Hon. Brian Francis: Senator Gold, given that Atlantic Canada is especially vulnerable to climate change and First Nations are disproportionately affected, it is deeply troubling that communities in the region are having to absorb the significant financial costs of responding to and recovering from Fiona, which can significantly impact their ability to provide essential services and other support.
Would you please confirm how many claims for reimbursement related to damage caused by Fiona have been processed by Indigenous Services Canada, including through the Emergency Management Assistance Program and other sources?
Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for your question and for reminding us that the damage caused by these natural events continues to affect the country and impose costs, both financial and human, on communities — Indigenous and others.
In that regard, I do not have those numbers at hand, senator. I will certainly make every effort to determine where possible the extent of the support that has been granted and that might still be forthcoming.
Senator Francis: Thank you, Senator Gold.
As you may remember, last year, the Auditor General found that Indigenous Services Canada did not meet First Nations’ needs in preparing for and mitigating emergencies, and issued several recommendations.
Could you please update us on what related priorities and outcomes the department has met to date to ensure that First Nations in Mi’kma’ki and beyond can adequately prepare for and mitigate climate-related emergencies?
Senator Gold: Again, thank you. Though I can’t speak to the particulars of your question, I think it is important. I appreciate the question in that it underlines that given the reality of climate change, our focus has to increasingly include mitigation. It’s inescapable that the damage and the changes are upon us, and, increasingly, all communities — your communities and neighbouring communities across the country — need to take seriously the mitigation of the impact of climate change.