Copyright © 2019 Senator Dennis Patterson.

Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency Inuit Employment Opportunities

1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 239
Wednesday, October 24, 2018
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, my question is to the government leader in the Senate.

Senator Harder, on October 22, Nunavut Tunngavik Incorporated welcomed the release of the Nunavut Inuit Labour Force Analysis report done by ESDC. NTI president Aluki Kotierk stated that one of the most striking pieces of information coming out of NILFA is that large numbers of Inuit are available and interested in government employment but are not currently being identified and trained.

Keeping that in mind, my question is about Inuit employment in federal agencies, specifically the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency.

In 2015, a report by the Auditor General found that only 15 of 32 jobs had been filled in its headquarters in Iqaluit, with all the senior positions, president, vice-president and senior advisors, all based in Ottawa. More recent reports show that this has not improved. Will the government be staffing all vacant positions in their office in Nunavut? And what is the government’s plan to attract, train and mentor Inuit so they can hold senior and leadership positions in the agency?

 

1st Session, 42nd Parliament
Volume 150, Issue 240
Thursday, October 25, 2018
The Honourable George J. Furey, Speaker

 

https://sencanada.ca/en/content/sen/chamber/421/debates/240db_2018-10-25-e

 

Foreign Affairs and International Trade
Telecommunications in Northern Communities

 

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, my question is for the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Senator Harder, I must tell you I regret having to stand here again to ask about licensing the satellite ground station in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. You will remember I raised this with Minister Freeland in March 2017 during her appearance at Question Period after writing to her in February. I again raised with it with you in May. I am frustrated to tell you that little progress has been made in licensing this station.

I recently visited the Inuvik station with Senate colleagues on the Special Committee on the Arctic. We were very impressed but shocked to learn this private facility led by long-time, hard-working, highly respected Northerners — the opposite of security risks — is now being made subject to inspections as part of their licensing process. These are inspections the government facility down the road was not subject to.

After years of delay, the word is getting out in the space industry that Canada is not a stable place to invest. Norway and even the U.S.A. are very welcoming of investments in space stations or earth stations by contrast. What is the government doing to counteract this perception? What are they doing to update antiquated legislation? There was a respected McGill University review conducted a couple of years ago that recommended updates to this legislation. What are they doing to streamline the licensing process?

 

Federal Sustainable Development Act
Bill to Amend—Second Reading

 

Hon. Dennis Glen Patterson: Honourable senators, I rise today to speak on Bill C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act.

Colleagues, I’m pleased to stand before you today to speak to a bill that enjoyed unanimous support in the other place and I hope will enjoy the same level of non-partisan support in our chamber.

As many of you know, the Federal Sustainable Development Act, fondly known as the FSDA, was introduced as a private member’s bill in the other place by John Godfrey, a Liberal member of Parliament, and was passed with the support of a majority Conservative government under then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The act requires that a Federal Sustainable Development Strategy be produced and updated every three years and stipulates that public consultation with stakeholders must take place over a 120-day public consultation period. Twenty-six individual departments and agencies must contribute and produce their own sustainable development strategies, while a number of others participate voluntarily. Additionally, a progress report must be tabled before Parliament every three years. Since 2008, three reports have been released, with the next report due in November of this year.

Under the FSDA, oversight responsibilities are given to the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development and the two parliamentary committees — in the Senate and the other place — responsible for reviewing issues pertaining to the environment.

During public consultations on the 2016 to 2019 Federal Sustainable Development Strategy, the Standing Committee on the Environment and Sustainable Development in the other place produced a unanimous report in June of 2016 making 13 recommendations on ways to strengthen the existing act.

Honourable senators, this bill is about transparency. It adds more federal departments, agencies of Parliament and Crown corporations to the schedule of the act, ensuring that these entities have to report annually and are part of the major three-year reports the act requires to be tabled before both houses of Parliament.

If passed, we would see the number of entities required to report grow from 26 to 90, with the ability to easily add more federal organizations. This would enable a whole-of-government approach to sustainable development and enable the Treasury Board to coordinate the establishment of policies and issuing of directives in relation to the sustainable development impacts of government operations.

In addition to the bill giving the advisory council the ability to come together in person twice per year, in accordance with Treasury Board guidelines, as opposed to relying on, as they do currently, teleconferences and Skype, it also adds three more Indigenous seats to the advisory council which would allow for more Inuit representation. This would bring the total number of Indigenous seats to six and the total number of seats on the advisory council to 28.

Sustainable development, as many of us know, is an ever-evolving concept that changes with the goals and priorities of the government and with the international obligations Canada enters into. That is why we have goals set and reports done every three years and why the strategy is reviewed every five years.

Currently, Canada’s 2016 to 2019 strategy identifies 13 goals, which include clean growth, modern and resilient infrastructure, clean energy, sustainable food, clean drinking water and so on.

Bill C-57 also ensures the targets identified in the Federal Sustainable Development Strategy are measurable and time-bound, enabling Canadians to hold ministers and their departments accountable.

For instance, we know the government is falling short of their goal to ensure that all Canadians have access to safe drinking water. I would note the Department of Indigenous Services Canada has set a goal to resolve 30 of the 77 drinking water advisories affecting First Nations by March 31, 2018. As of the last update on November 30, 2017, there were 68 long-term advisories affecting 45 First Nations across this country.

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When the progress report is tabled next month, I expect to see that this particular goal may not have been reached.

Honourable senators, this is the type of accountability and oversight that I believe we should have over all of our federal departments and organizations. Canada cannot keep failing to attain the goals that our government sets out. We need to ensure that the goals we put forward are measurable and attainable within the time frame specified. We owe it to Canadians to ensure that we are delivering on the promises we make to them, and this bill, from what I have seen so far, will strengthen the act that helps keep us on track.

That said, colleagues, as a member of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, I believe that all bills need to be scrutinized by this chamber and any potential flaws or shortcomings identified and rectified before any bill is passed. That is why I support the referral of this bill to the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources. I look forward to studying it further.