Hon. Marty Klyne: Minister, the tragic events at James Smith Cree Nation in Saskatchewan have highlighted the problem of police response times in Indigenous communities. With a distance of 45 kilometres between the RCMP detachment and the subject crime scene, we should not expect an acceptable or timely response for any emergency.
Your mandate letter includes co-developing a legislative framework for Indigenous policing, and Budget 2021 provided funding for this response. Such localized policing services, with officers in place for the long term, would significantly and satisfactorily improve response times, not to mention the benefit of local police officers with knowledge and understanding of a community and its needs.
Can you please update us on this work and share an approximate timeline for introducing a government bill?
Hon. Marc Miller, P.C., M.P., Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations: Thank you, Senator Klyne. I agree with you that more police in Indigenous communities is needed. It would respond to one element of a number of the reports that have been discussed today. But, again, policing alone is not the solution, and I do want to say that before I complete my answer.
Those communities need police services, Indigenous-led if they so choose, or enhanced RCMP presence if they so choose. It’s something we have dedicated resources to as a government in prior budgets, coupled with what you mentioned, which is to introduce legislation to ensure that First Nations policing as an essential service is treated as such.
The work is ongoing. Minister Mendicino recently issued a statement of where they are in terms of the consultation and discussions with Indigenous peoples. This is a piece of legislation that we hope to accelerate and make sure is introduced shortly, but I can’t share that with you. Indeed, it would be up to Minister Mendicino as the case may be.