Evidence of meeting #17 for Indigenous and Northern Affairs in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was miller.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Daniel Quan-Watson  Deputy Minister, Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
Serge Beaudoin  Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
Valerie Gideon  Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Department of Indigenous Services
Jean-François Tremblay  Deputy Minister, Department of Indigenous Services
Annie Boudreau  Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs

7:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Something's gone funny with my space bar, which is my mike switch. It didn't work that time. I apologize for that.

We now have the two-and-a-half-minute round of questioning.

Ms. Bérubé, you have the floor.

7:15 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My question is for Minister Miller.

Is Indigenous Services Canada considering additional funding under the indigenous community support fund? Do you plan to create additional funding to deal with the second wave, if it occurs?

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Miller Liberal Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC

Thank you.

I will provide a two-part answer.

With respect to the first question, which concerns the similar amounts that are part of the allocations to communities, this is that good old $300 million plus allocated at the very beginning. The Government of Canada gave the money to the communities to ensure that they had the financial means to make their own decisions and to mitigate a potential outbreak of COVID-19. It worked well.

Of course, since nothing can be taken for granted and we need to prepare for a second wave, an additional fund of over $200 million has been allocated specifically to mobile solutions for screening and isolation. These are internal resources that can be strategically deployed in communities.

Now, since we cannot predict how the pandemic will evolve, we are trying to determine what support communities need so that we can target it better than before. We have been asked for resources, for additional security, for example, or envelopes for better preparations; these are not financial choices made at the expense of decisions that should always be health-focused first and foremost.

With respect to the first part of your question, it remains to be seen, but we are always prepared to reevaluate envelopes that were previously allocated.

7:20 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Are you compiling statistics on COVID-19 to better predict the second wave?

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Miller Liberal Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs, QC

The nature of the data always has to be carefully scrutinized. Across the country, the old debate about disaggregated data rages on.

We do compile statistics on what we can control, so to speak, that is, data on resource deployment on reserve, as well as data provided to us either by the provinces or territories or by the communities themselves. The work, which is not perfect, is continuing so that we can shape public policy appropriately and be able to predict the second wave, as you said.

7:20 p.m.

Bloc

Sylvie Bérubé Bloc Abitibi—Baie-James—Nunavik—Eeyou, QC

Thank you.

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you very much.

Ms. Qaqqaq from the NDP, you have two and a half minutes. Please go ahead.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Matna. Thank you, Chair.

Before I get into my questions, I will say that it's been very difficult to listen to the conversations that have been going on and to indigenous experiences being discussed as if non-indigenous peoples will ever be able to fully grasp what it means to be indigenous in Canada.

Minister Vandal, could you tell me who is part of the decision-making process to determine what items are included and what are not in the subsidies for the Nutrition North program?

7:20 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

Thank you for that important question.

I know that the Nutrition North program has an advisory board. Nellie Cournoyea from Northwest Territories—I hope I'm not wrong there—is the chairperson. I met with her recently.

There is a committee, the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board, that meets regularly with the administration. They go over the parameters and the terms of reference. They were instrumental in the rollout—as was ITK—of the harvesters grant program, which subsidizes indigenous nations and individuals getting out onto the land and going back to traditional food gathering, hunting and fishing. We take a lot of advice from the Nutrition North Canada Advisory Board.

7:20 p.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Thank you for that.

I know that it is supposed to include country food, but the barriers in that process are enormous, especially for people in Nunavut.

I have a constituent from my hometown, Baker Lake, who wants to ensure that she is feeding her baby healthy foods. She went to the local store and bought two six-ounce packages of raspberries and two six-ounce packages of blueberries, which ended up totalling $31.96.

What reasoning would the Minister suggest I give to a mother trying to feed her baby healthy foods at such ridiculous prices?

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

Dan Vandal Liberal Saint Boniface—Saint Vital, MB

There's no good answer for that. I know that raspberries and strawberries, based on what you've just said, are really unaffordable. We are working closely with the advisory committee. We're working closely with people on the ground in the north and in the Arctic to try to make our programs better. An example of that is the harvesters program.

I have no doubt that there's much more we can do, so I would suggest you call my office, or I'll call your office, and we can have a further discussion on the ideas that you have to make Nutrition North a better program. I know there's opportunity and I think a good partnership would benefit the citizens you represent.

7:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you very much. Thank you, Minister.

Thank you to all of our ministers for appearing today.

Thank you to the staff, as well, and I also want to thank our clerk and the technical people who helped get us through a very difficult day. I used to run marathons, and this is a little tougher than Boston, trying to juggle everything today, but it all worked out for the benefit of broadening our knowledge, and that's why we're here.

Thank you to all. That will conclude our meeting today.

The meeting is adjourned.