Evidence of meeting #86 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 fire.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Jodene Blain  Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

Thank you, Mr. Bossio.

I'll be quick because it's only one question.

I want to go a bit further into the question around the insurance. I don't want this to sound insensitive; it's for lack of understanding.

If and when there is inadequate insurance to protect the homes on site, why does it become a federal responsibility? Is there a process whereby there's an analysis of why there wasn't sufficient insurance? I ask this because I would hope that communities across this country would learn they need to re-evaluate what they have covered, not only at an individual level but at a community level.

11:55 a.m.

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

I wouldn't say inadequate insurance in terms of.... We increase it every year by 5% to cover inflation. We were proactive, we thought. But for the actual amount we were allowed to insure, we maxed everything out. When they came in to assess the rebuild value, they assessed all our houses low because they're old houses. They were built in the 1960s.

Say we had a house insured for $250,000, they assessed it a $114,000. That's what we're getting. It's not that our coverage wasn't up there, but when they came in to assess, they assessed it really low.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

William Amos Liberal Pontiac, QC

It's a replacement versus actual value kind of scenario, which ought to inform other communities and private owners.

11:55 a.m.

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

Yes. Absolutely. Just know what it's actually insured for. We assumed outbuildings and that kind of thing were insured too. No, they are not.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal MaryAnn Mihychuk

That's a good point.

Questioning now moves to MP Cathy McLeod.

November 28th, 2017 / 11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Thank you.

You have brought up a number of issues. I really appreciate your coming. Certainly, it was a very difficult summer, and I know for your community it was really challenging.

The insurance piece is an interesting issue. I would have thought the band might have had insurance perhaps for their works yard and their band office. I never thought a band would actually have insurance for the community.

It would be interesting for me to know from officials if that is common, because I didn't think there was insurance available for communities. To hear you have that was something very interesting to me. I think as a committee we need to delve into that.

I can imagine the issue around historical documents is a new issue also. I think that's a huge loss—

11:55 a.m.

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

Yes. It is.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

—especially if you have issues around a specific claim.

11:55 a.m.

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

Yes. Absolutely.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Was there no backup to these documents? There was no place anywhere that these documents—

11:55 a.m.

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

We've asked the province to see what they have, and different agencies are collecting for us and trying to send as much over as they can, but no, a lot.... We had tried to save everything, but we lost our server a few years ago. We're trying to update everything. There were big, long maps of historical CPs on the community and that kind of thing. We lost huge amounts.

11:55 a.m.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

We've heard some variations. In your case, there was no question. I'm not sure it was an evacuation order as much as a flee-for-your-life kind of situation that you experienced.

I know many communities require the band council resolution for an evacuation order. Were you able to do anything about that because no one was in range? It probably didn't matter. People just had to flee. Did you ever have to do an official order?

Noon

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

I did, which was tough because we had no band office. Again, in my basement I did our BCR on an old template. We did it just because people.... Number one, there were the looky-loos. Everyone wanted to drive by the first nation community that was wiped out. It's curiosity. We had to stop those and evacuate that local area where people could drive by and make it an order so that people couldn't be looky-loos.

Also there was so much damage to hydro poles we wanted to stop our community members from going back home. It was so unsafe, so we did an evacuation order and a state of emergency.

Noon

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Certainly in order to get the support from Red Cross or from ESS in terms of accommodation, that evacuation order had to be in place.

Noon

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

Yes. I took care of that right away.

Noon

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Okay, so that was in place right away for the community members.

Noon

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

Yes. Somebody sent me a template from another neighbouring first nation, and I just....

Noon

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Was the money you have outstanding submitted through EMBC or was that money submitted directly to INAC?

Noon

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

It's both. If you heard the loops we had to jump through, it would make your head shake.

When we submit something through EMBC, we know it will be denied because it doesn't qualify. We still have to submit it, it has to be denied, and then it has to be resubmitted to INAC. The recovery process is the same. We submit it to DFA, which is EMBC, it is denied, then we have to resubmit it, and it goes to INAC. We can't just submit it right to INAC.

Noon

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Okay. Can you give me a couple of examples of what sorts of things would be denied and then approved by INAC?

Noon

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

Wages were one thing. They kept saying, “Submit it. We know it's going to be denied but submit it anyway.” I couldn't just go directly. I had to go through this. The paperwork is tremendous. It's a whole position in itself, the administrative.

I'm trying to think of other examples. There are a lot of other examples in terms of equipment like tools and things like that. No capital assets are allowed to go through EMBC, but we needed tools to cover up holes in the ground. That was automatically denied. I had to put it through even though it was denied, and then INAC would come back and say, “Okay, we'll cover that.” It was that kind of thing.

Noon

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

You obviously have a significant rebuild process. Have people, first of all, found accommodation? Is that rebuild process going as smoothly as a challenging rebuild could be?

Noon

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band

Jodene Blain

It's been two steps forward and five steps back with the rebuild. It's been very challenging. We were close, and then we had to switch builders. We still haven't gotten any money from INAC yet. We're waiting to get that. I'm submitting budgets, but budgets keep changing. We're hoping to build throughout the winter. Our hope is, when I get back next week, we'll be doing foundations, and we're going to build throughout the winter.

People are in hotels, to answer your other question.

Noon

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Conservative Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo, BC

Has the insurance company paid you out?

Noon

Band Administrator, Ashcroft Indian Band