First Nations and Inuit
Follow-up to the Viens Commission
The Public Inquiry Commission on Relations between Indigenous Peoples and Certain Public Services in Québec (Viens Commission) was established to determine the underlying causes of all forms of violence, discrimination, or differential treatment with respect to Indigenous women and men when certain public services are delivered in Québec. It completed its deliberations two years ago.
It had a mandate to investigate and establish the facts and to make recommendations concerning concrete, effective remedial action to be implemented by the Québec government and the Indigenous authorities.
In his report , the inquiry head presented 142 recommendations, of which 135 are addressed to the Québec government. The calls for action cover the entire array of government services offered to the Indigenous peoples, such as justice, correctional and police services, health, social services, and youth protection.
Calls for action
The calls for action are recommendations that the Viens Commission formulated once the causes of the problems pinpointed were determined. They are vital factors that seek to restore the trust of the Indigenous peoples in public services since they call, in particular, for the adaptation of government services to the realities of the First Nations and the Inuit. For example:
- change the organizational culture in the main public service networks;
- enhance the services that the Indigenous peoples receive, especially health services;
- enhance the funding of public services;
- enhance the delivery of certain public services intended for the Indigenous peoples;
- amend legislation or regulations;
- heighten public awareness of Indigenous realities.
Responses to the calls for action
The Québec government announced, in Budget 2020, $200 million to implement the Viens Commission’s calls for action. It has undertaken several new measures that have a concrete impact on the quality of government services. Since October 2020, all these amounts have been invested to enhance, perpetuate, and improve public services and to establish cultural safety.
The 2022-2027 Government Action Plan for the social and cultural wellness of the First nations and Inuit - Together for future generations (PDF 14.51 Mb), launched in June 2022, has made a major contribution to the implementation of the Commission’s calls for action through a range of measures totalling $38.2 million in funding.
The tracking tables monitor the implementation of the responses.
Enhancement and perpetuation of public services
In light of the Viens Commission’s recommendations, several measures have been announced to enhance and perpetuate public services offered to the Indigenous population.
- strengthen primary care in urban environments based on the innovative Val-d’Or health and social services model;
- support the relocation of the Resilience Montreal homeless shelter in Montréal;
- adapt the justice services offered to the Indigenous peoples through broader support for Indigenous Courtwork Services.
Enhance the quality of services
To offer effective services better adapted to the clientele’s needs, it is essential to enhance the quality of existing services. To this end, new funding has been invested in strategic areas.
- implement new community justice initiatives in urban environments;
- establish mixed police intervention teams devoted to vulnerable individuals;
- establish three new community living environments for adult and other students and their families.
Implement cultural safety in services
A key point that the Viens Commission emphasizes is that the Indigenous peoples have their own realities and cultures. Such differences, of which government employees are often unaware, are sometimes the source of adverse experiences and their ignorance can even lead to racism. Several initiatives have been undertaken to remedy the situation.
- implement the cultural safety approach in the health and social services network;
- enhance access to court interpreters in Indigenous languages;
- bolster and develop and the skills of Indigenous police forces.
The Viens Commission’s calls for action and the entire array of recommendations stemming from the reports published recently will continue to guide government intervention in the coming years.
The next stages in the J’ai espoir plan, which has a $200-million budget allowance and has been designed for the Indigenous peoples in consultation with them, will hinge on three key themes, i.e., youth protection, the well-being of women, and education.
Moreover, since the 2017-2022 Government Action Plan for the Social and Cultural Development of the First Nations and Inuit (PDF 6.92 Mb) will soon expire, an updated plan is being elaborated. It will facilitate the implementation of the calls for action formulated in the report of the Public Inquiry Commission on Relations between Indigenous Peoples and Certain Public Services in Québec.
Last update: September 29, 2023