The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 2 p.m. to study Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020.
Senator Percy Mockler (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good morning. My name is Percy Mockler, senator from New Brunswick and chair of the committee.
I wish to welcome all those who are with us in the room and viewers across the country who may be watching on television or online. Also, as a reminder to those watching, the committee hearings are open to the public and available online at sencanada.ca.
Before I ask the senators to introduce themselves —
—I would like to take this opportunity, as a senator from New Brunswick, to introduce Senator Keating, from New Brunswick.
It is her first time coming to this committee and it is her first time in committee since she has been sworn in. Senator Keating, you will see as you go along that this is the right committee.
On that note, I would now ask the senators to introduce themselves, starting on my left.
Senator Forest: Éric Forest, from the Gulf division of Quebec. You did not mention the presence of young Senator Dawson.
Senator Dawson: I was on the committee before you became a senator, hon. Senator.
Senator M. Deacon: Good afternoon. Marty Deacon, senator from Ontario.
Senator Keating: Good afternoon. Judith Keating, from New Brunswick.
Senator Dawson: I was introduced by Senator Forest, but I am Dennis Dawson, from Quebec.
Senator Klyne: Good afternoon. Marty Klyne, Saskatchewan.
Senator Smith: Larry Smith, Quebec.
Senator Marshall: Elizabeth Marshall, Newfoundland and Labrador.
The Chair: Thank you, senators.
I would now like to introduce the clerk of the committee, Maxime Fortin, and our two analysts, Alex Smith and Shaowei Pu, who together support the work of the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance.
Honourable senators and members of the viewing public, the mandate of this committee is to examine matters relating to federal estimates generally as well as government finance.
This afternoon we continue our reconsideration of the expenditures set out in Supplementary Estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, which were referred to this committee on February 25, 2020, by the Senate of Canada.
Today, honourable senators and the viewing public, during the first part of the meeting we are hearing from two departments. First, from Indigenous Services Canada, we welcome —
—Philippe Thompson, Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer.
He is accompanied by the Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Mr. Keith Conn.
We also welcome the officials of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada, Ms. Annie Boudreau, Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer. She is accompanied by Mr. Wayne Walsh, Director General, Northern Strategy Policy Branch.
Welcome to the four of you and thank you for accepting our invitation. Mr. Thompson, I was made aware that you would make the first presentation, to be followed by Ms. Boudreau. You have the floor.
Philippe Thompson, Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Indigenous Services Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair and honourable senators, for the invitation to discuss the 2019-20 Supplementary Estimates (B) for Indigenous Services Canada. I would also like to acknowledge that we are meeting on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
The department plays an important role in working collaboratively with partners to improve access to high-quality services for First Nations, Inuit and Métis. Our vision is to support and empower Indigenous peoples to independently deliver services and address the socio-economic conditions in their communities.
With me is Keith Conn, Assistant Deputy Minister of Regional Operations, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch; Lynn Newman, DG, The New Fiscal Relationship; Joanne Wilkinson, Assistant Deputy Minister, Child and Family Services Reform Sector; and Mary-Luisa Kapelus, Assistant Deputy Minister, Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships Sector.
First, I would like to draw the committee members’ attention to our presentation entitled 2019-20 Supplementary Estimates (B), which I have tabled.
I will take the next few minutes to look at the presentation with you, and my colleagues, and I will be pleased to answer your questions.
I would first like to draw your attention to slide 3, which shows that the department’s supplementary estimates (B) includes initiatives totalling $1 billion, which will bring the total funding for the department to approximately $13.8 billion for 2019-20. This funding will support the department to improve access to high-quality services for Indigenous peoples; to improve the socio-economic conditions, quality of life, and safety in their communities; and to facilitate the path to self-determination.
With respect to financial highlights, slide 4 shows a net increase of $1 billion that is primarily composed of $588.3 million for child and family services; $232 million for continuing the implementation of Jordan’s Principle; $150 million for the reimbursement to First Nations and emergency management service providers for on-reserve response and recovery activities; and $51.6 million for income assistance and infrastructure pressures.
Slide 4 also provides a display of voted expenditures. There is a net decrease of $9.4 million in vote 1 operating expenditures, a net decrease of $0.6 million in vote 5 capital expenditures, and a net increase of $1 million in vote 10 grants and contributions.
I will now briefly describe the major items included in Supplementary Estimates (B).
Slides 5 to 9 provide information, including objectives, outcomes and status on the largest items in these supplementary estimates. The largest item requested by these estimates is one of particular importance: $588.3 million to support the ongoing delivery of the First Nations Child and Family Services Program.
More specifically, this funding is needed to further support the implementation of Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings received prior to September 2019, cover anticipated maintenance costs incurred by service providers, address operating costs for new agencies and address pressures related to provincial agreements.
The second-largest item of these supplementary estimates, $232 million, is for Jordan’s Principle. You can find it on slide 6. It will be used to continue to respond to a wide range of health, social and educational needs. This will ensure all First Nations children living in Canada can access the products, services and supports they need and when they need them. Since 2016 more than 508,000 requests for products, services and supports have been approved. For example, speech language pathology services, physical therapy, education assistants and mobility aids. With investments of $1.2 billion over three years from Budget 2019 starting in 2019-20 and this additional funding, all efforts are being made to support the full implementation of Jordan’s Principle.
The third item on slide 7 is $150 million to be used to reimburse First Nations and emergency management services providers for costs incurred during response and recovery activities on reserves across Canada. Major events such as the winter storm in Manitoba, the wildland fires in Bearskin Lake, Ontario, and Hurricane Dorian in Atlantic Canada have led to much higher than normal costs. This funding will ensure that First Nations communities continue to receive emergency assistance comparable to that of neighbouring off-reserve communities during these events.
The fourth item on slide 8 will provide $51.6 million to cover immediate gaps to the income assistance and infrastructure programs. Through income assistance, the department will provide eligible individuals and families on reserve or status Indians with funds to cover essential living expenses. Funding for infrastructure programs will be used for adequate and sustainable housing, clean drinking water, culture and recreational facilities, as well as community infrastructure.
These supplementary estimates also include transfers totaling $29.1 million, of which $26.6 million is to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. The transfers are primarily intended to support modern treaty groups and self-governing agreements for the delivery of programs and services related to land and resource management, heritage and culture, social services, health, capital and community infrastructure, economic development and education. Additionally, it is also to support Indigenous representative organizations and the First Nations Financial Management Board.
The remaining slides provide information pertaining to additional key initiatives and transfers.
These Supplementary Estimates (B) will enable us to continue to take concrete steps to address the needs of Indigenous peoples. I look forward to discussing any aspects of these estimates with you and welcome your questions regarding my presentation.
Annie Boudreau, Chief Finances, Results and Delivery Officer, Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair and hon. senators, for the invitation to discuss the 2019-20 supplementary estimates (B) of Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. I acknowledge that we come together on the traditional territory of the Algonquin people.
As you have noted, I have with me this afternoon my colleague Wayne Walsh, Director General, Northern Strategic Policy Branch. In the audience, I also have Eric Marion, Director General, Fiscal Branch, of the Treaties and Aboriginal Government sector, and Jean-François Talbot, Director General, Planning and Resource Management. Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada’s supplementary estimates (B) includes initiatives totalling $1 billion, which will bring total budgetary funding for the department to approximately $7.1 billion for 2019-20.
The supplementary estimates includes various items that have been approved by Treasury Board, with $21.6 million in vote 1 operating expenditures; $1.2 million in vote 5 capital expenditures; $61 million in vote 10 grants and contributions; and $919 million in a new vote, vote 60, entitled debt forgiveness.
I will now briefly describe the major initiatives included in supplementary estimates (B).
The largest item in these supplementary estimates, $919 million, is funding to forgive the outstanding book value of comprehensive land claims negotiation loans. This initiative, which was announced in Budget 2019, signals Canada’s commitment to advance a rights recognition approach in its relationship with Indigenous groups by removing loan funding and debt as the long-standing barrier to concluding comprehensive land claims agreements. Indigenous peoples would benefit from increased settlement amounts through the removal of loans, which would result in additional funding for these communities to invest in priorities, such as closing socio-economic gaps or investing in economic development initiatives.
The next item I would like to discuss is the $17.5 million to implement the recommendations of the Qikiqtani Truth Commission report. This funding will be provided to the Qikiqtani Inuit Association to help it develop programming designed to support individual and collective closure, healing and reconciliation.
Another item included in our estimates is the funding of $13.7 million being provided for various out of court settlements. As you know, resolving past grievances outside the courts allows the department to advance Canada’s overall commitment to reconciliation by paving the way for a more respectful and constructive relationship with Indigenous peoples.
These supplementary estimates also includes $12.5 million for the Nutrition North Canada Program and the creation of a harvesters support grant. This funding supports the expansion of the program by introducing a surface transportation subsidy for non-perishable items transported by winter roads and sealift, as well as an increased subsidy for 24 isolated fly-in communities. Additionally, the new grant will support the local harvesting of country foods through traditional activities such as hunting, fishing and gathering of local wild plants and fruits for distribution in 108 isolated fly-in communities.
The remaining initiatives are of smaller dollar values. There is $5.3 million to support the exhibit fit-up and operations and maintenance for the short-term use of the Indigenous Peoples’ Space at 100 Wellington Street in Ottawa, as well as the $1.5 million in additional funding required to meet Canada’s obligations related to self-government and land claim agreements.
Supplementary estimates (B) also includes $5.5 million that was reprofiled from 2018-19 to 2019-20 to continue operational activities under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement until its completion.
Finally, in addition to the initiatives already discussed, these estimates also include various transfers of funding with other government departments. For instance, you will see items like the transfer of $15.7 million from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Indigenous Services Canada to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada. This is funding related to self-government agreements and will be used in the delivery of programs and services pertaining to land and resource management, heritage, culture, social services, health, capital and community infrastructure, economic development and education.
These supplementary estimates will allow the department to continue to make significant advancements on its priorities. I look forward to discussing all aspects of these estimates with you and welcome your questions.
Senator Marshall: My first questions relate to Indigenous Services Canada, so Mr. Thompson or Mr. Conn, perhaps you could answer these.
It is under contributions where most of the additional funding is being requested. A general question is that there are only three weeks left in the fiscal year, so it seems odd that you are looking for this much money. Has any of that money been spent or paid out already?
Mr. Thompson: The department has a budget of about $13 billion, and we have a lot of payments that happen at year-end. At the end of the fiscal year a large amount of money needs to be paid to Indigenous organizations and First Nations. It allows us — sorry for the expression — to cash manage the situation. Most of the money has been spent already. We are just cash managing the situation. To answer the question, yes.
Senator Marshall: The cheques have gone out already, haven’t they?
Mr. Thompson: Absolutely.
Senator Marshall: Who is getting the money? I am focusing on the $588 million. Who would receive that money? What types of organizations or individuals?
Mr. Thompson: I have the breakdown of the funding request details for the $588 million in additional money. Some $414.9 million is required to cover claims from 2019-20, for a total of $136 million.
We also have retroactive reimbursements of $246.1 million. They will be paid out in the third quarter of the year, so most of the money has been paid.
Senator Marshall: To what types of individuals or organizations?
Mr. Thompson: They could be First Nations. They could be agencies that are also rendering services. They could be reimbursements to provinces as well. Those would be the recipients of that money.
Senator Marshall: How do you decide who gets the money? Is it done through an application process?
Mr. Thompson: We call it a demand driven program. We are funding the services but the department is not delivering the services. The services are being delivered by agencies or by the provinces. We are paying on actuals, so we are reimbursing the costs being incurred.
Senator Marshall: In order to be reimbursed do they have to provide receipts? Do they have to provide evidence that they have spent the money or they are committed to spending the money?
Mr. Thompson: Absolutely, exactly. The bills are being sent and they are being analyzed in the regional offices of Indigenous Services Canada. A verification takes place, and all eligible payments are being reimbursed.
Senator Marshall: Are there contracts for each of these contributions that you make to these organizations? Do they have to sign a contract saying they will do certain things and provide certain results?
Mr. Thompson: I am not sure exactly how it operates. This would be a question that my colleague could answer from the program on exactly what is the payment mechanism.
I understand there is an obligation to deliver the service, and we are reimbursing. There are agreements in place for sure among the First Nations, agencies and the provinces.
Senator Marshall: Is there somebody here who can answer that question?
Mr. Thompson: Joanne would be pleased to provide you with more details.
Joanne Wilkinson, Assistant Deputy Minister, Child and Family Services Reform Sector, Indigenous Services Canada: As Philippe pointed out, the recipients of these funds are generally First Nations agencies. They can be provinces and territories where First Nations agencies do not deliver those services themselves. We have agreements in place with every agency and with every province and territory where we need to have those agreements to flow the funding.
Senator Marshall: When you provide this funding do you know the size of the population that is being targeted?
Ms. Wilkinson: Yes.
Senator Marshall: What kinds of performance indicators would there be, or are there any?
Ms. Wilkinson: Each agency has a plan and delivers that plan in coordination with the nations it serves. The outcomes of the program are expected to be reducing the number of children in care and to be bringing families together. That is what we are hoping happens.
As you will see from the increase in the dollars, that is in the direction of the orders from the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal. We are paying based on the actual costs.
Senator Marshall: You are reducing the number of children in care, and I should be able to see that in your departmental results report. Is that correct?
Ms. Wilkinson: Yes, and bringing families together as well.
Senator Marshall: Thank you very much.
Senator Forest: Thank you for being with us today. I’ll continue along the same lines as my colleague. In terms of the $588.3 million for maintenance costs that will be paid for by service providers, can you give us a little bit more information on the maintenance costs? Is it machinery, building maintenance? These are service providers who have already been awarded the contract. It is a contract that has already been evaluated. What are the maintenance costs, and what type of service providers are they?
Mr. Thompson: The additional $588 million is intended to cover the portion that the department was short. The budget this year was $1.2 billion to provide child welfare services. Several items are being reimbursed. There are the operating costs of the agencies, whether it is protection services or prevention services. These are infrastructure costs, operating costs and administrative costs. So it’s really the operation of child welfare services in its entirety that is reimbursed by the Department of Indigenous Services.
As I mentioned earlier, it is not the department itself that provides the services, it is the agencies and the provinces. The department has an obligation to reimburse operating costs, which means, all costs incurred by these agencies or by the provinces and territories.
Senator Forest: So I understand, the budget was $1.2 billion and now we have supplementary budgets. Does that include the $588 million? Is that a 50% increase or a 100% increase?
Mr. Thompson: In recent years, the government has made major investments in child welfare services as a result of a Human Rights Tribunal decision. The tribunal found that the federal government was not meeting its obligations to fund these services. We almost doubled the budget, bringing the total to $1.2 billion at the beginning of the year. A supplementary estimates request of $588 million was made, and that is on top of the $1.2 billion.
Senator Forest: So it is a 50% increase?
Mr. Thompson: Yes.
Senator Forest: I have another question. Ms. Boudreau, with regard to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs, if I understood correctly, the $919 million—which is still a significant sum—was money that was lent to the various Indigenous communities to defend their land rights? Then, it was decided that they’d be given the money to repay the loan?
Ms. Boudreau: Yes, we have $919 million here, and that’s debt that we still have on our books. In the 2019 budget, a decision was made to repay the loans that had been granted to the communities. We are talking about comprehensive land claims. We are asking for $919 million in the supplementary estimates (B).
That said, there is a second component to the matter of the 2019 budget. There is also an amount of $490 million that will be repaid to Indigenous communities for those who have already repaid their loans to us. This will begin next year and will be spread over a five-year period, for a total of $98 million per year.
Senator Forest: According to you, in your experience, if I add the two together, it’s about $1.3 billion. Is that all the repayments over what has already been repaid that will be repaid again and the loans that will be repaid? Is the total around $1.3 billion?
Ms. Boudreau: We’re talking about approximately $1.4 billion. We have $919 million right now, plus $490 million that we are going to receive over the next five years. For the $490 million, we have received 29 claims from Indigenous communities. So far, of the 29 claims that we have received, we have been able to reconcile 25, and we are still working on the other four. I think the $1.4 billion will be enough to cover all claims.
Senator Forest: Thank you.
Senator Duncan: Thank you for your presentations. My questions follow Senator Forest’s question on the $919 million.
Just by way of background, in 1973 then Prime Minister Trudeau and Jean Chrétien accepted the Yukon land claims for negotiation under the document presented to them, Together Today for our Children Tomorrow, which started the land claims negotiation in Yukon.
Canada lent money to Yukon First Nations to negotiate the land claims and charged interest on those loans over the years. Yukon falls under that $919 million, that final umbrella agreement. The overarching land claims agreement was finally reached. Under that umbrella agreement, 14 Yukon First Nations are negotiating their final agreements and 11 have completed and signed. They are also among the loan holders from Canada.
I believe we should have a breakdown by province and territory of the $919 million. You very carefully used the phrase, “outstanding book value.” Does that mean the loan principal and interest are being repaid to the First Nations?
Ms. Boudreau: Yes, it is the total of principal and interest. I can give you the breakdown. I can also give you the breakdown by province and territory right now if you would like it.
Senator Duncan: We could have that in writing and not take up too much time.
The Chair: If you could, Ms. Boudreau, provide the statements you have to the clerk and they will be distributed to all the senators.
Ms. Boudreau: Absolutely.
Senator Duncan: I have two follow-up questions. First, when will the money actually be paid to the First Nations?
Ms. Boudreau: Again, I would like to pause and make a small distinction. The first amount we are talking about is the $919 million. It is in our books of accounts. That was never repaid by the Indigenous communities. This will be forgiven in the books before March 31, 2020, so in the coming two weeks.
The other amount, the $490 million, was repaid by the Indigenous communities. The repayment of their loan will start on April 1, 2020. It will take up to five years to reimburse that. It will be a total amount of $490 million.
Yukon is included in that amount. I will also be able to provide you with the breakdown by province and territory.
Senator Duncan: First Nations have also negotiated with their provincial and territorial governments, to the best of my knowledge, a recognition of their funding arrangements with Canada.
Are the forgiveness and repayments of the loans outside of those discussions with the provinces and territories? Are they considered own source revenue? That is the phrase we use in Yukon. If a First Nation were to receive the monies or a portion of the monies back on April 1, 2020, will those monies be considered own source revenue and not subject to a provincial/territorial discussion of finances?
Ms. Boudreau: The $190 million will be repaid to the Indigenous communities we deducted the loans from while we were doing the negotiations. It will go back to the communities.
Senator Duncan: So it is own source revenue.
Mr. Thompson, you carefully stated that the funding arrangements were for on-reserve First Nations. That would not include the majority of Yukon First Nations or Northern First Nations, just as a point of record.
The Chair: Do you have any comment, Mr. Thompson?
Mr. Thompson: No.
Senator Stewart Olsen: It is a very busy department, I see. I have two questions for you. One is on page 4 and the additional the new grant. This is the $12.5 million for the Nutrition North Canada program and the harvesters. Additionally the new grant will support local harvesting of country foods through traditional activities — hunting, fishing and fruits — for distribution in 108 isolated fly-in communities.
Does that solve the problem we were hearing about where local hunters and fishers couldn’t provide food to other people because they were not allowed to do that. They rely totally on fly-ins or provision by the government. I am just wondering if this is the way to solve that problem.
Ms. Boudreau: I will attempt to give you an answer, senator, and I will ask my colleague to help.
From the $12.5 million, $8 million will go toward the Harvesters Support Grant. It is a grant, which means we will be reducing the administrative burden on the recipients of that grant. The $8 million will be allocated among the 108 communities. If you wish, I can also provide you with the breakdown.
Senator Stewart Olsen: That would be helpful.
Ms. Boudreau: Before the end of March we will be able to provide that $8 million. The $8 million is also an ongoing amount that will be given to them every year.
Senator Stewart Olsen: That comes to them in payment for the food they are providing, or are they allowed to sell their food to the communities? I am just not sure.
Ms. Boudreau: The payment will be to pay for equipment. They will need equipment to go back to their traditional way of harvesting. It will pay for the equipment.
As you referenced earlier, they will be able to bring back food, to put it in what we call a community freezer and to share it with their own communities.
Senator Stewart Olsen: My second question is on the transfer of $15.7 million from Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Indigenous Services Canada to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada.
Could you give me the rationale? Why would you take money from Fisheries and Oceans — we have to support our fishers as well — and Indigenous Services? I know you are juggling and I know it is cash management. I worry a bit when I see that. I don’t know exactly where it came from and how they could afford that.
Ms. Boudreau: That money is coming from Fisheries and Oceans and Indigenous Services to Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada because we are the owner of the programs. That money is for self-governing First Nations located in B.C. and that is under the programs of Crown-Indigenous. That is why the money is coming to us on an ongoing basis.
Senator Stewart Olsen: You take the money from Fisheries and Oceans.
Ms. Boudreau: And we are giving it back to self-governing First Nations.
Senator Stewart Olsen: How are you shorting other fishermen?
Ms. Boudreau: This is included in the First Nations self-governing agreement that we have with them.
We have 25 self-governing First Nations in Canada. Those self-governing First Nations have power over governance, fisheries, infrastructure and education. That is the money we are taking from those two departments to give back to the First Nation.
Senator Stewart Olsen: I am not clear, but thank you.
Senator Bellemare: My question is for Mr. Thompson, who is representing the Department of Indigenous Services. I would like to hear your comments on the amounts earmarked for the on-reserve Income Assistance Program and the First Nation Infrastructure Fund.
Supplementary estimates (B) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2020, provide for $51.6 million. As this is an addition to an existing program, I would like to know what this program represents in total. I would also like to know more about the difference between the funds allocated to income and those allocated to infrastructure.
I would also like you to clarify something else. There is a lot of talk about guaranteed minimum income programs and so on, so I would like to hear what you have to say about that. Is there an acceptable guaranteed income? How does it compare to the income threshold, and how does the program work?
Mr. Thompson: I will divide my response between income assistance and infrastructure.
I recognize that the way the information has been reported in the supplementary estimates is quite interesting. The main reason for that was to give the department some flexibility in the allocation of the funds that had been allocated to us for the two programs.
The department’s annual budget is approximately $770 million for income assistance. The intent of the program is to try to provide income assistance that is equivalent to what the provinces provide to non-Indigenous people. The department is constantly trying to adjust its rates, and there is no real control over the announcements made by the provinces. However, of course, since the department is expected to follow up immediately when the province increases its rates, we use the performance information we have in the department and also the labour market information available to estimate what might happen.
Of course, the population is growing and the inflation points are also increasing, so we are trying to anticipate the increases and ensure that people in Indigenous communities have income assistance that is equivalent to what the provinces provide. There are also investments that have been made as part of the measures to support people on income assistance so that they can get back into the workforce.
Still, there is some uncertainty every year about what the provinces will do and what the department needs to do to respond with respect to income assistance. The funds available this year were intended to allow us to adjust during the year to be able to offer an equivalent rate.
In terms of infrastructure programs, the department has a budget of over $2 billion. There are a lot of points. It’s a little difficult to give you the exact total number of infrastructures. However, I have a fairly accurate figure; this year, we expect to spend $2.2 billion on infrastructure. This includes housing, all health-related infrastructure, education infrastructure, drinking water and electronic health infrastructure. In total, this is a $2.2 billion budget.
I understand that the amounts requested in the supplementary estimates were a drop in the bucket, but there were pressures this year, particularly for winter roads, for which certain projects that we felt were important to support communities had to be carried out. There were also targeted investments in electrification to help some communities get out of their dependence on diesel. The projects that will be covered by the additional funds will focus on these elements.
Senator Bellemare: With regard to income assistance, how does it compare to the low-income cutoff? Do you have any idea? We know that, on average, social assistance in the provinces comes in at about 70 per cent of the poverty level. Is this in that ballpark, or is it a little more? Does it cover all the basic needs?
Mr. Thompson: It will be the equivalent. There will be variations from one region to another. But, since we are trying to provide an amount equivalent to what the provinces are providing, we are trying to make the amounts comparable as best we can.
Senator Bellemare: I would like one final small detail about the infrastructure expenditures. In the past, people in your department have often been asked how the amounts invested in infrastructure are handled. We have sometimes learned that no real on-site training was provided to indigenous communities to maintain those infrastructures, especially for drinking water. Do these amounts now include training in maintaining the equipment?
Mr. Thompson: Absolutely. With drinking water, we provide training. We make sure that the communities are able to develop their own expertise so that they can operate their own facilities. Testing drinking water quality is also done continuously, as is maintenance, but we really develop the expertise. A part of the budget is set aside to train the people running the drinking water infrastructure.
Senator Dawson: I would like to ask a question to follow up on those asked by Senator Forest and Senator Duncan. You mentioned that you are going to pay back those funds over five years and that you are going to provide the answer for each province and territory. Can you tell us how many years it took for that amount of $917 million to accumulate? Starting when? If you can send us those details at the same time as the distribution for the territories, it would be much appreciated.
Ms. Boudreau: Yes.
Senator Dawson: My second question is perhaps a little easier. Everyone on this committee passes by 100 Wellington every day on the way to work. The status of the building is a little nebulous in terms of the Hill; it is on the Hill, but not part of it. You have an amount of $5.3 million for renovating exhibition and operational space. But in terms of the status, the protection and the activity in the building, we do not see a lot happening. But I go by it every day.
Can you tell us specifically what is happening with 100 Wellington? Parliament will have to decide what to do with what is called Block B, the entire section between the Prime Minister’s office and the Victoria Building. That is part of this project, but I am wondering what the status of the building will be when the time comes to rehabilitate the Hill.
Ms. Boudreau: You are not seeing a lot of activity at the moment, because the building is still not open to the public. Discussions are still on-going with indigenous peoples, Inuit, the Métis, and with a band council. They are still in talks and we are there to support them. What we are doing at the moment, is renovating the interior, which is what the money will be used for. There will also be a permanent exhibition. However, at that point, negotiations are still on-going. Once we have an agreement, 100 Wellington Street will open. The money in the supplementary estimates will be used for the short-term use of the building; it will take us to 2022. After that, we will have a strategy to decide on the long-term use of the building.
Senator Dawson: Who does the building belong to? Public Works Canada? Parliament Hill?
Ms. Boudreau: In 2017, the Prime Minister said that the building would be given to the indigenous peoples as part of the reconciliation.
Senator M. Deacon: I have two questions but I may only get through one at this moment, Ms. Boudreau, around loan forgiveness. If I look at the numbers and combine that with the other $1 million at the bottom and the land claims in another bracket, those two make up 95% of this estimate.
It’s big for me. How many Indigenous groups are benefiting from this big number? What is the percentage of those groups of the total number of groups we are looking at? Do we foresee this continuing as an annual potential ask?
If you could give me a sense of that first, I will go from there.
Ms. Boudreau: In total we are talking about 234 Indigenous communities that will be able to benefit from the Budget 2019 announcement. The 234 includes Indigenous communities that will be part of the $919 million that you see there and the ones you see in the Main Estimates, the $490 million over five years.
This will not happen again after five years because now we are giving them non-repayable contribution funding for the negotiation of those comprehensive land claims.
Senator M. Deacon: I am going to flip over to the NNC, the Nutrition North Canada project. You talked about the $8 million being renewed each year for 108 fly-in communities, but the budget around this has been $99 million to $100 million in 2018-19. We had the $62 million over five years, plus we have this $10.4 million.
First, I am trying to get a sense of what the total cost is of doing business for this project and the $4 million that you did not talk about in your response earlier.
Second, just so we understand the Harvesters Support Grant, where are things sitting today? How is it really reducing the cost of what we have traditionally known harvesting to be?
Ms. Boudreau: The total cost of the Nutrition North Canada program in the Main Estimates is around $108 million for a full year. In Supplementary Estimates (B) we are asking for $4.5 million for Nutrition North, $2.5 million to use sealift to bring perishable foods to the North during the summertime, and the other $2 million is for 24 communities in high need in the North. As I said, the total for a year is $108 million.
Senator M. Deacon: What is the status of this program today? Is it in implementation? Is it that we are feeling good we can start some monitoring of what is happening? Where is it in the process of implementation and running?
Ms. Boudreau: The program started in 2011. I will turn it over to my colleague who will be able to give you an update since 2011.
Mr. Wayne Walsh, Director General, Northern Strategy Policy Branch: Since 2011 we have been tracking the effectiveness of the program. The program has gone through a number of iterations and evolution.
We can point out that since 2011 there has been a steady increase in subsidized foods that have been shipped to the communities. In 2018-19 over $30 million kilograms of nutritious food were shipped and sold at subsidized rates. That represents a 49% increase from March 2011 to March 2019. So we see an uptake in the program every year.
What is also very important is what we call the Revised Northern Food Basket. That is a nutritious diet for a family of four. It is a sample of what it would be.
In March 2019 the food basket was a 1.03% less expensive than it was in March 2011. If you look at the face of it and say that 1% is not a lot, but when you compare 2019 to 2011 it is significant. In terms of comparing that to the rest of Canada, food prices have generally increased around 13% over the same course. That gives us a pretty good indication of what the program has been able to do.
Senator Smith: I am just trying to understand, listening to the information and feedback you folks are giving us.
My understanding is there are approximately 640 Indigenous nations in the country. Do you have three or four overall objectives you are trying to implement, and then those are subdivided into sub-objectives that allow you to create a yearly program?
I am trying to understand how you are actually executing this. Is there a focus first on water and food, second on infrastructure and third on education? Are those the three global objectives, and then from those objectives you go out and spread out sub-objectives and you do the deliverables?
I am trying to understand how you are able to not only execute but evaluate the success of your programs. A simple example would be: Who picks the agencies that you deal with to execute your programs? When the money is sent, who gets it? How you can track the money to make sure it is going into the right hands?
This is not to say it is not going into the right hands, but I am trying to understand how you would evaluate the success of how you execute the programs. That is probably applicable to both groups.
Mr. Thompson: We are providing services to Indigenous communities all across the country and in the spirit of devolution. We are co-developing with First Nations the programming. Also we are working with them to prioritize the delivery of services.
A very good example would be with health, for instance. If you allow me, I could ask my colleague Keith to give you a very concrete example of how the health program is being delivered along with First Nations and how the prioritization is done in terms of investments.
Keith Conn, Acting Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Services Canada: For the record, I am no longer acting as ADM. I am a real public servant since May 2019.
In terms of health there are certainly a number of priorities within the health systems that the provinces and territories run. We work collaboratively with the First Nations communities, tribal councils, and provincial and territorial organizations in mapping out priorities and co-developing comprehensive health plans whether at the community level, regional level or district level.
For example, we have completely transferred our federal footprint in the province of B.C. where we now have the BC First Nations Health Authority managing and delivering health services and programs, public health, primary health care, treatment centres and the like defined by community priorities in terms of community planning processes at a regional level. That is one large example.
In our current situation in Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northern Ontario we are talking about health transformation that will define the new governing bodies or models of governance in terms of health program service delivery that serves the communities within their jurisdiction. It is early days on that.
On a fundamental level we fund and work with the 630-640 Indigenous communities, and growing, on their comprehensive community health plans to map out their priorities. Whether it is diabetes education, prenatal nutrition or children’s programming, they all have different varying priorities. Many common themes were mapped out through community health plans to determine what is funded and sorted.
Senator Smith: Are you able to set up the actual amount of money that goes to these areas? For how long have you been doing it with B.C. or other provinces in the west as an example? How confident are you of being able to evaluate the success of these programs?
Mr. Conn: One thing that has been shown through research into the spirit of devolution or transfer of views is that those words are used interchangeably. Where communities and organizations are delivering their own services, they have better health outcomes. That has been shown and documented.
En masse the provinces of Saskatchewan and Quebec basically transferred out their management of delivering their services, but there are challenges around the cost of doing business. We are working in partnership with them to develop new funding options.
That has shown success in terms of the evidence for First Nations autonomy and control of programs and services. There is a whole movement called health transformation that is being pushed with our partners. That is something we hope to see and track more in terms of results and more positive health outcomes.
Senator Smith: What would you determine to be your biggest need in terms of improvement? You dealt with health but there are obviously other major issues such as infrastructure, education, et cetera.
What would be an example of another area you would want to improve upon so that you get the maximum benefit out of this and make the maximum impact on First Nations people?
Mr. Conn: That is a great question, senator. My personal view or perspective is around the concept of social determinants of health are adequate housing, education, employment and perhaps food security. Housing would go a long way. We are short on infrastructure dollars.
We work and manage with what we get through the annual appropriations. We push for more and we have asked for more. We welcomed the last few federal budgets in terms of injection of major capital for health facilities in my side of the world. We could do a lot more in terms of housing and other needed facilities within the communities. We work with what we have, but we could certainly shape and improve things.
We could do all that wonderful health programming including a nursing clinic or a hospital, but what are people going back into in terms of 16 people in a house? That is difficult to reconcile. We need more infrastructure resources, but we will keep asking through the federal budgetary process and will see what happens.
The Chair: Mr. Conn, if you want to add something in writing to Senator Smith’s question, please do because it will be important when we table our report in the Senate.
Ms. Boudreau, if you want to add something in writing to the specific question asked by Senator Smith, we would appreciate that.
Senator Loffreda: Thank you for your presentation.
Talking about improvement areas, not long ago the government announced the first-ever Women Entrepreneurship Strategy, which I discussed briefly this morning with the treasury department. It is a $2 billion investment that seeks to double the number of women-owned businesses by 2025. I am quite interested in the strategy and commend the government for this initiative. It’s a great initiative.
A modest $11 million is being sought through these supplementary estimates for this strategy. We learned that the program will be delivered by the regional development agencies in their respective areas, such as ACOA in Atlantic Canada and the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec.
We all know Indigenous women business owners who want to expand into new markets. We discussed improvement areas, and that is an improvement area for every community in Canada.
I think, for example, of Indigenous Inuit artists who want to sell their art and women entrepreneurs. This women’s strategy could assist them in undertaking these initiatives. Are you part of this program? If not, what is being done at this level?
Mr. Thompson: Of course economic development is critical to building the capacity needed for Indigenous communities, nations and institutions.
Currently the department economic development programming is guided by three priorities. Our first priority is to advance the governance institution and support self-determination. We also support economic prosperity for Indigenous people. Some of our programming would mirror what you see in Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. The third is focused more on land resources and environmental management.
We have a suite of programming that is directly targeted toward Indigenous people. We work with communities. We also encourage them to access the programming provided through Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada. They have components that are targeted toward Indigenous people as well. We also try to guide them in ensuring they have access to our programming.
It is a collaboration between the departments of ISED, Employment and Social Development Canada and Indigenous Services Canada.
Senator Loffreda: Is there anything specific to women entrepreneurs, or would that fall under something like the Community Opportunity Readiness Program?
Mr. Thompson: The Women Entrepreneurship Strategy is more like the program delivered through the regional development agencies. We also pay attention to Indigenous women. We are targeting with some of our programming. We are trying to align with the agenda of the government.
It is really a partnership. We are working hand in hand with our federal partners to make sure Indigenous people are appropriately supported as well.
Senator Loffreda: Not necessarily through that program but through similar programs that you might identify.
Mr. Thompson: As I mentioned, senator, we would be guiding Indigenous communities to access the programs that are delivered through the ISED portfolio, but they can also access programs that are housed within ISC.
Senator Keating: My question goes to Mr. Thompson. I would like to go back to the request in your supplementary estimates for income assistance and infrastructure, specifically with regard to providing drinking water and treating waste water.
These seem to be two persistent problems in terms of infrastructure. Could you give us an update on the drinking water situation as it affects indigenous people? Also, how much of the budget is being allocated to resolve the drinking water and waste water issues?
Mr. Thompson: Thank you for your question, senator. The government is committed to lifting all the boil-water advisories by March 2021 and the department is on track to achieve that objective. On September 30, 2019, more than $1.33 billion was allocated and invested to support 754 drinking water and waste water projects, of which 265 are now complete. Those projects will serve 461,000 people in communities across the country.
Today, although a lot of work remains to be done in order to meet the ambitious objective of 2021, we can say that the results we have achieved have been very encouraging. Eighty-eight long-term boil-water advisories have been lifted and 151 short-term advisories are presently under control, preventing them from becoming long-term advisories. So, a lot of effort is being made.
I mentioned information, infrastructure, and follow-up testing. This is a priority for the department. We are monitoring it very closely.
Senator Keating: Thank you very much for your reply.
The Chair: Mr. Thompson, if you think you have additional information to provide following Senator Keating’s question, if you could send it in writing to the clerk of the committee, it would be much appreciated.
Senator Klyne: Thank you to the panel of witnesses for the information and supplementary answers they have provided.
In addition to the information we are getting, I would like to see the rate of travel on things. We are slowly closing the gap on housing but there are still housing crises. It is the same with drinking water, but there are still long-term boil water advisories out there. You mentioned that you are making progress and you think you will have them wrapped up by 2020-21.
I would like to see over a period of time where we are actually solving the housing crisis. It seems to be never ending. It keeps coming back with mould and so on and so forth. It is the same with drinking water.
On the education side, I don’t understand why we can’t close the gap with provincial funding on the federal funding side. I will make up some numbers here. Maybe the feds will cover $2,500 per student on a reserve while the province is doing $4,200. I am making up the numbers, but they may be close.
It is difficult for First Nations communities to compete if the funding is short for recruiting teachers to come to these facilities. We still have kids who are busing an hour and a half one way to school, going to school and then an hour and a half back. You might say that is a good time to study and read, but these are young people. They have dreams. They don’t need to spend three hours on a bus.
We continue to have that gap because of the litigation on treaties. I don’t understand why, especially with respect to education, they still need to continue to beg and litigate when there are treaty rights. Now we are forgiving loans on consultations and such.
Maybe you can make it clear to me that there is an end in sight that I can understand how many more housing crises issues have to be dealt with and how many more boil water advisories there will be. The whole education gap doesn’t seem to be getting addressed with funding per student plus the infrastructure.
I would just like to see that there is a trend of success here at some point. I would be very interested to see how you are going to meet the drinking water crisis by 2021. It is ambitious.
Mr. Thompson: I covered the water question. We are quite on track to meet the March 2021 deadline. We know much work will need to be completed after to ensure that the situation remains under control.
The government has made significant investments in housing. The need is growing. The population is growing. We know that the need will continue to be there and we will have to continue to make investments.
Budget 2018 invested $600 million for First Nations housing, $500 million over 10 years for Métis Nation housing and $400 million over 10 years for Inuit housing, in addition to the $240 million over 10 years announced for housing. Significant investments are being made. We are also ensuring that we are providing sufficient funding for maintenance costs.
We are working with Indigenous partners as well in terms of the infrastructure plan. It is a co-development approach to ensure we are meeting the needs.
On education I could attempt an answer, but my colleague Mary-Luisa Kapelus is here. Perhaps she could provide a short answer.
Senator Klyne: I suppose, when we talk about the Aboriginal side of the constitutional definition we are talking about First Nations, Métis, Inuit, and you covered the three there. There is a reference to 600-some reserves. That’s First Nations communities of which probably 60 per cent live off reserve.
I was pleased to hear you included Métis and Inuit in the housing side of things as well. It is bigger than just the First Nations communities.
Mary-Luisa Kapelus, Assistant Deputy Minister, Indigenous Services Canada: I am really excited to answer this question because in 2019 we launched a new funding formula for K-12 education.
You are correct, senator. It is specifically for First Nations on reserve in this case. The formula has not just taken us to a point where it is comparable with provincial funding. We actually surpass it now. It has seen increases ranging from 14% to 39% in funding across the country. Not one region went down. What this means is more cultural training for students, more language training for students, and $1,500 that was not there before which exceeds provincial standards.
We also have is K4-K5 on reserve across the country. No other jurisdiction is able to boast that in terms of areas that we are working on. It is something that we are starting with our partners. We believe in the priority of getting kids educated young and making sure they have a good start in life. That K4-K5 is really important. We saw a huge uptake in the first year of over 50%.
We have data on the breakdown we can share with you by region. We have a nice map by region as well. This is our first year rolling it out, and our partners are really pleased with what they have seen. It is going to take time, though, in terms of improvements and outcomes but we are confident that we will get there shortly.
The Chair: Could you please provide your beautiful map to the clerk?
Ms. Kapelus: Yes, I have it right here. Absolutely.
Senator Tannas: I have just heard the best news that I have heard in seven years. That is a real accomplishment. The government, as much as I am choking, should be proud itself for that.
Some of you have met me before. I want to ask a question on operations. I always understood CIRNA to be kind of the relationship folks. It is one ministry and Indigenous Services is the delivery of services and the transfer of money to Indigenous governments. Is that fair?
That is what I thought it was, too, but I just looked and CIRNA, in the category of operating expenditures, actually spends more money than Indigenous Services Canada does with $3.2 billion in one line, operating. Indigenous Services Canada is $2.171 billion although they have a massive amount of money that goes directly to Indigenous governments.
I have a two-part question. One is an undertaking and the other is the question. Could each one of you give us in 30 seconds what is in your operating line in CIRNA and Indigenous Services, $3.2 billion in CIRNA and $2.17 billion in Indigenous Services?
Could you undertake to provide the community with the number of employees in your department within 50 kilometres of this room and the number of employees in the rest of Canada?
Ms. Boudreau: From the CIRNA perspective, under vote 1 operating you see a big number because that is where we have all the childhood claims. All the money we are paying on mitigation for the childhood is part of vote 1 for CIRNA. That is why you see a big amount there.
Senator Tannas: Are you talking social services for children?
Ms. Boudreau: No, I am not talking about that. I am talking about litigation. You will have heard about Sixties Scoop litigation and the McLean litigation. All the money we are giving to the claimants will come from vote 1 operating expenses in CIRNA’s books.
Senator Tannas: In my mind that’s a transfer of money out of your hands, out of the Ottawa bubble, and into people’s hands that can use it. What would operating be?
Ms. Boudreau: If we remove all of that I would have to do the math quickly. We are not left with a lot but I will come back to the committee with it. It is very small after.
Mr. Thompson: In our operating budget of $2.2 billion we have, as you referred to correctly, money being transferred to non-insured health benefits directly to First Nations for teachers and nurses.
Senator Tannas: That is in your operating. It is all the old Health Canada people and some teachers.
Mr. Thompson: Exactly, this is correct. If we exclude those expenses, the remaining amount of operating budget is about $750 million.
Senator Tannas: If you could provide the employee numbers to the chair, that would be great.
The Chair: Thank you to the witnesses for accepting our invitation to appear before our committee.
Honourable senators, we will continue with our new witnesses. Thank you, as well, for accepting our invitation. We are continuing our study of the Supplementary Estimates (B).
We welcome officials from three different departments. From Infrastructure Canada, we have Greg Hall, Director General of Finance and Administration, and Marc Fortin, the Assistant Deputy Minister of the Program Operations Branch. From the Department of National Defence, we have Cheri Crosby—
— Assistant Deputy Minister (Finance) and Chief Financial Officer.
who is accompanied by Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Vice Chief of the Defence Staff. In the third group of witnesses, we have, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Kevin Stringer, the RCMP Chief Administrative Officer, and Dennis Waters—
— Chief Financial and Administrative Officer.
I have been informed that we will have comments from Mr. Hall, to be followed by Ms. Crosby, and then to be followed and concluded by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Mr. Kevin Stringer, and questions will be asked by the senators.
Greg Hall, Director General Finance and Administration, Infrastructure Canada: Thank you for inviting Infrastructure Canada to present here today. I am the Director General of Finance and Administration and Deputy Chief Finance Officer for the department. I am joined today by Marc Fortin, Assistant Deputy Minister of the Program Operations Branch.
I am here to speak to you about Infrastructure Canada’s Supplementary Estimates (B), which were tabled in the House of Commons on February 18, 2020.
The department is requesting additional funding of $198.9 million in its 2019-2020 supplementary estimates B to support program delivery, including legacy and new programs under the Investing in Canada plan. Included in our supplementary estimates B is $105.8 million in funding for the Samuel de Champlain Bridge corridor project, which was moved forward from last year’s budget to this year’s to align with forecasted expenditures.
One of the largest infrastructure projects in North America, the Samuel De Champlain Bridge, opened last year on July 1 after four years of construction. Work continues on the remaining components of the corridor.
We are also requesting $3 million to support the Rural Economic Development portfolio. Rural communities are an integral part of our country and the Canadian economy. We want to ensure, whether someone lives in a big urban centre or a small rural municipality, that they have access to the same connectivity and opportunities.
Part of our request includes $61.3 million in statutory funding. As you may recall, Budget 2019 approved $60 million to support the Municipal Asset Management Fund administered by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities on behalf of Infrastructure Canada. This program provides training and resources to help communities strengthen their asset management practices and make better investment decisions. In addition to this targeted funding, Infrastructure Canada is also seeking a $1.3 million increase to the employee benefit plan.
Additionally, unlike most federal departments, Infrastructure Canada’s operations are funded through the programs it delivers rather than through permanent operating funding. This is why Infrastructure Canada secured additional funding of $18.1 million over two years, with $6.6 million in 2019-20 for the department to sustain operations and continue to effectively deliver its mandate.
We are making great strides with our Investing in Canada plan. More than $65 billion in federal funding has been committed across all of the 14 delivery partners, and over 52,000 projects from coast to coast to coast are either under way or completed. Through Infrastructure Canada alone, we have approved more than 17,000 projects worth over $38 billion. We have made tangible investments in infrastructure in every region of our country, and we are committed to improving the quality of life for Canadians. Thank you for inviting us to speak with you today about the important work Infrastructure Canada is doing on behalf of Canadians. We would be happy to answer any questions you have.
Cheri Crosby, Assistant Deputy Minister (Finance) and Chief Financial Officer, Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: Thank you very much for the invitation to present the supplementary estimates (B) for the 2019-2020 fiscal year on behalf of the Department of National Defence.
My name is Cheri Crosby and I am the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Deputy Minister for Finance at the Department of National Defence.
I am joined today by the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant General Jean-Marc Lanthier. I am also joined by Mr. Troy Crosby, Assistant Deputy Minister, Materiel, and the Assistant Deputy Minister of Infrastructure and Environment, Mr. Rob Chambers.
I have prepared a brief statement, after which my colleagues and I will be at your disposal to answer any questions you might have.
This year the Department of National Defence is requesting access to $796.9 million through the Supplementary Estimates (B) to cover additional spending on capital projects and for operations. This request represents an increase of 3% in the original allocation for the 2019-20 fiscal year.
Turning to the Supplementary Estimates (B) before you, I would like to highlight several key points for the committee.
National Defence is seeking $490.8 million to fund capital investments to support Strong, Secure, Engaged. Examples of these projects include the Automatic Identification Technology project that will contribute to providing a timely and accurate picture of material holdings, theMedium Earth Orbit Search and Rescue Project that will deliver the next generation satellite for search and rescue capability, and the acquisition of four large commercial off the shelf tugboats to advance the National Shipbuilding Strategy.
National Defence is also requesting $312.3 million in operating costs, to be used as follows: $148.6 million for the Heyder and Beattie Final Settlement Agreement and $26 million for the LGBT “Purge Class” Action Final Settlement agreement.
In both cases the funds will be used to cover compensation for claimants and to provide, where needed, access to support services. The cost of administering these claims is also included.
We’re also asking for $95.5 million for the continued military contribution of Canada to global security initiatives in support of NATO’s deterrence measures across Central and Eastern Europe; and $37.1 million for Canada’s participation in the UN presence in Africa for peace support operations.
And $5.1 million for the reinvestment of revenues from the sale or transfer of Defence-owned properties. The investment will focus on making Canadian Armed Forces properties more energy efficient and building more housing at CFB Comox.
The department also receives services from other departments and organizations across the government or participates often in partnerships in research and development programs where DND is not the lead. The request in this Supplementary Estimates (B) includes 12 transfers going to other organizations for a total transfer out of DND of $19.4 million. An example of these transfers includes a transfer to the Communications Security Establishment, or CSE, for joint initiatives where CSC has the expertise.
This request also includes 10 transfers coming from other organizations for services and to support collaborative joint projects being led by Defence. An example of this includes the support Defence provides to the Department of Veterans Affairs for the implementation of the Veteran’s Service Card.
In closing, Mr. Chair, the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces will continue to deliver their essential national mandate while embracing fiscal responsibility and effective stewardship of resources.
My colleagues and I would be pleased to address any questions and comments that you might have.
Kevin Stringer, RCMP Chief Administrative Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Good afternoon, Mr. Chair and honourable committee members, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today about the RCMP’s Supplementary Estimates (B) for 2019-20. I am joined by Dennis Watters, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, and Deputy Commissioner Brian Brennan who oversees our contract and Indigenous policing.
I would like to take a few minutes to provide some background information on the RCMP that I hope will be helpful in situating the supplementary estimates before you today.
The RCMP’s mandate is multifaceted. It includes preventing and investigating crime, maintaining peace and order, enforcing laws, contributing to national security, ensuring the safety of state officials, visiting dignitaries and foreign missions, and providing vital operational support services to other police and law enforcement agencies within Canada and abroad.
We deliver policing services under provincial, territorial and municipal contracts covering eight provinces and three territories, more than 150 municipalities, and over 600 Indigenous communities.
The RCMP contributes to Canada’s national security through increasingly complex work in a number of areas, including terrorism and extremism, cybercrime, drugs and organized crime, national security criminal investigations, protective policing and border integrity.
We are also the steward of the National Police Services, which provides a range of services to our law enforcement partners. In many instances the RCMP is the sole provider of these services, such as Forensic Science and Identification Services, the Canadian Police Information Centre, the Canadian Police College, the Canadian Firearms Program and the National Sex Offender Registry.
On the international stage, the RCMP works to further Canada’s global peace and security agenda by supporting the international law enforcement community.
We are continuing our process of transformation and modernization with a vision for the organization’s way forward. Renewed focus has been placed on the RCMP people, culture, stewardship and policing services as mechanisms to modernize and move the organization toward becoming even more trusted, inclusive, accountable and committed to its employees, its partners and the communities it serves.
In addition, 2019-20 has been an important year for the RCMP, with the certification of the National Police Federation as the sole collective bargaining agent for RCMP regular members. Going forward, we’ll be navigating a shifting human resources landscape with upcoming collective agreements that will touch on many areas of workplace well-being, human resources, pay and benefits.
To effectively address these challenges we need resources, which brings us to the supplementary estimates. Through Supplementary Estimates (B) the RCMP is seeking an increase of $106.6 million or 2% of our authorities to date. Highlights include a $24.7 million increase for in-year adjustments in the Contract Policing Program to address shifts in expenditures and revenue collections.
The RCMP is also requesting a re-profile of $27.5 million to maintain the increase in the number of troops trained at the RCMP’s academy. We can therefore better meet the human resource requirements of our contract partners and offset attrition.
Also included is a transfer of $52.9 million from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada to the RCMP for its First Nations community policing services delivered in accordance with tripartite agreements with Public Safety, the provinces and territories, and First Nations.
An additional $788,000 will be transferred from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to the RCMP for law enforcement training on drug-impaired driving. The RCMP is asking to transfer $2.2 million to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada to support the expansion of biometric screening in the immigration system. This overview gives you a sense of the important work carried out by the RCMP to effectively deliver on its mandate while safeguarding the health and safety of its members. We must be properly resourced. The supplementary estimates will help to address some of our significant fiscal pressures.
With that, I would like to again thank the committee for having us here today. We would now be pleased to answer your questions. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Stringer.
Senator Marshall: My first question is for Ms. Crosby regarding the capital projects. You said in your opening remarks that the team provided the clerk with a breakdown of funding. Will that be by project? I haven’t seen that document but it is by project, isn’t it?
Ms. Crosby: Yes.
Senator Marshall: How many projects are there? I saw 333 in some document or on your website. I have a list of 248 and someone yesterday said, no, it is 236. How many projects are we talking about?
Ms. Crosby: SSC, back when it was announced in 2017, targeted funding for 333 projects. Over time as we start implementing projects, sometimes projects get put together, sometimes they get split apart and sometimes new ones come in. It is a bit of an evolving move, but the list that we typically refer to is 333. Those were the official ones, so that is where we started and that is where we tracked.
Senator Marshall: When I look at the list that you provided to the clerk, I should be able to match it up with my list to a certain extent.
Ms. Crosby: The list we are providing to the clerk today is a list specifically related to Supplementary Estimates (B). I am not sure if you have that list in front of you now.
Senator Marshall: No, we don’t have it, but I should be able to match it up to the 333.
Ms. Crosby: No. It will be a slice of that 333 specifically related to the funds that we are requesting in Supplementary Estimates (B). I have that with me.
Senator Marshall: I may have to go back to you on that. The Parliamentary Budget Officer appeared before us this morning. He issued a report on the Supplementary Estimates (B) and he mentioned the Department of National Defence. He indicated that he was looking for information from your department. He said he was looking for details regarding projects that have occurred to date as well as any changes to costs, estimates and schedules. It will allow him to track the progress of capital projects included in Strong, Secure, Engaged. Then he will publish it in the near future.
I was asking him this morning if he could give me some timelines, and he said it would take the department a couple of months to put together the information. I thought that was a bit unusual.
How do you gather the information? How is it recorded? I am working with the 333 projects. Wouldn’t you have a project management system or a project costing system so that you could get an update every month? Could you talk about that?
Ms. Crosby: I appreciate that you spoke to the PBO this morning. First of all let me underline that we have an excellent relationship with the PBO. I find it as the CFO at National Defence very helpful to have an external view of what we are doing. It has been useful in previous projects, and I very much look forward to continuing to share information like costing with the PBO.
As the PBO knows as well, we continuously refresh both the schedule and the costing of our programs. We track it day to day. We also publish on an annual basis an update to our investment plan. On the website there is a 2019 update. I am happy to say we are well on our way to producing the 2020 update this spring. In there you will find the key projects and how they are doing, their progress and so forth.
We continually update our costing, but at the same time we have undertaken a full review of all 333 projects over the last few months. We are just finalizing a full review so we can pull it all together and have a snapshot in time of the latest schedules and costings. That is the exercise we are about to wrap up, and we will share that with the PBO very soon.
Senator Marshall: Is the snapshot you are talking about available on a monthly basis? It is only 333 projects. There are basically off-shelf systems that could gather that information. I find it peculiar that he has to wait a couple of months to get the information.
Ms. Crosby: It is a very intensive exercise, surprisingly, to track 333 projects. However, we do it on a continuous basis. Only every now and then do we take a snapshot of the whole package and do an analysis. Such is the work that the PBO will do.
Again, we gear up to a once a year update and that gets published on the web. That is more or less the routine we have been following for the last two or three years.
Senator Marshall: This question is for Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Lieutenant-General Lanthier. I don’t know if you have seen it, but the departments just released their departmental results reports. I will start to read about National Defence.
There have been a lot of articles in the past regarding Canada’s military preparedness, its equipment and the length of time it takes them to procure equipment. The issue of the Arctic seems to be coming up quite often. I know you are familiar with the issue regarding the two Russian aircraft that approached Canadian airspace.
There are a couple of articles here. General Jonathan Vance is talking about NORAD. We have to upgrade relatively quickly as the threat posed by Russia, China and other countries continues to grow. I have a number of articles like that.
One of the departmental results is that Canada’s Arctic sovereignty is preserved and safeguarded. The target is 100% and the actual result is 100%. It seems like everything is pretty good with regard to protecting the Arctic, but when I read all these articles in the news media I get a different impression. I don’t know if you are able to reconcile the two.
Lieutenant General Jean-Marc Lanthier, Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: Yes, I can probably explain a bit. The final results report is built up from the program inventory and all the different indicators that apply to every program.
In the specific one you are talking about, in order to protect sovereignty a series of exercises is conducted. For every one of those exercises I have specific technical objectives that nest into an operational structure. These are the performance indicators we measure. Every one of the exercises we have conducted has actually led to attainment or achievement of those objectives. There is a correlation of 100% achievement for the exercise.
When we are talking about the other element you were referring to, incursion into either the Canadian Air Defence Identification Zone or things like that, that falls under another indicator, which is operations. One of the challenges is that you don’t know what you haven’t detected because you have not detected them. It poses a challenge in measuring how effective you are at actual detection because you can only measure and report on what you have detected.
We measure, for example, the state of the readiness of the aircraft. They are supposed to be in the air in X amount of time. There are supposed to so many available at many locations under different threat conditions. We are measuring our ability to respond, and that is how we achieve those targets.
Senator Marshall: There is no funding for NORAD upgrading or the North Warning System, is there? That will come in a future year; probably the new year. Is that correct?
Ms. Crosby: We can tag team on that one. There is no specific funding on that, but it is obviously on our radar and is something we are working on.
Senator Marshall: I will look in the Main Estimates. Thank you.
Senator Forest: Thank you for being here. My first question concerns the Gas Tax Fund, Mr. Hall. It’s an excellent program. I was on the other side of the pipeline for 26 years at the municipal level. The program is greatly appreciated by the municipalities.
Nevertheless, the tax burden was significantly affected. The program, with which you’re very familiar, required municipalities to first invest in upgrades to water and sewer systems. Once this was done, we could move on to the road system. As a result, we hastened to make investments that weren’t necessarily planned. The investments didn’t need to be included in the current budget for the fiscal year. Some small municipalities didn’t even have a water or sewer system and had limited financial resources.
The program never enabled us work on municipal assets, such as city halls or fire stations. Small municipalities missed out on this expected program that enabled medium-term planning. In the supplementary estimates, $3 million was provided for the rural community and $60 million in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to ensure better planning with respect to municipal assets.
In the short term, do you think that the Gas Tax Fund will make it possible to work on municipal infrastructure, such as fire stations or recreational and cultural facilities?
Marc Fortin, Assistant Deputy Minister, Program Operations Branch, Infrastructure Canada: Thank you for raising the issues that we’re working on with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to ensure good planning. As a department and with our partners, the provinces and territories, we acknowledge—because we manage the gas tax with them—the importance of good planning. The gas tax enables municipalities to bank investments and use that money later on.
You said that, in a way, the program forced some municipalities to invest in wastewater. I want to specify that the federal program doesn’t require this type of thing. Some provinces and territories are establishing a framework. The goal was to enable municipalities to address these challenges. It wasn’t necessarily a federal criterion initially.
Senator Forest: Do you mean that there was no target for action at the federal level, but that the provinces and territories were targeted? In your opinion, is it impossible to take action with regard to any type of infrastructure?
Mr. Fortin: That’s correct. The federal government established 18 eligibility criteria. That’s very broad in terms of flexibility for the municipalities, provinces and territories. This is a completely different area in terms of operations. Under the program, the federal government didn’t want to be involved in the day-to-day operations of city halls or fire stations. The gas tax wasn’t supposed to fund this component.
Senator Forest: It’s not a matter of funding ongoing operations, but of funding capital investments.
Mr. Fortin: The infrastructure is often used for day-to-day operations. The maintenance of fire stations or law enforcement centres in some municipalities fell into that category.
However, in the case of environmental investments to strengthen energy conservation, the gas tax could be used, but not for day-to-day operations. The line becomes quite thin when it comes to knowing which part of the building is used for operational infrastructure as opposed to a single activity or special projects.
Senator Forest: For example, if I create a project to improve the energy balance of a municipal building, the project will be accepted. However, if I make renovations in order to expand the building, the project won’t be accepted. Is that correct?
Mr. Fortin: Yes, that’s more or less correct.
Senator Forest: I have another question. Mr. Stringer, for the RCMP, you talked about a $2.2 million transfer for biometric screening in the immigration system. Is any funding for facial recognition included in this budget? Is the RCMP involved in this area, and is this part of the funding?
Kevin Stringer, RCMP Chief Administrative Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Thank you for your question, Senator Forest. Two years ago, Citizenship and Immigration Canada requested funding to expand biometric screening.
We received funding for our participation in that project. However, part of the funding, $2.2 million, constituted a contingency fund for us to use if necessary, because estimates are difficult to establish.
This program is now managed by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. We transferred the funding to Citizenship and Immigration Canada this year because we didn’t need it.
Senator Forest: At this time, the RCMP isn’t using any specific funding for facial recognition?
Mr. Stringer: No, we haven’t received funding for this.
Senator Forest: Thank you.
Senator Stewart Olsen: I have three quick questions. Mr. Hall, you are requesting $3 million to support the rural and economic development portfolio. That doesn’t seem like much to promote connectivity in the rural areas, especially in this country. Is this a top-up for what you are already spending, or where are you going with that?
Mr. Hall: That $3 million was identified to establish the secretariat function within the department. With the addition of a new minister in January 2019, there was a need for Infrastructure Canada to establish a secretariat function to support the new minister.
The $3 million identified within Supplementary Estimates (B) for 2019-20 is to extend and set up that funding. It has effectively allowed the organization to support that minister in setting up the development of the rural and economic development strategy, the rollout of rural infrastructure projects and leading work to increase high-speed broadband in Canada as you had mentioned.
Senator Stewart Olsen: I raise my eyebrows at that. If you live in any rural area in this country, you will know connectivity is pretty poor in most areas. I will just leave that.
Ms. Crosby, your completion of the acquisition of four large commercial off the shelf tugs to advance our national shipbuilding strategy, is that a Canadian shelf?
Ms. Crosby: It is a Canadian shelf.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Mr. Stringer, approximately $374,000 were transferred from Transport Canada to the RCMP for policing the Confederation Bridge that links. P.E.I. and New Brunswick.
I am not aware of major crime on that bridge. We have RCMP detachments in Cap-Pelé and Sackville and they take maybe 15 minutes to arrive on the bridge. I am wondering what exactly that is for. Are you going to set up a station on the bridge?
Mr. Stringer: No. I will start and Dennis may want to add something. We have contract policing agreements with New Brunswick and with P.E.I. There are 14.8 kilometres. I think that is the number. That is pretty significant and not necessarily covered by that. Transport actually receives funds in its budget which are transferred to us to enable us to do it.
Dennis Watters, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: That is correct. We do the policing of the Confederation Bridge. It is Transport Canada’s responsibility for the safety and security of the bridge, but it transfers that portion to us because, as you probably know, we do contract policing in both Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Senator Stewart Olsen: Yes. What exactly are you referring to when you say the policing of the bridge?
Mr. Stringer: It is regular policing that takes place. It is for Transport in particular to monitor what is going across and back or if there is any action that needs to be taken on the bridge. There is not a specific initiative outside of what we normally do.
If that turns out not to be correct, we will correct the record and let you know. It really is about covering the gap and supporting Transport with its mandate.
Senator Loffreda: I have three quick questions just to clarify. The first one is for National Defence.
Yesterday we learned in the media that the delivery of the first Arctic and offshore patrol ship has been delayed once more and the arrival of the second ship has also fallen behind schedule.
Is any of the $487 million you are requesting through the supplementary estimates here going toward these patrol ships? Could you address and clarify the issue of the year-over-year delays in obtaining these patrol vessels?
If my memory serves me right, we were supposed to get these ships way back in 2013. Considering these delays, could you provide the committee with an updated cost of these in comparison with the expected costs when these contracts were signed? How much more is this costing Canadians? That is my first question.
Ms. Crosby: Thank you for your very complex question, so I will ask my colleague, Mr. Crosby, to speak about the project itself. Then I can come back and speak to the cost, if that is okay.
Troy Crosby, Assistant Deputy Minister (Materiel), Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces: The Arctic offshore patrol ship project has been challenging. It is a first of class ship and the first ship being built on the East Coast. The design has evolved over the years. As you are likely aware, we now have more than one of these ship in construction. As a matter of fact, there are two in the water right now.
Now that the ships are moving toward acceptance, we are in challenging phase of the project where the contractor continues to deliver the ship to us. Over time we are inspecting compartments as they are completed. There is work with National Defence, the navy and materiel group personnel to make sure the inspections are being completed.
Of course this means we are finding things along the way. The ship has gone to sea trials already. We have managed to move forward quite a bit on the acceptance work that needs to be done. We are still finding things and working through those with a contractor. We are now converging on the spring of this year as a point in time where we will achieve delivery of the first ship.
In terms of costs, we are still working within the target cost that was established when the contract was signed.
Senator Loffreda: It is still the initial cost. There is no additional cost to the taxpayers.
Mr. Crosby: Correct. To answer your other question, senator, you asked if there were any specific numbers. There are none.
Senator Loffreda: Closer to home, on the Champlain Bridge, the Senate National Finance Committee studied the expenses for the new Samuel De Champlain Bridge over the years.
In its 2018 report on the Main Estimates 2018-19, the senators wrote that a key part of the mandate of The Jacques Cartier and Champlain Bridges Incorporated was to maintain the safety of the existing Champlain Bridge. The corporation set aside $132 million in 2018-19 for that purpose.
Since 2014 total maintenance expenditures on the Champlain Bridge have been $328 million. However, officials who appeared before this committee in the past said that most of these funds were part of a reserve in the event of delays in the construction of the new bridge.
The planned maintenance expenditures until June 2019 are approximately $50 million. If the new bridge is not ready at that time, $10 million is planned to cover the period from June to December.
Could you provide the committee with an update on these funds, on these reserves? Has all of it been spent or has any of it been used for other bridge-related expenses?
My other question concerns late penalties. Have any late penalties been collected? I can elaborate on that further if you wish.
Mr. Hall: In regard to the Champlain Bridge to date we have paid approximately $1.5 billion of the total $4.5 billion associated with the construction of that bridge. There remains a milestone payment to be made.
As far as the ongoing maintenance of the bridge in the future is concerned, and this is in response to your question regarding the payments and such, $2.5 billion is set aside over the course of the next years to maintain that as an asset of infrastructure from a federal perspective.
Regarding the late payment, effectively representatives from Infrastructure Canada and the Signature on the Saint Lawrence Group are continuing to discuss the reasons for the delay in the opening of the bridge and how this may impact penalties using the dispute resolution mechanisms that exist with the contract.
Once these confidential commercial discussions have ended, we will be able to give you more information regarding that. It is not unusual that a large-scale project of this nature would have such issues resolved after the construction is completed, and that is no different in this case.
Senator Loffreda: It is confidential at this point
Mr. Hall: It is.
Senator Bellemare: One of my questions is for Infrastructure Canada and the other is for the Department of National Defence.
I want you to tell me a little bit about your responsibilities with regard to the Investing in Canada plan and the Canada Infrastructure Bank, in order to clearly differentiate between the two.
We can see here that, for the Investing in Canada infrastructure plan, in the current supplementary estimates, you’re asking for $4.7 million, which isn’t much, for a total of $576 million in planned spending.
At the same time, in your presentation, you said that you’re carrying out major projects with your Investing in Canada plan. More than $65.1 billion in federal funding was committed by all 14 delivery partners, and over 52,000 projects are under way or completed across Canada. In addition, Infrastructure Canada alone has reportedly approved more than 17,000 projects worth over $38 billion.
I just want to know, in all this, what falls under your purview and what falls under the bank’s purview, especially since we’re hearing that the Canada Infrastructure Bank isn’t operating as quickly as desired. At the same time, we’re at a point where we feel that the economy may slow down, and we may need infrastructure projects. Are you ready for this? Do you have plans? Are you well prepared with the Canada Infrastructure Bank?
Mr. Fortin: Thank you, Senator Bellemare. I’ll try to clear up these figures. This is why I have grey hair, by the way. First, in terms of the Government of Canada’s infrastructure plan, you talked about 14 partners. Infrastructure Canada is involved, but we aren’t alone. Other departments are involved, such as Transport Canada, and they each have their share of responsibilities. This is the $130 billion that you mentioned and the 52,000 projects that my partner talked about in his speaking notes. Infrastructure Canada isn’t the only department involved.
We have certain responsibilities in terms of establishing bilateral agreements with our partners, meaning the provinces and territories. They’re also involved in investing in infrastructure projects. In these infrastructure projects, we have different funding: green funding, funding for public transit and other funding. This also affects rural communities. Projects are submitted to us, and the projects must meet certain criteria. At this point, we and the provinces invest money in the projects.
This is Infrastructure Canada’s role as a federal department. We negotiate the agreements. Once the agreements have been negotiated, the provinces and territories ask us to work with them.
With respect to Infrastructure Canada, we’re talking about roughly $31 billion. Currently, 556 projects have been approved under the bilateral agreements that I just mentioned. We’re at close to 50 per cent of all the allocations granted after a year and a half or two years already. The project is developing quite quickly.
You spoke of the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which is separate from the department. The bank is managed by a special governance structure. A board of directors manages it, and that board isn’t part of the department. The organization, the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which is based in Toronto—
Senator Bellemare: Which is part of Investing in Canada?
Mr. Fortin: They received part of the $130 billion in funding from the federal government. The bank’s role is to attract local and foreign investment for specific projects, but also to act as an advisor, investor and data provider. However, the bank doesn’t fall under the umbrella of the department.
Senator Bellemare: In a situation where plans must be implemented quickly to stimulate the Canadian economy, do you have a pool of projects that could be leveraged?
Mr. Fortin: We always have a pool of projects submitted to us by the provinces and territories. In this type of situation, I imagine that not only we, but also other departments would look at this together.
Senator Bellemare: My next question is for the Department of National Defence. It’s a naive question. Everyone is talking about the coronavirus. You didn’t mention it in your supplementary estimates. Will you be talking about it in future supplementary estimates, or are the additional resources for this unexpected event already included in your funding?
Ms. Crosby: Thank you for the question. As you know, the corona virus is a developing situation. From a financial point of view National Defence is happy to be part of coordinating and providing the assistance we can.
Because it is a developing situation, what we are doing from the financial point of view is tracking and using the resources we currently have. At this stage it is difficult to forecast what the financial impact might be on departments.
I can assure you we are tracking the costs and using whatever resources we can. We will worry about it later when the final price tag comes in. At some point across government we will need to reconcile the actual cost. At this point from DND’s point of view we are well on our way to tracking what we are doing.
Senator Bellemare: You don’t need additional funding at this time?
Ms. Crosby: Not at all.
Senator Bellemare: Thank you.
Senator Keating: I have two questions. My first is for the RCMP and the other is for National Defence.
The RCMP is requesting $27.5 million for front-line operations. In your introductory remarks, RCMP Chief Administrative Officer Mr. Stringer, you refer to the following:
The RCMP is requesting a re-profile of $27.5 million to maintain the increase in the number of troops that will grow through the RCMP’s Depot Training Academy.
If you are maintaining the increase, I am assuming that the increase would have been provided in the base budget. Is this a one-time request, or is this going to go to the basic funding?
Mr. Stringer: We have only been funded in the past for about 18 troops to go through Depot, and there were 32 people on each troop. Some funding was received last year.
Some of that lapsed at the end of the year. We were seeking to bring it forward so that we could keep it and maintain our 40-troop objective and so that we could turn out about 1,280 new cadets every year.
Senator Keating: The Department of National Defence is requesting $487 million for capital investment in support of Strong, Secure and Engaged.
My question is: How much of the $5.8 billion in capital funding allocated in Strong, Secure, Engaged in 2019-20 does DND expect to spend?
Ms. Crosby: We are in about year three or three and a half of a 20-year capital investment funding plan. We intend to make full use of the entire capital investment fund over that period.
Senator Keating: Could you be a little more specific about the capital projects you are supporting with the funding?
Ms. Crosby: Absolutely. As you mentioned, in Supplementary Estimates (B) for National Defence we are asking for almost $490 million that will go to a variety of projects. In fact, I have a list of those projects available if you would like to see it.
There are upwards of 20, and I have the amount broken down for each one. I would be very happy to share that with you.
Senator Keating: Please, if you could provide it. You don’t need to do it now.
Ms. Crosby: I have it now. I could be the first CFO to actually provide you with those numbers immediately.
Senator M. Deacon: I think the whole team that is here today realizes that we could spend the whole chunk of time with one group, one group and one group, but thank you for trying to make this work as best we can.
This question goes first to you, Mr. Stringer, with the RCMP. I keep going back and looking, and we got a glimpse of this last year: the whole idea that the RCMP is looking at being forward thinking, transforming how you run and operate and lead. It talks about renewed focus being placed on people, culture, stewardship and policing service as the mechanisms to modernize and move the organization toward becoming even more trusted, inclusive, accountable and committed to its employees and partners in the community.
I think about that every time I look at the items that are here and the supplementary estimates requested. Reflectively, do you believe the requests you are making as your highest priorities are helping you achieve and continue to achieve your new focus? Is there something out there, as you are monitoring and reviewing, that you could do to add to the list or to make a clearer connection to your renewed focus? Am I making sense?
Mr. Stringer: We believe what we put forward in the Supplementary Estimates (B) are needed for our core operations.
In terms of the modernization agenda there are elements here that speak to that. I would touch on the question that I just answered on ensuring we have sufficient funds to graduate 40 troops a year. One of the big issues is attrition and making sure we have enough people to replace people who are retiring from the force. That is one item.
There is a new approach and it doesn’t all require funding, but funding is an issue. We are developing funding proposals around addressing mental health, around addressing harassment processes and around other items. We have funding to be able to do those things and we are trying to get better at it.
We are seeing better results in our public service employee survey that show there is a view we are getting better in all those areas. We are committed to going much further than we have. Resources always make a difference.
Putting resources into these areas allows us to be operationally effective. It allows us to be able to put the emphasis on those four areas that you mentioned: our people, our culture, our stewardship, our police services. We have objectives around each of those things and we have wrapped that up as Vision 150.
Senator M. Deacon: I don’t think anyone here wants to get into the high-profile RCMP activity on our northwestern coast of B.C. over the last while. My goal is not to go into that. I am certain they are learning. I am sure there is a variety of perceptions of what was and was not going on. I have total respect for that.
In events like that which pull a lot of your resources, people, equipment and expertise, will there then be a debrief and an additional cost for that one most recent example the RCMP will have to bear, or will it come out somewhere else in the future as an ask?
Mr. Stringer: I am going to ask Deputy Commissioner Brennan to come up. And I will start while he is doing that.
Last year’s wildfires, the floods and the manhunt in northern Manitoba, all of those are things induce real challenge for everybody including RCMP members. That is why we are trying to put the focus on modernization, addressing PTSD, mental health, workplace wellness, et cetera. We have an effective police of record for eight provinces and all three territories. We are able to move resources and do it, but it comes at a human cost.
Maybe Brian wants to add to that.
Brian Brennan, Deputy Commissioner, Contract and Indigenous Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted Police: In events like the most recent those are events that our people train for. We have contingencies around that. We have financial contingencies, if we are deployed to those types of events, that we can manage and sustain those for a certain period of time. If they become prolonged then that will start to draw down on resources. We often shift resources within provinces or what we call divisions. Because we are a national police force we can draw resources from other parts of the country.
We manage the financial implications around prolonged incidents like that within our budget. If we exceed our budget in that area then we begin having conversations with the provinces in which those areas are found. Through certain pieces of legislation and acts we can draw on additional financial resources in that regard.
We plan for those things. We project. If we increase that then we have conversations with the provinces.
Senator M. Deacon: I think you have had lots to plan for. I mean the Manitoba incident doesn’t seem like that long ago, but thank you for your work.
Senator Smith: I know we are running a little late, so I will try to get through this quickly. I have a quick question for Infrastructure Canada.
Looking at the report you submitted to us, we were making great strides with our Investing in Canada plan. More than $65 billion in federal funds were committed across 14 delivery partners and 52,000 projects from coast to coast are either under way or completed. Through Infrastructure Canada alone we have approved more than 17,000 projects worth over $38 billion.
Going back in time, in 2015 I think I am correct in saying that the government suggested there would be a commitment of somewhere between $180 billion to $188 billion or $190 billion for projects that would be initiated and completed through Infrastructure Canada or whatever components of infrastructure with the new bank, et cetera, that evolved.
Could you be more specific and tell us how many projects have been started, how many projects have been completed, and the percentage that were abandoned or sort of dropped off? Then we would have a real number because there is such an interest throughout Canada as to infrastructure and what has been done.
Could you could provide us with something that is simple to understand and hopefully complete so that we really know? Do you have a grid that you could actually show Canadians: Hey, these are the projects we have done and here is a map of Canada?
Mr. Fortin: As a matter of fact there is on our website a map of Canada with projects that have been taking place. When you click, it tells you the name of the city, the money allocated and in what stream we funded the projects. It is right on the Web.
Senator Smith: And it shows completion?
Mr. Fortin: Yes. You are talking about 2015. I want to include a nuance by saying that two phases of the infrastructure program were put in place. Phase 1 was when we went with the waste water component and the transit and we arrived at Budget 2017 with the program as a whole.
Those projects were not in 2015. We had to negotiate the agreements with the provinces and territories. It took us eight to ten months to capture everybody. Then the provinces and territories had intake processes. The municipalities have hundreds and hundreds of projects and many provinces were assessing the projects coming from municipalities. Then they come to us for our approval of those projects, so there is a bit of time spent unrolling the carpet.
As I pointed out earlier to one of your colleagues, coming out of Budget 2017 about 47% of the money has been allocated and projects have been started.
To your last question on whether we could provide a more detailed list, we can certainly provide a list of projects that have been approved, announced and started. Yes, some projects are deleted during the design phase for all kinds of reasons. Sometimes proposals are delayed because of weather conditions.
Senator Smith: It is a great accomplishment. I was trying to give you an indirect compliment. I recognize the gyrations you have gone through because part of your answer was the answer you gave us a few years ago when I was actually chairing the committee.
Mr. Fortin: With probably smaller numbers at the table.
Senator Smith: If you started at $180 billion, which was the overall picture, where are you today? Are you at $38 billion? Are you at $65.1 billion? Are you at 52,000 projects or 17,000 projects? What is your total number?
Mr. Fortin: Since 2015 with all the partners, and not only Infrastructure Canada, we are at 52,000 projects. Our organization can provide you the numbers.
Senator Smith: I think that is a great story, but you might want to tighten it up so you can use it as a sales tool. It is just a suggestion.
The Chair: If you could provide us through the clerk with information and possibly a detailed map, we could see exactly where those contracts are in Canada.
Senator M. Deacon: This is not a question but a request. In addition to that would be a demonstration of the increased speed. Where is infrastructure money getting to communities and showing that it is faster?
Senator Klyne: I didn’t have the opportunity to introduce myself at the beginning of this panel. I am Marty Klyne from Saskatchewan, more specifically Regina, home of the RCMP, where the RCMP was born.
I want to follow up on a question by Senator Keating and your answer. You said you are aiming for 40 new troops in the coming year. What was it last year?
Mr. Stringer: It has been 40 for the past few years. We have only been fully funded for 18. We moved money around and we believe we now have funding for 40. That has been the attempt to do it.
Brian, the deputy commissioner for contract police, can speak to what it was a few years ago; but it did dip below 40 for a number of years. We have brought it back up to that, based on our discussions with provinces and municipal partners about what they think they will need going forward.
Senator Klyne: That is a significant increase to ramp up to 40, and you will probably aim it a little higher yet. Do you have trouble recruiting? Are the troops reflective of the Canadian makeup of diversity and inclusivity?
Mr. Stringer: The issue of recruitment is a challenge and has become a bigger challenge over time. We have significantly more applicants than we have people go through, so there is a vigorous selection process. We are looking at our recruiting process. We are competing with some big city police organizations. We move people around the country. We have some specific challenges, but we are the RCMP and we think we actually have some advantages.
Senator Klyne: I imagine they are poaching from the elite force.
Mr. Stringer: There is that. On the issue around diversity there has been an objective to increase the diversity of the regular members. About 22% are women now and we are trying to increase that by increasing intake at the depot.
Senator Klyne: As a member of Interpol and your international policing, are you feeling more pressure to participate in international policing?
Mr. Stringer: I will ask the deputy commissioner to speak to that.
Mr. Brennan: I wouldn’t say we are feeling pressure to participate, but given the global nature of policing in this day and age with its technology, et cetera, we are being requested to lend our expertise, be forward leaning and show a leadership role on the global stage for sure.
Senator Marshall: I have one quick question for Infrastructure. On the $14 million for the Riverhead Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. John’s, they are looking for more than that, are they not? What is the status of that project?
Mr. Hall: I will start and I will turn to Mr. Fortin if he has additional information.
Effectively the $14 million set aside in Supplementary Estimates (B) was to support a singular project. As is the case with many of the ISC projects, if not all, there are federal, provincial and municipal portions that are often attributed to projects.
In this case, the $14 million was set aside to put in place a secondary treatment expansion of the current Riverhead facility. As of this date no costs have been incurred. We are continuing to negotiate through the contribution agreement which is delayed by the city at this point in time. It is a project that is currently continuing to have negotiations.
Senator Marshall: You are looking for additional funding.
Mr. Fortin: That’s it. The money for the project is still secure.
Senator Marshall: They are looking for more; we are looking for more.
The Chair: Thank you to the witnesses from the three departments for accepting our invitation and for the professionalism and clarity you brought to Senate Standing Committee on National Finance.
Honourable senators, I remind you that the next meeting of the committee will take place tomorrow at 11:30 a.m. in Room 120, Wellington Building.