Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck:
You say the final decision has not been made yet. I thank you for that answer, but that final decision has not been made for seven or eight years. How long does it take to come to a final decision?
Senator Carignan: If you have any constructive suggestions or comments on how to improve the situation, we would be happy to hear them.
I would remind you that we have built and renovated over 260 First Nations schools since 2006. We have invested new funds in First Nations elementary and secondary education programs, as well as in the operations, maintenance, repair and construction of academic institutions. Once again, we are taking real, substantive action and not just talking the talk.
Hon. Wilfred P. Moore: I have a supplementary to Senator Dyck's question. Is your government looking at this policy with the possibility of removing that cap?
Senator Carignan: As I explained earlier, the government is now holding consultations on a draft proposal regarding First Nations education. No final decision has been made in that regard, but we are taking all constructive suggestions and comments into consideration.
Senator Dyck: I have a supplementary question. With regard to the 2-per-cent cap, we all know the government is soon going to be tabling the First Nation education bill to increase the graduation rate of First Nations students on reserve. If that's successful, of course, then we're going to have even more First Nations students who are going to be graduating from high school and wanting to go on to post-secondary education. There's going to be greater demand. It's important that that cap be removed because there's going to be even more and more demand.
We know the socio-demographics that say the Aboriginal population is young and growing, so the demand is increasing already. If your bill is successful, as you claim it's going to be, then it will be even greater. I would suggest that the government take this question seriously and look at it from an economic point of view.
Senator Carignan: We are aware of your passion for this subject. We share it and we will take your suggestion into account. I will share your concern with the minister, and I can assure you that the proposal that is being drafted with regard to First Nations education will take into account all of the constructive comments and suggestions that are made.