Provinces Won’t Have To Shoulder Costs Of MMIW Inquiry, Federal Minister Says

'We are reassuring provinces there will be no costs to the provinces'

‘We are reassuring provinces there will be no costs to the provinces’

Federal government ‘very close’ to launching inquiry, Carolyn Bennett says

By Katharine Starr, CBC News Posted: Jul 12, 2016

The federal government is reassuring the provinces that when it comes to a national inquiry on murdered and missing indigenous women, they won’t have to foot the bill.

“I think there was some misunderstanding, but I think we are almost there in terms of getting the assurances out there that this is going to be done in co-operation,” said Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs Carolyn Bennett in an interview on CBC News Network’s Power & Politics.

The Liberal government’s spring federal budget pegged the cost of a full national public inquiry at $40 million over two years starting in 2016.

Bennett told First Nations chiefs at their 37th annual general assembly Tuesday that the government is “very close” to announcing the launch of the inquiry, a campaign promise made by the Liberals last year.

But before a national inquiry can begin, all provinces and territories must be on board.

Some provincial and territorial governments have had questions and concerns about their roles and responsibilities in the inquiry, including who was going to cover the cost of travel and other support for families and whether legal representation would be required.

Confusion over terms of reference

Bennett confirmed that “different provinces had different understandings” of what the terms of reference will be.

“I think we are reassuring provinces that there will be no costs to the provinces,” Bennett told Power & Politics host Rosemary Barton.

AFN Chief Perry Bellegarde

Assembly of First Nations National Chief Perry Bellegarde signs an accord with Carolyn Bennett, minister of Indigenous affairs and northern development, during the AFN general assembly on Tuesday. (Chris Glover/CBC)

“It really is just co-operation around documents, around witnesses. It’s just about us now getting that all pinned down so that we can launch in a timely fashion.”

The provinces and territories will still have a critical role to play in the inquiry, Bennett added.

“We’ll still need the provinces to help with the healing and wellness piece, and to make sure these families are dealt with in a compassionate, culturally safe way,” she said.

“But that’s a shared responsibility, and we are very, very heartened by the co-operation that’s out there now.”