VAL-D'OR, QC, Sept. 30, 2019 /CNW Telbec/ - The Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs, Sylvie D'Amours, the Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault and the Minister for Health and Social Services, Lionel Carmant, responded to the submission of the report of the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec – listening, reconciliation and progress, which was made public today by Commissioner Jacques Viens.
On behalf of the government, the ministers wished to acknowledge the work done by Mr. Viens and his team, which will make it possible to review and improve the services provided to Indigenous populations. They also applauded the valuable contribution of the people who testified during the commission of inquiry.
Hearings were held in Val-d'Or, in Québec City and elsewhere in Québec, in order to shed light on the public services provided to Indigenous people over the past fifteen years. This independent inquiry, which was launched in 2016 by the Gouvernement du Québec, aimed to prevent and eliminate all forms of violence, discriminatory practices or different treatment in the delivery of public services provided to Indigenous people. It focused on police services, correctional services, justice, health and social services and youth protection.
The result of the work by Commissioner Viens was made public in a lengthy report that presents troubling observations in several areas, and that puts forward a large number of recommendations.
The Gouvernement du Québec is called upon directly in the report, as is the federal government. Minister Sylvie D'Amours pointed out that the different ministries concerned have not waited for the report to be made public before acting, and has invited representatives of Indigenous organizations to a dialogue this coming October 17, in order to work with them on setting priorities for the actions to be taken.
It is essential for the Gouvernement du Québec to provide Indigenous people with services adapted to their reality, and to rectify situations that unfortunately are still causing them harm today. The time has come to start things off on a new footing.
"The First Nations and Inuit communities in Québec must be made aware that we will never tolerate any form of discrimination whatsoever in any of the public services provided to them. Everyone, wherever they may be within Québec, and whatever their origin, is entitled to the same quality of services, the same respect and the same dignity. I am determined to work with the Indigenous people in order to ensure that together, they may have access to quality services, adapted to their realities. I hope that we may now look forward to a future in which we will progress together toward reconciliation."
Sylvie D'Amours, Minister Responsible for Indigenous Affairs
"I wish to acknowledge the excellent work done by Commissioner Viens during this important mission with which he was entrusted nearly three years ago. I especially applaud the people who courageously came forward to recount some unpleasant episodes in their lives. A major step forward has been taken today, toward reconciliation. Now, my colleagues and I will carefully analyse the report and its many recommendations and prioritize the means to be implemented to prevent any form of discrimination in the delivery of public services."
Geneviève Guilbault, Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Security
"We are already taking action and intend to continue the collaboration with our Indigenous partners, in particular to improve the youth protection services in order that these may better respond to the needs and reality of Indigenous children and their families. I consider this to be a high-priority issue. Everyone deserves to feel safe and to have the same opportunity to flourish, and everyone is entitled to receive high-quality care."
Lionel Carmant, Minister for Health and Social Services
Some statistics concerning the Viens Commission:
- 38 weeks of hearings held between June 5, 2017 and December 14, 2018
- 765 witnesses
- 277 citizen witnesses
- 423 written statements
- Work conducted mainly in Val-d'Or, and public sessions held:
- 4 weeks in Montréal
- 3 weeks in Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam
- 2 weeks in Mistissini
- 2 weeks in Québec City
- 1 week in Kuujjuaq
- 1 week in Kuujjuarapik
- 1,367 exhibits filed as evidence found to be relevant to the inquiry
SOURCE Cabinet de la ministre responsable des Affaires autochtones
For further information: Lauréanne Fontaine, Press Officer, Office of the Minister Responsible for, Indigenous Affairs, Telephone: 418 558-7701; Amélie Paquet, Press Officer, Office of the Deputy Premier and Minister of Public Security, Telephone: 418 643-2112; Camille Lambert-Chan, Press Officer, Office of the Minister for Health and Social Services, Telephone: 418 558-8329