Ontario Children and Youth Advocate – Young people need to know we are here for them

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elmanTHUNDER BAY – News – “Young people need to know we are here for them, and I hope our involvement will demonstrate that we are here for the First Nations children who are involved with the child welfare system and that their needs and rights matter,” said Mr. Elman, Ontario’s Children and Youth Advocate.

The Child and Youth Advocate will file a motion seeking leave to the Federal Court of Appeal on September 24th, 2012 in a case about equitable child welfare funding and services for First Nations children.

Elman is opposing the Federal Government’s appeal from a court decision that held the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal should hear the complaint filed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society of Canada and the Assembly of First Nations.

That complaint alleges that the Federal Government’s funding scheme provides poorer quality child welfare services for First Nations children than the services other Canadian children receive.

“The Human Rights Tribunal is supposed to hear a case which echoes the voices of First Nations children including those living in Ontario. Those voices should be heard,” said Elman, “This is a children’s rights issue not simply an issue about funding and jurisdictions. The best interest of children needs to be given consideration in the Court’s deliberation.”

On its appeal, the Government of Canada is arguing that to compare the services First Nations children receive with those other Canadians receive is “beyond the jurisdiction” of the human rights tribunal.

“This is exactly what a human rights tribunal is for. This case should be heard on its merits, and then the human rights tribunal can look at the evidence and decide whether or not First Nations children are being treated fairly,” said Mr. Elman. “This is about how we want to treat children in our society, and about what we believe is fair.”

The Office of the Provincial Advocate for Children and Youth provides an independent voice for children and youth, focusing on the best interest and rights of Ontario’s young people in child welfare care. The Advocate’s office partners with young people to bring the important issues affecting them forward to be heard.

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