MMIWG inquiry gets six-month deadline extension to finish its work

Posted on in Equality Debates – News/Canada
June 5, 2018.   By

OTTAWA—The federal government is giving the missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls inquiry another six months to complete its work, an extension that falls short of the two years that commissioners asked for in March.

In a release Tuesday morning, Crown-Indigenous Relations Minister Carolyn Bennett said the extension will ensure more people can share their experiences with the inquiry, while still “underscoring the urgency” of its final report.

While inquiry commissioners asked for another $50 million — on top of the original $53.8-million budget — for a two-year extension, Tuesday’s announcement didn’t include a budget estimate for the extra six months. A senior government official said extra money will depend on staffing and other costs that the inquiry will identify, now that it knows the length of its extension.

The due date for the inquiry’s final report — meant to probe the “systemic causes” of violence against Indigenous women and girls and make recommendations to the government to address them — is now April 30, 2019. The inquiry’s work will then have to wind down by the end of June, 2019, rather than Dec. 31 of this year.

The department also responded Tuesday to the inquiry’s interim report, which was published Nov. 1, 2017 with a series of recommendations for government action. These included calls for the establishment of a commemoration fund to untold numbers of Indigenous women and girls who have been murdered or gone missing over the years, as well as the creation of a special police task force to review past investigations and reopen cold cases.

In response, the government is adding $21.3 million to health supports and victim services provided by the inquiry and community groups. It will also spend $5.4 million in 2019-20 to extend the timeframe for family liaison units and funding for community-based organizations after the inquiry is finished.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police will also receive $9.6 million for a new investigative standards unit that will oversee major investigations, and a “significant proportion” of them will focus on missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.

In May, Bennett told the Star that setting up a police task force to cover all jurisdictions was complex. A senior official said Tuesday that the government decided it was best to wait until the inquiry holds hearings on policing practices, and that it could revisit the call for a police task force after that.

The government will also devote $10 million to a victims’ commemoration fund for Indigenous organizations to organize memorial events, and spend $1.25 million over two years to review police policies and practices towards Indigenous peoples.

“Together with Indigenous peoples and partners across the country, we continue our collective efforts to help prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls, and protect future generations,” Bennett said in a statement.

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