Debates of the Senate  
3rd Session, 40th Parliament,Volume 147, Issue 10.
  Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Question Period: Indian Affairs and Northern Development

  First Nations University of Canada

Hon. Lillian Eva Dyck: Honourable senators, my question is directed to the Leader of the Government in the Senate.

Now that the Saskatchewan government, through the Minister of Advanced Education, has announced it is putting its $5.2 million back on the table for First Nations University of Canada to provide greater accountability to taxpayers, will the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development also restore $7.2 million in funding to First Nations University?

Hon. Marjory LeBreton (Leader of the Government): Honourable senators, I am aware that First Nations University has now submitted a new proposal to the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development. Like any responsible minister, Minister Strahl will of course take this new proposal into consideration, but I think it is premature to presuppose what decision he will make, based on the information he has.

Senator Dyck: Honourable senators, I want to provide information that perhaps, through the leader's offices, she can convey to the minister.

Not only are the faculty, students and staff at risk, but also the additional research dollars that are brought into the university through its faculty. For instance, I have learned that Dr. Carrie Bourassa, who is a member of the science department at First Nations University, has brought in over $4 million in funding over the last five to six years. Most recently, she brought into the university $150,000 worth of grants through the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. If this institution is not up and running, that money will be lost. Faculty members are bringing money into the economy, so the university is definitely an economic asset.

Will the minister take that information to Minister Strahl?

Senator LeBreton: Honourable senators, we learned today that the university has come back to the minister with a proposal. Obviously, the minister, being a responsible minister, is more than happy to take that proposal into consideration.

The honourable senator speaks of people bringing money into the university. As honourable senators know, within the last little while, money was missing from a scholarship program designed to help the students. That is the problem. This is a complex issue. There are many problems with this particular university, but since the province and First Nations University have submitted a new proposal to try to deal with these issues, obviously it is incumbent upon the Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to take into consideration their new proposal.