Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue 17 - Evidence, October 29, 2012
OTTAWA, Monday, October 29, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights met this day at 4:05 p.m. to
study issues pertaining to the human rights of First Nations band members who
reside off-reserve, with an emphasis on the current federal policy framework.
Senator Mobina S. B. Jaffer (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Honourable senators, this is the twenty-third meeting of
the Standing Senate Committee on Human Rights for the Forty-first Parliament.
The Senate has mandated this committee to conduct a review of issues related
to human rights in Canada and around the world.
I am Mobina Jaffer, senator from British Columbia and chair of this
Let me start by introducing the members of the committee. It is our great
pleasure to welcome Senator Carignan today. We are really happy to have you with
us on the first day of this study.
Senator White is a permanent and hard-working member of our committee and we
are happy to have him here. Other members will be joining us shortly.
Since its inception in March 2011, this committee has undertaken a series of
subject matter examinations. It has published 20 comprehensive studies on human
rights issues before the Senate and on behalf of Canadians.
I see we have another senator joining us as well. Senator Ngo is a new
permanent member of this committee. We welcome you to your first meeting here.
Although Senator Ngo is new to this committee, he is not new to human rights
issues. We are very happy to have him here.
We will start the first panel on this study with, from Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development Canada, Josée Touchette, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister,
Policy and Strategic Direction Sector; Françoise Ducros, Assistant Deputy
Minister, Education and Social Development Programs and Partnerships Sector;
Brenda Kustra, Director General, Governance Branch, Regional Operations Sector;
and Allan Tallman, Indian Registrar.
From Justice Canada, we have Al Broughton, General Counsel.
We also have officials from Statistics Canada, including Jane Badets,
Director General, Census Subject Matter, Social and Demographic Statistics; and
Cathy Connors, Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics.
We welcome you all here. This is our first meeting on this study, and as you
were told beforehand, we are looking forward to hearing from you. You already
know this, but we very much want to hear from you what progress we have made so
far on issues of non-status Indians, Aboriginal people, and where we need to go
We will start with Ms. Badets.
Jane Badets, Director General, Census Subject Matter, Social and
Demographic Statistics, Statistics Canada: Thank you. I would like to thank
the committee for inviting Statistics Canada to present to you. We will be
presenting a statistical overview with some numbers about the situation of
registered Indians living off-reserve as compared to those living on-reserve and
in general compared to the general Canadian population. The basis of our
presentation and the data that we are talking about is the 2006 Census of
Population. This is our most recent, and generally the census is our most
comprehensive data source on Aboriginal people in Canada.
We will have more up-to-date information coming out in 2013. Today we will
focus on the key demographic and socio-economic indicators of the registered
population, in particular things such as education, employment, housing and
I will turn the presentation, which I believe you have it in front of you, to
my colleague Cathy Connors, and she will walk you through the statistical
Cathy Connors, Assistant Director, Social and Aboriginal Statistics,
Statistics Canada: Slide 2 shows there are many different ways of
identifying Aboriginal peoples in Statistics Canada data. The slide shows that
the number of Aboriginal people in Canada differs depending on which definition
In 2006, almost 1.7 million people reported having Aboriginal ancestry, which
refers to the ethnic or cultural origins of a person's ancestors. About 1.2
million people identified themselves as an Aboriginal person, which is North
American Indian or First Nation, Metis or Inuit. Almost 625,000 people indicated
that they are registered or treaty Indians as defined by the Indian Act. Of
these people, 48 per cent or about 300,000 live on-reserve, and 52 per cent live
off-reserve, or about 325,000 people.
About 620,000 people reported being members of an Indian band or First
Nation. All of the data from the census is self-reported, so respondents decide
how best to answer questions as they apply to themselves.
Slide 3 shows the majority of First Nations people reported being registered
under the Indian Act and being a member of a First Nation band. Looking at the
chart for the off-reserve population according to the 2006 Census, of those
First Nations people living off-reserve, about 293,000 reported being both
registered Indians and band members, while 30,500 are registered but not band
members. About 26,000 are band members but not registered. This presentation
will focus on the registered Indian population, irrespective of band membership.
Slide 4 shows that the registered Indian population was significantly younger
than the general Canadian population in 2006. The on-reserve registered Indian
population had a median age of 23 years. The median age of the off-reserve
registered Indian population, 27 years, was 4 years older than the on-reserve
population, but 12 years younger than the general Canadian population.
The next slides show some of the outcomes for the population of registered
Indians living off-reserve. We will provide information on the on-reserve
registered Indian population and the total Canadian population as a comparison.
You will notice a similar pattern in outcomes throughout these slides.
Although the off-reserve population has higher outcomes than the on-reserve
population, important gaps are found in comparison with the total Canadian
population. The next few slides on education and employment focus on the
population aged 25 to 34 years, but it is possible to look at this information
for other age groups.
Slide 5 shows that over two thirds or 71 per cent of the registered Indian
population aged 25 to 34 living off-reserve had a high school diploma or higher
in 2006. This was 22 percentage points higher than that of registered Indians
living on-reserve but 18 percentage points lower than that of the total Canadian
Slide 6 shows information on employment rate. The employment rate refers to
the percentage of the total population who were employed. Almost two thirds of
off-reserve registered Indians between the ages of 25 to 34 were employed in
2006 compared to fewer than half of registered Indians living on-reserve. This
is still 17 percentage points lower than the employment rate for the total
On slide 7, the red line in the middle shows that the employment rate of
off-reserve registered Indians aged 25 to 34 without a high school diploma was
above that of their on-reserve counterparts — the blue line — but 19 points
below the general Canadian population, which is the green line. However, the
employment rate gap between registered Indians living off-reserve and the
Canadian population narrows with higher education outcomes. In fact, with
university certificate or degree, the employment rate gap almost disappears.
This graph also shows that for off-reserve registered Indians, the employment
rate for those with university is 37 points higher than for those without a high
Slide 8 provides information on crowded households. ``Crowded conditions''
refers to more than one person per room, not including bathrooms, halls,
vestibules and rooms used solely for business purposes. For this presentation,
we are using Aboriginal Affair's definition of registered Indian households. A
``registered Indian household'' is defined as a private household in which one
or more registered Indian families live, or where at least 50 per cent of the
household's members are registered Indians. A registered Indian family is
defined as a family in which at least one of the spouses, or a lone parent, is a
Registered Indian households off-reserve were less likely to experience
household crowding compared to those living on a reserve but were still more
likely than other households in Canada to experience crowding.
We are on slide 9 now. The 2006 Census asked respondents if their dwelling is
in need of any repairs — none, minor or major. ``Major repairs'' refers to
defective plumbing or electrical wiring and structural repairs to walls, floors
or ceilings. This slide shows that in 2006, 15 per cent of registered Indian
households off-reserve indicated that their dwelling was in need of major
repairs, compared to over 40 per cent living on a reserve and 7.5 per cent of
households in Canada.
Slide 10 shows that registered Indians living off-reserve are less likely to
report that they are in excellent or very good health than the total population
of Canada. This was the case in both 2001 and 2006. Slide 11 shows that in 2006
registered Indians living off-reserve were more likely than the total population
of Canada to have these chronic conditions: arthritis, high blood pressure,
asthma and diabetes.
Slide 12 has been included to note that we recently released information from
the 2011 Census on languages, including Aboriginal languages. On May 8, 2013, we
will release information on Aboriginal peoples from the 2011 National Household
Survey. The Aboriginal Peoples Survey is a key source of information on First
Nations people living off-reserve, Metis and Inuit. Data are currently available
for 1991, 2001 and 2006. Results from the 2012 Aboriginal Peoples Survey will be
available in the fall of 2013 and will provide data on important issues such as
education, employment and health.
We have included some additional slides in an appendix, showing where
registered Indians live, net migration on and off reserves and median income. We
would be pleased to answer any questions you may have or to provide
clarifications about the material we have presented. Thank you.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We will have the questions after
everyone has presented, but I have just one question now. You said that in the
next year you will have the census. What month will that come out?
Ms. Badets: The release of the Aboriginal people data will be May 8,
The Chair: May I please request that you update this chart when you
get that? We will probably be at the point of completing our study and it would
help us to stay current on that. Thank you.
Let us go on to the next witness, Ms. Touchette.
Josée Touchette, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, Policy and Strategic
Direction Sector, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: Madam
Chair and members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak to
you today. My remarks today will largely be focused on federal support for First
Nations peoples and communities. Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development
also plays an important role in meeting the Government of Canada's obligations
and commitments to Inuit, and in fulfilling the federal government's
constitutional responsibilities in the north.
In addition, the Minister acts as the federal interlocutor for Métis and
non-status Indians. In the time I have available, I would like to touch on four
key points, which, I hope, will help you with your deliberations.
First, I will describe some of the key distinctions between status and
non-status Indians; second, I will touch on how the programs and services
accessible by First Nations individuals are delivered, both on and off reserve;
third, some of the measures the department is taking to support First Nations
individuals living off reserve; and finally, in keeping with the mandate of this
committee, I will speak to the various rights and protections available to First
Nations individuals, whether they live on or off reserve.
First, on the subject of distinctions, as my colleagues from Statistics
Canada have indicated, about 1.2 million people in Canada reported an Aboriginal
identity in the 2006 Census. Among these, more than half are registered or
status Indians — we are talking about 624,000 — and there are 133,000 who are
non-status Indians. In addition, there are 356,000 Metis and 49,000 Inuit.
Status Indians are people who are registered or entitled to be registered
under the Indian Act. Status Indians are entitled to certain benefits and have
access to various federally funded programs and services that are delivered on-
and off-reserve. Registered or status Indians are also eligible for non-insured
health benefits and post-secondary education funding. Finally, the majority of
status Indians are also members of a First Nation band.
Non-status Indians are persons who identify themselves as Indians but are not
eligible to be registered under the Indian Act. This may be because their
ancestors were never registered or because they lost their status under former
provisions of the Indian Act. Non-status Indians are not eligible for the
various federal benefits that flow from registration.
Second, let me talk about the delivery of programs and services in general.
Fundamental to understanding how the programs and services accessible by First
Nations individuals are delivered is the role played by the different levels of
government, which are all involved. Under the division of powers assigned by the
Constitution Act, 1867, the provinces are granted legislative authority
for many key public services, including health care, education and social
The federal Parliament has legislative authority for Indians and lands
reserved for the Indians under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867. The
federal government has, as a matter of policy, largely focused on funding
programs and services for First Nations on reserve.
There is an array of programs that reach 617 reserves across Canada, as well
as 18 self-governing nations.
There are also a number of federal programs that are targeted towards
Aboriginal peoples generally and reach the more than half a million Aboriginal
Canadians who live off reserve. I will speak to some of these in just a moment.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada is one of more than 30
federal departments and agencies that provide funding for programs and services
for Aboriginal peoples and northerners, and First Nations people resident on
reserve in particular. These include primary and secondary education, income
assistance, child and family services, band governance, community infrastructure
Eligibility for federally funded on-reserve programs and services is
generally based on some combination of three factors: status, membership in a
First Nations band, or residency on reserve.
Over time, the delivery of most federally funded programs and services has
been devolved to First Nations governments. Generally, First Nations governments
receive federal funds through various grant and contribution programs, which
they then use to deliver programs and services to eligible recipients.
Post-secondary education support is an example of a federally-funded program
eligible to status Indian band members both on and off reserve. Off reserve,
provincial and territorial governments provide a similar range of programs and
services such as education, housing, income assistance and child and family
These programs and services are accessible to the general population,
including First Nations individuals who live off reserve and other Aboriginal
peoples. These programs and services are accessible by First Nations whether
they live in a small rural community or a large urban centre; however, they are
generally not accessible by First Nations individuals who are ordinarily
resident on reserve.
Third, I would like to talk to you about programs and services off reserve.
Program delivery has become more complex over time as First Nations people have
become more mobile, moving in larger numbers between reserves and traditional
territories into more urban centres. As residence is an important eligibility
criterion for both federal and provincially funded programs, this mobility — on
and off reserve, as well as within cities — challenges program and service
delivery agents, including the federal government, to ensure more seamless
access to programs and continuity of services.
This is in part why, as I mentioned earlier, the federal government has
introduced programs that specifically target the off-reserve and urban
Aboriginal population, including the Urban Aboriginal Strategy, Cultural
Connections for Aboriginal Youth, Young Canada Works for Urban Aboriginal Youth,
and the Aboriginal Friendship Centres program. The Aboriginal Business Canada
program is available to all Aboriginal heritage groups, on and off reserve, and
in urban, rural and remote areas.
Together, these programs seek to support effective transitions, and build
stronger attachment to the labour market, education or training opportunities.
At the same time, the federal government, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada in particular, is working across departments and agencies,
with provincial and territorial governments and with First Nations to enhance
the alignment between programs and services and ensure more seamless and
To that end, the department has already advanced a number of sectoral
agreements on education, as well as tripartite approaches such as the Enhanced
Prevention Approach for Child and Family Services. Efforts are ongoing to put in
place similar agreements in other areas.
Fourth, given the mandate of this committee, I would like to talk a little
bit about rights and protections to First Nations.
All Aboriginal peoples, including First Nations, have the same general rights
and protections as all other Canadians as provided for in the Canadian Charter
of Rights and Freedoms and in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Aboriginal peoples also have special Aboriginal and treaty rights that are
recognized and affirmed pursuant to section 35 of the Constitution Act of 1982.
The repeal of section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act in June of 2008
opened the way for individuals to bring complaints to the commission against the
federal government or against band governments in relation to such matters as
band council bylaws passed and enacted pursuant to the Indian Act, the
management of monies held in trust for bands, membership codes, and land
management pursuant to the Indian Act.
In applying the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to the Indian Act, the courts
have affirmed voting rights of off- reserve band members and required an
extension of the status provisions of the act as was determined by the court in
In conclusion, federal, provincial and territorial governments play an
important role in the delivery of programs and services for First Nations and
Aboriginal people who reside off-reserve and in urban centres. Working together
in partnership is increasingly how we do business.
Although federal resources have focused primarily on programs and services to
First Nations on-reserve, the government does deliver some targeted programs for
the off-reserve and urban Aboriginal population. Moreover, the government is
working with its key partners to better align the delivery of programs and
services on- and off-reserve and to ensure more streamlined and seamless
Finally, I would like to reiterate that all Aboriginal peoples have the same
general rights and protections as do all Canadians, regardless of where they
live. Section 35 of the Constitution Act also affirms special Aboriginal and
treaty rights. This, Madam Chair and members of the committee, concludes my
remarks. Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today.
The Chair: Thank you very much, and I understand that your remarks
will cover all of the people who are sitting around the table.
The Chair: Thank you. We will start with Senator Brazeau, the vice
chair of the committee. It was Senator Brazeau's vision that brought about this
Senator Brazeau: Thank you, Madam Chair, and good evening to all of
you. Obviously, if you look around this room, I think it is a testament to the
important study that we are about to undertake.
I have just two quick questions to begin with. I guess it has to be said from
the get-go, seeing that we have representatives from the federal government
here. Let us talk about section 91.24. I have heard all my life that the federal
government has jurisdiction over those who live on-reserve. Those who choose to
or, due to unfortunate circumstances, are forced to relocate come under
Let us talk about that. I am glad we have someone as well from Justice
Canada. Section 91.24 states that the federal government has jurisdiction for
Indians and lands reserved for Indians. If that is the policy that the federal
government has taken over the years and over the decades, then what is an
Indian? Obviously, ``Indian'' is defined under the Indian Act. I am an Indian,
but I have lived off-reserve, and because of that fact, I am treated differently
than perhaps my brother who decided to stay on-reserve. As a first question, I
would like to have more elaboration of that position or policy of the federal
Ms. Touchette: Thank you, Senator Brazeau. As you said, section 91.24
states that the federal government is responsible for Indians and lands reserved
for Indians. The section declares the responsibility of the government in those
respects. It does not force the government to legislate in one direction or the
other. It does not state that the government must legislate in this area or that
area. It allows the government to legislate and, in that respect, the principal
legislation is the Indian Act.
Programs that are enacted are done so on a policy basis. While there is the
general framework of section 91.24, it does not say that specific programs have
to be enacted under that particular section. The government will determine those
programs on a policy basis. There is a distinction in terms of what the
government shall or shall not do.
There is, as you know, very important litigation right now with respect to
section 91.24 before the Supreme Court of Canada. It is a test case that was
brought in by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, which seeks declarations not
on off-reserve but on Metis. It wishes to see the Crown have programs and
policies that would directly benefit the Metis. The position taken before the
court was that that particular declaration is not necessary — and I do not want
to argue the merits of the case here — because the scope of what is being asked
is that these programs would have to extend. It is a theoretical question more
than a precise answer.
The position we have taken is that that declaration is not required at this
time. Perhaps my colleague from Justice Canada would like to elaborate on these
matters as well.
Al Broughton, General Counsel, Justice Canada: I would be happy to do
so. As a matter of clarification, the CAP Daniels case is not actually at
the Supreme Court. We all expect it might go there eventually, but we are
awaiting the trial-level decision at this time.
As Ms. Touchette was saying, 91.24 is an authority to legislate, as all the
authorities in the Constitution Act 1867 are. They do not demand that the
federal government or the Parliament of Canada legislate in any particular
regard, but they allow for that legislation to occur, which is the main point. I
want to reinforce that policies and programs undertaken by the federal
government with respect to First Nations people have ranged from those targeted
to those on-reserve to a broader eligibility. However, those are undertaken not
necessarily only under the auspices of 91.24 but also under general policy
approaches and authorities. I will leave it at that.
Senator Brazeau: I will rephrase or try to dig a little deeper. I am
aware that policy decisions are made that benefit those living on-reserve
compared to those who may live off-reserve. Specifically with section 91.24, and
I will restate, the federal government may make laws regarding Indians, not
Indians living on lands reserved for Indians, but Indians and lands reserved for
Indians. The year is 2012. Let us have a clear-cut answer with respect to what
exactly that means for the federal government. What I have been hearing since I
was born just does not cut it. Let us start having the real answers.
If that is the case, then what is an Indian? If an Indian decides or chooses
to move from their reserve for whatever reason or is forced out for any
conceivable circumstance, does that make the person less Indian because of where
they may choose to live? Let us talk about that responsibility for them, because
I have a second question that will lead into that as well.
Ms. Touchette: Let me make a quick comment in relation to your
question. Ms. Ducros would also like to provide an answer from the program
perspective. Perhaps in terms of distinctions, I could ask my colleague, the
registrar, to go into more detail.
I agree that section 91.24 is about the exclusive power of Parliament to
enact legislation. However, what 91.24 does not do is speak to the
responsibilities of the federal government on whether they have to or do not
have to enact specific legislation. It is a broad enabling provision.
Senator Brazeau: If I may interrupt, you mentioned earlier that the
federal government is responsible for on-reserve Indians, and provincial
governments are responsible for some services for those who live off-reserve.
This was going to lead into my second question; so I might as well get into it.
Does the funding provided by the federal government, which is transferred to
provincial governments, specify that, regardless of the program, it must be
spent for the benefit of those status Indians living off-reserve?
Françoise Ducros, Assistant Deputy Minister, Education and Social
Development Programs and Partnerships Sector, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada: I will try to answer your question coming at it a little
differently. The social services for those persons living off-reserve are
generally provided by the provinces. Most off-reserve people get all of the
funding that is accessible to all Canadians through the provinces. As a matter
of policy, the federal government then provides the same services, such as
education, child and family services, other social services, income assistance,
et cetera, to those people who live on-reserve. The idea is to have the same
services available to those people on-reserve and off-reserve.
On the issue of services that are not provided generally by the provinces,
such as post-secondary education funding, there is no distinction between those
living on-reserve and off-reserve. The idea is that the policy program, which
does not get into legislation because we are not legislating on-reserve for
services provided, tries to ensure that the same types of services are provided
In addition to that, for those living off-reserve, which is the situation of
you and your brother, the idea is to ensure that where there are culturally
relevant or specific services that should be provided or aimed to do so as a
matter of course on-reserve are also provided off-reserve.
It is not a question of section 91.24 providing funding for educational or
other social services as a matter of legislation. They are funded as a matter of
policy in order to ensure that there are the same services on-reserve as off-
reserve. Where there are other issues, other than the gaps in policy delivery,
we try to establish eligibility and criteria that address those gaps.
Senator Brazeau: I will wait until the second round, but I am glad you
just mentioned that. The federal government's statistics state that for every $1
spent off-reserve for the benefit of off-reserve status Indians, $8 is spent
on-reserve. We continually get statistics that people living off-reserve are
faring better. If we are pouring so much money into the system, who is failing
Ms. Ducros: That is a very good question, and I do not think anyone
from the federal government, certainly not me, would say there are not gaps in
outcomes on pre-employment training, on education training, et cetera. We are
trying to overcome those gaps by getting to new programming initiatives, federal
legislation on First Nations education. However, that is a different question
than I am prepared to engage in, which is the question of how we fund or service
on-reserve and off-reserve.
Senator Brazeau: I would certainly like to have a more thorough,
concrete, precise and concise response on the question of section 91.24 and
specifically Indians and lands reserved for Indians.
The Chair: Senator Brazeau, are you asking the witnesses to provide a
more detailed explanation of your question in writing?
Senator Brazeau: Either in writing or if we can do it quickly, if any
of the —
The Chair: While you are at it, why do you not ask now for a few
Senator Brazeau: I ask again. Indians and lands reserved for Indians:
Why is the federal government stating that it has responsibility only for those
living on-reserve when 91.24 says Indians and lands reserved for Indians?
I have been at many Council of the Federation meetings. I have met with many
current and former premiers. Each time the federal government says, ``Let us not
touch this. That is provincial jurisdiction.'' I have never met a premier yet,
current or past, who has accepted that. It is continual jurisdictional
wrangling. We will not get into the Daniels case because at every turn,
Canada has tried to stick it to the proponents of that case. However, we are not
going to get into that. We need to discuss 91.24.
Mr. Broughton: Let me give it another shot.
As you point out rightly, 91.24 deals with two different subject areas,
Indians and lands reserved for Indians, not Indians on reserve lands or on
Indian land. It is two different areas of jurisdiction that are wrapped into the
one section, 91.24. The federal government or the Parliament of Canada is not
restricted in its legislative power to legislating only for Indians on-reserve.
It can, and has, legislated with respect to registered First Nations people
wherever they may live. The registration provisions of the Indian Act apply
Senator Brazeau: The Indian Act does not apply off-reserve?
Mr. Broughton: Parts of Indian Act apply wherever the person is.
Senator Brazeau: Registration, perhaps, but in terms of the benefits
that come under the Indian Act, that is a different ball game.
Mr. Broughton: Two things: First, there are some provisions. I would
not say they apply broadly off-reserve, but the tax exemption, for example,
applies to income situated on-reserve. However, that might benefit a person who
is off- reserve but has different connections to the reserve. That is an aside.
In answer to your question, we have to go back to the issue of what is a
legislative authority under section 91.24 versus what have been policy decisions
to fund certain types of programs.
Most of the large funding programs under AANDC's mandate do not come from the
Indian Act; they actually come from policy decisions of the government.
Senator Brazeau: However, policy decisions flow under the position of
the federal government that it only has jurisdiction for Indians living
Mr. Broughton: I would not say it is jurisdiction. It is a question of
policy choices to target certain populations.
Ms. Ducros: I will come back to the two biggest programs, which are
education and social assistance. The policy is to ensure that, as a matter of
course in jurisdiction pursuant to property and civil rights, the province
provides funding and programming for everyone other than First Nations who live
on-reserve. The Government of Canada tries to ensure that programming for
education and social assistance is provided to fill a gap. It does not exclude,
so much as to fill a gap where the provinces do not come in and directly deliver
services on-reserve. For exceptions to that, where we program another big, huge
program — and we can argue about whether it is adequate — the $300 million to
post- secondary education makes no distinction for on- and off-reserve.
Where the distinctions as a matter of policy have been made for on-reserve,
we have done it as a matter of course. We can argue about the gaps and outcomes,
but generally we are trying to align those services on-reserve that do not
exist, but would exist to anyone living off-reserve.
Ms. Touchette: If I may, perhaps I will talk a little bit about the
hierarchy. On the one hand, you have, as you point out, Senator Brazeau, section
91.24, which deals with Indians and Indian lands. There it is an authority to
legislate. Parliament has exercised that authority mainly through the Indian
Act, which is far from perfect, but for the purposes of that act defines who is
an Indian and also has a land regime for reserves.
You are absolute right; it deals with those two headings. It is not by any
stretch of the imagination complete. As my colleague Ms. Ducros was saying, on
lands that are off-reserve — like section 92 — and that are provincial lands,
there are the laws of general application of the province that will apply.
What then happens in terms of the hierarchy for the federal government is
that you have 91.24, which is the enabling legislation. Then you have the
departmental act, which broadly sets out the mandate of the department. That
mandate is then developed in our report on plans and priorities, and that is
where we make those policy choices that the government makes explicit. We will
talk about the various programs that are implemented as policy choices. However,
that distinction — and you are right to point that out, because it is a key
distinction — is that these are not legislative programs. They are really policy
programs that flow from that hierarchy and are not legislated programs, per se;
so you are absolutely right.
The Chair: Did the registrar want to add something further?
Allan Tallman, Indian Registrar, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada: I am not sure. I think we are clear that registered
Indian is determined under the Indian Act and the eligibility for programs and
services is primarily based on whether the person is registered or not.
On-reserve is not a requirement for some of those programs.
The Chair: As there are many people who watch the presentation, can
you quickly tell us what the mandate of the registrar is?
Mr. Tallman: The registrar is an officer of the department as defined
in the Indian Act. The registrar is responsible for maintaining the Indian
Register, which is the names of all people registered as Indians, as well as
band lists where they have not assumed control of the band list. I am
responsible for determining entitlement to registration under section 6 of the
Indian Act, as well as applying section 7, which is a non-entitlement provision.
In determining entitlement to registration, membership comes into play where,
under section 11, the band list is departmentally maintained. Where a person is
found to be registered and affiliated with a section 11 band, they are
automatically placed on that particular band's list.
We also have band lists maintained under section 10 of the Indian Act, where
a First Nation has assumed control of their membership under section 10
provisions and is responsible for determining membership in their band once a
person is determined as registered. If the person is affiliated with a section
10 band, they must make application to the band for membership under the rules
or code that is being developed.
Senator Carignan: In your view, what is the definition of ``Indian''
under the Constitution and the Indian Act? If there is a difference, what is the
reason for it?
Ms. Touchette: In terms of the Constitution, section 35 of the
Constitution Act, 1982, talks about First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Those are the terms used to refer to those Aboriginal groups. The term
``Indian'' is not used in this act.
However, section 91(24) of the Constitution Act, 1867, talks about Indians
and lands reserved for the Indians. In that respect, my colleague the registrar
plays a key role and can tell you about the differences, but first, my colleague
from Justice Canada would like to say something.
Mr. Broughton: I wonder if I might add a few things. In terms of
provision 91.24, where it speaks of Indians and lands reserved for the Indians,
there was a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada back in 1939 indicating that
Inuit are Indians for the purposes of 91.24. That is an important addition. The
Indian Act does specifically exclude Inuit from its application. However, since
1939, in the Re Eskimo case as it was called then, Inuit have been
considered Indians for constitutional purposes under 91.24.
I might also add that the CAP Daniels case that we were speaking of
before is a case in which there is a claim that Metis should be included in the
classification of ``Indian'' in 91.24. It is a case that is before the courts
that we do not really want to pursue discussion of, from my part.
Senator Carignan: So does ``Indian'' under the Indian Act not have the
same definition as the one in the Constitution?
Ms. Touchette: Section 91(24) talks about Indians and Lands reserved
for the Indians. That is the Constitution Act, 1867. The legislation that
follows is the Indian Act, and my colleague the registrar will give you the
definition of ``Indian'' under that act. He will tell you about some of the
However, as my colleague from Justice Canada pointed out, in 1939, the
Supreme Court said that Inuit were also considered Indians under section 91(24),
but the Indian Act does not apply to them.
Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, provides a broader definition,
referring to First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples.
Senator Carignan: So that definition is broader than the one in the
British North America Act.
Ms. Touchette: That is right.
Mr. Tallman: ``Indian'' is defined in the Indian Act as a person
entitled to be registered under the act. However, it also reflects a historical
relationship that the Crown has had with Indians going back to 1868 and
Confederation when the first federal Indian Act was enacted, which defined
``Indian'' and who could be eligibly deemed an Indian. Through the application
of the various Indian Acts over the years to the present, and applying the
various rules, we are able to determine whether a person is descended from one
of these particular bands and therefore eligible based on the Indian Act rules
to be a registered Indian.
Senator Carignan: Ms. Touchette, you noted that various programs were
set up for people living on reserve and off reserve, with various policy choices
that are sometimes determined based on status or membership in a band. So there
are different types of eligibility criteria for those programs.
Witnesses from Statistics Canada have made a presentation to us on
employability, education and poverty level. Have you looked at all the programs
as a whole and assessed the quality of those programs? What were the objectives
of those programs when they were adopted? Have those objectives been achieved or
not? If so, have they been renewed?
There are a lot of programs, but if we conduct an empirical comparison
between Indians living on reserve and off reserve, they do not seem to be
effective. Could you comment on that?
Ms. Touchette: Ms. Ducros will answer that question because she is
responsible for the social and education programs.
Ms. Ducros: All programs off reserve or on reserve administered by the
department are assessed at regular intervals. We can forward those program
evaluations to you. There are various programs.
In terms of the programs targeted towards Aboriginal peoples off reserve,
they have various objectives because they seek to address cultural needs,
integration and transition needs, as well as other needs.
The programs targeted towards people on reserve seek to make the transition
possible for them, because it is often a question of transition onto and from
reserve. We can provide you with some clarifications.
In terms of specific studies following up on programs that were set up on and
off reserve, there are no studies as such. Some studies have been carried out as
to why programs are more successful on reserve. It might simply be because of
proximity to a city, the integration with other programs, or access to
provincial programs that people on reserve did not have.
As to programs off reserve, my colleague would be able to talk about them.
Senator Carignan: Can we have a copy?
Ms. Ducros: We can send you all our evaluations. There are a number of
copies that we could forward to you through the chair.
Senator Carignan: Thank you.
Brenda Kustra, Director General, Governance Branch, Regional Operations
Sector, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada: In addition to
the programs that my colleagues have spoken about that are targeted for
on-reserve programming, the department has an additional suite of programs that
are specifically identified for Aboriginal people who live off-reserve. As my
colleagues have indicated, some of these programs specifically help with the
transition between life on a reserve and life in a city. A lot of them relate to
life skills programming and connections to jobs and employment opportunities.
Some of these programs work very closely with provinces and municipalities, as
We have an initiative in the department called the Urban Aboriginal Strategy,
which was recently renewed. It provides for coordination of federal investments
from all federal government departments to assist Aboriginal people in access to
I believe you will also be hearing at some point in your study from the
National Association of Friendship Centres. This area has a huge network across
the country of over 120 friendship centres in urban settings that provide
transition measures for Aboriginal people moving off-reserve into city settings.
We also have a large initiative called Cultural Connections for Aboriginal
Youth. This is a program that came over from Canadian Heritage to the Department
of Aboriginal Affairs at the beginning of this year. This program is really
looking at how connections can be made with Aboriginal youth and how things like
education and life skills training can help those youth find the work or the
opportunity that they are interested in pursuing.
There is also the Young Canada Works program, which is another program that
came over from Canadian Heritage. It is specifically targeted at Aboriginal
youth and providing support services to those Aboriginal youth in urban
settings. These programs are not differentiated according to living on- or
off-reserve or being Inuit, Metis or registered status Indian. They are
basically status-blind and are available to Aboriginal people to support them in
making transitions. These are in addition to the programs that Ms. Ducros spoke
about in post-secondary education.
I think it is also important to note that Aboriginal Affairs and Northern
Development Canada is only one of over 30 departments and agencies that provide
services to First Nations people, whether they live on- or off-reserve, as well
as to Aboriginal people, however they choose to identify themselves. We are but
one player, along with cities, municipalities, provincial governments and
service organizations right across the country, in a very complex matrix of
programs and services
The Chair: You gave us a good idea of some programs that are provided
for off- and on-reserve people. Has there been a case where you see that
province A is providing programs to off-reserve Aboriginal people and province B
is not providing the programs? Would you then provide those programs to people
in province B?
Ms. Kustra: In situations like that, the federal government would not
step in and provide the programs, but, through our regional offices and through
some of the programming that I spoke about — through the Urban Aboriginal
Strategy, for instance — we would make contact with those provincial governments
and talk about the program gap that my colleague, Ms. Ducros, also spoke about,
to look at whether there is a possibility for the province to step in and
provide those programs and services. Sometimes these things are arranged through
tripartite agreements and bilateral agreements, so it is really quite a mix
across the country. Provincial governments across the country have taken
different positions in terms of the kinds of programs and services that they
make available in their provincial jurisdictions. A lot of it is at the policy
and the legislative discretion of the individual provinces, and it is not the
same right across the country.
The Chair: Did you want to add to that, Ms. Ducros?
Ms. Ducros: Yes, thank you. I would just add that, more and more,
particularly in the areas of social assistance, education and children and
family services, we are trying to get to a tripartite way where we and the
province are always working together at tables so there is almost a
semi-formalized approach to dealing with those gaps. We have agreements with six
provinces on child and family services and six provinces — although not the same
ones — on education.
Senator Carignan: I have an additional question. I would like to make
sure that, when you send us the program studies and evaluations, you will also
send us a table summarizing the various programs with their target groups and
the amounts invested.
I also see that other departments have programs for Aboriginal people; could
you also include them in the list?
Ms. Touchette: Yes, we can do it for the main programs.
Senator Carignan: Section 67 of the Canadian Human Rights Act was
repealed in June 2008. You said that complaints on various issues can now be
filed either against the federal government or the band governments. Do you have
statistics or reports on the complaints that are lodged against the federal
government or the band governments? If so, could you provide us with statistics
about the nature of those complaints and the follow-up process?
Ms. Touchette: Just to set the stage, in terms of types of complaints,
the Human Rights Act specifies 11 grounds of discrimination. In the past, under
section 67, it was not possible to invoke those grounds because of a regulation
or decision that was apparently made by a band council or the federal
government. That affected some areas related to those grounds. Now, it is
possible to file those types of complaints.
We are going to keep track of complaints made about us; however, we do not
keep track of statistics; that is the Human Rights Commission's job, if you
will. The Human Rights Commission would be the organization able to tell you how
many complaints have been made about governments or band councils and to provide
you with that information. On our side, we can provide you with the complaints
directed at us.
Senator Harb: The question is for Statistics Canada, on your slide
presentation, page 5, if you would kindly look at it. You have mentioned
attainment of the high school diploma or higher, age 25 to 34. On-reserve, the
percentage of people with the high school diploma or higher is 49.1 per cent. If
I go to page 7, you also talk about on-reserve university certificate or degree
attainment. I would be interested in finding out why you did not put, as a
separate number, the percentage of people on-reserve who have a university
degree. If you have it, do you mind sending us a copy of that?
Ms. Badets: We certainly have that.
Senator Harb: It is very relevant.
Ms. Badets: Yes, it is a relevant point. I think it was just the
amount of time we had to pull everything together and organize the data.
However, we can certainly get that information. I think we also wanted to show
on this graph how employment rates change with higher levels of education, to
give a sense of where it was changing. However, it is a good point, and we can
certainly make that information available.
Senator Harb: Thank you. That takes me to my second question, dealing
exactly with that. For people who are off- reserve and have a university degree,
the unemployment rate seems pretty well similar to the rest of Canada. If we
were really to look at the employment rate on-reserve — the total for anybody
who has a high school or even a university degree — it seems to be 45.3 per
cent. That tells me something that goes to the heart of what Senator Brazeau has
asked. What is happening, from the look of it, is that, as people finish or work
towards their university degrees and look at the statistics in terms of the
opportunities for employment, they seem to be going off-reserve because the
opportunities are far better for them there. Is that correct?
Ms. Connors: It may be. We do not know the reasons for migration on
and off reserves. Slide 17 in the appendix shows net migration on and off
reserves. We are looking at the net migration — the total number of people who
left a reserve and the total number of people who moved to a reserve. It is the
total number. We are seeing in two separate periods of time an increase of about
10,000 on-reserve. In rural areas, we are seeing a decrease in registered
Indians; and in urban areas, we are seeing a slight increase. All of these
number changes are very slight. Overall, there is not a lot of migration.
However, we find that there is an awful lot of mobility. People are moving
between cities and back and forth from on-reserve to off- reserve. There is a
lot of movement, but the net change is minimal.
Senator Harb: A crucial component is missing: the educational
background of those who move off reserve because that tells a story and goes to
the heart of the matter. We have to look the elephant right in the face, and we
are not doing that. The system we have had since the early 1800s was
discriminatory in the first place when it was enacted. I read the history in
grade 10. At the time, the white man decided that the most effective way for
them to deal with the natives was to put them on reserves and give them all
those services. They had to stay on-reserve so they did not have to worry about
them anymore. However, this is 2012. This statistic you are providing is an
opportunity for the politicians, not the administration, to sit and stare at it
and figure out a way to move forward; and you could help us out. We need to get
more information on the background of those who are leaving the reserves because
the number of people is quite substantial who are off-reserve versus those who
There is this whole notion of ``if you are on-reserve, I will take care of
you.'' Well, it does not look like we are taking care of them because the
unemployment rate is 45 per cent. Uganda is doing a lot better and it is the
least developed country in Africa. It is no wonder the United Nations is staring
us in the eye and saying that we are doing a horrible job here. Statistics do
not lie. Senator Brazeau's point is well taken: We, as politicians, have failed
our natives. The administration is doing a great job by providing us with policy
options, and I thank you for that because I think they are useful.
The Chair: Does anyone want to respond?
Ms. Ducros: I would not want to take issue with anything that was
said. There is an understanding in the policy development that we have to take
different approaches. There have been fairly significant approaches that include
working with the tripartite. As my colleague said, the issue is not the numbers
on- and off-reserve. One of the issues, particularly in the areas of education
and employability, is the moving back and forth and seasonal work. A First
Nations child will go to a school on-reserve for a period of time, and we can
provide some of these numbers, then go into a provincial school and then back
again. You need to address the issue both on- and off-reserve and the issues to
transition to ensure that there is an opportunity when someone wants to
transition. Certainly, we know some of the issues that have come to be. Since
the 1990s, labour market agreements and others have been devolved to the
provinces, whereas the federal government is still responsible for things like
on-reserve social assistance. We will have to find an integrated way to deal
with the issues that we have addressed in other ways for northerners going back
They are specific. One of the big issues that has been raised all along,
including I think underlying some of the questions today, is that of cultural
relevance and ensuring that you are not creating barriers to either leaving or
Senator Harb: That is an excellent point.
Senator Hubley: I too will ask about slide 5, which has to do with the
high school diploma and higher.
My first question is on the percentages. Going back quite a few years during
the Kelowna Accord, figures were presented that suggested it would take anywhere
from 15 to 20 years to close the educational gap. With appropriate financial
support for education, there could be a change. Are we able to extrapolate from
any of these figures, moving from 49 per cent up to 70 per cent and then to 89
per cent? Do we know how many years that would take?
Ms. Ducros: I would not want to answer that question as I am not a
statistician. Maybe this is a case of getting information to you through the
chair of the committee because we can show that in certain places we are closing
the gap. In education, for example, we have closed the gap significantly in Nova
Scotia where we have higher graduation rates. As well, they are closing the gaps
in B.C. Depending on where you are in the country, all is not lost on the
closing of some of the gaps. In every instance across the country, we could be
doing better. About 48 per cent of First Nations, and I will have to get back on
the percentage of Aboriginals, are graduating from high school. I forget what
the number is for Canadians overall. In Nova Scotia, 78 per cent are graduating.
We know that there are places where programs are working and places where
programs are not working. I can get back to you on the evaluations as to where
they work and do not work.
We also have a couple of programs that were introduced in 2008 on education:
the First Nation Student Success Program and a partnership program. We have
evaluated these and the results of many of them are on our website. We have
shown that there is a gap-closing issue.
Senator Hubley: That helps. I did not know whether figures were
available to us. I knew only that at one time there had been some.
For clarification on funding, I understand that for a registered Indian
living on-reserve, educational funding would be from the federal government. For
the registered Indian living off-reserve, there is provincial funding. Is that
Ms. Ducros: The federal government provides funding dollars for First
Nations children going to school on-reserve. Children who are living off-reserve
fall under the provincial system. The only other thing that the government could
provide funding for is in the area of tuition. First Nations will negotiate
tuition agreements in many First Nation schools that will go from K to 4 or K to
10. First Nations students who go off-reserve but live on-reserve will receive
funding from the federal government. We will negotiate tuition agreements. In
another instance where a reserve might not have a school, the funding would be
provided to the reserve in order to deal with tuition agreements. Where a First
Nation cannot provide schooling on-reserve, there will be tuition agreements
that allow them to go off-reserve.
Senator Hubley: If First Nation students living on-reserve go to
school off-reserve, are they funded at the same level as a regular student at
that school would be funded?
Ms. Ducros: On-reserve funding for First Nations students is
established by many factors, including the number of students, the band supports
needed, transport, et cetera. A lump sum will be given on-reserve, and then the
tuition agreements are negotiated between the bands and the provinces. Overall,
the work we have done indicates that they would receive the same funding, but it
would vary from community to community. I cannot give you a blanket yes, but
ideally it would be roughly the same funding when you add up the basic
instructional services that are paid for by the federal government plus the
Senator Hubley: How does the 2 per cent cap on educational funding
impact the funding for both a registered Indian on-reserve and a registered
Ms. Ducros: The 2 per cent cap applies to funding going to First
Nations living on-reserve, but as I said, in 2008 there are targeted funds above
and beyond the basic instructional services. The 2 per cent cap could
theoretically or technically have applied, but in 2008 about $268 million was
re-injected into the system as well. I will have to get you those figures. I
have them all and I knew them by heart at one point, and I will have to get them
to you so I do not misspeak.
Senator Hubley: That is fine. I would appreciate just having another
look at those figures.
Ms. Ducros: By the way, they are posted on our website as well.
Senator Hubley: Okay, thank you.
Ms. Badets: We were talking about gaps and looking at the progress. We
have just taken a snapshot, so it can be kind of misleading at times. We can go
back and we will be looking forward too; we are doing projections that look at
the progress over time as well.
Senator Hubley: To have a conversation back and forth, is the 25 to 34
years not one of the largest demographics of the Aboriginal communities?
Ms. Badets: Whether it is largest, it is certainly considered a young
population, and that is why we were focusing on this group, yes.
Senator Hubley: Thank you.
Senator White: I guess I am reading at the bottom of each page, and
thank you very much for being here. Someone said earlier said that the
on-reserve includes other communities closely affiliated with First Nations, and
I heard somebody refer to Inuit. Is that correct? Who made that reference? I am
trying to see whether or not these statistics are skewed in any way by us
including an Inuit off-reserve, since they do not have reserve status.
Mr. Broughton: I mentioned Inuit in reference to the distinction
between the constitutional understanding of the word ``Indian'' versus the
Indian Act term.
Senator White: There has been an acceptance now?
Mr. Broughton: There has, but I should let Statistics Canada speak to
how they assess. However, my reference to Inuit was purely on the constitutional
Senator White: Okay.
Ms. Connors: All of the information that has been provided in the
Statistics Canada deck is for registered Indians. It does not include Inuit.
That footnote is really because there are some First Nations communities that
have been included in the statistics that are not considered on-reserve.
Senator White: Are they from the Northwest Territories and the Yukon
when you say the North?
Ms. Connors: Yes.
Senator White: Thank you very much.
You have excellent statistics, by the way. Is it possible to get these same
statistics by high school graduate and other statistics by province? I notice
you break them down by province and region later on. I am trying to see which
are more successful and which are failing more often, if that is possible.
Ms. Connors: Yes.
Senator Carignan: You are providing us with a snapshot of 2006. Would
it be possible to get a snapshot of other census years? The census is held every
five years. Is it possible to have a snapshot of 2001, 1996, and so on, to see
the evolution of the figures?
Ms. Badets: We certainly have census information on that. We could
provide a bit of a historical view on some of this as well.
The Chair: I have a few questions that I would like to ask. My first
question is about the decision — I think maybe this has to do with Justice and
perhaps Ms. Touchette can help — about the Algonquin First Nation. The Federal
Court of Appeal found that a failure to provide particular services off-reserve
to First Nations people that were available on-reserve constituted
discrimination under section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Are you now ensuring that there is compliance with that decision?
Mr. Broughton: I must admit I feel ignorant of the particular issue.
The name of that case is familiar to me, but I cannot recall the details of it.
Is that also known as the Lovelace case?
The Chair: It is also known as Misquadis.
Mr. Broughton: I would have to find information for you on that.
The Chair: No problem. If we have further questions, we can write to
you on that.
Did you have anything further to add, Ms. Touchette?
Ms. Touchette: No.
Senator Brazeau: I apologize for the long preamble, but it will
perhaps give the context of why we are studying this.
We are basically looking at the human rights lens to see if First Nations
people, whether they live on-reserve or off- reserve, have the same access to
those human rights. Let us try and bring a little bit of focus and talk about
voting rights. Voting rights in mainstream Canadian society is a basic
fundamental human right, regardless of where anyone lives across the country.
They can vote in municipal, provincial and federal elections. Unfortunately,
First Nations people living off-reserve in some situations do not have the right
to vote in band elections. Let us bring a bit of context.
As a result of past policies under the Indian Act and the laws flowing under
the Indian Act, First Nations people before 1999 could not vote in band
elections that conducted their elections under the Indian Act, section 74. After
the Supreme Court decision in Corbiere, First Nations people living
off-reserve are granted the right to vote.
For those First Nations communities who select their leaders under section 74
of the Indian Act, off-reserve status Indians can vote in those elections, which
is fewer than half of the First Nations communities today in Canada; over 50 per
cent of First Nations communities conduct their elections by means of
``custom,'' whatever that may be.
In terms of practice, and you can correct me if I am wrong, in how it works
day to day, if a First Nations community that used to conduct their elections
under section 74 pass a band council resolution whereby they want to adopt their
custom election code, the department receives those custom election codes. By
means of a briefing note or recommendation the minister rubber stamps that
custom election code.
From my knowledge, those custom election codes must be Charter-compliant.
Here is my question: In my previous capacity in 2008, I was fortunate enough to
have a good working relationship with the department. We were able to review
custom election codes, obviously not knowing which specific First Nations
community they were from, which region, et cetera.
After review and the exercise we conducted at that time, if my memory serves
me right, approximately 95 per cent of the approximate 80 custom codes we were
able to review were not Charter-compliant. What that translates into, at the end
of the day, is that if these custom codes are not Charter-compliant — thereby
giving First Nations communities and the leadership the right to deny an
off-reserve from the right to vote — then why is the department not fixing this?
Why is the department sending a recommendation to approve these custom codes
when those proposing or recommending that these custom codes be adopted are not
Charter-compliant and are, in fact, denying an off-reserve band member's right
to vote because of the fact that they live off-reserve? That is the question.
Ms. Kustra: Thank you very much for those questions, Senator Brazeau.
Back in the day, I was the official who worked very closely with Senator Brazeau
as the national chief of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples.
By way of background, Senator Brazeau is correct that the majority of First
Nations in Canada elect their leaders under what is called community custom.
There are actually 342 communities right now that elect their leaders under
When a community wishes to move from elections under the Indian Act into a
community-led process, they are required to submit a code to the minister for
his review, as Senator Brazeau has indicated. That code would have been voted on
at the community level. Therefore, it is more than just a band council
resolution; it is a community vote on the code that is presented to the
When the code is presented to the department, it must be Charter-compliant in
that it must provide for off-reserve voting rights and it must have amendment
processes included. Those are two of the key things that we look for. When it
comes in and when the minister makes his decision, that code will be
However, the situation that you have referred to, Senator Brazeau, is one
that occurs after the community has moved to custom. The community can use the
amendment provisions that are in their act to change their custom code, and they
may make a decision to change the code to remove the voting rights for
off-reserve members. However, once the First Nation is out of the Indian Act,
there is no role for the minister to go back and require the community code to
be Charter-compliant or to specifically provide the voting rights for
off-reserve members that you speak of.
There are court cases where members of First Nations communities who have
been denied the right to vote have taken their First Nation to court, and the
court has ruled that the community code is not Charter-compliant. Therefore,
there are cases where members are challenging the leaders on the requirement for
residency. That is happening right now.
The other important thing to remember is that there were many custom codes in
existence prior to 1999, when it was legitimate — so to speak — according to the
Indian Act, to have the restriction of residency. That is what the Corbiere
decision was all about; it changed that requirement to be resident on-reserve
in order to exercise a voting right. Prior to that, there were many codes that
had not come to the department for conversion out of the Indian Act. They had
existed for many, many years and had terms, conditions and processes that may
never have been reviewed by the minister.
That conversion to custom policy, which is what we call it, came into effect
in 1996. Prior to that, there was no review whatsoever of community codes by the
Senator Brazeau: I have a supplementary on that. Let us say a First
Nation community is converting from section 74 initially to a custom code. There
are First Nations people who are members of that community and living
off-reserve. If they do not have the right to vote initially in favour or
against the transition from section 74 to a custom, why are we allowing that to
Ms. Kustra: They would actually have the opportunity to vote because
they are currently under the Indian Act. All communities who currently elect
their leaders under the Indian Act are required to provide opportunity for
off-reserve members to vote in the election. That means they are required to
have the right to vote to move out of the Indian Act into a community custom.
They do have that right and off-reserve members do participate in that vote to
bring the community out of the Indian Act under a community custom.
Senator Brazeau: It is important to make that distinction. I was aware
of that, because when a First Nations community will initially vote to become
custom, they can then pass a band council resolution to change their custom
code; is that correct?
Ms. Kustra: It will depend on the specific amending formula that is in
the code. There is not a standard amending formula. Many communities do require
a community vote in order to amend the code. Many of them have elders councils
and other community advisory councils, in addition to the membership at large,
that actually participate in the amending formula.
Senator Brazeau: Yet at the end of the day there are still perhaps
tens of thousands of First Nations people across the country who are being
denied the right to vote. I certainly know what the department's line is: Once a
First Nations community goes custom, the minister has no authority to step in.
The premise of this study is to determine what we will do about that. There
are First Nations people who have a human right to vote and they cannot. To say
``If they covert to custom, the minister cannot intervene'' does not cut it for
Ms. Kustra: If there are individuals who are members of First Nations
and they are denied the right to vote, then, as individuals, they do have the
opportunity to take their First Nation to court because they are being denied
the right to vote. They are probably being denied the right to vote on the basis
of residency, which is not consistent with the application of the Charter of
Rights and Freedoms.
The case law that we have so far has supported the individuals who have taken
their First Nations to court over the issue of access to voting rights due to
residency provisions of the individual codes.
Senator Brazeau: As you will appreciate, it takes a lot of time,
energy and money to take anyone to court. Therefore, I think you can appreciate
that a First Nations person who just wants the right to vote has no remedy or
options. They cannot go to the department or the First Nations community because
they are denied the right to vote. Then you have the community who will use
their band funds or funds they have received to fight the individual who just
wants their voting right. That, in translation, in everyday life, just does not
occur. Luckily, we had my good friend, John Corbiere, who did that several years
Ms. Kustra: In addition to the right to vote, there was another case
that is really significant in terms of rights for band members who live
off-reserve, and that was a decision that was taken in 2007, called the
Esquega or Gull Bay decision. That particular decision identified that the
requirement to live on-reserve in order to run for a position on council was
also contrary to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Therefore, that decision
removed the residency requirement to live on-reserve in order to run for a
Right now, again, for First Nations that elect their leaders under the Indian
Act, band members can run for council no matter where they live.
Senator Brazeau: Would the department be willing to share some of
these change codes that I certainly was privileged to be able to look at for the
committee's benefit and review? I think that would be very important for us
moving forward with this study.
Ms. Kustra: The custom codes that we have are current at the time they
are submitted to the department for consideration. The codes that we did provide
to the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples were provided with the caveat that those
codes were only valid or current at the time they were submitted, and they could
have been changed.
Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada does not keep a record of
all custom codes. We certainly could provide to this committee the codes that
have come through for approval since 1999, in the Corbiere decision, with
the caveat that those codes were only valid at the time they were submitted to
the department and at the time the minister made the order to remove those First
Nations from section 74 of the Indian Act, which is the voting provisions of the
Senator Brazeau: Is there a reason why the department does not keep
data on these codes?
Ms. Kustra: There is no requirement for the First Nation to
continually submit updated codes to the department. It is part of the overall
policy framework of the federal government to get out of the day-to-day decision
making for First Nations communities. When a decision is made to recognize a
First Nations community code and to remove all of the interventionist provisions
of the Indian Act under section 74, it is then over to the First Nation to
operate that code, as a First Nation government, for the people they serve. All
of the oversight provisions of the Indian Act are removed at that time in
recognition that the First Nations government is the keeper of the election
Senator Brazeau: The federal government, through the department of
Aboriginal Affairs, funds elections, whether they are under the Indian Act or
custom. Are you saying that, because a First Nation runs through custom, there
is no oversight, first, on the election; second on ensuring that First Nations
people living off-reserve have the right to vote; and third, on any amendments,
following the first process of reverting to a custom code, to ensure that there
is Charter compliance?
Ms. Kustra: That is correct. Elections are not funded specifically by
the department. They are part of the support that goes to bands, called Band
Support Funding, and First Nations identify a portion of that funding to conduct
I guess the question that you are asking, Senator Brazeau, relates to
accountability for the election code. After the First Nation has moved out of
section 74 of the Indian Act, it is really an accountability bargain, if you
will, between the First Nation band members and their elected chief and council.
It is a shift in that accountability regime.
Senator Brazeau: I do not mean to be the devil's advocate. If you see
it that way, I see it as an opportunity for this: ``Here is my custom code,
department of Aboriginal affairs. Here is the rubber stamp.'' They can do what
they want now and make any changes they want, including not having to be
Charter-compliant. They can deny basic, fundamental human rights that everyone
else enjoys across the country. There is no oversight needed. Because they are
custom, the minister cannot step in anyway.
What are we doing or trying to do, if anything? Perhaps it is nothing. I
heard it is nothing. What are we doing to ensure that First Nations people who
live off-reserve can vote, because the ones who live on-reserve have the right
to vote? Here is the residency issue. Is residency a basis for discrimination
with respect to custom voting? Not in all communities, but certainly in the 80
or so custom codes that I reviewed, 95 per cent were non-Charter-compliant.
Ms. Kustra: Residency is not one of the 11 areas of discrimination
under the Canadian Human Rights Act.
Senator Brazeau: Should it be?
Ms. Kustra: I will not answer that question.
Senator Brazeau: Why not?
Ms. Kustra: I do not know whether it should be or not. The decisions
that the courts have made regarding custom councils have identified that custom
codes are non-Charter-compliant if they deny the opportunity for band members
who live off-reserve to vote. There is case law that backs that up.
From that perspective, the courts recognize that the right to vote is a right
that should be provided to band members, no matter where they live. They should
not be denied the right to vote by virtue of their custom code. That is what
case law says.
Senator Brazeau: I will not get into programs and services and access.
That may be for another date. We heard that some programs and services are run
on a status-blind basis and that there are no distinctions. Again, what is being
done about the fundamental human right for people who live off-reserve to vote
in their governance, their band elections? What are we doing to ensure that that
is status- and residency-blind? Will we continue to wait for court decisions to
come out before anything is done? Will recommendations be withheld to whomever
the minister of the day is until these court cases come out, or will we start
trying to do the right thing and ensure that everyone in the First Nations
population has equal human rights in this country?
Ms. Kustra: If I may offer a final thought on that, the department,
from time to time, does get asked to provide workshops for custom First Nations
who want to update or revise their codes. We have staff in the department who
conduct workshops with what we call custom First Nations, go through all of the
provisions of Charter compliance and share information with the participants in
the workshop to evaluate their code and to indicate where it is Charter-
compliant and where it is maybe not Charter-compliant. Then it is up to the
First Nation to take the information that is shared and to determine how they
wish to revise their code. That is one capacity-building, information-sharing
activity that the department undertakes at the request of First Nations that
want to update their codes.
Senator Brazeau: In that case, a final question. Would you be able to
forward any and all complaints dealing with elections, including First Nations
people living off-reserve who cannot vote, to the committee, as far back as you
Ms. Kustra: We would have to take into account privacy concerns with
respect to names that came in. We could certainly go back to our Allegations and
Complaints group in the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and determine how many
complaints we have received, and we can make that information available to the
Senator Brazeau: That would be useful. Thank you.
The Chair: Senator, may I have a clarification? Earlier on, you asked
for information on custom. In your other position, you were able to see the
information. Just for clarification, do you want all of it or a random sample?
Senator Brazeau: In my experience, random sampling statistics do not
lie, so I think a random sample would suffice.
Senator Carignan: Following Senator Brazeau's line of thought, if the
band determines its own voters list with the people who are eligible or entitled
to vote, his concern has to do with excluding people, Indians who might have the
right to vote, but are excluded.
I understand that each band council can set its own election rules, but I
also think that each band council sets its conditions for being a band member.
Is that correct?
Ms. Kustra: Do you want to take the membership piece, and I will take
the election piece?
Mr. Tallman: A member of a band council is not my area.
Senator Carignan: Let me explain where I am going with this. It has to
do with my question about what ``Indian'' means. I had a case in Aboriginal law
once in my life. It had to do with non-Aboriginal Indians, who had taken over a
band council through elections. Those people were not Indians; they were band
council members who voted in the election, so they had control over who was at
the helm of the band. But in reality, they were not Indians under the Indian
Act, but they were band members and they had the right to vote in the band
I was stunned by that. I would like to clarify this point to know whether
there are non-Indians, under either the Indian Act or the Constitution, who
control or can indirectly control band councils and subsequently determine where
the money for Aboriginal people will go, on reserve or off reserve.
That makes no sense to me at all, but I would like to know if it is
Ms. Touchette: If I may, I would ask my colleague, the registrar, to
explain the distinction between registering as an Indian and band membership.
That would be the first step.
The second step would be to review some of the criteria in the legislation
that pertain to elections, because, as you rightly pointed out, those types of
situations can really occur. Ms. Kustra will be able to give you more details,
and my colleague from Justice Canada and I will be able to add to that, if need
Mr. Tallman: The example you are raising is a First Nation that
controls its membership under section 10. It is conceivable that under section
10, where a band determines its membership may develop membership rules or a
code that allows for non-registered Indians to be members. This may be a
situation where a child may not be eligible because one parent falls under
section 6(2) of the Indian Act. In some cases, some First Nations provide for
membership of these individuals where they are not entitled to be registered as
As such, a person being a band member of that particular band then enjoys
certain rights and privileges that come under the Indian Act related to being a
member of a band, which can impact land, ability to hold land on-reserve, and, I
imagine, the election provisions.
Ms. Kustra: That is absolutely true. If non-Indians are band members
in a band that controls its membership, they would be afforded the opportunity
Ms. Touchette: I am not sure if it is the same decision as the one you
are referring to, but, for example, in the 1991 Federal Court Good Swimmer
case, the band chief was a non-Indian, but, if memory serves, she was a band
member under the membership code.
There are in fact cases like that where the code was established by the First
Nation, which allows non-Indians, under the legislation, to be elected and to
have decision-making power in the band council.
Senator Carignan: That brings me to my second question. In terms of
programs and eligibility, have you determined that programs depend on status,
among other things? Are there programs where the simple fact of being a band
member can make you eligible, thereby enabling non-Indians to benefit from
funding that comes from programs for Indians, but is diverted to non-Indians?
Ms. Touchette: My colleagues will give you more details about the
administration of programs and some of the specific decisions made, but
generally speaking, the programs of the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development are aimed at status Indians. So status Indians are really
the people who can become registered Indians. Most often, those people are band
members, but then we would not have non-Indians as band members because of the
membership code. When they are not registered, our programs usually do not apply
Senator Carignan: Usually.
Ms. Touchette: I am going to let my colleagues talk about the details
of the programs, since urban programs, among others, came up.
Ms. Ducros: In terms of programs aimed at what are called First
Nations ordinarily resident on reserve, they cover two aspects: First Nations
and those who live on reserve. Other First Nations programs are concerned with
status, but the place of residence does not matter.
I am going to go over that to make sure that that is not the case and I will
get back to you if the programs are not available to Indians on reserve. But in
terms of the programs off reserve, I am not so sure. When it is a question of
transition, things are perhaps not as black and white.
The Chair: I have one question for Ms. Touchette and anyone else who
wants to answer. Why was the Office of the Federal Interlocutor closed? How will
this affect First Nations people living off-reserve?
Ms. Touchette: Thank you for the question. The mandate of the Office
of the Federal Interlocutor was to maintain and strengthen relations of the
Government of Canada with organizations that represent Metis, non-status Indians
and urban Aboriginal people. The office supported the minister in his role as
federal interlocutor; and the minister remains the federal interlocutor.
However, recently we put in place some organizational changes. In effect, we
have taken the policy dimensions of the Office of the Federal Interlocutor and
woven those into my sector of Policy and Strategic Direction to provide broader
policy integration and to have an Aboriginal lens on all the policy programs
that we have. Rather than have siloed policy functions, we have integrated those
functions. By the same token, we have taken the Urban Aboriginal Strategy
program from what used to be the Office of the Federal Interlocutor and put it
under the Regional Operations Sector. As well, programs that used to be with
Canadian Heritage have been put with the Regional Operations Sector.
By consolidating programs, we are hoping that in the cases of translation,
which my colleagues talked about earlier, we will have a more streamlined and
seamless approach. That has allowed us to have fewer positions in the
department. We believe that those changes, which came into effect on September
4, will result in better programming and better policy-making.
The Chair: How will the Urban Aboriginal Strategy be administered
under the new departmental structure?
Ms. Touchette: It is administered by the Regional Operations Sector. I
will turn to my colleague from that sector to provide the details with respect
to its administration.
Ms. Kustra: The Urban Aboriginal Strategy transferred, as a program,
from the Office of the Federal Interlocutor into the Regional Operations Sector.
At the regional level across the country, staff delivering the partnerships and
relationships with provincial governments, cities and service organizations are
now part of the Regional Operations Sector and integrated into all the other
programs and service delivery that takes place at the regional level.
As a result, we have a much closer connection on the ground between the Urban
Aboriginal Strategy, the people it serves and the partners it engages with right
across the country.
As evidence of some of that integration, we have memorandums of collaboration
that have been negotiated between our provincial offices and the B.C.
government, in Manitoba with the City of Thompson, the City of Edmonton and the
Urban Aboriginal Accord, to name a few of the things.
We see a much closer integration at the regional level as well, with the
Urban Aboriginal Strategy being situated with the programs that came from
Canadian Heritage at the beginning of the year, the National Association of
Friendship Centres, and the Young Canada Works programs I spoke of earlier. We
have a much better opportunity to look at the potential integration of those
programs in order to provide the best service we can to the people who will
benefit from them.
The Chair: Thank you. I have a question for Statistics Canada.
You spoke about the Aboriginal Peoples Survey. Can you describe that a bit
more in detail? How does the data from the survey differ from the census data?
Does the survey provide insight that the census data alone cannot provide?
Ms. Connors: The Aboriginal Peoples Survey has been run four times:
1991, 2001, 2006, and it has just been run again in 2012.
The census and National Household Survey provide a broad overview of trends
and information on Aboriginal people. The Aboriginal Peoples Survey asks more
detailed questions on particular aspects of First Nations people living
off-reserve, Metis and Inuit, so that you can perhaps dig a little bit deeper
into issues such as education. The Aboriginal Peoples Survey would allow you to
look at barriers to education or various situations in terms of the education
experience of Aboriginal peoples.
The Chair: Is this survey like the long form survey? Is it mandatory?
Ms. Connors: The Aboriginal Peoples Survey is a postcensal survey. It
is conducted after the census and NHS, and uses the census or NHS as the manner
in which we can select people to participate in the survey. It is a voluntary
The Chair: I want to thank all the witnesses who have come. You can
see that the committee is very engaged on this issue. We have lots of questions.
I spoke to Ms. Touchette and perhaps later on, once we have heard from all the
witnesses, we can clear some of the queries and questions we have left with you.
We may want to proceed with that.
Senator Brazeau: First of all, is it possible to obtain a list of your
urban aboriginal strategy partners? Also, when you send us the information about
election complaints, could you indicate how those complaints were followed up
on, and, if there was no follow-up, specify why?
The Chair: Thank you very much. We appreciate your presence and look
forward to working with you in the future.
We now have our second panel. We are grateful to have James Sutherland from
Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Mr. Sutherland is Acting Director
General of the Aboriginal Affairs Directorate, Skills and Employment Branch.
From Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, we have Debra Darke, Executive
Director, Assisted Housing. From Health Canada, we have Aruna Sadana, Acting
Director General, Strategic Policy, Planning and Analysis, First Nations and
Inuit Health Branch; and Scott Doidge, Acting Director General, Non-Insured
Health Benefits Directorate, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch. From the
Public Health Agency of Canada, we have Marla Israel, Acting Director General,
Centre for Health Promotion, Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention
You are all welcome and we look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for
your patience. I understand Mr. Sutherland will start.
James Sutherland, Acting Director General, Aboriginal Affairs Directorate,
Skills and Employment Branch, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada:
Thank you. On behalf of Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, I would
like to thank the committee for the invitation and opportunity to speak with you
today on issues pertaining to the rights of First Nations band members who
HRSDC works hard and maintains positive relationships with many Aboriginal
organizations and views them all as important partners in social and economic
I note that there are specific questions and information sought by the
committee with respect to HRSDC programming: the current programming that exists
at HRSDC for First Nations off-reserve; the jurisdictional framework within
which HRSDC provides these programs; how these programs compare to programs
offered on- reserve; and upcoming programs targeted to First Nations off-reserve
and the future focus for programs for off-reserve First Nations. I will do my
best to answer those questions to the extent that I can.
I would like to start by providing an overview of the Aboriginal labour
market context in Canada. The Aboriginal population continues to face complex
and persistent challenges that impact their participation in Canada's social and
economic development. As a result, there continues to be a need for a variety of
programming, and in the case of HRSDC, labour market and social programming, to
help address these challenges.
As we saw earlier with the Statistics Canada presentation, the case in point
is the unemployment rate of the Aboriginal population in Canada. Since the
economic downturn of 2008, the Aboriginal unemployment rate has remained
persistently high at approximately twice that of the general Canadian
population. While the unemployment rate for First Nations on-reserve is much
higher at 25 per cent, for First Nations off-reserve it is still unacceptably
high at approximately 14 per cent. These statistics tell us, from a labour
market efficiency perspective, that the Aboriginal population is a source of
labour that is underutilized.
Added to this situation is the fact that the Aboriginal population — First
Nations, Inuit and Métis — is the youngest and fastest growing segment of the
Canadian population, with a median age 13 years younger than the Canadian
population at large and growing at four times the rate of the non-Aboriginal
As the Canadian population continues to age with many leaving the labour
force for retirement and as the need for skilled sources of labour continues to
rise, the Aboriginal population should be seen as a largely untapped source of
This underutilized and untapped source of labour underscores the reason why
HRSDC's investments in Aboriginal skills development and training are vitally
important at this juncture in time.
HRSDC has a long history of supporting skills development and training of
Aboriginal Canadians, including First Nations off-reserve, by working with
Aboriginal organizations to design and deliver tailored labour market
programming to meet the unique needs of their client population.
There are two key programs that I would like to mention today that help
Aboriginal people acquire the skills they need to participate in the Canadian
economy. It is important to note that both programs are accessible to all
Aboriginal people, regardless of their affiliation — First Nations, Inuit or
Metis — or their residency — on-reserve or off-reserve.
First, the Aboriginal Skills and Employment Training Strategy, or ASETS, is
HRSDC's flagship program that helps Aboriginal people prepare for, find and keep
high-demand jobs today and over the long term. Launched in April 2010, ASETS
will invest $1.68 billion between 2010 and 2015 in Aboriginal service providers
to provide skills development and training to Aboriginal people throughout
Canada. There are more than 80 of these service providers managing more than 500
points of service across the country in urban, rural and remote areas.
ASETS is founded on three strategic pillars: providing demand-driven skills
development, fostering partnerships with the private sector and other levels of
government, and ensuring accountability for improved results.
As I referenced earlier, ASETS Aboriginal service providers design and
deliver labour market programming that is both reflective of the labour market
conditions in their service delivery area and tailored to the unique needs of
their client population.
Over the past decade, investments in ASETS and its predecessor program, the
Aboriginal Human Resources Development Strategy, have helped, on average,
approximately 15,000 Aboriginal people per year secure employment.
Given the focus of the standing committee's study, I should mention that
HRSDC currently funds 13 urban or off- reserve service providers under ASETS for
an investment of approximately $190 million between 2010 and 2015. In addition,
First Nation ASETS service providers serving their community members would
generally support their members, who may be residing on- or off-reserve.
The second Aboriginal labour market program administered by HRSDC is the
Skills and Partnership Fund, or SPF. It is a partnership-based,
opportunity-driven program that supports projects that increase the number of
Aboriginal people trained and employed in the Canadian labour force. SPF is
designed to target emerging or untapped economic development opportunities, as
well as test innovative approaches to Aboriginal labour market programming.
SPF was launched in July 2010 and is funded at $210 million through until
March 31, 2015. There are currently 60 projects being implemented under SPF, the
majority of which are training-to-employment initiatives.
SPF has a target of 8,000 employment results over the life of the program.
Given the duration and start dates of many of the projects, the majority of the
employment results are not expected until closer to the end of the program in
2014 and 2015. While SPF project recipients can be broken down by affiliation —
First Nation, Inuit, Metis and urban off-reserve — it is not possible to track
client results based on affiliation due in large part to the mobility of the
Provinces and territories, given their constitutional responsibilities for
post-secondary learning and labour market training, and their proximity to local
labour markets, are best placed to assess the needs and priorities of their
citizens. With this in mind, the federal government's role is to provide
resources to provinces and territories through funding for skills and employment
programs in order to help Canadians to receive training and develop skills and
experience leading to good jobs and better opportunities for themselves and
In this regard, there are a number of other programs and investments that
HRSDC oversees that are accessible to all Canadians, including Aboriginal people
regardless of their affiliation or residency.
I would like to touch on three of them: first, labour market development
agreements; second, labour market agreements; and third, youth employment
The Government of Canada provides nearly $1.9 billion per year to provinces
and territories through labour market development agreements, LMDAs. Provinces
and territories invest LMDA funding into skills development and employment
training for clients who are largely Employment Insurance eligible in their
respective jurisdictions. This funding provides them with the opportunity to
upgrade their skills, get on-the-job experience, find employment or become
The Government of Canada is also providing $500 million per year to provinces
and territories through bilateral labour market agreements, LMAs. Provinces and
territories use this funding and deliver labour market programming for non-EI
eligible clients in their respective jurisdiction based on regional or local
labour market needs. This funding is designed to assist under-represented groups
in the labour market, and almost all jurisdictions have identified the labour
market participation of Aboriginal people as a priority.
To be clear, the federal investments made through labour market development
agreements and labour market agreements ensure that Aboriginal people,
regardless of their affiliation or residency, can access this funding through
provincial or territorial service delivery networks.
HRSDC also leads a horizontal initiative called the Youth Employment
Strategy, or YES. Delivered in collaboration with 11 federal departments and
agencies, with an annual investment of more than $310 million for 2012-13, the
Youth Employment Strategy is designed to assist Canadians aged 15 to 30,
particularly those facing barriers to employment, get the information and gain
the skills and work experience they need to make a successful transition into
the labour market.
HRSDC's funding for the Youth Employment Strategy is $249.9 million for
2012-13, and all Aboriginal youth, including First Nations youth on- and
off-reserve, are eligible for Youth Employment Strategy programming.
With respect to social programming benefits for Aboriginal people under
HRSDC's mandate, it is important to note the Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
In some Canadian communities, Aboriginal people are overrepresented in the
homeless population. They are also among the most vulnerable group to both
unemployment and poverty.
The Homelessness Partnering Strategy, HPS, receives funding of nearly $135
million per year to prevent and reduce homelessness in Canada. It also includes
a specific Aboriginal homelessness funding stream with annual funding of $14.3
million designated for off-reserve homelessness programming only.
Under this funding stream, communities are encouraged to prioritize
Aboriginal service providers helping to ensure that services meet the needs of
the Aboriginal homeless community off reserve, and that these services are
delivered in a culturally-appropriate manner.
With respect to future directions, ASETS and SPF are near the midpoint of
their five-year programming cycle. Ongoing analysis of the data and outcomes is
being undertaken, but it is premature, at this point in time, to make any
conclusions about the future of this programming beyond 2015.
HRSDC does, however, formally partner with the national Aboriginal
organizations to, amongst other things, collaborate on joint policy priorities
and seek feedback on how to improve Aboriginal labour market programming. This
work will help to inform the future direction of Aboriginal labour market
programming. These partnership agreements are with the Assembly of First
Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, the Métis National Council, the Congress of
Aboriginal Peoples, the Native Women's Association of Canada and the National
Association of Friendship Centres, the last three of which represent off-reserve
First Nations as part of their membership base.
In conclusion, let me state that HRSDC is committed to working closely with
Aboriginal organizations, including those representing First Nations
off-reserve, to ensure that they can play an active role in Canada's social and
Thank you for the opportunity to address you today. I would be happy to
answer any questions you may have.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Sutherland. We will go to questions after we
have heard from all of the witnesses. We will now hear from to Ms. Darke.
Debra Darke, Executive Director, Assisted Housing, Canada Mortgage and
Housing Corporation: Thank you, Madam Chair and members of the committee. I
am pleased to be here today on behalf of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
to discuss federal investments in affordable housing for First Nations people
In Canada, an extensive legislative, policy and effective framework defines
housing activities across governments. At the federal level, the Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation is the national organization responsible for housing.
Its mandate is based on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act and the
National Housing Act.
As Canada's national housing agency, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation
plays an important role in supporting Canada's market-based housing system,
while also addressing gaps in the system to help ensure that Canadians have
access to safe and affordable housing.
The housing needs of some 80 per cent of Canadian households are met through
the marketplace, many supported by CMHC's housing finance activities. This
includes mortgage loan insurance, which helps borrowers obtain financing at
competitive interest rates, and securitization programs that enhance the supply
of low-cost funds for mortgage lending. CMHC's public policy mandate to provide
mortgage loan insurance to qualified borrowers in all parts of the country and
for all forms of housing — homeownership, rental and housing in rural areas and
smaller markets — means that all Canadians, including Aboriginal people, have
access to a range of housing options.
For those households whose needs cannot be met by the marketplace, the
Government of Canada, through CMHC, provides approximately $2 billion each year
to address the housing needs of lower-income Canadians. These investments are
provided under various housing programs and initiatives, both on- and
Off-reserve, the vast majority of federal housing investments are delivered
by provinces and territories. Aboriginal people living off-reserve, be they
First Nations, Inuit or Metis, have the same access to this funding as do other
On-reserve, CMHC works closely with First Nations and with Aboriginal Affairs
and Northern Development Canada to deliver and administer federal housing
Of the $2 billion annual federal investment, approximately $1.7 billion is
provided in ongoing subsidies in support of almost 605,000 households living in
existing social housing units both on- and off-reserve. These social housing
units were committed under long-term agreements, under various programs spanning
some 60 years. Approximately 80 per cent of the social housing portfolio is
currently administered by provinces and territories under agreements with CMHC.
Some $140 million is provided to support the housing needs of Aboriginal
households living off-reserve, which includes ongoing subsidies for units
committed under the Rural and Native Housing Program and the Urban Native
Aboriginal households living off-reserve also have access to existing social
housing funded under a range of other programs.
The Government of Canada is also providing more than $238 million per year,
over three years, to support new funding commitments to improve the living
conditions of Canadians in need under the Investment in Affordable Housing
This framework recognizes that housing needs differ across Canada and that
provinces and territories are best positioned to understand and address their
local housing needs. Provinces and territories match federal investments and are
responsible for program design, delivery and administration.
Provinces and territories may design programs to address the needs of
specific groups, including Aboriginals. For example, both Ontario and British
Columbia are delivering funding, under this framework, to increase the supply
and improve the quality of existing housing through Aboriginal housing programs.
In addition to these ongoing investments, under Canada's Economic Action
Plan, the federal government invested more than $2 billion to build new and
renovate existing social housing, resulting in the construction and renovation
of 16,500 housing projects for low-income families and individuals across the
country. This investment included $400 million specifically for the construction
of new social housing and the repair of existing social housing on-reserve and
$200 million for the North.
Aboriginal housing providers off-reserve also have access to CMHC's
Affordable Housing Centre, which works with the private, public and non-profit
sectors to develop affordable housing solutions that do not require ongoing
As well, CMHC has supported Habitat for Humanity in their efforts to explore
ways to make the Habitat homeownership model available to more Aboriginal
people. CMHC is the lead and founding national partner for Habitat for Humanity
Canada's Aboriginal Housing Program.
To sum up, federal investments in housing contribute to finding various
affordable housing solutions for First Nations members living off reserve.
Thank you for inviting me to be here today and for the opportunity to make
these brief opening remarks.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Ms. Darke.
Aruna Sadana, Acting Director General, Strategic Policy, Planning and
Analysis, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada: Thank you
for the opportunity to address the committee tonight. I will be making remarks
on behalf of myself and my colleague Marla Israel from the Public Health Agency
The important work of this committee focuses on the rights of First Nations
band members living off-reserve, and I will direct my comments to this issue,
within the context of the delivery of health services and programs in Canada.
Improving the health of First Nations, Inuit and Metis is a shared
undertaking amongst federal, provincial, territorial and Aboriginal partners.
Provinces and territories provide universal, insured health services, including
physician and hospital services, to all residents, including First Nations,
Inuit and other Aboriginal people.
They also provide community and public health programs, long-term care,
nursing homes and home and community care for all residents, including
Aboriginal people living off-reserve. Health Canada supplements those programs
and services provided or funded by the provincial and territorial governments in
three main areas, including primary health care, supplementary health benefits
and health infrastructure support.
The provision of these services by Health Canada is done based on policy
rather than on legislation. As I mentioned, Health Canada provides certain
primary care services to on-reserve First Nations communities. The First Nations
and Inuit Health Branch of the department employs nurses and funds nurses and
home care workers who provide those community-based health services in First
Nations communities across the country.
This part of Health Canada's direct, primary care service delivery is
provided on-reserve. A First Nations individual living off-reserve and requiring
medical attention would be covered by his or her provincial or territorial
government, as would any other member of the population of that province or
Health Canada also provides or funds community health programming, primarily
on-reserve, in the areas of public health, healthy child development, mental
wellness and healthy living. Health Canada's Non-Insured Health Benefits Program
provides a limited range of medically necessary supplementary health benefits to
over 896,000 registered First Nations and recognized Inuit, regardless of income
or place of residence in Canada.
This program provides medically necessary health-related benefits and
services not otherwise provided through private insurance plans or provincial or
territorial governments. These include prescription and certain over-the-
counter medications; medical supplies and equipment; dental care; vision care;
and short-term, crisis intervention, mental health counselling.
Health Canada also funds community health programming, primarily on-reserve,
in the areas of public health, healthy child development, mental wellness and
healthy living. It is important to note that Health Canada is not the only
federal organization that supports health-based programs and activities for
First Nations members residing off- reserve.
Most of the off-reserve programs and activities are administered through the
Public Health Agency of Canada. The agency takes a population-based approach to
providing health promotion and disease prevention programs aimed at various
at-risk populations, including Aboriginal people.
The agency delivers three maternal and child health programs representing
investments of over $112 million annually. The agency's Aboriginal Head Start
program specifically targets First Nations, Inuit and Metis living off- reserve.
Special emphasis is also given to the inclusion of Aboriginal women and infants
as part of the Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program and the Community Action
Program for Children. These programs mirror those of Health Canada targeted at
First Nations living on-reserve. I will briefly describe each of these programs.
The Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program focuses
on the spiritual, emotional, intellectual and physical development of Aboriginal
children and supports their parents and guardians as their primary teachers.
Each year, the 128 program sites reach approximately 4,800 children and their
families. The Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program provides programming to pregnant
women at risk and their babies. Projects serve 2,000 communities and 50,000
women and infants annually. The Community Action Program for Children provides
culturally appropriate early intervention and prevention programs for vulnerable
children aged 0 to 6 years and their families. These projects serve 3,000
communities and more than 65,000 children, parents and caregivers each month.
The agency also responds to the vulnerability of Aboriginal people to HIV
infection. The focus of this programming is on prevention, education and
awareness, research, and community capacity building. For example, the federal
initiative to address HIV/AIDS in Canada has a dedicated fund to address the
needs of Aboriginal people living off- reserve. Specifically, in non-reserve
First Nations, Inuit and Metis communities, the HIV/AIDS project fund helps to
reduce HIV incidence among Aboriginal populations and facilitates access to
quality diagnosis, care, treatment and social support. Projects address sexually
transmitted infections, including HIV, through a holistic approach, including
education, awareness and capacity building.
Other federal departments, jurisdictions and First Nations partners hold many
of the levers to improved health outcomes. Health challenges facing First
Nations are addressed most effectively when all the partners work together. New
and innovative partnerships with those who share investments for solutions are
increasingly necessary in today's modern health and health care system. For
these reasons, collaborative planning and relationships are key to our strategic
goals moving forward.
I hope this brief overview will help to inform the work of this committee.
Thank you. I would be happy to take any questions.
The Chair: Thank you. I want to clarify two things from your
presentation, Ms. Sadana. On page 4, you talk about three maternal and child
health programs. What are those programs?
Ms. Sadana: I will defer to my colleague, Ms. Israel.
Marla Israel, Acting Director General, Centre for Health Promotion, Health
Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention Branch, Public Health Agency of Canada:
On-reserve, there are maternal and child health programs that seek to provide
supports, just in the same way as Mr. Sutherland talked about for the
The Chair: You said that the agency delivers three maternal programs.
What are they?
Ms. Israel: The three programs are the Aboriginal Head Start in Urban
and Northern Communities Program, the Prenatal Nutrition Program and the
Community Action Program for Children.
The Chair: Thank you. Ms. Sadana, on page 4, you said that the
Aboriginal Head Start in Urban and Northern Communities Program focuses on
spiritual issues. That is interesting. The others I can understand, but how does
the government get involved in spiritual issues?
Ms. Israel: I will address that, because it is a program available to
First Nations, Inuit and Metis living off-reserve. We work in partnership with
First Nations organizations in the belief that spirituality plays a big role in
overall health. Elders are often partnered with kids and their parents to talk
about spirituality in the context of education, growth and learning. That is how
spirituality factors into that program.
Senator Ataullahjan: My question is for Health Canada. In looking at
the statistics, we know that First Nations who live off-reserve suffer from
poorer health than the rest of the general Canadian population. I would like to
know whether this issue is being addressed.
Ms. Sadana: As I mentioned in my remarks, the responsibility for the
provision of health services off-reserve is provincial and territorial. Health
Canada supplements programming on-reserve to fill certain gaps that are not
provided on-reserve. The interdependency of the health system is such that it is
a collaborative partnership. Health outcomes are not determined by health
services alone because they are related to a number of factors, which I spoke
to. My colleagues previously talked about housing and education and so on, which
contribute to the health outcomes of Canadians and Aboriginal people, whether
they are living on- or off-reserve. Both on- and off-reserve First Nations
suffer poorer health status than members of the general population. Our policy
programming is based on trying to help to fill those gaps.
Senator Ataullahjan: For example, I keep hearing that diabetes is an
epidemic. Is that being addressed? What is being done specifically to help them?
A lot of it is education. What is being done specifically about that?
I also have one small question about maternal and infant health.
Ms. Israel: On that note, what has changed in recent years is the
acknowledgement by the provinces and territories as part of the mechanisms that
we have to share information. There is no doubt that there are health
inequalities and disparities; we all know the statistics and numbers. As
colleagues said at the previous table, we are looking at applying an Aboriginal
lens to all of the programs and supports provided in the agency. For example,
along with our partners at the provincial and territorial table, we have a
committee of chief medical officers of health and assistant deputy ministers of
health, plus the Public Health Agency of Canada and First Nations. They look at
everything, from healthy weights to mental health promotion, through an
Aboriginal lens. To do so requires some foresight to be able to look at the
policies and see how the social determinants of health play into the overall
health of the population. That is why, as my colleague said, looking at
partnerships becomes important in consideration of those outcomes.
We also have the Canadian Diabetes Strategy, which seeks to address some of
the risk factors involved in type 2 diabetes, which is an increasing concern. We
look at the risk factors such as genetics, sedentary behaviours, poor eating
habits, obesity, et cetera. Through partnerships with community organizations
and the Public Health Agency of Canada, grants and contributions are made
available to public health professionals, community organizations, et cetera, to
address some of those risk factors and to work with the population in a
community setting to address those needs. The Public Health Agency is only one
of the partners involved in education awareness activities, et cetera.
Senator Ataullahjan: Millennium Development Goals 5 and 6 dealing with
maternal and infant health will not be met out of all the MDGs that were set
forward. Most of them will be met by 2014, except for the ones involving
maternal and infant health. What is the state of maternal health among First
Nations and Aboriginal people? According to the statistics for the world, and
Canada's numbers specifically, we are not making much progress when it comes to
Aboriginal people. Am I right?
Ms. Israel: Generally speaking, for what we call vulnerable or at-risk
populations — those who, for example, may not have benefitted from education,
supports, et cetera. That is what we try to address at the Public Health Agency,
with the investments being made in maternal and child health. From the
evaluations that we have of those specific programs, be it Aboriginal Head
Start, the Community Action Program for Children or the Prenatal Nutrition
Program, when we can access mothers and their children and provide them with
information about breastfeeding, safe sleep and smoking cessation, we do have
positive outcomes. The challenge from a public health perspective is to continue
to reinforce those programs as much as possible so that we can reach out to
Senator Brazeau: Continuing with Health Canada, some communities that
I am aware of — and this is probably widespread — have a health centre. People
who live on reserve can call up the health centre and ask for any over-the-
counter medication and it is provided to them, and some of them extend that
service to some of their people who live off-reserve.
However, in some cases individuals who live off-reserve cannot access this
service and they have to buy the medication, as opposed to those living
on-reserve who get over-the-counter medication for free.
What is the practice in that regard? Is the service meant only for those
living on-reserve or do the health centres have the discretion to service whom
Ms. Sadana: Persons living off-reserve would access specific
medical-attention-type services like any other member of the population. They
would go to a physician or health centre off-reserve. With respect to
medications, I spoke about the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program, and Mr.
Doidge will provide more detail. That program is open to all First Nations
people living on- or off- reserve, that is, regardless of place of residence.
Scott Doidge, Acting Director General, Non-Insured Health Benefits
Directorate, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, Health Canada: Your
question was specific to over-the-counter medications, but the process is
similar for prescription drugs as well. We fund a range of over-the-counter
medications for which there is clinical evidence to support their use. Access
through our program is available on- and off-reserve. It is prescription-driven,
so that there is a medical need. If someone goes to a physician and has a
medical need that results in a prescription for acetaminophen to help them
manage their osteoarthritis, for example, that is available through our program
on- or off-reserve. The manner in which it is accessed may be slightly
different, but there is no difference in the eligibility of benefits.
Senator Brazeau: As a hypothetical example, two individuals have gout.
These two individuals have been taking the same medication for the last 15 to 20
years. One individual lives on-reserve, the other lives off-reserve, and they
are part of the same family. The individual who lives on-reserve gets his
prescription for the same medication he has been taking for years. The person
living off-reserve, who is a member of the same family and sees the same doctor,
is prescribed different medications for the same condition. In order for the
individual living off-reserve to have his medication covered under FNIHB, his
physician has to fax a form to a pharmacist.
Can you elaborate on that?
Mr. Doidge: We cover a range of benefits. Some benefits are covered on
an open-benefit basis, meaning that the claims for them come into us
electronically and are adjudicated. We look at certain criteria in terms of
whether the drug is eligible. We have drugs that we consider limited use and
exception benefits. These are drugs that have criteria for access, that is,
there is clinical evidence to support their use but there might be a safety
concern associated with them or they may cost more than other available
alternatives. Such an instance will precipitate a stop at the pharmacy level
through our program and will start the form process with the requesting
physician to get the medical rationale for us to support that payment.
As with all products through our program, these requests are triaged through
the levels of access. If it is the same drug for the same person, then the
manner in which it is accessed is the same.
Senator Brazeau: In my hypothetical, which is not really a
hypothetical, is there a reason, with two individuals with the same condition —
again, one living on-reserve and one living off — one would get the medication
that he usually gets and the other would get a prescription of a generic that he
has never tried? That is one example I am aware of.
Could we get a list of the criteria in order that we could better understand
how that works? Second, being very blunt, is the criteria simply for cost
Mr. Doidge: In answer to your first question, the manner in which the
drugs will be accessed is a function of the prescribing physician's professional
judgment. I do not believe that our program's rules would have a big influence.
In particular, where the individual resides should not make a difference. If it
is a medical need, it is a medical need, to answer your hypothetical question.
Our drug benefit list is available publicly online and the criteria
associated with different drugs are published there. They are developed through
an expert advisory committee that provides advice to our program. This drugs and
therapeutics advisory committee includes a range of health practitioners,
including hospital pharmacists, community pharmacists and practising physicians
with a range of specialties. It includes four First Nations physicians. This
committee looks at the evidence to support the use of a drug. They will help us
decide what that drug's place is in therapy. Cost is a consideration, because it
is part of our mandate to consider that, but it is secondary to the
I would be happy to share a list of the criteria. I am not sure if it will
mean a lot as it is very clinical, but we would certainly share it.
Senator Brazeau: In my hypothetical, which is not really a
hypothetical, the physician will remain nameless, but for the purposes of this
exercise I was made aware that there are different criteria depending upon where
a First Nations person lives in terms of the prescription they are given. That
is not a question for you; I say that just in passing.
The Chair: Are you asking Mr. Doidge to provide the detailed criteria
to the committee?
Senator Brazeau: Yes, please.
The Chair: How detailed is it?
Mr. Doidge: There are thousands of drugs in our formulary.
The Chair: Do you want every drug?
Mr. Doidge: Are you interested in a drug for gout, for example,
Senator Brazeau: Yes, please.
The Chair: All of them or a specific drug?
Mr. Doidge: We can take a stab at providing them for the specific
instance, and if you want more, we can certainly provide that.
The Chair: Is that okay?
Senator Brazeau: Perhaps you could provide the link to where it is
online. I cannot find it.
Mr. Doidge: We can provide the link and some context as well. The drug
benefit list is really published for health professionals, so it is hard to
Senator Zimmer: Senator Brazeau talked about medication. I want to
talk about doctors. Studies have suggested that First Nations people living
off-reserve are significantly less likely to have seen a family doctor in the
last year than non-Aboriginal people. Medication is one issue, and actually
seeing a doctor is another. What is the federal government doing to try and
address this issue? Do you know of anything they are doing to ensure these
people get to see a doctor at least once a year?
Ms. Sadana: As I mentioned, the provision of medical attention is
provided under the provincial and territorial governments. Like anyone, one
cannot force an individual to go see a doctor, but the access to physicians,
community health services and walk-in clinics is there. All First Nations or
Aboriginal people living off-reserve have full access to those services in
communities, just as any other member of the Canadian population.
Senator Brazeau: My second question is for Mr. Sutherland. You
mentioned that the ASETS program is designed to essentially have Aboriginal
people find high-demand jobs. I am paraphrasing here. Having said that, is there
any progress report or audit within the department to determine the rate of job
retention versus what you are actually spending on the program?
Mr. Sutherland: We have had a number of valuations over the last
number of years for the predecessor program specifically. We have not gotten to
the full evaluation of this current ASETS. We have criteria within our suite of
programming, some that no longer are there, with respect to what is considered a
result. For example, we had a program, the Aboriginal Skills and Employment
Partnership program, and if the job was found within a certain time frame and
kept for a certain amount of time, I believe that was the rule. We do that.
There is a limit to how long we track someone on a job. We usually know going
into a project what the anticipated cost per intervention is and what the
anticipated cost per job is, and that will be different because our success rate
is not 100 per cent. We might say it is $10,000 for an intervention and $15,000
per job, if you are looking at a cost-benefit type of analysis.
Senator Brazeau: As you mentioned, you fund, for example, the National
Association of Friendship Centres, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples and the
Native Women's Association of Canada, who represent First Nations people who
live off-reserve. Obviously, within those organizations, they also represent
other Aboriginal people who are not status Indians living off-reserve. Given the
fact that we are dealing with that segment of the Aboriginal population, do you
have any statistics in terms of how many opportunities or the access they have
to receive some of those funds?
Mr. Sutherland: I am going to make sure I look over my shoulder here
to say we do not track actual affiliation. It is all self-identification. Anyone
who comes through the door and says they are Aboriginal, regardless of whether
they are Inuit, Metis, status, non-status, not affiliated with a band, should be
able to go through any door of any of our organizations across the country and
access our services. Obviously there is probably some self-selection occurring
with that. Perhaps there would be some referrals from one organization to
another, depending on the nature of the person coming through the door. It is
one of our basic principles that if you consider yourself an Aboriginal person,
you should be able to access our programming regardless.
Senator Brazeau: Sure. I am not questioning that. I am wondering if
you have any statistics that highlight and show how many First Nations people,
status Indians, living off-reserve are accessing the funds that the department
makes available for each partner and organization.
Mr. Sutherland: No. We do not ask our organizations to identify the
person as being status, non-status, or belonging to a particular group or
another. There tends to be some self-selection that we can make assumptions for,
but no actual identification of those people, no.
The Chair: I have a number of questions. One is for Human Resources
and Skills Development Canada. In March 2012, HRSDC discontinued the Aboriginal
Skills Employment Partnership program. I understand this program was supposed to
be for sustainable employment for Aboriginal people in major economic
industries. Can you explain why it was discontinued and what has replaced it?
Mr. Sutherland: The Aboriginal Skills and Employment Partnership
Program, or ASEP, to shorten down the name a little, was a sunsetting program.
It was established — I do not have the actual time — in the early part of the
2000s and was targeted for major economic opportunities, such as a large mine
going in or a factory being set up near a community. Its goal was for large
projects. It was supposed to be 50 jobs, minimum. This required a partnership
component where the industry, the private sector, would have to contribute a
dollar for every dollar that we contributed. It ran its course and it was a
program that was not ongoing. In 2012, a decision was made that it was not going
In the interim, when we transitioned from the Aboriginal Human Resource
Strategy, AHRDS, to the ASETS, a new program was added, which was SPF. It is not
a replacement program.
The Chair: What is it called?
Mr. Sutherland: Skills and Partnership Fund. It is not a replacement
program, but we built the lessons learned from ASEP into the ASETS and the SPF.
With small exceptions, everything we did under ASEP we can do under SPF. We
treat it much the same, but it is not a replacement program because it has other
The Chair: What other objectives does it have?
Mr. Sutherland: It did not have a 50-job limit. It did not have a 50
per cent contribution limit; we can go less or more, depending on the
circumstances. It was also to pick up innovation to try new things. It was not
quite as tied to training-to- employment. To us, that term means we are
investing in someone that has no guarantee, but basically a committed job at the
end. A company says we need 15 people. We may train 25, but at the end of it, 15
get it. ASEP required that commitment. SPF could also say something along the
lines of skills development, whereby northern Ontario will be short long haul
truckers in the next 10 years. We will train them. We do not have a company
waiting with a specific job, but we know the need is great. You build it and
they will come.
The Chair: Is this also for sustainable employment?
Mr. Sutherland: Yes. All our objectives are to find long-term
employment for the individuals. Although the ASETS have the ability to set their
priorities, the focus is to find people sustainable work, provide them with
skills that are transferable or jobs that can be maintained and developed
The Chair: I come from Vancouver, and many young Aboriginal people go
there. When I was listening to you, one thought in my mind was whether you
specifically do things geared for the young people who have come off reserves to
help them find or get ready for employment.
Mr. Sutherland: Demographically, that will almost be the case because
of the nature of the population we are dealing with. When you look at our
cornerstone program, ASETS, one of the main things about this is that it is a
devolved model. HRSDC and the Government of Canada do not come in and say you
are going to train these people for this type of job. We allow the organization
to set the priorities. Our experience is that many of them would determine that
based on the needs of the people coming through their door or the community or
the industry needing people to identify youth. Youth is our largest group and
most of our results come in that area.
The Chair: Do you know how many young people you are training and what
the age range is?
Mr. Sutherland: Our category basically starts at 18. We do not train
people who are still in high school. It is 18. Then we can categorize through
different areas and scope them out depending how we pull the information, so 18
to 24 would be one category and 25 to 35 might be another.
We can break it out in many different ways. We have the breakdown of the
numbers of what the age categories are and we find it tends to be younger, at
least for the interventions. The successful people may be slightly more oriented
towards people who are slightly older. They may have settled down a little bit.
Basically, the training tends to focus on youth because that is the population
that is coming through the door.
The Chair: Would this training also be upgrading high school skills,
or would it be after high school?
Mr. Sutherland: We do not deal with people in high school, but we do a
lot of GED. We do a lot of essential skills. Essential skills in literacy are
one of the main component parts to our programming.
This is actually where it gets a little bit difficult to demonstrate some of
the results where you want to see things. Many of the individuals we deal with
are not a simple course away from finding a job. Getting their level of literacy
up one or two levels would make a huge difference to their ability to find and
keep their jobs.
We do a lot of these early interventions, the high school equivalencies.
Returning to school is one of our major reporting factors. We consider a return
to school a success.
The Chair: Earlier on we heard from the department witnesses about the
post-secondary school program. This is not funding from that kind of program.
This is completely separate funding; is that correct?
Mr. Sutherland: That is correct, although we do allow our partner
organizations to fund post-secondary, in some circumstances, or through certain
rules. Obviously the skilled trades in the colleges, we do a lot of work with
the colleges. I should not say ``we'' do. Our partners do a lot of work with the
The Metis have an endowment fund that they have established for
post-secondary. I am not entirely sure on the rule, but I think two years of
university can be funded if the organization decides that is the priority.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Sutherland.
Ms. Darke, I was very interested in your comments, especially around assisted
housing, which I have great interest in. Do the housing services you provide
on-reserve differ from those available to First Nations off-reserve?
In your remarks you spoke about low income and other criteria. It is not
specifically just toward Aboriginal people, it is the general eligibility
criteria for seniors, rural, homeowners, victims of family violence or
I have a number of questions around this. We do have more and more people
living off-reserve. One of the things I value is there is housing just for
Aboriginal people in many places in my city. What criteria do you follow?
Ms. Darke: As I mentioned, federal investments through CMHC serve
individuals on-reserve and off-reserve. Maybe I can just talk a little bit about
the general kinds of areas of assistance and then talk about how we deliver it
differently in those two instances.
The programs themselves, the initiatives, may differ on- and off-reserve in
their particulars but, quite frankly, the areas of assistance that are provided
are very comparable to those that you have just listed, and they are similar
both on- and off-reserve. There are some programs that provide assistance for
new construction of affordable housing. There are programs that might assist
with renovation, programs that would help individuals with distinct housing
needs, so perhaps seniors or persons with disabilities who need modifications to
their unit, perhaps victims of family violence.
There are also investments that help to make housing more affordable for
people, perhaps rent supplements or arrangements with rent geared to income.
The main difference on- and off-reserve is that off-reserve the federal
investment is delivered by provinces and territories. We have a number of
agreements with provinces and territories, on one hand, to deliver or administer
the existing social housing stock. I talked about an investment of about $1.7
billion that is primarily for the existing social housing stock. Most of that is
off-reserve, and 80 per cent of it is delivered and administered by provinces
They would have their own eligibility criteria for determining which
households are eligible to obtain a unit in an existing social housing project.
In some cases, these projects are directly delivered by non-profit or
cooperative organizations and they, too, would have eligibility criteria.
On reserve, CMHC works with First Nations directly to deliver the assistance.
There, too, the First Nations themselves are responsible for the determination
of the eligibility criteria for selecting individual households that would
benefit from the assistance.
In the case of delivery off-reserve, a number of provinces and territories
have decided to develop and design programs that are specifically targeted to
Aboriginals off-reserve. British Columbia is an example. They have allocated
something like $5 million that is funded by both the federal and provincial
governments under the Investment in Affordable Housing, and it is specifically
targeted to Aboriginal households off-reserve. There are other provinces:
Ontario is another example.
Provinces, as I said in my presentation, are responsible for the design,
delivery and administration of programs, and they have the freedom to determine
to whom they target the initiatives.
The Chair: You mentioned the criteria for victims of family violence.
I worked in this area for a number of years. One of the challenges on-reserve is
safe houses, because it is such a small area where people are staying. I would
like to know if CMHC helps with second-stage housing for victims of family
violence on-reserve, and does it also do that off- reserve?
Ms. Darke: Yes to both. CMHC gets just under $2 million on an annual
basis. It comes to us through the Family Violence Initiative.
The Chair: Is that just for Aboriginal people or for everyone?
Ms. Darke: That is overall; however, that funding has been leveraged
by provincial and territorial investments, so we allocate a portion of that
funding to provinces and territories, which have to cost-match it. They will
deliver funding to develop both second-stage housing and other shelters for
victims of family violence off-reserve. The funding can be used to develop new
shelters as well as to renovate existing ones. That is the case on-reserve as
well. The funding can be used to develop new shelters, including second-stage
housing, as well as to renovate existing shelters.
The Chair: Talking about British Columbia, which is the province I
come from, we also have housing for people with special needs. Do you fund
housing off-reserve for people with special needs?
Ms. Darke: Yes. Right now the federal investments in new commitments
for affordable housing are made through the Investment in Affordable Housing
Framework. That is, in essence, a framework through which CMHC has entered into
bilateral agreements with provinces and territories. Provinces and territories
cost-match the federal investment, and they have the ability to design and
deliver programs in a number of different spending categories.
One of the areas in which they can use the joint investment is to develop or
adapt housing for individuals with special needs. That would include seniors,
persons with disabilities and, as we just talked about, victims of family
The Chair: Do you know how many non-reserve Aboriginal people have
been given housing through CMHC?
Ms. Darke: Do you mean specifically with respect to individuals with
The Chair: No, sorry, I meant Aboriginal people generally.
Ms. Darke: Maybe I will answer that question in a bit of a roundabout
Let me talk first about the existing social housing stock. We know that the
investment overall is $1.7 billion, and $153 million of that investment is
on-reserve, both for existing social housing as well as for new commitments.
That means the remainder is available off-reserve. Specifically for
Aboriginal households, $143 million goes toward the existing social housing
stock. In addition, we know that Aboriginal households are served through the
new funding commitment. Right now there is about $238 million available each
year under the Investments in Affordable Housing.
We do not have the number of Aboriginal households served through that.
However, we do know that the precursor programs, the Affordable Housing
Initiative and the renovation programs, served a proportion of Aboriginal
For example, of the rental housing programs funded under the Affordable
Housing Initiative, 10 per cent of the households served were Aboriginal
households off-reserve. We know that under the rural and home ownership programs
funded under the Affordable Housing Initiative, 38 per cent of the households
served were Aboriginals, and for the renovation programs that were funded, we
know that about 15 per cent of the households served were Aboriginals
Under the Investments in Affordable Housing, the program mix that provinces
and territories continue to deliver is very similar. While we do not know, it is
not unreasonable to assume that the proportion of households served would be
roughly the same as it was under the Affordable Housing Initiative and the
The Chair: I am not sure, Ms. Darke, how much you know about the work
the committee does, but for a number of years we have been looking at
matrimonial housing on reserves. We all know around this table that the
situation is pretty dire. There is a shortage of housing on the reserves. Is
CMHC doing some proactive work to increase housing on the reserves?
Ms. Darke: Yes, we are. Each year, along with Aboriginal Affairs and
Northern Development, about $296 million is spent for housing on-reserve.
The Chair: Is that an increase? Is that additional?
Ms. Darke: No, that is the total sum of money that is used. About 400
additional units can be constructed through CMHC's funding on an annual basis.
We are able to renovate approximately 1,000 units on-reserve each year, and we
are providing ongoing subsidies that help to assist just under 30,000 households
on-reserve on an annual basis.
The Chair: Thank you very much for your very full answers.
Senator Zimmer: Of the funding that you provide the provincial
government and the Aboriginal communities, who then distribute the money and set
the criteria, do you track that at all to the end resource and end result, or do
they set it? Is it territory you cannot get into to find out if the funding has
ended up in the right places?
Ms. Darke: I will answer your question first with respect to
off-reserve and then with respect to on-reserve.
In both cases, we provide funding under agreements. Off-reserve, we have
agreements with provinces and territories, and those agreements specify
high-level objectives or parameters for the use of federal funding. They include
an accountability framework as well as a requirement for provinces and
territories to publicly report on the outcomes that result from the joint
Under the accountability framework, provinces and territories need to report
to us on an annual basis with respect to the use of the federal and provincial
funding. There is a requirement for ongoing reporting so that we are aware of
how the funding is being used.
On-reserve, we also have agreements in place with First Nations, and they,
again, outline the overall requirements with respect to the federal funding, and
there are requirements that the First Nation report to us annually, so they need
to provide us with annual financial statements, for example, and there are a
number of routine reporting requirements that are included.
Senator Zimmer: There is accountability, therefore.
Ms. Darke: Absolutely.
Senator Zimmer: Thank you very much.
The Chair: Ms. Sadana, I have a question for Health Canada. We all
know that the provincial government provides health care services to all
citizens, and the federal government provides health care services on reserves.
Are there any health care services that you provide to Aboriginal people
Ms. Sadana: Well, we do some health promotion-related programming
through the Public Health Agency of Canada, but, specifically, the program
related to off-reserve Aboriginals is the Non-Insured Health Benefits Program.
There are a limited number of programs, for example, the Aboriginal Diabetes
Initiative, which is part of the Canadian Diabetes Strategy, and it funds 28
projects right now targeted at Aboriginal people off-reserve.
Those would be the examples of programs that we do off-reserve. It is very
limited because, as I said, the programs are available through the provincial
and territorial governments. That said, the provinces and territories in some
instances will actually partner with communities specifically on- or off-reserve
to target Aboriginal First Nations off- reserve.
The Chair: Do you have any programs on addictions for off-reserve
Ms. Sadana: I will have to get back to you, but not that I am aware
of, not off-reserve.
The Chair: Ms. Israel, you and Ms. Sadana have spoken about the
Aboriginal Head Start program, which is so important. I would be very interested
to know how many children you are reaching every year. I did hear the specific
things about spiritual, emotional and other help that you are giving.
Exactly what kind of resources are you giving for Head Start? I do not mean
for a minute that is what you are doing, but the focus at the moment is ``head
start'' for young children all over the world. When did this program start,
exactly what kind of resources are you giving to make this possible and are you
giving any off-reserve?
Ms. Israel: I will talk about off-reserve, and I do not know, Ms.
Sadana, if you want to speak about on-reserve. It was a program launched in
1995, and it targets early childhood development for Aboriginal preschool
children and their families living off-reserve. It is available to First Nations
living off-reserve, Metis or Inuit. Right now, about 5,000 children access
Aboriginal Head Start.
The Chair: That is out of how many? How many children are there?
Ms. Israel: You know, I would have to get that overall figure.
The Chair: Sure, you can provide that.
Ms. Israel: However, you are dealing with a pretty distinct group of
children because you are targeting the program at age 3 to 5, so you are looking
at the development needs of those kids that are preschool and trying to
establish better health outcomes by looking at learning. In those 128 sites, you
can be providing a variety of tools. A lot of it is around linguistic capacity,
and we specifically have built the program around ensuring that there is
community capacity to be able to deliver those tools. That does two things. It
has a way of improving the learning opportunities for the kids and their parents
that are part of this program, but it also affords an economic opportunity as
well, and that is the success that we found.
As well, when we are looking at those priorities — it can vary from
jurisdiction to jurisdiction — one of the important things is that we try to
work with parents, educators and community organizations to ensure that we are
meeting the right priorities. That is fundamental to the program itself, so it
is interesting when you say that everybody is talking about ``head start.'' On
top of that, it is found to be beneficial in terms of working with kids at that
age to be able to ensure they have those kinds of supports and that learning so
that when they are entering school, they are ready. We just did a recent
evaluation of a program that showed that, so there is some success with respect
to this program.
The Chair: Did you want to add anything?
Ms. Sadana: With regard to on-reserve, I do not want to misspeak, so I
would be happy to provide to the committee through you, Madam Chair, some
details on the numbers.
The Chair: I am really keen to hear about how many children are
getting the service, plus exactly what resources are being provided to help with
Senator White: In relation to your response in respect of addictions
treatment off-reserve, and correct me if I am wrong, is there some Health Canada
funding that goes into Poundmaker's Lodge, Wabano Aboriginal treatment program
here in Ottawa, for example?
I am asking because I accessed treatment for an off-reserve Aboriginal person
at the Guelph facility. I made a phone call and was able to get a person in.
They never asked if they were on-reserve or off-reserve, they just asked if they
were Aboriginal and had a bed available funded by Health Canada. You say that
there is none but there are some. Do you provide some access points?
Ms. Sadana: I would have to get back to you on that and provide the
accurate figures for what we do provide off- reserve, and if it is funded
through Health Canada or through another federal government department.
Senator White: Thank you.
The Chair: You may have said this to us, but was it ages 3 to 5 for
the Head Start?
Ms. Israel: Yes, it is targeted to ages 3 to 5.
The Chair: Are there any other questions?
I want to thank you all for being here. It is late in the evening and you
have really been patient with us. We certainly have learned a lot from you, and
hopefully at the end of our study we may have some more questions for you.