Evidence of meeting #18 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 masks.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Arianne Reza  Assistant Deputy Minister, Procurement, Department of Public Works and Government Services

11:55 a.m.

Bloc

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

They'll be given information and consulted on the plan provided. Is that right?

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

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

Yes. We must also consider the provinces' efforts in this area, particularly the work done by Minister D'Amours and Minister Lebel following the Viens commission, and their response to the national inquiry.

The families and survivors must be involved in the development of the plan for Quebec, but also the national plan.

11:55 a.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you. We're right at time.

We have one more round of two and a half minutes.

Ms. Qaqqaq, please go ahead.

11:55 a.m.

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Matna, Chair.

This is again an incredibly difficult conversation. When I was growing up, my non-indigenous mother, when I travelled south, always made me take extra precautions. She said if I were to go missing, she didn't know who would look for me besides her. We lose countless of our indigenous sisters and women.

You mentioned to my colleague MP Gazan that while the action plan started in June of 2019, the funding to partners flowed after the election in October of 2019. Am I correct in saying that?

Noon

Liberal

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

Yes. That is correct.

Noon

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

It's interesting that it took over five months to actually start getting things done.

How many partners are there? What is the number for that?

Noon

Liberal

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

Certainly, it starts with all the provinces and territories, so there's 13 there. Then I think the funded organizations are the Assembly of First Nations women's council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, Les femmes michif—

Noon

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

I just want a number, Minister.

Noon

Liberal

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

In terms of the Pauktuutit, obviously, 2 Spirits in Motion—

Noon

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

You mentioned all of these, Minister. I'm just asking for a number.

Noon

Liberal

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

There are the funded ones, but then there's lots of other advice coming in as well—

Noon

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

If you could find me a number, then I would love to know how many you have yet to hear from. You stated that this is something that is a barrier, and I think that's something that's an easy fix. Find the number of partners, how many you have yet to hear from, and reach out to them.

The national action plan has had a year to be developed. COVID has given us lost time, but by my math, that's about 77%. Is it fair to say that the action plan is 77% complete?

Noon

Liberal

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

Again, it's a matter of the work of all provinces and territories—Yukon, yesterday with Manitoba, talking with your minister Elisapee—and it will be a collaborative effort. We will have a chapter for each province and territory. We want to be able to move forward in a good way with the consensus to make sure this plan is effective.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

You have 10 seconds, Ms. Qaqqaq.

Noon

NDP

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq NDP Nunavut, NU

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

Honestly, I've just put my hands up. It's very frustrating to hear these conversations all the time when our women and children are having their safety compromised and we lose lives.

Noon

Liberal

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

I agree with you.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

Thank you.

We're right out of time, Minister. I'm sorry. We have some work to do for our next panel. Minister, thank you so much for being with us today.

Noon

Liberal

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

Thank you.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

I know you're having a busy day; we all are.

Noon

Liberal

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

Yes.

Noon

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

I'm going to suspend now. We'll need to do some sound checks and have some other business as we prepare for the next round, so we'll suspend for just a few minutes.

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal Bob Bratina

We're going to get under way.

Thank you, Mr. van Koeverden, for allowing us some extra time.

We have Anita Anand, Minister of Public Services and Procurement; the Honourable Marc Miller; Associate Deputy Minister Sony Perron; Valerie Gideon, senior assistant deputy minister; Philippe Thompson, chief of finances; Dr. Tom Wong, chief medical officer; and from Public Works, Michael Vandergrift and Arianne Reza.

Mr. Vidal, I'm going to ask you to start. You have six minutes.

June 19th, 2020 / 12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Vidal Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

I appreciate all the challenges in getting through these things, so I'll get right to my questions for Mr. Miller this morning.

Throughout the pandemic, Mr. Miller, in my role as shadow minister, I have had many opportunities to connect with indigenous people across the country—businesses, individuals and organizations.

One of the organizations that I've had the privilege of working with, getting to know and advocating for is the Aboriginal Friendship Centres of Saskatchewan. I am an MP who represents northern Saskatchewan. There are 10 friendship centres in Saskatchewan, and five of them are in my riding. Recently, they released a Saskatchewan economic framework called “Honouring Her Spark”. During their engagement as they prepared this report.... Many suggestions in the report respond to the calls for action found in the MMIWG report that we were discussing earlier.

What specific actions is the government taking to help support entrepreneurship among indigenous women, and what effect do you believe this might have on this very important issue that we were talking about in the last hour? I realize that your department is also involved in this—thus, the question.

12:15 p.m.

Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île-des-Soeurs Québec

Liberal

Marc Miller LiberalMinister of Indigenous Services

As you rightly note, Gary....

First, thank you for the advocacy work. I've noted it in prior sessions, but I think it's worth repeating. Your team has been linking up with our department and advocating in very complex situations, particularly what's been going on in La Loche and the response at all levels of government to support...the spread of COVID in northern Saskatchewan.

At the heart of this.... The MMIWG calls to action are not for a federal response only, nor is Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs responsible. It is entirely a whole-of-government, civil society, provincial and territorial response.

Part of the calls to action demand from Indigenous Services Canada, when we look in terms of how the civil service reacts to those calls to action within what Indigenous Services Canada does.... What you're getting at the very heart of that, and what the report highlighted as well, is socio-economic conditions, inequalities that unduly and disproportionately negatively affect women and create the conditions that you've highlighted and that we've heard in testimony.

One of those calls to action included what we have rolled out over the last week, the response in capital funding for shelters that support indigenous women who are fleeing violence. Indeed, during COVID, we've seen a significant increase in domestic violence and a corresponding need for those supports with regard to the friendship centres and the various service organizations that do an incredible job with very little resources. Our government moved quite quickly with $50 million, which was wholly inadequate, and then $75 million, which is in the process of being rolled out specifically to organizations that serve indigenous peoples, among those women and children who are fleeing violence.

Again, it's within the responsibility of Indigenous Services Canada as well as other levels of government, at the federal level and across the spectrum of government services and civil society services in Canada. It's one aspect of it, but it is a very important part to the MMIWG response. It can't simply be a piecemeal approach. It needs to be complete and comprehensive. Supports for women in those situations are key, and Indigenous Services Canada has to do its part.

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

Gary Vidal Conservative Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Thank you.

I want to get to one more question for you here, as we're obviously working with limited time.

This past week, Dion and I had the privilege of travelling to La Ronge, where we got to engage many important stakeholders on the impact of COVID-19 in that area. While we were there, we were able to observe the fact that they were having a groundbreaking ceremony, or a celebration of the funding that was promised in the election, for this wellness, healing and recovery centre that's been funded on that side. I want to thank you for the commitment to follow through on that.

I also had the opportunity this week to speak to Chief Ronald Mitsuing. You would be very aware of the advocacy he's done through the whole Makwa Sahgaiehcan situation that you came upon, I think, on your first day as the minister and how that all played out.

We've talked a lot about northwestern Saskatchewan with La Loche and with Clearwater River Dene Nation. I'm curious whether the government would be supportive of considering a centre on the west side like it's funding on the east side over in La Ronge. There are obviously great needs for Chief Ronald Mitsuing and many of his colleagues on the west side as well. Is that something you've ever talked about or considered, a similar type of facility on the northwest side of Saskatchewan to help that side of the province as well?