Evidence of meeting #8 for Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities in the 43rd Parliament, 2nd Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was métis.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Bindu Bonneau  Senior Director, Operations, Métis Urban Housing Corporation of Alberta Inc.
Robert Byers  President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation
Damon Johnston  President, Aboriginal Council of Winnipeg
Julia Christensen  Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Northern Governance and Public Policy, Memorial University, As an Individual

7:15 p.m.

Senior Director, Operations, Métis Urban Housing Corporation of Alberta Inc.

Bindu Bonneau

Overall, the need of indigenous people is similar, but we do see a difference from location to location, depending on what services are available in that location. For example, we have no housing in Conklin. I keep using this as an example, because I was there a few months ago. It was a very saddening situation to witness how people are living there. If I talk about that community, that community has no grocery store. That community has no water, no power, no roads. It has a huge rec centre and a huge school, those kinds of things.

People face difficulties when they don't have services in place, when they don't have medical facilities, when they don't have one-on-one professional consultation. That's where we face challenges. We do not see those challenges in Calgary and Edmonton, but we definitely face those challenges in remote areas.

7:15 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

It's a big challenge.

I understand that these are bilateral agreements on the federal side to support you, to figure out how to better address these big differences, but which change things a great deal for the people who occupy these territories.

Your mandate falls under provincial responsibility, supported, I suspect, by the national housing strategy. Is this going well, is this partnership between the province and the federal government fluid or are there jurisdictional conflicts?

7:15 p.m.

Senior Director, Operations, Métis Urban Housing Corporation of Alberta Inc.

Bindu Bonneau

We are very grateful for whatever support we are getting from the federal government. We are doing our best to create more housing inventory. Again, to maintain and continuously provide that housing, we need continuous support. That is where a gap lies. If we do not have that support, this gap will not diminish.

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Next is Ms. Gazan for two and a half minutes.

7:15 p.m.

Bloc

Louise Chabot Bloc Thérèse-De Blainville, QC

Thank you.

7:15 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

My question is for Ms. Bonneau.

We know that poverty is one of the most violent human rights violations. We know through things like the Indian Act, legislated poverty for indigenous people.... We don't need saving. We need to be provided with the same sort of services so we can be afforded the same human rights as other Canadians.

You spoke about lack of housing support. The Métis Nation of Alberta signed on to a 10-year, $5-million Métis Nation housing accord, which, when you break it down, would equate to approximately $100 per Métis person over a 10-year period. Given the shortage of affordable and accessible social housing, do you think this housing is sufficient to meet the needs of Métis citizens across the Métis homeland?

7:15 p.m.

Senior Director, Operations, Métis Urban Housing Corporation of Alberta Inc.

Bindu Bonneau

I don't know if this is sufficient or not, but this is a huge support, definitely, in an area where we see a challenge. Here we rely on who is on Métis Nation of Alberta's registry. Not everybody is identifying themselves as Métis. Not everybody is registered with Métis Nation of Alberta. That's where we see challenges, because we are not able to provide support to those people.

Again, we are talking about rural and remote areas where we cannot access those services and where people are facing more challenges.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Over 10 years, $5 million equates to—according to research numbers—approximately $100 per Métis person. Over 10 years, that is $10 a year per Métis person. Do you think that's adequate?

7:20 p.m.

Senior Director, Operations, Métis Urban Housing Corporation of Alberta Inc.

Bindu Bonneau

I don't know if this is adequate or not. I can't comment on that. The thing is, we are able to provide various supports to Métis citizens who are registered with Métis Nation of Alberta. In Alberta, we are also conducting a province-wide needs assessment, which will also bring to the surface other issues and challenges or barriers that these people are facing so—

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I have about 15 seconds left.

Do you think $10 a year over a 10-year period meets the needs of Métis citizens, considering the crisis with regard to affordable and accessible social housing in the Métis Nation?

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Please give a brief response.

7:20 p.m.

Senior Director, Operations, Métis Urban Housing Corporation of Alberta Inc.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Okay. Thank you.

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Sean Casey

Thank you.

Mrs. Falk, please go ahead for five minutes.

December 1st, 2020 / 7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Thank you, Chair.

I want to thank both of our witnesses for being here.

From my very short time here in Ottawa, I do know there is something that I'm not sure Ottawa as a whole recognizes: the difference between challenges that rural and remote areas have and those that urban areas in Canada have. It really is black and white. You can't put something that works in an urban setting into a rural and remote setting. It just doesn't work.

I want to comment on a follow-up question that MP Long had for Mr. Byers.

Mr. Byers, you mentioned an indigenous CMHC-type model. I'm wondering if you would say that there isn't an adequate indigenous lens put on federal programs at the moment. Is that why you might feel that an indigenous CMHC would be beneficial?

7:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

Yes, I think if we had an indigenous CMHC—as we say in our paper, “for indigenous, by indigenous”, led by indigenous people—then we wouldn't have to teach and explain. We're different. Our needs are different. We really need to partner with you folks.

I'm going to put it back to the community entities that we have. We don't have to work with the province on it. Our various provincial governments, if they don't like the government of the day in Ottawa, just fight with it. There has been very little change in Saskatchewan, very little change in the past I don't know how many years. They deny there's a need for affordable housing. They don't want to invest in homelessness—

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Do you mean on a provincial level?

7:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

Yes. They did talk about $20,000. They would give $20,000 towards homelessness. I don't even have words for that.

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

That's for sure.

I do have another question for you. I know you're in Regina. I'm located in Battlefords—Lloydminster. We're in the same province. I'm wondering if you have this information: How many people do you serve who are from rural and remote, maybe northern Saskatchewan, or maybe even out of province? I do understand you're in Regina, but I do understand—even being in Lloydminster or having Battlefords in my riding—the number of people from rural or remote areas who come into the urban centres. I'm wondering if you have that information.

7:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

We don't, but there would be a small number who don't come from rural.

7:20 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Right.

7:20 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

There aren't too many second- or third-generation indigenous people living here yet. They're slowly making their way.

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

You were on our committee last time when we were discussing COVID, so I am a little bit interested to know this. Since the last time you were here at our committee, have the needs changed? Have you noticed that there are more needs, other than due to the weather? I understand that it's colder and windy out, but other than that, what about mental health?

I'm a big believer in wraparound services. I have a background in social work. I understand that they go hand in hand. We can't just give one service, for example housing, and not bring in the other parts. It's one thing to be housed; it's another thing to have your spiritual health, your emotional health and your physical health. I'm just wondering whether you've noticed that things have gotten worse and whether supports are adequate, especially in the pandemic scenario.

7:25 p.m.

President and Chief Executive Officer, Namerind Housing Corporation

Robert Byers

I would say they haven't gotten a whole lot better. People applied very quickly to our second call for proposals. The one thing that I do know really disappointed me was that there hasn't been an investment in our shelters to get away from a dormitory-type shelter. I think that is so important for the well-being of anybody. You need your space, especially during COVID.

7:25 p.m.

Conservative

Rosemarie Falk Conservative Battlefords—Lloydminster, SK

Yes, let alone privacy and dignity...absolutely.