Evidence of meeting #208 for Finance in the 42nd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was payment.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mark Schaan  Director General, Marketplace Framework Policy Branch, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
Marianna Giordano  Director, Canada Pension Plan Policy and Legislation, Department of Employment and Social Development
Nathalie Martel  Director, Old Age Security Policy and Public Pension Statistics Division, Seniors and Pensions Policy Secretariat, Income Security and Social Development Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Deborah Elder  Senior Director, Pensions and Benefits Sector, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat
Simon Crabtree  Executive Director, Pensions and Benefits Sector, Office of the Chief Human Resources Officer, Treasury Board Secretariat
Jeannine Ritchot  Executive Director, Regulatory Policy and Cooperation Directorate, Regulatory Affairs Sector, Treasury Board Secretariat
David Spicer  Vice-President, Regulatory Modernization, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada
David Lee  Chief Regulatory Officer, Issues Management, Health Products and Food Branch, Department of Health
Greg Loyst  Director General, Policy and Regulatory Strategies Directorate, Department of Health
Tim Krawchuk  Manager, Excise Duty Operations – Alcohol, Canada Revenue Agency
Tolga Yalkin  Director General, Consumer Product Safety Directorate, Department of Health
Sylvain Souligny  Director General, Legislative and Oversight Management, Department of Transport
Jason Flint  Director General, Policy, Communications and Regulatory Affairs Directorate, Department of Health
Cindy Evans  Director General, Centre for Biosecurity, Public Health Agency of Canada
Sara Wiebe  Director General, Air Policy, Department of Transport
Keith Jones  Acting Director, International Marine Policy, Department of Transport
Katherine Richer  Senior counsel, Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada Legal services, Department of Justice
Cynthia Leach  Director, Housing Finance, Capital Markets Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
Robert Sample  Director General, Capital Markets Division, Financial Sector Policy Branch, Department of Finance
David LeDrew  Senior Advisor and Economist, Department of Finance
Michel Tremblay  Senior Vice President, Policy, Research and Public Affairs, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
Karen Hall  Director General, Social Policy Directorate, Strategic and Service Policy Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Hugues Vaillancourt  Senior Director, Social Development Policy Division, Social Policy Directorate, Strategic and Service Policy Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Elizabeth Douglas  Director General, Service Delivery and Program Management, Department of Veterans Affairs
Atiq Rahman  Director General, Canada Student Loans Program, Learning Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development
Michael Nadler  Acting Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency
Kevin McNamee  Director, Protected Areas Establishment Branch, Parks Canada Agency
Crawford Kilpatrick  Director General, Strategic Sourcing Sector, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Shawn Gardner  Senior Director, Real Property Service Management Contract Division, Department of Public Works and Government Services
Christopher Meszaros  Senior Counsel, Department of Justice

7:35 p.m.

Director General, Canada Student Loans Program, Learning Branch, Department of Employment and Social Development

Atiq Rahman

The rate itself is part of the terms and conditions that the students signed when they received a student loan. To make any changes to those terms and conditions, meaning to make any changes to the rate, the minister of ESDC would have to go to cabinet with the concurrence from the Minister of Finance.

7:35 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Thank you.

7:35 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

That's it. We are all done on division 22.

Thank you very much, Mr. Rahman.

We are going to division 23 on the Canada National Parks Act.

We have Mr. McNamee, director, protected areas establishment, and Mr. Nadler, acting chief executive officer.

Divisions 23, 24 and 26 are all at the table, I gather.

We'll start with Mr. Nadler.

7:35 p.m.

Michael Nadler Acting Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My name is Michael Nadler. On an interim basis, I'm the chief executive officer of Parks Canada. I'm joined by Kevin McNamee, who is the director of protected areas establishment at Parks Canada.

Thank you kindly for the opportunity to speak with you this evening. We know that this is additional to very busy workloads, and we're grateful for the attention paid to our elements of the budget implementation act this evening.

There are three elements of the act that pertain to Parks Canada. With your patience, Kevin and I can speak to all three in fairly rapid succession and take your questions at the end of each section. Two of these involve amendments to the Canada National Parks Act, and one involves an amendment to the Parks Canada Agency Act.

The first change to the Canada National Parks Act will facilitate the establishment of a new national park reserve in the Northwest Territories called Thaidene Nëné. It's located on the east arm of Great Slave Lake. If you imagine Yellowknife and describe a line roughly straight east, you'll bump into a community called Lutsel K'e. This area is near that community and on the lake. It's one of the most amazing places in the country, and we encourage you to visit.

The amendment relating to that national park reserve will describe the boundaries for the national park reserve. Plus, it will provide for the conduct of some activities in the park that support traditional indigenous and northern lifestyles.

The second change to the Canada National Parks Act will adjust the boundaries of two ski areas in Banff National Park. These are the Mount Norquay and Lake Louise ski areas. These boundary changes reflect guidelines for development and use that were negotiated with each operator and were also subject to public consultation, input and environmental impact assessment. Incorporating the boundary changes into schedule 5 of the act will provide the two ski resorts with the business certainty that they need to conduct their operations and make ongoing investments in each of the resorts.

The last item is a change to the Parks Canada Agency Act that will shift Parks Canada from a two-year appropriation cycle to a one-year appropriation cycle. This was actually proposed in budget 2014 but was not legislated. It has come back for budget 2019 and forms part of the budget implementation act for 2019.

Mr. Chair, with your permission, I will turn to Kevin McNamee, who can speak to the first item, which is the Thaidene Nëné national park reserve.

7:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Go ahead.

7:40 p.m.

Kevin McNamee Director, Protected Areas Establishment Branch, Parks Canada Agency

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

The purpose of clauses 328 to 331, plus clause 333, is to amend the Canada National Parks Act to establish the Thaidene Nëné national park reserve of Canada. The goal is to legally protect a 14,000 square kilometre area of the boreal forest and the traditional territory of the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation and several other indigenous peoples as Canada's 47th national park.

The government signalled its commitment to establish Thaidene Nëné national park reserve in budget 2016, which provided the long-term funding to establish, develop and operate this park. During 2016-17, 90% of participants in our national and regional consultations expressed support for establishing this national park reserve. The proposed amendments respond to some of the issues raised at that time.

Parks Canada is concluding the necessary establishment agreements with the Government of Northwest Territories, the Lutsel K'e Dene and the Northwest Territory Métis Nation, as well as consultations with several other indigenous governments. The land transfer agreement with the Government of Northwest Territories is key, as it sets out the terms and conditions under which the territorial government will transfer the lands and waters for this reserve to Canada.

Turning to the specific proposed amendments, clause 331, which is pages and pages of metes and bounds, is simply a description of the boundary that goes into schedule 2 of the act. The boundary includes an excellent representation of this natural region, will maintain ecological integrity and provide iconic visitor experience, and includes areas of importance to indigenous communities. I must also stress that the boundary excludes all identified areas of high and very high mineral potential.

Clauses 328 to 330 ensure that non-indigenous land uses and activities that are typically not permitted in national parks will continue in Thaidene Nëné. These activities include berry picking and the gathering of medicinal and healing plants for personal use, the cutting and gathering of wood for campfires and temporary shelters, and subsistence harvesting.

It's also important to inform the committee that the amendments ensure the continuation of certain third party interests, such as a tourist lodge and a recreational property. They provide Parks Canada with the authority to permit activities such as aircraft access, which is a major means of accessing this region, and fuel caches will also be permitted, which is important to users of this region. These provisions are consistent with the land transfer agreement negotiated between Parks Canada and the territorial government.

Finally, these amendments will only come into force after the land transfer agreement with the GNWT is signed, which we are hoping to accomplish this June. We are also working to sign at the same time agreements with indigenous organizations.

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

7:40 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

All right. That is all on division 23, so we'll go to questions on that first.

Are there any questions on division 23 on the new national park reserve?

Mr. Dusseault.

7:40 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

It's not clear to me what activities will be permitted. I don't really understand what can be done on these lands. I think we want to acknowledge indigenous rights, and I suppose that concerns these lands as well.

In what way will this park be different from others with respect to the activities that can be carried out there in a manner consistent with the rights of the aboriginal peoples, who definitely have a lot of rights over those lands?

7:45 p.m.

Director, Protected Areas Establishment Branch, Parks Canada Agency

Kevin McNamee

You're quite correct in that there is no reason to specify in this legislation that traditional activities undertaken by indigenous people within the region will continue as a right. That is provided for under section 35 of the Constitution Act, so there was no reason to provide that.

Negotiators have initialled an establishment agreement with the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation and an impact and benefit agreement with the NWT Métis Nation that specifies how we will collaborate.

In the case of non-indigenous activities, the way our act is structured is that, in order for some activities that we typically don't allow to continue in a park to continue in Thaidene Nëné, we needed to amend the act to allow for those specific activities. Aircraft access, as I mentioned, is one activity, and continuing a number of leases and leaseholders is provided for.

We also have amendments related to continuing the use of snowmobiles. That's not a typical activity in a national park, but recognizing the proximity to Yellowknife, the importance of the land to the non-indigenous people who use it and the results of consultations and the negotiations with the Government of Northwest Territories, some of these activities that are not typically provided for in national parks across Canada are provided for in Thaidene Nëné.

7:45 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Is this park located solely in the Northwest Territories, or does it extend into another province or territory as well.

7:45 p.m.

Director, Protected Areas Establishment Branch, Parks Canada Agency

Kevin McNamee

The park is located solely in the Northwest Territories.

7:45 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Thank you.

7:45 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Viersen.

May 6th, 2019 / 7:45 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Hello, Mr. Nadler. It's good to see you again.

I'm just wondering where the idea for this park came from. What was the impetus for there to be a development of a new park? Was it the federal government recognizing a nice spot to put a park? Was it asked for by the Government of Northwest Territories, or was it a group of people from the Northwest Territories? Where did that come from?

7:45 p.m.

Director, Protected Areas Establishment Branch, Parks Canada Agency

Kevin McNamee

This park proposal has a 50-year history. It goes back to 1969 when the proposal was put to the chief of the community of Lutsel K'e, then called Snowdrift, but he was told at the time that he could not continue indigenous activities within the park. They couldn't hunt, couldn't trap and couldn't fish. The chief took it back to his people, and they said they weren't interested.

Nevertheless, there was a decision to protect about 7,000 square kilometres from a future allocation. There were a number of attempts over the decades to try to get it going. Finally in 2006, the Minister of the Environment at that time signed a memorandum of understanding with the community of Lutsel K’e. You'll hear this story tomorrow because you'll have the chief of Lutsel K’e Dene First Nation appearing. The elders there, the community, decided that they wanted to pursue a national park reserve because they were concerned about the amount of mineral staking going on in the area.

They wanted to enter into a collaborative relationship, so we moved forward with that. Following the devolution of the lands and waters of the Northwest Territories to the Government of Northwest Territories in about 2014, the territorial government eventually invited us to work with them to negotiate a boundary and a national park reserve.

What you've seen is the collaboration of Canada, the GNWT post-devolution, which is significant, and the Lutsel K'e Dene First Nation as the prime community pushing it with the support of the NWT Métis nation and others.

7:50 p.m.

Conservative

Arnold Viersen Conservative Peace River—Westlock, AB

Thank you.

7:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. McLeod, and then we'll go back to Mr. Dusseault.

7:50 p.m.

Liberal

Michael McLeod Liberal Northwest Territories, NT

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you for the presentation. This park is in my riding, and I'm very happy to see it reach this stage. It's been in the works for a long time. I know the chief who initially discussed it, Felix Lockhart, very well. He put a lot of effort into this.

I think we really have to look at how things have evolved over the last while in order to make this park happen. First of all, it's always very difficult to get four different governments to agree—the federal government, the Government of Northwest Territories, the Dene First Nation and the Métis. I think it shows the importance of this piece of land. It's located at the eastern part of Great Slave Lake, a beautiful part of the lake. There's forest, there's tundra—everything is there. It's very hard to access, of course.

This area is called “land of the ancestors” by the people from Lutsel K'e. It's a very important part of their country, and they want to see it happen. This is one of the first places where there's really been strong indigenous involvement. We're still trying to sort out the issues around how Wood Buffalo park was established and what it did to the indigenous people of that area when they couldn't trap, couldn't hunt and couldn't do anything in the park. That was their livelihood. I really understand the chief in 1960 saying that they couldn't have an area closed off to them, as their primary way of surviving was through hunting and fishing and trapping.

I do have a quick question on the process of the park. We'll have witnesses appear before us tomorrow, but I want to talk about the process of going from a reserve to an actual national park. Can you describe that a little bit more clearly for me? I'm not sure I followed it.

7:50 p.m.

Director, Protected Areas Establishment Branch, Parks Canada Agency

Kevin McNamee

Going back to one of your earlier comments, it is quite significant that we're close to a deal with the Government of Northwest Territories post-devolution. It really is significant. I recognize that the committee primarily deals with financial matters, but I will say that in the case of the national park reserve, this allows the government to set up a national park in places where there are land claims that have not yet been concluded. These are places where the Government of Canada has accepted for negotiation a land claim.

In essence, this allows us to legally set it up as a national park reserve pending the conclusion of a land claim agreement, which may alter the boundary and provide other provisions. The act, though, is clear in that a national park reserve is managed as a national park. It's not a lesser form of national park. It simply signals that there is an active land claim process here that's yet to be finalized. In order for this to eventually become a national park, the government needs to conclude agreements with all outstanding claims.

The other thing, to go back to an earlier question, is that there's a provision in here that makes it clear that in going from a national park reserve to a national park, the non-indigenous activities will continue. It makes it clear that the leases and licences that are currently in place will continue. We've covered that off. That's essentially the difference in terms of the transition.

7:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Dusseault.

7:50 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

I have nothing to add.

7:50 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

You're done? Okay.

We'll now turn to division 24.

7:50 p.m.

Acting Chief Executive Officer, Parks Canada Agency

Michael Nadler

This division relates to ski area boundaries for Mount Norquay and Ski Lake Louise.

As many of you know, skiing has been part of Parks Canada's experiences in the mountain parks for literally decades, beginning as early as the 1930s.

All of Canada's national parks are managed within a well-defined system of legislation, regulations, policies and plans. Over the past decade Parks Canada has been working with ski area operators as well as a number of stakeholders and intervenors on the regime for managing ski areas now and into the future in Banff National Park.

The management of ski areas falls under the Canada National Parks Act, the 10-year Banff National Park management plan, the Jasper National Park management plan for Marmot Basin, and Parks Canada umbrella guidelines for ski area management, dated 2006.

Resort specific guidelines that are negotiated with each operator are subject to impact assessment, and are also subject to public consultation. The long-range plans that are developed by the operators themselves also go through impact assessment and public consultation.

Ski resort specific guidelines set the boundaries for the ski area and also set the direction for ski area development for the coming decades. They set this in ways that respect the national park setting and ecology, while enabling the operator to take advantage of business opportunities and deliver outstanding experiences for Parks Canada's visitors.

The new ski area boundaries for Lake Louise and Mount Norquay reflect the consensus that was found in the site guidelines for each resort, as well as all of the public input that fed into the process.

Incorporating these boundaries into the Canada National Parks Act will provide operational certainty for the ski resorts, allowing them to implement their own business plans for each resort.

I can take questions now on the few changes.

7:55 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Wayne Easter

Mr. Dusseault.

7:55 p.m.

NDP

Pierre-Luc Dusseault NDP Sherbrooke, QC

Do you have any comments on the addition of these measures to a budget bill? Do you think it's necessary to include them in a bill of this kind?