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

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Yes. I think that sense of belonging, that sense of nationhood, is one of the most important things.

My question, then, maybe to one of the department heads—

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Your time is almost up. You have only six seconds left.

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

Adam van Koeverden Liberal Milton, ON

Okay. That's it.

Thank you.

6:20 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Now you don't have any seconds left. Thank you.

Ms. Michaud, you have the floor for two and a half minutes.

6:20 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

I thank the witnesses. It is always nice to welcome ministers to committee meetings.

I would like to state that I am on the traditional Mi'kmaq territory in my hometown of Amqui. In the Mi'kmaq language, Amqui means “where people have fun”. It is a lot of fun to be here tonight with you.

My question is for you, Minister Miller.

In your opening remarks, you stated that the public is becoming more aware than ever of the injustices indigenous peoples face in the system. I am sure the government has the best of intentions, but many people are still being left behind.

Do you feel the amounts provided to date are sufficient, not only to begin reconciliation but also to restore balance to the system? In times of crisis, such as the one we are currently experiencing, inequalities are only increasing, particularly in certain communities.

With particular reference to the indigenous community support fund, are the amounts that have been invested sufficient?

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

Thank you.

First and foremost, I would like to acknowledge your leader Yves-François Blanchet's speech this morning on behalf of Regional Chief Ghislain Picard about matters such as the importance of helping indigenous police. It is very much a key point to make to Parliament.

As to whether the amounts are sufficient, I will give you a qualified answer. We admit failure with regard to the inequalities that indigenous communities have been facing since the beginning of the crisis.

The demands we received were related to overcrowding and low capitalization of indigenous housing, and lack of investment in housing, education and healthcare. The demands were also directed at provincial governments.

Faced with this failure, we had to deploy resources in some communities that would not have needed them if they were not indigenous. Mobile equipment was needed to be able to isolate people and do tests, and we had to increase the number of nurses. We deployed resources based on the cards we were dealt.

Are the many resources we deployed in these communities sufficient? We will not know until later. It has worked on reserves because not many people there have been infected with the virus. We are facing an unpredictable epidemic. We must therefore always remain vigilant and deploy the necessary resources. There is a very real danger of several successive waves.

6:25 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Thank you for your kind words about the leader of my party.

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Sorry, Madame Michaud, we're well over time.

Ms. Gazan, you have two and a half minutes. Please go ahead.

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

It's nice to see the ministers here today.

My question is for you, Mr. Miller. Talking about systemic racism, I'd like to start with your government. Are there provisions in the 2020-21 supplementary estimates that provide for the cost of complying with the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling to immediately stop racially discriminating against first nation kids?

I have a limited amount of time, so I would ask you to limit your response. Thank you.

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

As to the budgetary requirements in order to implement Jordan's principle, absolutely yes. As I noted in a previous answer, those sums—please correct me if I'm wrong, officials—were of an increased amount of $200-plus million.

Thank you.

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

Okay. I'm not talking about the $700 million, as that is not certainly identified to pay for the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling.

With all due respect, your government has spent between $5 million and $9.4 million fighting first nations kids. If you have that money to spend fighting little kids in court, why is there nothing in your budget to ensure that little children are afforded basic human rights and to pay what you owe as ordered by the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling? Children are asking. Could you respond, please?

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

You have less than a minute.

6:25 p.m.

Liberal

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

Thank you.

I would invite a longer, more complete answer should the time run out.

You would have to specify which order. If you were speaking about the current negotiations that the court—

6:25 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

I'm talking about the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, with which you are on your tenth non-compliance order.

I'm asking if you have any plans to follow the law or if you are going to continue breaking the law.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

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

The member will note that we are fulfilling those orders. That is why we have those budgetary amounts with respect to Jordan's principle. They are so key. Currently, we are working with all sides to perfect some of the funding models that the court has asked us to do. We've made good progress.

I should have an update for members shortly.

6:30 p.m.

NDP

Leah Gazan NDP Winnipeg Centre, MB

With all due respect, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling does not agree with that.

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you for that. We're right at time.

That brings me to Mr. Doherty, for a five-minute round of questions.

Todd, I hope your microphone is good and you're ready to go for five minutes.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Thank you to the ministers.

Thank you to IT for fixing the technical issues we had earlier on.

I want to thank my colleagues for allowing me the opportunity to be on this call.

I will direct my questions to Minister Bennett throughout my five minutes, as I haven't had the opportunity to work with Minister Vandal and Minister Miller in their current capacity.

Minister Bennett, would it be fair to say that over the last five years you and I have had an open dialogue about the indigenous issues within my riding?

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

Absolutely.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Minister, dating back to January 2016, you and I have talked, whether it was regarding missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, or the Highway of Tears going right through my riding, or the June 2014 Supreme Court landmark decision about aboriginal title, the William case. We've had numerous discussions regarding that. Is that correct?

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

Yes, and I think we were able to make investments in the Highway of Tears. I think we have had a good working relationship with Chief Alphonse, who I know is a friend of yours.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

He is, which is why these conversations are always delicate.

Minister, anywhere in the supplementary estimates.... As we know, some of the issues with respect to missing and murdered women are a result of a lack of safe and reliable transportation within our rural and remote areas, with Greyhound's exit from western Canada as well as no reliable bus service. Is there any funding for rural and remote transportation in your supplementary estimates?

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

I think this is not in the Crown-Indigenous Relations portfolio. I don't know if there is anyone on the call. I think it is something that communities are working at in their funding to try to find safe transportation for their community members to and from urban centres. We know this is a priority for many communities.

6:30 p.m.

Conservative

Todd Doherty Conservative Cariboo—Prince George, BC

Thank you for that, Minister.

Minister, as you know, with the June 2014 Supreme Court decision on the William case, on aboriginal title for the Tsilhqot'in First Nation, no duty of care was granted to the non-first nation residents and business owners located within the one million acres.

What has your government done to address this issue?

6:30 p.m.

Liberal

Carolyn Bennett Liberal Toronto—St. Paul's, ON

As you know, as we begin those conversations towards self-government with the Tsilhqot'in Nation, that becomes very much part and parcel of those conversations as we go forward.

In terms of the communities nearby, I know it is done differently with different nations. We look forward to working with you on that.