OTTAWA — The national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls is getting another six months to complete its work.
The commission will now have until next April 30 to finish its hearings and submit a final report, instead of the initial deadline of Nov. 1.
Carolyn Bennett, minister of Crown-Indigenous relations, says the decision to grant the extension follows consultations with survivors, families, Indigenous organizations and provinces and territories.
“We found support for giving the inquiry more time to submit its final report, but little support for the commission’s mandate to extend beyond the next election,” Bennett told a news conference Tuesday.
There are more survivors and families who want to take part, she added.
“The commissioners will decide how to use this additional time to hear from the remaining families and survivors, further examine institutional practices and policies and undertake the research necessary inform their recommendations on the systemic causes of violence against Indigenous women and girls in Canada.”
After submitting the final report, the commission will have until June 30 to wind down its operations.
Department officials say they will work with the inquiry to determine the budget. The Liberal government had initially earmarked $53.8 million and two years for the inquiry to complete its work.
In March, inquiry officials asked for a two-year extension in order to give commissioners until Dec. 31, 2020, to make recommendations and produce findings.
The inquiry’s interim report, released in November, called for an investigative body to re-open existing cold cases and for an expansion of an existing support program for those who testify.
The government says it will spend $9.6 million over five years to support the RCMP’s new National Investigative Standards and Practices Unit, and will fund a review of police policies and practices regarding their relations with Indigenous Peoples.
An additional $21.3 million will be provided to expand health support provided by the inquiry.
“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,” the minister said.