Le Lézard
Subjects: NTA, CPG


Some gains, but still a long way to go

VAL-D'OR, QC, Oct. 4, 2023 /CNW/ - Today, Québec Ombudsman Marc-André Dowd released his first follow-up report on the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous Peoples and certain public services in Québec: listening, reconciliation and progress (Viens Commission).

The follow-up to the Viens Commission's 142 calls for action was analyzed in concert with First Nations and Inuit representatives and several government departments and agencies. This extensive work has led the Québec Ombudsman to conclude that government authorities have made efforts to improve First Nations and Inuit relations with public services and to increase Indigenous access to these services. However, many priorities remain unresolved, the result being that the inequities identified by the Viens Commission have still not been addressed in any satisfactory manner. The results achieved to date also show that public authorities do not have an overall strategy, developed jointly with First Nations and Inuit authorities, for implementing the various calls for action in order to achieve desired outcomes.

"I'm aware of the magnitude of the changes required. It stands to reason that some of them will take longer than others depending on the extent of the issues. However, I see that initiatives are piecemeal and that no progress has been made on urgent reforms. For example, even though Indigenous children continue to be over-represented within the youth protection system, we're a far cry from seeing the corrective action needed," says Marc-André Dowd. "They're priorities that have to be tackled head on immediately."

The Québec Ombudsman's follow-up on a major inquiry commission

In 2016, the Québec government established the Viens Commission following alleged police brutality against Indigenous women in Val-d'Or (Abitibi-Témiscamingue). The Viens Commission's final report was published on September 30, 2019. It includes a request to the government to mandate the Québec Ombudsman to follow up on the Commission's calls for action until they are fully implemented. The Québec Ombudsman began its work in 2021 in collaboration with an Advisory Circle made up of First Nations and Inuit organization representatives. The ensuing discussions and analyses culminated in the follow-up report released today.

Action priorities

The priorities that remain to be implemented include the need to:

The picture that emerges highlights the importance of improving coordination at the ministerial level and between the public bodies concerned in a bid to redefine public services that reflect First Nations and Inuit realities and needs. This must be done by working with Indigenous representatives to co-construct mechanisms for giving full effect to Indigenous people's individual and collective rights.

Rigorous review of the 142 calls for action

In the appendix to its report, the Québec Ombudsman reviews each call for action and comments on their application, on any progress made, and on achieved or expected results.

The Québec Ombudsman acts impartially and independently in ensuring that people's rights are respected in their dealings with public services. It also handles the disclosure of wrongdoing within or concerning public bodies in strictest confidence, as well as reprisal complaints stemming from disclosure or cooperation in an investigation.

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