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Evidence of meeting #7 for Natural Resources in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was north.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Mitch Bloom  Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency
Janet King  Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development
Sara Filbee  Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

I have a couple more to add. One is labour. There's a high emphasis, a high desire to be able to hire locally, especially in the north. With the cost of bringing labour in from the south and the ability to keep people working in the north, it's just way more expensive and way more complicated. Almost all resource project proponents would love to be able to maximize that. It becomes a matter of maximizing skills and abilities, and that's why it's also important to be able to build behind that. Everything from mining training simulators, which I know some territorial governments have helped support, to advancing literacy and things like that so that people can feel free to work on a mine site is really important.

I have two other quick points. One is business creation. A lot of project proponents are also quite interested, through the benefit agreements and other tools, in working with local businesses, and very often aboriginal-based businesses as well. So there's a real benefit there.

And at times, you'd be surprised, there are even social benefits. I remember hearing from a mine proponent talking about the importance of people on-site eating properly while they're there. They had to eat properly, and it ended up addressing issues of diabetes in the community, which ended up going back into the house, with proper eating habits there--amazing.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

Bradley Trost Conservative Saskatoon—Humboldt, SK

Very quickly here, because I have about 50-some seconds left, you talked about the mining training simulators all the way down to basic literacy skills. Those are real issues. What would we be doing having a senior geophysicist do mining pickets?

Who coordinates that? Who takes the overall global view of how we integrate the full needs of the community for labour force development, right from basic literacy skills, showing up for job/work basic skills, right up to the top, looking for what we need for the more technical occupations?

4:25 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

I'll give you an answer that's probably not what you're looking to hear. There are many players. There are the territorial governments. There are multiple federal departments. There's the private sector itself, quite anxious to become involved. I think your question points to the importance of bringing people together and aligning them around understanding the labour market and the gaps. People are talking; it's going well. There's more distance to be crossed.

4:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Leon Benoit

Thank you, Mr. Trost.

We go now to Monsieur Gravelle, and Monsieur Lapointe, if Monsieur Gravelle finishes on time, for up to five minutes.

4:25 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Thank you, Mr. Chair.

My question is for Ms. King, and it concerns the Ring of Fire, the Cliffs chromite project. This is a huge project that is going to have a lot of effect on northern Ontario and the aboriginal people. There are a lot of infrastructure needs. It's going to provide lots of employment for the people, but it's also going to have an impact on aboriginal rights and their secret and sacred sites.

Two of the first nations--the Matawa First Nations and the Mushkegowuk Council, I believe, have submitted requests for consultations and negotiations to establish a review process. The CEAA announced on Friday the project would undergo only a comprehensive assessment. This is a unilateral decision that may have included the Ontario government and mining companies but did not include the aboriginal people.

Are you aware of this project, and what is your role?

4:25 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Janet King

Mr. Chair, that project lies under the responsibility of my colleague, Sara Filbee, so if I may, I'll turn to her for the response.

4:30 p.m.

Sara Filbee Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Actually, my response is going to be that the project lies under the responsibility of CEAA, which is responsible for the environmental assessment in terms of the determination. So we're not even, in this particular one, a responsible authority, which we would be, for example, if the project were directly on a reserve site. They are the ones that have made the determination as to the appropriate level of assessment that would go on.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

But if CEAA is making a decision that concerns the first nations, with you being part of INAC, wouldn't it be your responsibility to make sure they make the right decisions?

4:30 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Sara Filbee

Our responsibility is to work in supporting other federal government departments with respect to their consultation duties to make sure they're aware of them; however, we're not the police, so to speak. We're more of a resource for them in terms of their responsibilities. They, with their own policies and procedures, respond to the needs and the situation.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

But if you're noticing that they're going in the wrong direction, would you intervene?

4:30 p.m.

Assistant Deputy Minister, Lands and Economic Development, Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

Sara Filbee

No, we would not. That's their responsibility to make their determinations; we're not going to tell them how to do their mandate. We may provide advice, but that would be the extent of it.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

Claude Gravelle NDP Nickel Belt, ON

Thank you.

4:30 p.m.

Conservative

The Chair Conservative Leon Benoit

Thank you.

We'll go to Monsieur Lapointe.

October 17th, 2011 / 4:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

My first question is for Mr. Bloom.

How long have you been with CanNor?

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

I started working there three months ago.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Only three months?

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

4:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

You are fully aware that the Comptroller General of Canada identified many problems within your organization. One specific issue is a huge surprise for me:

misuse of credit cards.

Do you agree with the comptroller on that?

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

As I said when answering other questions earlier, that audit is only in its draft stage right now. I cannot share my own comments on that issue before the audit process in completed.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

Who is in charge of the audit process within your organization?

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

That role belongs to the Comptroller General of Canada, who comes under the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat.

4:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

So, the Treasury Board of Canada Secretariat is in charge?

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency

Mitch Bloom

Yes. CanNor is a small organization. Consequently, the auditing is done by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada, which comes under the—

4:30 p.m.

NDP

François Lapointe NDP Montmagny—L'Islet—Kamouraska—Rivière-du-Loup, QC

CanNor's official stance is that, as long as the Auditor General's work is still ongoing, CanNor will not adopt a position regarding the issues raised by the Comptroller General of Canada. Is that correct?

4:30 p.m.

Vice-President, Policy and Planning, Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency