Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on
Issue No. 10 - Evidence - June 1, 2016
OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 1, 2016
The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance met this day at 6:47 p.m.
to examine the expenditures set out in Supplementary Estimates (A) for the
fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.
Senator Larry W. Smith (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good evening. It's great to see all of you here, colleagues
and our witnesses, our friends, and, of course, I was told that there's the
number two team in the back of all of the support people. But I want you all to
know that you're not the number two team; you're number one in our hearts.
Welcome to the Standing Senate Committee on National Finance. Colleagues and
members of the viewing public, the mandate of this committee is to examine
matters relating to federal estimates generally, as well as to government
My name is Larry Smith, senator from Quebec, and I chair the committee. Let
me introduce, briefly, the other members of our group. We are small in number
but large in heart.
To my left, fresh from La Presse ±
One of Canada's great newspapers. Now, we have a tablette form, of
course. One of the great press people, from that trade, now a senator, and we're
proud to have him with us, Senator André Pratte.
Senator Pratte: Good evening.
To my right, I should say the Speaker pro tempore of the Senate and a
great member of our committee, Senator Nicole Eaton.
To her right, the former Auditor General — they used to call her the hammer
because she could always break the Rock — Senator Elizabeth Marshall.
Senator Marshall: I know; I seem so nice too.
The Chair: Today we will continue our study of Supplementary Estimates
(A) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.
To review their expenditures in Supplementary Estimates (A), we have before
us representatives from three departments.
First, from Employment and Social Development Canada, Alain Séguin. Welcome,
Mr. Séguin. He is the Chief Financial Officer, Chief Financial Officer Branch.
It's not like we're going to have another title to add to Mr. Séguin. We also
have Jason Won, Deputy Chief Financial Officer, Chief Financial Officer Branch.
From Health Canada, we have Jamie Tibbetts, Assistant Deputy Minister and
Chief Financial Officer, Chief Financial Officer Branch; and Sony Perron, Senior
Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit Health Branch.
Finally, from Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development Canada, we welcome
back our two veterans of the Senate Finance Committee: Paul Thoppil, Chief
Financial Officer, Chief Financial Officer Sector; and Daniel Leclair, Director
General, Community Infrastructure Branch, Regional Operations.
To my right, from British Columbia, we have another valued member of our
group: Senator Richard Neufeld.
INAC and ESDC have brought more officials as backup, as I mentioned earlier,
in case we have specific or technical questions. We thank you all for being here
Each department has five minutes to make an opening statement, which will be
followed by a question period. The floor is yours, gentlemen. We will start with
Alain P. Séguin, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Financial Officer Branch,
Employment and Social Development Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair and members
of the committee. I have a brief opening statement.
I'm pleased to be here again with you this evening in my capacity as Chief
Financial Officer of Employment and Social Development Canada. I also have with
me Jason Won, as we said, the Deputy Chief Financial Officer. As was mentioned,
I also have senior executives of key areas of ESDC to help answer some of the
program questions you may have.
The department delivers a range of programs and services that affect
Canadians throughout their lives. The department provides seniors with basic
income security, supports unemployed workers, helps students finance their
post-secondary education and assists parents who are raising young children. We
also have the mandate to maintain a strong, productive, healthy and competitive
workplace within the federal jurisdiction through the labour program.
Service Canada delivers ESDC's programs to citizens, as well as other
Government of Canada programs and services.
Allow me to present to the committee an overview of ESDC's portion of the
2016-17 Supplementary Estimates (A), tabled on May 10, 2016. Supplementary
Estimates present information on spending requirements that were not ready in
time for inclusion in the Main Estimates.
We use supplementary estimates to provide Parliament with an update on
various statutory programs. Statutory items are included in the Estimates for
information only, since Parliament has already approved the purpose of the
expenditures and the terms and conditions under which they may be made through
As part of our Supplementary Estimates (A), you will note the budgetary
statutory forecast decreased by some $5.77 billion. This is mainly due to the
Universal Child Care Benefit. The decrease in forecasted expenditures for the
Universal Child Care Benefit is the result of Budget 2016's announcement of the
new Canada Child Benefit. The new income-tested Canada Child Benefit will come
into effect and replace the Universal Child Care Benefit on July 1, 2016.
Other than the statutory items, ESDC is seeking an additional $292.6 million
in voted appropriations.
ESDC is requesting $112.2 million of funding for the Canada Summer Jobs
Program. The government announced that it will invest $339 million over three
years, starting in 2016-17, to create up to 35,000 additional jobs in each of
the next three years under the Canada Summer Jobs Program. This investment will
more than double the number of job opportunities supported by the program,
bringing the total number of students served up to 70,000 each year.
Also, Budget 2016 announced $78 million in funding for the Social
Infrastructure Fund in these supplementary estimates under three initiatives.
First, to strengthen the work of communities in their efforts to help
homeless Canadians find stable housing, Budget 2016 announced an additional
$111.8 million in funding for the Homelessness Partnering Strategy over two
years. Of this, $57.5 million is being requested in the 2016-17 Supplementary
Secondly, an additional $16.5 million in funding for the First Nations and
Inuit Child Care Initiative under the Social Infrastructure Fund will address
the immediate repair, rehabilitation, and equipment needs of existing on-
reserve child care facilities.
Finally, $4 million in funding will be provided over two fiscal years for the
Enabling Accessibility Fund program. This funding increase will support over 80
additional construction and renovation projects aimed at improving physical
accessibility and safety for people with disabilities in communities across
Canada. Of this, $2 million is being requested in the 2016-17 Supplementary
Also, ESDC is requesting $52.3 million to renew the Skills and Partnership
Fund. This proposal-based program funds indigenous organizations to work in
partnership with employers to provide training for indigenous people to fill
specific job vacancies in high-demand industries.
Budget 2016 also announced $50 million in additional funding for the Canada
Job Fund agreements in 2016-17. The department is requesting $50 million in vote
5 in 2016-17 to be transferred to provinces and territories through the Canada
Job Fund. This additional investment will help ensure unemployed and
underemployed Canadians can access the training and supports they need to
develop their skills and pursue opportunities for a better future.
Finally, ESDC is requesting $2.1 million for the Aboriginal Skills Employment
Training Strategy, also known as ASETS. These resources will provide direct
support to ASETS agreement-holders to build capacity, and enhance monitoring and
I hope this overview has given you a better understanding of the
supplementary estimates of our department. My colleagues and I will be pleased
to answer any questions you may have. Thank you.
Jamie Tibbetts, Assistant Deputy Minister and Chief Financial Officer,
Chief Financial Officer Branch, Health Canada: Thank you, Mr. Chair and
committee members. On behalf of Health Canada, I'm pleased to appear before you
to discuss the proposed changes to spending from what was previously outlined in
the Main Estimates 2016-17.
I would like to introduce my colleague, Mr. Sony Perron, the Senior Assistant
Deputy Minister of the First Nations and Inuit Health Branch, who is here with
me today. In my last appearance in March, I mentioned to you all that it would
be my last time here before I retired, but here I am again in June. I promise
that this will likely be the last, and I'm honoured to be here once again.
Allow me now to provide you with an overview of Health Canada's portion of
Supplementary Estimates (A), tabled on May 10, 2016.
The department has put forward several important initiatives that will result
in an increase in funding of $165.2 million. This means that Health Canada's
total budget will be raised to almost $4 billion, at $3.92 billion, for the
current fiscal year. Our requests are itemized on pages 2-26 and 2-27 of the
Supplementary Estimates (A).
Most of the items included in these supplementary estimates are related to
measures announced in Budget 2016 infrastructure spending initiatives.
In terms of specifics, the department is seeking voted appropriations of
$94.9 million for affordable housing and social infrastructure projects. This
includes $82.1 million to support the community health facility infrastructure,
consisting of nursing stations, health centres, acute care facility complexes
referred to locally as hospitals, and drug and alcohol treatment centres used in
the delivery of health services and programs to First Nations on reserves.
There's another $12.8 million in this package to repair and retrofit existing
infrastructure associated with the Aboriginal Head Start On Reserve Program.
Another item that we've put forward related to Budget 2016 infrastructure
spending is $25.6 million to renew and enhance the public health components of
the First Nations Water and Wastewater Action Plan. Health Canada will continue
providing public health services related to water and wastewater to 395 First
Nation communities across Canada. This falls under the category for public
transit, green infrastructure and existing programs mentioned in the budget, as
laid out in supps.
Health is seeking another $25.4 million from Budget 2016 under the initiative
called Addressing Climate Change and Air Pollution - Reducing Air Pollution.
This renewal of funding allows Health Canada to continue at the same level to
provide specific research on how air pollution impacts health, which underpins
actions to reduce air pollutants, formerly done under the Clean Air Regulatory
Health Canada also seeks $12.7 million as per Budget 2016 infrastructure
spending initiatives to support a variety of infrastructure improvements,
including assessments, remediations, activities on contaminated sites, upgrades
to security to federal laboratories to address failing structural, electrical,
mechanical, plumbing, ventilation and fire systems, and upgrades to Health
Canada's office accommodation footprint. These investments will be made in the
National Capital Region as well as in various regions across the country.
Another requested item is the request of $2.4 million to support Phase III of
the Federal Contaminated Sites Action Plan announced in Budget 2015, which
allows the custodial departments, not Health, to address the government's
priority to protect the health and environment of Canadians by minimizing
threats from pollution in these locations.
Finally, Health Canada is seeking a one-year renewal of $610,000 to maintain
critical food safety activities that are part of the action plan to modernize
food safety inspection in Canada.
As you know, Health Canada plays an important role in health care in Canada.
Our department is constantly evolving in order to respond to emerging
requirements and to adapt to new realities.
The funding in the Main Estimates will help us meet the challenges of today
and better position us for the future.
Thank you for inviting me before the committee. My colleagues and I will be
pleased to answer questions.
Paul Thoppil, Chief Financial Officer, Chief Financial Sector, Indigenous
Affairs and Northern Development Canada:
Thank you, Mr. Chair and honourable senators, for the invitation to discuss
Supplementary Estimates (A) for the fiscal year 2016-17 for Indigenous Affairs
and Northern Development Canada.
As you've noted, Mr. Chair, I'm here with my colleague, Director General
Daniel Leclair, and I have colleagues here in support.
The Chair: Wave, all the colleagues in the back. We have one in the
back? Is that it?
Mr. Thoppil: He's small but mighty.
The Chair: I see you've brought us a brick. Thank you very much. We
always appreciate the thoroughness of your presentation.
Mr. Thoppil: First, I would like to draw the members' attention to the
deck entitled 2016-2017 Supplementary Estimates (A), which I have tabled.
I will make reference to the deck through my presentation.
The supplementary estimates are primarily accessing the first year of
historic investments announced in Budget 2016, totalling $8.4 billion over five
years to support indigenous communities and the aspirations of indigenous
peoples. Budget 2016 also announced $237 million over five years for
indigenous-related initiatives in the North. This reflects the government's firm
commitment to renew the relationship between Canada and indigenous peoples. The
remaining funding will be accessed via future estimates.
On slide 2, with respect to financial highlights, Supplementary Estimates (A)
includes a net increase of $1.2 billion for initiatives which will bring total
investment for the department to about $8.8 billion for this fiscal year to
address the needs of Indigenous people and Northerners.
It should be noted that the increase of $1.2 billion is comprised of $793
million related to Budget 2016 investments, primarily related to infrastructure
to improve the quality of life for indigenous peoples; $205 million reflecting
Budget 2015 initiatives, primarily for federal contaminated sites; and $240
million for other initiatives, related to claims activities and the Canadian
High Arctic Research Station.
Turning to slide 3, with respect to voted expenditures, $205 million will
flow through vote 1, operating expenditures, primarily for federal contaminated
sites; $13 million as vote 5 for capital expenditures for the Canadian High
Arctic Research Station; and $982 million through vote 10, grants and
contributions, primarily for infrastructure projects and contaminated sites; as
well as $30 million as vote 20, loans to First Nations in British Columbia for
comprehensive land claims and incremental treaty and non-treaty agreements.
I will now describe briefly the major items.
Turning to slide 4, the largest item in the supplementary estimates, about
$309 million, is required to support the delivery of water and wastewater
servicing on First Nation reserves and on-reserve waste management
infrastructure development. This funding will provide drinking water advisory
task forces, planning, procurement and construction of more than 140 capital
projects. Also, this funding will support education, planning, negotiation and
construction of facilities to enable First Nations to enter into waste diversion
agreements with nearby municipalities, as well as support capacity building and
construction of transfer stations and engineered landfills on reserves for up to
six remote First Nations.
You will see on slide 5 a sample of these water and wastewater projects
across the country, which we have done just to give you an idea of what we
intend to do with these monies going forward for other First Nation communities.
On slide 6, the largest item in these supplementary estimates is $241 million
required to address immediate on- reserve housing needs so that First Nations
have access to safe, affordable housing in support of healthier and sustainable
communities. This funding provides for construction of 150 new housing units,
renovating 1,400 housing units and servicing 340 lots on reserve. It will also
provide funding to address infrastructure gaps in regard to cultural and
recreational facilities on reserve.
On slide 7 you will see examples of housing projects in the North, in
Pikangikum First Nation, those that are single dwellings in the Yukon, and also
retrofits we've done in Manitoba.
On page 8, the third item, which totals $215 million, allows the department
to address federal contaminated sites, which are the legacy of past
environmental practices of custodians and may be found on federal lands or on
lands leased for federal purposes. As noted by my colleagues, this funding is
for phase 3 of a 3-phase, 15-year plan called the Federal Contaminated Sites
Action Plan, as well as an additional investment to accelerate the assessment
and remediation activities of federal contaminated sites across Canada.
The fourth item on page 9 is for $104 million with respect to investments in
a range of complementary infrastructure such as roads and bridges, energy
systems, broadband connectivity, physical infrastructure to mitigate the effects
of natural disasters and fire protection services. It is anticipated that more
than 100 projects will be supported with targeted efforts to areas of greatest
Slide 10 provides you with a sample of those projects where we have worked
closely with First Nations across the country in those areas.
The fifth item of $96 million will provide safe and healthy education
facilities for the growing population of school- aged children by addressing the
immediate needs of schools in poor condition or requiring major additions and
increase the capital asset life expectancy.
Page 12 shows you some examples of pictures across the country of what we
have done with First Nations in terms of new schools or expansion of existing
ones and retrofits.
Finally, the last few slides provide additional information relating to the
key initiatives including objectives, outcomes and status so you know the latest
with respect to the items in the blue book.
Mr. Chair, the supplementary estimates will support our shared economic
interests and improve the socio-economic conditions of Indigenous peoples and
their communities. This funding will help address the economic disparity many
First Nations, Inuit and Metis have experienced, and advance a process of
reconciliation so that we may together unlock the great potential of these
I look forward to discussing any aspects of the supplementary estimates with
you and including some of the images that we have provided to you on past
projects and welcome your questions regarding my presentation.
The Chair: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
Colleagues, let's start off with Senator Eaton from Toronto.
Senator Eaton: Thank you very much, gentlemen.
I'm sure this is easily explicable. Employment and Social Development is
requesting 76 million for affordable housing and social infrastructure projects
for Aboriginal people in Budget 2016. Then I see under your presentation, Mr.
Thoppil, the second largest item is 241 million required to address immediate
on-reserve housing needs. Are they two, or are they working together? What is
that? What is the difference?
Mr. Thoppil: I refer that to my colleague Daniel.
Daniel Leclair, Director General, Community Infrastructure Branch,
Regional Operations, Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada:
Thank you very much, senator, for the question. It's a very good question. As
you can imagine, there are many departments that are involved in the housing —
Senator Eaton: Yes, we are aware of that.
Mr. Leclair: I will continue in French.
The first amount of funding we have received thus far, as set out in in
Budget 2016, will be used to fund our projects with existing authorities. We
have to find other ways of offering better housing to the First Nations in the
Aboriginal communities. To that end, we will have to work in partnership with
Senator Eaton: We have been asking the same question for many years.
In order to offer a better housing program to the First Nations, is it possible
to inspect off-reserve housing?
Because up to now, the last year, when we came and talked about Aboriginal
housing, we were told, if I remember correctly, that we could not go on reserve.
We could not inspect the houses. How do we know that they are being built to
code, that they are being built properly and that money is not being wasted?
Mr. Leclair: It's a very good question. Housing is an asset that
belongs to the First Nations, and housing is individually owned or owned by the
band council. For the money that we transfer, we ask that the houses get built
to code, but like some of us in this room, if we decide, over the years that we
own the house, to do some renovations, we sometimes may not do those renovations
in accordance with the code, and, also, sometimes the regulations or the code
Senator Eaton: I'm sorry; I'm slow. You're telling me that,
originally, when the money is spent and the houses are built — because I think
you have 115 new housing units — these houses will be built to the same kind of
rigorous code that ours are built to but that, in subsequent years, if
renovations are made, then that's out of our control?
Mr. Leclair: I'm saying that, for the money that the department is
providing within the funding agreement, we request that the houses get built to
the code, but some —
Senator Eaton: Are they inspected?
Mr. Leclair: If, for example, the community or the owner asks for a
ministerial loan guarantee, CHMC, before they provide the loan, will request,
from the band council that owns the house, that the house gets inspected and be
built to the code. One side of the equation is that some of the houses are built
by the band council or by individual owners, and they are not receiving funding
from the department. For these houses, we have absolutely no control over them
because they are individually owned.
What I'm trying to say is housing is not only interesting, it's a complex —
Senator Eaton: Yes, I understand that, but is that something new? Last
year, witnesses from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation appeared before the
committee. They stated that they were not authorized to go onto reserves to
Mr. Leclair: They have changed their procedure for people requesting a
loan and whose house is built to code. In the end, the important thing is that
their houses are built to code.
Senator Eaton: We agree with you, but the $241 million is not a loan.
It is a gift.
Mr. Leclair: We are working closely with members of the Assembly of
First Nations through the National First Nations Housing Liaison Committee to
identify better ways of offering the program. We are considering working
together for bulk purchasing, in other words, purchasing a number of
factory-built homes on the market that are built to code. Housing manufacturers
have to follow the code, whether they sell their products on or off reserve. We
do not have sufficient funding, however, to solve the on-reserve housing
problems. We would like to work with the Assembly of First Nations to focus on
the communities that are in the greatest need.
Senator Eaton: Do you think the problem will be resolved once and for
all? For a number of years, hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent on
on-reserve housing. Will we finally be able to say that everyone has a house?
Mr. Leclair: I am naturally optimistic. Whether it is on or off
reserve, if owners and tenants assume their "responsibilities'', their quality
of life can be improved. That is why we keep working with all regional groups.
Two weeks ago, at the meeting with the Assembly of First Nations in Toronto, the
Quebec chief stated that people who don't pay for their housing will not receive
funding. The chief of the Whitecap Dakota First Nation, Darcy Bear, gave a few
examples: people who have little money can receive assistance for painting and
other work. That helps develop their sense of attachment to their property. That
is one possible solution.
Senator Eaton: It encourages people to look after their homes.
The Chair: Since we're talking about infrastructure, each group has
some money for infrastructure, so we have a lot of horizontal players. I'm sorry
to interrupt, but can you, maybe Mr. Tibbetts and then Mr. Séguin, each talk
about what you're doing with infrastructure in relationship to the indigenous
folks on reserve through that department so that we have everything on the table
on infrastructure between the three horizontal groups and totally understand
what's going on with infrastructure?
We talked of contaminated sites. I would like to alert our members that we
received today — and I'm not sure if you've received a copy — an excellent
report from the indigenous — it's a follow up, but it gives us all the answers
to contaminated sites, the questions that we have. I'm not sure if you've
received it. Do you all have it? You have a copy? Richard, do you have yours?
Senator Neufeld: I have one.
The Chair: Okay, Senator Eaton? Senator Marshall, you have yours, too?
Senator Marshall: No, I don't.
The Chair: We'll get that for you because it will give us a
perspective. What we would like to try learn from you folks, following up from
Senator Eaton as a supplementary, is the priorities with construction and
contaminated sites. We talked about this for a while. We had CHMC in last week,
and we had their top senior operations individual with us. He was super and gave
us a lot of insight in terms of the question that Senator Eaton was asking about
— responsibility, codes, et cetera.
Could we just work together to get the number of houses? We have the number
from Mr. Thoppil. When we come down to how many units will be built, if we can
break that down so that we have a total, we're trying to create an understanding
of where this is going and how it's being prioritized.
Mr. Tibbetts: On the health front, I'm going to turn to Sony, here, in
a moment. We've got infrastructure coming into the department in about four
different ways. Not all of it is for indigenous or on-reserve programming. The
main part is for that. In the supplementary estimates, it's the social
infrastructure, which is mostly about clinics, nursing stations, hospital
repairs and things like that for facilities on-reserve. I'll have Sony go into
that in more detail.
On the contaminated site part, we're not building anything at Health Canada.
We're getting about 10 million over four years for phase 3 of this. There's no
contaminated site work done under phase 3 by Health Canada on reserve; it's
already been done.
However, we do the inspection and risk assessment of the health assessments
for all custodial departments, not just for Indigenous Affairs but for Public
Works, et cetera, on the health impact of those and the risk assessment, and
categorization and prioritization of contaminated sites. The money we are
receiving for contaminated sites is that enabling support function that we do
The third area is Health Canada's labs and facilities. It's not on reserve.
They are for our science business and regulatory business. I mentioned
electrical, plumbing, ventilation — base building things — to fix that up.
The fourth area is water. Again, that money is not to build water-treatment
processes, which is my colleague's responsibility. It's to maintain
environmental health officers, et cetera, who do the inspection for
contamination in the water, be it chemical or biological, or to help fund First
Nations do that and provide test kits.
So there are four initiatives, two of which are on reserve; namely, the water
and the facilities part for our nursing and primary care services.
Sony Perron, Senior Assistant Deputy Minister, First Nations and Inuit
Health Branch, Health Canada: For the component that is on reserve or
related to facilities owned by indigenous partners in the organization, Health
Canada supports around 500 health facilities located on reserve. This includes
nursing stations, where there's a full range of health care and clinical care
services delivered by Health Canada, the province and sometimes also by the
First Nation organization themselves as well as health centres that are more
like public health — location for immunization, child care — these kind of
services. We have 300 of them. We also support a number of detox treatment
centres for addiction-related issues. There are 45 of them. Then we have a
number of related buildings, including facilities for housing for nurses around
these health centres, treatment centres or nursing stations.
Annually, in the last few years, we have spent around $30 million, roughly,
in repair and renovation, allowing us to replace probably one facility every two
years. The additional investment we got out of Budget 2016 will allow Health
Canada over the next two years to undertake major repair or replacement of
health facilities, such as nursing stations, health centres and treatment
centres. Those are really important investments.
If you were to look at some of our risks that we reported to this table in
the past, the health infrastructure was one of the risks. We thought that with
the small budget we had, we were able to maintain what was in place but not
really undertake major renovation and repair. So this is repairing important
health facilities on reserve.
Those are owned by First Nations, so this is done through contribution
agreements. There is a framework for that. We have long-term capital planning in
each region based on the age and needed repair of each facility. This is known
by the First Nations partner. When the resources were announced in the budget,
we were able to quickly inform chiefs and councils across the country about the
facilities for which we will be able to accelerate our long-term capital plan
and undertake these projects.
There are 41 major capital projects that will be completed over the next two
years in various regions of the country — most of them in rural and remote
locations. You can understand some of the complexity of getting these projects
undertaken, so that's why they are done over two to three years, normally.
We also have another envelope, which Jamie will talk about, to undertake
repairs to facilities supporting the Aboriginal Head Start program. The
Aboriginal Head Start program is one of what we call the upstream health
programs that helps to support children of young ages to learn their culture and
be proud of their culture. It's part of a public health approach.
We have a number of sites like that across the country — 300 of them. Most of
them are in band-owned buildings, but they haven't received additional
investment over the years to upgrade these facilities. This will allow an
upgrade to a number of facilities across the country, again to put them back to
standard but also to deal with the fact that there is a growing population and
demand, also allowing these centres to accommodate more services over time.
These are the two major components that are directed to indigenous peoples,
mostly on reserve.
The Chair: How many nations are there? 647?
Mr. Perron: 600 of them — about 634.
The Chair: About 634? I'm not trying to be a know-it-all, but we were
told the facts recently.
If you are renovating or building 500 health centres, and there are 634
centres, does that mean that there is a need throughout the nations for new,
updated or repaired facilities? You said you had 45 detox centres. Would there
not be a need for 647 detox centres? Are there 640 or 634 detox centres? I just
want to understand where we are with the state of repair and construction.
Mr. Perron: I would not be able to inform this committee in detail
about the state of repair for all facilities. What I can tell you is that, in
each region, we have a long-term capital plan that identified those facilities
that need to be repaired. Some of them are 40 or 50 years old, so they need to
be repaired. Some are not to the size to meet the demand of the population, so
the service needs exceed the capacity of the building.
Some other buildings are required to be upgraded because there have been
changes in the ways the service delivery is organized in these communities.
There are also opportunities; for example, you may have heard that several
provincial governments have started to expand their services on reserves, so
they are coming with physicians and additional services. These facilities need
to be able to accommodate that.
It's difficult to give a good sense. I can tell you these 40 projects are the
ones that are critical — the facilities that need to be repaired. We have a list
of others, so when it will be time to make cases for future infrastructure
investments, this program will need some more. But this investment will allow us
to address all the critical needs that we had across the country for nursing
stations and treatment centres.
To your question about whether we need a treatment centre in each community,
I would say "no.'' Treatment centres are highly needed infrastructure, but they
are usually organized in an institutional fashion, usually outside the
community, because people going into treatment are not necessarily doing that in
their own community. They want to go out, and we need to organize professional
services around that. We don't do it directly; it's done by third-party
organizations that are usually First Nations organizations accredited to do
that. There is a huge demand for treatment.
There is a component of the treatment that is called on-the-land treatment
that doesn't require infrastructure, so we do fund both. But there is no
infrastructure needed when we talk about on-the-land treatment. It is more
community- based treatment that brings people back to their roots — back to the
traditional way of life to try to rebuild.
There are different components, but when I was talking about the 44 or 45
treatment centres, those are the ones that are really treatment centres —
long-duration, for a couple of weeks, going through the long processes. We
haven't invested in those facilities for a long time in terms of reshaping the
infrastructure. This is a nice opportunity.
After these two years, if there is more opportunity, we will have other
projects to undertake, but at least this allows us to address things that we
were not able to address for a number of years with the $30 million that we had
aside to do these projects.
The Chair: And your partner, Mr. Thoppil, who is on the ground with
$8.8 billion, is doing a lot of the heavy pulling. What is your assessment of
what these folks have done to help you?
Mr. Thoppil: We work in close collaboration on the ground. There are
some schools, for example, where Head Start is incorporated in those schools.
That's just an example of collaboration on the ground. When we build new
infrastructure or repair existing stuff, we work closely with our colleagues,
whether it's ESDC or Health Canada, and with the First Nation to see whether
there is complementarity with our actions whereby it works best for the
When I go back to one of the images we have on the schools where we're doing
an expansion, we are looking at those types of opportunities such as Head Start.
The Chair: Who measures success with what's taking place between the
departments? Who measures if it's been done and done right? How does that work?
Mr. Leclair: Thank you, Mr. Chair. I could take the rest of your time
to explain the process, but I don't think you have that time.
Regarding macro infrastructure on communities, there are two types of
infrastructure. There's the commercial one, and in our program we don't invest
in that — for example, a gas station or coffee shop or casino. This would be
done by the First Nation or the owner.
We also have what we call the "community infrastructure.'' For INAC, we have
14 categories of assets that go for water, housing and schools. The other one
would be the school, of course, the main one. We will have other infrastructure.
You can compare with something off-reserve, a small municipality.
We also have assets that belong to our colleagues under the responsibility of
Health Canada. We recently started to work together because we are responsible
for the majority of the assets and we're trying to keep the life cycle of the
asset. We do inspections every three years for the 14 categories of assets. On
water, we do it annually to ensure that the water systems provide safe drinking
water. When we have an inspector, they quite often come from the tribal council
or from a First Nation organization. We also have an agreement with Health
Canada. The inspector inspects the asset under the responsibility of Health
When we get the report of these inspections, it serves as the basis for the
investment plan. For example, if the school roof is leaking, that goes in the
inspection report and it provides a work order that the First Nation can submit
to the region to say they need to change the roof. From there, it depends on the
cost of the repair. If it's what we call a "minor repair'' — for us, a minor
repair is about $1.5 million — it's done locally. If it's a major project that
will require a new school, for example, that will go in the overall investment
plan, the capital plan. Depending on the cost of the school, if it's below $10
million, my regional colleague, the regional director general, will have the
authority. He will do the project with the First Nation. If it's above $10
million, because we consider that high risk, they have to come for the
authorization or approval to our operations committee.
The Chair: Mr. Séguin, does your department have some implication in
Mr. Séguin: Yes, I do, a little bit. On the question of social
infrastructure, there are many different programs that are part of the chapeau
called "social infrastructure.'' We have three of those. I'll quickly go over
part of our commitment there.
We're requesting some $57.5 million under the program. Those are specific
programs that we manage under the Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and this
includes preventing and reducing homelessness across the country. We have a
funding mechanism, and we have 61 designated communities across the country,
urban and rural areas. When we talk about Aboriginal in this case, these are
off-reserve Aboriginals, so they're not on reserve. This is assisting
homelessness issues for off-reserve Aboriginals, not on-reserve. That's one
under social infrastructure.
Another one under the social infrastructure chapeau is $2 million for the
Enabling Accessibility Fund. This is basically to improve physical accessibility
and renovations to provide handicapped accessibility. There's no designation as
to whether individuals are Aboriginal or not. It's just handicapped
accessibility. It does not have an Aboriginal flavour to it one way or the
other. It can, but it's not necessarily that.
The third one is $16.5 million for the First Nations and Inuit Child Care
Initiative. Again, this is under the social infrastructure chapeau. The intent
of that is to support or fund immediate repair, rehabilitation and equipment
needs of existing on-reserve child care facilities. So this is to rehabilitate
existing child care facilities on reserve. Our programs are designed for off
reserve. This is one that is specifically on reserve.
The Chair: Is this a new one, Mr. Séguin?
Mr. Séguin: This is under the social infrastructure, yes. This is new
for the budget.
The Chair: How far is $16.5 million going to take you?
Mr. Séguin: I think there are 400 facilities. As for the exact
performance, I don't know if one of my colleagues may have that. We'll have more
The Chair: That's perfect.
Can you identify yourself for the record?
DamonRourke, Director, Aboriginal Program Operations, Program
Operations Branch, Employment and Social Development Canada: Just to be
clear on what Mr. Séguin was talking about, the ASETS program, not to be
mistaken with the assets Daniel was talking about, is our Aboriginal Skills and
Employment Training Strategy. Through that, we have 84 agreements, of which
there are a number of sub-agreements or points of service. For the First Nation
organizations, they have sites on reserve. As was mentioned, there are 463 child
I should have explained that existing right now, to answer your question,
senator, $55 million flows through these 84 ASETS organizations that then fund
child care centres on First Nation reserves but also Inuit communities. With the
$16 million, we've solicited information from the ASETS organizations on what we
can do immediately in terms of health and safety concerns, renovations and
upgrading. That's what that new money of $16 million would be used for.
The Chair: If you had to say of 100 per cent of the needs, what
percentage of needs will you be able to accomplish?
Mr. Rourke: Of the approximately 460 sites, we have information from
about 360 of them, of which tier 1 is those immediate needs. Tier 2 would be
those other needs, a roof and things like that. Right now, pending ministerial
approval in terms of what sites exactly, we could address roughly 120 sites with
the $16 million that's been identified. We would obviously need to go back to
the organizations to see how exactly they're going to do that within this fiscal
year, because it is money for fiscal year 2016-17.
The Chair: Is it done on an average-need basis? Do you just split the
money up amongst them, or do you do it on a prioritized basis?
Mr. Rourke: I think it was mentioned that we deliver our programs
through Service Canada regions, and our biggest region is the western
territories region, which has 46 ASETS agreements, and then there's the Ontario
region, Quebec and Atlantic. The notional allocations would primarily go to the
western territories region, only because they're the ones with the most
Senator Eaton: Are these new programs, and how can we follow it? We
just seem to see money going out, and every year we all read about a lot of
complaints. We all read, and you read the papers as much as we do. We never seem
to get on top of it, whether it's the housing situation or the social
infrastructure. Are these new child care centres a new thing or an old thing? Is
this a new program?
Mr. Rourke: It's all existing child care centres, so we're not looking
at new spaces or new child care centres. Of the 84 agreements we have and the
$55 million we have currently that flows annually to these organizations, this
would be a top-up to that to do immediate renovations and upgrading to those
Senator Marshall: This is not child care for First Nations, is it? Is
this all across the country, or is it just First Nations?
Mr. Rourke: FNICCI is the acronym. It's the First Nation Inuit Child
Care Initiative. It's been rolled in as part of providing a single window
contribution agreement to Aboriginal organizations. It's been $55 million since
Senator Marshall: Funding for First Nations for different programs is
not only in Indian Affairs and Northern Development; it's in health and it's in
employment and social development. Last night, we had individuals in from CMHC,
and there's funding there. I won't use the word "puppet master,'' but who is
taking charge? Who is the person who sees everything?
You have some, you have some, you have some, CMHC, who was in last night,
have some. I can't remember the other departments, but it's all over the place.
The Chair: Mr. Thoppil, would you like to take a crack at that?
Mr. Thoppil: It's a question which comes up often. There are over 30
departments and agencies involved in some fashion with Aboriginal programming.
There are frameworks that exist among the departmental community on strategic
policy and consultation and engagement on various initiatives, as well as on a
program level and infrastructure in order to ensure effective coordination of
the delivery of the funds at the reserve level.
Senator Marshall: Why isn't all the funding vested in your department?
Why is it scattered? It makes an outsider wonder if the government has control
over the expenditures for First Nations. That is just an example, because we had
the same issue with things like contaminated sites. Why is it so fragmented?
Mr. Thoppil: Number one, I would argue that's a machinery of
government question. Number two, programs are aligned with the mandate of the
department. This is where we have correlation between health stations on reserve
that are consistent with the medical services provided through FNIHB, which is
in health. As well the child care elements that ESDC is espousing is a core
element of their Youth Employment Strategy and other elements of their strategy.
The Aboriginal engagement is a whole-of-government responsibility, and that's
why you saw the reference in terms of the relationship with engagement with
indigenous peoples in every single cabinet minister's mandate letter. It's not
just one department's responsibility; it's a whole of government responsibility.
It's everybody's responsibility.
Senator Marshall: To narrow it down, under Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, I see funding for affordable housing, $241 million. CMHC was in
yesterday, and they've also got investments in housing for First Nations. What's
the difference between what you're providing and what CMHC is providing?
Mr. Thoppil: I will ask my colleague Daniel, who works side by side
with CMHC, to respond to your question.
Mr. Leclair: Thank you, Paul and senator. That is a good question.
CMHC, under their authority, the money they received in the budget is for
repairs mainly. They probably have other new housing that I'm not aware of. I'm
not specific about them. For us, there are repair some sections. I won't bother
you with the sections.
Senator Marshall: Yours is all repair?
Mr. Leclair: No, it's mainly new construction and also some repair.
It's under their respective authority. The money we received for two years with
regard to housing was because the need is so high. We need money to improve the
condition of some housing.
Senator Marshall: You receive money for new units and for renovations
or repairs, but CMHC receives the same thing for First Nations.
Mr. Leclair: Again, I will have to refer to the existing specific
authority of each department. With regard to housing, we were asked to work
together, to go back to cabinet and work with the Assembly of First Nations and
other First Nations to see how we can improve the management of housing. This is
why the owner of the infrastructure is the First Nation. We learned that because
just with my program, it's 14 categories of assets. The roles are different for
Now, with new money, there's money also for capacity. With that budget, we
will help First Nations that need to build the capacity to understand the
community plan. What is the plan the community needs? It's a holistic approach.
If the community needs a health centre, now we work together and say how? But in
one plan, the health centre, the social funding could be Health Canada. If it's
something that's under the authority of CMHC, it will be CMHC's source of
Senator Marshall: I can understand health is saying they have
different health care facilities, et cetera. I can understand that that falls
under health. Now we're talking about repairing housing units and building new
units. Some money is over in CMHC and some money is in Indian Affairs and
Northern Development. The question is: What criteria have to be met in order for
the money to be in CMHC? What criteria have to be met to be in your department?
More importantly, do the two agencies get along? Are they perfectly in sync? He
got his 50 per cent and you got your 50 per cent and you work it out?
Mr. Leclair: To be more precise, I think we will have to get back to
The Chair: That's great.
Mr. Thoppil: We can do that. We work closely on the ministerial loan
guarantees, which is the loan element on housing and is around $1.8 billion.
That is a collaboration with CMHC, who does the risk assessment for CMHC loans.
It's essentially our guarantee, but it's done based on the risk assessment and
review based on CMHC. That's just another example of the close cooperation at an
operational level on the housing file.
Mr. Leclair: As another specific example, two weeks ago in Toronto
there was a discussion with all the national chiefs from AFN and the technical
experts from the First Nations on housing and infrastructure. Colleagues from
Health Canada and from CMHC were there for the three days. Yes, we work
together. At the end, we aim for the best outcome, and the best outcome for
infrastructure is a good asset for the user.
Senator Marshall: It would seem to me that the best outcome would be
achieved if all the money was under one jurisdiction. Instead of split between
CMHC and you, one or the other would do it.
Almost every department we look at has funding for the management and
remediation of federal contaminated sites. Under Indian Affairs and Northern
Development, would this be just contaminated sites on reserves?
Mr. Thoppil: No. We have two aspects to the contaminated sites at
INAC. I will refer you to the response provided when we here last time.
There are remaining in our inventory over 2,000 sites; 1,876 of them are on
reserve, but 156 of them are north of 60. There's an inverse relationship
between the amount of sites and where they are and where the spending actually
occurs, because the more problematic contaminated sites are actually north of
60, which is actually former mine sites. Giant and Fera mine come to mind. It's
not about the number of sites but the complexity of the sites that drives the
dollars on remediation and assessment.
The Chair: North of 60, that's parallel.
Mr. Thoppil: That's correct. I apologize.
The Chair: Don't apologize. This is why we're here.
Can I ask a favour? We have two eager supplementaries from Senator Pratte and
Senator Pratte: Yes, I'd like a supplementary to Senator Marshall.
I'll do it in French.
Your answer, Mr. Leclair, has stopped me in my tracks, so I have lost all my
English, which was not very good to begin with.
I am a journalist by training and I had made myself a note to ask for an
explanation of the difference between the role of Indigenous Affairs and
Northern Development Canada and that of CMHC, but I was afraid to ask because I
thought the answer would be so obvious that I would look like a fool. I can see
now that the answer is not obvious, and I cannot get over it. I feel for the
First Nations who try to understand the difference.
I will give you another opportunity. It seems to me that your two
organizations should play a specific role, for example, CMHC should focus on a
specific type of project while your department would focus on another type. If
that is not the case, that means that you do exactly the same thing until you
have spent all the money you were allocated, and the same applies to CMHC.
Mr. Leclair: Thank you for the question and for the opportunity to
clarify what I said.
Each program operates on different terms. I do not know the terms of my
program off the top of my head. As I said, I have 14 categories of assets. I
offered earlier to show you a table to clarify the roles of CMHC and Indigenous
Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
To answer your question, our role relates more to social housing, while CMHC
plays a role in market housing. You are right, it gets complicated for the First
Nations to figure out where to draw the line between the two. When there is a
line, there can of course be grey areas between the two.
Senator Pratte: I understand that "social housing'' is "subsidized
housing'' or even housing that is given ±
Mr. Leclair: For some First Nations, "subsidized'' means that the
federal government basically pays 100 per cent.
Senator Pratte: For its part, CMHC lends money to people who buy their
Mr. Leclair: That's right. Mr. Thoppil was saying that, for example,
for loans with a departmental guarantee, CMHC gives a First Nation a loan and
we, at Indigenous and Northern Development Canada, guarantee the loan. So if
there is a default, our department covers it while, in this case, our colleagues
at CMHC assume the risk.
I agree that it is not crystal clear. There can be a grey area sometimes, and
to help people understand, we developed a chart with our colleagues at CMHC to
clarify where the line is.
Let me reassure you. In each region, there is a housing committee that
includes members of the First Nations and our colleagues from CMHC, as well as
members of my team at the regional level. Those responsible for housing within
the First Nations understand the difference.
Senator Pratte: When you say there is a chart, you mean there is a
document we could look out that spells out the criteria and that a journalist
like me could understand.
Mr. Leclair: I could show you the terms in detail, which are a bit
complicated. Since you are a former journalist, I could show you a slide with a
balloon explaining the role of our department, of CMHC, and where they have to
work together in the middle.
We must not lose sight of the fact that the housing belongs to the First
Nations, to the band councils. The owners have to play a role to ensure that, at
the end of the day, the housing stock is managed effectively.
Senator Pratte: To conclude, when big chunks of new funding arrive —
because you receive very large amounts, as does CMHC — the challenge, the grey
area in between, is even greater.
Mr. Leclair: I would like to reassure you in this regard as well. That
is why, from the outset, the funding allocated for housing is spread out over
two years on the condition of possible review. That review is done in
partnership with the members of the First Nations and with CMHC.
The three partners work together for the coming years, and any additional
funding we might receive could come with a review or a new management framework.
The funding allocated in the first two years is disbursed under the terms of
Senator Pratte: Thank you. So the documents ±
The Chair: It would be great if you can provide that to us. You've
been fantastic with providing us with information, as have all of the three
groups here tonight.
Senator Eaton: When you give the money, or ESD gives the money, or
CMHC gives the money, and you build 500 or 200 new houses, do you say, "All
right, these houses should be good for 20 years, or these houses have a lifetime
of 10 years, or these houses have a lifetime of 30 years?'' Is there something
Mr. Leclair: I don't think we have that type of criteria for housing.
To give you an example, with respect to schools, our goal is to build schools
that last as long as a school or some other asset off reserve. As I said
earlier, that is why we have a three-year maintenance program to determine what
maintenance is needed and what the deficiencies are. Moreover, we pay for the
maintenance and the construction of a school, for example ±
Senator Eaton: Yes, but that's up to code, right? They're inspected.
Mr. Leclair: Yes. There is another thing that I have not mentioned
yet. For the majority of assets, aside from housing, the First Nations deal with
engineering firms. Those firms have an architect or an engineer who signs off.
They have to comply with the standards of their provincial association. For
schools, the owner certainly ±
Senator Eaton: No, but for houses. For the last five years I've been
sitting on this committee, all this money goes out every year for Aboriginal
housing, yet the need never seems to end. What I'm saying to you is when these
houses are built on reserve, is there a lifetime guarantee of 20 or 30 years?
Mr. Leclair: If you have the pleasure of going to Quebec City, the
houses there will probably be as long as the house on reserve. Of course, if you
have a house up North, as I said previously, some of the houses are built with
the money that our department or CMHC provides. Some other houses are built by
an individual who can decide to build the house the way they want, and they may
decide or not to build it to code.
Senator Eaton: We give them the money to build it?
Mr. Leclair: Not necessarily. In the past, with the money we were
allocating, it was not sufficient for all the houses' needs. With the new money,
it's basically $416 million. It will not be sufficient to improve all this.
Senator Eaton: No, but with the $416 million, you're building it?
Mr. Leclair: The asset belongs to the First Nation; we deal with
tribal councils or directly with the band council. So we transfer the money to
the band council which builds ±
Senator Eaton: So they don't have to build it to code?
Mr. Leclair: In the funding agreement, for the money we provide, we
ask them to build to code.
Senator Eaton: So they can't come back five years from now and say,
"You know what? All that money you gave us five years ago, those houses have
fallen down and we need new houses.''
Mr. Thoppil: My colleague was saying it depends upon the reserve and
whether the band council uses its own source of funds to build those homes for
individuals or whether it's federal government money. If it's band council own-
source revenues in order to fund individual homes, then whether they apply codes
or not, that's up to them. What you get sometimes in the media is a lot of homes
in disrepair based on own-source revenue homes.
As Daniel said, when we provide that funding, it is based on respecting code.
That's a basic requirement under our funding agreement with them.
Senator Eaton: So now you can go on? If they're building housing with
your money, you can go on reserve and inspect them so they are properly built?
Mr. Leclair: That's a good question. The only ones we don't inspect
are the houses where the owner is the individual.
To continue from where I think you were going, it is the same thing off
reserve. If somebody builds a house and decides they don't maintain it —
Senator Eaton: But if they're using your money, if they are using
federal taxpayers' money, can you inspect it or not?
Mr. Leclair: No. And we have no control to determine if they decide
not to maintain it.
Senator Eaton: If you give me a million dollars to build a house, you
have no right to inspect it? If you give me the money?
Mr. Leclair: No, because the money goes into the overall transfer of
the money — in the overall budget — to the chief and council, and the chief and
council determine what their priorities are.
The Chair: It depends on the credibility of the chief and council.
This is the issue we've been talking about together. It's a very sensitive
issue, obviously, because it goes into jurisdiction.
To move forward, if there's going to be real change with you folks
negotiating relationships with the various First Nations groups — and we have
over 634 First Nations — there's going to be a percentage that will agree, there
will be a percentage that will say "maybe'' and there will be a percentage that
says "go take a hike.''
Senator Eaton: Then we are not protecting the First Nations person
who's got a house that's not quite to code, and we're not protecting taxpayers'
The Chair: The question is getting closer to an objective that is
going to be for the common good of everyone.
Mr. Thoppil: What we've been talking about is there is a real
diversity of housing stock across the communities. It depends upon governance,
management capacity and, as Daniel explained, the imposition of a rental housing
regime. These are all factors that come into play. Geography also factors in,
because the farther north, the tougher the climatic conditions and the wear and
tear on the longevity of that house. So there are a number of factors going
What we tried to put in here, notwithstanding the media that tends to talk
about the state of disrepair, is that there are a number of success factors that
we've tried to give you through the presentation today that demonstrate in the
North where we're working in collaboration with First Nations on the design to
take into account those climate factors in order to get longer life.
Also, we look at designs that work for the diversity of the demographic in
the communities, such as elders or young people, going forward.
Senator Eaton: Those are all good things. Thank you, Mr. Chair.
The Chair: In fairness to Mr. Thoppil, there have been great advances.
The issue is, as we go forward, what are going to be the two or three issues
that are floating around that you've got to be able to solve to get to where you
want to go. Is that possibly one of the questions, from a strategy perspective?
Mr. Leclair: Yes. Again, First Nations leaders, First Nations housing
managers, our team within the department and colleagues from CHMC — the first
thing they will say is to determine a sense of ownership. We see that, and it's
not particular to on reserve; it's the same thing in off reserve. If you buy a
house versus if you rent, or the kids now go new couch crashing somewhere, the
point is that if you don't own it, if you don't invest it, you have no interest
in maintaining it.
I'm positive by nature. With the work we are doing and First Nations members
and leaders, we are saying, "Okay, the housing needs are so high. I think we can
probably all agree that the past did not work, so we need to work together.'' I
think this is the question from you, senator. Money is only one part of the
equation. There's ownership, leadership and after that, there's the regulations.
The Chair: And the cultural issue.
Do you have questions, Senator Neufeld?.
Senator Neufeld: I've been listening, and the questions I had have
been ably asked.
Senator Pratte: I have one for ESDC.
The Chair: Let's make sure we involve all the groups.
Senator Pratte: As to summer jobs programs, I have absolutely nothing
against these programs for Canada and it was announced a little while ago that
the funding had been increased substantially, to $339 million over three years,
which means an additional 35,000 summer jobs for the next three years. Have
additional criteria been added to the program as to the type of jobs and so
forth? Have changes been made or is it exactly the same program? That is a lot
of money going to summer jobs. I understand it can be very helpful, but that is
a lot of money.
Mr. Séguin: That's a very good question, I will ask ±
Senator Pratte: I am suspicious when someone says it is a good
Mr. Séguin: I say that because I do not have an answer right now. I
will ask a colleague. In principle, it is the same vehicle, but I will ask Mr.
Atherton so he can tell you more about how the funding was developed.
John Atherton, Director General, Employment Programs and Partnerships,
Employment and Social Development Canada: One of the programs I am happily
responsible for is the Youth Employment Strategy, which has Canada Summer Jobs,
which is part of the summer work experience component of the strategy. There is
also Skills Link and Career Focus. Skills Link is for youth at risk and Career
Focus is for graduates.
Senator Pratte: Mr. Atherton, did you get my excellent question?
Mr. Atherton: I did indeed. The question is: Is there a criterion?
Yes. Actually, there are several criteria. Canada Summer Jobs was launched this
year on December 15, I believe, in the house, with all the members of
Parliament. They play a really important role in the program. The budget is
actually allocated out by constituency. At that time, the first criterion is
local priorities. We get members of Parliament to identify the local priorities
for us in the program, and those are posted in advance of the actual application
process. That is part of the assessment that's done on every one of the
We receive, on average, about three applications for $3 for every one that we
have, so it's a highly competitive process.
There are many different criteria: You can imagine criteria that would
support Canada's official minority communities. This year, the minister had four
national priorities that had special criteria supporting refugees, which was a
key one. Aboriginal organizations was another one, and some for small business
was a third one.
So we have national priorities, local priorities and then, of course, we have
the quality of the job itself. What kind of on-the-job experience does somebody
get? Is the employer making a commitment to top up the wage? Because in our
program, we will pay up to the minimum wage but no more in the not-for-profit
sector, and we will pay half of the minimum wage in the private and public
sectors. So another criterion is whether the employers are willing to top up
Yes, indeed there are criteria, and it's a competitive process. At the end of
the day, members of Parliament work closely in helping make sure that the lists
of funded applications truly do represent the needs of the local area, because
they validate and sign off those lists with us.
Happily, I'm able to tell you that when the government asked for the
additional funding, it said it would double the number of jobs offered, and it
looks very much like we've done that, at least.
Senator Pratte: The local criteria are defined by the MPs or —
Mr. Atherton: The members of Parliament, and our Service Canada folks
can be helpful, but we find that the members of Parliament have a very special
connection with their constituencies. They know if there's a local festival or
something that's really important in their community. They have constituency
offices, of course, that help them do that. It's a well-run machine.
Senator Pratte: I'm sure, and I'm sure it's very popular and MPs like
it. I'm just wondering if whether, after the three years, we should not look at
it. Is it written in the budget to look at it? It is?
Senator Marshall: There's a section in the budget that says "pursue
evidence-based decision-making.'' I think that's what you're alluding to.
Senator Pratte: Exactly. I'm sure it's very popular and is good for
youngsters, but I think it would be a good idea after three years to see whether
the program did have an impact and whether young people did benefit from it as
much as we think they did.
Mr. Atherton: That's actually a really good point. In fact, the
evidence from the program — the publicly available evaluations — shows that it
helps kids save for their educations and gives them valuable work experience,
and so we have very strong results.
Interestingly, something we implemented this year out of the evaluation,
which indicated that we had an opportunity because we come in a contact with so
many young people through this program across Canada, was to share with them
more labour market information so they could make career learning decisions
earlier in their life. Of course, Canada Summer Jobs participants, as a
requirement of the program, need to be returning to school.
It's important during this period, especially if you're returning to school
or you're in high school, that you're making these choices about what subjects
to take. Our evaluation found that we were missing an opportunity in connecting
with the young people. This was the first year in which we shared with our
participants, through the employers, a career choice tool that we had developed
in the department to help young people understand the choices they make at
school and the demand out there for jobs. We are an evidence-based organization,
and this program comes under fairly tight scrutiny and has strong evaluation
Senator Marshall: All those programs are evaluated, are they? You said
summer jobs was evaluated and you get responses from students, not just the MPs
or the organizations being funded. It includes the opinions of students?
Mr. Atherton: Yes.
Senator Marshall: What about the Skills and Partnership Fund? Are
evaluations done on that program too?
Mr. Atherton: We can get back to you on the latest evaluation results.
There's a fairly recent initiative that programs are evaluated on a five year
cycle, so it might not be surprising to learn that an evaluation had not yet
Senator Marshall: I was curious. It's in the government's budget book,
and I keep hearing through the media, too, that it's now going to evidence-based
or results-based decision making. You're saying evaluations are every five
years, so that hasn't changed, has it?
Mr. Séguin: The government is actually reviewing its evaluation policy
to bring it more up to date and to provide more up-to-date information, as
opposed to five years. They're looking at how to get results and performances
out more quickly.
Senator Marshall: Is the Canada Job Grant the one where the money gets
transferred to the provinces?
Mr. Atherton: That's one of the transfer programs I'm responsible for.
Senator Marshall: So that's $50 million in the supplementary
estimates. It's more than that, isn't it? Because $50 million is not much if you
look at it all across Canada.
Mr. Atherton: That's true. There's a commitment to provide up to $200
million more for those arrangements but, because of the lateness of the funding
and the provision this year, it's $50 million in the first year. So on a base of
$500 million, a $200 million increase will actually turn out to be quite
substantial for the Canada Job Fund itself, over time.
Senator Marshall: Do you send auditors out to the provinces to look at
that money? Something rings a bell. Have you ever done so?
Mr. Atherton: I actually receive audited statements. It's different,
so when we do contribution agreements with organizations, like the YMCA or
others, of course we have monitoring procedures. We actually go out as a
department and we monitor those financial transactions and get results.
When we're dealing with another government in a federal state where you have
two sovereign governments, what you're finding is that they have very strong
evaluation and audit procedures. When I get a signature that their auditor has
reviewed it, and it's in line with our agreement, then that's what it takes for
us to send the cheque.
Senator Marshall: Thank you.
I had a question for health. I don't think you're going to be able to answer,
but I still have to ask it.
What is the status of the Health Accord? We've been hearing about it a lot in
the news lately, especially with regard to New Brunswick looking for increased
funding because of their demographics. They have more people who are in the
older age category. That's under finance, isn't it?
Mr. Tibbetts: The annual payments to the Canadian Health Transfer are
done by the Department of Finance, yes, but the negotiation of the renewal of
the Health Accord that's underway is being led by the Minister of Health, with
other officials. It is a federal-provincial table that is underway with many
things coming together. There have yet to be any decisions or recommendation
coming out of that process. We expect something, hopefully, for Budget 2017, and
the work over the next several months will go through that, like the home care
programs that were announced in the mandate. As well, any kind of demographic
issues will be subject to those negotiations.
Senator Marshall: I was wondering if we were going to see something in
any of the supplementaries this year.
Mr. Tibbetts: Not likely, unless something happens sooner. There's
nothing in this budget because of the negotiations, so you'll likely see
something in the next fiscal year.
Senator Marshall: It's just the escalator clause now, is it?
Mr. Tibbetts: Correct.
Senator Marshall: You are thinking it will be next year and nothing
for this year.
I'm thinking of the bigger picture of the $24.4 billion deficit, and thinking
what's not in the budget yet and what could be added on.
Mr. Tibbetts: The negotiations are going very well, frankly, but I
really have nothing to report at this point other than what you read in the
May I provide a clarification? There was a question earlier on the division
on why there are 30 departments involved in Aboriginal issues.
Indigenous and Northern Affairs is definitely the largest player, and
significantly larger than anyone else. We are the second largest, and 70 per
cent of Health Canada's $4 billion is for First Nations health care, but we're
smaller than Indigenous and Northern Affairs and then it goes down from there.
You, I and others at this table are accountants. We understand very well the
concept of separation of duties, and in a large, complex environment you need
separation of duties.
We perform the health functions, and they perform things like water treatment
facilities, but we do the no boil advisories. Separating those duties is
Senator Marshall: I can see that. You're health, and they're social or
daycare. I think the part that confused me was the housing.
Mr. Tibbetts: One super agency would get so big and complex. It might
work, but the reason for it is to keep accountability flowing from legislation.
Senator Marshall: I can see the logic in that.
The other part is going back to the government's results-based decision
making. I'm trying to think ahead. I understand health, but what about the
housing? How are they going to look at and evaluate these programs when they are
in different places? I guess we'll find out. On the health one, I'm fine. I
understand the schools are with you. Daycares are with employment. I understand
that. It's the housing.
Mr. Tibbetts: I wanted to make sure we didn't leave the question of
why one department isn't taking care of all of it.
Senator Marshall: You're the specialist in health, and that's why you
got the health.
Mr. Tibbetts: Correct.
Senator Neufeld: I have a couple of questions.
For employment and social development, there was one piece of funding here
for $4 million over two years for enabling accessibility fund programs that will
increase the support of over 80 additional construction renovation projects.
I don't know how far $2 million a year goes. You can say 80, but what does
that mean? Is it 80 single residences or 80 apartment buildings? What does it
mean? How is that money actually spent? You singled it out. Do you go out on a
special contract for every one of those upgrades? Who decides you need the
upgrade and where you need it? Is there more money spent in administration than
there is in actual fixing of steps or whatever you're doing? That's the
Mr. Séguin: Perhaps I can provide that. It's under our responsibility.
The process is that there's a call for proposals. These are individual projects
to provide the construction of ramps, for example, to allow accessibility to
community centres, things like that. So there's a call for proposals. They come
forward. We're estimating that, with the 2 million, we can generate some 80
additional projects. It's 80. It's not huge, but it is more than we currently
Senator Neufeld: I get all of that. With $2 million, you make the call
across Canada. How do you that in hundreds and hundreds of communities and rural
areas? How do you make that call and say, "We have this kind of work to do?''
Then there's a bunch of bids that come in. Someone must adjudicate those.
Someone must decide and recommend further up the line. How much of that 2
million is spent in the administration of getting $2 million a year on the
Mr. Séguin: It's a good question; thank you. The 2 million is for the
actual projects. It's not for the administration.
Senator Neufeld: What would the administration of spending that $2
Mr. Séguin: Just a second here, and I'll get that for you. How much is
that administration, Mr. Won? There is just existing. There's no additional
administration for that $2 million. We're using existing administration.
Senator Neufeld: So you have enough people walking around that they
can actually figure all of this stuff out?
Mr. Séguin: It's Service Canada. We use that as our vehicle. They are
across the country. We have centres and staff across the country. They
administer the proposal process. They evaluate them. As to the details, I'm not
familiar with how that's actually done.
Senator Neufeld: You have experienced people in every one of those
Service Canada places that can actually go out and adjudicate these small little
jobs, is what you're saying.
Mr. Séguin: Yes.
Senator Neufeld: I have another question, and it's for Health Canada.
Health Canada is seeking a one-year renewal of 610,000 to maintain critical food
safety activities, which are part of the action plan to modernize food safety
inspection in Canada. I think we're all quite aware of some of the things that
have taken place with food safety, and $600,000 doesn't sound like a lot of
money to me. What are you doing with 600,000 to actually bolster the food
inspection that you're responsible for?
Mr. Tibbetts: This is a one-year renewal of existing funding that came
through prior increases that were made to respond to some of those issues that
you're mentioning. The 600,000 is to fund the 4.5 people that we have that
basically do the health risk assessments. Again, that's separation of duties
between us and CFIA, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, which does the
inspections and whatnot. They provide specialized advice on areas around
microbiology and toxicology within those health risk assessments and provide
technical expertise on specialized chemistry and things like that, and that is
sort of part of the assessment.
The response and the inspection part is part of CFIA. There is money in the
budget for CFIA, for the larger slice. It's just our small piece of that.
Senator Neufeld: Do you have to apply for that every year to maintain
those 4.5 employees?
Mr. Tibbetts: It is a program that is subject to further review by the
government on its long-term sustainability. In the Main Estimate, every few
years, you have a list of sunsetters in each department. Our climate change
money in the current supplementary estimates of 25 million also sunsetted at the
end of last fiscal year, so we had a reduction in mains. This is renewing it for
a year while the government has a chance to assess that program as well. It
could increase. It could decrease. It could adjust to new priorities. As we go
forward, we'll see how long-term that renewal might be.
In this case, it seems to be a fairly steady requirement, unlike the federal
contaminated sites one where we're seeing a gradual decline in our 2.5 million a
year, roughly, for the next four years that we need for that. It used to be 5
million in the early days of the program, but now that remediation of sites, not
the assessment of them, is really the issue, our level of requirement on that
health inspection is a lot lower.
Senator Neufeld: This one could be going in the same direction?
Mr. Tibbetts: It seems to be steady, to me. It has been for a while.
It's small. It will likely continue into the future as the government determines
that bigger question about the level of inspection, et cetera, that's required.
Senator Neufeld: I have one question for Indigenous Affairs. It's
about the Taku River cleanup and the Small House Project. Can you just explain a
little bit about what you mean by Small House Project? I know where the band is;
I know the country. Tell me a little bit.
Mr. Thoppil: This was a proposal that actually came from them. To deal
with a response from the community, primarily elders, they wanted to have a home
just for them, outside of a family dwelling. Usually elders are with the larger
family, but there was a request that came in to try it out for single members
within the community, so it encompasses elders or individuals, starters going
What was interesting about this project was that they had young people who
were apprentices who we helped to train to build those homes, and some of them
are actually occupying them. But, now, as we continue with the next phase, those
same people who learned the apprenticing in terms of building those homes will
now actually take it on fully. So a number of objectives were accomplished with
this proposal that came from the First Nation itself.
Senator Neufeld: They are pretty progressive; I know the band quite
Mr. Thoppil: Yes, they are. It was also adjusted for the Northern
climate. In that one, there was also a bit of a vestibule in the front in order
to provide that barrier that's lacking in a number of existing Northern homes
related to the Arctic cold getting in.
Senator Neufeld: How many have been built, and how many are planned to
be built? I gather that some were built maybe last fiscal year?
Mr. Thoppil: This is new, so the start date was 2014. It just finished
last year. It was an experiment, an innovation, and it was three homes. But now
that we've got those young people trained through that, we can contemplate doing
Senator Neufeld: What would it cost for those three homes?
Mr. Thoppil: Total cost, including the training of the 15 students and
the three homes, was 550,000. That included in kind costs as well.
Senator Neufeld: That was the training of the students.
Mr. Thoppil: And the building of the three homes.
Senator Neufeld: Do you know the training cost?
Mr. Thoppil: I don't have that, senator, but I could come back to you
Senator Neufeld: No, that's not a big deal.
The Chair: We have 15 minutes left. I'd like to ask one more question
of Mr. Séguin, and then I'd like to ask each of the leaders of the departments
if you could give us your top two successes in the last period of time that
you've been overseeing your department and your top two challenges.
Mr. Séguin, with the reduction and the change going to the new Canada Child
Benefit, you are going to reduce your expenses by 5.7 billion. What's the cost
of the new Canada Child Benefit? What's that going to cost each year, and what
will that do to the deficit?
Mr. Séguin: It's a very good question. I keep saying that.
Senator Neufeld: Larry's starting to feel pretty good about it.
Mr. Séguin: You don't see the amount for the new Child Care Benefit in
the supplementary estimates because it's already in the Main Estimates. That's
why there's a net taken out. The Child Care Benefit is already in place. For
2016- 17, it's estimated at $7.7 billion. It's $7.697 billion, to be precise,
but $7.7 billion is the estimate for 2016-17.
The Chair: Does that mean, in simple arithmetic, that if you're
reclaiming or reducing by $5.7 billion and it's costing you $7.7 billion,
there's an incremental cost of $2 billion? Is that what we're saying?
Mr. Séguin: I'd have to get back to you on how that would work out to
make sure that I have the right numbers because the amount is a net-out figure.
I'll get back to you on that exact calculation.
The Chair: One of the things I hope you folks understand is that we
really appreciate the honesty and openness that you're communicating with us.
When we ask all these questions, we're trying to understand not only the
operational issues so we can be better educated and see the interaction but also
whether these expenditures are going to create more jobs and help our economy or
are they going to be expenditures that increase the size of departments? It's
important to understand that if the government is saying we have a policy that's
going to be an economic policy to drive expansion and growth, et cetera, we just
want to understand what's actually happening in your departments and what are
the implications. Are the implications just adding FTEs and costs to your
department, or are they actually doing something to stimulate the economic
growth of this country? It affects all of us. No matter what your stripe is,
most people will always admit that you can't spend more than you earn, and it's
good to go into deficit financing to do different things as long as they deliver
the results. Is that a fair statement?
What we're seeing from you folks as we move on is there's more about
developing results and feedback. I understand the plans and priorities, because
we're following them much more closely than we did historically. At the same
time, however, we have to make sure that the actual results are taking place so
that there is a real value for money.
As we look at indigenous affairs, as an example, this is a sensitive issue of
jurisdiction regarding who controls the money and the whole housing issue. On
the housing issue, it appears one of the recommendations we may make is there
needs to be a real move not only for accountability and transparency, but there
has to be a clarification of relationships so that the relationships evolve and
the determination of ownership will take place in most of the 634 reserves. If
you can give us the breakout of ownership versus non-ownership, it would help us
to understand where this is headed. If one of the issues is going to be
ownership versus non-ownership, this affects the value of money being given to
these projects and the longevity of the projects themselves. It's great to say
we're pumping in X million or billion dollars in terms of fixing things, but if
you're fixing garbage, you're going to have more garbage. I think you've been
clear on that. We're not trying to put you in a position where you're going to
expose yourselves. We want to get facts to say this is going to be helpful to
Are you ready to talk about your two biggest successes and your two biggest
challenges? That could be helpful to our committee to see where you are moving
to. Who is up?
Mr. Séguin: I can start with that.
To put into context your query about whether the programs are going to garner
results or are we just hiring public servants, et cetera, if you look at our
supplementary estimates, out of almost $293 million in programs, only about $12
million is in operating for that. It's a small piece of the Canada Child Care
Program, the $7.7 billion. The administration on that is incidental. It's a
program that's managed through CRA. The operational costs are extremely low, so
the performances are quite high on these.
From my perspective, the success and the challenges would be the same, and
I'll explain. In responding to the new government in the last fiscal year and
this fiscal year, with new programming, much of which is in the supplementary
estimates today but there will be more in other supplementary estimates, you'll
see a huge mandate of reform and change. In our own department, Employment and
Social Development, we've had major changes to the EI policy — that is,
investments in EI service to Canadians. Responding to that major transition as a
public servant was definitely a challenge, but many people can be proud to
deliver on those major changes. The intent, obviously, is to respond and to set
up the criteria so that we have accountability, performance measures and proper
responsibility for the delivery. Putting all that together are the big successes
and definitely the challenges.
The Chair: From our perspective, we want to make sure that if there's
a $2 million hole that may be created by implementing a new program, it's going
to be important to see that there's a tremendous benefit to Canadians for the
new program. Over a four-year period, you're talking $8 billion of additional
debt. We're just wondering: Is that part of the government's plan as part of the
debt? It will be interesting to identify that.
Mr. Séguin: Yes. I'll provide you that. I just want to make sure I
have the accounting right, because there are ins and outs and that particular
program is tricky.
Mr. Tibbetts: To give the context as well for Health Canada, of about
$165 million that's in the supplementary estimates, there are only about 21 new
FTEs in it. Most of those are temporary to oversee these large infrastructure
projects and to make sure those results are achieved. There are 8 FTEs for the
federal infrastructure sites on our labs to make sure those go well and to
oversee my colleagues leading in First Nations' health and the water areas.
About 240 other FTEs, though, are funded through the sunsetting programs that I
mentioned earlier. It's not new; it's just maintaining the existing levels of
the department. Very little is for incremental-type overhead, so to speak. Of
the 165, the vast majority is going directly to these initiatives.
Many of the jobs are local; they're not in Ottawa. They're out doing work in
communities, for example. Our labs are not just here at NCR; they're in
Longueil, Scarborough and in other parts of the country. They are not
necessarily permanent jobs; they are economic influx jobs that will go out to
contractors through First Nation contributions or directly through our own
contracting mechanisms to deliver these programs.
Will it create economic growth? I'm not an economist. I'm an accountant, so
I'll make sure it's accounted for well. I believe the evaluation measures are
there to demonstrate that.
On our two successes, I was here, as I said, in March. I'll start with
successes. The First Nations Health Authority in British Columbia that we
created is a massive example of partnership and federal-provincial First Nation
leadership. It has been successful to date and is showing enormous signs of
direction to move in the future. It has several more years of agreements and
billions of dollars to watch over there.
The jobs and economic growth part was another kind of success. As for getting
this infrastructure funding, which is a 300 per cent increase, when I was here
last time I mentioned that infrastructure in First Nation communities was one of
our number one risks on our corporate risk profile at Health Canada. This
funding that is to go to the 40 projects we spoke about alleviates that in a
major way. That, we assume, will be a success over the next couple of years.
The Chair: Will you be able to get the health professionals you need
to go to some of these areas?
Mr. Tibbetts: This becomes one of the two challenges.
The Chair: I got excited because I saw that you were thinking.
Mr. Perron: You're right, and we probably flagged to the committee
before that recruitment and retention of nurses and health professionals is a
challenge. These are very challenging and demanding jobs. We have been able to
achieve some success reducing our vacancy rate in the last year, training and
attracting more nurses, but investing in infrastructure, security and residences
for nurses in the community is basic.
When I talked with nurses — we had discussions with them yesterday and again
today — they're coming with the basics they need to support them, and
infrastructure is critical. Jamie mentioned before that this is one of our
risks. This is an element for us to improve quality of service and attract more
health workers, but not only nurses working for Health Canada but also working
for the bands themselves, because our long-term goal is to support and empower
First Nation control over their own health services.
It's difficult, and frankly, if I were the chief of a community, there would
be temptation to take over these programs. With not really good infrastructure,
I would not take on this responsibility because there's too much risk built in
Building a solid infrastructure is, in a way, also to enable better First
Nation control over the health services. This is something we have done in
British Columbia to get to the First Nation Health Authority. In the years
before, we had invested a lot to get the state of the infrastructure in a better
place so it would not be a liability to start with.
This year, with the funding we are getting into the infrastructure fund, B.C.
First Nations are receiving their share of that. It is not because they are
running their business on their own going forward, but they are isolated from
additional programming and support from the federal government, so we are trying
to maintain a solid partnership with them because we think they will be very
Already in my job I see there are things happening in British Columbia that
I've seen nowhere else in Canada because the province and the First Nations
control their programs. They can do things that even from a public health
perspective we need to do. It's really difficult to do because there's a legacy
of relationship with the federal government or with government in general. When
it's a First Nation institution, the trust is there for them to approach health
and public health in a very different way.
Hopefully, you see the passion in me when I talk about this, because I feel
there is hope in the future. I hope we will have similar things, and maybe
different from B.C. It has to be done in the way the First Nation wants on their
own in each province and territory or treaty area.
But there is a clear indicator. This committee is concerned about success and
results. I think when you see First Nation control over their health programs,
when you see better capacity and accreditation of services, then you get the
work results and the partners that can work to organize the service differently
than what we would have done from a government perspective.
My goal is to walk myself out of a job. It will not happen in the next few
weeks unless something really bad happens. It's a long journey, but all these
pieces that get better under control of First Nations make me hopeful that one
day we will have a better system running in a First Nation community that is
integrated but is fully under their control and culturally safe as well.
You have all heard the media and the sad stories we see across the country.
We need to pay attention to them and we are, but there is also great success
across this country that we don't talk a lot about, and we need to promote that.
Those have characteristics in common: capacity, First Nation control over their
programs, and good partnership with regional health authorities and provincial
systems. These are elements that make them successful and provide better health
Sorry, I had to do my pitch.
Mr. Thoppil: To respond to your first question about adding more to
the bureaucracy, we are a Gs and Cs department. If you look at our vote
structure, out of 8 or $9 billion, $1 billion of it is essentially vote 1 for
operating, and half of that is actually for residential schools, the operations
and the payments thereof. You can see the majority of our money goes out; it
doesn't stay with us. It all goes out to the 634 communities across the country.
In terms of your second question about whether we are adding to stimulus, I
would refer you to page 7 or 8 of the Parliamentary Budget Officer's analysis of
Supplementary Estimates (A), whereby they found INAC to have a very good track
record of getting the money out in terms of creating the stimulus that is
desired from the PBO's perspective.
In terms of our successes, I think this is a very exciting time in the state
of the nation in terms of the Canada- Indigenous relationship. We spend a lot of
time in terms of advocacy and in terms of lifting the 2 per cent cap, and the
government has acknowledged that. Therefore, you see now a significant
investment, in part based on the proof that we have the evidence-based
information we are bringing to give. Now we have a budget that has given that a
percentage that is actually around 20 per cent in terms of by 2020-21.
I think that the spirit of reconciliation is also creating a positive
momentum in terms of trying to deal with the issues of the past but also in the
spirit of moving forward. I think that will be very important in terms of
providing that underpinning that my colleague Sony was referencing in terms of
eventually getting to sustainability in First Nations in terms of control.
The challenge is essentially what the minister has imposed upon her
bureaucracy, which is: You've got the money that you asked for in terms of
dealing with closing the socio-economic gaps. But she says she wants results. So
now she's putting pressure on us to work together with First Nations on what
those indicators are because she sees that as a mutual bargain between the
federal government and First Nations so that they have to get by and on those
indicators and working together to get there.
I think that the reconciliation provides that very positive platform,
combined with the commitment on the investment to eventually get to the ultimate
objective, which is to get to the elimination of the socio-economic gaps between
indigenous and non-indigenous peoples in this country, and also dealing with
self-determination as well.
The Chair: We really appreciate the feedback you gave us on the
contaminated sites. You gave us an update about six or eight months ago. Where
are you now? How many have you been able to remediate and clean up, and what's
the base number? You said earlier in our discussion today that 1,850 sites or so
still need remediation. In the last period of time, how many sites have been
cleaned up, and are you going to be able to accelerate the cleanup? When you
look at it as citizens, for me, anyway, two priorities are housing and water,
and obviously education is the third. That's been stated publicly. But where are
you now with providing clean water to folks and the actual cleanup of your
Mr. Thoppil: Let's start with water. There are about 75 or 76
long-term boil advisories. When we say "long term,'' it's more than a year. We
believe that with the money that's been bestowed upon us for water and
wastewater, we will effectively eliminate that over the next five years.
The Chair: The 76?
Mr. Thoppil: That's right, and more. But the objective is to eliminate
the long-term water advisories. That's the first objective.
The second is contaminated sites. As I said, we have done remediation as of
April 1, since we've started, of over 715 sites on reserve and 48 north of 60.
We have about 1,500 on reserve that are in assessment stage and 341 that are in
It's an amazing portfolio of sites in terms of their breadth of complexity;
some are small, and some are very large. There are some "easy winners'' that we
can do, and then some are going to be perhaps — our generation will be actually
dealing with that. I think about some of those sites up North. It's an evergreen
challenge for this department to work them out.
The Chair: We thank you. I kept you five minutes late, and I
apologize, because it's been a long day for everybody — from our side and your
side. We certainly thank you again. Have you great evening.