Madam Speaker, the purpose of the proceedings at present is to make inquiries of the Government of Canada with respect to the residential schools matter and in particular the progress which the government has made in the time since May when an agreement, in a tentative way, was struck with the Assembly of First Nations.
It also worth noting that this matter was in fact before the House of Commons by way of a motion of the House some time ago. At that time, which was mid-April, the following resolution was adopted by the House: “That the government take all of the actions recommended” by the Indian affairs committee and by the House of Commons “on an urgent basis, with consideration for the frailty and short life expectancy” of the residential school survivors, pointing out that the residential school survivors are dying at the rate of approximately 5 per day, or approximately 1,000 Canadians per year.
In addition, at that time the House of Commons accepted the following recommendation of the committee:
That the Government engage in court-supervised negotiations with former students to achieve a court-approved, court-enforced settlement for compensation that relieves the Government of its liability for those former students who are able to establish a cause of action and a lawful entitlement to compensation.
It was also recommended that the existing ADR process be amended or, more properly speaking, brought to a close, and, quite significantly, that the Government of Canada undertake an initiative to ensure that the former students have the opportunity at some sort of “truth and reconciliation process” to speak to all Canadians about this matter.
In the time since, it has been very difficult for Canadians to ascertain what has been happening. The government announced in May of this year that a full settlement had been arrived at with the Assembly of First Nations. At that time, former Justice Iacobucci of the Supreme Court of Canada was appointed as the Government of Canada's lawyer.
Since that time, further court cases have been filed, giving proof, really, to what the committee had recommended and what the committee had forewarned the government about. At the present time there are class action lawsuits commenced by some 13,000 individuals. In addition, the Assembly of First Nations commenced a $12 billion class action against the Government of Canada. Over the course of this past summer, three claims were filed on behalf of Inuit Canadians, on behalf of Métis Canadians and, as I recall, on behalf of Canadians in Ontario, Saskatchewan, the Yukon in particular, and Alberta. There is a wide-ranging array of court cases that have been undertaken.
Regrettably, the government seems not to have moved forward on the truth and reconciliation process but appears to be mired down in discussions and not proceeding on that process even though aboriginal Canadians who are former students are dying even as we speak.
Moreover, the ADR process continues to be remarkable in its inefficiency and wastefulness, even by the standards of this arrogant and worn-out Liberal government. Since May of 2004 there have been 368 ADR decisions issued. Of the $100 million that has been spent on administration, only $17 million went to settlements; that is less than 17¢ on the dollar making its way to the victims.
Today I ask for a response from the Deputy Prime Minister explaining this dire situation.