Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples
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Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Aboriginal Peoples

Issue 10 - Evidence - June 22, 2016

OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples met this day at 6:58 p.m. to study best practices and on- going challenges relating to housing in First Nation and Inuit communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Northwest Territories.

Senator Lillian Eva Dyck (Chair) in the chair.


The Chair: Good evening. I would like to welcome all honourable senators and members of the public, who are watching this meeting of the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples either here in the room or via the Web.

I would like to acknowledge for the sake of reconciliation that we are meeting on the unceded land of the Algonquin peoples.

My name is Lillian Dyck from Saskatchewan, and I have the privilege of chairing the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples. I now invite my fellow senators to introduce themselves, starting with the deputy chair.

Senator Patterson: Thank you, Madam Chair, and good evening. I'm Dennis Patterson from Nunavut.

Senator Raine: Nancy Greene Raine from British Columbia.

The Chair: Senator Watt has just arrived, and he will take his seat. There may be other senators coming in as we have just concluded business upstairs.

The mandate of this committee is to examine legislation and matters relating to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada generally. This evening, we will complete our testimony on the northern housing study, with a mandate to study best practices and ongoing challenges relating to housing and First Nation communities in Nunavut, Nunavik, Nunatsiavut and the Northwest Territories.

We will hear from government representatives. We have, from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Stephen Van Dine, Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization; and Allan MacDonald, Director General, Implementation Branch, Treaties and Aboriginal Government. From the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, we have Charlie MacArthur, Senior Vice-President, Regional Operations and Assisted Housing; Carla Staresina, Vice President, Affordable Housing; and Luisa Atkinson, Director, First Nations Housing.

We will have you do your statements first, and after that senators will have questions for you. Please begin.

Stephen Van Dine, Assistant Deputy Minister, Northern Affairs Organization, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada: Thank you for the invitation to return to the committee and follow up on this important issue.


It is a pleasure to be here with my colleague from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Allan MacDonald, Director General, Implementation Branch, Treaties and Aboriginal Governments Sector. I am also pleased to appear again with colleagues from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


In order to improve outcomes for northerners, Budget 2016 announced important funding for northern and Inuit housing. The budget provides up to $177.7 million over two years starting in 2016 to provinces and territories through the Investments in Affordable Housing initiative for affordable housing in the North and in Inuit communities.

Specifically, over two years, $8 million will be provided to Yukon, $12 million to the Northwest Territories and $76.7 million to Nunavut. Further investments are also being earmarked for three Inuit regions: Nunavik, $50 million over two years; Nunatsiavut, $15 million over two years; and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region in the Northwest Territories, $15 million over two years.

As stated in the budget, this funding will be delivered through the Investments in Affordable Housing initiative, which is a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation program. I will say that we are working with CMHC to ensure that this funding flows to indigenous groups in a way that benefits indigenous groups in these communities. The CMHC is working with its provincial and territorial partners to make efforts to engage the Inuit on Budget 2016 in housing delivery.

As we discussed last time I was here, helping communities to adapt to climate change is critical to ensure the sustainability of housing investments. To this end, Budget 2016 announced $129.5 million over five years starting in 2016-17 for climate change adaptation to seven federal departments and agencies to implement programming focused on building the science base, informed decision making, protecting the health and well-being of Canadians, building resilience in the North and indigenous communities and enhancing competitiveness in key economic sectors.

To address the high cost of running homes in the North, Budget 2016 commits $10.7 million over two years starting in 2016-17 to Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada to implement the renewable energy projects in off-grid indigenous and Northern communities that rely on diesel and other fossil fuels to generate heat and power. As I'm sure you've heard over the course of your study, the operating costs for homes in the North are extremely high as 72 of 99 communities in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut rely almost exclusively on diesel power generation. Funding to look at alternatives to diesel may not have immediate impacts on the costs of operating a home in the North; however, this work is essential to find alternative, more environmentally friendly and affordable energy solutions and in turn to reduce the operating costs for northern homes.


In closing, I would like to thank the committee again for looking at this important issue. Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada is working closely with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.


We are a strong advocate of ensuring that we bring the necessary attention to support innovation and positive improvements in northern housing. I'm sure your report will help to advance this important issue.

The Chair: Thank you. The next presenter is from CMHC.

Charlie MacArthur, Senior Vice-President, Regional Operations and Assisted Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee. It's a pleasure to be here again on behalf of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

I'd like to begin by thanking Senator Moore for his comments last week during the debate of the budget implementation act. My colleagues and I at CMHC understand and appreciate his frustration. As I noted when I appeared before the committee in March, the challenges of providing safe, affordable housing in the North are unique and the needs are prevalent.

Households in the North are more than twice as likely as other Canadian households to be overcrowded and inadequate. A short building season, high construction costs and the remoteness of some communities only heighten these difficulties. Together with our partners in the North, we are constantly looking for new and better ways to deliver housing programs.


As you know, the Government of Canada has provided an initial response to the housing challenges in the North and elsewhere with significant new funding in Budget 2016, which was tabled in the House of Commons shortly after I last met with the committee.


As part of the government's new social infrastructure fund, the budget includes $2.3 billion over two years to improve access to affordable housing for Canadians. This includes $732 million set aside for northern, Inuit and First Nations housing. Of this amount, $178 million will be provided over two years to the provinces and territories through the Investment in Affordable Housing initiative to be used specifically for housing in northern and Inuit communities. Almost $77 million will be allocated for Nunavut; $27 million for the Northwest Territories, including $15 million for the Inuvialuit Settlement Region; $8 million for Yukon; $50 million to Quebec for Nunavik; and $15 million to Newfoundland and Labrador for Nunatsiavut.

An additional $138 million will be delivered through CMHC's on-reserve program to improve housing and living conditions in First Nations communities. The remaining $416 million will be delivered by Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada.

Budget 2016 also includes a further $10 million to be provided over three years and delivered by CMHC to support the renovation and construction of shelters for victims of family violence in First Nations communities. Northern residents will also benefit from other Budget 2016 investments in housing that are of a broader national application.

For example, federal funding under the Investment in Affordable Housing will be doubled over the next two years. This amounts to more than $504 million in additional federal funding, which will be matched by the provinces and territories and used by them to deliver a range of housing programs from new construction and renovation to rent subsidies and shelters.

As well, $574 million will be provided over two years for the renovation and energy and water efficiency retrofit of existing social housing units across Canada. More than $200 million will also be invested in affordable housing for low- income seniors, and close to $90 million will be provided for the construction or renovation of shelter spaces off-reserve for victims of family violence.

I also want to mention two additional initiatives in Budget 2016 that are designed to encourage the development of affordable rental housing across Canada, including in the North. The Affordable Rental Housing Innovation Fund will invest $208 million over five years to test innovative financing, operating and partnership approaches to lower the costs and risks of financing for affordable rental housing projects. This fund will be administered by CMHC. CMHC will also consult with stakeholders on the design of an affordable rental housing financing initiative, which will provide up to $2.5 billion in low-cost loans over five years to municipalities and housing developers during the earliest phases of the development.

The housing investments announced in Budget 2016 will address the most pressing needs, while spurring short-term economic growth. For the longer term, the government is committed to developing a comprehensive national strategy that will promote innovative approaches to the housing challenges and opportunities that exist across the country. The strategy will inform the next phase of investments under the social infrastructure fund.

Supported by CMHC, the government will soon consult with provinces, territories, municipalities, indigenous people and other stakeholders to identify innovative, long-term solutions to current and future housing challenges.

The strategy will cover the entire housing continuum, from homelessness to market housing, and will include a range of policy and program responses that recognize the diversity of housing needs across Canada.

We recognize that the opportunities and challenges for housing in the North and in Indigenous communities warrant tailored approaches and separate consultations that are integrated into the overall national strategy. CMHC is working closely with INAC in this regard.

More details on the national housing strategy consultations will be announced in the near future.


Again, I want to thank the committee for the opportunity to be here. I would be pleased to answer any questions you may have at this time.


The Chair: Thank you. We will now have questions from the senators, starting with our deputy chair, Senator Patterson.

Senator Patterson: Welcome back to our committee. You have been here before, and we're delighted that you're back again now that our study is well advanced.

I'd like to ask Mr. MacArthur, representing CMHC, a question. We're very sensitive that we are a federal parliamentary committee and that our advice is to the federal government, to CMHC and Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada. We can't advise the territorial governments, which deliver housing programs in my region and the other territories, how they should deliver those programs.

One thing I'm really curious about is this: When you transfer money to the Northwest Territories or to Nunavut — I'll speak about territories, but it also goes to provinces, as the recent budget spelled out — is this money transferred without conditions and basically at the discretion of the territory as to how it is spent, or do you have a relationship with the territories such that you can influence important issues that we've uncovered, such as innovative approaches to ways of supporting home ownership?

We'll be making our recommendations to the federal government because we're a federal parliamentary committee. Does the money go to the territories and provinces where Inuit live without conditions, or do you people have some influence over how it's spent? This is all about getting value for money. This is taxpayers' money. We want to ensure it's well spent. That's my question.

Mr. MacArthur: I'll answer a couple of things. There is a framework, where all provinces and territories agree to four broad categories of spending: new construction, renovation, affordability, which can take two forms — rent supplements for folks or home ownership — and special needs. That could be seniors or folks with disabilities and the like.

Within those broad categories, that's where the spending can take place. Then, the provinces and territories are responsible for the design of the individual programs within that broad framework, and they can't go outside of that framework. That's where the money must be spent. But, as you can imagine, the needs in the Northwest Territories are different than the needs in Nova Scotia, so they would have the flexibility, locally, to adapt the programs for their local needs and to determine where the money, within those categories, is spent.

We have an accountability framework, so we get claims from the provinces and the territories, at a project level, except for one category, which is the rent supplements that go to individuals and the like. We get that at a program level. It's audited, so we have good controls to ensure that the money is spent as it's meant to be. We will be evaluating the program in the very near future. We have those controls. That's that program.

We also, as indicated, have the responsibility to administer an innovation fund, going forward, that we're working on the details of at the moment. We will be able to look at innovative and creative solutions. We have strong and ongoing working relationships with the provinces and territories. We do research. My colleague in the bench is there. We do research, in a cooperative way, to try and identify solutions to some of the challenges, be that humidity in homes and how we could make better heat recovery ventilators or how to make them work better and the like. We do do that.

We have broad categories, and the decision, the design and the delivery is by our provincial and territorial partner.

Senator Patterson: Okay. I think I understand your answer, that they do basically determine how that money is spent, within those frameworks.

Mr. MacArthur: Yes.

Senator Patterson: I'd like to ask another question about the Affordable Rental Housing Innovation Fund, if I may, Madam Chair. One thing we've learned, in looking at the situation of Inuit housing in the Inuit regions, is that home ownership, as we know it, has been a real challenge, a real struggle. It's the high costs of construction and the high costs of maintenance. I will say, frankly, that I felt that the Nunavut Housing Corporation was kind of discouraging about the potential for home ownership to wean social housing tenants away from ongoing dependence on the government and on your declining O&M funding programs.

One of the things we've been hearing is that maybe we have to think outside the box. One of the options that seem to be floating in Inuit communities is co-op housing, where there would be kind of a collective ownership and a collective responsibility for collecting rents and maintenance and that kind of thing. Our committee is still formulating its recommendations. I don't want to pre-judge what we're going to recommend, but I'd like to ask about co-op housing. Does CMHC have a co-op housing program? Could it work in the North, where people have kind of a more collective approach, sometimes, to issues, even ownership? Will this Affordable Rental Housing Innovation Fund consider new approaches like co-op housing, which really hasn't been done much in the North?

As an MLA in the territorial assembly, I was involved with a very successful co-op housing project in Iqaluit, but I remember, at that time, being told, "We don't do this program north of 60. The guidelines have to be adjusted because costs are so different from Southern Canada.'' It was kind of seen as a real aberration, which I've fought hard to implement.

I'd like to ask you about that. Is this fund going to allow you to explore new approaches? I don't mean to make a speech, Madam Chair, but we can't build enough houses in the North, even with the generous capital contributions that were announced in the recent budget. And even if we build the houses, we can't afford to maintain them, so something has to change.

Tell us more about this innovation fund. Will it look at co-op housing and different approaches to make things more sustainable?

Mr. MacArthur: Absolutely. It's a fund, not a program. We're looking at ways that we can seed and invest in unique ways in moving forward that may not have been tried in certain areas in the past.

We are looking at what the things are that are going to work in a particular area. If there's a community or a collective approach to housing that would work in the North, we would be most interested in listening to the proponents. Like I say, we will be announcing the guidelines of this in the coming months and the like. But we would be in a position to work not only with sophisticated players who can come forward but also with those who need the help to work and refine their programs or approach.

These would be the kind of things we would be interested in looking at.

We don't have strict parameters; we will have principles and controls in place, absolutely. But we are looking at things that we can test and try so that we can help a community or a proponent get off the ground and look at things differently.

New approaches — we need to be informed by the past. We've done co-op housing. We haven't done any new loans since 1993 — decisions that were made by the government. So we do have experience of how those work that could help us inform proponents in the North, if that was an idea that was brought forward.

We will be out in all regions and all areas of the country promoting this to make sure we've got a good diversity of ideas that come through the door.

Senator Watt: First of all, welcome again. Nice to see you all. Just to carry on the point that the senators before me have highlighted: innovative ideas. I'd like to try to see if I come up with a possible solution that might be doable. I want to see if it fits into your program. I'm basically talking to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

If an individual Inuk decided to come up with an innovative idea of providing for his own needs — I call it "Inuit technology'' in a similar sense, in the way that they can build a snow house. I'm not talking about the snow now; I'm talking about completely away from the snow, but it's a similar type — dome houses, for example.

If an individual person came up with the innovative idea that he knows will cost a lot less than it normally costs, and he might come to the conclusion that "this is the only way I'm going to be able to keep myself alive,'' to survive because of economic conditions of the North and things of that nature, can he be eligible to access the program, whether from Indigenous Affairs or from the CMHC? Is that a possibility? An innovative idea — if someone came up with it, is it possible they could have assistance from the government in terms of subsidies and things of that nature?

Mr. MacArthur: If an individual had an interesting idea that might go forward to solve not only for themselves but in the community or that other individuals might see that as a path forward and a viable option, we're not closed to it. That's why it's a fund, not a program: We don't want to have parameters around it saying that this is all it can do.

We're interested in finding those unique solutions, and those could come from anywhere. Those could come from individuals; they could come from groups that have been thinking about things for a long time. It could come from anywhere and anything.

We're really interested in what's different: How can we do it differently? How can we adapt something to the environment broadly and replicate it?

As I said, we're designing it as we speak, so we're rushing forward with it. We'll know what that's going to be, but the idea is for us to be able to look at unique, innovative solutions that, if they're working, we could say, "Okay, here is one that works. How can we now replicate that and where do we go with that?''

Senator Watt: In other words, you would be prepared to accept a proposal — at least take a look at it and see what it means?

Mr. MacArthur: Absolutely.

Senator Watt: If it seems to have a life down the road, not only for that person's interest but to apply to a larger area — an open space — you would welcome that idea?

Mr. MacArthur: Absolutely, senator, yes.

Senator Watt: That's nice to hear. There are a lot of individual people up there, as you know, who are struggling, living in crowded houses and trying to find a way to rectify that matter. It's not only causing them a headache but costing them life, also. There is so much suicide among the people, and the health aspects are not getting any better, either, so we have to do something quickly.

Mr. MacArthur: Yes.

Senator Watt: I don't think the Government of Canada is going to come up with the massive dollars that are going to answer the needs immediately, because its' a huge amount of dollars that is needed. The way it is being treated, it's not getting any better; it's getting worse and worse every year.

Again, a complement to the first question he asked whether there are strings attached — the money that is coming from the federal government to the province and the territories. I would like to talk a little bit about that, not only the fact that the money departed from the federal government to the province or territory, but when the money departs from the province or territory, are there any strings attached at the lower level in terms of holding back, let's say, a certain amount of dollars that might be identified or allowed to certain regions? Is there a holdback, or are there reasons why there is a holdback? Do you know that we're getting our money's worth in terms of the federal government that will have to be transferred from the provincial down to the grassroots level? How does that work?

Carla Staresina, Vice President, Affordable Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: We did look at admin fees with all our agreements, and in all the North, overall, none of the admin fees for any of the agreements was over 4.3 per cent. So of the four Inuit regions and three territories, our admin fees range from 0 per cent — they did it within their own resources — to 4 per cent.

Senator Watt: That's the administrative fee — 4 per cent?

Ms. Staresina: Yes.

Senator Watt: So that would be on the territory or just provincial?

Ms. Staresina: Provincial. They are taking our money. When we targeted money to victims of family violence, they've used that whole money — that entire budget — for that program.

Mr. MacArthur: If I might add to that. With regard to it, we pay on claims. Do we hold it back? We don't put the money out up front. The money is put out after. We've committed the money, and then they claim the money from us after they've made the commitment to the individual. They say, "We've made the commitment. They're doing the construction; the renovation or the rent is up'' and they claim it after they put it in place.

Senator Watt: In other words, after they spend the amount of money they have?

Mr. MacArthur: Yes. After they commit it and they're under construction, they're doing the work and the like. So it's not a transfer, as such. They have to claim. They have to come and say that they're building an affordable apartment in Iqaluit or Cape Dorset or wherever, and they're in construction. It's this much, and we're working with this group. Then the territory would manage the cash flow out to the proponent.

Senator Watt: Okay. What kind of a deal can the contractors themselves make with the municipal authority allowing them to do the construction work? I imagine that getting the contract from either the minister or the housing authority at the community level, and so on, would have to take place, correct?

Mr. MacArthur: It would be different in each place, but the municipality might be responsible, for example, for providing the land.

Senator Watt: Then does the municipality or any housing authorities that have the right to pay the money to the construction company — from time to time, I know for a fact that they hold back a certain amount before the construction is finished. It's a lot of time; they end up having taken a shortcut and they have to negotiate with the community authorities to try to rectify that matter. How do you deal with that?

Mr. MacArthur: It would be our partner. For example, the housing corporation would contract to have the construction done, and they would be responsible for ensuring that it's built according to —

Senator Watt: The contract.

Mr. MacArthur: — according to the contract, the plans and the like. They're on the ground, and it would be up to them to make sure that they didn't flow the money out before they're satisfied that it's been built according to the contract.

Senator Watt: It is only after the inspector comes in to inspect the site and the construction site that they let go. In other words, they make the payment. Is that what you're telling me?

Mr. MacArthur: I wouldn't know how it works in each province, but the provinces and the territories, according to our law in Canada, are the ones responsible for enforcing the building codes and the like. It's like any of us: Before the money flows, you need to get an occupancy permit. That's sort of the final sign-off, and the like.

Senator Watt: Just one more.

The Chair: A short question.

Senator Watt: I'm trying to get to the bottom of the biggest problem here, and if we don't know that, we don't know how to make recommendations.

With regard to the contractor that has a contract with a community and has to put up X number of houses, after the construction is done, even during the construction period, you should have an inspector on site, which doesn't happen very often. Also, they should be examining the quality of material that is being brought in and is used for construction, at times, because the contractor notices it's going to end up costing them a hell of a lot of money and they try to find a way to take a shortcut.

On account of that factor, sometimes we end up with a very low quality of materials, and then we start having problems, and before the 15 years is up, you have to renovate those houses again.

This is an ongoing problem in the North. I wanted to point that out. I'm not saying I do have a solution, but I'm saying the Department of Indigenous and Northern Affairs and, probably, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation should have closer ties with the people actually administering it at the community level so that they would know exactly what is happening with regard to the construction itself.

Senator Raine: If you don't mind, I'm going to change the subject a little bit. I presume all of you have visited the North, and Nunavut, and you have seen the condition of some of the houses and the tragic overcrowding that's happening, which is creating a lot of social problems.

We spoke to one young person who said they graduated from high school. We asked him how he managed to do that, and he said it was because he had his own bedroom. The family situation was such that he had his own bedroom, which was rare.

We've heard so many things; it's really been something. But the thing that really stunned me and that I need an explanation on is that, in Nunavik, where it is part of Quebec, it appears that the funding flows through Quebec social housing policies into Nunavik, and it is different from other Inuit housing situations.

We heard of young people who had gone out and gotten a university education, were qualified to be a nurse, teacher or whatever it was, applied and got the job. But when they got there, they found they didn't qualify for staff housing because they were from there, they weren't from the South. It seems to me that policy, somehow, was put in place by Quebec's — I don't know how it went. To me it seemed completely illogical and wrong. You want to have policies that encourage people that the best way to get high up on the house or on the social housing list is to get an education, get a job and do those things.

But it appeared to us that it was the reverse. I don't know how this is working, but when you go higher up the list for not completing your education and for having children very early, and those who complete their educations can't even make it up the list, something is wrong.

How does the housing list work for Nunavik? How is that controlled?

Mr. Van Dine: I'll attempt to respond to some of those dimensions, senator. Thank you very much for the question.

There are, as was pointed out by our colleagues, arrangements in each jurisdiction with the province for the receipt of the funding through the funding parameters that have been inscribed by CMHC in the delivery and provision.

I think what you've been referring to are a couple of different types of housing. Certainly, in the case of the federal government in Nunavut, we offer federal Crown housing to federal employees, whether or not they're Inuit beneficiaries; as long as they're federal employees living in Nunavut, they're eligible for Crown housing.

In a lot of cases, people are making employment choices based on housing as an incentive to work with the Government of Canada.

In the cases of provinces that are offering a housing benefit in a remote setting, they, too, may have their own programs to entice qualified people to work in terms of how they distribute that benefit to employees in their eligibility requirement. That would be for each jurisdiction to decide for itself, on a case-by-case basis, how they're going to provide a housing benefit for people living in a remote setting.

With respect to the social housing in Nunatsiavut and Nunavik, there are relationships in the case of the province of Quebec. I'm now venturing a little further away from my day-to-day vocation in this area, but I will say that there are arrangements with the province to assure that there is a social benefit to all citizens within the province. As a result, we have heard from Inuit regions that they're of the view that they don't believe that they're receiving their share of the social housing benefit and therefore have advocated for specific funding for Inuit social housing needs.

The government has heard that message and in Budget 2016 has set aside specific dollars for Inuit regions for Inuit housing, and my colleagues at CMHC are now working closely with the territorial and provincial governments on how to ensure that those dollars go to those purposes. There is an incremental addition to address the urgent housing needs in those areas.

Senator Raine: Could I perhaps ask a question of Mr. MacDonald? You're Director General of the Implementation Branch, Treaties and Aboriginal Government. You must be aware of the James Bay treaty and the stipulations in it for housing.

Are you satisfied that the obligations that we, as Canadians, have in that treaty are being met, and in Nunatsiavut as well?

Allan MacDonald, Director General, Implementation Branch, Treaties and Aboriginal Government, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada: There are a couple of things to mention in the context of treaty implementation across the North. All of our treaties are very different from one another. They all have different provisions with respect to housing.

With respect to the community you mentioned in Nunavik, we do have specific treaty obligations to fund housing up there, and we do have an existing arrangement with Makivik and the Kativik regional housing up there. They are doing a good job delivering housing, and then I think another key factor in determining how and what the actual affordable housing gets spent on the ground up there.

With respect to Nunatsiavut, the Inuit territory in Labrador, as part of their self-government agreement we have a large fiscal financing arrangement with them where we flow all kinds of funding to them. They made the internal decision to allocate a certain percentage of that money to housing, and they have their own particular housing corporation up there, which serves to buttress the other investments that come from the province and territories.

Senator Raine: It's pretty obvious that there isn't enough housing. Did the treaty not foresee the population growth? How is it that we're falling so far behind in the provision of housing? Most people feel it is their right to receive housing.

Mr. MacDonald: It really depends on the treaty that you're looking at. Absolutely in the context of Nunavut there are specific obligations for housing. There aren't specific obligations with respect to housing in many if any of the other treaties in the North.

We fund housing through a variety of other means. My colleagues have talked about some of those, and that's how we allocate and distribute funding in the North. It's not always a treaty-specific mechanism that we can use to support affordable housing.

The Chair: I want to ask a supplementary on the question just before the last one that Senator Raine posed. I'm getting a little confused here. When you were talking about the transfer of dollars and treaty obligations, I believe you mentioned the Nunatsiavut region. They were here as witnesses last week and indicated to us that within their modern treaty there was a provision that any money for housing should come to the Nunatsiavut government directly and not flow through the Newfoundland and Labrador government. So they would say that the money that's being directed should come to them directly; otherwise, you're contravening the treaty.

Is the money going to the Newfoundland and Labrador government from the federal government, or is it going to the Nunatsiavut government?

Ms. Staresina: I can answer that right now. As you're aware, the Government of Canada announced the funding in Budget 2016, and they did that for two reasons: to start addressing the need for affordable housing immediately and to draw short-term economic growth. So the IAH, Investment in Affordable Housing, with those existing 13 agreements, was chosen because it's proven to be flexible and adjustable, but it's very short-term, and we're looking through that national housing strategy and with our colleagues to see if in the longer or medium term there's another solution, and so that will be explored. But for the short term immediately, it will be driving through the provinces and territories.

The Chair: I don't think you answered my question. Senator Moore, maybe you can ask it.

Senator Moore: Yes. We had an elder here from the Inuit community last week. After 19 years of negotiating they arrived at an agreement with Canada, and the monies for housing go directly to them. They didn't sign an agreement with anybody else to change that agreement after that 19 years was concluded, so why is this money not going to them directly?

Does anyone want to answer that?

Ms. Staresina: I can say right now the way we were directed in the budget was to go through the existing mechanisms we have at CMHC, which is the 13 jurisdictions through the provinces and territories.

Senator Moore: Before you decided that, did you sit down with the elders in the community and discuss that and acknowledge their rights, or were you just carrying on the same old way?

This is so bloody upsetting, I want tell you. I read this stuff here. "We're going to talk about it, we're going to talk to the stakeholders, soon we're going to consult.'' What is this? How long has CMHC been in existence and Indigenous and Northern Affairs? How long have you been in existence?

You don't have those numbers now? You don't know where you're going by now? I mean, really, if this were the private sector it would be a God damn insult. It's terrible; just terrible. Those people who deserve the money, you should be giving it to them, and nobody should be skimming 4.3 per cent, either.

It's terrible. I don't understand it. It's just beyond me. "Soon consult.'' What does that mean?

"All the national housing . . . will be honoured in the near future.'' What is that? We know what the needs are. If you talk to the people and go visit them in the North, you'll know what their needs are.

"Innovative financing.'' All you've got to do is get up there and talk to those people. They know what's needed, and they can do it.

The Chair: As a supplementary question, Senator Moore does clearly point out that both of you from INAC and from CMHC have mentioned that you will consult with the Inuit. Mr. Van Dine, you say, "we're making efforts to engage with Inuit on Budget 2016 housing delivery.'' And in the CMHC presentation it says "the government will soon consult.''

When is this going happen? When and how? We think it should have happened before. If they could have a response, then I think Senator Watt wanted to follow up.

Mr. MacArthur: Thank you. There are two parts. One was to put urgent funding into the system because of recognition of the need that was there. There was $2.3 billion invested quickly to make it flow fast because of the recognition that there is significant need out there and we had mechanisms that were proven.

In the medium term it is the national housing strategy so that the insights of all the folks — and acknowledging that we have been in the North, we have folks who work there, and we understand the horrible situation on the ground. It's not lost on us. We really understand that, and we're deploying the tools we have as efficiently and as effectively as we can and trying to maximize the outcomes. And we know there's urgency in the need. We had tools that could deploy the interim or the short-term funding quickly and get it out in this construction season.

The Chair: Any other comments? Mr. Van Dine?

Senator Raine: I have a point of verification.

The Chair: Senator Raine, I think Mr. Van Dine wanted to comment first.

Senator Raine: Yes. Go ahead.

Mr. Van Dine: Thank you, Madam Chair. I'll approach this slightly differently, just in hopes of helping to clarify the intent and the approach and trying to disentangle the implementation choices and some of the goals that have been set in Budget 2016.

The need for an immediate influx of cash to enable an increase in the number of houses to be built in Inuit regions was made very clear to the government in preparation of Budget 2016. In the implementation of that funding to deal with the urgent and immediate needs to deal with some of the social questions that have been raised around housing shortages, the instrument choice that was taken to be the most expedient in order to get shovels in the ground as quickly as possible was the mechanism that my colleagues at CMHC described with provinces and territories.

I don't need to tell senators about the budget process. You're very much familiar with the budget process and where that brings us into the construction. The sealift season in remote settings requires that decisions need to be made quickly if we're going to be making available time-limited dollars. And those time-limited dollars are in fact time- limited.

To try to address the limitations of that approach, my colleagues, based on some work we have done collaboratively with them, have committed to undertaking a significant engagement exercise to say that over the medium and long term, a better approach needs to be found to deliver and respond to the ongoing structural needs for housing in Inuit communities. That was the compromise that was determined through the Budget 2016 process, on the one hand, to get a large infusion of dollars out the door quickly to address urgent needs in the short term and, in the medium term, undertake those conversations that I understand from the comments made and questions posed by many members would see Inuit taking greater control and greater hands-on approaches to solving their urgent and structural housing needs.

Senator Watt: I realize there are limited things you can do as administrators. I think, at times, as a committee we touch upon political issues, which should be taken up at a higher level. I think we understand that. I think all of us do.

Where we need some direction from you is on problem areas that you find that need to be focused on, and I think you have. I think we are sharing that information, and I appreciate that.

This is something that we will have to wrestle with as committee members, whether we have to elevate it to a higher level to deal with the issue that my friend Senator Moore was talking about. The communities are suffering, and we all know that and you know that.

How quickly can we elevate this matter and rectify it? I don't think there is a quick solution on this issue, but it would be helpful if you could help us to identify certain areas that from time to time we highlight that make you feel uncomfortable. It also makes us feel uncomfortable. Give us directions as to where we should go with those issues we bring up from time to time.

Having said that, I would like to turn my attention, Madam Chair, to the person who coordinates the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement. I guess this is Mr. MacDonald's responsibility.

When I was listening to what your role is and what you are capable of in terms of the mandate that has been given to you, I understand that. But at the same time, I think we should start off with the amending formula that was negotiated back in 1972 leading up to 1975. Not very often do I hear the administrators, the government side, the people from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada mention that amending formula. How is that amending formula arrived at? You have to set up a tripartite committee, which we did in the early years, and I don't even know if that tripartite committee exists today. That is for the provincial government, the Inuit and the federal government to sit down and figure out how the money will happen. We never got to that point.

I know for a fact that the Grand Council of the Crees has taken the matter to court, and there was litigation on it. I don't think they really rectified in terms of what it should be, but in return they got compensation for something like $7 million on account of the fact that there was a breach of the agreement and a delivery mechanism was never fully utilized. I think you should go back to that issue to study it and see whether there is a need for modification or whether what was negotiated before is still workable.

What makes it difficult for us is that we entered into negotiations with the Crown. We arrived at the conclusion that we have a treaty. If it will be left up to the administrators to alter that any time they want, that's not why we entered into negotiations with the Crown. I just wanted to mention that. Thank you.

The Chair: Do you have a question with that?

Senator Watt: No, I don't have any questions because I've asked many persons many times in the past. I don't have an answer.

Senator Raine: During the committee's visit to Nunavut, several witnesses said that CMHC's Investment in Affordable Housing initiative requires that the housing corporation set public housing rent as a percentage of the principal tenant's income. Witnesses said this serves as a disincentive for social housing tenants to work because if they earn more income, their rent goes up.

How do you address concerns like that? What are the rent-setting requirements under the Affordable Housing Initiative? Do the local agencies have flexibility in how they set their rents? The situations are different in the small communities such as Iqaluit. I'd just like some comments on that.

Ms. Staresina: For the Investment in Affordable Housing and the rules around that, it is left to each province and territory to set those rules on who goes into social housing and what those rent limits are. In some jurisdictions, it may be 30 per cent, in some it may be 25 per cent, and it may vary. But under older programs that CMHC may have delivered directly, we would have set those rules, but that's a misconception now. It's left to each jurisdiction to set.

Senator Raine: That's good to hear; great. When it comes to the design and construction of housing, that is also, I believe, left to the local authorities. They're in charge of those designs?

Ms. Staresina: Absolutely.

Senator Raine: Does CMHC have any role to play in design? Or is that completely left to the local agencies?

Mr. MacArthur: It would be left to the local agencies. The role we would play is on the research end of our business. We are involved in northern communities with demonstration homes trying to prove different concepts in the idea, but the design is left to the local jurisdiction.

Senator Raine: Has it always been that way, or has that also evolved?

Ms. Staresina: It has evolved.

Mr. MacArthur: Oh, my gosh. Within my memory, we may have, when we were directly building houses and were involved. We may have years ago, but I'm not sure. I believe it has been for many years the responsibility of the provinces and territories. I'll check for sure.

Senator Raine: Okay. Obviously, when you build a house it's in everybody's interest that the house is properly maintained and looked after, because if they don't last, it just adds to the issues.

There is a program where the contribution for the maintenance of the housing is now decreasing. I don't see any source of funding without federal help to pick up that cost, and I'm afraid that this will contribute to declining quality of the housing stock. Are you concerned about that at all? Perhaps Senator Patterson might want to comment on that because there seems to be a shortfall in budgets for some of the territories in terms of the O&M.

Mr. MacArthur: We're very aware. The territories have raised the issue of operating and maintenance budgets and the declining amounts. We haven't entered into new agreements since 1993, and the government policy was to sign social housing agreements.

There are a variety of things within the social housing agreements. They're not all subsidies. Some of them are a buy down of interest rates as opposed to the operating. It is declining. I'm sure we will hear that raised in the national housing strategy consultations. The government in the interim did put $574 million over two years to address the most pressing needs into the renovation and retrofit of social housing. It's money to address the immediate urgencies while the broader national consultation unfolds. That will give us a path forward.

Senator Raine: It is interesting when you look at the numbers that you're quoting. The government's social infrastructure fund includes $2.3 billion over two years. I don't know why they don't just say $1.15 billion, because the numbers are all over two years.

Wouldn't it be possible to have core funding so that you don't have to keep going back and renegotiating? Money you can count on and plan ahead until such time as they catch up to national standards, then you can re-evaluate it. Are these numbers always up for renegotiation?

Mr. MacArthur: At the time we signed the social housing agreements, there was a known funding stream over the period of time for each of the programs, depending on what the program was. When we signed that out to 2038, that stream is known. As the agreements end, the funding stops. We're required to go back on an annual basis for appropriations and approval of our budgets, so it's done on an annual basis.

Senator Raine: But it's pretty automatic, subject to obviously the audits, right?

Mr. MacArthur: Yes.

Senator Raine: When you see that that's not enough money to keep up to the demand, then you go in and ask for another chunk that also runs out to 2038?

Mr. MacArthur: Depending on the will of Parliament and the priorities of Parliament and the direction, we get our appropriations and then we try to maximize those appropriations. Social housing is a contractual obligation, so we don't have the flexibility to increase that on an ongoing basis.

Senator Raine: Thank you.

Senator Beyak: My apologies for being late. Thank you for your presentations. We had Royal Assent in the Senate. Some of us had to stay.

My question is very practical. I'm a real estate broker of 35 years. I retired about 10 years ago. There are beautiful homes all throughout the North in Nunavik, Iqaluit, everywhere for the general population, and beautiful government homes that are well maintained and well built. What would be your expert opinions on why we can't do that for Aboriginal people? They're beautiful.

I still do real estate online across Canada. They're well built and to standard and to code. Why can't we get those same standards for Aboriginal people? Is it funding? What do you think, in your expert opinions?

Mr. MacArthur: Our social housing on-reserve represents plus or minus 24 per cent of the stock that's out there. When we do it, we make sure that at the time of handover it has been built to the National Building Code, but then we run into things.

I was in Ahousaht, a First Nation community, a few weeks ago. The vice chief was talking to me and she said her home had multi-generations. The challenges on-reserve are often broader than the physical unit. At my house right now there's nobody. This young lady was telling me that there are multiple generations there. They're cooking, showering, using the house. There are economic challenges, employment challenges, so it makes the utilization of the physical unit different than in other communities. There are deep-rooted issues. We need to do better. We absolutely need to do better. These are Canadians that need the best that we can do so that they can do for themselves.

It makes me cry when I go to a First Nation community. When I go to Iqaluit and I see the price of a house, and I see what income is, it's difficult to make the math work. It is a challenge. We have the tools. We try to squeeze as much as we can out of the tools that we have. It's difficult. It's by no means lost on us.

I grew up very poor, and I know what a new window will do when the ice is not on it. I know that makes a difference. Maybe it's warm enough to study. I grew up without indoor plumbing. I feel it deeply. I work for this organization because there are many people who feel that deep need to make a difference. My heart is on my sleeve. We need to do better as a country.

The Chair: Senator Raine, did you have a supplementary?

Senator Raine: Well, it's not really a supplementary, but it follows along. Obviously we all want to do more. That means more money. We are also very cognizant of the fact that tax dollars are scarce and there are lots of needs.

I think we should go to the public and set up a Canada Savings Bond, a housing for the North bond. You can buy that bond as a person who cares and get a guaranteed return on it where it's backed by the government, just like a Canada Savings Bond, but it's targeted specifically to Inuit housing. We're looking right now at Inuit housing, not First Nations. In many ways the challenges are the same, but they are also different.

First of all, when you put your money in the bank now, you get just about nothing. I would put all my savings into a bond like that if I knew that was going to help us solve the housing problem faster. Is that possible?

There are Indian tribes in the U.S. that are doing this quite successfully to get non-taxpayer money into housing. Do you think this could happen? If it could, do we have the right administrative setup in CMHC? They do a great job, but would it work? Could you be one of the partners in that operation? Obviously you need to have controls.

Mr. MacArthur: Earlier we talked about the innovation fund. What's the innovative financing? It's not a program. We're looking for those good ideas that come forward and become bigger.

Yes, we do have expertise in bonds and insurance and those sorts of things, so I'm not sure. Of course we would do whatever the will of the government is, but we do have mechanisms for the commercial side of our business. How can we learn from that and take some of those over to the social side of our business? I think about the affordable lending program. There are some successful operations in the North, such as Northern Property — and they been successful in building rental housing in the North. We've got programs that bring in private dollars because an investment is made. It's leveraging the private dollars. We're building a program that will look at market housing in an innovative way, so there are maybe some lending opportunities.

We need to get creative, we need to be innovative, and we need to be open to listening. We have been formed by the past but not bound by it.

The Chair: Senator Raine, would you go on second round, please? Senator Oh is waiting.

Senator Oh: I follow my colleagues who have clearly illustrated that there are serious problems up North with housing. Obviously, you know the market conditions, the supply and demand, application for housing needs and the return on investment. What is the problem? How many units have you completed in the last few years up North?

Mr. MacArthur: I have that here somewhere.

Ms. Staresina: Starting with the Investment in Affordable Housing in the Yukon, the number I have is from 2011 to 2016. If you want it broken down, we can provide it to you year by year, but in the Yukon we constructed 124 units, and we renovated 269.

Senator Oh: From 2011 to 2016?

Ms. Staresina: That's through Investment in Affordable Housing.

Senator Oh: Only 124 units?

Ms. Staresina: Yes, new units. That doesn't take into account those households that might have been helped through a rent supplement or home ownership. That's just new construction that that territory would have done. Renovation was over 200.

For N.W.T., they only constructed 27 new units, but they did renovations on 650 units. So they used their money for renovations. They also had a big program on rent supplement and shelters. They also did some construction on accommodations for victims of family violence and renovated a lot of units for victims of family violence as well.

Senator Oh: You're using a lot of your funding for renovation, but there is a big demand for putting in new units. Why?

Ms. Staresina: We would direct our money to the province or territory. They match that money under this program, and then they design and deliver the programs that meet their needs. They are the ones that would decide.

Senator Oh: The province decides whether to build new units or renovate the old units?

Ms. Staresina: Yes.

Senator Oh: In that case demand is constantly there. You cannot meet up with the demand required by the local folks.

Ms. Staresina: Yes.

Senator Oh: So you are falling further and further behind?

Ms. Staresina: Yes.

Senator Patterson: I think Senator Oh has asked a good question. We're nearing the end of our study, and we're hoping to prepare a report with recommendations to the government in the fall.

I don't expect the answer tonight, but could I ask Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and CMHC to tell us what has been contributed to housing in the Inuit regions — that's Nunatsiavut, Nunavut, Nunavik and the Northwest Territories — through the territorial governments and the provincial governments over the last five years by Canada through CMHC and INAC, and what has been the product? How many houses have been built and how many houses have been renovated?

Senator Watt: And the cost.

Senator Patterson: I hope that's a doable assignment. I think that's what Senator Oh was getting at. If we could get the numbers for five years, I think it would be a useful way for us to assess the money-for-value proposition that we should care about and taxpayers should care about.

If I'm not getting too ambitious here, there's also the O&M piece. What has been contributed to the operations costs and maintenance of those homes? I think that would be exclusively CMHC, if I'm right. What has been contributed for O&M for those towards housing in those five years? I think that would be useful information for us to have as we prepare our report on housing in the regions. Can that be done?

Mr. MacArthur: Absolutely. I won't read the last one you have; I've written it down here. We'll put in a coherent package for you.

The Chair: We'll move to second round now.

Senator Patterson: Let me be very clear and specific, because there are answers that we need tonight, and we're very grateful that you folks are here again.

I think the federal budget was a budget like none other with respect to housing. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I've been around for a while and I've been watching these budgets and looking at housing closely. For the first time the budget said: "Government has set aside dollars for Inuit housing in Inuit regions.'' That got our attention. If we were really vainglorious, we would say, "My goodness, they anticipated our study,'' because that's what we were looking at in our housing study.

This budget came out and said "Inuit housing in Inuit regions.'' Of course, it got the attention of the Inuit organizations in those regions, specifically the Makivik Corporation and the Nunatsiavut government and also the Inuvialuit, all of whom have made presentations before this committee.

Is this a different description of the federal contribution than we've had before? Am I right about that? Has it ever been described that way before?

Ms. Staresina: Most definitely different than ever described before. In a previous budget, we had housing that went to Nunavut to meet the needs in that particular territory and the demand a few years ago, but we've never seen it described or laid out in the budget as it was this time.

Senator Patterson: Okay. Now here is the second part of my question. I think we've flirted with this a bit and skated around it a bit, but I want to try to be very clear.

We were in Kuujjuaq; we met all the key players. They said, "We have a construction corporation under Makivik. It is a non-profit corporation. We are convinced that it has credibility with the community and that they've had input into the design. They have smart strategies. They bring the materials up in the summer and then build in the spring instead of trying to do it all in a frantic season before the snow falls.'' That was one example.

Then they said, "When the money goes through the Government of Quebec, there's leakage, administrative costs and we just don't realize the efficiencies. The money should go to us. We can handle it. We know what we're doing. This money for Nunavik — and there's $50 million for the next few years — should go to us.'' It was the same thing in Nunatsiavut. It was a clear message. We were told clear evidence.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador doesn't even have a presence in Labrador. It's all administered out of St. John's. The Nunatsiavut government has some great new partnerships. They've got Memorial University helping them with a sustainable housing initiative. They've designed a prototype sustainable house that actually faces south — compared to many units that we saw are fighting the north wind — and it has a cold place underneath for meat and skins, and it's a multiplex, which allows economies of scale. They are figuring out that you can't build on permafrost, and they're mapping their communities so that they build on firm ground.

They're saying Canada shouldn't filter the money through Newfoundland and Labrador. When it goes through the provincial government, it gets dissipated and sometimes they don't even see it.

Senator Moore, you will help me, but one of the Nunatsiavut leaders had done an analysis, and he said that in the last 60 years $400 million has been sent by Canada for housing in our region.

Senator Moore: Nineteen units, wasn't it?

Senator Patterson: We got 50 units in 60 years. It was one unit a year, as I recall. We don't need to get into the details.

You've just said that provinces are claiming up to 4.3 per cent administration. That is $7.6 million on $178 million that is in the forthcoming budget. It seems like a lot of money to me.

Senator Moore: It is a lot of money.

Senator Patterson: And the Inuit in those regions would say that sometimes the money doesn't get to their region; it goes to other provincial priorities.

And our committee wrote a letter to the minister who is responsible for CMHC. Am I right, Madam Chair?

The Chair: Yes.

Senator Patterson: Our committee wrote to the minister for CMHC asking them to consider urgently transferring the money directly, because April 1 was the new budget, and we're convinced that because you've said Inuit housing in Inuit regions and because these people have got their act together in Nunavik — we didn't say Nunatsiavut; I think we're going to write another letter on that issue shortly — would you consider transferring the money directly? Are you aware of that recommendation and can that happen? When you put Inuit housing for Inuit regions in the budget, expectations are that there is going to be a better way of doing things.

We even have some indication that the Government of Quebec would not be opposed to that. I don't dare speak for them, but they were involved in a tripartite study in Nunavik that we were told about, and they apparently endorsed that idea and blessed the good work that the Makivik Corporation is doing.

I was hoping tonight we'd get a clear answer on that.

Mr. Van Dine: Thank you for the question, senators.

As my colleagues have pointed out, there's no doubt been a significant shift in the language used in Budget 2016 to describe how the government intends to approach Inuit housing.

The timing of your study of this matter is excellent in terms of being able to assist greatly as the government is looking to try to actualize that over the long term.

So we'll see what the budgets for 2017-18 and 2018-19 look like, and it will be based, no doubt, on the engagement that's going to happen, the Senate's deliberations on this and the recommendations that come out.

In 2015, I believe we mentioned the last time we appeared in March that we did prepare work with the Nunavik housing working group as part of that tripartite body that you just referred to. That was established to create some recommendations aimed at addressing the short-, medium- and long-term housing needs in Nunavik. That working group includes the Government of Quebec, Canada, the Kativik Regional Government, the Kativik Municipal Housing Bureau and the Makivik Corporation.

They've recently, through some funding that we've provided them and others, concluded a study, which I'm sure they've told you about. We are in receipt of their interim report and recommendations that came in just earlier this year, in January, and the final report will include some potential medium- and long-term recommendations to follow.

So there is a significant amount of possibility of doing it differently in the case of Inuit housing. The interest through these exercises, beginning with an incremental increase in the amount of funding right now through Budget 2016, was meant to be an infusion to deal with urgent requirements that were recognized and well documented with a view to re- engineering how Inuit housing can be delivered in a manner that can address some of the objectives that the committee is asking questions about: efficiency, making sure that Inuit organizations are not only the builders but are also the decision makers with respect to what gets built, that the innovation dimension is taken into account with respect to energy efficiency and lower-cost delivery.

There is a real opportunity at this time. I don't want to read too much into the future, but the timing couldn't be any better from my standpoint as we're now turning our attention to what are the longer-term structural innovations that need to happen in order to deliver the programs better.

It is consistent with Minister Bennett's comments in other fora. She has described herself as the minister of social determinants of health, and housing is an important component in that, and she has become a very voracious advocate for new approaches to deal with some of the major social challenges that the committee is well aware of, including housing.

The reconciliation agenda that the government spoke to in mandate letters is a very tangible and real commitment in every minister's mandate letter that has been published to work towards reconciliation, and departments and agencies are now gathering to try to put expression to that commitment of reconciliation in designing new ways and approaches to do and engage with indigenous organizations, including the Inuit.

I would be remiss if I left the committee with an impression that we are starting from scratch. We are not. We have the benefit of what I would potentially refer to as the lean years. We engaged through these different working group bodies and studies and conversations through the treaty agreement and other means to start doing the groundwork on things that could be done to make the situation better for when dollars do arrive.

With your attention to this issue and with some of the early commitments in Budget 2016, there is a real opportunity to make a long-term impact on an issue that's been plaguing these communities for many decades.

I've given you a general answer to your very specific question. I'm aware of that, Madam Chair, but I would say that in terms of the direction in which Inuit housing issues are getting attention today, it is in a very different direction than what it has been in previous years, and we're just getting started.

The Chair: Senator Patterson, did you have a follow-up?

Senator Patterson: I'd like to ask Mr. MacArthur to answer that specific question for CMHC. This $178 million in the budget is coming from CMHC. We haven't done our final report, but we did write a pressing letter to your minister.

I should emphasize that we did not make that recommendation for Nunavut or the Northwest Territories.

Senator Watt: But they were asking for that.

Senator Patterson: Although the Inuvialuit did indicate that they would like to see the monies put in trust.

I would like to ask about Nunavik, because we did try to signal early on that this would be a recommendation from our committee. We had the full endorsement of our committee.

Is there any chance that the first half of the $50 million could be channelled differently than in the past, directly to the Inuit, in keeping with the budget commitment, which is — I'll read it again — dollars for Inuit housing in Inuit regions. Can we pay it to the Inuit and not to Quebec City?

Mr. MacArthur: Again, like my colleague, we have our tool, and that's what was chosen to deliver this. It is a carve- out, though. It is not in the general pot. In the case of Nunavik, $50 million is to go to Nunavik, as all of the Inuit housing is. We have our delivery mechanism that we can make it flow quickly and meet the challenges of the building season, and that's how we're proceeding at the moment.

Senator Patterson: I'm just trying to do the math here: 4.3 per cent of $25 million. What is it? Is it $1 million? It would be $1.25 million, roughly, maybe a bit less.

The Chair: Two houses.

Senator Watt: Two houses.

Senator Patterson: Is that what's going to happen again? It's going to go to Quebec and they're going to take their administration fee? You said it would be carved out. Are they going to get 100 per cent of the $25 million?

Ms. Staresina: I don't want to leave you with the impression that they're settled on those. That's the historical. This new money, like the $100 million we gave to Nunavut a few years ago, is a carve-out. So that $50 million would go for that region. We would expect none of that to see any admin taken off at all. But as it is now, the mechanism would be through the provincial.

Senator Patterson: I'll let my colleagues follow up.

The Chair: You just said that you would expect that there's no administration fee. Is that written down in any kind of agreement or memorandum of understanding?

Ms. Staresina: We are in the process of negotiating with each province and territory, and it's very clear what outcomes are and how they will report on that. We would expect to see those dollars going to that region for Inuit housing, yes. We are in the midst of discussing exactly how they would report to the Canadian public on that.

The Chair: The question I was going to ask you is with regard to Nunatsiavut. When they were here, they estimated that the administration fee was 15 per cent. I don't know where they got the number, but that's what they were telling us.

They made it clear that they considered that the money should not flow to the provincial government because of their treaty. I know Senator Watt mentioned some distinctions there. I don't know whether that same distinction applies to what's happening in Nunatsiavut.

As you see yourselves proceeding forward, it sounds as though you still want to have the money flow through the provincial governments, with the proviso that there are no administrative fees attached to it.

Ms. Staresina: The mechanism we have right now at CMHC is through the Investment in Affordable Housing. Those carve-outs for the Inuit and for other things that we mentioned at the beginning, like seniors, we would expect to see outcomes based on those dollars going direct.

Mr. MacArthur mentioned at the beginning that we had four areas for the Inuit. We've asked provinces and territories to look at their negotiation with us and how they're going to deliver on that.

Senator Moore: So you're talking to the provinces about what's going to be done with the Inuit's money. I didn't hear the Inuit being part of that discussion. Is that right?

Ms. Staresina: At CMHC, right now we're dealing with the provinces, and the provinces —

Senator Moore: I heard you say that, but I didn't hear you say the Inuit are part of it. It's their money, and they've got a treaty; they've got a right. When are we going to start sticking to the rule of law and obeying the agreements we've entered into? These people were all here last week telling us some pretty sad stories, and I'm on their side. I just can't believe that we're not sitting down with them.

Senator Patterson mentioned Makivik. You must know about that. They're able. They're good. They can do that. That's a model.

So we don't have to do more studies. We know what can be done. We know how to do it.

These people have come of age; make no mistake about it. They have matured as entrepreneurs and managers. There are young people in their communities who want a part of that, and we have to give them the hope and the opportunity to do that, to get involved. They want to do it, and they deserve the chance. They might make a few mistakes — we all do — but they will do it right, because they have their community at heart, they're educated, and they want a chance.

I don't know why we wouldn't be sitting down talking with the same people we had here last week with regard to their share of this money. That has to happen. You're going to have to do it. We shouldn't make them go to court to make us keep our word. It doesn't make sense to me. How many millions do these people have to spend trying to get their rights? It's crazy. A Canadian is a Canadian is a Canadian. They should get the money.

The Chair: Do you have a date when you are going to sit down with the Nunatsiavut government and the Torngat housing authority? Have you actually set a date?

Ms. Staresina: No, we don't.

Senator Watt: I guess my question is why. Why is it not happening? Is it because they have no faith in the people? What is the reason? Is it a jurisdictional question, a political issue? What is it? This is one of the reasons we entered into a treaty. We ended up doing things on our own. But now you're telling us we have to channel through the provincial government, if you want something from the federal government. That was not the understanding of the treaty.

Maybe it's time that this committee should come up with a report saying that now is the time to review the modern treaties. They're not working. On both sides of the government, federal and provincial, they're not delivering what they're supposed to deliver.

We can't leave this. We went through the extinguishment. We signed the release. If you're not delivering, maybe we will be calling that back. Maybe we have no choice but to go to court.

I know it's not your level of responsibility, but this is something I would recommend that you take to your higher- ups and make an issue of, because this is what you're confronted with right now, and it's not going to stop. We're on the housing issue now, and, eventually, down the road, we're going to be getting into the other areas, the same thing. We have problems right through. Government is not honouring the treaty.

Anyway, I have one question that I would like to resolve, if I can, if I can get an answer from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. When the committee was in Kuujjuaq, we were told by the residents that they're having a hard time getting mortgages from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. I was trying to get to the bottom of that, to find out exactly why that is happening. Then I was told by the housing authorities in Kuujjuaq that it's related to the fact that the land is not part of the house. Somebody is concerned about the insurance aspects of it, I would imagine.

Also, for example, if the Inuit person had to go to the financial institution to borrow the difference in what he or she needs, the land doesn't belong to the owner of the house — it's collectively owned. On that account, I thought we resolved our problems 40 years ago with the 99-year lease. Now what I'm understanding is that they don't want to go beyond five years. Why is it? Is it that the financial institutions are losing money because of the fact that they're helping out mortgaging individuals? Could you enlighten me in that area? It has been bothering me for quite some time.

Mr. MacArthur: That's probably a specific issue that we need to dig into, but we do do mortgage loan insurance in all areas of the country. We do do mortgage loan insurance on leasehold lending. We do work with communities that are setting up lease arrangements to ensure that they meet all of the requirements so that they can be insured and can be mortgaged. It's something that we do across the country, but we'll look into the specifics of the community. We do do chattels, such as mobile homes, where there is no land associated with it. We'd have to look at the specifics, and we can look into the specifics of the community and see what the issue is from a mortgage loan insurance perspective.

Senator Watt: The problem may not necessarily be one of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, but I suspect — the reason why I'm saying "suspect'' is because I have dealt with it before — maybe the financial institutions are worried about the fact that maybe they are trying to persuade the government to get away from the collectivity issue. I don't know. That's one issue. It could be a political issue.

Then again, it could be caused by the landholding corporation. I don't know. That's why I'm trying to get to the bottom of it, and I have not been given clear answers. It doesn't matter who I ask the questions to on this issue. I would appreciate it very much if you could look into that. If we do go back to a 99-year lease, instead of this five years, then I think that should be satisfactory. It worked before. Why doesn't it work now?

Mr. MacArthur: I didn't understand that there was a five-year lease. That could be the issue, but I'm not an expert anymore on mortgage loan insurance, so I have to look into it.

Like I say, leasehold lending is something that we're comfortable with. We do it in many communities. It's how we structure it.

Senator Watt: Can you get back to us in writing on that issue so that we would take into consideration how we are going to deal with that in our report?

Mr. MacArthur: Yes.

Senator Watt: Thank you.

The Chair: Thank you. We have just a few minutes left. Senator Raine, did you have another question?

Senator Raine: I did. We've heard along the way that — I think this question would be for Indigenous and Northern Affairs — there are some programs that are for north of 60 and some south of 60 to do with transport and sealift and things like that. I think it doesn't make any sense to have north of 60 when it comes to Nunavik because the sixtieth parallel runs right through their territory. I just wondered if that could be looked at.

Mr. Van Dine: Thank you very much for the question. With respect to freight and other means of moving goods, we effectively got out of that business some time ago. As you probably heard through testimony, there are a number of land claim organizations now that are proprietors of various transportation companies as part of their economic development corporations for their region.

We do administer one program that deals with the transport of nutritious and perishable foods, and that program is offered through five provinces and three territories. It is not specific to north of 60. It includes communities below the fifty-fifth parallel and some of the more remote areas of the country. That program is the Nutrition North Canada program. It deals with the transportation aspects indirectly insofar as, prior to 2011, Canada Post was their delivery agent, using transportation post. In 2011, we moved the funding for that to a subsidy to retailers and suppliers.

The economic model for that basis, and the business case for that change, was to empower, essentially, the retailers and the suppliers to determine the most cost-effective way of transporting goods, that government was probably not the best mechanism to determine the most efficient way of shipping goods. Through that program, we are now seeing a positive impact in terms of maintaining prices below the rate of growth that has actually occurred in the rest of the country for nutritious and perishable foods.

Senator Raine: I'm glad to hear that.

Senator Watt: What does that have to do with the north of 60?

Senator Raine: Because that was a program that was only for north of 60. Well, no, I think it's —

Senator Patterson: It's Transport Canada, I think.

Senator Raine: So, in other words, that's a myth that we were hearing. In fact, the sixtieth parallel doesn't have anything to do with the qualification for the different kinds of programs.

Mr. Van Dine: I'm speaking specifically for the Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada programs. We made some changes, and we are no longer doing that.

That being said, as has been alluded to, the Coast Guard is a major player in, certainly, the sealift exercise that occurs on an annual basis, a seasonal basis. Transport Canada, I had spent some time there, but I can't say that I have a detailed knowledge of whether they're providing additional north of 60 kinds of programming. That would be best posed to Transport Canada if there are any such programs that exist.

Senator Raine: Okay. Just one quick one.

The Chair: No, sorry, we're running out of time. Senator Patterson.

Senator Patterson: This will be really quick, Madam Chair. I know we're short of time. CMHC has a Housing Internship Initiative for First Nations and Inuit Youth. Not necessarily now, but could you tell us whether Inuit youth have participated in this program that has budgeted $5 million for 2016-17? That's my question. As I say, it doesn't need to be answered now, but maybe you could follow up, unless you have the answer at hand.

Luisa Atkinson, Director, First Nations Housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation: Thank you, senator. I would have to agree with you. Inuit youth have not participated actively in the program. It's a program that has been fully subscribed, but mostly for First Nation communities. Budget 2016 has given us additional funds to be able to target Inuit youth in the coming year, so we are actively working with communities to do that.

Senator Patterson: Could you give us the information about previous years?

Ms. Atkinson: Yes.

Senator Patterson: Secondly, on the amortization issue — again, maybe you can get back to us — we heard in Kuujjuaq that CMHC mortgage loan insurance requires an amortization period to be longer than the term of a ground lease, but ground leases in Nunavik cannot be longer than five years.

Can you get back to us on that? Are you aware of the problem, and can you help fix it?

We are short on time, so I think if you could follow up, that would be helpful to us.

Senator Watt: They have already agreed they're going to provide that to us.

Senator Patterson: Okay.

The Chair: Thank you, honourable senators. We are near the end of our two-hour meeting time. I must congratulate all senators for participating in this meeting, because the Senate has officially adjourned for the summer, and we are here doing extra duty. I want to thank the officials, also, for appearing tonight.

I would like to end by saying that the issue that was brought forward tonight so strongly by Senator Patterson, Senator Moore and Senator Watt with regard to the direct funding to the Inuit governments is one that should be taken extremely seriously. As a committee, we wrote on May 19 to Minister Duclos, the minister responsible for CMHC, and we raised this very specific issue, saying, in Nunavik specifically, that the committee heard that local housing concerns could be better addressed if federal funding for northern housing were transferred directly to Makivik Corporation rather than to the Government of Quebec.

We also noted that this would not be the first time that federal funding for housing has been transferred directly to the Makivik Corporation. An agreement signed between the Makivik Corporation and the provincial and federal governments transferred federal funding for housing construction directly to the Makivik Corporation in the 2005 and 2006 fiscal years. It would make sense to continue that.

I think all members of the committee urge that that be done. We will be following up with regard to the Nunatsiavut government, which is in the same sort of situation. We would urge you to take that advice strongly.

Also, we have other questions that we had for you tonight that we didn't have time to pose to you directly, so would you be agreeable that we send our written questions to you? Then you can respond by writing back to the committee. I see everybody nodding their heads yes. Thank you very much for that agreement, and thank you for answering all the questions tonight. I know some of them were a bit difficult, but thank you very much to our witnesses from Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada and from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

(The committee adjourned.)