Ministerial Question Period: Safety of Indigenous Women and Girls

By: The Hon. Michèle Audette

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Hon. Michèle Audette: Kwei, minister.

[Editor’s Note: Senator Audette spoke in Innu.]

Minister, last June the Standing Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples released its report entitled Not Enough: All Words and No Action on MMIWG.

I would also point out that your government commissioned or ordered the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. The inquiry’s final report includes Calls for Justice that concern you and your department.

I have a question for you about establishing services and infrastructure related to “. . . safe and affordable transit and transportation services . . . for Indigenous women [and] girls . . . living in remote or rural communities.” I am referring to Call for Justice 4.8.

Minister, what concrete actions have been taken to respond to this Call for Justice, particularly to improve the safety of Indigenous women and girls?

Hon. Omar Alghabra, P.C., M.P., Minister of Transport: Thank you, senator, for that question. Our government is solidly committed to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission action plan and to their recommendations, which we are acting upon.

Let me specifically address your question.

Transport Canada has done the following — by the way, I’m at the table where we regularly bring ministers and Indigenous leaders to discuss items of importance, including matters of transportation that are within federal jurisdiction. We are working together on marine and air transportation options and ground transportation options. During COVID, our government provided financial support for remote air services that we know many communities would not have had access to during COVID if it hadn’t been for that financial support.

I’ve written to my provincial counterparts about intercity bus services. Unfortunately, I have not heard back from any of my provincial counterparts. We know that bus service is critical. As you know, intercity bus service is a provincial jurisdiction, but we continue to extend our willingness to work with provinces on identifying solutions to fill this gap, and we will continue to work with our provincial counterparts on ways to do so.

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