Canada's Original Think Tank

Indigenous and Northern Affairs — Amendments to Indian Act

Indigenous and Northern Affairs — Amendments to Indian Act

Indigenous and Northern Affairs — Amendments to Indian Act

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: On June 21 this year, the Senate received a message from the other place regarding Bill S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration). This message was not moved before the end of the spring sitting, and to date it has not been moved in this chamber upon our return this fall, on September 19.

As the message stands, the other place further amended Bill S-3 by removing a Senate amendment aimed at eliminating all sex-based discrimination in the registration provisions.

Over the summer, we learned that the government contracted Mr. Stewart Clatworthy, a demographer, to provide statistics on how various amendments to remove gender-based discrimination in the Indian Act will affect the number of people who will become eligible for registration as status Indians. According to some news reports, that work has been completed and the government has received these numbers.

Does the government have the estimates from Mr. Clatworthy and, if so, when will they be available to all senators, interested parties and the public? We are all anxious to move forward.

Hon. Peter Harder (Government Representative in the Senate): I thank the honourable senator for her question and ongoing commitment to a resolution of the situation that Bill S-3 presents.

As the honourable senator indicated, the government is committed to ensuring gender equity for all women, including the removal of all sex discrimination from registration provisions in the Indian Act. Mr. Clatworthy has provided the government with the revised demographic analysis, which includes data for a number of potential scenarios. The government is currently reviewing that data.

To facilitate meaningful debate, the government has committed — and I make this commitment today — to making Mr. Clatworthy’s report public and providing it to the senators in advance of the message being moved in this chamber. We anticipate this happening in the coming weeks.

I can assure this chamber that the government is committed to working with parliamentarians, particularly the parliamentarians that are now in receipt of the message, with First Nations communities, impacted individuals and experts to remove all sex discrimination from the registration provisions of the Indian Act.

Senator Dyck: Thank you for that information, Senator Harder.

Would you also find out from the government how much the government paid Mr. Clatworthy to provide these estimates of potential new registrants and what level of reliability they assign to his data?

Senator Harder: I will add that to my inquiry.