Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank you to all of you for very interesting presentations.
I wanted to direct a couple of questions to the Assembly of First Nations, to the regional chief.
I really support your comment about recognition of where your wealth comes from. I represent a riding where over half of my constituents are indigenous. We have probably the second biggest oil well just outside my community and we don't have one job. Not one. I watch with interest as the guy who owns the companies invests in universities in Manitoba, and hospitals, yet has not given us a dime.
I watch as diamond mines pop up in the middle of Akaitcho communities. Those are Akaitcho lands. We sit there and we struggle in despair. Low housing and suicides, things of that nature. As I travel, I talk to indigenous governments. We talk about how to be self-sustaining, to move forward, to be self-governing.
We don't want to be under any other government. We want to be on par. We want to be partners. We want to co-manage, and that's where we're heading. But we can't be continually going to the federal government for what are called handouts by most people in the general population. We want to be able to operate on our own source of revenues. That means we need to look at resource revenue sharing.
Some jurisdictions have done it. I know that in the Northwest Territories the resources are split fifty-fifty between the territorial government and the federal government. Of the 50% the territorial government has, they give 25% to the indigenous governments. It's not enough, but it's certainly better than it was, and they just started that.
If we're going to move forward on governance and self-sustaining governance, we also have to look at procurement. In July 2015, the Prime Minister made some changes to the indigenous procurement program. We've seen some improvement, but of the 200 and some departments spending money out there, over 80% of them are spending zero on indigenous companies or on trying to promote indigenous economic development. That's a concern for us as indigenous MPs. We have our own caucus where we're flagging this issue and we're tracking it.
We're spending what? There's so much room for improvement that we want to make some recommendations.
What would you suggest to improve indigenous procurement? The indigenous set-aside policy is not doing what it should be doing. Do we need a new policy? Do we need new programs? Do we need to revise this program? What would be your suggestion?