response does not allow that flexibility that perhaps local government support services could provide.

Noon

Chief, Domestic Operations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross

Jean-Philippe Tizi

In B.C. we were not managing the congregate shelters. The municipalities were in charge. In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, we are. Maybe there are gaps there. We'll learn about that, because we are doing consultations right now. We need to see if there is this level of dissatisfaction, as you mentioned. We can take that and see how we need to continue to improve. That's definitely the commitment. I didn't hear that, but I take note and will certainly look at the results of those consultations and see if we have some improvement in the way we deliver services, and being culturally sensitive there.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

We've gone over our time, but if you'd like to respond to that question, we'll go to the next questioner after.

Noon

Senior Manager, Indigenous Relations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross

Bill Mintram

I will add that we do strive to be able to provide cultural accommodation within any of those structures where we are providing shelter, to try to accommodate aspects for cultural foods, ceremony, supporting individuals, such as residential school survivors, being able to ensure that we are trying to be as culturally sensitive as possible. That is a standard we try to attain within the services we are delivering, and it is part of our strategy and our framework moving forward.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

Thank you.

Questioning now moves to MP Malcolmson. Welcome.

November 21st, 2017 / noon

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

Thank you very much, Chair. Thank you to the witnesses.

Especially in what you are seeing on the ground, not so much the work the Red Cross is doing after the fact to support families and communities, but from your perspective, the infrastructure that we see available in a lot of indigenous communities.... I'm from British Columbia, and we were really worried about this during this summer. We've heard that some comminutes have no fire trucks, and some have no access to water. Following this terrible summer, would you be able to reflect on your observations about infrastructure priorities and what you're seeing in indigenous communities on reserve that is not mirrored by what we see in other communities in B.C.?

Noon

Senior Manager, Indigenous Relations, National Office, Canadian Red Cross

Bill Mintram

In relation to community supports, as the Canadian Red Cross, we have our community partnerships program, which allows for such things as firewood gathering, hunting, canning, practices that the community may have undertaken that the fires displaced, the opportunity to have proper reserves of food and those supports that come from that as they move into the winter. Within community partnerships, we will support a variety of opportunities that are community identified and community led.

In relation to direct infrastructure, that particular granting program doesn't cover buildings or those aspects of communities. However, in the work that we do, we are trying to ensure that we are working with the community to build back in an even better way, if possible. We work in partnership with all levels of government and with the community in a manner in which we can provide advocacy and support, but we don't deal directly with the infrastructure itself.

12:05 p.m.

NDP

Sheila Malcolmson NDP Nanaimo—Ladysmith, BC

I would like your reflections on infrastructure which, had it been in place, might have made the fire less calamitous or might have made your job of after-fire care easier.