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Enhance services

Generally speaking, the Québec State intervenes in the realm of social and cultural development through service delivery designed according to determined needs. Public and parapublic bodies, often structured in networks reporting to government departments, are responsible for administering such services and constantly ensure that they respond judiciously to varied local conditions. In this respect, the action plan pursues two key objectives.

First, it seeks to broaden the Québec government’s service offer to the Aboriginal peoples to make it fuller and more accessible, bearing in mind the specific nature of the missions of the government departments and bodies concerned, and in keeping with the federal government’s responsibilities. The Québec government wishes to offer more effective programs and services that are better adapted to the conditions of the First Nations and Inuit as they perceive them, whether, in particular, in the realm of health, social services, education, justice, public security, employment or culture.

Second, the government wishes to consolidate existing services. The aim is not only to better intervene in fields that are already subject to government measures but also to create complementarity between the networks of the Québec State and Aboriginal organizations, which, on or off the reserve, provide many services in the same or related fields.

Establish new services

As numerous indicators reveal, the living conditions of Québec’s Aboriginal peoples are usually inferior to those of the total population. Aboriginal communities are often overwhelmed by the prevalence of major psychosocial and socioeconomic problems, which are observed among the Inuit and the First Nations as in no other group in Québec society. As Québec Premier Philippe Couillard noted in 2015, such living conditions are not commensurate with a country of Canada’s prosperity, size and wealth.

A broad range of intervention

Consequently, the Québec government’s intervention must cover a very broad range of needs. In recent years, a number of government departments and bodies have, therefore, conducted consultations among the First Nations and Inuit in many fields, in order to determine needs and properly target development initiatives:

  • poverty and social exclusion
  • sexual exploitation
  • sexual assault
  • spousal and family violence
  • elder abuse
  • homophobia and transphobia
  • educational success
  • gender equality
  • cultural policy
  • racism and discrimination
  • bullying
  • youth
  • addiction
  • health prevention
  • vagrancy

The measures put forward in this action plan centre directly on the consultations. They reflect the Québec government’s desire to make available to the Aboriginal peoples services and programs geared to their circumstances and immediate needs in all sectors where its intervention is possible.

However, it should be noted that, from the outset, the measures do not cover all of the topics subject to consultation.

Indeed, deliberations are still under way in certain government departments and bodies to elaborate measures aligned to the needs expressed by the representatives of the First Nations and the Inuit Nation. For example, health prevention measures, especially suicide prevention, aimed at the Aboriginal peoples will be added to this action plan once they are determined (2017-2018).

Furthermore, sectoral action plans that are still in force cover other priority topics. While they are designed for the total population, they include measures devoted to the Aboriginal peoples. The measures will be incorporated into this action plan when the action plans that now contain them are renewed: vagrancy (2020), spousal and family violence (2018), mental health (2020) and bullying (2018).

The Québec government therefore plans to implement initiatives that will be as exhaustive as possible. Various measures are being implemented immediately, including those indicated below.

  • Concrete initiatives that target educational success and school retention among Aboriginal students will be introduced and resources will be allocated to support parents and students in their educational experience;
  • Measures and programs will be established to better support the Aboriginal clientele in the Québec justice system;
  • Resources will be invested to support and guide Aboriginal inmates in detention facilities to promote the management of their problems;
  • Means will be adopted to facilitate the development of midwife services in non-treaty communities;
  • Structuring initiatives will be implemented to support women, in particular women’s groups, to counteract sexual abuse, promote egalitarian relationships and combat gender inequality;
  • Tools will be designed in the realm of youth protection to reduce the difficulties that Aboriginal children and their families encounter and to promote the involvement of Aboriginal communities and foster families in service delivery;
  • The means will be adopted to combat addiction and violence and to foster the mobilization of communities to deal with these questions.1

Relevant, reassuring intervention from the standpoint of the Aboriginal cultures

While the government service offer must be as full and diversified as possible, it is equally essential that it be culturally relevant and reassuring. Even when it receives substantial resources, a program or service is usually ineffective if it is not adapted to the circumstances of the target clientele or if the latter feels misunderstood or unwelcome and decides not to take advantage of it.

The initiatives under this action plan will, consequently, be elaborated in a logic of relevance and cultural safety and the same logic will guide their implementation. The goal is for the supplier of services to take into account the history and cultural experience of the Aboriginal peoples and to acquire the appropriate skills to serve them. Measures will be adopted in this respect, in particular:

  • establish cultural safety strategies in the health and social services network;
  • offer government employees in the public and parapublic sectors awareness-raising sessions on the historic, cultural and sociological situation of the Aboriginal peoples and training on the concept of relevance and cultural safety;
  • train and raise awareness among Sûreté du Québec and municipal police officers and interveners in the socio-judicial sector of the distinctive characteristics and differences of the Aboriginal clientele;
  • adapt to the circumstances of the First Nations and Inuit the information and awareness-raising tools elaborated in conjunction with the fight against addiction;
  • ensure the implementation of adapted measures aimed at offering culturally reassuring and relevant services to Aboriginal crime victims;
  • reach agreements to establish a specific Aboriginal youth protection scheme.

Enhance the existing service offer

The Québec government has, for several years, offered a broad array of services to the members of the First Nations and the Inuit Nation. The service offer must be bolstered both through the enhancement of existing measures and by means of broader complementarity between the measures.

This action plan seeks to achieve this end.

Consolidated initiatives

The Québec government’s existing initiatives can be consolidated in the realms of education, health and social services, justice, public security, off-reserve housing or employment. The approaches can be reviewed, resources can be reallocated and funding bolstered. In this spirit, the Québec government intends, in particular, to:

  • pursue the fight against elder abuse in Aboriginal communities;
  • reorganize its initiatives by means of a comprehensive, concerted strategy to promote the employment integration of the Inuit and the First Nations;
  • enhance measures devoted to off-reserve Aboriginal housing;
  • enhance the assistance already granted to the Kitcisakik Anicinapek community for home renovation;
  • improve the financial conditions of tenants of low-cost housing in Nunavik;
  • establish services adapted to the circumstances of Aboriginal students in the Québec education system;
  • broaden access and the addiction service continuum for members of the First Nations and Inuit.

Complementary initiatives

The manner in which government intervention is contemplated in the Aboriginal communities must take into account a basic characteristic. In many cases, the Aboriginal peoples themselves offer services to the members of the First Nations and Inuit, either through organizations that are part of their governance structures or through Aboriginal community organizations. Whether they depend on a band council or province-wide body or are part of civil society, the Aboriginal organizations are essential interveners, often the best suited to offering the most appropriate measures.

The federal government is the largest funder of service structures that report to the band councils. While the Québec government is also participating in this effort, especially through recurrent funding for Aboriginal police departments, it is also supporting numerous community organizations, which, off the reserves, offer varied services to the Inuit and the members of the First Nations. The Québec State simultaneously accommodates in its networks, for example health, social services or education, a substantial Aboriginal clientele.

It is, therefore, apparent that constant cooperation must be established between the different interveners. First, the aim is to maximize the efficiency of the resources invested by coordinating the measures and avoiding duplications. Second, it is important to further bolster the collaboration that is essential to create service corridors. The coordination of the initiatives of various interveners must lead, for Aboriginal users, to coherent, continuous service delivery.

Of course, a smooth service continuum must, above all, be achieved between different public networks and, consequently, within the networks. At the same time, different Québec government services and the services that Aboriginal organizations offer must be better linked. The linking must be achieved bearing in mind certain obstacles, such as the considerable mobility in Québec of the Aboriginal populations, language barriers, the jurisdictional responsibilities of different service providers, or the lack of resources of Aboriginal organizations.

In this perspective, this action plan puts forward measures that establish effective complementarity between the services that the Québec government offers and those that on-reserve and off-serve Aboriginal organizations offer. While the Québec government is promoting the management by the Aboriginal peoples of the means to ensure their well-being, it should be noted that it is not a question of establishing bodies parallel to the Québec networks. While it continues to encourage the establishment and development of Aboriginal service organizations, the Québec government wishes, above all, to harmonize its initiatives and those of the Aboriginal organizations.

For example, it is adopting the following measures:

  • establish collaborative forums in Québec municipalities in which significant numbers of Aboriginal peoples live in order to draw closer together the representatives of the Aboriginal organizations concerned and local interveners in the public networks;
  • implement the recommendations in the report of the committee on the administration of Bill 21, the Act to amend the Professional Code and other legislative provisions in the field of mental health and human relations, in the Aboriginal communities.

The first strategic priority of the action plan can be summarized schematically as follows:

Enhance services
Develop a diversified, effective, relevant, reassuring service offer from the standpoint of the
Aboriginal cultures
Consolidate existing services and promote, through the complementarity
 of the initiatives, the creation of service continuums

1 In the case of the Inuit, the measures will take into account the Saqijuq initiative, which seeks to combat the consumption of psychoactive substances and the over-judiciarisation that it engenders.

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Online as of : November 2, 2017