Appearance Before the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs on Departmental Activities - February 25, 2020

Table of contents

Departmental Activities

Indigenous Services Canada
February 25, 2020

Scenario Note

Logistics

Date: Tuesday, February 25, 2020
Time: 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Location: Room 315 Wellington Building (197 Sparks Street)
Subject: Departmental Activities
Notes: It is recommended that witnesses arrive at the committee meeting room at least 15 minutes before they are scheduled to appear.

Appearing

The following representatives from Indigenous Services Canada will appear:

  • Mr. Jean-François Tremblay, Deputy Minister
  • Ms. Gail Mitchell, Assistant Deputy Minister, Strategic Policy and Partnerships Sector
  • Philippe Thompson, Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer

The following representatives from Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs will appear:

  • Mr. Daniel Watson, Deputy Minister
  • Mr. Serge Beaudoin, Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs
  • Ms. Annie Boudreau, Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs
  • Mr. Martin Reiher, Assistant Deputy Minister, Resolution and Individual Affairs Sector, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada

Context

The membership for the House of Commons Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) was established on February 5, 2020. It had its first meeting on February 18, 2020. It elected a Chair, Bob Bratina (Hamilton East—Stoney Creek, Liberal), and a Vice Chair, Jamie Schmale (Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, Conservative).

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq (Nunavut, New Democratic Party) expressed an interest in being the second Vice Chair. However, Gary Anandasangaree (Scarborough—Rouge Park, Liberal) asked to defer the decision to the next committee meeting.

INAN is composed of 12 members: six Liberal, four Conservative, one BQ and one NDP. This composition can present challenges for the Government Members, as the opposition parties can work together to vote down Liberals motions.

Last week, a subcommittee of INAN (which includes a few members of the whole committee) met, and introduced several motions. The motions need to be voted on in a full committee meeting, which will occur on February 25, 2020. Consequently, the beginning of the meeting will involve the committee Members voting on the motions, including the appearance on departmental activities. There is a chance that the motion for this meeting on departmental activities may be voted down. In this case, the appearance will get cancelled. Nevertheless, it is important to be present and prepared for the meeting in the event the motion is carried.

In terms of other studies, on Thursday February 27, 2020, the committee plans to begin a study on food security. In the second week of March, it will conduct a study of the 2019-20 Supplementary Estimates (B) and the 2020-21 Main Estimates of Indigenous Services and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.

The Members of the committee have also introduced motions to study Treaty Commissioners and Economic Development in Indigenous communities. Dates have not been suggested yet.

Meeting Proceedings

  1. Both Deputy Ministers have up to 10 minutes each to deliver their remarks.
  2. Members of the Committee will ask questions after the statement. Committee members will pose their questions in the following order:
    • First round (6 minutes for each Party)
      • Conservative Party of Canada
      • Liberal Party of Canada
      • Bloc Québécois
      • New Democratic Party of Canada
    • Second round (5 minutes for each Party)
      • Conservative Party of Canada
      • Liberal Party of Canada
      • Conservative Party of Canada
      • Liberal Party of Canada
    • 2.5 minutes for the Bloc Québécois and the New Democratic Party.

Opening remarks

Speaking Notes for

Jean-Francois Tremblay
Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services Canada

before the
Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs
"Indigenous Services Canada"

House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
February 25, 2020

Check Against Delivery

Mr. Chair, it is a pleasure to appear before this Committee today and I would begin by acknowledging that we are on the traditional and unceded territory of the Algonquin people.

I am joined here today by my Assistant Deputy Minister of Strategic Policy and Partnerships, Gail Mitchell. Our goal today is to give you a bit of background on Indigenous Services Canada, what we've accomplished so far, and what the road ahead looks like.

The department came into being on November 30, 2017. It brought together First Nations and Inuit Health Services (formerly with Health Canada), education, essential social services, child and family services programs and housing and infrastructure programs (formerly with INAC).

The idea was to replace old colonial structures and try to fast-track self-determination, contribute to the closing of socio-economic gaps, and advance reconciliation.

The legislation that created this department came into force in July 2019 and clearly guides our work ahead, which is first to focus on improving of the delivery of services and programs to Indigenous communities, using a distinctions based approach, with a particular emphasis on closing the socio-economic gap between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.

The second is to build the capacity of Indigenous communities so that they have the means and ability to move forward on the path to self-determination.

Indigenous Services Canada works in partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis to improve access to high quality services for Indigenous people, and in so doing, improve quality of life.

Our goal is to support Indigenous peoples in delivering services and improving socio-economic conditions in their communities—because they are best placed to do so.

There is tremendous strength and resilience in Indigenous families, communities and nations. The role of Indigenous Services Canada is to listen and support Indigenous-led solutions and strategies. This is the only way in which we can continue to build a new relationship grounded in the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, partnership and self-determination. As my colleague noted, our approach has changed from imposing to co-developing. That is what will bring success.

It is up to all of us to keep these vital conversations going—no matter how difficult or uncomfortable they are. Indigenous Services Canada is committed to this.

We will work with our Indigenous partners to close the unacceptably wide socio-economic gaps that exist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people in Canada.

The ultimate goal is to support the self-determination of Indigenous people so that Indigenous Services Canada no longer needs to exist.

To this end, the department is focused on 5 key priorities:

And we have made good progress in all of these areas.

On the well-being of Indigenous children and keeping children and families together—which is one of our most important priorities—we have:

On improving health outcomes:

On infrastructure:

On economic prosperity:

We know that closing the gap between Indigenous Peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians in socio-economic indicators could boost Canada's GDP by $27.7 billion, according to the National Indigenous Economic Development Board. That is why:

For hundreds of years, Indigenous peoples have been calling on the Canadian government to recognize and affirm their jurisdiction over their affairs, to have control over their land, housing, education, governance systems, and services.

There's a lot to get done. And as we've seen in recent weeks, there will be stumbling blocks along the way. But the work will be worth it.

Worth it for the young people of next generation who will grow up seeing the Crown and Indigenous Peoples putting in the hard work, together, to invest in their future, improve their quality of life, and heal.

Worth it for all of us. Thank you. Merci. Chi Meegwetch.

Creation of Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)

Key Messages

  • The Department of Indigenous Services Act came into force in July 2019.
  • The legislation guides the work of Indigenous Services Canada, whose mandate is twofold:
    • The first is to focus on improving of the delivery of services and programs to Indigenous communities, using a distinctions based approach, with a particular emphasis on closing the socio-economic gap between Indigenous peoples and non-Indigenous Canadians.
    • The second is to build the capacity of Indigenous communities so that they have the means and ability to move forward on the path to self-determination.
  • The Department's vision is to support and empower Indigenous peoples to independently deliver services and address socio-economic conditions in their communities, as they move forward on the path to self-determination.
  • A rigorous results and delivery approach is being adopted, focused on improving outcomes for Indigenous peoples.
  • Over time, one fundamental measure of success will be that the appropriate programs and services be increasingly delivered by Indigenous peoples, for Indigenous peoples.
  • The department is required to report annually to Parliament on the socio-economic gaps between First Nations individuals, Inuit, Métis individuals and other Canadians and the measures taken by the Department to reduce those gaps; and the progress made towards the transfer of responsibilities.

Overview of Services

  • First Nations, Inuit and Métis covered by self-government agreements receive services directly from their Indigenous government. These relationships fall mainly under the mandate of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.

On-reserve First Nations

  • ISC is implicated in a wide range of services for on-reserve First Nations, similar to a province or municipalities. This includes health, social, education, economic development, governance and infrastructure services.
  • In these cases, ISC's main role is one of funder, via contribution agreements, to First Nation governments and organizations who manage service delivery.
  • The New Fiscal Relationship provides long-term funding to more than XX First Nations.

First Nations and Inuit

  • First Nations and Inuit communities have access to public health services.
  • Some services are available to First Nation individuals and Inuit regardless of residency (e.g., non-insured health benefits and post-secondary education funding).
  • Inuit have self-government agreements and governance structures that allow greater community control.
  • ISC funds communities, service delivery organizations and, in some instances, delivers the services directly (e.g., nursing).

First Nations, Inuit and Métis

  • Programming for urban Indigenous peoples, delivered via Indigenous Friendship Centres, is accessible to all Indigenous individuals.
  • ISC also supports a wide range of Indigenous governments and institutions who serve and represent First Nations, Inuit and Métis.

Organisational Overview

  • ISC currently employees XX staff across the country.
  • The National Capital Region office of Indigenous Services Canada plays an important role in defining the general policy direction of the department.
  • It also maintains relationships with Indigenous organizations located in the NCR, including the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council.
  • The regional offices of ISC are the face of the department in dealings with Indigenous communities.
  • Located in all continental provinces and in the Atlantic region, they maintain day-to-day relationships with a wide web of Indigenous organizations and governments at the local and regional levels.
  • ISC offices are also responsible to ensure that programs are appropriately implemented.
  • ISC has two portfolio organizations, Indian Oil and Gas Canada and the National Aboriginal Economic Development Board.
  • Indian Oil and Gas Canada (IOGC) is an organization committed to managing and regulating oil and gas resources on First Nation reserve lands. It is a special operating agency under ISC.
  • The National Aboriginal Economic Development Board's mission is to advise the Minister of Indigenous Services and other federal Ministers on policies, programs, and program coordination as they relate to Indigenous economic development. It is comprised of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis business and community leaders from across Canada.

Department of Indigenous Services Act (key elements)

Summary of Departmental legislation:

Clause 1
Clause 1 provides that the short title of the Act is the Department of Indigenous Services Act.

Clause 2
Clause 2 provides the definitions relevant to the application of this Act. Of note, Indigenous governing body is used to describe all First Nation councils and the governing bodies of self-governing Indigenous groups. This is to ensure that an Indigenous group with a self-government agreement may benefit from this Act if it wishes. Band and reserve take on the same meaning as in subsection 2(1) of the Indian Act. Lastly, Minister is defined as the Minister of Indigenous Services.

Clause 3
Clause 3 establishes the Department of Indigenous Services.

Clause 4
Clause 4 establishes that the Minister of Indigenous Services presides over the Department of Indigenous Services.

Clause 5
Clause 5 establishes that a Deputy Minister of Indigenous Services may be appointed by the Governor-in-Council to be deputy head of the department.

Clause 6
Clause 6 defines the general powers, duties and functions of the Minister relating to the delivery of services to Indigenous peoples, and establishes that the Minister will have a duty to ensure the provision of services to Indigenous peoples with respect to child and family services, education, health, social development, economic development, housing, infrastructure, and emergency management.

Clause 7
Clause 7 provides that Indigenous organisations may collaborate with the Minister of Indigenous Services in the development and delivery of services and the Minister of Indigenous Services may take measures to gradually transfer of departmental responsibilities for the development and delivery of services to Indigenous organisations.
Clause 8
Clause 8 provides, for greater certainty, that these services are those provided outside of agreements with Indigenous organisations, which already include a transfer of responsibility over specific services.

Clause 9
Clause 9 establishes that the Minister of Indigenous Services may enter into agreements with Indigenous organisations to transfer responsibility for the delivery of services under his or her administration.

Clause 10
Clause 10 provides that the Minister of Indigenous Services may 1) appoint a special representative to address specific issues pertaining to matters under his or her administration; 2) appoint committees to provide advice on matters pertaining to his or her administration; and 3) set the renumeration of special representatives and committee members.

Clause 11
Clause 11 provides authority for the Department of Indigenous Services to provide or receive services to support policies and programs from and with the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.

Clause 12
Clause 12 establishes that the Minister of Indigenous Services may collect and use information on matters under his or her administration and may disclose this information to the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs; to any other federal department, agency or Crown corporation; to Indigenous organisations; and to not-for-profit indigenous organisation under the control of Indigenous individuals.

It further states that information collected by the Minister of Indigenous Services may not be disclosed if it is restricted by the Access to Information Act; if it is protected by solicitor-client privilege, professional secrecy, or litigation privilege; if it is restricted by any other act of Parliament; or if it is considered to be a confidence of the Queen's Privy council as defined by the Canada Evidence Act.

Clause 13
Clause 13 provides that the Minister of Indigenous Services may provide support for Indigenous research and statistical organisations in the collection and a use of information for matters under his or her administration.

Clause 14
Clause 14 provides that the Minister of Indigenous Services may delegate any power, duty or function, with the exception of the power to delegate, to any officer of the department or the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.

Clause 15
Clause 15 provides for the tabling of an annual report to Parliament on measures taken to address socio-economic disparities between Indigenous individuals and other Canadians, as well as progress on the transfer of responsibilities for services to Indigenous organisations.

Overview of Resources

Financial Information ISC & CIRNAC

Budget

The departments were provided with additional funding of $117.1 million for transition costs over a period of three years with an ongoing component of $19.1 million. From the additional funding, $59.7 million was attributed to create separate departments and the integration of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch from Health Canada into ISC. Factoring this additional funding, the internal services costs for CIRNAC and ISC will still be smaller as a percentage of overall funding than what the percentage of internal service costs was for CIRNAC and ISC at the time of the machinery of government announcement.

The remaining $57.4 million was intended to fund ongoing administrative costs for both departments' internal services (such as management and oversight (Minister and Deputy Ministers' offices), finance, procurement and material management, accommodations, security, human resources, information management, information technology, audit and evaluation and real property services).

However, there may be a need for additional funding going forward to ensure that both departments can deliver on their respective mandates and keep pace with the needs of our partners.

Departmental Budget

  • In 2016-17, the former Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and Health Canada's First Nations and Inuit Health Branch had a total combined budgetary authority of $12.6B.
  • The total for 2019-20 is $21.6B broken down as:
    • $13.7B for Indigenous Services Canada;
    • $7.0B for Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada; and
    • $0.8B which was incurred by Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development prior to the creation of the new department, Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs.
  • Significant increases observed since 2016-17 is a result of successive budget investments as well as funding related to the Sixties Scoop and Childhood Claims settlements.
(in billion of dollars)
2016-17 Year End Authorities 2017-18 Year End Authorities 2018-19 Year End Authorities 2019-20 Year End Authorities including Supplementary Estimates (B)
INAC HC-FNIHB Total Combined INAC HC-FNIHB ISC Total Combined CIRNAC ISC Total Combined CIRNAC ISC Total Combined
DIAND
(Old legal entity)
CIRNA
(New legal entity)
DIAND
(Old legal entity)
CIRNA
(New legal entity)
9.5 3.1 12.6 8.4 2.3 4.5 15.2 5.1 N/A 11.9 17.0 0.8 7.0 13.7 21.6
  5.1   7.9  

Internal Services Costs

  • In 2016-17, former INAC and Health Canada's FNIHB internal services was approximately $338 million. This represents 2.8% of program dollars.
  • In 2017-18, former INAC and Health Canada's FNIHB and ISC internal services was approximately $382 million. This represents 2.6% of program dollars
  • In 2018-19, CIRNAC and ISC internal services was approximately $462 million. This represents 2.8% of program dollars.
  • In 2019-20, based on Supplementary Estimates B proposed authorities to date, CIRNAC and ISC internal services is $394 million. This represents 1.9% of program dollars.
Authorities 2016–17 Year End Authorities 2017-18 Year End Authorities 2018-19 Year End Authorities 2019-20 Proposed Authorities
including Supplementary Estimates (A) & (B)
(in million of dollars) INAC HC - FNIHB* Total Combined INAC HC - FNIHB* ISC Total Combined CIRNAC ISC Total Combined CIRNAC ISC Total Combined
DIAND and CIRNA** DIAND and CIRNA**
Progams
Other Votes (Operating, Capital)
844.0 1,357.4 2,201.4 776.3 895.1 806.7 2,478.1 833.0 1,805.8 2,638.8 4,114.2 2,038.9 6,153.2
Transfer Payments
8,359.8 1,701.5 10,061.3 7,345.1 1,411.8 3,619.7 12,376.7 4,015.8 9,889.9 13,905.7 3,579.2 11,488.3 15,067.5
Sub-total 9,203.8 3,058.9 12,262.7 8,121.5 2,306.9 4,426.5 14,854.8 4,848.8 11,695.7 16,544.5 7,693.4 13,527.2 21,220.6
Internal Services
Sub-total 310.9 27.4 338.3 316.3 27.4 37.8 381.5 279.7 182.7 462.4 183.9 209.8 393.6
Total 9,514.7 3,086.3 12,601.0 8,437.7 2,334.3 4,464.2 15,236.3 5,128.5 11,878.3 17,006.9 7,877.3 13,737.0 21,614.3
% of IS vs Transfer Payment 3.7% 1.6% 3.4% 4.3% 1.9% 1.0% 3.1% 7.0% 1.8% 3.3% 5.1% 1.8% 2.6%
% of IS vs Program 3.4% 0.9% 2.8% 3.9% 1.2% 0.9% 2.6% 5.8% 1.6% 2.8% 2.4% 1.6% 1.9%
% of IS vs Total 3.3% 0.9% 2.7% 3.7% 1.2% 0.8% 2.5% 5.5% 1.5% 2.7% 2.3% 1.5% 1.8%
Source:
Public Accounts and Departmental Results Report 2016-17 to 2018-19

*The $27.4 for Heatlh Canada FNIHB Internal Services is based on the amount agreed upon by Health Canada and ISC. This figure has been included to ensure a comparable baseline but is not publicly available information.
**This include former legal entities DIAND and CIRNA

Accomplishments

Key Messages

  • We are delivering on a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples, where we are working together to improve quality of life and advance self-determination.
  • We know that unacceptable socio-economic gaps exist and we are working to close these. This is why we have made significant new investments of $21 billion through four budgets, which have resulted in:
    • 69 schools built or renovated;
    • 208 water and wastewater infrastructure projects completed;
    • More than 508,000 requests for products, services, and supports approved under Jordan's Principle.
  • We know we have a long way to go and we will continue to work in partnership with Indigenous peoples towards closing the unacceptable socio-economic gaps that exist today.

If pressed:

  • We know that unacceptable socio-economic gaps exist and we are working to close these. Immense progress has been made in areas such as:
    • The lifting of long-term drinking water advisories;
    • The co-development of distinctions-based housing strategies;
    • The advancement of Indigenous-led healthcare delivery;
    • The recognition of jurisdiction in child and family services; and
    • A new fiscal relationship with communities.
  • We know there is more to do, and we will continue this work in true partnership with Indigenous peoples.

Youth:

  • Every Indigenous child deserves the best start in life.
  • We know that unacceptable socio-economic gaps exist and we are working to close these. This is why we are advancing
  • A new funding formula for K-12 education, which has resulted in regional funding increases of almost 40%;
  • The number of First Nation schools offering elementary full-day kindergarten programs has increased from 30% to 59%; and,
  • Almost doubling funding for First Nations child and family services to approximately $1.2 billion in 2018-19 with a focus on prevention.
  • We will not leave another generation of Indigenous children behind.

2019-20 Supplementary Estimates (B)

Key messages

  • These 2019-20 Supplementary Estimates (B) reflect a net increase of $1 billion which includes $1,038.2 million in new funding less $29.1 million in net transfers with other government organizations.
  • The net increase of $1,009.1 million is mainly comprised of:
    • $588.3 million to support the ongoing delivery of the First Nations Child and Family Services program. This includes costs such as: operating costs resulting from the implementation of the existing Tribunal orders, for new agencies or maintenance costs incurred by service providers;
    • $232 million to address the increased demand in 2019-20 brought by additional Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) orders that have broadened the scope of and eligibility under Jordan's Principle; and
    • $150 million to support First Nations communities in their efforts to respond to and recover from emergency events that cannot be addressed by local communities on their own. Major events in Manitoba (Winter Storm), Ontario (Bearskin Lake, Pikangikum Wildland Fires) and Atlantic (Hurricane Dorian) have led to much higher than normal anticipated response and recovery costs.

Transfer from the Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to Indigenous Services to manage Indigenous Litigation

  • As the two departments continue to take shape, there is a change in the way both Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC) and Indigenous Services Canada (ISC) manage litigation.
  • For many years, the Litigation Management and Resolution Branch (LMRB) has been responsible for managing, resolving and preventing litigation on behalf of the department(s). It has worked with sectors to effectively respond to policy and program risks in the litigation context.
  • In order to strengthen the relationship between litigation, program, and policies, branch's litigation management function and capacity has moved to the sectors in both departments.
  • Certain employees of the branch have now become sector employees working in the new sectoral litigation management units, while continuing to manage litigation.
  • Reallocating resources to the sectors, directly into policy and program areas, will further strengthen the integration of policy development and litigation management, while increasing efficiency.
  • The transfer in this Supplementary Estimates is to reflect this above change.

Background

  • The 2019-20 Supplementary Estimates (B) for all departments will be tabled in the House of Commons by the President of Treasury Board on February 18, 2020.
  • It presents only urgent and approved items totaling $1,009.1 million. The total appropriations for the Department will then be at $13.8 billion.
Key Initiatives
(in dollars)
Budgetary
Vote 1b Vote 5b Vote 10b Total Budgetary Expenditures
Operating Capital Grants and Contributions
New Funding
Funding for Child and Family Services 0 0 588,314,520 588,314,520
Funding for health, social and education services and support for First Nations children under Jordan's Principle 22,749,398 0 209,258,968 232,008,366
Funding to reimburse First Nations and emergency management service providers for on-reserve response and recovery activities 0 0 150,000,000 150,000,000
Funding for Income Assistance and Infrastructure 0 0 51,600,000 51,600,000
Funding for the Community Opportunity Readiness Program 0 0 15,777,783 15,777,783
Funding for the construction and operation of the Nunavut Wellness Centre 0 0 502,000 502,000
Total New Funding 22,749,398 0 1,015,453,271 1,038,202,669
Transfers
Transfers from Other Organizations
From the Department of Health to the Department of Indigenous Services for public education on cannabis in Indigenous communities 0 0 354,495 354,495
From the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to the Department of Indigenous Services to manage Indigenous litigation 335,625 0 0 335,625
From the Department of Health to the Department of Indigenous Services to develop distinctions-based healthy eating tools for Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami 120,000 0 0 120,000
Internal Transfers
Internal reallocation of resources from operating expenditures to contributions for non-insured health benefits for First Nations and Inuit (31,303,875) 0 31,303,875 0
Internal reallocation of resources from operating expenditures to contributions to remediate federal contaminated sites (1,468,642) 0  1,468,642 0
Internal reallocation of resources from capital expenditures to operating expenditures for systems maintenance and enhancements 639,000 (639,000) 0 0
Transfers to Other Organizations
From the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs for the Métis National Council and each of its governing members to develop capacity in the area of Métis health 0 0 (400,000) (400,000)
From the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Health to provide microbiological and physical-chemical testing of drinking water in First Nation communities (487,785) 0 0 (487,785)
From the Department of Indigenous Services to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to train and certify First Nation housing management professionals 0 0 (938,500) (938,500)
From the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Employment and Social Development for the Kativik Regional Government to deliver youth employment and education programming 0 0 (1,011,580) (1,011,580)
From the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to support the First Nations Financial Management Board 0 0 (2,991,859) (2,991,859)
From the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs for health programs for modern treaty groups and self-governing First Nations 0 0 (3,599,298) (3,599,298)
From the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs to support Indigenous representative organizations 0 0 (5,158,996) (5,158,996)
From the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the Department of Indigenous Services to the Department of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs for self-government agreements in British-Columbia 0 0 (15,312,250) (15,312,250)
Total Transfers (32,165,677) (639,000) 3,714,529 (29,090,148)
Total (9,416,279) (639,000) 1,019,167,800 1,009,112,521

Communications challenges - Blockades

Key Messages

  • The Government of Canada is committed to listening and supporting Indigenous-led solutions and strategies.
  • Our goal is to support Indigenous peoples in delivering services and improving socio-economic conditions in their communities—because they are best placed to do so.
  • This became all too clear in recent weeks with the protest actions taking place in British Columbia and across the country.
  • The situation with the blockades has highlighted a challenge we have to face head on as a government. Indigenous issues cross several departments and jurisdictions, which can lead to divergences and disjointed conversations. Moving forward, we need to find ways to have meaningful conversations in a coordination fashion.
  • This is the only way in which we can continue to build a new relationship grounded in the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation, partnership and self-determination.

Economic Development

Key Messages

  • Economic development is critical to building the capacity needed for Indigenous communities, nations, and institutions to independently design and deliver high quality services. Devolution will not take place without it.
  • The Department's economic development programming is guided by three priorities:
    • Advance governance institutions and support Indigenous peoples in self-determination as they design, deliver and manage programs and services;
    • Support economic prosperity for Indigenous peoples; and,
    • Advance First Nations sustainable land, resource, and environmental management.
    • Indigenous Services Canada works with Indigenous communities, nations, businesses, institutions and governments to provide a range of services and supports that promote the growth of strong Indigenous participation in economic development and the business sector in Canada.

Background

  • Economic development programming at Indigenous Services Canada is spread across three Branches—Economic Policy Development, Economic and Business Opportunities, and Lands and Environmental Management, and also includes Indian Oil and Gas Canada—a special operating agency, and the secretariat for the National Indigenous Economic Development Board.
  • We pursue these by:
    • Working with Indigenous leaders and communities to develop institutions designed to increase jurisdiction and control of First Nations in the area of land management, financial management, access to capital, and revenue generation;
    • Delivering economic development programs and services to Indigenous-owned businesses;
    • Managing legislation directed towards building economic and land management capacity with the goal of strengthening Indigenous governance; and,
    • Working to increase reserve land-base to unlock economic potential while also fostering the sustainable development of natural resources.
  • Economic development programming at Indigenous Services Canada includes:
    • Lands and Economic Development Services Program: supports recipients in carrying out community economic development planning and capacity development initiatives ($74,125,303 [includes Community Opportunities Readiness Program funding below]);
    • Community Opportunities Readiness Program: provides project-based funding for First Nation and Inuit communities to engage in activities that support the pursuit of economic opportunities;
    • Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Program: increases the number of viable businesses in Canada owned and controlled by Indigenous Canadians, provides a supportive business environment, and advocates and informs employers about the hiring of Indigenous peoples ($38,450,000);
    • Strategic Partnerships Initiative: acts as a catalyst for partnerships and increased Indigenous participation in complex economic development opportunities ($14,450,000);
    • First Nations Land Management Program: contributes to the development of strong First Nations governance, builds capacity, and presents options for exercising jurisdiction, control and management over reserve lands and environment to support economic and social development ($58,441,102); and,
    • Matrimonial Real Property Implementation Support Program: provides training, awareness, and law-making support to First Nations and key stakeholders to further the implementation of the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act.
  • Other economic development research and initiatives at Indigenous Services Canada include:
    • Support for Fiscal Management Act institutions (First Nations Tax Commission, Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority), including the addition of a First Nations Infrastructure Institute as a proposed fourth institution to spur economic growth;
    • Through Article 24, support for the participation of Inuit firms in the bidding process for government contracts and business opportunities in the Nunavut Settlement Area ($1,125,942);
    • Modernization of Indian Oil and Gas Act ($270,309);
    • Implementing the First Nations Commercial and Industrial Development Act to facilitate on-reserve economic development by addressing regulatory gaps on an opt-in basis;
    • Working with other government departments and the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association to establish an Indigenous Growth Fund; and,
    • Co-developing a distinctions-based approach to entrepreneurship for the Métis Capital Corporations ($7,420,000).

Drinking Water in First Nations Communities

Key Messages

  • All Canadians should have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.
  • We are working in partnership to lift all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March 2021.
  • As of September 30 2019, more than $1.33 billion of targeted funding has been invested to support 574 water and wastewater projects, including 265 that are now completed. These projects will serve 461,000 people in 606 First Nation communities.
  • Much work remains, but the results are encouraging with 88 long term drinking water advisories lifted to date.

If pressed on water issues other than LTDWA's:

  • We remain steadfast and on track to end all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March 2021.
  • However, we know there is more to do.
  • We are providing sustainable investments to prevent short-term advisories, expand delivery systems, build capacity of and retain local water operators, and support regular monitoring and testing.
  • To date, 150 short term advisories have been prevented from becoming long term through these investments.
  • We know our plan is working and we will continue working with partners to improve access to clean water on reserve.

If pressed on single use plastic commitment (including plastic water bottles):

  • The government is taking bold action to ban harmful single use plastics.
  • This ban comes into effect in 2021 – the same time at which we have committed to lifting all long term drinking water advisories on reserve so that communities have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.
  • We are well on our way to doing so, with 88 long term drinking water advisories lifted since 2015, and 150 short term advisories prevented from becoming long term.

If pressed on Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act:

  • We are steadfast and on track towards the goal of ensuring that all First Nations communities have access to safe, clean and reliable drinking water.
  • The Government is working with First Nation leaders, communities and organizations to co-develop long term solutions to ensure clean drinking water for all communities.
  • We will continue to work with the Assembly of First Nations, who is leading engagements to find solutions to the concerns First Nations raised with the current Act.

If pressed on training and certification of water operators:

  • We know that regular and proper maintenance is essential to ensuring access to well-functioning water systems.
  • Budgets 2016 and 2018 dedicated funds to First Nation communities to train operators of water and wastewater systems, with the goal of skill retention in their communities.
  • Annually, we spend approximately $15 million on First Nations water and wastewater operator training.
  • We are working closely with First Nation communities to ensure they have the resources they need to operate water systems to ensure everyone has access to safe drinking water on reserve.

If pressed on Water Operator Salary Gap:

  • Water operators are key to ensuring communities have access to clean drinking water and reliable infrastructure.
  • Budget 2019 dedicated an additional $739 million over five years, to support ongoing efforts to eliminate and prevent long-term drinking water advisories.
  • We are working closely with First Nations to ensure they have the resources they need to operate and maintain their water systems, including by reforming how we fund operations and maintenance of infrastructure, as well as operator salaries.
  • We are also supporting efforts to recruit, train and retain water operators across the country.

If pressed on short-term drinking water advisories:

  • By working in partnership with communities, we are on track to lifting all long-term drinking water advisories on public systems on reserve by March 2021.
  • We know that water needs are dynamic, and short term advisories can arise for a number of reasons such as water line breaks, equipment failure, and maintenance or weather issues.
  • Budget 2019 dedicated an additional $739 million over five years, to support ongoing efforts to eliminate and prevent long-term drinking water advisories.
  • While most of these situations are resolved quickly by the community operators, we continue to work closely with those communities that require support.

If pressed on Trihalomethanes (THMs) in Drinking Water:

  • The Department tests community water supplies quarterly for trihalomethanes (THMs), as per national guidelines. The results are provided to First Nations.
  • If an exceedance is identified, we work in collaboration with communities to reduce the level of THMs and other disinfection by-products (DBPs) in community drinking water supplies.
  • Since 2017, there has been an overall decrease in the total number of First Nation community drinking water supplies with an exceedance above the maximum acceptable concentration (MAC).

If pressed on what action the government has taken to date on trihalomethanes:

  • Disinfection by-products called trihalomethanes (THMs) and haloacetic acids (HAAs) are formed naturally in any water system when chlorine in water combines with organic matter like leaves or other vegetation.
  • The benefits of disinfecting drinking water with chlorine are much greater than the potential health risks of being exposed to higher levels of disinfection by-products.
  • Systems with exceedances are identified and tracked by ISC. This allows us to work with the First Nation to plan for how we will address these systems.

If pressed on Safe Drinking Water Litigations:

  • All Canadians should have access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.
  • We respect the right of Indigenous groups to seek the Court's direction.
  • We will continue working with the First Nations to develop and implement plans for addressing their water system needs.
  • Much work remains, but the results are encouraging with 88 long term drinking water advisories lifted to date and 150 short-term advisories prevented from becoming long-term.

If pressed on Lead in Drinking Water:

  • Since 2003, we have been supporting the monitoring of drinking water for lead in First Nation community water systems south of 60 degrees parallel.
  • In March 2019, Health Canada published a revised guideline for lead in drinking water. All regions have started to implement this enhanced monitoring.
  • This enhancement includes testing every drinking water fountain or cold-water tap where water is used for drinking or food preparation in children's facilities.

If pressed on Lead in Drinking Water in First Nations Schools:

  • All Canadians deserve access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.
  • Since 2003, Indigenous Services Canada has supported the monitoring of drinking water for lead in First Nation community water systems.
  • In March 2019, Health Canada published a revised guideline for lead in drinking water. All regions have started to implement this enhanced monitoring.
  • This enhancement includes testing every drinking water fountain or cold-water tap where water is used for drinking or food preparation in children's facilities, including schools.

If pressed on measures taken by the government to address lead in drinking water in First Nations schools:

  • All Canadians deserve access to safe, clean, and reliable drinking water.
  • No system-wide drinking water advisories regarding lead are in place and we continue to monitor children's facilities, including schools.
  • If lead exceedances are found in drinking water, we work together with First Nation community leaders to implement remedial actions such as flushing or the replacement of affected taps.

Background

ISC is working in full partnership with First Nation communities, including with First Nations technical advisors and leaders, to support sustainable First Nations-led approaches to ensure that on-reserve water systems are safe. This includes Technical Services Advisory Group in Alberta (TSAG), the Ontario First Nations Technical Services Corporation (OFNTSC), the Atlantic Policy Congress, and technical service delivery Hubs pilot projects in Ontario. ISC also works directly with First Nations to assist communities in monitoring drinking water quality in all water systems, which includes providing advice and guidance about drinking water safety and wastewater disposal, and reviewing infrastructure project proposals from a public health perspective.

As part of Budget 2016, the Government of Canada committed to end by March 2021 all long-term drinking water advisories affecting public systems on reserve. Phase 1 of the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan supports this goal by providing an unprecedented $1.8 billion over five years for First Nation communities to significantly improve on-reserve water and wastewater infrastructure, ensure proper facility operation and maintenance, and strengthen capacity by enhancing the training of water system operators. Budget 2016 also included $141.7 million over five years in new funding to the Department to improve drinking water monitoring and testing on reserve. In addition, Budget 2017 provided $49 million over 3 years to address advisories as part of the expanded scope which added 24 long-term drinking water advisories to the Government's commitment. Budget 2018 committed an additional $172.6 million over three years to support initiatives to accelerate, where possible, the pace of construction and renovation of affected water systems, support repairs to high-risk water systems and assist efforts to recruit, train and retain water operators. These funds will also support efforts to establish innovative First Nations-led service delivery models. Lastly, Budget 2019 commits an additional $739 million over five years, beginning in 2019-20, with $184.9 million per year ongoing. This investment will support ongoing efforts to eliminate and prevent long-term drinking water advisories by funding urgent repairs to vulnerable water systems and the operation and maintenance of water systems so that First Nations communities can effectively operate and maintain their public drinking water systems.

As of September 30, 2019, more than $1.33 billion of targeted funding has been invested to support 574 water and wastewater projects, including 265 that are now completed. These projects will serve approximately 461,000 people in 606 First Nation communities.

It should be noted that Drinking water advisories (DWAs) are issued to protect the public from drinking water that is potentially unsafe, or confirmed to be unsafe, based on water quality testing. DWAs are issued by First Nations in their communities and off-reserve by provincial, territorial or municipal governments.

Communities may also choose to issue a DWA as a precautionary measure, such as when there are emergency repairs in the water distribution system or if a community does not have a trained Water System Operator or Community-Based Drinking Water Quality Monitor in place. Some DWAs are short-term to advise residents of a temporary water quality issue on a specific water system (e.g: equipment failure).

The government is working closely with First Nations by providing sustainable investments, expanding delivery systems, building capacity of and retaining local water operators, as well as supporting regular monitoring and testing on all drinking water systems to prevent short-term and re-occurring advisories.

In 2014, the Tsuu T'ina Nation, the Sucker Creek First Nation, the Ermineskin Cree Nation and the Blood Tribe, with reserves located in Treaties 6, 7 and 8, sued Canada alleging Canada created and sustained unsafe drinking water conditions on their reserves and throughout Canada. The First Nations claim declarations and damages for breach of fiduciary duty, breach of the Honour of the Crown, and breaches of sections 7 and 15(1) of the Charter. The Assembly of First Nations has passed resolutions supporting this litigation. This action has been stayed by the Federal Court on consent of the parties for one-year periods since the fall of 2015. During this timeframe, the parties entered into "without prejudice" meetings and discussions to resolve their concerns about safe drinking water in these First Nations' reserves, and to resolve the proceedings by agreement or by narrowing the issues out of court. The stay expired on September 19, 2019 and the file is in Case Management, in the Federal Court.

The Okanagan Indian Band is also seeking declarations that Canada has breached its fiduciary duty, breached the Honour of the Crown, violated the Charter and breached its obligations under the Constitution by failing to create and sustain safe water conditions on First Nations' reserves. The Band seeks a declaration that Canada is obliged to remedy the unsafe drinking water conditions on reserve, with supervision of the Court, an order for damages and that Canada disgorge any savings made from failing to provide adequate water supplies to the Band.

The Curve Lake First Nation and Chief Emily Whetung, on her own behalf and on behalf of all members of the First Nation, claim that Canada has failed to address the inadequacies of their access to potable water and the resulting human consequences. The Plaintiffs seek declarations that Canada has breached its fiduciary duty, breached the Honour of the Crown, violated the Charter and, breached its obligations under the Constitution by failing to address the inadequacies of their access to potable water. The Plaintiffs further seek the immediate construction of appropriate water systems; $100 million for breaches of Charter rights; $100 million for breaches of fiduciary duty, negligence and nuisance; and, $20 million in punitive damages. Discussions continue with the Chief and Project Team on the next steps. The Chief has invited the Regional team to visit the community in 2020.

The Tataskweyak First Nation has filed a national class proceeding involving any First Nation band that has had a drinking water advisory lasting a year or more since 1995. The Band claims Canada breached its fiduciary duties, breached the honour of the Crown, breached the Charter, section 36(1)(c) of the Constitution Act, and is liable for individual causes of action like nuisance and negligence.

Michael Daryl Isnardy (Toosey First Nation in BC), filed a proposed class action proceeding as an individual plaintiff in the Federal Court, representing aboriginal and First Nation persons unable to consume or use water from their community water systems on First Nation reserves. He claims the Crown created, sustained and allowed unsafe drinking water conditions, and is seeking declarations that Canada breached its fiduciary duty and duty of care to the community, violated sections 7 (life, liberty and security of the person) and 15(1) (equality right) of the Charter and, breached its obligations under paragraph 35(1) of the Constitution Act.

Jordan's Principle

Key Messages

  • We are committed to the full implementation of Jordan's Principle, and to help First Nations children access the products, services and supports they need.
  • Since 2016, more than 508,000 requests for products, services, and supports have been approved.
  • Budget 2019 invested $1.2 billion over three years to support the continued implementation of Jordan's Principle.
  • We have also invested $220 million over five years to address the immediate needs of Inuit children and to continue working with Inuit partners to improve local capacity to deliver services.

If pressed:

  • The Government continues to work with First Nations to ensure that Jordan's Principle is upheld.
  • We are also working with First Nations, provinces and territories to better understand what service gaps exist and how to best address them.
  • Our ultimate goal is to develop a long-term approach that will increase First Nations self-determination in addressing the needs and providing access to health, social, and education services for all First Nations children.

Inuit-Child First Initiative

  • We have co-developed public awareness materials for the Inuit Child First Initiative with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami.
  • These materials will help to raise awareness of the services available under the Inuit Child First Initiative.
  • We will continue working with Inuit partners, provinces and territories to develop and finalize a framework for a long-term Inuit-specific approach to help better meet the needs of Inuit children.

Consultation Committee on Child Welfare

  • The Consultation Committee on Child Welfare was established in 2018 as a result of the February 1, 2018, Canadian Human Rights Tribunal Ruling on Child Welfare.
  • This committee is chaired by the Assembly of First Nations, and the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada, and provides a forum for parties to work together to eliminate discrimination against First Nations children.
  • Accomplishments of this committee include the development of a consultation protocol and of program guidelines and policies, research, and training.

Spirit Bear Plan

  • Closing the gaps in health and social services for First Nations children and families is one of the Government's top priorities.
  • We are committed to fully implementing the orders of the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal in this regard.
  • We will continue to work with First Nations partners to advance reforms to child and family services, and to develop Indigenous led solutions that place the well being of children first.

Background

Jordan's Principle is a legal requirement, not a policy or program, resulting from the  Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) decision of January 2016, which ordered Canada to cease applying a narrow definition of Jordan's Principle and to take immediate measures to implement the full meaning of the principle. Since the initial 2016 CHRT decision, the CHRT has issued several subsequent remedial orders regarding how Jordan's Principle should be defined and implemented.

Since 2016, the Government of Canada has committed more than $600 million to meet the needs of First Nation children through an interim approach to Jordan's Principle. Budget 2019 invested a further $1.2 billion over three years to support the continued implementation of Jordan's Principle. In addition, Budget 2019 invested $220 million over five years to address the immediate needs of Inuit children as this Government continues to work with Inuit and other government partners to improve local capacity to deliver services.

In implementing Jordan's Principle, Service Coordinators were made available in communities across Canada who are funded by the Government of Canada and staffed by local Tribal Councils, Regional Health Authorities, Indigenous Non-Governmental Organizations, etc.  These service coordinators are the primary local contact for First Nations children and families. They work closely with the regional Jordan's Principle Focal Point contacts. In February 2018, a 24/7 Jordan's Principle National Call Centre was launched to help First Nations children access the products, services and supports they need.

The Spirit Bear Plan was developed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society and is recognized and supported by the CHRT. In December 2017, the Chiefs-in-Assembly of the Assembly of First Nations provided their support for the Spirit Bear Plan, which is designed to address all inequities in federally funded public services.

Child and Family Services (CFS)/ An Act respecting First nations, Inuit and Metis children, youth and families /Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT)

Key Messages

  • We fully agree – we must compensate First Nations children harmed by discriminatory government policies.
  • We're seeking a solution that is comprehensive, fair, and equitable for First Nations children related to child and family services.
  • The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) ordered Canada to engage in discussions regarding a process for compensating victims of Canada's discrimination against First Nations children and that is what we are doing.
  • These discussions will be held on a strictly confidential basis and unless legally obligated, no party will be speaking publicly about the meetings.
  • Nothing about our commitment to implement other orders from the CHRT or reforming child and family services changes. This work will continue.

If pressed on compensation:

  • Our commitment to compensate First Nations children harmed by discriminatory child and family service policies is firm.
  • We share the goal of the Parties to the Tribunal a comprehensive, fair and equitable resolution to compensate Indigenous children harmed by discriminatory government policies.
  • Senior officials from Indigenous Services Canada and the Department of Justice are continuing discussions on this.
  • The CHRT has asked parties to sit down and determine what the compensation process might look like and that is exactly what we're doing.

The Act respecting First Nation, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act)

  • The coming into force of the Act respecting First Nation, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (the Act) on January 1, 2020 marked a historic turning point for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children and families.
  • It will finally put in place what Indigenous peoples across this country have been asking of governments for decades: that their jurisdiction over child and family services be affirmed so that they can decide what is best for their children, their families, and their communities.
  • We will continue to engage with partners on the implementation of the Act.

What does this Act mean

  • The Act's national guiding principles must be applied by all who provide child and family services to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis families including Provinces, Territories, and service providers.
  • This will ensure that the best interests of the child, cultural continuity, and substantive equality are the guiding principles and priorities in any situation.
  • The Act also opens the door for First Nations, Inuit and Métis to choose their own solutions for their children and families by exercising their jurisdiction.
  • We must all continue to work together to end this ongoing crisis impacting Indigenous children and families.

On Jurisdiction

  • Our focus must be on the best interests of Indigenous children.
  • With the coming in to force of C-92, basic principles such as cultural continuity, must be followed by every person providing services to Indigenous children in the country.
  • Indigenous governing bodies wishing to develop and enact their own laws, and have them be paramount over provincial and federal laws, now have the space to do so.
  • We stand ready to assist them with this work.
  • With these changes, we are ensuring Indigenous children are supported and cared for in the right way, with connection to community and culture.

On Funding

  • Adopting this Act marked a historic turning point for Indigenous children and families.
  • It marks the first time we will work directly with Métis and Inuit on child and family services.
  • With this Act, we are laying out flexible pathways for Indigenous governing bodies to move forward with their own models and laws.
  • Funding will be discussed with partners through distinctions-based governance mechanisms and at coordination agreement tables.
  • We will continue to engage with partners to assess and address long-term funding needs.

On the transition

  • This historic Act was co-developed with our partners.
  • Its implementation is also being co-developed with our partners.
  • We are committed to exploring models for distinctions-based governance.
  • These distinctions-based models would be venues for partners to highlight issues relating to transition and effective implementation of the Act.
  • Further, we are continuing to engage with partners on the implementation of the Act.
  • We are dedicated to working in partnership towards the shared goal of ensuring the safety and well-being of Indigenous children.

On engagement/co-development process

  • Throughout the summer and fall of 2018, over 65 engagement sessions were held to help co-develop options and principles for the bill that was introduced in February 2019.
  • Throughout those engagements partners expressed loud and clear that the legislation needed to:
    • affirm the jurisdiction of Indigenous families and communities over child and family services so that they are the ones to decide what is best for their children, and
    • ensure that the best interests of the child, cultural continuity, and substantive equality are the principles and priorities in any situation.

On Provinces and Territories

  • We engaged with Provinces and Territories in the co-development of the Act, and continue to engage with them on its implementation.
  • They are important partners in this work, and many have taken steps to reform the system and reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.
  • We will continue to work with them, and Indigenous governing bodies, to address the over-representation of Indigenous children in care in this country.

On guiding principles

  • The Act sets out national principles such as the best interests of the child, cultural continuity and substantive equality to help guide the provision of child and family services to Indigenous children.
  • At its core, it establishes that the best interests of the child must always be considered when providing child and family services to Indigenous children.
  • The Act seeks to put Indigenous children first so that they can stay with their families and communities and grow up immersed in their cultures.

Manitoba

  • The over-representation of Indigenous children in care across the country, but especially in Manitoba, is absolutely unacceptable.
  • We understand that groups like the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs are ready to exercise their jurisdiction over child and family services.
  • The Act ensures that they can do exactly that, and we look forward to working with them on this upon receiving their notice to assert jurisdiction

Birth alerts

  • Far too often in this country, Indigenous children are separated from their families, communities, languages and cultures.
  • We know the system needs to be reformed.
  • The province of British Columbia has recently ceased the practice of Birth alert, Manitoba has announced that it will do so effective April 1, 2020, and Saskatchewan is currently reviewing the practice.
  • The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families came into force on January 1, 2020.
  • It emphasizes the need for the system to shift from apprehension to prevention, with a priority given to services that promote preventive care to support keeping families together and children in their cultures.
  • Under the Act, priority can be given to services like prenatal care and support to parents.

Suicide of Indigenous teen in government care

  • We know we must reform the broken system that takes too many Indigenous children from their families and communities, sometimes putting them in harms way.
  • This is why we nearly doubled the annual funding for First Nations Child and Family services, with a focus on prevention.
  • This is also why we passed legislation that affirms the jurisdiction of Indigenous peoples over child and family services so that they can decide what is best for their children, their families, and their communities.
  • Much like its co-development, we are working hand-in-hand with partners on the implementation of the law.

On number of children in care

  • At the Emergency Meeting on Child and Family Services held in January 2018, we committed to 6 points of action to address the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care in Canada.
  • The coming-into-force of the Act respecting First Nation, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families on January 1, is a concrete result of this commitment, and a key cornerstone of our goal to reduce the number of number of Indigenous in care.
  • The department is currently developing a national data and reporting strategy that will address current data gaps, future data needs, and better address questions like yours in the future.
  • This strategy and any process for the collection and disclosure of data will be determined through discussions with Indigenous partners and, with our provincial and territorial colleagues.

If pressed on data:

  • At the Emergency Meeting on Child and Family Services held in January 2018, we committed to 6 points of action to address the over-representation of Indigenous children and youth in care in Canada.
  • The coming-into-force of the Act on January 1, is a concrete result of this commitment, and a key cornerstone of our goal to reduce the number of Indigenous children in care.
  • The department is currently developing a national data and reporting strategy that will address current data gaps, future data needs, and better address questions about data in the future.
  • This strategy and any process for the collection and disclosure of data will be determined through discussions with Indigenous partners and, with our provincial and territorial colleagues.

Background

Indigenous Services Canada (ISC)'s First Nations Child and Family Services (FNCFS) Program provides funding to support the safety and well-being of First Nation children on reserve. Funding is provided to FNCFS agencies, provinces and the Yukon Territory to support the delivery of prevention and protection services on-reserve. ISC does not deliver the services. These services are provided in accordance with the legislation and standards of the province or territory of residence and in a manner that is reasonably comparable to those available to other provincial residents in similar circumstances, within ISC's Program authorities. Funding under the FNCFS Program is provided according to a prevention-based funding model.

In 2016, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal (CHRT) found Canada's FNCFS Program to be discriminatory and ordered Canada to immediately remedy the discrimination. On February 1, 2018, the Tribunal added items to its previous order, including paying the actual costs of FNCFS agencies in prevention and other areas. The Department is working closely with the parties to the complaint – the Assembly of First Nations, the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society, the Chiefs of Ontario, Nishnawbe Aski-Nation, the Canadian Human Rights Commission and Amnesty International – to fully implement the various orders of the Tribunal.

In January 2018, the Government of Canada hosted an Emergency Meeting on Indigenous Child and Family Services, with national and regional Indigenous leadership, as well as federal, provincial and territorial governments, to discuss the causes that lead to the high rate of Indigenous children in care and how to work together towards systemic reform. At that meeting, the Government announced its commitment to six points of action that included the potential for federal legislation, as called for in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action #4; continuing to fully implement previous CHRT orders (from 2016 and prior to September 2019); reform First Nations child and family services including moving to a flexible funding model; and work with partners to shift the focus of programming to culturally-appropriate prevention, early intervention, and family reunification.

The Act respecting First Nations, Inuit and Métis children, youth and families (Act) was co-developed with Indigenous, provincial and territorial partners and received Royal Assent on June 21, 2019. The Act came into force on January 1, 2020.

As of January 1, 2020, every service provider delivering child and family services in relation to Indigenous children must follow the minimum standards of the Act.

On February 21, 2019, the CHRT addressed a new complaint regarding the definition of a First Nations child for the purposes of implementing Jordan's Principle, and issued an interim relief order stating that Canada "shall provide First Nations children living off reserve who have urgent and/or life threatening needs, but do not have (and are not eligible for) Indian Act status, with the services required to meet those urgent and/or life-threatening service needs, pursuant to Jordan's Principle".

On September 6, 2019, the CHRT released an Order on compensation. The Tribunal ordered Canada to pay the maximum amount of $40,000 ($20,000 for pain and suffering and $20,000 for willful and reckless conduct) per child and parent or grandparent. Canada is required to report back to the Tribunal by December 10, 2019, on a compensation process agreed to by the complainants. A failure to reach an agreement will result in the panel ordering one of its own creation. On October 4, 2019 the Attorney General of Canada filed a Notice of Application for Judicial Review and a Motion to stay with the Federal Court. The compensation ruling remains in effect unless it is stayed by the Federal Court. A decision on the application for judicial review is not expected until March 2020 at the earliest.

There are four orders to come from the CHRT on the following issues: 1) major capital; 2) band representative services actual costs; 3) small agencies; and 4) the definition of a First Nations child for the purposes of Jordan's Principle.

Distinctions-Based Indigenous Health Legislation

Key Messages

  • Significant gaps, in access to health care services and health outcomes persist between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people. This is unacceptable and more work needs to be done to address this situation.
  • To address these gaps, Canada will work with First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners, through an agreed upon, collaborative engagement process to co-develop potential options for federal Indigenous health legislation.
  • Co-developing distinctions-based federal health legislation will be a complex undertaking. Given the important role of provincial/territorial governments in health and health care, their partnership in this process will be key.
  • Engagement for the co-development of potential options for health legislation will build upon past co-development efforts between Indigenous partners and provinces/territories. Lessons learned will be considered and inform the way forward.
  • While First Nations, Inuit, and Métis partners will drive the objectives for health legislation to ensure it responds to the realities of Indigenous communities and increases their control over the development and delivery of health services, from a federal government perspective, health legislation has the potential to:
    • Promote the development of culturally safe service delivery models;
    • Strengthen the relationship between the Crown and Indigenous peoples established by the Treaties and affirmed in the Constitution, by recognizing the inherent rights of Indigenous people to control their own health services;
    • Clearly state federal responsibilities for delivering and funding health care for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis;
    • Elaborate principles for reciprocal accountability, recognizing that the space occupied by each party is both interdependent and interconnected; and
    • Stabilize and strengthen current federal health care services in preparation for their transfer to self-determining Indigenous governments and organizations.
  • Canada is committed to supporting self-determination, advancing reconciliation, and ensuring a consistent, high-quality and distinctions-based approach to the delivery of services to Indigenous peoples.

Background:

Under the 1979 Indian Health Policy, Canada has provided primary health care to First Nations on reserves and Non-Insured Health Benefits to registered Indians and Inuit. Also, the Department of Indigenous Services Act (2019) states that the ISC Minister will "ensure that [health] services are provided to Indigenous individuals who, and Indigenous governing bodies that, are eligible to receive those services."

Provinces and territories are responsible for health care delivery in their respective jurisdictions and receive transfer payments from the federal government to provide universally accessible and publicly insured health services to all residents, including Indigenous Peoples.

However, effective health service delivery is impeded by a lack of coordination and the absence of an integrated, culturally appropriate service delivery approach across federal and provincial/territorial systems. Lack of agreements between federal and provincial systems also create legal risk and liability, most notably in the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling on Jordan's Principle, which created a legal obligation for Canada to address unmet needs of First Nations children regardless of where they live in Canada.

Federal Indigenous health legislation could address these coordination challenges, and clarify roles and responsibilities towards improving health outcomes for all Indigenous people.

Distinctions-Based Infrastructure Plans

Co-Developing Distinctions-based infrastructure plans

  • Since 2016, the Government has made significant investments in Indigenous communities to support adequate and sustainable infrastructure. While good progress has been achieved with our Indigenous partners, there remains infrastructure needs to be addressed to support the health, property and wellness of Indigenous peoples.
  • Recognizing this, the Minister of Indigenous Services has a clear mandate to co-develop and invest in distinctions-based infrastructure plans, and move forward with addressing critical needs including housing, all-weather roads, high-speed internet, health facilities, treatment centres and schools in First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities by 2030.
  • We are working with Indigenous partners to co-develop these plans, and have already made progress on some aspects – including distinctions-based housing strategies. More work needs to be done and the Department looks forward to coming back to share those co-developed plans once they are complete.
  • This work is aligned with the overall mandate of the Department to transfer departmental responsibilities to Indigenous organizations, where it belongs.

Background

Indigenous Services Canada is mandated to "work to co-develop and invest in distinctions-based community infrastructure plans, and move forward with addressing critical needs including housing, all-weather roads, high-speed internet, health facilities, treatment centres and schools in First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities by 2030. These plans should also include new investments to support the operation and maintenance of this infrastructure."

Indigenous partners have unique needs and aspirations, and the resulting strategy and plan will incorporate a distinctions-based approach.

The outcomes of the co-developed approach will result in tools that will complement federal transfers to close the gap in a realistic manner, as well as identify how the transfer to Indigenous partners will factor into these plans.

Engagement with National Indigenous Organizations and other partners will determine how best to invest funds, and discern a strategy. This strategy will ascertain a methodology for the distribution of investments, determine the scope of the work to be completed, and establish criteria for what constitutes "critical infrastructure needs".

The resultant 10-year infrastructure strategy is expected to:

  • align with, and build upon, the 10-year strategies on housing, water, connectivity, and homelessness, comprising a whole-of-government strategy to close the infrastructure gap by 2030;
  • define "critical infrastructure needs" for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis, recognizing regional variations and application of a Level of Service Standards perspective;
  • determine the magnitude of needs, and determine the approach for meeting needs, including funding (capital and operations and maintenance);
  • align with the parallel work ongoing to achieve the longer-term mandate to transfer service delivery to First Nations partners; and,
  • implement a sustainable approach for all Indigenous peoples.

The 10-Year Distinctions Based Infrastructure Plan will serve as a chapeau to, and align with, infrastructure strategies and plans across all distinctions and asset classes, such as plans for Inuit infrastructure that are currently being developed with the Inuit-Crown Partnership Committee, Canada's Broadband Strategy, and others.

Discussion to transfer housing and infrastructure services to first Nations partners have begun across the country. British Columbia and the Atlantic regional entities are quite advanced in this endeavor and will be looking to participate or be informed on the methodology that will lead to closing the infrastructure gap. The 10-Year plans will build upon this good work.

Distinctions-Based Housing Strategies

Key message

  • The Government has co-developed distinctions‑based Indigenous housing strategies with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation partners.
  • Budget 2018 invested:
    • $600 million over three years for First Nations housing;
    • $500 million over 10 years for Métis Nation housing; and
    • $400 million over 10 years for Inuit-led housing, in addition to the $240 million over ten years provided to Nunavut.
  • This funding is a significant step towards addressing the housing needs in Indigenous communities.
  • We will continue working to close the unacceptable housing gap for Indigenous peoples.
  • The Department continues to co-develop the 10-Year National First Nations Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy and related short-, medium- and long-term goals as part of an implementation plan with First Nation and federal partners.
  • First Nation organizations are leading data collection to help identify housing needs as defined by First Nations in order to inform the implementation plan.

Background

ISC has been working in collaboration with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), the Assembly of First Nations and its Chiefs Committee on Housing and Infrastructure to co-develop a National First Nations Housing and Related Infrastructure Strategy, supported by $600 million over three years announced in Budget 2018. The Strategy was endorsed at the December 5, 2018 Special Chiefs Assembly, outlining the path forward to transition the care, control and management of housing to First Nations. The collaboration continues to co-develop the implementation plan, which is expected to be completed in 2020/21, depending on First Nation level of readiness.

CIRNAC has worked in partnership with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, Inuit land claim governments and organizations, CMHC and Employment and Social Development Canada to develop the Inuit Nunangat Housing Strategy, which was made public on April 3, 2019. The Strategy is premised on self-determination with Inuit recipients holding the responsibility, decision‑making powers and capacity to meet housing needs at the regional level. Budget 2018 allocated $400 million over 10 years to support Inuit-led housing in the Inuit regions of Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and Inuvialuit, with an additional $240 million over 10 years for Nunavut from Budget 2017.

Canada and the Métis Nation signed the Canada-Métis Nation Accord in April of 2017, with a number of year one priorities that parties agreed to collaborate on, including a Métis Nation Housing Strategy. On July 19, 2018, the Métis Housing Sub-Accord was finalized, outlining the design, delivery and administration of housing services undertaken by the Governing Members of the Métis Nation to address the purchase of new houses, the repair of existing houses and the provision of rent-supplements to families most in need. The Housing Sub-Accord, funded at $500 million over 10 years announced in Budget 2018, reflects a shared commitment to narrow the core housing needs gap and further Indigenous self-determination in this important area of social policy.

Clean, Renewable and Reliable Energy by 2030

Key Messages

  • The Government of Canada is committed to working in partnership with First Nations and provincial, territorial and municipal partners to improve fundamental infrastructure in First Nation communities.
  • These investments support significant improvements to the environment and quality of life in First Nation communities. The investments will also help communities as they develop and grow, and support the economies of First Nations through job creation, skills training and business development.
  • Indigenous Services Canada continues to support First Nations in the provision of safe and reliable electricity in their communities. In the past, this support has largely focused on diesel generation, as at the time, it was the most technically sound and reliable method of generating electricity for communities not connected to provincial grids.
  • However, diesel electricity leads to high operating costs, increased risk of fuel spills from the transport and use of diesel, as well as contributing to increased greenhouse gas emissions and local pollution from the generators themselves. Furthermore, winter road communities face an additional challenge of transporting sufficient fuel for the year over a brief and variable winter road season.
  • The increasing prevalence and falling costs of renewable energy technologies now provide First Nations with options for reducing, and possibly eliminating, diesel consumption for electricity altogether; however, current limited energy storage technology remains an important barrier to eliminate diesel use.
  • While the Department does not currently have a dedicated off-diesel program, these types of energy projects can be funded through existing authorities of the Capital and Facilities Maintenance Program and the First Nations Infrastructure Fund.
  • Since 2016, a number of First Nations have implemented projects that have substantially reduced diesel consumption for electricity in their communities, as funds have become available. Project examples include:
    • The Northern Ontario Grid Connection Project led by Wataynikaneyap Power, which will connect 16 First Nations communities located in remote northern Ontario to the provincial electricity grid, thereby ending their dependence on costly, emission-intensive diesel energy.
    • In May 2018, the Wuikinuxv Nation community in British Columbia, in collaboration with the Nature Conservancy of Canada, completed the construction of the 350 kW Nicknaqueet River Hydropower Project, which is anticipated to displace approximately 92% of the diesel used for power generation.

Background

  • There are currently 56 diesel dependent First Nations communities within the provinces. In 38 of these communities, ISC provides funds to ensure sufficient and reliable electricity. The remaining communities are served by provincial utilities. These diesel-dependent communities range in size from less than 40 residents to over 2,500.
  • Fuel transport to these communities is expensive (sea, ice roads or air) and is expected to become more challenging as climate change impacts current and future winter roads seasons.
  • ISC spends approximately $40M each year on supporting First Nations with minor capital & operating expenditures; as generators age, costly replacements will be required over and above this amount.
  • There is no simple solution to address all remote First Nations needs as availability of renewable energy resources are location- dependent. Renewables such solar and wind assist in diesel reduction by 25-40%. Hydroelectricity and grid connection can result in reductions of over 90%.

Nunavut Treatment Centre

Key Messages

  • The Government of Canada recognizes the need to support the strength and resilience of Inuit individuals, families and communities and works in partnership with Inuit governments and organizations and other levels of government to provide access to mental wellness services in Inuit communities.
  • In collaboration with the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, the Minister of Indigenous Services has made a commitment to support the construction and ongoing operation of a Wellness Centre in Nunavut, as part of a three-pillar approach to substance use and trauma treatment, which also includes on-the-land treatment services and the development of an Inuit workforce.
  • In August of 2019, a Joint Declaration of Intent between the Government of Canada, the Government of Nunavut, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated was signed by the Minister of Indigenous Services, outlining the financial commitments of each party.
  • The Nunavut Wellness Centre is a shared funding commitment that will provide a range of treatment and healing interventions that will address both addictions and trauma, and will be founded on Inuit cultural practices and values.
  • The Government of Canada's contribution is up to $47.5 million over five years and up to $9.7 million annually and ongoing to support construction and operation of the Nunavut Wellness Centre.

Background

Nunavut Inuit have expressed concerns about access to services and the ongoing need for culturally relevant health services including mental wellness and substance misuse treatments within Nunavut.

The need for substance use and trauma treatment services in Nunavut is acute; the legacy of colonialism, historical and intergenerational trauma, physical and sexual violence, and suicide have greatly impacted health and social outcomes in the territory. In response to this need, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's Call to Action #21 called upon the federal government to ensure funding for a healing centre in Nunavut, where there are currently no facilities that provide residential treatment for substance use and trauma.

A federal commitment to support a Three-Pillar Approach to addictions and trauma treatment in Nunavut was announced in Budget 2019, and funding amounts were announced via the signing of the Joint Declaration of Intent between the Government of Nunavut, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated and the Government of Canada on August 19, 2019.

The Nunavut Wellness Centre is the second of the three pillars, which also includes on the land treatment and healing (Pillar #1), as well as support for Inuit workforce development and capacity (Pillar #3).

The Nunavut Wellness Centre will provide a range of treatment and healing interventions that will address both addictions and trauma, and will be founded on Inuit cultural practices and values. Clinical counseling services will also be incorporated. It will also welcome pregnant women from across Nunavut to support their healing journey even before the birth of their child, and to help prevent Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder.

Total funding required to complete the implementation of the Three-Pillar Approach is estimated at $100.9 million over five years and $16.7 million annually and ongoing, which includes contributions from the ISC, the Government of Nunavut, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated.

ISC will contribute $47,536,200 to Pillar #2 from 2019-20 to 2023-24, and $9,657,100 annually and ongoing, beginning in 2024-25.

The Government of Nunavut's contribution to the Three-Pillar Approach is estimated at $36.5 million over five years and a minimum of $3.9 million ongoing. The Government of Nunavut will be responsible for managing the infrastructure project, including the risk of construction cost overruns. It will also ensure management of day-to-day operations and ongoing maintenance costs.

Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated's contribution is estimated at $16.8 million over five years towards the Three-Pillar Approach. This includes a one-time $5.0 million contribution and $11.8 million over five years from the Makigiaqta Inuit Training Corporation to fund the Inuit counselling component of Pillar #3 (i.e., the development of an Inuit workforce that can staff both on-the-land healing camps and the Wellness Centre).

The implementation of the Nunavut Wellness Centre will be overseen by the Nunavut Partnership Table on Health, which consists of senior-level representatives from ISC (including the Assistant Deputy Minister of Regional Operations), the Government of Nunavut, and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated. The Partnership Table meets quarterly in Nunavut to discuss shared health priorities. Currently, the Partnership Table is working to finalize a Memorandum of Understanding that builds on the Joint Declaration of Intent to outline roles and responsibilities of all parties respecting this project to ensure the timely implementation and sustainability of the initiative.

Post-Secondary Education

Key Messages

  • We know that every First Nation child deserves the best start in life and the support that enables them to reach their full potential.
  • This is why we:
    • co-developed a new policy framework with partners to transform the way education on reserve is funded;
    • support full-day kindergarten programs in First Nations schools for children aged four and five; and, are investing in language and cultural programming.
  • By working together with partners, First Nations students will receive a high quality and culturally appropriate education that responds to their needs.

If pressed on Post-Secondary Education:

  • The Government is working in partnership to improve access to post-secondary education for Indigenous students.
  • We are expanding financial assistance for First Nations' students while supporting First Nations development of regional post-secondary education models.
  • Further, we are supporting new Inuit and Métis Nation-led strategies that provide direct funding for students.
  • Through new investments, the Government is providing access to quality post-secondary education for more than 26,000 First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation students.

If pressed on inconsistent graduation rates:

  • Methods used in calculating graduation rates differ across Canada.
  • When looking at graduation rates for First Nations students, one has to consider who is reflected in the rates – students who may leave their communities to attend provincial schools, and those returning to complete their education as young adults.
  • Regardless, we know we have work to do to improve education outcomes data for First Nation students.

Background

Budget 2017 announced a comprehensive and collaborative review with Indigenous partners of all current federal programs that support Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education. Between 2017 and 2018, Indigenous Services Canada held a series of discussions with Indigenous students, academic leaders and institutions to obtain a wide range of reflections on the Government of Canada's current post-secondary education programming for Indigenous students, and to discuss possible improvements. The department also engaged with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council on potential post-secondary education reforms. As part of this process, the three Indigenous Representative Organizations each developed distinctions-based policy proposals for transforming Indigenous post-secondary education.

Stakeholder feedback from the review and the National Indigenous Organization's policy proposals informed Budget 2019's total investment of $814.9 million over 10 years and $61.8 million ongoing to support distinctions-based Indigenous post-secondary education strategies. For First Nations, this includes $327.5 million over 5 years to renew and expand funding for the Post-Secondary Student Support Program, and $7.5 million over 3 years to support engagement on the development of integrated First Nations regional post-secondary education models. In addition, Budget 2019 allocated $125.5 million over 10 years and $21.8 million ongoing for a new Inuit Post-Secondary Education Strategy, and $362 million over 10 years and $40 million ongoing for a new Métis Nation Post-Secondary Education Strategy. These strategies include direct funding assistance for students (including tuition, supplies and accommodation), complementary programs and services, and institutional and governance capacity to support service delivery.

Federal Social Benefits

Key Messages

  • While the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit has lifted hundreds of thousands of Canadian children out of poverty – not all Indigenous communities have seen the same success.
  • Since the introduction of the CCB, outreach has occurred with Indigenous organizations and communities but much more needs to be done.
  • My Department will work with Employment and Social Development and the Canada Revenue Agency to increase outreach efforts among Indigenous communities.
  • Increased awareness and uptake of social benefits will help improve the lives of First Nations, Inuit and Métis families and communities across Canada.

Background

The federal government provides a wide range of social benefits and credits that Indigenous Peoples may be entitled to, but not aware of such as: Canada Child Benefit, Goods and Services Sales Tax Credit, Canada Worker's Benefit, and Disability Tax Credit.

When the Canadian Child Benefit was introduced in 2016, Indigenous Services Canada, through the Income Assistance Program, collaborated closely with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to support and raise awareness among First Nations clients on reserve.

Outreach efforts focused on increasing awareness of the Canadian Child Benefit, providing information on how to obtain a Social Insurance Number and increasing tax return filing with emphasis on low filing First Nation communities.

From 2016 to late 2018, the Department supported these initiatives though participation in various working groups and by providing advice on community outreach, connecting ESDC and CRA with ISC regional staff, as well as developing and disseminating communications materials including posters in various languages (English, French and some Indigenous languages such as Cree, Inuktitut and Ojibway). ESDC and CRA data shows over 760 First Nations organizations and communities have participated in outreach activities.

In 2019, the Minister of Indigenous Services' mandate letter stated a commitment to "expand outreach efforts to Indigenous communities to make sure they can access the full range of federal social benefits including the Canada Child Benefit. This includes the continued work on pilot outreach activities for urban Indigenous communities."

ISC is working with ESDC and CRA to expand and enhance future Indigenous outreach activities.

New Fiscal Relationship

Key Messages

  • The Government continues to work in partnership to build a new fiscal relationship with First Nations, which will provide long term, sustainable and predictable funding.
  • Building on previous commitments, Budget 2019 commits a $4.5 billion over five years to close socioeconomic gaps and advance economic prosperity in Indigenous communities.
  • This brings the total planned investments in Indigenous programs to more than $17 billion in 2021 22, an increase of 50 percent compared to 2015.

If pressed on escalator for 10-year grant:

  • We are committed to co-developing a new fiscal relationship with First Nations that addresses sufficiency, predictability and sustainability of funding and that supports self-determination and closing of socio economic gaps.
  • An escalator for the 10-year grant will support First Nations governments by providing enhanced predictability of funding by factoring in population increases and cost of inflation.
  • Providing an escalator in the 10-year grant starting in 2020 complements necessary investments in essential services, and will strengthen the ability of First Nations to deliver services based on First Nation priorities.

If pressed on default management policy:

  • The Government is committed to a fiscal relationship with First Nations that supports self-determination and closing of socio-economic gaps.
  • We are taking steps to replace the punitive Default Management Prevention (Third Party Management) Policy with a new, proactive approach that respects communities and supports capacity development.
  • This approach will be based on successful pilot projects of the First Nations Financial Management Board.

If pressed on fiscal relationship co-development:

  • To support the new fiscal relationship, we are committed to continued co-development of fiscal relationship reforms with First Nations.
  • The Assembly of First Nations – Indigenous Services Canada Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations has provided interim recommendations, and intends to engage with First Nations on those recommendations in the coming months.
  • We will continue to work to build a fiscal relationship that is nation-to-nation.

Background

In July 2016, the then-Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations signed a Memorandum of Understanding to jointly research and develop proposals for the design of a new fiscal relationship between Canada and First Nations under the Indian Act. The result of this work is summarized in a report, A New Approach: Co-development of a New Fiscal Relationship, released in December 2017. The report contains the following recommendations:

  1. Establish a permanent advisory committee that could be appointed by Order in Council that would reflect regional circumstances and interests.
  2. Take immediate action to create ten-year grants for qualified First Nations to leverage full flexibility under the Policy on Transfer Payments, to be implemented on or before April 1, 2019.
  3. Co-develop an approach to repeal the First Nations Financial Transparency Act in 2018 and replace it with a co-developed mutual accountability framework supported by First Nations Institutions-led audit and statistical functions.
  4. Replace the Default Prevention and Management Policy (DPMP) with a new approach that includes continued work under the First Nations Financial Management Board pilot project.

Building on previous commitments, Budget 2019 invested a further $4.5 billion over five years, beginning in 2019-20, to continue efforts to close the gap between the living conditions of Indigenous Peoples and the non-Indigenous population, bringing total planned federal government investments in Indigenous programs to more than $17 billion in 2021-22, an increase of 50 per cent compared to 2015.

In Fall of 2018 the Assembly of First Nations – Indigenous Services Canada Joint Advisory Committee on Fiscal Relations was established to inform further co-development of the new fiscal relationship. The Committee presented its interim recommendations to the Minister of Indigenous Services and the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations in June 2019.

Departmental Transfer of Control Over Services to Indigenous Partners

Key Messages

  • While the transfer of service delivery to Indigenous partners will be a lengthy and multifaceted process, work is underway towards achieving this important commitment.
  • It is vital that the transfer of service delivery is Indigenous-led and that the transfer takes place at a pace established by Indigenous communities, institutions and organizations.
  • We have seen Indigenous-led successes at the community level to support this approach and confirm that this is not only the right thing to do, but is also a key lever for success.
  • While there continue to be challenges and barriers as we move towards substantive equality, we need to continue to make room for Nations and Indigenous communities to reconstitute their communities in a way that is culturally-specific to them and meets their individual needs.
  • Advancing a new fiscal relationship and Indigenous health legislation are priorities that will support this commitment over the next two years, among others.

Background

The Department of Indigenous Services Act (the Act) commits Canada to the gradual transfer of services.

This commitments is an important dimension of the departmental narrative and is a key lever towards self-determination and advancing reconciliation.

Transferring control to Indigenous partners is the best way to improve services. Indigenous partners have expressed that they want ISC to recognize and support their inherent right to self-determination with flexibility approaches that are inclusive and responsive to the diversity of First Nations, Inuit and Metis people.

A number of recent examples highlight how transferring service delivery to Indigenous control contributes to reconciliation and self-determination, while improving outcomes.

The Whitecap-Dakota, Musqueam, and Tsawwassen First Nations are managing successful economies that are benefiting the broader regional economies.

The First Nations Financial Management Board (FMB), which provides tools and guidance to instill confidence in First Nations' financial management and reporting systems to support economic and community development, has demonstrable results including:

Nations that have been certified through the FMB's Financial Management System show a higher Community Well-Being Index ranking and percentage of own-source revenue than other Nations in Canada; and,

Over the past 5 years, FMB Financial Management System certified Nations have increased their own-source revenue by an average of 64%.

The education agreements with the Mi'kmaq and Anishinabek Nation are a successful example of self-determination.

In 1997, nine of Nova Scotia's 13 First Nations and the Governments of Canada and Nova Scotia signed An Agreement With Respect to Education in Nova Scotia, which was enshrined in law under the Mi'kmaq Education Acts in Parliament and in the Nova Scotia Legislature in 1998.

Since, Mi'kmaw Kina'matnewey reported a high school graduation rate of 89.6% in the 2016-2017 school year, nearly on par with the graduation rate for the Province of Nova Scotia, which is one of the highest in Canada at 92.3%.

Nearly 3,000 Kindergarten to Grade 12 students on-reserve and approximately 600 post-secondary students are served by the Agreement annually; with a 90.9% school attendance rate, and 620 students enrolled in post-secondary education.

Some communities have successfully leveraged the financing power of the First Nations Finance Authority (FNFA) to address needs such as:

Salt River First Nation in Northwest Territories opened its new Community Centre in April 2019, a $17.5 million project financed by the FNFA.

$24 million state-of-the-art high school in Fisher River First Nation that opened in northern Manitoba in September 2018.

A first of its kind tripartite partnership led to a BC Tripartite Framework Agreement in First Nation Health Governance in 2011 which created a new province-wide First Nations Health Authority which is governed by First Nations and works with the province to coordinate health services.

First Nations Financial Transparency Act (FNFTA)

Key Messages

  • Our Government agrees with First Nations who have told us that the First Nations Financial Transparency Act needs to be replaced with a respectful approach that strengthens accountability.
  • Everyone – including First Nation governments – supports transparency and accountability.
  • This was a recommendation of the New Fiscal Relationship Report developed with the Assembly of First Nations.
  • Instead of penalizing First Nations communities and imposing top-down solutions, our Government is working to build community capacity and governance, while investing to close the unacceptable socioeconomic gaps that exist.

Accountability issues with specific First Nations:

  • The majority of First Nations have effective governance.
  • When challenges arise, instead of forcing solutions on communities, we want to work in partnership with First Nations to ensure that the accountability relationship between First Nations leaders and community members is strengthened by building financial management capacity.
  • We are taking steps to replace the Default Prevention and Management Policy with a new, proactive approach that supports capacity development.

Accountability for 10-Year Grants:

  • To support the new fiscal relationship with First Nations, we have moved forward with the establishment of ten-year grants for qualified First Nations.
  • Eligibility criteria and accountability provisions for the ten-year grants are based on proven practices co-developed with the Assembly of First Nations and the First Nations Financial Management Board.
  • These measures will strengthen governance capacity, enhance accountability of First Nations to their citizens, and support a fiscal relationship that is truly nation-to-nation.

Reporting Requirements for First Nations:

  • Our Government is working with First Nations to ensure that the accountability relationship between First Nations leaders and community members is strengthened by focusing on outcomes.
  • A new fiscal relationship, grounded in the recognition of rights and respect, will support First Nations on the path to self-determination and promote mutual accountability.

Background

On December 18, 2015, the Minister released a statement directing the Department to cease all discretionary measures related to the First Nations Financial Transparency Act. Following this commitment, the Department moved forward with an engagement approach designed to reach out primarily to First Nation leaders, communities and organizations, and gauge the general public's views towards First Nation transparency and accountability. First Nations financial management institutions have recommended that the Act be repealed entirely and replaced with a community sanctioned accountability policy where reporting is accountable to members and citizens.

First Nations report extensively to Canada on spending, not only under the Act but through reports required by specific programs. The Act does not cover actions by First Nations-owned enterprises.

Under the New Fiscal Relationship, Indigenous Services Canada is working with First Nations to introduce measures to strengthen accountability of First Nations governments to their citizens, and to enhance predictability and flexibility of funding. Under this initiative, First Nations that have demonstrated sound governance could qualify for 10-Year Grants, and First Nations are being encouraged to enact and implement their own Financial Administration Laws based on the standards of the First Nations Financial Management Board. Such Financial Administration Laws include provisions for managing conflicts of interest and misuse of funds.

Mental Health Supports

Key Messages

  • The Government recognizes that substance use can have devastating effects on individuals, families and communities and their general health and well-being.
  • The Government is currently investing $425 million annually for community-based services to address the mental wellness needs of First Nations and Inuit.
  • This includes a recent investment of $200 million over five years to support substance use and prevention and treatment services for First Nations and Inuit.
  • The Government remains focused on supporting long-term investments that improve the health and well-being of Indigenous peoples.

Tracking of Opioid Use

  • The Government recognizes that the opioid crisis continues to have devastating impacts on Indigenous communities nationally, and that quality data is an important part of a comprehensive approach to drug control.
  • There are significant data limitations on how First Nations and Inuit are affected by this crisis and we are working with partners to overcome these limitations.
  • The Government will continue to work with First Nations and Inuit, provincial and territorial partners to explore ways to collectively address opioid-related issues.

Blood Tribe

  • The Government remains concerned by the opioid overdoses in Blood Tribe.
  • In Blood Tribe, our Government has provided funding for the provision of naloxone and mental health supports, contributed to the on-reserve Overdose Prevention Site from March to May 2018, and provided funding for additional youth beds in the Safe Withdrawal Management Site which has been in operation since January 2019.
  • We will continue to monitor the impact of the opioid crisis, and support community driven approaches such as on-reserve harm reduction efforts while working closely with the Nation and partners.

If Pressed on Saskatchewan:

  • The Government remains concerned by instances of substance misuse in the community/communities and recognizes the devastating impacts this can have on community members.
  • Last December, my department – in partnership with the FSIN – participated in a forum to increase awareness and hear first-hand from communities about their challenges and solutions in how to address crystal methamphetamine and opioid usage in their communities.
  • The Government is working closely with First Nations to support Nation-led, culturally grounded, comprehensive community-driven efforts across the mental wellness continuum that includes prevention, harm reduction, treatment and healing.

Background

Indigenous communities across Canada are disproportionately impacted by the opioid public health crisis and in particular, First Nations in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario. The Assembly of First Nations has reported that some First Nations communities are experiencing an epidemic, with as many as 43% to 85% of the communities' population addicted to opiates (Assembly of First Nations Resolution no. 82/2016 and no. 68/2017). In spring 2017, the Department of Indigenous Services Canada started to track suspected opioid overdoses in 153 participating First Nations communities. The Department continues to work with partners from across the country to improve data collection and reporting, and to better understand how this crisis is affecting different populations.

The Government of Canada has announced significant financial investments to help address the crisis. Budget 2018 is providing $200 million over five years (2018/19 to 2022-23) and $40 million per year ongoing to support new investments in substance use prevention and treatment services for First Nations and Inuit including funding to address the ongoing opioid crisis. The investment will support up to: an additional 25 opioid agonist therapy sites offering wraparound services; an additional 75 on the land activities; enhanced services across a network of 45 federally funded treatment centres; and, major renovations at over 20 of these centres. Indigenous Services Canada allocated this fiscal year over $425 million towards culturally relevant and community-based mental wellness supports for First Nations and Inuit that aim to: provide treatment, reduce risk factors, promote protective factors and improve health outcomes associated with mental wellness.

Indigenous Services Canada provides several services along the drug misuse continuum.

  1. Through the Non-Insured Health Benefits (NIHB) Program, coverage is provided to registered First Nations and recognized Inuit for:
    • Methadone, buprenorphine/naloxone (i.e. Suboxone and generics), slow release morphine and injectable opioid agonist treatment (iOAT) for the treatment of opioid use disorder. To promote client safety, clients receiving these treatments are enrolled in the Client Safety Program formerly known as the Prescription Monitoring Program. Prior to providing coverage for buprenorphine/naloxone, the NIHB Program confirms that the community has infrastructure for the safe storage and handling of the medication.
    • Naloxone, used to treat overdoses, both Injection and nasal spray (Narcan);
    • Medical transportation benefits for clients to access supervised treatment for opioid use disorder (e.g. methadone, Suboxone). The client's ongoing need for travel is reviewed every six months; and
    • Up to 22 hours of professional mental health counseling every 12 months, with additional hours as required.
  2. In addition to coverage provided under the NIHB Program, in facilities where ISC provides primary care services in First Nations communities, naloxone injection is available for administration by health care professionals to reverse the effects of the overdose. There is also a limited supply of naloxone nasal spray (Narcan) in Nursing Stations that is available to community members at no charge. Injectable naloxone is listed in the Branch's Nursing Station Formulary as a "must stock" medication.

Grassy Narrows

Key Messages

  • The Government recognizes that the community of Grassy Narrows has been dramatically affected by mercury discovered in the English-Wabigoon river system and suffers health issues to this day.
  • The Government shares the community's goal of finding a solution that meets their needs.
  • Work is underway to expand the existing health facility and construction is expected to begin in Summer 2020.
  • The Government is continuing to discuss the new mercury treatment centre and are committed to reaching an agreement with the community.

If pressed:

  • Building a mercury treatment centre in the community is an absolute priority for this government and that is why the previous Minister visited Grassy Narrows in May 2019.
  • Since then, progress has been made and discussions have continued, including an in-person meeting with the Minister and the Chief on December 4, 2019.
  • This is a relationship that is based in the recognition of rights, respect, co-operation and partnership.
  • The Government can and will find consensus on a facility that meets the community's health needs, now and in the long-term.

If pressed on funding:

  • The Government shares the community's goal of finding a solution that meets their needs.
  • The Government wants to assure you that we will support the construction of the mercury treatment centre.
  • The Government remains in discussion with Grassy Narrows and provincial partners to advance the project.

Background

High levels of mercury contamination in the English-Wabigoon River system, discovered in 1970, caused very high levels of mercury exposure among people residing in the First Nations communities of Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong. Levels of exposure in the late 1960s and 1970s were sufficient to cause mercury poisoning among several highly exposed community members. The First Nations and Inuit Health Branch completed extensive annual monitoring for mercury in Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong First Nations, as well as other nearby communities, between 1971 and 2000.

Indigenous Services Canada's Environmental Health Officer conducts regular health visits in Grassy Narrows and Wabaseemoong, including ongoing surveillance of the community's drinking water system. Kenora Chief's Advisory annually monitors the communities' drinking water systems for chemical parameters under a devolution agreement. Mercury has never been detected in any of the Grassy Narrows drinking water samples.

In response to the community's request for immediate suicide prevention crisis support, the Department is providing $618,226 under Jordan's Principle to Kitapinoonjiiminaanik Family Services, to address the immediate mental health needs of children and youth in Grassy Narrows. The Department also provided a permanent increase in Medical Transportation to ensure community members can access treatment where provided.

$9 million was identified in Budget 2017 for the construction of a mercury treatment centre and funding was provided to Grassy Narrows First Nation to undertake a feasibility study. The final report outlined that a long-term care facility and specialized medical services were required to improve health outcomes in the community. Additional funding will be required to support the construction and operations of the mercury treatment centre.

Coerced Sterilization

Key Messages

  • Forced and coerced sterilization is a deeply troubling violation of human rights.
  • Individuals impacted by this issue requiring mental health or crisis support can contact the 24/7 Hope for Wellness Line.
  • My Department's new Advisory Committee on Indigenous Women's Wellbeing is guiding our response. The Committee is comprised of National Indigenous Organizations, including women's organizations.
  • Collaboration is required between all orders of government, and health and social system professionals, to ensure culturally safe health services for all Indigenous women.

If pressed:

  • All Indigenous women must receive culturally safe health services with fully informed consent.
  • To improve cultural safety and quality of service, we are:
    • ensuring an expecting First Nation or Inuit mother knows she is entitled to a travel escort through the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program;
    • investing in services to support healthy pregnancies and births;
    • investing for the first time in midwifery in First Nation and Inuit communities; and
    • receiving guidance from the new Indigenous Services Canada Advisory Committee on Indigenous Women's Health and Wellbeing.

Background

Forced and coerced sterilization is a symptom of a broader systemic issue: the absence of cultural safety in health and social systems. Promoting cultural safety in health and social systems cannot be done in isolation. Health Canada has a lead role to play, in partnership with provinces and territories, regional health authorities and regulatory bodies.

The scale and scope of this issue is currently unknown. Health systems (with the exception of Saskatchewan) do not track patient ethnicity. However, since October 2017 a number of legal actions that name Canada as a defendant have been initiated by impacted women. Lawyers indicate they have been contacted by over 100 Indigenous women (including a case that occurred as recently as December 2018). International bodies and parliamentary committees have studied and drawn attention to the issue:

  • The U.N. Committee against Torture called on Canada to criminalize, investigate, prevent and provide redress;
  • The Third Universal Periodic Review by the U.N. Human Rights Council recommended that Canada investigate complaints, punish those responsible and assist impacted women;
  • The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requested specific information on how Canada is responding;
  • The Standing Committee on Health focused on understanding the scope; making reparations to victims; prevention; and engaging with Indigenous women's organizations; and,
  • The final report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls raised the issue. Calls to Justice include increasing the number of Indigenous health care professionals and providing cultural competency training to all health care professionals (Calls to Justice 7.6, 7.7, and 7.8).

Nunavut Medical Transport

Key Messages

  • The Government knows that medical transportation is necessary to ensure individuals have access to the health services they need in Nunavut.
  • The territorial government receives funding to run its health system through various transfer payments, and for a portion of the medical transportation costs for Inuit residents.
  • The Government will continue to support the Government of Nunavut to ensure that the Nunavummiut have access to the health services they need, now and in the long-term.

If pressed on the alleged cancellation of counselling services in Nunavut:

  • Counselling services have not been cancelled; they continue to be available at health centres in every community in Nunavut.
  • Since April 2019, $11.6 million in funding was provided directly to the Government of Nunavut and community organizations for the coordination of mental wellness teams and other mental wellness services.
  • Further, the Government has allocated $5.4 million in targeted mental health counseling funding through the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.
  • The Government has also contributed $220 million over 10 years since 2017 through the Nunavut Wellness Agreement for community wellness initiatives.
  • The Government will continue to work with partners to ensure Nunavummiut have access to the services they need.

If pressed on responsibility for medical travel costs in Nunavut:

  • The Government of Nunavut is responsible for the provision of health services to all of its residents.
  • Medical transportation is a necessary, but costly, element of Nunavut's health care system.
  • We are working with the Government of Nunavut on ensuring continuity of services while a longer-term approach to accessing health services is developed.
  • Through the Nunavut Partnership Table on Health, we will continue to collaborate with the Government of Nunavut and Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated to improve access to health services.

Background

Health services in the North

The responsibility for delivering health services is shared by the federal and provincial/territorial and Indigenous governments, including the provision of mental health services. The federal government supports First Nations and Inuit community mental wellness through a number of programs and services. Specifically, through the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, ISC supports and funds mental wellness programs and services in five key areas: community based mental wellness services; the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program; the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program Mental Health Counselling Benefit; the First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Helpline; and Jordan's Principle – A Child First Initiative.

Since 2017, the Government of Canada has contributed $220 million over 10 years in Nunavut in the community-led Nunavut Wellness Agreement. Furthermore, Budget 2019 announced an additional investment of $50 million over 10 years to renew and expand the reach of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami's National Inuit Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Cancellation of Services in Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut is responsible for the delivery of health care for its citizens, including the provision of mental health services. Services are available at health centres that are located in every community.

There have been media reports of counselling service cancellations in the Baffin Region of Nunavut. Services have not been cancelled, though there was a delay in scheduling sessions for a small number of clients. ISC is coordinating with a counselling service provider to schedule clinics in the Baffin Region in the near future. Other existing supports remain available for all residents of Nunavut and through the Indian Residential Schools Resolution Health Support Program, ISC also arranges and pays for travel for clients to access counselling services as needed, to the nearest point of service within their region.

In addition, telephone counselling services are available through the Hope for Wellness Help Line, which provides immediate, telephone crisis intervention counselling support for all Indigenous Peoples, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and can be reached at 1-855-242-3310 or online counselling service at hopeforwellness.ca.

Medical transportation in Nunavut

Nunavut is a vast territory made up of 25 small and isolated communities, none of which are connected by roads. Approximately 85% of the population is Inuit. Each community has a health centre, staffed by nurses and with locum doctor visits. There is one hospital in the Territory, located in Iqaluit, which provides services to residents of the Qikiqtani (Baffin) Region. Because of these realities, the Government of Nunavut relies heavily on medical transportation to support residents in accessing services outside of the Territory.

The Non-Insured Health Benefits Program provides a suite of medically necessary goods and services to eligible First Nations and Inuit clients. In Nunavut, these benefits are administered directly by Indigenous Services Canada, as well as via a contribution agreement with the Government of Nunavut. The agreement includes funding for medical transportation, such as accommodations, meals, and air travel. In 2018-19, the value of this agreement was $51.4 million.

Since its creation in 1999, the Government of Nunavut has charged a co-payment of $125 per direction for all air travel for residents requiring medically necessary services not available in their home communities. This co-payment, which the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program reimburses for Inuit residents, applies to air transportation that can include, for example, $2,000 scheduled flights or $30,000 medevacs. In January 2019, the Government of Nunavut informed ISC of its intention to eliminate the co-payment with the goal of having ISC pay the full cost of medical travel for Inuit.

The Government of Nunavut is also receiving $9.2 million per year in funding to off-set costs of medical transportation under Health Canada's the Territorial Health Investment Fund (scheduled to sunset in 2020/21).

Committee Bios

Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN)
43rd Parliament, 1st Session

Gary Anandasangaree, Scarborough—Rouge Park, ON

Biographical Information

Mr. Anandasangaree was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015.

Prior to his election to the House of Commons, Mr. Anandasangaree advocated for education and justice as an internationally recognized human rights lawyer and community activist. He has served as Chair of the Canadian Tamil Youth Development Centre, President of the Canadian Tamils' Chamber of Commerce, and counsel to the Canadian Tamil Congress. He was also legal counsel to the Independent Mortgage Brokers and Agents, a board member of the Youth Challenge Fund, member of the Toronto Police Chief's Advisory Board, and a member of the United Way Newcomers Grant Program.

Mr. Anandasangaree attended Osgoode Hall Law School. He was called to the bar in 2006 and later managed his own firm in Scarborough. He has been an advocate for human rights issues, regularly representing Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada at the United Nations. He has also served as an advocate for local youth, intervening in cases of wrongful student expulsion and suspension.

In honour of his devotion to community service and local advocacy, Mr. Anandasangaree has received both the Queen's Golden and Diamond Jubilee medals. He also received the Osgoode Hall Law School "One to Watch" Gold Key Award and the South Asian Bar Association's Young Practitioner Award.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "Our government is seized with this matter. The Prime Minister has a cabinet that is working on the situation around the clock. We all want peace and we want to get rail traffic going across the country. The Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations and the Minister of Indigenous Services have stated that they are ready and willing to meet with the hereditary leadership at the earliest opportunity. With the B.C. RCMP's outreach to the chiefs yesterday, we hope this creates the ability to advance a peaceful resolution." Hansard, Feb 21, 2020
  • Indigenous Languages: "We can never recover from it, and I do not think that many people who have faced this type of struggle and violation could ever recover from it, but it is important that we start the process. That is why, overall, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's calls to action are important, and that is why language revival is so essential." Hansard, May 2, 2019
  • Residential Schools: "Healing the damage of residential schools will require the sustained action of not only involved governments, but other institutions and all Canadians. The need to achieve reconciliation is a fundamental truth and is beyond partisan politics." Hansard, Sep 24, 2018
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement: Achieved a good deal that benefits everyone; provisions that protect women's, minority and indigenous rights and environmental protections; protection for labour and minimum standards across our three countries. Hansard, Feb 3, 2020
  • Environment: Government is committed to attaining net-zero emissions by 2050; ban single-use plastics by 2021; protect 25% of our shores and 25% of our land mass by 2025, 30% by 2030; attaining net-zero emissions will require enormous commitment from everyone to reach this target by 2050. Hansard, Dec 11, 2019
  • Bill C-18 (An Act to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act, the Parks Canada Agency Act and the Canada National Parks Act): Canada at the forefront of efforts to conserve elements of its heritage, flora, fauna, and landscapes; first priority on ecological integrity in the management of the Rouge National Urban Park to further international leadership in conservation. Hansard, Feb 17, 2017
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Sri Lanka Protests: "Standing in Solidarity with the families of the disappeared as we mark the 1000 days of protest. In the sweltering heat, downpours, and the dust, these women and men have stood for justice, peace, and with their families. Truth must prevail." Twitter, Nov 16, 2019
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • M-24 (Tamil Heritage Month) (Motion Agreed To, Oct 5, 2016) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should recognize the contributions that Tamil-Canadians have made to Canadian society, the richness of the Tamil language and culture, and the importance of educating and reflecting upon Tamil heritage for future generations by declaring January, every year, Tamil Heritage Month.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Jaime Battiste, Sydney-Victoria, NS

Biographical Information

Born in Potlotek First Nation, NS, Mr. Battiste was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Prior to his election, Jaime was a published writer on Mi'kmaw laws, history, and knowledge. After graduating from Dalhousie Law in 2004, Mr. Battiste worked as a professor, senior advisor, citizenship coordinator and Assembly of First Nations Regional Chief.

Mr. Battiste has done extensive volunteer work in athletics, youth advocacy, community events, and advocacy for the Mi'kmaq Nation. He is a member of the Aboriginal Sport Circle, a part owner of the Eskasoni Junior B Eagles. He served as the Nova Scotia Youth council representative to the Assembly of First Nation National Youth Council from 2001-2006. In 2005, the National Aboriginal Healing Organization named him as one of the National Aboriginal Role Models in Canada. In 2006, as Chair of the Assembly of First Nations Youth Council, he became one of the founding members of the Mi'kmaw Maliseet Atlantic Youth Council (MMAYC), an organization that represents and advocates for Mi'kmaw and Maliseet youth within the Atlantic. In 2018, Mr. Battiste was recognized with the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "I ask today for leaders in Canada, leaders of both indigenous and non-indigenous people, to commit to making our relationship work. Political action, not police action, has the ability to decrease tensions. It is the only way. Political discussion and negotiation is what is needed, not inflammatory rhetoric. We need to inspire hope. If nothing else during this speech, I want to make sure to say that there is still hope. The politician in me believes that and the protester in me believes that too." Hansard, Feb 18, 2020
  • Indigenous Languages: "Our govt. is implementing the Indigenous Languages Act by contributing $337m over the next 5 yrs for Indigenous Languages, and $1500/yr for kindergarten to grade 12 First Nations students as part of the new co-develop education funding policy." Twitter, Jan 27, 2020
  • Acknowledgement of Indigenous Role: "Being the first-ever Mi'kmaq Member of Parliament who is also a member of the Eskasoni First Nation, I want to acknowledge the significant role indigenous people have played in Canada's history. Our government is committed to working together to advocate for indigenous languages and for the well-being of indigenous peoples across Canada." Hansard, Jan 27, 2020
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Environment: The Indigenous Leadership Initiative hosted the Land Needs Guardians conference in Ottawa to address the challenges of climate change and biodiversity loss; indigenous nations are at the forefront of a growing movement to create indigenous protection in conserved areas. Hansard, Feb 5, 2020
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Health Care in Cape Breton: "One of the no. 1 things I heard at the doors was the need to improve access to health care in Cape Breton. I met with Hon. @PattyHajdu, Minister of Health, to discuss what matters most to Cape Bretoners when it comes to quality access to health care services. This will be one of my many priorities. I look forward to working with the Minister and improve access to the services we rely on every day." Twitter, Dec 19, 2019
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Bob Bratina, Hamilton East — Stoney Creek, ON

Biographical Information

Born in Hamilton, ON, Mr. Bratina was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and again in 2019.

Prior to his election, Mr. Bratina worked in radio and broadcasting for local morning shows and sporting events. In 1998, he was inducted into the Football Reporters of Canada Hall of Fame. He was also a nominee for Hamilton Citizen of the Year, and won Hamilton Mountain Citizen of the Year. He also served on numerous Boards of Directors including; GO Transit, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Theatre Aquarius, and HECFI.

In 2004, he was election as MPP for Hamilton Centre, and again in 2006. His concerns over high lead readings in city drinking water resulted in a lead water service replacement loan program and a lead blood screening program for young children. He was elected as Mayor of Hamilton in 2010, seeing the completion of a new stadium, development in the downtown core, and a move to solve the impasse in the local Randle Reed project.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests and the RCMP: "All communities should benefit from policing that is professional and dedicated, and indigenous communities are no exception. That is why we will co-develop a legislative framework for first nations policing and expand the number of communities served by the first nations policing program. We will ensure police officers and services have the necessary tools and resources to protect the vulnerable and increase community safety" Hansard, Feb 20, 2020
  • Water Quality: "We can no longer take a reactive approach to combatting lead pipes and drinking water quality. The time has come for the federal government to work together with its provincial, territorial, municipal, and indigenous partners to create a unified cross-country solution to eradicate these issues, which affect the very young more than the old, and low-income families more than the affluent. Children in older, poorer neighbourhoods should not be exposed to a serious health hazard because of where they live or their family's economic status." Hansard, Feb 7, 2017
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Steel and Bill C-101 (An Act to Amend the Customs Tariff and the International Trade Tribunal Act): Government must have tools and resources it needs to protect Canadians while continuing to encourage foreign investment, trade and economic growth. C-101 would provide this protection. Amendments to C-101 would help government respond quickly and appropriately to a substantiated surge of imports harming Canadian producers and workers. Hansard, Jun 6, 2019
  • Veterans: Must keep investing in veterans' benefits and services. After 10 years of cuts to funding and staff, we are rebuilding the trust of veterans. Hansard, Sep 25, 2018
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Steel: "I've always supported steel all my life […] I had steelworkers at the door thanking me for what I did. (Stelco) is working; pensioners are getting their pensions; we put millions of dollars to increase the production facility." Hamiltonnews.com, Oct 22, 2019
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • M-69 (Water Quality) (Motion Agreed To, Feb 7, 2017) – That, in the opinion of the House: (a) the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities should undertake a study on (i) the presence of lead in Canadian tap water, (ii) provincial, territorial and municipal efforts to date to replace lead water distribution lines, (iii) current federal efforts to support other levels of government in the provision of safe drinking water; (b) the Committee should report to the House no later than December 1, 2017; and (c) following the tabling of the said report, the federal government should engage with key stakeholders, such as provincial and territorial governments, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, as well as Indigenous partners, to discuss options for addressing lead drinking water service lines, including any potential role for the federal government.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Marcus Powlowski, Thunder Bay—Rainy River, ON

Biographical Information

Born in Fort William, ON, Mr. Powlowski was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Prior to his election, Mr. Powlowski served as a physician in the Emergency Room at Thunder Bay Regional Health Science Centre. In addition to being a medical doctor, he has two law degrees – LL.B, LL.M from the universities of Toronto and Georgetown, respectively. He also attended Harvard University and obtained a Masters of Public Health in Health Law and Policy.

Mr. Powlowski worked as a doctor for two years in northern First Nations communities, and for seven years practicing medicine in several developing countries in Africa and Oceania. For several years, he worked as a consultant in health legislation for the World Health Organization. He also volunteered on a medical project in Ethiopia.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "It is imperative to exhaust all peaceful means of resolving the rail blockades." Hansard, Feb 18, 2020
  • Indigenous living conditions: "I fully support efforts to improve the living conditions of the indigenous population – we can do better than we are doing now." Netnewsledger.com, July 21, 2019
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Housing: Government has made a real investment in Canadian communities; cost of rent is going up everywhere; need for federal government to play a leadership role in the housing sector. Hansard, Jan 27, 2020
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Firearms: "Given that there is currently no legal definition for a 'military assault rifle in Canada, some community members I have spoken with are skeptical that a ban based on this term would make sense as a coherent firearm policy. Such a term, as they see it, is more political than policy oriented, and seeks to target certain firearms without a rational basis." Ipolitics.ca, Jan 21, 2020
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Adam van Koeverden, Milton, ON

Biographical Information

Born in Toronto, ON, Mr. van Koeverden was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Prior to his election, Mr. van Koeverden was a professional sprint kayaker. He has won numerous Olympic medals, including the gold medal in Men's canoeing at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, and has also won numerous medals at World Championship events, including the gold medal in 2007, and again in 2011.

Mr. van Koeverden has also worked as a managing consultant with Deloitte, and as a broadcaster, writer and producer with CBC Sports. He graduated as valedictorian from McMaster University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology.

He grew up in cooperative housing in a single mother household, and has volunteered extensively for organizations like Right To Play, WaterAID, Special Olympics, Parkinson's Canada, and the David Suzuki Foundation. He has also served as Chair of the Canadian Olympic Athletes' Commission, and was a member of the federal government's working group for Gender Inclusion and Gender Based Violence in Sport.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "We can certainly all agree, I hope, that a peaceful process and a resolution that results in no violence is in everyone's best interests. However, the language that we have heard from the Leader of the Opposition is anything but peaceful, as he suggested that indigenous people 'check their privilege'. The Leader of the Opposition doubled down on that statement today when he urged haste and force." Hansard, Feb 18, 2020
  • Indigenous Inclusion: "I am grateful to Inuit people for providing a boat that I used for many years. As a white guy from Oakville, I always express gratitude to indigenous people for the artifacts that we often use. Many are not aware that lacrosse, for example, is an indigenous sport, and kayaking as well. I think acknowledging that is a very important aspect of truth and reconciliation, […] our government's track record speaks for itself on truth and reconciliation, although there is far more work that needs to be done by all parties in this House." Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Equality in Sport & Society: Find solutions so all Canadians can access sport, recreation and physical activity; examine barriers that women in leadership roles face inside and outside the sport industry; work on expanding Canada's anti-racism strategy; ensure easier access to sports and community activities for newcomers to Canada. Hansard, Jan 27, 2020
  • Environment: Carbon pricing a very effective solution; government has stepped in to make sure that everybody follows a carbon pricing scheme; investments in green energy and green infrastructure to bring us closer to zero net carbon emissions by 2050. Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
  • Mental Health: Workplaces across Canada should have mental health standards; people should not have to wait months for mental health services; government will work to introduce relevant workplace mental health standards. Hansard, Jan 27, 2020
  • Cooperative Housing: Mom has been building co-ops and managing co-ops for over 30 years; one of the ways to relieve poverty is to ensure that there is less profit and that when people pay the rent, they do not need to ensure that somebody else is making a buck; always going to be a vocal advocate for co-op housing. Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Canada Child Benefit: "Canada is an example of what real action on poverty reduction looks like. With programs like the Canada Child Benefit – families in Milton, and across our country have more money each month. That's more money for healthy food, sports & recreation and quality time together." Twitter, Feb 6, 2019
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Lenore Zann, Cumberland—Colchester, NS

Biographical Information

Born in Sydney, Australia, Ms. Zann was first elected to House of Commons in 2019.

Prior to her election, Ms. Zann worked as a screen, television, stage, and voice actress, and appeared in numerous television shows, films, radio, and animated series.

Ms. Zann was elected to the Nova Scotia House of Assembly in 2009, and again in 2013 for the Nova Scotia NDP. As a first-time opposition member, she was named NDP spokesperson for Education, Environment, Status of Women, Human Rights Commission, Aboriginal Affairs & Truth & Reconciliation, Agriculture, Advanced Education, African NS Affairs, and Gaelic Affairs. She served as the Ministerial Assistant for the Department of Tourism, Culture, and Heritage.

Each summer, Ms. Zann produces and directs a community theatre production for the Truro Theatre Society, which boasts a cast of all ages – including students from local schools.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "As we heard from the Mohawk leaders, and from AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde last week, we need to resolve this impasse through dialogue and mutual respect. Therefore, we only ask that the Wet'suwet'en be willing to work with our federal government as a partner to find solutions." Hansard, Feb 20, 2020
  • Indigenous Role in the Environment: "The First Nations people, the Mi'kmaq of Nova Scotia, have been very active in combatting all kinds of environmental degradation in our province. I am very proud to have stood with them on the front lines, fighting for government recognition and fighting to get these issues noticed, especially when big corporations are polluting the lands right beside the First Nations communities." Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
  • Environmental Racism: "One of the bills I introduced in the legislature in Nova Scotia was called "An Act to Address Environmental Racism". It acknowledged the disproportionate amount of toxic waste sites, landfills, dumps and huge corporate pollution on the lands of first nations and black communities. I would like environmental racism to be talked about more often, especially in the House, as we move forward." Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Gang Violence: Root causes of violence are poverty, desperation, lack of education, lack of a sense of hope, mental illness and addiction. Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
  • Health and Addiction: More money into addictions research; in Nova Scotia, the wait time for addictions counsellor is sometimes 125 days, sometimes 365 days. Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
  • United States – Mexico – Canada Agreement: New agreement maintains preferential access to markets; modernizes outdated elements of NAFTA, including labour obligations on employment discrimination based on gender. Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Environmental Habitat in Newfoundland: "An environmental assessment off the coast of Newfoundland could fast-track oil and gas exploration in an area that is home to sensitive corals and sponges, and includes important habitat for endangered whales. We have until Feb. 21 to take action ecologyaction.ca/ocean" Twitter, Feb 8. 2020
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Bob Zimmer, Prince George—Peace River, BC

Biographical Information

Born in Dawson Creek, BC, and raised in Fort St. John, BC, Mr. Zimmer was first elected to the House of Commons in 2011, and again in 2015 and 2019.

Prior to his election, Mr. Zimmer began his career working for his father's family carpentry business, obtained his Red Seal Journeyman Carpentry Certification, and went on to own his own construction business.

He received an undergraduate degree from Trinity Western University in human kinetics and history/political science as well as a bachelor's of education degree from the University of British Columbia.

Mr. Zimmer is currently the critic for Northern Affairs and the Deputy Critic for the Northern Economic Development Agency. He serves as Co-Chair of the Parliamentary Outdoor Caucus.

In the 42nd Parliament, he served as Chair of the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics (2017-2019), Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (2016-2017), Critic for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, Chair of the BC/Yukon Conservative Caucus, and Chair of the National Prayer Breakfast. In the 41st Parliament, Mr. Zimmer has sat on several committees including the Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food (2013-2014), the Standing Committee on Natural Resources (2013-2014), the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs (2012-2013), and the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (2012-2013).

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "The fact remains that consultations were conducted and the majority of the Wet'suwet'en people support the project and believe the project will benefit their First Nations. Coastal GasLink has signed agreements will all 20 elected First Nations governments along the pipeline's path, including five of the six band councils in the Wet'suwet'en Nation." EnergeticCity.ca, Feb 12, 2020
  • (Cont.): "It is shameful that elected officials, representing millions, were prevented from fulfilling their duties in Victoria. The work that is done in buildings like the BC legislature is a vital part of our democracy and to deny these officials the ability to do the work they were elected to do is alarming to say the least." Hansard, Feb 20, 2020
  • Bill C-69 (An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts) and the Moratorium on Northern Development: "We have Indigenous peoples across the North who want to develop their resources and a good economy for their people and for their benefit. What we saw from the government was a complete stifling of that opportunity." Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
  • Residential Schools: "I understand that some of the decisions Sir John A. Macdonald made are controversial, especially as it relates to residential schools… we have all made mistakes." Energeticcity.ca, Aug 22, 2018
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Softwood Lumber in BC and USMCA:  Tariff affecting the sale of lumber and timber to U.S.; new NAFTA should include an agreement on softwood lumber. Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
  • Firearms Registry: Enough regulations and laws; no need for gun registry. Hansard, Jun 19, 2019
  • Trans-Mountain pipeline expansion: With growing federal debt and deficits the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion would provide an opportunity to make money as a country through natural resource development. Hansard, Jun 5, 2019
  • Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Canada Energy Mega Project in Kitimat, BC: Largest private investment in Canada's history; $22 billion in provincial revenue; reducing the reliance on emitters that use higher amounts of emissions. Hansard, Oct 2, 2018
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Firearms: "The fact is the vast majority of firearms owners respect Canada's gun laws. It's criminals who do not. While it may be much harder to go after gangs and illegal gun traffickers, that is precisely what this government should be doing to make Canadians safer." Alaska Highway News, Jan 20, 2020
  • Natural Resources: "Interesting response from Parliamentary Secretary to Natural Resources in the @OurCommons today when asked about developing our CDN Oil/Gas resources… @LefebvrePaul actually said they "support investment". Please tell me Paul how C-48 (An Act respecting the regulation of vessels that transport crude oil or persistent oil to or from ports or marine installations located along British Columbia's north coast) and C-69 (An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Act) "support investment". I'll wait." Twitter, Dec 13, 2019
Written Questions
  • Q-195, Grants and contributions under $25,000 provided by the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, since January 1, 2018 – Jan 27, 2020
  • Q-55, Office of the Prime Minister and minister's offices – Dec 5, 2019
  • Q-54, Cambridge Analytica and AggregateIQ scandal – Dec 5, 2019
Private Members' Business
  • Bill C-346, An Act to amend the Firearms Act (licenses) (Defeated, House Second Reading, Nov, 2017 – 42nd Parliament)
  • M-589 (Firearms regulations) (Motion debated for 1 hour, May 26, 2015 – 41st Parliament) – That, in the opinion of the House: (a) Canada already exceeds all the standards listed in United Nations resolution 55/255 concerning firearms (the resolution); (b) the regulations envisioned in the resolution would do nothing to enhance public safety, and would serve only to burden the law-abiding firearms community; and therefore, the government has already surpassed its obligations with respect to the resolution and is not required to take any further steps.
  • M-588 (United Nations Firearms Protocol) (Motion Withdrawn, Mar 26, 2015 – 42nd Parliament) – That, in the opinion of the House, the United Nations firearms markings regime does nothing to enhance public safety and only serves to burden the law-abiding firearms community and therefore, the government should not be obliged to implement the regime.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Gary Vidal, Desnethé—Missinippi—Churchill River, SK

Biographical Information

Born in Meadow Lake, SK, Mr. Vidal was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in 2019.

Prior to his election, Mr. Vidal served as Mayor of Meadow Lake, Saskatchewan from 2011 to 2019. He graduated from Carpenter High School in 1983 and went on to study at the University of Saskatchewan and Briercrest Bible College. He is a Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CGA) and is a partner in the accounting firm Pliska Vidal & Co. where he has been serving clients since 1988. He was also Vice Chair of Saskatchewan City Mayors' Caucus from 2016 to 2018. He was a member of the SaskWater Board of Directors from 2008 to 2017. In this position, he also served as Chair of the Governance and Corporate Responsibility Committee, Chair of the Audit and Finance Committee, and Chair of the Board from 2015 to 2017.

Mr. Vidal is currently the critic for Indigenous Services.

Mr. Vidal has volunteered in a variety of leadership capacities in his local church as well as on the board of Bethel Gospel Camp, an interdenominational children's bible camp. Other volunteer activities include coaching and managing minor hockey, baseball, and soccer teams. In 2012, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "We simply cannot allow a minority of protestors to stand in the way of the will of the Wet'suwet'en nation. These protestors have taken extraordinary measures to hold Canada hostage, compromising the safety of our rail infrastructure, blocking and intimidating people attempting to go to work and in some cases physically assaulting elected members of a provincial legislature." Hansard, Feb 18, 2020
  • Softwood Lumber and United-States – Mexico – Canada Agreement (UCSMA): "NorSask Forest Products is a 100% First Nations-owned company whose profits are directed to the nine bands that make up the Meadow Lake Tribal Council. These funds are used for services like housing, education and health care, including suicide prevention programs. Since 2017, NorSask has paid over $10 million in softwood lumber tariffs. That is $10 million not being used for services in these communities." Hansard, Dec 10, 2019
  • Indigenous participation in Industry: "With the Indigenous Services file, one of the things we are looking for is partnerships between Indigenous communities and industry, allowing Indigenous people to be part of the private sector, to be part of the market so they create economic activity that will help them take care of the very demanding needs in their First Nations communities." Hansard, Jan 30, 2020
  • Indigenous Youth Suicides: "If young people in northern Saskatchewan could look to the people they look up to, their parents, big brothers and sisters, and if they could look to the people they respect and see them succeed by being part of the industry in northern Saskatchewan, they would have hope. With that hope, they would not have to consider suicide as an outcome." Hansard, Jan 30, 2020
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Softwood Lumber and USMCA: lack of transparency from government, cannot adequately scrutinize the deal; no softwood lumber agreement, workers enduring hardships, fears of closure of lumber mills. Hansard, Dec 10, 2019
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Firearms: "Here in Northern Saskatchewan, hunting and sport shooting are a way of life for a lot of people… A Conservative government will protect the rights of law abiding gun owners." Twitter, Sep 15, 2019
Written Questions
  • Q-186, Foreign takeovers and acquisitions of Canadian companies by foreign state-owned enterprises covered by the Investment Canada Regulations and the Investment Canada Act – Jan 27, 2020
  • Q-187, Canadian Armed Forces members serving abroad – Jan 27, 2020
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • None.

Arnold Viersen, Peace River—Westlock, AB

Biographical Information

Born in Barrhead, AB, Mr. Viersen was first elected to the House of Commons in 2015, and again in 2019.

Prior to his election, Mr. Viersen apprenticed as an auto service technician and attained his journeyman ticket from the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology (NAIT). He has also earned a business degree from the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) while continuing his automotive career.

In the 42nd Parliament, Mr. Viersen was the Deputy Critic of Rural Affairs. He advocated for the rights and concerns of rural families, farms and industries in Alberta and across Canada. Since 2015, he has been a member of the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs.

Mr. Viersen is also involved in a number of parliamentary caucuses; including the Indigenous Affairs Caucus, Outdoor Caucus, and the Pro-Life Caucus. He is also a member of the Canada-Netherlands Parliamentary Friendship Group, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament and the Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Indigenous Languages: "It is not just indigenous languages that are struggling in Canada. Without the economic underpinning, people's culture, way of life and community are under threat, if people are unable to finance them and to survive under the economic situation in their particular area." Hansard, May 2, 2019
  • Indigenous Victims of Trafficking: "We know indigenous women and girls are the most represented victim group in sex trafficking and prostitution in Canada. They make up only 4% of Canada's population, yet make up more than 50% of the victims in Canada." Hansard, Feb 4, 2020
  • Pipelines and Indigenous Communities: "One of the things that has really helped indigenous communities in northern Alberta is their participation in the oil and gas industry, and the wealth it has brought there. When the communities have the wealth, they become communities again; their culture begins to thrive and their languages are able to be maintained." Hansard, May 2, 2019
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Human Trafficking and Sex Work: Legalized prostitution causes violence against sex workers; Sex trafficking increase, especially among youth; happened in Germany, New Zealand and the Netherlands; legitimization of prostitution normalizes attitudes of violence, misogyny and the objectification of women and girls. Hansard, Feb 4, 2020
  • Oil and Gas: To get the economy right in northern Alberta, we need pipelines; we need pipelines to get oil off the railway, and replace it with grain and lumber going to market. Hansard, Dec 12, 2018
  • Trans Mountain: Trans Mountain would allow petroleum products to reach people living in energy poverty and without luxury. Hansard, Feb 12, 2018
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Human Trafficking: "Modern day slavery & human trafficking exist in every country of the world including Canada. With over 25 million people around the world trapped in modern day slavery, we have a responsibility to tackle the slavery in our communities and in our supply chains" Twitter, Feb 6, 2020
Written Questions
  • Q-113, New "For Glowing Hearts" logo unveiled by Destination Canada – Jan 27, 2020
  • Q-112, Government's participation in the UN Climate Change Conference COP 25 in Madrid, Spain, in December 2019 – Jan 27, 2020
  • Q-111, Government purchases of tickets or passes for Canada 2020 events during 2019
  • Q-110, Total amount of late-payment charges for telephone services since June 1, 2018 – Jan 27, 2020
Private Members' Business
  • M-212 (National Human Trafficking Awareness Day) (Motion Placed on Notice, Feb 20, 2019) – That, in the opinion of the House, the government should encourage Canadians to raise awareness of the magnitude of modern day slavery in Canada and abroad and to take steps to combat human trafficking, and should do so by designating the 22nd day of February each year as National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, to coincide with the anniversary of the unanimous declaration of the House on February 22, 2007, to condemn all forms of human trafficking and slavery.
  • M-47 (Instruction to the Standing Committee on Health (Violent and Sexual Online Material)) (Motion Agreed To, Dec 6, 2016) – That the Standing Committee on Health be instructed to examine the public health effects of the ease of access and viewing of online violent and degrading sexually explicit material on children, women and men, recognizing and respecting the provincial and territorial jurisdictions in this regard, and that the said Committee report its findings to the House no later than July 2017.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Jamie Schmale, Haliburton—Kawartha Lakes—Brock, ON

Biographical Information

Born in Brampton, ON, Mr. Schmale was elected to the House of Commons for the first time in 2015, and again in 2019.

Prior to his election to, Mr. Schmale he served as the executive assistant and campaign manager for former Conservative MP Barry Devolin (Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock, Ontario). He graduated from the Radio Broadcasting program at Loyalist College in Ontario, and started his career as a news anchor. He later became news director for CHUM media.

Mr. Schmale is currently the critic for Crown-Indigenous Relations.

In the 42nd Parliament, Mr. Schmale served as the opposition critic for Northern Economic Development, and Deputy Critic for Natural Resources. He was a member of the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs (2015-2017) and the Standing Committee on Natural Resources (2017-2019).

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "What Conservatives have pointed out many times, and which I did in my speech, is that there are activists who have an agenda that is totally separate from that of those first nations communities. These people want the end of oil and gas development in Canada. They want to shut down that vibrant economy of our country and are trying to glom on to this very important issue that five hereditary chiefs have with what is going on with this pipeline." Hansard, Feb 18, 2020
  • Water Quality in Indigenous Communities: "The minister's department [CIRNAC] and the Parliamentary Budget Officer are at odds over the true cost to get water and wastewater in Indigenous communities up to the same standards as the rest of Canada." Hansard, Dec 9, 2019
  • Bill C-88, An Act to amend the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts: "When the Prime Minister vetoed the northern gateway pipeline, he killed benefit agreements between the project and 31 First Nations, worth about $2 billion… All this is destroying energy jobs and investment from coast to coast to coast. Now, with Bill C-88, we add another coast, the northern coast… we […] are deeply disappointed that the Prime Minister, who campaigned on a promise of reconciliation with Indigenous communities, blatantly would allow and choose to deny our 31 First Nations and Métis communities their constitutionally-protected right to economic development." Hansard, Apr 9, 2019
  • Bill C-69, An Act to enact the Impact Assessment Act and the Canadian Energy Regulator Act, to amend the Navigation Protection Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts: "…is putting a chill on investment in Canada's natural resources sector. The President of the Indian Resource Council said, 'Bill C-69 will harm Indigenous economic development, create barriers to decision-making, and make Canada unattractive for resource investment.' This legislation must be stopped." Hansard, Oct 26, 2018
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Natural Resources: Supports economic development and getting energy to markets; the Conservatives view the North as a key driver of economic activity for Canada. Hansard, Apr 9, 2019
  • Oil and Gas: Supports the oil and gas sector; anti-energy bills are regulating to death the west-to-east pipeline. Hansard, Jun 13, 2019
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Firearms: "After all, if you want to stop increasing gun crime, the answer lies in tackling criminals and gangs, not punishing law abiding gun owners." Twitter, Jan 31, 2020
Written Questions
  • Q-193, Classified or protected documents since January 1, 2019 – Jan 27, 2020.
  • Q-188, Veterans Affairs Canada service standard of 16 weeks for decisions in relation to disability benefits applications – Jan 27, 2020
  • Q-172, Purchase of carbon offset credits by the government – Jan 27, 2020
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • None.

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

Biographical Information

Ms. Bérubé was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Prior to her election, Ms. Bérubé she spent 30 years with the CISSS de l'Abitibi-Témiscamingue in human resources and information. She also acted as the Director of the social committee at l'Hôpital de Val-d'Or, administrator for Taxibus, was a member of the information security association of Québec, and was President of the Parti Québécois d'Abitibi-Est.

Ms. Bérubé is currently the critic for Indigenous Affairs.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Food Security in the North: None.
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protest: "Since the beginning of this crisis, it seems that only the Bloc Québécois has been trying to find concrete solutions to address the situation. We did not stand idly by, unlike the Prime Minister and his ministers, who did nothing for far too long, hoping that everything would fix itself. The federal government needs to step up and take action […] With every day that this crisis goes on, our economy suffers even more. This crisis is affecting workers and ordinary folks. Just look at the number of CN employees who have been temporarily laid off because of the rail blockade. If nothing is done right now, many more employees will join their ranks." Hansard, Feb 20, 2020
  • Treaties: "More than ever, we need to make sure that we are respecting treaties and their interpretation, if we are to break free from the colonialism that this country's First Nations suffered and still suffer to this day. This should be one of the priorities in the throne speech." Hansard, Dec 12, 2019
  • Key Indigenous Issues in Northern Quebec: "As far as Indigenous affairs are concerned, the key issues are social housing, homelessness and infrastructure in northern Quebec. The melting snow is also important […] because it changes their culture. When it comes to the environment, we have to work with First Nations." Hansard, Jan 28, 2020
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • Québec Infrastructure: Need to invest in transportation, telecommunications, airport infrastructure investments; transport of dangerous goods by rail ignored by Ottawa. Hansard, Jan 28, 2020
  • Housing: Large mining sector in riding causing housing shortage, need investments in water and sewer systems. Hansard, Jan 28, 2020
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • Québec-Federal Relations: "Ce n'est jamais facile avec le fédéral. On envoie de l'argent à Ottawa qu'on pourrait garder chez nous et le fédéral met des bâtons dans les roues du Québec." Lecitoyenvaldoramos.com, Jul 1, 2019
  • Québec Issues: "On ne sera jamais aussi bien servis que par nous-mêmes. Plusieurs dossiers du fédéral m'agacent, dont la couverture internet, le financement de logement social, l'inaction concernant la Loi sur les Indiens et la taxe sur le bois d'œuvre qui affecte notre région." Lecitoyenvaldoramos.com, Jul 1, 2019
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD

Mumilaaq Qaqqaq, Nunavut, NU

Biographical Information

Born in Baker Lake, NU, Ms. Qaqqaq was first elected to the House of Commons in 2019.

Prior to her election, Ms. Qaqqaq was a facilitator, public speaker, and volunteer. She was best known for her speech in the House of Commons on International Women's Day in 2017, through the Daughters of the Vote, a program designed for young women to speak about their visions for their country in the House of Commons. She worked as an employment officer with Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated, and as a wellness program specialist with the Health Department of the Government of Nunavut. She has held positions with Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, working with Susan Aglukark in the Arctic Rose Foundation, and with Northern Youth Abroad. She graduated from the Jonah Amitnaaq Secondary School.

Ms. Qaqqaq is currently the critic for the Northern Economic Development agency, Northern Affairs, and the Deputy Critic for Natural Resources.

Statements on Indigenous Issues
  • Nutrition North: "Since [it] started, food security has actually gotten worse in Nunavut. People in need struggle to get quality food and necessities. Nunavut is the only fly-in, fly-out territory, so in my riding it is even worse." Hansard, Jan 29, 2020
  • Wetsu'wet'en Protests: "What we are seeing across this country is not just about one resource project. This is about generations of underfunding, broken promises and broken treaties. The federal government has backed indigenous peoples into a corner. Food, water, safe housing and infrastructure are fundamental human rights that the federal government has promised us and continues to deny us." Hansard, Feb 18, 2020
  • Climate Change and Northern Peoples: "It threatens the lives and abilities of our hunters to provide for families and communities. We need to treat it just as it is, a crisis." Hansard, Dec 6, 2019
  • Northern Infrastructure: "In Nunavut we continue to fight for basic human rights: to have a safe place to live, to afford to feed ourselves and to have clean drinking water." Hansard, Dec 6, 2019
  • Indigenous and Northern Youth Suicides: "This is a conversation that has been going on for decades. I hope that by the end of this term we can talk about post-secondary opportunities and child care spaces." Hansard, Dec 6, 2019
  • Indigenous and Northern Languages: "I am not fluent in Inuktitut. Unfortunately, this is a reality of too many Inuit. The NDP is committed to protecting and revitalizing Indigenous language through new legislation and stable funding." Twitter, Oct 2, 2019
General Issues Raised in Question Period and Committee
  • None.
General Issues Raised in the Media
  • None.
Written Questions
  • None.
Private Members' Business
  • None.
First Nations and Indigenous Organizations in Riding
  • TBD
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