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Aboriginal Issues

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Title: Aboriginal Issues


1
Aboriginal Issues
  • Presentation to
  • Canada School of Public Service
  • June 23, 2005

2
Purpose of this Deck
  • Overview of the Aboriginal policy agenda
  • Emerging trends and issues
  • Provincial/Territorial dimensions
  • Current federal strategies for addressing
    emerging trends and issues
  • Role and forward agenda of the Cabinet Committee
    on Aboriginal Affairs
  • Next -steps (To Fall 2005)

3
Demographic and Socio-economic Conditions of
Aboriginal Peoples in Canada - Highlights
  • 1,400,000 persons of Aboriginal ancestry
  • Approximately 1,000,000 identifying as
    Aboriginals
  • Out of the 1,000,000 65 are status Indians 30
    Métis and non-status and 5 Inuit
  • 35 on Indian reserves
  • 20 in census metropolitan areas (CMAs)
  • 62 in the four western provinces
  • Over 11 of the total population of Manitoba and
    Saskatchewan is Aboriginal
  • Aboriginal population is younger that the
    Canadian average - average age is 25, compared to
    35 for Canada as a whole

4
Highlights cont..
  • Unemployment rate
  • 2 x the national average
  • in the prairies 3 x
  • Income level below average
  • Canada 25,400
  • Aboriginals 15,700 of which
  • on reserve 12,200
  • in urban areas 17,200
  • Low income incidence
  • 2 x the national average
  • in Manitoba and Saskatchewan 3 x

5
The Federal-Aboriginal Relationship Legislative
Basis
  • Under section 91(24) of the Constitution Act 1867
    federal government has legislative jurisdiction
    over Indians and lands reserved for Indians
  • Courts have interpreted this section to include
    the Inuit
  • Federal Government has consistently taken the
    position that Métis fall within provincial
    jurisdiction legislative jurisdiction for the
    Métis as a distinct Aboriginal people remains
    unclear
  • In general, provisions in the Indian Act govern
    federal legislative responsibilities for Indians
  • Recent efforts to change some of the key
    governance elements in the Indian Act (eg. legal
    status of Indian bands) were unsuccessful

6
The Federal-Aboriginal Relationship Policy
  • Federal government has a broad range of policies
    and programs targeted to First Nations, and to a
    lesser degree Inuit and in some cases Métis
  • - social and economic development (eg. Child and
    Family Services on Reserve, Housing, Economic
    Development, Non-insured health benefits)
  • - land claims (eg. Nisgaa)
  • - self-government (eg. Westbank)
  • Aboriginal people also eligible for federal
    programs and services of general application
  • Federal departments deliver over 240 programs
    touching all aspects of Aboriginal lives and
    amounting to roughly 8.7B, yet results remain
    poor

7
Land Claims
  • Comprehensive land claims are negotiated based on
    assertions of continuing Aboriginal rights to
    land and natural resources
  • Federal policy stipulates that land claims may be
    negotiated with Aboriginal groups in areas where
    claims to Aboriginal rights/title have not been
    addressed by treaty or through other legal means
  • Provincial governments must participate as much
    as possible in negotiations and contribute to the
    provision of benefits to Aboriginal groups (based
    on the fact that the majority of lands and
    resources subject to comprehensive claims
    negotiations are under provincial jurisdiction

8
Land Claims, cont..
  • Comprehensive claims lead to treaties which are
    protected under Section 35 of the Constitutional
    Act, 1982.
  • Treaties describe the rights and obligations of
    each party (government and Aboriginal group) with
    a view to attaining what is called certainty
  • Examples Nunavut Nisgaa

9
Self-Government
  • Inherent Right Policy was introduced in 1995 and
    met a commitment outlined in the 1993 Liberal
    platform
  • Recognized inherent right of self-government as
    an existing right within section 35 of
    Constitution Act, 1982
  • Main thrust is reaching practical and workable
    agreements on the exercise of self-government
  • Different circumstances amongst Aboriginal people
    eg., First Nations on reserve, off reserve,
    Inuit, Métis) translates into various approaches
    and specific arrangements

10
Interdepartmental Dimensions
  • A number of federal departments have programs
    specifically targeted to Aboriginal people
  • Implementation of land claims and self-government
    negotiations involve all departments concerned
  • Implementation of horizontal strategies, such as
    the urban Aboriginal strategy, require that
    departments work together
  • Some formal interdepartmental mechanisms have
    been in place for a few years, eg., the federal
    steering committee on self-government, (now
    merged with comprehensive claims)
  • In western provinces, sub-committees of federal
    councils of senior officials assume coordinating
    role in implementing the federal urban Aboriginal
    strategy

11
Provincial/Territorial Perspectives
  • Provinces and Territorial Governments have no
    legislative authorities over Indians or Inuit
    (per se)
  • However, provincial laws generally apply to them
  • Aboriginal people eligible for provincial
    programs available to other provincial citizens
  • Under some circumstances, provinces have specific
    legal obligations to Aboriginal people (for
    example obligations arising from land claims
    settlements)

12
Provincial/Territorial Perspectives, cont..
  • Provinces (with the exception of Québec) have
    argued that Aboriginal people on- and off-reserve
    are a federal responsibility under section 91(24)
    and that the federal government should pay for
    all the programs and services they use
  • Not receptive to engage in rights issues
  • Practices
  • Notwithstanding their positions, most provinces,
    in their own ways, are showing signs of
    willingness to engage in discussions or processes
    to develop concrete arrangements, notably to
    improve socioeconomic conditions.
  • Increasing interest in cooperative arrangements
    to deal with urban Aboriginal issues, most
    notably in the west

13
Emerging Trends and Issues
  • Underlying trends and factors (eg, demographic,
    socioeconomic, legal) have been perceptible for a
    while
  • What is new or emerging is a much broader
    awareness amongst academics, the media, public
    and private institutions as well as a group of
    federal Cabinet ministers
  • that current approaches need rethinking

14
Current Federal Strategy
  • The Government of Canada is currently working
    towards a new national
  • approach to Aboriginal issues, focusing on shared
    responsibilities, to
  • ensure Aboriginal peoples are full partners in
    building the social and
  • economic fabric of a prosperous Canada
  • Fulfilling this vision requires a closing of the
    gap in life chances between Aboriginal and
    non-Aboriginal people
  • Achieving this vision requires transformation of
    current Government of Canada relationships to
  • - strengthen the bilateral relationships with
    Aboriginal peoples
  • - build effective partnerships with
    provinces/territories and Aboriginal peoples on
    Aboriginal issues

15
Speech from the Throne 2004
  • Acknowledged the shameful conditions in too many
    Aboriginal
  • communities, and set out a vision
  • Aboriginal Canadians must participate fully in
    all that Canada has to offer, with greater
    economic self-reliance and an ever-increasing
    quality of life, based upon historic rights and
    agreements

16
A New Cabinet Committee
  • The 2004 SFT established a Cabinet Committtee on
    Aboriginal Affairs (CCAA) to support the
    committment for a more focused and coherent
    approach to Aboriginal issues
  • An Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat in the Privy
    Council Office was also created to support the
    work of the CCAA

17
CCAA
  • The role of the CCAA is to
  • Shape and guide the development of policies
    across the Government of Canada on Aboriginal
    issues
  • Focus on broad policy direction as opposed to
    transactional items (e.g. approval of specific
    agreements, legislative drafting authority,
    modifications to existing programs)
  • Ensure the overall coherence of and bring focus
    to Aboriginal policies and programs located
    within federal departments and agencies
  • Provide broad direction on engaging Aboriginal
    leaders and provinces and territories to support
    the development of a national Aboriginal agenda
    for action

18
Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat Progress to Date
  • As a coordinating body the Secretariat has begun
  • Organizing within the federal government roles
    and responsibilities necessary to undertake a
    renewed and coherent relationship with Aboriginal
    peoples
  • Identifying key issues and potential priority
    areas to begin action
  • Dialoguing with Aboriginal leaders to discuss
    relationships and priorities the
    Canada-Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable on April 19,
    2004 was the first step
  • Work has since focused on sectoral follow-up
    sessions, the Policy Retreat and preparations for
    a fall First Ministers Meeting on Aboriginal
    issues

19
April 19th Canada Aboriginal Peoples Roundtable
  • On April 19, 2004 at the Canada-Aboriginal
    Peoples Rountable the Prime Minister said
  • We must break the cycle of poverty, indignity
    and injustice in which so many
  • Aboriginal Canadians live. We must make real
    improvements in their lives and
  • living conditions. And all this must lead to
    economic self-sufficiencyWe must
  • put an end to the terrible assumption that
    Aboriginal Canadians will always be
  • little or a lot worse off than other Canadians.
  • This means closing the gap in life chances
    between Aboriginal people and other
  • Canadians within a generation. These
    quality-of-life improvements will enable
  • Aboriginal high-school completion and
    post-secondary participation to equal that of
    non-Aboriginals.
  • Aboriginal employment levels to equal those of
    non-Aboriginals.
  • Aboriginal health status as measured by life
    expectancy and infant mortality to match the
    Canadian average.
  • All Aboriginal communities to have, by 2008,
    clean water and adequate housing.

20
April 19th Canada Aboriginal Peoples
Roundtable, cont..
  • The goals of the Roundtable were to renew the
    relationship between the Government of Canada and
    Aboriginal leaders and to discuss ways of making
    concrete progress in areas of mutual priority
  • Relationships
  • Health
  • Life-long learning
  • Housing
  • Economic opportunities
  • Accountability
  • Participants included over 70 Aboriginal leaders
    and experts, and over 40 members of the federal
    Cabinet, Senate and House of Commons.

21
Roundtable Follow-Up Key Commitments
  • At the April 19th Roundtable, the Prime Minister
    made four key commitments
  • A Report on the Roundtable Strengthening the
    Relationship, Canada-Aboriginal Peoples
    Roundtable was released on May 20, 2004
  • Development of an Aboriginal Report Card (ARC)
    As a first step, an Aboriginal Peoples Chapter is
    being included in the Treasury Board's Canada's
    Performance 2004. The development of an
    Aboriginal Report Card is being pursued over the
    next year through the sectoral sessions and
    focused federal-provincial/territorial-Aboriginal
    (F-P/T-A) working groups to improve results and
    accountability
  • Sectoral discussions in six priority areas with
    Aboriginal groups, P/T governments, sectoral
    experts and practitioners
  • A policy retreat with members of the CCAA,
    Aboriginal leaders and P/T representatives

22
Sectoral Follow-up to the RoundtableLead and Key
Departments
23
Policy Retreat
  • The Policy Retreat was held on May 31, 2005 and
    was the culmination of the Canada-Aboriginal
    Peoples Roundtable process and produced the
    following outcomes
  • Strengthened relationships between the Government
    of Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis
    through accords signed with five national
    Aboriginal organizations
  • Commitment to achieving results and confirmation
    of policy directions in six key areas of focus
    relationships/negotiations, accountability for
    results health, housing, economic opportunities
    and life long learning
  • Provinces and Territories (PTs) consider the
    Roundtable process as federal/Aboriginal, but
    have been engaged as observers throughout this
    process, including at the Policy Retreat
  • P/Ts have been engaged in the preparations for
    First Ministers Meeting (FMM) on
  • Aboriginal issues planned for Fall 2005, through
    a Steering Committee - chaired by
  • federal Deputy Ministers (DMs) Marie Fortier,
    PCO-IGA and Michael Horgan, INAC

24
Role of public service in new strategy
  • Policy development requires that Aboriginal
    interests be taken into account and in many cases
    Aboriginal people be directly engaged even in
    cases when the primary focus of the issue or
    sector under consideration is not specifically
    Aboriginal (eg., children issues) consistent
    with accords signed with five NAOs at Policy
    Retreat
  • Need for shared knowledge (common understanding)
    on facts, figures and analysis research agenda
    and need for shared values and objectives
  • Coherent policies and programs across the
    government while respecting the particularities
    of each departments mandate and culture
  • In consideration of differences amongst provinces
    and amongst Aboriginal groups, the challenge of
    developing and implementing federal Aboriginal
    initiatives that are both coherent and flexible
    becomes evident

25
Next Steps
  • June 27, 2005 - Ministerial Meeting (to confirm
    FMM agenda
  • before AFN Assembly in July 2005 and Council of
    Federation
  • meeting in August 2005)
  • November 2005 - Fiscal update by Minister of
    Finance
  • November 2005 - First Ministers Meeting on
    Aboriginal issues
  • (Agenda to focus on intergovernmental dimensions
    of
  • relationship, life-long-learning and housing)
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